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Nagasaki, Hiroshima mark need for nuclear arms ban

12:49 AM August 04, 2015

THE 70th anniversary of the tragedy that happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 is an important occasion for us to reflect on, especially so because of the threat that nuclear weapons continue to pose to all of humanity and to our planet.

On Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, US nuclear bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively, causing 200,000 immediate casualties. For the hibakusha or those who survived the blasts, life has been extremely difficult because, as a result of the detonations, they have to battle with dreadful cancers and other illnesses, aside from the painful loss of many loved ones.

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The nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed the catastrophic humanitarian impact that nuclear weapons can cause, and the 70th anniversary of the attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is the “appropriate milestone” to start negotiations for a treaty that will ban nuclear weapons.

Our beloved Pope Francis recently pushed the moral argument against nuclear weapons to a new level, stating that he is not only against their use but also against their possession. Archbishop Bernedito Auza, the Holy See’s ambassador to the United Nations, says: “Today there is no more argument, not even the argument of deterrence used during the Cold War, that could ‘minimally morally justify’ the possession of nuclear weapons.” (See http://time.com/3817021/pope-francis-nuclear-disarmament/)

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Pope Francis views nuclear disarmament from the perspective of the poor instead of the position of the powerful. He wrote to the Vienna Humanitarian Conference in December 2014: “Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations…. To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price…. I am convinced that the desire for peace and fraternity planted deep in the human heart will bear fruit in concrete ways to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all, to the benefit of our common home.” (See http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/vienna-2014/8Dec_Pope.pdf)

As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the nuclear weapons detonation on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, let us call on governments to start the process toward banning those weapons that have now become far more lethal and catastrophic than those used in 1945. The Philippine government has courageously taken a leadership role in the humanitarian initiative among Asean states and, hopefully, it will be among the first, too, to call for the start of this process to ban nuclear weapons.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, NEVER AGAIN!

—LORETA CASTRO, professor, International Studies and Education, Miriam College, and program director, Center for Peace Education (a partner organization of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons)

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