The United Nations is marking the sombre 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with renewed calls for a nuclear-weapons-free world, and for all States to prevent the spread of such weapons by reaffirming their commitment to international nuclear non-proliferation treaties and accords.
“No one who has seen the victims, the film footage or photographs of the aftermath of the destruction…at the end of World War II can fail to be horrified by the devastation that was wrought by the use of nuclear weapons,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), at a commemorative event today in Vienna.
“The International Atomic Energy Agency, born out of [then United States President Dwight] Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” vision, came at a time when the horrifying consequences and images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still fresh,” he said, adding that he hoped the tragedy stood as a constant reminder of the need to prevent the further use and spread of such weapons and to pursue the vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
Over the weekend in Hiroshima, Secretary-General Kofi Annan will send a message to a Peace Memorial Ceremony marking the anniversary. In the message, to be delivered by Nobuyasu Abe, UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, he is expected to note that, without concerted action, the world may face a cascade of nuclear proliferation.
Mr. ElBaradei said that through its safeguards and verification system supporting the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and other similar non-proliferation accords, the IAEA had done a great deal of work to help stem the tide of nuclear proliferation, while ensuring that the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy are made available to all those who want them.
But he stressed that the Agency’s efforts could be better realized if they were reinforced by all other components of the nuclear non-proliferation and arms control regime, and accompanied by the political will and dialogue among concerned States to address other issues such as security and confidence-building, towards achieving a system of collective security that no longer relies on nuclear weapons.
“A world without nuclear weapons remains a far-off goal and the world continues to be burdened with nearly 30,000 nuclear warheads,” he said, noting that the NPT had not entered into force and the negotiation of a global treaty on the verified production ban on fissile material for nuclear weapons had not started.
“We cannot allow 60 years to soften our memories of how devastating such weapons are. The best protection against nuclear weapons, and the only way to prevent future Hiroshima’s and Nagasaki’s, is to bring about an end to all nuclear weapons,” he said.