A fortnight ago, the world joined Japan to mark the 75th anniversary of the detonation of two atomic bombs by the United States over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the final stages of World War II in 1945. The bomb nicknamed ‘Little boy’ was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6 and the other called ‘Fat Man’ over Nagasaki on August 9. The Atomic Bombs left in their wake at least 130,000 people killed and many more maimed, mutilated and disfigured for life with the victims being mostly civilians far removed from the theater of war. Although the two atomic bombings remain the only use of nuclear weapons in the history of warfare; given the number of countries currently having nuclear capabilities, there is without doubt an uncertainty prevailing among peace-loving people as to whether the world we live in is safe from such attacks, which could be triggered by the idiosyncrasies of world leaders who come to be in charge of huge arsenals of such deadly weapons.
The devastation caused by the vagaries of nature, like earthquakes, tornadoes or tsunamis, often times prompted directly or indirectly by the activities of unthinking, selfish and self-centered individuals, is to some extent tolerable though beyond our control, but definitely not the premeditated atrocities unleashed on innocent men, women and children, some even unborn and for no fault of theirs.
Meanwhile, in a statement to mark the event, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “This month marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when humanity learned of the devastation a single nuclear bomb can unleash. The lingering suffering caused to the survivors, the hibakusha, should give us daily motivation to eliminate all nuclear weapons. The hibakusha have shared their stories so the horror experienced by Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never be forgotten. Yet the nuclear threat is growing once more”.
He said a web of agreements and instruments has been constructed to prevent the use of these uniquely destructive weapons and ultimately to eliminate them. But that framework has idled for decades and starting to erode. The potential that nuclear weapons will be used – intentionally, accidentally or as a result of miscalculation – is dangerously high.
“Fueled by mounting international tensions and the dissolution of trust, relations among countries that possess nuclear weapons are devolving into dangerous and destabilizing confrontations. As governments lean heavily on nuclear weapons for security, politicians are trading heated rhetoric about their possible use and devoting vast sums of money to improve their lethality; money that could be much better spent on peaceful, sustainable development,” Mr. Guterres said. “Along with climate change, nuclear weapons represent an existential threat to our societies. Most of the nearly 13,000 nuclear arms currently in global arsenals are vastly more destructive than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Any use would precipitate a humanitarian disaster of unimaginable proportions. It is time to return to the shared understanding that a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought and to the collective agreement that we should work towards a world free of nuclear weapons and to the spirit of cooperation that enabled historic progress towards their elimination.”
We conclude this column with a message from Pope Francis, the prophetic voice for peace, reconciliation and a world free of nuclear weapons when on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Japan, he once again called “for prayer and commitment to a world completely free of nuclear weapons.”
The Holy Father has repeatedly called for nuclear disarmament and the elimination of stockpiles of nuclear weapons, notably during his visit in 2019 to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“We continue even today to hear the cries of those who are no longer present. They came from different places, had different names, and some spoke different languages. Yet all were united in the same fate, in a terrifying hour that left its mark forever not only on the history of this country, but on the face of humanity. The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is today, more than ever, a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home. The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possession of atomic weapons is immoral,” Pope Francis said.
We must never forget to remember such cataclysmic and catastrophic crimes committed against humanity lest they be repeated for reasons that can never be justified nor acceptable.