Former world leaders urge G7 to get nuclear arms control back on track

 Letter calls on US and Russia to isolate weapons agreements from other disputes

By Patrick Wintour
May 17, 2023

A global array of former world leaders and defence ministers, nuclear experts and diplomats have called on the leaders of G7 countries at their meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, not to let progress on nuclear arms control continue to be the victim of growing geopolitical conflict, including the conflict between the west and Russia over Ukraine.

The Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida, who is from Hiroshima, chose the G7 venue to lend seriousness to his personal call to world leaders to at least agree a roadmap to resume nuclear arms control talks.

In February, Russia pulled out of the 2010 New Start treaty, a pact that sets limits on the deployed strategic nuclear arsenals of the world’s two largest nuclear powers, although Moscow said it would nevertheless abide by the limits for the moment.

Kishida intends to take world leaders arriving this week for the summit to the harrowing Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where they will see graphic depictions of the US attack in 1945.

An open letter signed by six former heads of state, 20 cabinet-level ministers and experts from 50 different countries including China, Russia and the US lends momentum to Kishida’s G7 theme by saying the world needs more nuclear arms control, not less.

The letter says: “United States-Russia strategic stability talks are in limbo and the New Start treaty, which has played an indispensable role in ensuring reciprocal security, is now in question.

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“As the only existing nuclear arms control agreement between the United States and Russia, the world’s two largest nuclear-armed countries, the treaty’s collapse or expiration without a replacement would threaten a destabilising arms race.”

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