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Remembering Hiroshima

By David Murray

6th August, 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of the US, on behalf of the Allies, dropping a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and, three days later, a second one on Nagasaki. It also marks the ‘run up’ to the decision whether to renew the Trident nuclear system.

The bombs and consequent firestorms raised temperatures to 4000 degrees C, obliterating the cities and killing every living thing within one kilometre. People closest to the explosions died instantly, their bodies turned to black char.

Hiroshima stands on a flat river delta offering little protection, so when the bomb exploded above the crowded city centre, the firestorm ultimately destroyed 5 square miles of the city and out of a 350,000 total population estimates of deaths range from 100,000 to 180,000.

The Nagasaki bomb was more powerful so, although hills shielded the centre, the harbour and the historic district, the narrowing effect of the hills left virtually nothing standing in the Urakami Valley, where destruction was greater than Hiroshima. Overall nearly a quarter of Nagasaki’s buildings were consumed by fire, but casualty estimates of 50,000 to 100,000 are less than Hiroshima.

By 1950 over 340,000 people had died, more than half the cities’ populations and generations have been poisoned by radiation.

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were acts of war. But nuclear testing in the Pacific, Kazakhstan, the US, Africa, South Asia, and China has also caused profound ongoing damage to the environment and local communities around the world.

Today, Britain, as part of its Trident system, owns 225 warheads each with the power to inflict 8 times the damage of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

So with great sadness we remember the victims who died and those who still suffer from such horrific weapons by reaffirming our determination that such barbarity should never be repeated. We also urge the British Government to honour its signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which the UK has no right to possess nuclear weapons and is legally bound to disarm, by not wasting money renewing Trident.

In May this year William McNeilly told of life on patrol on HMS Vanguard, a Trident submarine, a tale of faulty equipment, poor security and safety blunders: a weapons compartment accidentally flooded by operator error; meat dumped in a skip, loaded onto the submarine for the crew to eat; toilets and drinking water supplies not working; and Vanguard failed a critical test to confirm that it could launch its missiles.

And, according to documents provided to Nuclear Information Service under the FOI Act, a flagship £600 million construction project at Aldermaston – centrepiece of plans to manufacture the next generation of Trident warheads – has been put on hold following a series of design problems, project management failures and regulatory setbacks.

Scrapping Trident would thus make practical sense, meet the UK’s legal obligation and release money for peaceful purposes such as hospitals, schools and affordable homes.

Useful organisations and websites

Action AWE – http://actionawe.org/

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – www.cnduk.org/home

Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – http://ccnd.gn.apc.org/

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – www.icanw.org

Nuclear Morality Project – www.nuclearmorality.com

Nuclear Information Service – www.nuclearinfo.org/

Pax Christi UK – http://paxchristi.org.uk/

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