US Army photo, taken from the sky, Hiroshima, August 6, 1945 (Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum).

The leaders of the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US) will meet in Hiroshima, Japan, later this week. Hiroshima bore first witness to the horrors of nuclear weapons when, in 1945, the US exploded an atomic bomb over the city. An estimated hundred thousand people, mostly civilians, were killed instantaneously and in the short term, and adverse health impacts for survivors continue to this day.

It is with this context and also with the threat of nuclear weapons use higher than ever before in this century, that Dr. Ivana Hughes, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF), has written to each leader of the G7, imploring them to use this gathering to meaningfully engage in nuclear disarmament and prevent the end of civilization as we know it. NAPF has had a deep connection to the people of Japan throughout its 40-year history.

Today, Hughes’ letter urges each G7 leader to take action by signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which provides a framework for getting to nuclear zero. She goes on to note that the G7 bear historic responsibility for global warming and that a commitment to nuclear disarmament is actually an opportunity to address both threats. This could be done by diverting current and future spending on nuclear weapons to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Hughes, who is a mother of three and a Senior Lecturer in Chemistry at Columbia, speaks directly from the heart in her letter to the G7 leaders, writing, “If there is a nuclear war and hundreds of millions of people die in the explosions and from ensuing radiation and billions die from starvation due to the onset of nuclear winter, there will be no history books to judge you. Human civilization, which we have patiently built for thousands of years, will have met its end. If you survive the initial stage, you will regret that you did not do more when you could. Don’t let that happen. You have the power to change the status quo. And you must use it. Please think of the children.”

Read all seven letters below:

Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Canada)

Letter to President Emmanuel Macron (France)

Letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (Germany)

Letter to Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (Italy)

Letter to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (Japan)

Letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (the United Kingdom)

Letter to President Joseph R. Biden (the United States)

The world awaits news from the G7 summit. Let’s hope that the leaders will take specific steps to adopt concrete nuclear disarmament measures to create a safer world, free of nuclear weapons. Let’s hope the leaders heed the words of a mother and scientist who understands what is at stake for humanity.