On the occasion of the annual commemorations of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

3 August, 2012

On August 6 and 9 our thoughts turn once again to the tragic destruction of the two Japanese cities in 1945, and in particular to the victims of this first, and hopefully last, use of nuclear weapons in warfare. As the years go by, there are fewer and fewer of the hibakusha left alive to witness to the horror they experienced at a young age.

But as the years go by, there is also an ever more urgent need for a universal agreement on the complete elimination of nuclear arms, since the number of countries deploying these weapons gradually increases, and for that reason the risks of their possible use in conflicts or by accident tend to multiply. There is also the insidious argument that ‘nuclear weapons cannot be disinvented, they are now part of our modern world’ – which quite ignores the fact that chemical and biological weapons have been banned through international negotiation, and that by analogy a Nuclear Weapons Convention is an perfectly achievable goal.

There are many intermediate steps that governments can take, and IPB joins with its colleagues in the nuclear abolition community in urging support for measures such as :

  • unilateral disarmament steps by each of the 9 possessing states;
  • withdrawing nuclear weapons from all foreign military bases
  • abandoning war-fighting and deterrence doctrines relying on nuclear weapons
  • strengthening the existing nuclear weapons-free zones and creating new ones such as in the Middle East
  • taking nuclear weapons off alert status
  • reinvigorating the stalled talks on a Fissile Materials Treaty
  • signing and ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
  • reducing drastically the budgets allocated from the public purse for maintaining, and even building new, nuclear weapons.

Any of the above steps would do much to help convince the general public that the states who currently possess or rely on nuclear weapons do in fact mean to respect their international disarmament commitments. For, as the August 6 – 9 observance ceremonies around the world continue to show, there is an important civil society constituency that supports the vast majority of the world’s governments in their wish – expressed in countless UN resolutions and declarations – to put an end to these genocidal weapons once and for all.

The tragic events at Fukushima took place over a year ago now, but the physical, social and political impacts will be felt for a long time to come. The new debate over nuclear power, engendered by the accident, reinforces our understanding that the weapons and the energy dimensions of the nuclear industry are inseparable. We firmly reject the arguments of those who say that Japan (or any other signatories of the NPT) should maintain their nuclear industry in order to preserve a future option to develop atomic weapons. In fact we go further: the scientific resources currently devoted to nuclear power should in our view be switched as soon as possible to support the rapid development of renewable energy alternatives.

We greet warmly all our colleagues attending the commemorations in the coming days, and wish them the best of success in their campaigning efforts in the year to come.