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70 years of remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki—it’s time for action

Newspapers, radio and TV stations, activists, and the general public have just commemorated the 70th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima, 6 August 1945, and Nagasaki, 9 August 1945. Hibakusha, the survivors, have shared with us their stories and we have remembered the lives lost on those days and the decades to follow.

Yet despite this recognition, 16,000 nuclear weapons still remain today, which the capacity to inflict incredible horror on the world. China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, United States, and United Kingdom still think that nuclear weapons are a viable option for ensuring their national security and have plans to “modernise” these weapons in the coming decades. Those states under their “nuclear umbrellas” are complicit in maintaining this status quo.

But a sense of change is in the air. The majority of states have pledged to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.” This is after three conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in Oslo (Norway), Nayarit (Mexico), and Vienna (Austria) examining the impacts of nuclear weapon explosions, international response capacity, the risks of nuclear weapons use, challenges and capabilities regarding the use of nuclear weapons, and existing international norms and laws. Additionally, the 2015 Review Conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty demonstrated clearly where the fault lines between progress and maintaining the status quo lie.

So the big question remains, when will our remembrance be translated into effective action?

When will states get together and negotiate a legally binding prohibition of nuclear weapons? When will states agree on effective measures to disarm and eliminate nuclear weapons once and for all? How many more testimonies of Hibakusha will you need to listen to? How many more facts do you need? How many more years need to elapse? Because in the end, what it comes down to is remembering your humanity and forgetting the rest, as Russell and Einstein wrote in their 1955 manifesto.

70 years is long enough, it’s time to ban the bomb.