Build Political Momentum for Disarmament

Remarks of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Hiroshima, Japan, 6 August 2010, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city by the United States

I have come to Hiroshima on a pilgrimage for peace.

Every world leader should join us along this path.

Disarmament is among the most important, most noble, goals of the United Nations.

And I would like to say, as well, that it is a goal to which I have devoted much of my life.

We are neighbors, Korea and Japan. We, too, know what it is to live under the nuclear shadow.

That is why I feel especially honored to be the first United Nations Secretary-General to join you here for the Peace Memorial Ceremony.

Hiroshima is a city of legend — both ancient and modern, a symbol as well as an inspiration.

It is one thing to read and hear your history from afar, another see it, to experience it, to share in it with you.

You, the people of Hiroshima, know better than most the darkness of war.

You also know, better than most, the light of hope, the unquenchable spirit of humankind at its finest.

You have done more than rebuild your city. You are building a better world for our children.

After the horror of that dark day, 65 years ago, you might have retreated into anguish, into anger or despair.

Instead, you sent a different message to the world.

You have told the stories that only you can tell: stories of watching your families and loved ones suffer, seeing your beautiful city disappear, living with the fear of sickness and the after-effects on your children ? for years, even generations.

You have spoken to us, eloquently and truthfully, about the human cost of nuclear weapons.

You have urged us to never forget.

Above all, you have called on us to act.

In doing so, you have become more than citizens of Hiroshima.

You have become citizens of the world, delivering a call that resounds around the world:

No more Hiroshimas.

No more Nagasakis.

Never again.

Ladies and gentlemen:

Like you, I bring a clear message.

That message is hope. Hope for peace, hope for a lifting of the nuclear shadow.

Everywhere, momentum is building.

Everywhere, the name of Hiroshima echoes.

It is a summons, a global call to action, from ground zero to Global Zero ? a world free of nuclear weapons.

We see encouraging new commitments by the world’s nuclear powers:

A new START treaty between Russia and the United States;

Important progress at the Washington Summit on Nuclear Security, to be followed by a summit in Korea in 2012;

Advances at the recent review of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations;

Above all, a rising chorus of conscience from civil society.

From leaders such as Mayor Akiba, Mayor Taue of Nagasaki and the Mayors for Peace movement.

From representatives of the world’s religions, lawyers, doctors, environmentalists, labor leaders, women, human rights activists, parliamentarians.

Even former military officials are speaking out: statesmen once responsible for nuclear weapons policies.

Yes, I know. There are doubters, still.

Disarmament, they say, is a dream ? utopian, premature, impractical, unrealistic.

In fact, these terms more accurately apply to the alternative.

Yet what is this alternative: an endless reliance on nuclear deterrence, a constant arms race, unbridled military spending and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

We must call these for what they are: illusions — delusions of security.

Let us live in the real world.

There are more than twenty-thousand nuclear weapons in the world today.

The nuclear weapons capability of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea poses a serious security threat to the region and beyond. I urge the DPRK to take concrete actions towards verifiable de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

There are serious concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program. I repeat my call for the government to fully comply with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and provide the fullest cooperation to the IAEA to resolve any concerns over its nuclear programs.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Around the world, we live under the risk of nuclear proliferation ? of terrorists seeking to acquire nuclear weapons ? of some catastrophic accident or, worse, war.

Only by eliminating nuclear weapons can we eliminate these risks.

That is why I say: Abolishing nuclear weapons is more than our common dream; it is common sense policy.

And that is why, two years ago, I offered a five-point plan on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation.

First, disarmament must enhance security.

I urged the Security Council to strengthen its disarmament work and offer greater protection for non-nuclear-weapon states.

Second, disarmament must be reliably verified.

I proposed that negotiations begin on a nuclear weapons convention.

Third, disarmament must be rooted in legal obligations.

That means universal membership in multilateral treaties and regional nuclear-weapon-free zones.

Fourth, disarmament must be visible.

That is why I have called on countries with nuclear weapons to share more about what they are doing to fulfill their disarmament commitments.

Fifth and finally, disarmament must address dangers from other weapons.

I have pushed for progress in eliminating all weapons of mass destruction and limiting missiles, space weapons and conventional arms.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today, I carry more than a message of hope. I come with a call for action.

On this day, from this place, let us tell the world:

Now is the time: the time to build political momentum.

That is why I will convene a first-of-its-kind high-level meeting in New York in support of the work of the Conference on Disarmament.

We should also build on the success of last year’s Security Council Summit. My proposal: to convene regular Security Council Summits to follow up on our promises and commitments, starting next year.

I also invite the Government of Japan to consider hosting a regional conference to advance this Five-Point Action Plan on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-proliferation.

Now is the time: the time for rapid entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Let us set the goal of 2012.

Now is the time: the time to prohibit the production of fissile materials for weapon purposes.

Now is the time: the time to move towards agreement on a no-first-use doctrine, paving the way toward a no-use doctrine.

The Mayors for Peace have set a goal ? a world free of nuclear weapons by the year 2020.

That is what I call perfect vision.

Looking toward that day, let us pledge to join together on the 75th anniversary of the bombing – with the hibakusha – to celebrate the end of nuclear weapons.

Let us also teach our children the right path ? the path of peace via disarmament. That should include translating the testimonies of the survivors.

These first-hand stories must be told. There are tens of thousands of them. Yet less than one percent have been translated into the world’s languages.

Finally, now is the time ? the time to invest in peace.

Last year, military spending exceeded $1.5 trillion ? more than 133 trillion yen.

Meanwhile, investments in people and in peace are put on hold.

The world is over-armed. Peace is under-funded.

Ladies and gentlemen:

Addressing all of these challenges is our common responsibility.

This is the enduring lesson of Hiroshima.

When nuclear weapons are used, there are no bystanders.

In the fight to abolish nuclear weapons, there must be no bystanders.

Everyone gains. Everyone must be involved. Or else, everyone loses.

You, the people of Hiroshima, have led the way.

Your stories, your spirit, your moral standing have shaped our dreams for a better world.

On behalf of a grateful world, we thank you.

Thank you for your courage and your leadership in the cause of peace.

Peace be upon you, your children and us all.

Thank you.