The Obama Initiative and Differing Degrees of Commitment on Nuclear Deterrence

It has been one year since U.S. President Obama’s speech in Prague calling for a world without nuclear weapons. From the beginning of April to the beginning of May is the “Obama Initiative” month.

(1) The U.S. government’s “Nuclear Posture Review” (NPR) was announced on April 6. This sets out to convert half-hearted security guarantees by stating the U.S. will not use nuclear weapons against countries that adhere to non-proliferation.

(2) Nuclear superpowers America and Russia signed the new nuclear disarmament treaty on April 8.

(3) On April 12 and 13 a Nuclear Security Summit was held where leaders of 47 countries, including India and Pakistan, who possess nuclear weapons, and Israel, who is thought to be possessing them, confirmed the nuclear terrorism countermeasures. All three of these countries are not yet affiliated with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

From May 3 onward, an NPT review meeting, where the national interests of each country are sure to collide — such as Iran, who despite being one of the countries affiliated with the NPT is still believed to be developing nuclear weapons — is going to be held, and discussions regarding nuclear arms will be treated as a major turning point.

Editorials of every newspaper have mostly assessed the U.S.-Russia nuclear disarmament treaty and Nuclear Security Summit. Regarding the summit, The Mainichi stated that “there is no evident correspondence with North Korea,” and what was “significant” was that Ukraine declared it would abandon the highly enriched uranium it possessed. Regarding the U.S.-Russia nuclear disarmament signing, the Asahi said that “they have put in the groundwork, urging action from other countries retaining nuclear weapons,” especially having sought nuclear disarmament from China. The Yomiuri, Nikkei and Sankei newspapers each had pretty much the same opinions.

Facing these things, varying degrees of commitment have been observed, but they are estimations of the U.S. government’s “Nuclear Posture Review.”

Mainichi welcomes “the evaluation of the Obama administration’s initiative, which aims to improve the presently dangerous condition of the world by returning to the starting points of the teetering NPT.” Along the same lines, it is “natural” that North Korea, which has carried out nuclear tests with Iran, was made an exception from the passive security guarantees. Making requests of North Korea while keeping in mind the threat they pose to Japan, “the American nuclear strategy must be certain about whether or not to contribute to the peace and safety of Japan.”

The newspaper that has strongly hammered out doubts concerning the NPR is the Sankei. They published an article with the title “Fear bequeathed for use in a ‘Nuclear umbrella’ “ and expressed concern about reducing the role of nuclear weapons, having emphasized that both Japan and America “must advance the fortification of defense and control conditions in which there is no end to the attainment of nuclear weapons from their conventional (military) forces.”

The Yomiuri are avoiding making any definite evaluations regarding the NPR, opining that, “the decision to weaken the deterrence of realistic threats probably won’t be made.” The Nikkei, upon making the assessment that the NPR was “a step in the promotion of a world without nuclear weapons,” stated, “America, which is keeping an eye on countries like China and North Korea, must defend its nuclear deterrent force which at the present time is shaky.”

Meanwhile, regarding the relationship between North Korea and the NPR, the Asahi has not given any definite opinions or assessments.

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