General Overview -
The International Community in 1995
Trends in Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
With the end of the Cold War, strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime has become one of the most important tasks in guaranteeing the security of the international community. At the same time, there is heightened momentum for promoting nuclear disarmament and arms control. The year 1995 marked not only the 50th year since the end of World War II, but the 25th anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), in which the Treaty was to be reviewed. Thus, the international community was highly concerned with issues relating to nuclear weapons and much progress was achieved. The decision in May to indefinitely extend the NPT and the adoption of the document on the Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament was a significant achievement in the fields of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. On the other hand, the nuclear tests conducted by France and China were met with the strong criticism of international public opinion because it ran counter to the international trend toward nuclear disarmament. Consequently, this led to increased recognition of the importance of achieving an early conclusion of the negotiations on a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Under such circumstances, Japan, as the only nation ever to have experienced atomic devastation, has been making steady efforts to take realistic measures aiming for a world free of nuclear weapons, and at the United Nations General Assembly in 1995 took initiative in the formulation of the Resolution on nuclear disarmament with a view to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons and the Resolution calling for the immediate cessation of nuclear testing, both of which were adopted with the approval of many countries.
Since its entry into force in 1970, the NPT has been playing a vital role as a pillar of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, which is one of the main bases guaranteeing the peace and security of today's world. The year 1995 marked the 25th year since the NPT came into effect, and during April and May the Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty was held in New York to review the way in which the NPT has been implemented and to determine the period of extension of the Treaty (either indefinitely or for an additional fixed period or periods). As a result of this Conference, a decision was made to indefinitely extend the NPT without voting, along with two other decisions on "Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty" and the "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament." The latter decision is of particular importance in that it shows the future path for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, by incorporating appeals for "efforts for nuclear disarmament by all nuclear weapon States, with the ultimate goal of eliminating nuclear weapons," and for "the completion of the negotiations on the CTBT no later than 1996, as well as for utmost restraint on nuclear testing," pending the entry into force of the CTBT.
Japan supported the indefinite extension of the NPT based on its position that it is essential for the peace and security of the world to make the NPT regime stable and to prevent the increase of nuclear-weapon States. At the same time, Japan has always stressed that the indefinite extension of the NPT must not mean the permanent possession of nuclear weapons by nuclear-weapon States. Indeed, aiming for a world free of nuclear weapons, Japan has strongly urged nuclear-weapon States to sincerely implement the obligation of nuclear disarmament negotiations in accordance with Article VI of the NPT. The results of the Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the NPT clearly indicate that the views of Japan conform with the perception of the international community.
As of December 1995, the number of State Parties to the NPT had reached 182, and the universality of the treaty has continued to grow. However, certain countries, including India, Pakistan, Israel and Brazil have not yet acceded to it. Japan is persistently urging these countries to accede to the NPT at an early date.
Negotiations on a CTBT began in January 1994 at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, and are going on intensively. As was stated above, the Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the NPT decided to aim for the completion of those negotiations no later than 1996. In his September 1995 Statement at the 50th Session of the General Assembly, Foreign Minister Kono proposed concluding those negotiations by the spring of 1996 and signing the treaty in the fall of 1996. Japan has been making its utmost efforts to achieve these goals.
In order to conclude the CTBT negotiations, it is necessary to reach a common understanding on many issues such as the scope of nuclear testing to be prohibited, verification measures, and the modality of the CTBT organization. In August 1995, France, the United States, and the United Kingdom announced their support for the prohibition by the CTBT of any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion. That announcement was recognized as a contribution to progress in the negotiations, and Japan hopes that the other nuclear-weapon States will adopt the same position as soon as possible.
Although France had not conducted any nuclear testing since April 1992, it announced in June 1995 that it would conduct its last series of nuclear tests, and from September 1995 to January 1996, France conducted six nuclear tests in the South Pacific, after which it announced that it would not conduct further nuclear testing. China has conducted nuclear testing once or twice each year, and during 1995, conducted two tests. Japan, opposed to all nuclear testing, has seized every possible opportunity, at various levels, beginning with Prime Minister Murayama and Foreign Minister Kono, to convey to both countries its extreme regret and strongly urge them to cease nuclear testing. Furthermore, Japan has decided to freeze grant aid to China with the exception of emergency and humanitarian assistance until the cessation of Chinese nuclear testing.
In addition, in order to make clear the determination of the international community to demand the cessation of nuclear testing and to create an atmosphere favorable for advancing the negotiations on the CTBT, Japan, together with forty other States, submitted the draft resolution calling for the immediate cessation of nuclear testing to the 50th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. This resolution was adopted with the support of many Member States (85 in favor, 18 opposed and 43 abstaining). Japan intends to continue to strongly call upon all countries to understand the sincere will of the international community expressed in this resolution and to refrain from conducting nuclear tests. Moreover, on 4 August, the resolution Protesting Against Nuclear Testing was adopted by both Japan's House of Representatives and House of Councillors.
Even before the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I (START I) came into effect in December 1994, the United States and the Russian Federation began the process of dismantling nuclear weapons. All nuclear weapons located in the Republic of Kazakhstan were moved to the Russian Federation by the end of April 1995, and transfer of nuclear weapons remaining in Ukraine and the Republic of Belarus is in progress. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II (START II), which is the next step in this process, was ratified by the United States in January 1996. It is hoped that the Russian Federation will also ratify START II at an early date.
Japan submitted in 1995 the resolution on nuclear disarmament with a view to the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons to the 50th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations following the adoption of a resolution of the same title in 1994. It was adopted by an overwhelming majority of Member States (154 in favor, 0 opposed and 10 abstaining). Bearing in mind the developments during 1994-1995 in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the 1995 resolution calls upon the nuclear-weapon States to make efforts to reduce nuclear weapons with the ultimate goal of their elimination, and asks them to keep Member States of the United Nations duly informed of the progress of nuclear disarmament. The adoption of this resolution with the endorsement of many Member States, as was the case in 1994, is a clear indication that there is broad-based understanding in the international community of Japan's position that it is important to steadily make efforts for nuclear disarmament in a realistic and determined manner with the goal of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. It also indicates that the importance of efforts for nuclear disarmament after the indefinite extension of the NPT has been reconfirmed.
The year 1995 saw a high level of momentum build up toward the establishment of nuclear-weapon free zones. In June, at the Summit of the Organization of African Unity, the draft African Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Treaty was adopted, and in October the United States, the United Kingdom and France announced that in the first half of 1996 they would sign the protocol of the South Pacific Nuclear-Free-Zone Treaty (the so-called Treaty of Rarotonga, signed in 1985, which came into effect in 1986). In the Southeast Asian region, at the December ASEAN Summit Meeting in Bangkok, the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty was signed by ten countries - the seven members of ASEAN, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
At the 46th General Assembly of the World Health Organization in 1993 and at the 49th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1994, resolutions were adopted calling for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding its evaluation of the international legality of the use of nuclear weapons, and an opportunity was thus granted by the ICJ for the submission of written statements and oral statements. In June 1994 and again in June 1995, Japan submitted written statements including a view that the use of nuclear weapons is clearly contrary to the spirit of humanity that gives international law its philosophical foundation, and in November 1995, explained the stance of the Government of Japan in an oral statement during which it again strongly stressed the vital need for nuclear disarmament. At the same time, a detailed explanation of the realities of the terrible devastation of the atomic bombings was given by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The decision of the ICJ is currently being awaited.
Back to Index