Hiroshima must not happen again


Hiroshima must not happen again

Sunday, August 09, 2020

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On August 6, 1945, at approximately 8:15 am the United States dropped an atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy”, on the city of Hiroshima in Japan. The moment is immortalised in history as it represented the dawn of the nuclear age.

Three days later, at 11:02 am, American war planes dropped a second atomic bomb, named “Fat Man”, on the Japanese city Nagasaki.

The total death toll from both bombings amounted to nearly 250,000 and the infrastructural devastation was massive.

Six days later, on August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered, bringing World War II to an end.

At the time, the US was the only country with nuclear bombs. In 1949, only four years later, the Soviet Union conducted its first successful nuclear explosion, followed by the United Kingdom in 1952, France in 1960, and China in 1964. Since then Israel, India, and Pakistan have joined the so-called Nuclear Club.

The member countries of this club have sought to discourage other states from developing the capacity to produce and deploy nuclear bombs. This is self-centred arrogance which the nuclear-enabled countries seek to justify by arguing that they are responsible and will keep peace and order.

However, some countries — notably North Korea and Iran — do not accept this assurance.

Seeking to prevent the nuclear weapon ranks from expanding further, the United States and other like-minded states negotiated the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in 1968 and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1996, neither of which have been observed.

Despite the arguments of the nuclear-enabled states, the possession of nuclear weapons does not guarantee peace because most wars cannot be prevented or settled by using nuclear weapons. The risk of nuclear combat and/or accident does exist because the nuclear powers in 2019 had 14,000 nuclear warheads.

Ninety per cent of those warheads belong to the US and Russia. What, therefore, would happen if they reverted to the animosity of the Cold War?

Outside of the possibility of war, the world has experienced nuclear accidents which have left people fearful.

Readers will recall a plane crash off the coast of Spain in which two nuclear bombs were initially lost. Fortunately, they were eventually located and secured.

Even the peaceful use of nuclear power has its dangers. Up to 2014, there were more than 100 serious nuclear accidents and incidents from the use of nuclear power. About 60 per cent of all nuclear-related accidents/severe incidents occurred in the USA. There have been 11 meltdowns/accidents the most famous of which have been Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania in 1979; Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1986; and Fukushima Daiichi, Japan in 2011.

Last week, in observance of the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on all nations to renew efforts to abolish nuclear weapons.

Arguing that division, distrust and a lack of dialogue threaten to return the world to unrestrained strategic nuclear competition, Mr Guterres said “the only way to totally eliminate nuclear risk is to totally eliminate nuclear weapons”.

We agree, and posit that the world should substitute nuclear energy with renewable energy. Additionally, governments should consider the fact that total global military expenditure amounted to $1,917 billion in 2019. That kind of money could help fund the transition to a new, safer world.

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