In Hiroshima, UN chief says humanity is “playing with a loaded gun”
Humanity is “playing with a loaded gun” in the context of current crises with nuclear overtones, the UN secretary-general warned in Hiroshima on the occasion of the 77th anniversary on Saturday of the US atomic bombing of Japan.
At an annual ceremony held in the Japanese city to honor the victims of the 1945 bombing, Antonio Guterres made a strong appeal to world leaders to remove nuclear weapons from their arsenals.
77 years ago, “tens of thousands of people were killed all at once in this city. Women, children and men were cremated in a hellish fire,” he said.
“Buildings have turned to dust. Survivors have been cursed by a radioactive legacy”of cancers and other diseases, Guterres added.
“We have to ask ourselves: what did we learn from the atomic mushroom that swelled over this city?”
Today, “crises with a strong nuclear connotation are spreading rapidly, from the Middle East to the Korean Peninsula and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Humanity is playing with a loaded gun,” said Antonio Guterres, reiterating the warnings he had issued this week at a conference of signatory countries to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in New York.
For the past two years, commemorations of the Hiroshima bombing – attended by survivors, relatives, Japanese officials and some foreign dignitaries – have been held in a restricted manner due to Covid.
Saturday’s ceremony was more important. A silent prayer was held at 08:15 (local time), at the time when the American bomb devastated the city at the end of World War II.
The nuclear risk has been haunting minds since Russia invaded its neighbor Ukraine in February. The Russian ambassador to Japan was not invited to Saturday’s ceremony, but he traveled to Hiroshima on Thursday to lay a wreath in tribute to the victims.
About 140,000 people died as a result of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, a toll that includes people who survived the explosion but later died due to radiation.
Three days later, the United States dropped another nuclear bomb on the Japanese port city of Nagasaki, killing about 74,000 people and bringing the end of World War II.
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