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75th anniversary of the use of nuclear weapons… what’s at stake

By Delia Chatoor

This August 7 and 9 will mark the 75th anniversary of the use of nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It was recorded that by the end of 1945 more than 140,000 were killed in Hiroshima and 74,000 in Nagasaki with many more suffering the harmful effects of radioactivity.

The horrific impact of the explosions and the lingering after-effects led most members of the international community to urge that never again should such weapons be used.

Unfortunately, even with the adoption of a range of regional and international treaties seeking to ensure this reality, there are worrying trends that moves are afoot by certain nuclear weapons states to launch a new nuclear arms race.

One particular nuclear weapons state (NWS) is contemplating the resumption of nuclear weapons testing even though such action was not undertaken by that state since 1992. There is also the thinking that should such weapons not be tested, it could stymie their reliability.

The continued investment by certain governments in the so-called modernisation of the weapons and weapons systems which would cover “their upgrading, updating and life extension”, could run into trillions of dollars.

Yet it is clear that no-one could win a nuclear war and no one country possesses the resources to address the post-explosion effects. The aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bear practical testimony to this.

With the continued campaign to address the impact of COVID-19, it would seem unrealistic and inhumane for much-needed resources to be used on nuclear weapons and/or other weapons of mass destruction.

Many countries lack funds to provide protective equipment, medical supplies and services to health workers and citizens. The world economy is experiencing shocks which could have long-term effects.

It is also sometimes forgotten that there are regions in the world which are yet to recover from nuclear tests, some of which were conducted on lands under the jurisdiction of indigenous people.

There is also scientific evidence that a small detonation could have lasting effects on the world’s environment.

The Atomic Bomb Dome is seen in Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6, 2019. (CNS photo/Kyodo via Reuters) See USCCB-HIROSHIMA-NAGASAKI-75TH July 13, 2020.

During his November 2019 visit to Nagasaki, Pope Francis admonished world leaders when he stated, “In a world where millions of children and families live in inhumane conditions, the money that is squandered and the fortunes made through the manufacture, upgrading, maintenance and sale of ever more destructive weapons, are an affront crying to heaven.”

The special 75th anniversary event in Nagasaki on  August 9 will, therefore, seek to recall the destruction and the wider implications of the use on nuclear weapons and the urgent need for general and complete disarmament and non-proliferation.

Participants will also consider how the use of these weapons can give rise to similar challenges being experienced today with the COVID-19 pandemic.

A strong message is, therefore, being planned to reinforce the belief that the use of nuclear weapons for any reason cannot be acceptable on humanitarian, legal and moral grounds.

The future of humanity is at stake and all people even from small states, such as Trinidad and Tobago, must be allowed to voice their concerns. There must also be renewed calls for companies/entities which support nuclear weapons to desist or face the consequences of being blacklisted.

In 2009, the United Nations (UN) which will be commemorating its 75th anniversary this year, declared  August 29 the ‘International Day against Nuclear Tests’.

It would, therefore, be timely for the occasion to be used to highlight the call for the avoidance of a nuclear war and the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Delia Chatoor is a retired foreign service officer, Vice President of the Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society, and a Lay Minister of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando Parish.

Photo: Pope Francis lights a candle as he leads a meeting for peace at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, Japan, Nov. 24, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See stories slugged POPE-JAPAN Nov. 23, 2019.