Japanese PM Fumio Kishida has claimed the risk of Russia using nuclear weapons is “increasingly real,” delivering these remarks on Saturday in Hiroshima during a visit from a US delegation.
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The war in Ukraine shows the difficulties of creating a world without nuclear weapons, Kishida said, arguing that Russia’s “aggression” has threatened the international order and peace. He was joined at the Hiroshima peace memorial and museum by US envoy to Japan Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff perhaps best known for his maxim “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Washington and its allies made much of the fact that Vladimir Putin last month ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to be placed on “high alert.” However, Moscow’s stance on the use of such weapons has not changed. As Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reminded CNN during an interview earlier this week, its “concept of domestic security” is publicly viewable and lists any reason nuclear weapons might be used, such as “an existential threat for our country.”
“There are no other reasons that were mentioned in that text,” Peskov pointed out.
At the same time, US President Joe Biden has clung to the “right” to use nuclear weapons in a first-strike scenario despite having promised to change that same policy during his election campaign. Current US policy allows the use of nuclear weapons in response to “extreme circumstances,” a vague term that includes an invasion, chemical or biological attacks. Washington has repeatedly suggested Russia is planning a chemical weapons attack in Ukraine, something Moscow denies.
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Japan is the only country to have been attacked using nuclear weapons, with the US bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki in its effort to defeat the country during World War II. Kishida told the public broadcaster NHK that “When the possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia is increasingly real, I believe Ambassador Emanuel’s visit to Hiroshima and his experience of seeing the nuclear reality will become a strong message to the international society.”