Tuesday, May 21, 2024
 
 

My message from Hiroshima

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On Saturday, August 6, I proudly stood with Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, and the
people of Hiroshima in memory of an unprecedented catastrophe.

Seventy-seven years ago, nuclear weapons were dropped on the people of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Tens of thousands of women, children and men were killed in the blink of an eye,
incinerated in a hellish fire. Buildings turned to dust. The cities’ beautiful rivers
ran with blood.

Those who survived were cursed with a radioactive legacy, stalked by health
problems, and subjected to lifelong stigma because of the nuclear bombing.
I had the great honour of meeting with a group of those survivors — the
hibakusha, whose numbers grow smaller each year. They told me with unflinching
bravery what they witnessed on that terrifying day in 1945.

It is time for world leaders to be as clear-eyed as the hibakusha and see nuclear
weapons for what they are. Nuclear weapons make no sense. They cannot deliver
safety, protection or security. By design, they deliver only death and destruction.

Three-quarters of a century have passed since mushroom clouds swelled above
Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since then, humanity has endured a Cold War, decades
of absurd brinksmanship, and several terrifying near-misses that placed humanity
within minutes of annihilation.

But even during the depths of the Cold War, nuclear powers made significant
reductions in their nuclear arsenals. There was widespread acceptance of the
principles against the use, proliferation and testing of nuclear arms.

Today, we are in danger of forgetting the lessons of 1945. A new arms race is picking up speed, with governments spending hundreds of billions of dollars to upgrade their stockpiles of nuclear arms. Almost 13,000 nuclear weapons are now held in arsenals around the world. Geopolitical crises with grave nuclear undertones are spreading fast, from the Middle East, to the Korean peninsula, to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Once again, humanity is playing with a loaded gun. We are one mistake, one
misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from Armageddon. Leaders must stop knocking on doomsday’s door and take the nuclear option off
the table for good. It is unacceptable for states in possession of nuclear weapons to admit the possibility of nuclear war, which would spell the end of humanity.

By the same token, countries with nuclear weapons must commit to the “no first
use” of those weapons. They must also assure states that do not have nuclear
weapons that they will not use — or threaten to use — nuclear weapons against
them, and be transparent throughout. Nuclear saber-rattling must stop.

In the end, there is only one solution to the nuclear threat: not to have nuclear
weapons at all. This means opening every avenue of dialogue, diplomacy and
negotiation to ease tensions and eliminate these deadly weapons of mass
destruction.

We are seeing fresh signs of hope in New York, where the world has come
together for the Tenth Review Conference on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation
of Nuclear Weapons. The Treaty is one of the main reasons why nuclear weapons
have not been used since 1945. It contains legally binding commitments to achieve
nuclear disarmament, and can be a powerful catalyst for disarmament — the only
way to eliminate these horrendous weapons once and for all.

In June, members of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons met
for the first time to develop a roadmap towards a world free of these doomsday
devices.

We can no longer accept the presence of weapons that hang by a slender thread
over humanity’s future. It is time to heed the timeless message of the hibakusha: “No more Hiroshimas! No more Nagasakis!”

It is time to proliferate peace. Together, step by step, let’s wipe these weapons off the face of the earth.

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