It Is Time To Engage In Nuclear Disarmament, President Obama

Japanese women walk past the gutted A-bomb dome in Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan August 6, 2003. REUTERS/Toshiyuki
Japanese women walk past the gutted A-bomb dome in Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan August 6, 2003. REUTERS/Toshiyuki Aizawa/File Photo

To The President of the United States,

As the first US president to visit Hiroshima, ground zero, you will make history for your nation. But you will also make history for humanity. You're right to let historians debate the merits of President Harry Truman's decision to use the atomic bomb, since, as it stands, we cannot rewrite the past. However, you still hold the keys to the debate on the relevance and dangers of nuclear weapons, a debate that grips our future.

In Prague, in 2009, you said you were committed to creating a world without nuclear weapons. In Berlin in 2013, you affirmed that "peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons." A year ago, you signed an agreement with Iran that represents a substantial victory in the fight against nuclear proliferation.

But what about nuclear disarmament? The NPT regime (of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty) is sick for lack of a clear commitment by the nuclear powers to reduce their arsenals. The dialogue with Russia after the "New Start" treaty is not advancing. Meanwhile, tensions are growing as you and your allies pursue an active modernization of your nuclear forces. These weapons, it must be remembered, have a power far greater than Little Boy and Fat Man, the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They are capable of causing unprecedented humanitarian disasters.

Hours before gathering in the peace memorial park in Hiroshima, you will participate in a meeting of the G7 in Ise-Shima, where you will meet President Hollande and Prime Minister Cameron. I hope you will use this opportunity to address the issue of nuclear disarmament with the representatives of these two countries, which, along with the United States, hold nuclear weapons.

This is certainly what I hope for, having appreciated the fact that you hosted the Nuclear Security Summit this year. The initiative was supported by the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Initiatives pour le Désarmement Nucléaire, the association I chair.

An extension of your efforts could be to propose the convening of a world summit to develop a multilateral nuclear disarmament process. Perhaps at the next UN General Assembly, the United States could support a resolution proposing the preparation of a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

That's how, in my view, we can build the "world of peace with justice" you spoke of in Berlin


Paul Quiles, former Defense Minister of France.

President of Initiatives pour le Désarmement Nucléaire

This post first appeared on HuffPost France. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.