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Home Articles Flashpoints NAGASAKI DAY PRESS RELEASE 9AUG 2015


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As Nagasaki, the second of the two cities on which the US dropped atomic bombs at the end of the second world war, is the 'forgotten' bombing, having come second and having a somewhat lesser body count than did Hiroshima, so nuclear weapons themselves have become, quite undeservedly, a 'forgotten' apocalypse. In the 1980s hundreds of thousands marched in the city of Sydney alone in protest at the possibility that foolish brinksmanship or miscalculation or even computer error might end the world. These terrifying possibilities remain, yet somehow we have become numb to them.

It surely should be cause for something deeper and stronger than mere 'concern' by us all that last January the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, moved by an advisory board of Nobels, decided to move the hands of its iconic 'Doomsday Clock' from 5 minutes to midnight (midnight being nuclear obliteration) to three minutes to midnight. While the nearest the clock has ever been to midnight is two minutes in 1956, when it was last at three minutes in the early '80s, the world nearly ended not once but twice in a two month period.(Sept-Nov 1983).

Since then, with the deepening of the crisis in NATO-Russia relations, and in particular with the massive intensification in encounters between NATO and Russian military aircraft, there has been warning after warning (many of these warnings coming from retired commanders of nuclear forces, from both the US and Russia) that the nightmare possibility of the 1980s, of global thermonuclear war, was and is, back on the global agenda.

In 1983 this possibility caused hundreds of thousands to march. Now, we seem like kangaroos blinking stupidly (or humans, gazing enrapturedly at our smartphones) in the headlights of an oncoming truck.

When Nagasaki was bombed on 9Aug'45, it was almost an afterthought as the primary target, Kokura, had been (very deliberately) hidden under smoke. The Atomic bomb struck significantly off-target. The tens of thousands who died were 'collateral damage'. The plane barely made it back to Okinawa, with insufficient fuel. Nagasaki gets forgotten.

If nuclear weapons ever get to be used in large numbers such as the 2-5,000 that could get used in a Russia/NATO exchange should that ever happen, or the roughly 200 that would be used in an India-Pakistan exchange, civilization itself and possibly humans as a species would be the 'collateral damage'. Those who were not incinerated in the first hour or so would experience conditions colder than the last ice-age, and literally freeze in the dark for the following 2-3 decades.

The nuclear weapon states are obliged, quite clearly and unambiguously under article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), to achieve the elimination of their nuclear arsenals by 'an early date'. That goal has been reaffirmed at NPT review conference after review conference. 'Early' has long since passed.

The most recent NPT Review Conference failed to produce a final declaration as the nuclear weapon states first gutted, and then vetoed completely, the rather weak text before the chair.

However, two important texts survive from the wreckage of the 2015 NPT, and both of them come from a series of conferences in Oslo, Nayarit (Mexico) and Vienna, on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. These are a joint declaration now signed by 166 governments, and the 'Humanitarian Pledge', promoted by the government of Austria and signed by 113 government. The Humanitarian Pledge urges a nuclear weapons ban.

The Australian Government should sign both of these vital texts, and should give nuclear disarmament the existential importance it has always had.

70 years Since Nagasaki
The Center for Peace and Conflict Studies Human Survival Project, and People for Nuclear Disarmament (PND-NSW) will be holding a seminar on '70 Years Since Nagasaki – The State of Play with Nuclear Weapons' on:

Wednesday 12 Aug 5pm-6.30pm

Center for Peace and Conflict Studies,
Rm114 Mackie Building Arundel St, (opp footbridge theater)

Dr Sue Wareham OAM, Vice-Pres. MAPW
Prof Richard Broinowski (fmr ambassador, fmr head of ABC)
John Hallam, PND, Human Survival Project.

John Hallam
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