This is the darkest Hiroshima Day in decades – but there’s hope
Today, August 6, is the day when the world remembers the advent of the Nuclear Age in 1945, and considers how close we are to a catastrophic global nuclear war. The situation in 2022 is definitely not good.
Let’s remember that seventy-seven years ago today the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The horrific explosion, caused by a single bomb dropped by a single plane, killed 70,000 people instantly. On August 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki with the same devastating effect. The following day Japan to the United States surrendered and World War Two ended.
The first use of the atomic bomb continues to be controversial to this day, but nobody doubts that the future was changed irrevocably thereafter as nations scrambled to build nuclear weapons of their own. It launched an arms race that has never really ended – even with the conclusion of the Cold War in 1989.
By some miracle we have avoided nuclear war – mostly by “dumb luck” as some U.S. military leaders have admitted. But the danger continues.
Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin has made serious threats about using nuclear forces under his command since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, warning the United States and its NATO allies in Europe to not interfere.
For its part in this mess, NATO is rushing to expand even closer to the Russian border and has recommitted itself to its nuclear war-fighting strategy.
A warning from the United Nations
This week the CBC reported that United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres sounded the alarm over the war in Ukraine, nuclear threats in Asia and the Middle East, and other tensions, warning that “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.”
Underscoring the danger of a miscalculation, the Biden Administration delayed a test this week of an unarmed long-range missile designed to launch a nuclear attack.
Defense News reports that U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the Pentagon to postpone a planned test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, amid increased tension with China over Taiwan, the White House confirmed Thursday. It’s the second delay for the Minuteman III test after Austin ordered one in March be called off to quell tension with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
“The decision [to postpone] came in light and in context of the tensions that we’re seeing right now, and they’re pretty escalated,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said. “Temperature’s pretty high, and the president believed, and the national security team believed, that a strong, confident, capable nuclear power can afford to wait a couple of weeks for a test to make it clear — not just in word but in deed — how serious we are when we say we have no interest in escalating the tensions.”
Meanwhile NATO members, including Canada, clenched the nuclear option even tighter during their high-level meeting in June, according to an analysis by Ernie Regehr, Senior Fellow in Arctic Security and Defence at The Simons Foundation.
“Once again, the alliance propagates the dangerous myth that nuclear weapons are the ‘supreme’ source of security, doubles down on the threat of nuclear weapons use in response to conventional attack, continues to insist that alliance security depends on stationing U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe,” he writes in his August 3, 2022 Canadian Defence Policy briefing note.
Reasons to remain hopeful
But like most bad news, there is some good news as well:
- The UN Nuclear Ban Treaty is a success and held its first official meeting of governments this year, drawing even some NATO members as observers.
- Activists are urging cities to oppose nuclear weapons, just as Ottawa did in June.
- And once again, communities are gathering to commemorate the awful anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Here is a list of online and in-person events you may wish to join.