Today, August 6 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima – the first use of an atomic bomb in armed conflict.
UK WILPF members remember that it was early in the morning as people were making their way to school or work. Tens of thousands of people were instantly vapourised and the scene was one of unimaginable pain and suffering as fire swept through a city in which all water had evaporated. People suffered appalling burns. Their flesh melted. Many would be physically scarred for the rest of their lives. The loss of food, water, shelter and medical attention was just the beginning. Radiation sickness was little understood at the time, yet affected many people over the years and decades that followed.
Three days later, another nuclear bomb was exploded on the population of Nagasaki. The tragedy was repeated.
UK WILPF joins with others around the world in holding ceremonies of remembrance on this day that include silence for reflection, the lighting of candles at dusk and speeches on the lunacy of continuing to maintain the most inhumanely destructive and expensive weapons in the world.
In 1996, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advised on the legality of nuclear weapons. The Court concluded that “The threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular, the principles and rules of humanitarian law (paragraph 2E),” and that “States must never make civilians the object of attack and must consequently never use weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets (paragraph 78).”
UK WILPF also notes that a legal opinion on the replacement of the UK Trident nuclear missile system would “breach Article VI of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and would be a material breach of the treaty itself.”
In addition to legal and moral issues, UK WILPF expresses concern that in these days of increasing austerity in the UK, the replacement of the Trident nuclear missile system (at a cost of £100 billion) constitutes a misappropriation of taxpayers money that would be better redirected to education, health, the environment, housing and social welfare.
Please join WILPF’s Reaching Critical Will programme in campaigning for a ban on all nuclear weapons and in asking your MP to support the non-renewal of the UK Trident nuclear weapons systems.