Daisaku Ikeda has always been a staunch advocate of nuclear weapons abolition. In his 2009 Peace Proposal, his 27th annual Peace Proposal, Ikeda makes “sharing of efforts for peace toward the abolition of nuclear arms” one of the three major pillars he proposes “for transforming the current global crisis into a catalyst for opening a new future for humanity….” The other two pillars are “sharing of action through tackling environmental problems” and “sharing of responsibility through international cooperation on global public goods.” Ikeda makes a powerful case for humanity rising out of necessity to a new level of global cooperation to overcome the shared threats to our common future.
As always, Ikeda’s view of nuclear weapons is unambiguous. He refers to these weapons, as did his mentor Josei Toda, as an “absolute evil.” He is clear that these weapons “are incompatible not only with the interests of national security but with human security.” This understanding forms the basis for his uncompromising commitment to the abolition of nuclear weapons.
At the governmental level, Ikeda proposes action at three levels. First, he suggests the prompt convening of a US-Russia summit, at which “basic agreement for bold nuclear arms reduction plans could be reached” in advance of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. I agree with him fully on this point, and it would seem that President Obama, who has already sent Henry Kissinger to Russia for preliminary talks, does as well.
What might be accomplished at a US-Russia summit? I would argue for four needed outcomes. First, announce that the common goal of both countries is a world free of nuclear weapons. Second, agree as a next step toward this goal to reduce the arsenals of each side, deployed and reserve, to no more than 1,000 nuclear weapons by the year 2010. Third, commit to taking the nuclear weapons on both sides off hair-trigger alert. Fourth, extend the provisions of the 1991 START I agreement, which is set to expire in December 2009, so that its provisions for verification are retained.
Ikeda’s second proposal for action at the governmental level is, building on the US-Russia agreements, to convene a five state summit for nuclear disarmament, composed of the five initial nuclear weapons states (US, Russia, UK, France and China). He sees their mandate being to create “a roadmap of truly effective measures to fulfill their disarmament obligation stipulated in Article VI of the NPT.” Thus, he seeks to keep the nuclear weapons states that are parties to the NPT focused on their obligation to achieve nuclear disarmament.
The third Ikeda proposal for government action is pursuing the challenge of concluding a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC), a new treaty that would “comprehensively prohibit the use, manufacture, possession, deployment and transfer of nuclear weapons.” Ikeda realizes, though, that action by governments is unlikely to succeed in this effort without the involvement of civil society. “To realize an NWC,” he states, “it is vital that people of the world raise their voices and strengthen solidarity in the manner seen in the campaigns for the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but on an even greater scale.”
Awakening the people of the planet to the peril that nuclear weapons pose to them and their loved ones may be the most important single effort that can be made by those of us currently inhabiting the planet. Thus, I am particularly encouraged by Daisaku Ikeda’s call for a People’s Decade for Nuclear Abolition. It is critical that people everywhere embrace this issue and take positive action for a world free of nuclear weapons. Governments have been too slow to act on their own, regardless of the dangers nuclear weapons pose to humanity and the human future.
Even more enlightened governments, such as the Obama administration, need outspoken support from their citizens if they are going to meet the challenges of nuclear weapons abolition. With concerted global action during a People’s Decade for Nuclear Abolition, it may be possible to move governments with unprecedented speed so as to reach the goal set forth by the Mayors for Peace of a world free of nuclear weapons by the year 2020.
Daisaku Ikeda’s 2009 Peace Proposal is an inspirational statement from a man who has chosen hope. Realizing the goals of the proposal for peace and nuclear abolition will require the active engagement of committed individuals and groups across the globe.
David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and a Deputy Chair of the World Future Council.