Members of the UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA), and in partnership with the Mayors for Peace organisation, will be holding events this week to commemorate the 74th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic weapon attacks. These ceremonies remember all those civilian populations affected by war and violence to the present day and others affected by the many tests of nuclear weapons that have taken place around the world.
Large peace ceremonies will take place in Hiroshima and Nagasaki this week, and commemoration events will take place in the likes of London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Leeds, as well as in many other villages, towns and cities around the UK and Ireland. (1)
The 74th anniversary comes at a time of some crisis in the nuclear weapons issue, as:
- Last Friday, the United States and Russia have both formally abrogated from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. Signed by President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev in 1987, this treaty assisted significant nuclear disarmament from Europe. Its abrogation now allows both the United States and Russia to construct new short and medium range nuclear weapons, which may bring about a new arms race in Europe again.
- There are growing tensions in the Persian Gulf following the United States withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran and placing hard-hitting economic sanctions on it. The potential for a wider conflict and a new nuclear weapons race in the Middle East remains a real possibility.
- The breakdown over talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme increases tensions in the region, threatening South Korea and Japan in particular.
On a positive side, last week St Vincent and the Grenadines became the 26th state party to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). This leaves the process for it to become international law in 2020 fully on track. NFLA believe it remains imperative to encourage multilateral nuclear disarmament and welcomes that a number of influential cities, like Manchester, Edinburgh, Berlin, Paris, Washington DC, Sydney and Toronto, amongst others, have passed resolutions calling on all states to ratify this treaty. (2) The Republic of Ireland are expected to ratify the treaty later this year. This treaty, linked in with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, should be the cornerstone of an effective non-proliferation regime that can bring about the multilateral disarmament of the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. This regime is arguably under the greatest stress since 1987.
The NFLA supports the recent statement of the Mayor of Hiroshima calling on the US and Russia to make earnest efforts for the achievement of a world without nuclear weapons. (3) International treaties are the backbone of a rule-based diplomatic system to protect citizens from the use of nuclear weapons. NFLA remains therefore concerned over public comments made by US Government officials that the new START Treaty could be abrogated from when it comes up for renewal in 2021. (4)
NFLA Steering Committee Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I welcome that so many of our members will be holding or actively participating in ceremonies to remember the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic weapon attacks, that led to the deaths of over 200,000 people. After considerable progress following the end of the Cold War, and despite the overwhelming view of the large majority of UN member states to develop a Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty, these are very worrying times as the two states that possess over ninety per cent of the world’s stockpiles of nuclear weapons become ever more belligerent towards each other. Civil society needs to redouble its efforts to say we never want to see another nuclear weapon used again. The message of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seems more important than ever to share.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Selected events for Hiroshima and Nagasaki Day –
Hiroshima Day (6th August unless stated)
- Southampton – official ceremony at Riverside Park at 8pm on Sunday 4th August
- Hebden Bridge – ceremony by the Packhorse bridge at 2pm on Sunday 4th August
- Perth – a walk between Perth’s two peace poles by St Ninian’s Cathedral and Rodney Gardens at 2.15pm on Sunday 4th August
- London – official event for Hiroshima Day at Tavistock Square at midday
- Manchester – official ceremony at Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, 10.30am led by the Lord Mayor of Manchester
- Glasgow – ceremony by the main entrance at Kelvingrove Art Gallery starts at 1pm
- Edinburgh – a gathering at Castle Street, alongside Princes Street from 6pm
- Paisley – official ceremony at 5pm in Barshaw Park including an address by the local MSP
- Aberdeen – commemorative event outside Marischal College, Broad Street from 7pm on 7th August
- Dundee – annual walk (which began in 1981) from Law Road by the water pumping station at 8.30pm
- Haverfordwest – lantern floating ceremony in the river that runs through the town from 6pm
- Milton Keynes – lantern ceremony by the Peace Pagoda from 7.30pm
- Hastings – the Mayor of Hastings will commence an event starting at 8.30pm
- Chester – meet by the Bandstand in the city centre park from 8pm onwards
- Liverpool – official ceremony with the Lord Mayor of Liverpool at 10.45am
- Kingston-upon-Thames – ceremony in Canbury Gardens from 8.30pm
Nagasaki Day (9th August unless stated)
- Leeds – official ceremony in Park Square from 10.30am with the Deputy Leader of Leeds City Council and the NFLA Chair
- Bradford – official ceremony and peace parade from the city centre to Lister Park from midday
- Sheffield – peace picnic in Meersbrook Park from midday
- Finchley – meet by the commemorative cherry tree in Victoria Park at 11am on the 10th August
- Wimbledon – starting at 3pm in Cannizaro Park, Wimbledon Common on the 11th August
- Hereford – meet by the cherry tree at Hereford Crematorium from midday on the 8th August
A full list of events can be found at https://cnduk.org/remembering-hiroshima-and-nagasaki/
(2) ICAN Cities Appeal – the Nuclear Ban Treaty http://nuclearban.org/cities
(3) Mayors for Peace statement, August 2nd 2019 http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/english/whatsnew/news/data/20190802/20190802_Mayor_Matsui’s_comment.pdf