When the world changed forever

By Rizwan Asghar
CTBTO Youth Group member
Originally published on Daily Times, 4 August 2017.

 

These chilling words of the father of the atomic bomb should be enough to make us realise that everything changed forever after the bombing of 6th and 9th August, 1945. During that week of unfortunate events, it became crystal clear that we, as a human race, have never been unable to rise above the level of barbarism of cave men when it comes to the way we think.

The use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not only politically unnecessary but also morally reprehensible. But major powers have always used some ideology or excuses to pursue their selfish gains or expand influence in other areas. Every time force is used in the international realm it is accompanied by lofty rhetoric about the solemn responsibility to protect the suffering populations, and other false justifications. The most despicable act of humanity and brutality was undoubtedly dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities more than six decades ago.

Even after 64 years, memories still hold on strongly, especially in the minds of the people. Jaspan, after all, was already on the verge of defeat and sane thinking on the part of the American high-ups could have prevented the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

August 6, 1945 is remembered as a black day in human history. At 9:15 am that day, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb, named ‘Little Boy’, over Hiroshima by a B-29 bomber, Enolay Gay aircraft which was piloted by Colonel Paul W Tibbets of the Usaf. Three days later on August 9, 1945 this horrible deed was repeated by dropping another bomb, named ‘Fat Boy’, over Japan’s industrial town, Nagasaki, at 12 pm. According to an estimate, almost 140,000 people were incinerated in Hiroshima and about 70,000 in Nagasaki in the wake of these two atomic strikes. The anguish, sorrows and sufferings of the survivors lingered long after the celebrations of victory had ended. The survivors of the bombings continued to suffer burns, infections, cancer and radiation sickness, which ultimately resulted in another 160,000 deaths.

Even after 64 years, memories still hold on strongly, especially in the minds of the Japanese nation. Japan was already on the verge of defeat and sane thinking on the part of the American high-ups could have prevented this tragedy. This event changed the whole world and introduced new elements in international politics.

The human race is now in a terrible predicament. Nuclear weapons have been produced in large numbers across the board, and a witless leader may order their use in a state of panic. During the Korean war, there were three instances when President Kennedy pondered over the option of using nuclear weapons against China in order to gain victory.

Today, Russia and the US together have almost 16,000 nuclear warheads. This staggering number constitutes almost 93 per cent of the total nuclear arsenal in the world. Although the two major rivals have signed many agreements in the past on not using nuclear warheads in any situation, these agreements can’t ensure that they will not be used if the need arises. Many argue that even a single incident of nuclear terrorism could forever change the world as we know it. Hundreds of metric tonnes of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium are used annually at nearly 350 different sites in more than 60 countries. This widespread use of HEU constitutes serious proliferation risks.

In the initials days as president, Obama, on his tour to Europe, talked about his dream of a nuclear-free world. But he himself pointed out that this was a very difficult task and would take much time. Palpable progress is possible only if his words are followed by concrete action. The critics of nuclear disarmament naively assert that the 65 years of nuclear non-use since Hiroshima and Nagasaki mean nukes will never be used and the world must accept the inevitability of the spread of nuclear weapons capabilities.

They very conveniently ignore the fact that national leaders sometimes act irresponsibly, to say nothing of the increasing dangers of nuclear terrorism. But policymakers continue to proceed as if the same incremental approach to limiting nuclear threats used for the last six decades will return the same results today — in our very different world.

Every nation has an interest in maintaining peaceful relations with other nations. Every country needs to play a role in creating a world free of nuclear threat. All the nuclear powers need to agree that they must eliminate all choices of using nuclear weapons in the future. This can only happen by making the world free of nuclear warheads. A survivor of the atomic bombings in 1945 remarked, “This pain that we carry, let it end with us.”

 

Rizwan Asghar is a PhD scholar at University of California, Davis. Can be contacted at rasghar@ucdavis.edu