Dear Friends of Peace in Vienna,
I applaud your continuing to commemorate August 6th, the day in 1945 on which the first atomic bomb was used in warfare, dropped by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The use of that bomb took 70,000 lives immediately and 140,000 lives by the end of 1945. It was a bomb that vaporized people, leaving behind, for some, only shadows and elemental particles. The use of atomic weapons was a war crime and crime against humanity. Three days later these crimes were repeated on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, killing 40,000 people immediately and 70,000 by the end of 1945.
When these atrocities were committed in August 1945, there were no additional nuclear weapons in the world. Today there are more than 15,000 nuclear weapons, most far more powerful than those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And most of the world is complacent in the face of these terrible devices of mass annihilation. In our world today, nuclear weapons bestow prestige rather than disgrace. We are like small children playing with fire. In our hubris, we believe that we can possess these weapons and threaten their use without adverse consequences. But this isn’t so. If countries continue to rely upon nuclear weapons for their security, eventually they will be used again – because we humans are fallible creatures and nuclear deterrence is a dangerous and unproven hypothesis.
Some 180 U.S. nuclear weapons are deployed in Europe, including in Turkey, where there was a recent attempted coup d’état that involved high-ranking military officers from Incirlik Air Force Base, the very base where the U.S. stores its nuclear weapons. Mass killings occur almost daily. The world is filled with terrorists and unstable individuals, who desire to do harm to innocent people. This is bad enough, but the ultimate evil would be to again use nuclear weapons. So long as they are relied upon for security, so long as they are possessed, there remains a not insignificant chance they will be used again by mistake or malice. We must abolish these weapons before they abolish us.
Nuclear weapons must be abolished so that we can get on with the task of building a more decent world. To achieve that more decent world we must move from apathy to empathy; from conformity to critical thinking; from ignorance to wisdom; and from denial to recognition of the dangers to all humanity posed by nuclear weapons.
On behalf of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and our 75,000 members, I send you our greetings, our good wishes and our appreciation for your reflections on this anniversary day of such significant consequence to all humanity.
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation