Pax Christi International, the Catholic peace movement with over 100 member organizations active worldwide, has issued an open letter to G8 leaders meeting in Hokkaido, Japan, urging them to make renewed efforts toward the disarmament of nuclear weapons.
The letter suggests that the significance of the location in Japan of this year's G8 summit makes highly appropriate the inclusion of nuclear non-proliferation issues on the G8 Summit Agenda.
"Japan, with its unique and painful experience of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has prohibited the possession, production and introduction of nuclear weapons into Japanese territory, giving hope to all who are working to rid the world of the scourge of nuclear weapons" the letter says.
"The fact that the Japanese Constitution (Article 9) 'renounced war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat to use force as a means of settling international disputes' also has given hope to people around the world who work for the non-violent resolution of conflicts" the letter continues.
"Few more powerful examples exist of a national commitment for peace. The G8 nations and the world should celebrate and give strong support to its retention."
Pax Christi has repeatedly called for the global abolition of nuclear weapons.
"It is immoral for states and non-state actors alike to use, threaten with or possess nuclear weapons. We urge the G8 leaders to take strong leadership toward achieving the complete and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons and to strengthen the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and regime" the letter continues.
Pax Christi also drew attention to what it called 'signs that a renewed arms race is on the horizon' suggesting that 'neither an increasingly hungry human community nor a threatened earth could sustain such a step backward'.
It cited current efforts to revoke Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution; the multi-billion dollar US Complex Transformation proposal to rebuild that country's nuclear weapons production capabilities; the Missile Defense System now being designed for deployment, including in Eastern Europe, and the US nuclear deal with India. The group said that all these pointed to a world where the possibility of disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament, was 'increasingly remote'.
"The international community has worked for decades to build a nuclear non-proliferation regime which has helped prevent the spread of nuclear weapons" the letter continues.
"In signing the NPT, states possessing nuclear weapons committed to working toward the goal of nuclear disarmament under Article VI of the treaty and non-nuclear states agreed not to acquire them. G8 nations cannot press Iran and North Korea to abandon their nuclear programs while more powerful countries, including some as-yet undeclared nuclear states, pursue, maintain or enhance their nuclear capabilities.
"We urge the G8 leaders to actively revitalize multilateral cooperation in the area of nuclear disarmament and to recognize their particular responsibility to place non-proliferation and disarmament high on the political agenda. The creation of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East is particularly urgent.
"At stake is the survival of humanity and most likely of the earth. Peace, sustainable human development and the integrity of creation must be given priority over an arms industry that monopolizes capital and perpetuates profound insecurity. The sacredness of human life and the rest of creation make the development, maintenance, threats to use and use of nuclear weapons a deep affront to morality. The human community is obliged to redirect our pursuit of security. No one will be secure until we all are secure."