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No nuclear powers to participate in confab on humanitarian impact

Published 12 February 2014

Kyodo News International February 12, 2014

The United States, Russia and the three other countries allowed to have nuclear weapons under the existing nonproliferation regime are expected to skip an international conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, an envoy of host Mexico said Wednesday, citing their failure to register delegates for the event.
A similar conference was first held in Norway last March to put the spotlight on the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, but the five nuclear "haves" under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which also include Britain, China and France, did not participate, apparently fearing that such a meeting would propel talks on outlawing nuclear weapons.

The likely absence of the five countries from the meeting in Mexico — which is due to start Thursday with delegates expected to come from more than the 127 countries that participated in last year’s conference — may deepen the chasm between the nuclear haves and "have-nots," who lead the efforts toward nuclear disarmament from humanitarian grounds.

As was the case with last year’s conference in Oslo, "No nuclear weapon state, permanent member of the U.N. Security Council...will participate," Mexican Ambassador to Japan Claude Heller said in an interview.
"The information that we have received is that there is right now no registration (of delegates) by the nuclear weapons states," he added.

Six delegates from the Japanese government, including several atomic bomb survivors, are due to participate in the two-day international conference, with a session on the first day providing the "hibakusha" survivors an opportunity to provide their accounts.

"Hibakushas are the symbol of what should never happen in any place in the world," Heller said, adding that he thinks it is important that those who suffered the impact of nuclear weapons can give a "testimony" of how their lives have changed.