Mayors from more than 70 cities worldwide are in New York calling for a ban on all nuclear weapons, as United Nations representatives begin their review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, first signed in 1970. The mayors asked the world to remember the lessons learned at Hirsohima and Nagasaki.
The mayors of two cities devastated by atomic bombs 60 years ago were among the politicians calling for emergency action to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Hiroshima's Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, head of the organization Mayors for Peace, at a news conference Tuesday, outlined the goals of this non-governmental organization. "Our mission is to have all nuclear weapons eliminated, by the year 2020 and within the framework of the United Nations," he said.
The group's campaign is called 20-20 Vision, a reference to perfect eyesight. It asks countries to commit to disarmament by the year 2010, leading to a nuclear weapon-free world by 2020.
The mayor of the German city of Hannover, Herbert Schmalstieg, says no additional nuclear weapons should be created, and all existing weapons should be destroyed. "I think one nuclear weapon is one too much and our promise is to the people in the world, the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: no more Hiroshima, no more Nagasaki," he said.
Nagasaki's mayor underscored the suffering that is still present in his city. He says many survivors are plagued by poor mental and physical health.
Mayor Iccho Itoh recognized survivors in attendance, applauding their determination to travel to New York, despite their frail health.
The mayors are calling for a global grassroots movement to champion a nuclear weapon free world. They say nuclear issues are not just the concern of national politicians.
The head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Donald Plusquellic, of Akron, Ohio, says he often talks about his own visit to Hiroshima's museums and memorials.
"By sharing that experience in my own hometown and with mayors listening to other mayors across the world, hopefully we can build a movement that does what at least initially this effort here in New York is set out to do, which is to begin the elimination of the threat of nuclear war and then hopefully provide additional support for peace throughout the world," he said.
The mayors plan to discuss coping strategies in the event of a nuclear attack, in addition to strategies to further promote a nuclear weapon free society.
The United States is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. On Monday, the day the conference opened, the State Department said the United States is working with its allies and in the United Nations to combat the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.