70 years ago, on August 6th, 1945 the city of Hiroshima in Japan was destroyed with an atomic bomb. In a few minutes, thousands of people lost their lives in the attack. Three days later the city of Nagasaki, also in Japan met the same fate. The Second World War ended six days later. Our world changed forever.
Within a single flash of light, Hiroshima, a city with a population of 360,000 — largely non-combatant women, children and elderly became a place of desolation, with heaps of skeletons and blackened corpses everywhere. As of now, over 250,000 victims have perished in Hiroshima from the effects of the blast, heat and radiation. 70 years later, people are still dying from the delayed effects of one atomic bomb, considered crude by today’s standard for mass destruction.
According to the Red Cross, nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of atomic bomb survivor deaths in the Hiroshima Red Cross hospital until March 2014 were caused by cancers. The most deadly cancers were lung (20 per cent), stomach (18 per cent), liver (14 per cent), leukaemia (eight per cent), intestinal (seven per cent) and malignant lymphoma (six per cent). Over this period, more than half of all deaths at the Nagasaki Red Cross hospital (56 per cent) were due to cancer.
As many believed, Hiroshima was targeted because of its strategic significance as a military headquarters, a major trading port and one of the main supply depots for the Japanese army. It was also largely untouched by previous bombings. However, the Stop the War Coalition points out that over 95 per cent of the combined casualties of the two cities were civilian. As the first country to use nuclear weapons against civilian populations, the US was in direct violation of internationally agreed principles of war, writes Professor Rodrigue Tremblay for the Global Research Centre. “Thus, August 1945 is a most dangerous and ominous precedent that marked a new dismal beginning in the history of humanity, a big moral step backward.”
After the first bomb fell, co-pilot Captain Robert Lewis said: “My God, what have we done? How many did we kill?” The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also changed the course of history by launching the global race for nuclear proliferation. Today, there are more than 16,000 nuclear weapons around the globe with landmines, biological and chemical weapons threatening the very existence of humanity.
Currently, just nine countries are known to possess nuclear weapons: the US, the UK, France, Israel, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea. The recently completed negotiations with Iran are only the latest attempt to keep the list at nine, says author and historian James Kunetka. “But realistically, the fight to halt the further spread of weapons will no doubt continue far into the future.”
These nine nations believe strongly in nuclear deterrence, arguing that by possessing a range of weapons, foreign states will refrain from attacking due to the fear of retaliation and “mutually assured destruction”. “In a world in which a rogue state like North Korea, a dysfunctional state like Pakistan and an increasingly bellicose state like Russia all possess the bomb, what major power is going to lead the way and unilaterally disarm?,” asks The Guardian‘s Andrew Anthony.
American journalist Eric Schlosser, says,”The problem with nuclear deterrence is that it requires secular rational thought on both sides of the equation,” he said adding that there are now groups like Islamic State with ideologies that glorify and celebrate the slaughter of civilians as well as militants who are not fearful of death. “That makes this technology even more dangerous.”
Most experts agree that nuclear weapons are more dangerous now than at any point in our history. The risks are too many and too huge. “Geopolitical saber rattling, human error, computer failure, complex systems failure, increasing radioactive contamination in the environment and its toll on public and environmental health, as well as the global famine and climate chaos that would ensue should a limited use of nuclear weapons occur by accident or design. Yet few people truly grasp the meaning of living in the nuclear age.”
The death of innocents that has been the driving force for millions of people around the world continues to inspire the struggle against the ultimate evil of nuclear weapons. In a speech at a Washington DC university President Obama said the agreement is publically supported by every country in the world, except for Israel. Obama described it as the “strongest non-proliferation agreement ever negotiated”. President John F Kennedy in 1963, spoke at the same Washington DC area university in support of diplomacy with the Soviet Union.
The Iran deal is considered a signature achievement of Obama’s foreign policy legacy. The nuclear deal calls for Iran to reduce its enrichment in exchange for the releasing of millions of dollars in frozen assets. Unfortunately, today, 70 years after the world witnessed the most horrific event in human history, humanity continues to live with the daily threat of nuclear weapons.
It’s time for action to establish a legally binding framework to ban nuclear weapons as a first step in their total abolition. Every peace loving citizen of the world must urge and work to join the growing global movement. And let us make the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the appropriate milestone to achieve our goal: to abolish nuclear weapons, and safeguard the future of our one shared planet earth. It’s time to rid the globe of the most destructive weapons of all and make sure there’s never another humanitarian tragedy like Hiroshima.’
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