NPT Conference: Citizens Call for ‘No First Use’ of Nuclear Weapons

August 23rd, 2022 - by No First Use Global

While the Public Supports No-First-Use,
The UK Tries to Remove NFU from NPT Draft

No First Use Global

(August 22, 2022) As States Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty enter the fourth and final week of the 10th NPT Review Conference at the United Nations in New York, one of the key issues is whether or not the nuclear weapon and allied states will agree to the adoption of no-first-use policies.

A call made by NoFirstUse Global and like-minded governments for the NPT final document to include support for no-first-use policies has been integrated into the draft report of NPT Review Conf. Main Committee 1 – the committee dealing with nuclear risk-reduction and disarmament.

This is the first time that support for no-first-use (NFU) policies has made it into a draft NPT report. The strength of support generated by the global no-first-use campaign is demonstrated by the fact that the NFU call remains in the revised draft, even after counter-lobbying by nuclear-weapon states

NPT draft report and no-first-use:
“The nuclear weapon States agree to take steps to diminish, with a view to eliminating, the role and significance of nuclear weapons in all military and security concepts, doctrines and policies; for nuclear weapon States this should include the adoption of no first use doctrines.”
— Main Committee 1 Draft Report rev 2. 10th NPT Review Conference

UK Public Supports NFU:
Government Opposes NFU
One of the governments opposing the inclusion of no-first-use in the NPT report is the United Kingdom.

Last Friday (August 19) the UK representative called on the Chair of Main Committee 1 to delete the reference to no-first-use because the UK could not agree to such a policy. Such a position is in direct contradiction to public, parliamentary and expert opinion in the UK supporting no-first-use.

public survey undertaken by YouGov last month, for example, found that 79% of UK people (random sample of 1765 adults) support the adoption of no-first-use policies, while only 8% oppose such policies (12% have no opinion either way). For details see Anxiety about nuclear war escalates as the Doomsday Clock ticks closer to midnight, by Steve Barwick, Chair of the UK Nuclear Education Trust.

In addition, Rising nuclear risk, disarmament and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a report prepared by the UK House of Commons Select Committee on International Relations in preparation for the NPT Review Conference, calls for the adoption of no-first-use policies.

The Birmingham Declaration adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, held in Birmingham UK in July this year, also promotes no-first-use.

UK House of Lords Supports No-first-use
The Government should consider clarifying its nuclear posture at the 2020 NPT Review Conference and encouraging other members of the P5 to take similar steps.

This could include providing clearer negative security assurances, considering declarations of sole purpose and a no first use commitment, and further work on de-alerting. The objective should be to reduce the possibility of misperceptions and misunderstanding during a crisis.
— “Rising Nuclear Risk, Disarmament and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” a report prepared by the UK House of Commons Select Committee on International Relations. 24 April, 2019. Para 428

UK Experts, Religious and
Civil Society Leaders Support No-first-use

Finally, the call for no-first-use policies has been supported by numerous UK parliamentarians, religious leaders, academics/scientists, former military and political leaders, youth, leaders of civil society organizations and others in an Appeal to Presidents Putin and Biden and in the Open Letter to the NPT: From Nuclear Threats to human security, both which are also endorsed by similar voices from other nuclear-armed and non-nuclear countries.

Even if the UK and other nuclear states block the adoption of language supporting no-first-use in the final NPT document which is scheduled to be adopted by the end of this week (it requires consensus for adoption), the strong support for no-first-use at the NPT Review Conference has already elevated the NFU policy proposal in capitals and in the international disarmament agenda.

This increases the possibilities of it being taken up in other relevant UN bodies such as the UN General Assembly, UN Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, UN High Level Week, Conference on Disarmament, Human Rights Council and more.

UK Military and Political Leaders
Support a No-first-use Policy

Commander Robert Forsyth
UK Royal Navy (retired)
“Submerged on patrol, commanding officers of strategic submarines have no way of knowing why they have been ordered to fire, what the target is, or the consequences on civil population of doing so.  As such, I was not prepared to launch a first strike with Polaris missiles from my submarine in the 1970’s and remain strongly opposed to First Use of any nuclear weapons.”

Lord David Hannay
Co-chair of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Security and Non-proliferation. Former UK Ambassador to the United Nations and the European Union
“It’s high time the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council sat down and had a serious discussion of how to reduce the risks of nuclear war, including such concepts as No First Use and Sole Purpose. After all… they collectively re-affirmed the Reagan / Gorbachev view that a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought.”

ACTION: A Message from Japan
International Petition Against
The Use of Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine

No First Use Global

On March 2nd, Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of Hiroshima and President of Mayors for Peace from 1999 to 2011, launched a petition on the website addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and entitled “Do NOT use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict – Message from Japan.”

The central concern was that nuclear weapons should not be used again. As the Hibakusha (survivors of the US nuclear attack on Hiroshima) have declared, “No one should ever have to suffer as we have.”  They describe the experience of being under the nuclear mushroom cloud as “Hell on Earth.”

The petition calls on “President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders to immediately declare the disuse of nuclear weapons in this conflict.” It also calls on the nuclear-armed countries to adopt no-first use policies to prevent nuclear war anywhere in the world, to be followed by the relinquishing of nuclear deterrence policies themselves in order to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.

In the petition, former Mayor Akiba asks the Japan Prime Minister to convey the experience and message of Hibakusha to Russia and other members of the UN Security Council in order to ensure they understand what it means to use a nuclear weapon.

“Japan’s current Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, who was elected from Hiroshima is in the position to speak for the Hibakusha,” says the appeal. “Now is the time for PM Kishida to take a stand and attend the United Nations Security Council meeting and tell the reality of the atomic bombing, and convey the cry of the many Hibakusha who died, repeating in their death beds “No one else should go through our suffering.” 

Mayor Akiba was motivated to launch the petition when he saw and shared the intense distress of Hibakusha following President Putin’s threat — which was sandwiched between two nuclear exercises — to “anyone who would consider interfering from the outside: if you do, you will face consequences greater than any of you have faced in history.”

Within days, NoFirstUse Global brought this signature drive to the attention of its participating organizations and its newsletter subscribers, and followed up with a blog article NoFirstUse Global interviews Mayor Akiba on his appeal: Do NOT use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict. decided to feature the petition prominently, and the number of signatories mounted quickly.

After three weeks over 90,000 people had endorsed.  Mayor Akiba appealed, through, to the petition’s many signatories to help push it over the line to 100,000. also asked for donations to promote the petition.  Some 8,500 people responded to this appeal using social media to reach out to potential signatories and/or making donations to help the promotion.

Within days of this follow-up appeal, the 100,000 mark was reached. Signatures continue to pour in.  As we go to press, the count is approaching 110,000.   Readers who have not yet signed are urged to do so, and those who have signed, or now do, are requested to use their social media platforms to promote the petition further.

As described in his NoFirstUse Global interview, Mayor Akiba is now sending the petition to President Putin,  all the other nuclear-armed states’ leaders, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Kishida.  This is crucial, since most of the other nuclear powers, as well as the NATO alliance, maintain nuclear-use policies that include options to initiate nuclear warfare; India and China being the exceptions.

The petition calls for the renunciation by all of such options and the adoption of no-first-use pledges.  In the interview, Akiba argues that once the nuclear powers have taken this relatively easy step, the final step to establishing a nuclear-weapon-free world will be attainable. NoFirstUse Global will report on responses Mayor Akiba receives and further developments.

NoFirstUse Global is a network of organizations, academics, policy makers and civil society advocates working cooperatively for the adoption of no-first-use policies by nuclear-armed States, the support for such policies from nuclear allied countries, and the implementation of such policies to help achieve broader nuclear risk-reduction, non-proliferation and disarmament measures.

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