We really are at the crossroads and [disarmament] will happen if people of goodwill all over the world raise their voices and take action to let the governments of the world know that’s what they want.
— Jody Williams
68 years ago last week, two atomic bombs were detonated over Japan – the first, over Hiroshima on August 6 and the second over Nagasaki three days later. Hiroshima’s blast caused an estimated 140, 000 deaths by the end of 1945 and destroyed approximately 70 percent of the city’s buildings. The slightly larger bomb over Nagasaki killed an estimated 74, 000 people by the end of the year and caused ground temperatures to reach a staggering 4, 000°C. The health effects of both bombs are still felt today with alarmingly high cancer rates among survivors.
Fittingly, The Japan Council against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs (Gensuiko) convened the 2013 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs last week in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The conference brought together local and national governments, NGOs, activists, and nuclear disaster survivors to develop joint efforts to achieve a nuclear-free world. Currently, nine countries possess more than 17, 000 nuclear weapons, most more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A ban would not only make it illegal for nations to own nuclear weapons but also require elimination of current ones.
Nuclear Abolition Week was observed throughout the world in July, with many events spearheaded by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN): “a global campaign coalition working to mobilize people in all countries to inspire, persuade and pressure their governments to initiate and support negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons”. ICAN’s campaigners can be found across the globe and are calling upon national governments to support a ban through a variety of activities such as organized press conferences, exhibitions and meetings with government officials.
There is a growing international call for a ban on nuclear weapons. Since 2008, an average of four in five people polled in 26 nations have said “yes” to a ban and 151 of 195 United Nations member nations are in agreement. With so many in support, it is more critical than ever that citizens mobilize to make their voices heard.
Is there a new anti-nuclear movement growing?, Rabble, August 6 2013.