Letter: On 75th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing, time to end nuclear weapons
On August 6th and 9th, 75 years ago, the first nuclear weapons exploded on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Nuclear weapons are still here. So are survivors who want an end to nuclear weapons in their lifetime. They are the Hibakusha who survived the atomic bombings despite wounds, burns and cancer. They are joined by others who survived being at nuclear test sites or living near nuclear weapons production. You can hear their stories at hiroshimanagasaki75.org.
They want us to face the increased threat of nuclear weapons and to see the solution – people’s resistance. And the Hibakusha are joined by a Peace Wave of supporters around the earth making August 6th to 9th days of awareness.and action.
To date, those U.S. bombings are the only use of nuclear weapons; however, their threatened use has continued and so have close calls. These 75 years hold too many near-miss nuclear launches to false alarms and accidents involving nuclear weapons. One accident or “broken arrow” occurred when two nuclear bombs dropped on Goldsboro in 1961. They did not denote but left nuclear waste and unexploded parts.
Because more and larger nuclear weapons are still here, deployed and on alert, the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki demands we confront this threat. Congress could end presidents’ single authority to make first-strike nuclear attacks; they could take our weapons off hair-trigger alert.
An estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons are still stockpiled by the United States, Russia, China, Israel, England, France, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. 90% belong to the United States and Russia. The launch of a fraction of this arsenal could bring nuclear winter with instant catastrophic climate change.
These weapons pose a double threat. They endanger us and hinder efforts at nuclear arms control that actually makes us safer. They also drain resources from real needs, like protections from COVID-19, improving education, or developing safe energy. In fact, over half the Department of Energy budget is spent on nuclear weapons, not developing energy alternatives to address climate change. It’s time to get off the destructive path we have been stuck on for 75 years.
Signs for positive change are here though it won’t be a short road. We have already gone a long way in banning biological and chemical weapons and land mines, so it is possible.
A series of treaties has reduced the number of nuclear weapons from over 70,000 at the peak of the Cold War era to 13,400 today. Treaties have also ended radioactivity releases by banning nuclear weapons testing.
The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was passed in 2017. When 50 state parties sign on, the treaty will enter into force. Currently, 38 have.
Nuclear-free zones now cover much of the southern hemisphere.
And even the pandemic has this one positive aspect; it can give us a new awareness of our interdependence and the benefits and necessity of international cooperation.
Those in Alamance County who want to be part of the Peace Wave can start by signing on to the Hibakusha Appeal for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Alice Wieting, Burlington