UN Secretary General António Guterres on Sunday marked 75 years since the atomic bombing of Nagasaki with praise for the hibakusha, the survivors, who transformed their decades-long plight into a warning about the perils of nuclear weapons and an example of the triumph of the human spirit.
“Your example should provide the world with a daily motivation to eliminate all nuclear weapons. Sadly, three-quarters of a century after this city was incinerated by an atomic bomb,the nuclear menace is once again on the rise,” said Mr. Guterres in a statement delivered in Nagasaki by Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.
In remarks delivered to the Peace Memorial Ceremony, the UN chief hailed Nagasaki as a true example of resilience, recovery and reconciliation.
“Citizens of Nagasaki are not defined by the atomic bombing, but they are dedicated to ensuring such a catastrophe never befalls another city or people,” he said, adding that the international community remains grateful for that dedication to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.
Yet while the resilience of the people of Nagasaki and the venerable, long-suffering hibakusha “should provide the world with a daily motivation to eliminate all nuclear weapons,” the Secretary-General warned that the prospect of nuclear weapons being used intentionally, by accident or miscalculation, is dangerously high.
He explained that while nuclear weapons are being modernized to become stealthier, more accurate, faster and more dangerous, the relationships between nuclear-armed States are precarious – defined by distrust, a lack of transparency and dearth of dialogue.
“Nuclear sabres are being rattled, with bellicose rhetoric not seen since the Cold War,” he stated.
Moreover, the historic progress in nuclear disarmament is in jeopardy, as the web of instruments and agreements designed to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and bring about their elimination is crumbling, he said, urging: “This alarming trend must be reversed.”
Calling on the international community to return to the understanding that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, Mr. Guterres stressed that there&is an urgent need to stop the erosion of the nuclear order.
“We must use the tenth review conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)to restart our joint efforts. We must continue to uphold the norm against nuclear testing. And we must protect and further strengthen the international nuclear disarmament regime,” said the Secretary-General, looking forward to the entry into force of Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as an “important” new element.
That treaty, known as the TPNW, is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons. It was adopted by a 2017 UN conference, where States undertook not to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. The TPNW will enter into force 90 days after the 50th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession has been deposited.
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Closing out his remarks on Sunday, the Secretary-General pledge that the United Nations will carry forward the message of the courageous hibakusha so that the entire world can see the human face of the cold logic of nuclear strategy.
“Connecting this history with the youth of today – tomorrow’s peacebuilders – must be our goal to help future generations move out from under the shadow of nuclear apocalypse,” he said.
Saturday’s ceremony follows the commemoration on 6 August of the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, which devastated that city in 1945.
The birth of the UN in that same year, is inextricably intertwined with the destruction wrought by the nuclear bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he told that ceremony.
“Since its earliest days and resolutions, the Organization has recognized the need to totally eliminate nuclear weapons”, Mr. Guterres said, adding that goal remains elusive.