While we remember those killed or maimed by atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seventy years ago, very few of us have a real understanding of the effect of those weapons. Even at the time it was not the amount of destruction that occurred that impressed, for both sides had been killing fifty thousands in bombing raids, but that it was just one bomb in just one plane that had done all that terrible destruction.
The weapons that now would be used are between ten and a thousand times more powerful than Little Boy and Fat Man, the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A standard current nuclear warhead delivered by a long range missile exploded above our heads here in Rotary Park would destroy all the buildings standing in the City of Saskatoon. Several thousand people would be vaporized and completely disappear, several thousand more would be burnt to death and many many, more would succumb to the effects of radiation. Last Thursday, the Mayor of Hiroshima said that by the end of 1945, 140,000 irreplaceable lives had been taken. By comparison, the irreplaceable 250,000 citizens of Saskatoon would be taken as well as many hundreds in outlying places such as Warman, Martensville and Delisle.
The world leaders in 1945 /46 had witnessed the destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and knew of the effects of new weapons being tested, usually in the homes of indigenous people. It was the realization of their destructive force and long time consequences that created the impetus for the creation of the United Nations to work for World Peace.
Children, I expect some of you have been told not to play with matches or the fire, perhaps after you nearly caused a fire I expect that now you do not play with matches anymore. Unfortunately the leaders of the USA , Russia, Great Britain, France and China having found out how dangerous nuclear weapons were, did not put them away and get rid of them but started to build more and more and make them better, so that they could kill more people.
In response Ireland led the non nuclear weapon nations to have the United Nations enact the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty of 1970 under which those nations that did not have nuclear weapons agreed not to obtain them and the five nuclear nations, USA, Russia, UK, France and China gave a solemn agreement to end the arms race and move to nuclear weapon disarmament.Despite this Treaty those Five Nations have continued to play with their matches so that by 1986 there were over 70.000 very large nuclear weapons in the world. Up to date they have not lit them but there have been several near accidents.
For many years USA and Russia kept their weapons knowing that their use in war would result in Mutually Assured Destruction commonly referred to as MAD. During this time Israel.India,Pakistan and North Korea built their own atomic weapons. In 1986 after the meeting of Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev of Russia as well as the other nuclear weapon states have reduced their armaments and the numbers have been coming down and now there are ONLY 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world. However, 1,600 of these are capable of being fired at twenty minutes notice if ordered to do so by the Presidents of the USA and Russia. If as few as 100 were fired the dust created would be sufficient to cut out the rays of the sun and so create Nuclear Winter resulting in the death of all living thing within six months with t he possible exception of bacteria. Cold War Red Button Blackberry
The NPT is reviewed by a United Nations Review Committee every five years. At the last meeting in New York in May the Nuclear Weapon states would not agree to change this practice. Furthermore they also could not agree to create a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Mediterranean.
The Nuclear weapon states have made it clear that they will keep and improve their nuclear armament. We therefore rely upon the training of the military personnel in Russia and the USA not to make a mistake in interpretation of the suspicious shadows they see on their monitors. If they do it will lead to ACCIDENTAL NUCLEAR WAR
There is always the risk of terrorist use of some sort of nuclear weapon as there is no agreement how to safely contain the vast amount of nuclear waste that could be the basis for an amateur bomb.
And finally any of our leaders who are prepared to live under MAD, the threat of mutually assured destruction, may under perceived or actual military threat decide to start a nuclear weapon exchange.
When the USA, the most powerful and partially well educated country, can have clowns like Donald Trump running for the Presidency, I personally don’t feel too secure.
The breakdown of the NPT discussions this year means that now the NON Nuclear Weapon States are on their own to create an effective treaty that would ban nuclear weapons for ever. There are already 107 nations that are committed to create such a Convention.
For this to happen the real effort will have to be made by citizens demanding that their leaders support those 107 until the Nuclear Weapon States are isolated and agree not to live with the possibility of blowing ourselves up.
The Abolition of Slavery, Independence for India, Civil Rights in America, the fall of the Berlin Wall and Apartheid in South Africa all came about because the people demanded that it should.
We must start at home. You will be shocked to learn that Canada was a joint mover with the USA and UK of the resolution to deny any progress in nuclear disarmament at the recent NPT conference.
Our young people have shown us the way to work for Peace by working to stop bullying in their schools.
The rest of us must persuade our government or obtain a government so that Canada can once again become a nation working for Peace and not one that pretends it is a significant military power.
When the Hibakusha, Setsoko Thurlow who many of us met here a few years ago spoke to the assembled nations at the recent NPT conference she reminded them of the memorial in the Peace Park in Hiroshima that reads,
”Rest in Peace, this error must not be repeated.”
IT IS UP TO US
Written by John Bury