Lara Kajs | 5 August 2022 |
Seventy-seven years ago today, at 8:15 AM, the US B-29 warplane Enola Gay (named after the mother of the pilot), dropped the world’s first atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The city of 350,000 people was decimated. An estimated 140,000 people perished. Three days later, the US dropped a second A-bomb on the city of Nagasaki, killing 75,000 people. Japan surrendered six days later, and WWII ended. However, seven decades later, the remembrance of the destruction in Hiroshima is an argument for NPT.
But there is more to the devastation of nuclear weapons than just the blast and initial damage. After the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the long-term horrors of the loss of life would take years to be realized, as people developed cancers and other terminal illnesses from nuclear fallout. Within the first few months, as many as 166,000 people had died from radiation and heat exposure. Over the next decade, various forms of cancers and leukemias appeared in patients, many of them children. The next layer of concern appeared as doctors reported cancers in the second and third generations of people who experienced either of the bombs. Today, most of the generation that was alive on 6 August 1945, regardless of their age at the time, has died.
The hope to eradicate the possibility of another nuclear bomb being used ever again materialized in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The objective of the NPT is threefold: non-proliferation (to prevent the increase of nuclear weapons and weapons technology), disarmament, and peaceful use of nuclear energy. The signers of the treaty pledged their cooperation to the objectives. But today’s nuclear race is not solely between a few superpowers. There are nine countries that have nuclear weapon capability – China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the UK, and the US. Nuclear weapons analysts suggest there are an estimated 13,000 nuclear warheads in the combined group. But it only takes one to devastate a country and cause significant global damage.
Peace and Security
Ideally, most people want to live in a peaceful society where there are no weapons of mass destruction and no wars. But the reality is that there will be disagreements, many of which will lead to conflict. However, no country needs a weapon that will annihilate its neighbor or a region, and no one needs a nuclear weapon that can be launched from one location and hit anywhere on the globe. Further, it is imperative that the people in charge of nuclear weapons are responsible and trustworthy. That type of power in the wrong hands and carelessly used would be our end.
Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 Feb, Russian President Vladimir Putin casually suggested the possibility of a nuclear strike. The conflict has also raised global concerns about the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear plants after Russian troops seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant (the largest nuclear plant in Europe) and set it on fire. But even as the world watches Russia, China has increased its ballistic missile launches, flexing its nuclear strength, as it intimidates other countries in the region. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that China’s actions “gravely affect the peace and stability of the international community.”
“Nuclear war cannot be won”
During the annual ceremony at Peace Park, Hiroshima’s Mayor Kazumi Matsui said, “Nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres added, “Nuclear weapons are nonsense. They guarantee no safety, only death, and destruction… Three-quarters of a century later, we must ask what we’ve learned from the mushroom cloud that swelled above this city in 1945.”
On the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bomb being used on the city of Hiroshima, we join with the people of Hiroshima and people around the world and implore our global leaders to be responsible and agree to nuclear disarmament, and to cease the use and development of weapons of mass destruction. Never again should a nuclear weapon be used against humanity, not in war and not in peace.
Photo Credit: Hiroshima Mushroom Clouds by Kevin Jones. License CC 2.0