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YUKO GULDA
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THOMAS MUETZELBURG

Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The suffering of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unspeakable. Some were vaporized immediately; others left in agony for hours, days, weeks or longer.
Why is it so important to remember? Is the aim to blame those who dropped the bombs? Nuclear weapons are the product of a chapter in human history so dark and inhumane that it is hard to grasp for most of us who were born after the Second World War. It's important to remember so that we can learn for the future. To make ours the credo of the survivors of the bombings, the Hibakusha: »Never again«.

Equally hard to grasp is the destructive power of the nuclear weapons developed after »Little Boy« and »Fat Man«. To put it into scale: if the destructive force of the Hiroshima bomb were represented by the space occupied by this lectern, a thermonuclear bomb would be the entire Rotunda. Cold War strategists counted casualties in »megadeaths«, the unit for one million victims.

As long as nuclear weapons remain, so does the risk that they will be detonated – whether as a test, accidentally or intentionally.

1. The risk of nuclear nesting
Around 500 atmospheric tests conducted since 1945 exposed whole populations to radioactive fallout, while many of the 1,500 underground tests left the soil contaminated and the ground water threatened for thousands of years.

The UN General Assembly Resolution has established 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests »to avert devastating and harmful effects on the lives and health of people and the environment«. Here in the Rotunda, an art exhibition and a reception hosted by the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan will mark this International Day.

2. Accidents and nuclear
near misses

During the Cold War, the Superpower's early warning systems on both sides erroneously indicated a nuclear attack from the other side on more than one occasion. In 1983 for example, a lonely decision by Soviet Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Yevgrafovich avoided an all-out nuclear war. His computer indicated incoming U.S. missiles – which later turned out to be sunlight glinting off U.S. territory which a satellite saw as missile flares.

There are numerous cases where nuclear weapons were damaged, lost, misplaced or even dropped from airplanes by mistake. By sheer luck none of them detonated – so far. For the United States, the Pentagon's official list of »broken arrows« mentions 32 accidents with nuclear weapons that posed a potential threat to the public.

 

3. Intentional Use
And then there is a remote but not impossible chance that one day, a nuclear weapon might fall into the hands of non-state actors. Imagine for a second what this would mean for the bitter conflicts that we follow in the news today.

A recent study by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War concludes that the most likely way to die from nuclear explosions is actually ... from starvation: a limited nuclear conflict using only a tiny fraction of the world's nuclear arsenal could cause a global nuclear winter lasting for a quarter of a century, potentially starving a quarter of the world's population.

Nuclear weapons therefore pose a security risk to all; in the long run, they even pose a threat to their own possessors. The Japanese people were far-sighted in categorically interpreting »never again« as a rejection of all nuclear weapons, in anyone's possession – and not as »never again another nuclear attack on Japan« by seeking their own nuclear deterrence.

When CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo visited Japan last year to lay wreaths at the memorial sites of both cities and speak to the Hibakusha, he stressed: »The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, Hiroshima and Nagasaki share common objectives. The CTBT will be a first step towards making sure that what happened to Hiroshima will never happen again.«

The Treaty's no test-norm effectively hampers the first-time development of nuclear weapons as well as the development of more destructive ones. While legally not yet in force, the CTBT has created an almost universal norm that most countries would feel ashamed to violate. The CTBTO verification regime is nearly complete and sure to detect any attempt to hide a nuclear test.

But as long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not safe. We cannot and should not rest. This is why remembering the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is so important for our own future.

Thank you!