At the ceremony marking the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned of the continuing threat posed by nuclear weapons. “Humanity is playing with a loaded gun,” Guterres said at a memorial service in the Japanese city on Saturday. “Crises with heavy nuclear overtones are spreading fast – the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Guterres and Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui called for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. It was the first time in 12 years that a UN chief attended Hiroshima’s annual commemoration. Russia and its ally Belarus were not invited.
Guterres called on the members of the NPT conference in New York, which runs until August 26, to work “urgently” to abolish the global nuclear arsenal “that threatens our future”. Nuclear disarmament had already faltered before Russia launched a war of aggression against Ukraine. Now the reduction of the almost 13,000 nuclear weapons worldwide is becoming even more difficult.
“We must always bear in mind the horrors of Hiroshima and recognize that the only solution to the nuclear threat is to have no nuclear weapons at all,” said the UN Secretary-General, who received applause for his speech in Hiroshima.
minute of silence
At 8:15 a.m. (local time), the time when the US bomber Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb called “Little Boy” on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the people of Hiroshima observed a minute’s silence.
Russia had recently confirmed that it did not want to start a nuclear war. “We assume that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and that it must never be started,” President Vladimir Putin wrote in a welcoming address to the NPT conference in New York.
Tens of thousands of Hiroshima residents died immediately when the American atomic bomb was dropped, and an estimated 140,000 people died by the end of 1945. Three days after Hiroshima, the US dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Shortly thereafter, the Japanese Empire capitulated. Today, Hiroshima is a global symbol of war – and of peace.
Schallenberg: “Nuclear weapons do not offer any security”
Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) spoke from Austria in the run-up to the anniversary. “It is high time that we dispelled the myth that the constant threat of weapons of mass destruction could be a stable foundation for international security,” he said on Thursday. “The current situation in particular shows that nuclear weapons do not offer any security and endanger us all,” said the minister, referring to Russia’s “blatant threats” of using nuclear weapons that accompanied the war of aggression against Ukraine.
“If the nuclear powers modernize and expand their arsenals, the risk that these nuclear weapons will be used also increases,” warned Petra Bayr, SPÖ spokeswoman for global development, on Friday. Global warming and the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic have increased the risk of armed conflicts worldwide. “What we need now are far-sighted analyzes and prudent action so that we can keep up with the rapidly changing world situation,” said Bayr.
“Armament, arms deliveries and enthusiasm for war are tools of the warmongering of the 20th century,” said FPÖ Federal Party Chairman Herbert Kickl on Saturday. This makes Europe’s handling of the Russia-Ukraine conflict all the more “surprising, but also despicable”. “By now, everyone should be aware that arms deliveries and rearmament cannot end a war, but only continue to fuel the escalation,” says Kickl. No one can guarantee that nuclear weapons will not be used in the end, he warned, emphasizing the importance of Austria’s neutrality. It is now time to speak up for peace and negotiations and to make efforts at all diplomatic levels instead of continuing the spiral of escalation with an uncertain outcome. (dpa/apa)