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N.Korean missile vs. UN disarmament conference

November 29, 2017




Anger, anxiety at UN disarmament conference in wake of N. Korean missile launch



HIROSHIMA -- North Korea's intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch on Nov. 29 coincided with the opening of a United Nations nuclear disarmament conference here.

Participants, which included government representatives and disarmament experts, as well as A-bomb survivors on hand to observe proceedings, heaped criticism on North Korea, while some worried that the launch would buttress atomic powers' nuclear deterrent rationale and sap strength from the disarmament movement.


Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui touched on the ICBM launch in his opening comments at the conference, stating, "I hope that, particularly with things as they are, we discuss matters coolly and properly." Next, U.N. Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu stated that Pyongyang's nuclear weapons development was "harmful to the nuclear nonproliferation structure."


Germany's Angela Kane, a former U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, noted that it had not been very long since North Korea last launched a missile, and that it could not be forgiven for the latest test. She further stated that the situation warranted an immediate response. She said that the very fact a disarmament conference was being held in Hiroshima was a warning that such acts are impermissible.


Tomoyuki Mimaki, representative director of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo), was on hand to hear the conference proceedings.

"Launching a missile just as the momentum for abolishing nuclear weapons is rising causes major damage and creates obstacles. It could prompt some to conclude that we need nuclear deterrence after all," said Mimaki, 75, touching on the July conclusion of the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Oct. 6 announcement that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) had won the Nobel Peace Prize.


Sarah Bitter, a 17-year-old high school student from California, told the Mainichi Shimbun that she had been surprised by the missile launch news, and that she thought the international community's response would be important. Furthermore, while there are many different views on defense among Americans, she hoped to take home and pass on the lessons she learned about peace and disarmament at the conference and in Hiroshima.


Sunao Tsuboi, the 92-year-old head of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, spoke to the conference of his own experience in the atomic bombing of his city.


"I don't want just an end to using nuclear weapons, but also for people to think about ending all war," he said. Regarding the North Korean ICBM launch, Tsuboi said to reporters that he wanted to tell Pyongyang, "Can't you open your eyes?"


This year marks the 27th time a U.N. disarmament conference has been held in Japan, and it has become an almost annual event. The conference is set to run until Nov. 30, with discussions on the prospects for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation in the wake of the adoption of the U.N. atomic arms ban treaty.



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