68 years after the US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

hiroshimaOn 6 and 9 August 1945, the United States dropped nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The development, manufacture, testing, possession, deployment, and sharing of nuclear weapons continues today. The threat of the use of these weapons still exists. The arms race is continuing.

All of the states that currently possess nuclear weapons have plans to modernize these weapons in the coming decades. The Obama administration has committed to spend $275 billion dollars over the next 25 years to maintain the US nuclear arsenal.

This commitment to invest further in nuclear weapons comes at a time of global economic crisis. It is a classic, heartbreaking example of wasted financial and human resources. The money and scientific effort could be better put to use in creating jobs, building homes and schools, providing health care, developing renewable energy technologies, and so much more.

Instead, nuclear-armed states continue to pour vast resources into creating and maintaining these weapons that, if ever used again, will have catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences.

"Indiscriminately stealing the lives of innocent people, permanently altering the lives of survivors, and stalking their minds and bodies to the end of their days, the atomic bomb is the ultimate inhumane weapon and an absolute evil," said Mayor Kazumi Matsui of Hiroshima in the 2013 Hiroshima Peace Declaration.

These governments buy into the myth that nuclear weapons are useful. They put their faith in “nuclear deterrence” and see nuclear weapons as their guarantee of survival and independence, despite the lack of convincing evidence.

Some of these governments are also influenced by the corporations that accord economic value to nuclear weapons. Companies get and stay involved in the nuclear weapons business because it brings them large flows of cash without financial risk or investment. They have a vested interest in the perpetuation of the “nuclear deterrence” myth.

But in the end, nuclear weapons are weapons of terror, of immense destruction, of indiscriminate effect. They must be banned and eliminated.

Working effectively together, states that truly want to achieve a nuclear weapons free world could put in place a global legal prohibition of nuclear weapons that would stigmatize the weapons, provide obligations for financial institutions to divest from companies involved in nuclear weapons production, and build pressure for disarmament.

68 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States, it’s time to consider new, innovative, and daring ways to change the political and economic landscape that currently protects the possession of nuclear weapons from significant challenge.

It’s time to ban the bomb.