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Nuclear Disarmament: 60 Years After Hiroshima PDF Print E-mail
Peace News
Sunday, 31 July 2005 02:30
Nuclear Disarmament: 60 Years After Hiroshima

Project Ploughshares -
The nuclear nightmare was experienced first hand by the citizens of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. On August 6 the US dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima killing some 120,000 people and an additional 75,000 died in Nagasaki from the bomb dropped on August 9. The effects of the blasts, the fires, heat and radiation, and the sickness that followed the nuclear detonations caused unspeakable suffering and destruction.

Sixty years later, vast nuclear arsenals are maintained on the premise that there could still be circumstances in which the use of nuclear weapons would be advantageous and justifiable.


Today some 30,000 nuclear

weapons remain in the

world?s stockpiles. The US

and Russia possess the vast

majority of these, including

nearly 5,000 which are

maintained at high alert.

Nuclear weapons continue

to be seen as symbols of


The US Nuclear

Posture Review, submitted

to Congress in 2002,

outlined a strategic security

approach dependent

on nuclear weapons.

The document called

for upgrades to the US

arsenal, including an increased

ability to produce Plutonium

cores for warheads and renew

nuclear testing. The US is actively

modernizing its nuclear arsenal

with research into a system to

burrow and destroy hardened


China, France, Russia, and

the UK are responding to the US

example with upgrades to both

weapons systems and their means

of delivery. The UK is about to

make a decision to replace its

Trident nuclear submarines, which

have reached the end of their

usable life, and China is committed

to a modernization program for its


The Nuclear Posture Review

also outlined several scenarios

in which the US would consider

use of nuclear weapons in a

conflict situation, including against

non-nuclear weapon states. The

continued tensions between India

and Pakistan have seen several

threats of nuclear use in South Asia

since the 1998 nuclear tests.

NATO too advocates a

continued role for nuclear

weapons in its nuclear doctrine:

?Nuclear weapons make a

unique contribution in rendering

the risks of aggression against

the Alliance incalculable and

unacceptable. Thus, they remain

essential to preserve peace.? 1999

NATO Strategic Doctrine

A commitment to eliminate

nuclear weapons

The international community

joined together in 1968 to sign the

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

(NPT) and committed to abolish

nuclear weapons. Now with

188 member states, the NPT is

considered a cornerstone security

treaty. It calls states with nuclear

weapons to disarm, and those

without to abstain from developing

a nuclear capacity.

Since its entry into force

the Treaty has helped prevent

widespread proliferation. States

including South Africa, Argentina

and Brazil abandoned their

nuclear programs to join the Treaty,

and breakout has been limited.

Through the International Atomic

Energy Agency an inspection and

verification regime continues to

mature and provides safeguards on

the civilian uses of nuclear energy.

Also, there have been significant

nuclear reductions since the Cold

War levels of some 70,000 to

current levels of 30,000.

From abolition to retention?

In spite of the signs of progress,

there is a growing shift away from

the commitment to abolish nuclear

weapons to a policy of retaining

them indefinitely. At the same

time it is upgrading its nuclear

arsenal, the Bush government

has prioritized the development

of a Ballistic Missile Defence

system with some $10 billion in

annual funding. Behind the drive

for BMD is a lack of confidence

in the multilateral arms control

and disarmament framework. The

NATO states cling to a Cold War

policy that nuclear weapons ?are

essential to preserve peace?.

As those states tasked to

disarm continue to legitimize

nuclear weapons, proliferation

pressures also increase. Iran?s

nuclear ambitions are increasingly

clear and its compliance with

civilian nuclear safeguards is in

question. The 2004 discovery of

a clandestine nuclear smuggling

ring run by the former head of

Pakistan?s nuclear program has

raised additional proliferation


This weakening commitment

to abolition was evident in the

2005 NPT Review process.

Preparatory discussions achieved

minimal progress and there

was failure to reach consensus

at the 2005 Conference. North

Korea announced its intention to

withdraw from the NPT in 2003

and its actions have never been


Canada?s role

Canada is a strong supporter of

arms control and disarmament

and has repeatedly called for a

stronger commitment to the NPT.

For two years it was the only NATO

state to support a key UN General

Assembly resolution calling for

nuclear disarmament. In 2004,

seven other NATO members

followed Canada?s lead and voted


Through the G8, Canada is

part of the Global Partnership

Program to address nuclear nonproliferation

threats in the world

today. Its contributions of $10

billion over 10 years are targeted

at destroying Russian chemical

weapons stockpiles and nuclear

submarines; securing nuclear

facilities; and employing former

Soviet weapons scientists.

Still, Canada?s leadership in

the call for nuclear disarmament

is compromised by its continued

adherence to NATO?s nuclear

policy. The non-nuclear NATO

member states bear a special

responsibility to bring NPT

policy into line with agreed NPT


What can you do?

The 2005 NPT Review Conference

demonstrated that nuclear weapons

are perceived to be symbols of

power. Continued policies and

actions that assume the possible

use of nuclear weapons undermine

disarmament commitments. As

we commemorate the nuclear

atrocities of Hiroshima and

Nagasaki we recognize 60 years of

nuclear peril.

1 Write your MP and express

your concern about the

continued political legitimacy of

nuclear weapons, and particularly

Canada?s compromised role in


2Work through your faith or

community group to pass

resolutions calling for concrete

steps toward disarmament.

You can remain informed

about new developments and

Canada?s actions by accessing the

resources of Project Ploughshares

at www.ploughshares.ca. If

you have questions or need

assistance in drafting letters or

resolutions, please contact us at

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Last Updated on Sunday, 31 July 2005 02:30

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