A portrait photo of Kate Hudson
Dr Kate Hudson
CND General Secretary
Kate Hudson has been General Secretary of CND since September 2010. Prior to this she served as the organisation's Chair from 2003. She is a leading anti-nuclear and anti-war campaigner nationally and internationally.

There can be few names in the entire history of humanity that are so powerfully and tragically evocative as that of Hiroshima. The catastrophic atomic attack inflicted on that city and its population in 1945 is one of the defining moments of the 20th century, and the determination that such a crime should never be repeated has motivated millions to action over the subsequent decades. Holding the recent G7 summit in Hiroshima raised hopes that those leaders present – a number of whose countries have significant nuclear arsenals – would take the opportunity to make a concrete initiative towards disarmament.

Such hopes were comprehensively dashed. The G7 leaders paid their ‘respects’ at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial, but what does that actually mean, beyond the rhetoric? Clearly they’re not trying to prevent further catastrophic nuclear use by ridding the planet of these weapons of mass destruction. Of the seven countries there represented, three – the US, UK and France have nuclear arsenals, and two – Germany and Italy – ‘host’ US nuclear weapons at bases in their own countries. Whilst all are signed up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which requires them to disarm, they make no progress to this end and spend increasing sums on upgrading their nuclear weapons systems.

For the first time, the G7 leaders published, ‘in a solemn and reflective moment’, a document specifically focused on nuclear disarmament, reaffirming their commitment ‘to achieving a world without nuclear weapons’. Positive though this sentiment is, the document is riddled with contradictions and factual inaccuracies that can be read as sheer double standards.

Russia is rightly taken to task for ‘irresponsible nuclear rhetoric’, and its stated intent to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus. Yet most of the G7 leaders are already actively involved in the deployment of so-called tactical nuclear weapons by NATO in Europe. Indeed Russia has claimed that its plan is similar to US ‘nuclear-sharing’ agreements within NATO – and therefore they are not in violation of nuclear non-proliferation agreements. In fact, neither Russian nor NATO deployments in non-nuclear weapons states are legitimate under international law. Such deployments by both Russia and NATO significantly increase the risk of nuclear war on the European continent and must be ended.

The document also asserts that ‘the overall decline in global nuclear arsenals achieved since the end of the Cold War must continue and not be reversed.’ Absolutely. But at least one of the signatories – the UK – has recently announced that the ceiling on its nuclear arsenal has been increased by 40%. The G7 must put its own house in order, not just point the finger at others.

Another of the many areas highlighted is the importance of transparency about nuclear weapons. The leaders ‘welcome actions already taken by the United States, France and the United Kingdom to promote effective and responsible transparency measures through providing data on their nuclear forces and the objective size of their nuclear arsenal.’ This is far from the truth when looking again at the example of my own country, the UK. Two years ago, Boris Johnson’s government actually closed down its transparency. Its Integrated Review of March 2021, stated that it would ‘no longer give public figures for our operational stockpile, deployed warhead or deployed missile numbers.’

In January 2022, the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races, affirmed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The G7 leaders have called on Russia to ‘recommit – in words and deeds – to the principles enshrined in that Statement’. Yes, Russia must do that, but so must all nuclear weapons states. This is not a time for double standards. To preserve our planet and all forms of life, we must eradicate nuclear weapons, once and for all.