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Peace laureates publish declaration against nuclear arms

May 20, 2009

Japan Times
May 19, 2009

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) -- Seventeen winners of the
Nobel Peace Prize are calling for a world free of
nuclear weapons in a joint declaration that was
published Monday in the Chugoku Shimbun in
Hiroshima, following U.S. President Barack
Obama's recent commitment to eliminate nuclear arms.

The declaration urges people to press their
leaders to work toward the abolition of nuclear
weapons ahead of a major conference on nuclear nonproliferation in 2010.

The laureates include Northern Ireland peace
activist Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Mohamed
ElBaradei, the Egyptian chief of the
International Atomic Energy Agency, and American
Jody Williams, who has campaigned against the use of land mines.

"The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Declaration of Nobel
Peace Laureates," drafted by Maguire and the
Hiroshima newspaper, said that "for the first
time in many years, the opportunity exists for
genuine movement toward reducing and eliminating
nuclear arms" in view of Obama's April 5 speech.

In his speech in Prague, Obama declared
"America's commitment and desire to seek the
peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the
last days of World War II killed an estimated
214,000 people either directly or through
radiation-related sickness by the end of 1945.

With about a year to go until the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, which
will be held next spring, the laureates said,
"World leaders will be faced with a stark choice:
nuclear nonproliferation or nuclear brinkmanship.

"We can either put an end to proliferation, and
set a course toward abolition; or wait for the
horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be repeated," they said.

The peace prize winners said they are "deeply
troubled" by the threat of proliferation among
nonnuclear weapon states, blaming nuclear powers
for having continued to brandish their arsenals,
prompting other nations to seek their own nuclear weapons.

They said they are "equally concerned at the
faltering will of the nuclear powers to move
forward in their obligation to disarm their own
nations of these dreadful weapons."

The laureates meanwhile praised "the resolve of
the A-bomb survivors, who have called on the
world to avert another Hiroshima or Nagasaki,"
saying they have "surely helped prevent that catastrophe."

Noting that the world has successfully negotiated
treaties banning land mines and cluster bombs
that are indiscriminate in their effect, the 17
said eliminating nuclear weapons is "indeed a
possibility — more than that, it is a fundamental
necessity in forging a more secure planet for us all."

Calling nuclear weapons "indiscriminate, immoral
and illegal," they urged the people of the world
to press their leaders to "grasp the peril of
inaction and summon the political will to advance
toward nuclear disarmament and abolition."

"To fulfill a world without nuclear weapons, and
inspire a greater peace among our kind, humanity
must stand together to make this vision a reality," the laureates said.

The 17 winners include former South African
President Frederik W. de Klerk, who made public
in 1993 his country's nuclear weapons development
and dismantlement, and his compatriot, Bishop
Desmond Tutu, who opposed apartheid, as well as
Oscar Arias Sanchez and Jose Ramos-Horta, the
presidents of Costa Rica and East Timor.

Asian laureates such as Tibet's spiritual leader
the Dalai Lama, former South Korean President Kim
Dae Jung and Bangladeshi economist Muhammad
Yunus, as well as Kenyan environmental activist
Wangari Maathai, also joined the initiative.
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