In 1945 two nuclear bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki causing around 212,000 deaths instantly. The world was told the bombs were necessary to end the war and save US and Allied soldiers’ lives. However we now know surrender talks were already underway and the bombs were used primarily to intimidate other countries, especially the Soviet Union.
For over 70 years humanity has been living under the threat and terror of nuclear war.
Nuclear weapons are particularly destructive because of their threefold action, which poses a threat to human survival. They produce vast amounts of energy in the form of blast, heat and radiation. The use of bomb(s) in the India/Pakistan region would cause a massive death toll of tens of millions in the first half hour and millions more would follow. Estimates of the famine that would be caused are around 2 billion people. Just like climate change, the effects of nuclear weapons do not stay in the targeted countries, but radiation will drift to all parts of the world.
Nuclear weapon states such as the US and Russia have highly sophisticated systems of command and control of the weapons on submarines, warships, land vehicles and space assets. So while Australia does not have nuclear weapons, it has allowed the US to build the command and control infrastructure on our country. These are what we call US bases and why we need to close them. We are not solely opposed to US nuclear weapons; instead we push for a position in which no country has nuclear weapons. The recent UN decision to ban nuclear weapons is an important step towards elimination of these terrible instruments.
Two significant events have occurred recently that make Hiroshima Day 2017 much more significant than ever before.
The first a truly remarkable event took place at the United Nations on Friday July 7. The vast majority of the world’s governments made clear their total rejection of these abhorrent devices, concluding a treaty to prohibit them, categorically, for all time. It was a moment of great historical significance. The prospect of nuclear disarmament should bring joy to the hearts of all Australians, the great majority of whom have consistently opposed these weapons of mass destruction for over seven decades. Unfortunately the Australian government, jumping to the tune of the US, boycotted these talks and actively sought to undermine the efforts of the other 130 countries. We need to change this situation and get our government to ratify the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons. Australia has a good record of active efforts to ban other mass destruction weapons including chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster bombs. We need to get all our federal politicians to support the banning of nuclear weapons.
The second event was how close the world came to nuclear war a few short weeks ago when President Trump threatened North Korea. The doomsday clock moved to two and a half minutes to midnight! The North Koreans have made it clear that they will use nuclear weapons on any attacker and the actions of President Trump caused the tension on the Korean Peninsula to rise alarmingly. The North Koreans then demonstrated that they had the capability to possibly hit our shores with a missile. Our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced how shocking it was that North Korea could threaten Australia with a nuclear weapon. If she is so concerned with the threat of nuclear weapons why wasn’t she representing Australia at the UN talks working to eliminate them? The Australian Government is shocked by North Korea’s small number of nuclear weapons yet they are totally relaxed about the US’s many thousands of more powerful nuclear weapons primed to be sent anywhere on earth at a moment’s notice.
We need our citizens to stand up in really big numbers at this year’s Hiroshima Day rally and march to the Prime Minister’s office and say to our politicians “enough is enough”! Australia must be taken out of a nuclear war-fighting cycle and our country must become an agent for nuclear disarmament. The theme for 2017 is the familiar cry that has been echoing around the world since 1945 – ban the bomb!