The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) warmly welcomes President Obama and President Abe for taking time after the G7 summit to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and lay wreaths at the cenotaph to those who died in the Hiroshima nuclear weapon attack of August 6th, 1945. It was also touching to see President Obama meet with survivors of the attacks (known as the ‘hibakuska’).
In his address at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park President Obama said: “Death fell from the sky and the world was changed” and the bombing had shown that “mankind possessed the means to destroy itself”. President Obama went on to say the memory of Hiroshima must never fade: “It allows us to fight complacencies, fuels our moral imagination and allows us to change.”
Of nuclear weapons, he said: “We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.” (1)
NFLA was established over 35 years ago to lobby politicians to have such courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a nuclear weapon free world. It has worked consistently with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, through the NFLA and the wider Mayors for Peace organisation, to achieve that aim (2). Despite the President’s warm and welcome words, it remains clear that politicians from the nuclear weapon states still do not have the courage to act on these words.
At present all the main nuclear weapon states are in the process of spending huge amounts of public money to upgrade and ‘improve’ their nuclear weapons stockpile. As The Guardian’s editorial has pointed out, the United States is planning to spend an estimated $1trillion over the next 30 years on modernising its nuclear arsenal. (3) These include much more destructive, smaller and more flexible nuclear weapons. Though President Obama’s words on nuclear disarmament have been welcome, his policy actions have been a real disappointment.
In the UK, the Government also appears determined to a wholesale replacement and costly upgrade of the Trident nuclear weapons programme. A recently published CND analysis suggests that could eventually cost as much as £205 billion. (4) At a time when public services, including local authority budgets, have been squeezed for several years, and years more to come, such figures fly in the face of the Government’s Parliamentary pledge to look for a multilateral disarmament process and a ‘world free from nuclear weapons’.
Over the last few weeks, states from around the world have been at the United Nations in Geneva looking at ways to kick-start talks and meaningful discussion on nuclear disarmament. The United States, UK, France, Russia and China have all boycotted these meetings. Until these states start meaningful engagement with non-nuclear weapon states the world remains under threat of a deliberate or accidental conflict using such destructive weapons.
In their op-ed for the UPI, disarmament experts Ward Wilson and Jean-Marie Collin comment:
Nuclear weapons are the Maginot Line of the 21st century. This famous French fortification system, built at enormous cost between 1928 and 1940, was expensive, impressive, a symbol of national security, and ultimately ineffective. It didn’t prevent the Nazi invasion. Nuclear weapons are often held up as symbols of national greatness, but the problem with symbols is that people sometimes fall in love with the symbol and forget to be sure that the weapon system itself is really useful. Nuclear deterrence doesn’t engage with the security challenges most states face in this century: terrorism, cyber war and climate change.” (5)
NFLA will continue to call for a nuclear weapons free world and it stand in solidarity with cities likes Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the 7,000+ members of Mayors for Peace to call on our politicians to have the courage of their convictions and abolish nuclear weapons.
NFLA Chair Councillor Ernie Galsworthy said:
I warmly welcome President Obama taking the time to go to visit Hiroshima and see for himself the terrible effects of nuclear weapons on ordinary people. It is disappointing that our own Prime Minister David Cameron and President Hollande did not join him in the Hiroshima Peace Park. President Obama lit up the world with his famous speech in Prague calling for a nuclear weapons free world. But he visits Hiroshima at the end of his term of office with little time to realise this aim, and a policy that will rather see nuclear weapons remain in place for decades more to come. It really is time for politicians like President Obama, David Cameron and Francois Hollande to live up the wishes of the world community and the hibakuska and actually make their warm words become dynamic action towards nuclear disarmament. NFLA will continue to seek to challenge them to do it. As President Obama once used to say – ‘Yes we can’.”
For more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary on 07771 930196.
Notes for Editors
(1) BBC, 27th May 2016 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-36394975
(2) Mayors for Peace http://www.mayorsforpeace.org
(4) CND, ‘Trident replacement costs rise to staggering £205 billion’, 12th May 2016 http://www.cnduk.org/cnd-media/item/2449-tident-replacement-cost-rises-to-staggering-%C2%A3205-billion
(5) UPI.com Op-ed by Ward Wilson and Jean-Marie Collin, ‘As Obama visits Hiroshima, time for all nations to back down from nuclear brink’, 26th May 2016 http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Opinion/2016/05/26/As-Obama-visits-Hiroshima-time-for-all-nations-to-back-down-from-nuclear-brink/2941464263950/