Washington, D.C. — August 6, 2018 — Seventy-three years ago, on August 6, 1945, the U.S. dropped the first nuclear bomb ever used in war on the city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 80,000 people instantly. On August 9, the U.S. dropped a second nuclear bomb on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000, mostly civilians. By December of 1945, most estimates put the death toll at more than 200,000, though some believe that number is low.
Ahead of the anniversaries, Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs at Peace Action, spoke to the importance of marking these anniversaries. “Besides paying respect and commemorating the lives lost in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, marking the anniversaries offers the world an opportunity to reflect on the threat still posed by nuclear weapons, and more importantly, an opportunity to organize for their reduction and elimination.”
Addressing tensions with Iran and North Korea, Martin commented, “From President Trump’s repeated threats of nuclear war, to his reckless and unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, the nuclear threat under this presidency is the highest it’s been since the Cold War. Diplomacy with North Korea on the other hand, which Trump deserves some credit for pursuing, is one of the few causes for hope for reducing the nuclear threat during this presidency. But for talks to succeed, the administration needs to adopt a more patient, concrete and reciprocal approach to negotiations.”
“As the only country to ever use nuclear weapons in war,” Martin continued, “and as a signatory to the Nonproliferation Treaty, the United States has both a moral and legal obligation to negotiate in good faith with other nuclear-armed nations for the reduction and elimination of the world’s nuclear arsenals, including our own. Unfortunately, the Trump administration is instead moving forward with plans to spend $1.7 trillion adjusted for inflation on nuclear weapons over the next three decades.”
Speaking to current efforts in the U.S. and internationally to reduce the nuclear threat, Martin added, “from organizing around the nuclear weapons ban treaty that the United Nations adopted last year, to supporting legislation like Senator Ed Markey’s (D-MA) Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, which would prevent the president from launching a nuclear first strike without congressional approval, activists the world over are working tirelessly to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again.”
Emily Rubino, the Grassroots Campaigns Coordinator for Peace Action New York State, is one such activist, and is in Japan representing Peace Action at events commemorating the bombings. Sharing her thoughts on the anniversaries, she remarked, “This year marks the 73rd anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the 60th anniversary of the Japan Peace March, spanning from Tokyo to Hiroshima over a period of three months. As I march through the Hiroshima prefecture, I feel more than ever that it is important for the U.S. to reconcile our horrible past. The average age of the hibakusha, a survivor of nuclear disaster, is over 80 years old, and the history of the horrors they faced at the hands of the United States is being forgotten by younger generations in Japan and in the United States. For the United States to even consider ever using nuclear weapons again is an insult to the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who know the horrors of these weapons all too well.”
Hassan El-Tayyab, the Policy and Organizing Director for Chicago Area Peace Action, is also in Japan to commemorate the anniversaries. Pointing to polling on nuclear weapons in the Trump era, El-Tayyab noted, “With a staggering 88 percent of the American public worried about the possibility of nuclear war under the Trump administration, and with the 2018 midterms fast approaching, the time is right for concerned citizens to double down on our collective political engagement to advance the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.”
Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to international conflicts. The public may learn more and take action at www.PeaceAction.org.