On August 6 and 9, the world will commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively. This comes at a moment when a majority of governments around the world are preparing to sign the recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Further tension is being felt around the world as Russian state media continue to toy with the idea of using a hypersonic nuclear weapon on London and New York turning the cities into wastelands. This week, in line with the anniversary of the use of nuclear bombs in Japan during World War 2, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned a “simple miscalculation” could result in a global catastrophe.
Although difficult to calculate, the US bombs were said to have killed 135,000 people in Hiroshima and 64,000 in Nagasaki, leaving a deep dark scar on human history in the process.
Speaking of the importance to remember the event, and look back on the devastation caused, CND Chair Tom Unterrainer spoke to Express.co.uk.
He said: “The atomic bombing of Hiroshima was an outrage and a human catastrophe.
“The same is true for the subsequent atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
“These cities were obliterated, thousands were killed in an instant: vaporised in the initial blast.
“By 1950, over 340,000 people had died as a result and generations were poisoned by radiation.
“These bombings are the only time that such weapons have been used against a civilian population.
“They resulted in mass death.
“If we are to retain any sense of humanity, it is vital that we remember those who perished.
“It is also vital that we understand and remember the terrifying destructive power of atomic and nuclear weapons.”
Speaking of why a nuclear bomb should never be used in conflict again, Mr Unterrainer added: “If any one of the nuclear-armed states uses a nuclear weapon, others will do likewise.
“There will be a reaction and this reaction could lead to full and widespread nuclear war.
“This will spell the end of humanity as we know it.
“Even if you could imagine a situation where no response arose, the detonation of a single modern nuclear warhead over a populated area would cause death and destruction beyond imagining: it would constitute a crime against humanity.
“The possession of nuclear weapons, the drawing up of target lists, the investment in new such weapons and the planes, submarines and missile systems that go with them amount to the planning of a crime against humanity.
“Any rational society would arrest and imprison an individual known to be planning mass murder, yet the nuclear-armed states parade themselves as defending a rules-based order.
“The decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an unnecessary decision. Japan was on the verge of surrender.
“America dropped these bombs as a signal of their military power, not to end the war with Japan.
“The main lesson we should draw from this experience is that atomic and nuclear weapons – and the power that comes with them – are a deadly threat.
“There are now more than 13,000 nuclear weapons.
“The UK’s nuclear warheads alone are around 8 times more powerful than the bomb used against Hiroshima.
“The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is the threat of mass extermination.
“How much longer can we tolerate such threats?”
Speaking of the work CND is doing to raise awareness surrounding nuclear proliferation, the campaigner said: “CND robustly supports all international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
“We only wish the same could be said for the British Government, which is in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“The states parties to the NPT are currently meeting at the United Nations in New York for a Review Conference.
“Prime Minister Johnson’s ‘Integrated Review’ announced an increase in the UK’s nuclear weapon stockpile and a change in nuclear use posture – now reserving the right to use nuclear weapons not only against nuclear threats but against supposedly comparable threats, such as chemical and biological weapons or ‘emerging technologies’.
“An additional change is an end to the UK’s much-vaunted transparency on nuclear weapons – an extension of the policy of deliberate ambiguity and an end to giving public figures for the ‘operational stockpile, deployed warhead or deployed missile numbers.’
“Lawyers commissioned by CND concluded that these announcements amounted to a breach.”
Finally, when asked about whether nuclear-armed states should reveal their stocks of weapons openly, Mr Unterrainer ended by saying: “All states should, of course, declare their stocks of nuclear weapons.
“How they can be forced to do so in a situation where the UK refuses to be transparent about the actual number of warheads it possesses is another question.
“Who can force the UK to be transparent?
“Similarly, why would North Korea accept such accountability when Israel – which clearly has nuclear weapons but which maintains ‘ambiguity’ over its nuclear status – refuses to sign the NPT and yet receives significant military aid from the US and elsewhere?”
According to the Ministry of Defence, (MOD): “The threat of nuclear conflict did not end with the Cold War.
“The truth is that the security situation has worsened in recent years, with some states significantly increasing and diversifying their nuclear capabilities and behaving more aggressively.
“The UK must have the ability to protect itself and our NATO Allies.
“Our independent nuclear deterrent remains an important part of our national security strategy and it is wrong to say it is never used.
“The reality is that our deterrent protects us every hour of every day.
“By providing a credible and effective response option to extreme aggression, the deterrent reduces the likelihood of such an attack taking place.”