Statement: G7 Nations Wisely Put the Brakes on a New Arms Race

The world may be on the cusp of a terrible trajectory. The risk that nuclear weapons could be used is higher than it has been in decades. A near-total breakdown of past nuclear arms control agreements, coupled with a lack of dialogue among the top nuclear weapons possessors, may be putting the world on a pathway back to arms racing. Alarmingly, there are increasing calls for nations to expand tactical nuclear weapons capabilities, which in today’s multipolar world would be even more dangerous than the Cold War landscape.

This operating environment could have led the G7 nations to conclude that leaning full-throttle into a new arms race is the only effective means of deterrence and ensuring their security. This would have been a tragic decision at this inflection point in history.

The 2023 G7 Leaders’ Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament instead set a marker that these nations will continue to push for responsible nuclear behavior. They should be applauded for this.

Important elements of the G7 statement include:

  • Language that reiterates the importance of nuclear weapons neither being tested nor used
  • An emphasis on transparency measures, including on stockpiles and prior notification of strategic actions
  • A push for countries to move forward on risk reduction steps
  • Recommitment to leadership in assisting others in the pursuit of nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation

It is clear that G7 nations intend to ramp up support for strengthening international cooperation and existing agreements, with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons continuing as the foundational framework guiding national and collective actions.

It is all the more appropriate that the G7 leaders elevated focus on responsible nuclear behavior as they gathered in Hiroshima—a city that continues to serve as a global reminder of the mass, generational devastation that just a single nuclear weapon can cause and a symbol for why dialogue on reducing associated risks must continue.

Nations have a choice: Leaders across the world can either work together to collectively reduce the risks presented by nuclear weapons—or face decades of worsening, destabilizing relations and actions that could lead to catastrophe. We commend the G7 nations for seizing the moment by recommitting to long-held norms, encouraging dialogue, and setting priorities for future actions. This is just one step, but it is the right one.

See more on the Nolan Center on Strategic Weapons

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