On these days the entire world commemorates the tragedy of the two cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which were atomic bombed on August 6 and 9, 1945. Literally within a few minutes these two cities were wiped from the face of the earth.
The total number of casualties from this tragedy was more than 450,000. People were burnt alive, perished under the ruins and succumbed to the consequences of radiation. The survivors continue to die even to this day. Approximately 200,000 people are still suffering from diseases caused by the consequences of the atomic explosions.
Seventy-five years ago saw the first, and so far the last, use of nuclear weapons on our planet. In succeeding years, however, a cold war and an historically unprecedented arms race were unleashed between states and the world stood witness to an accumulation of nuclear capabilities which superseded by a million times the devastating force of the first two atomic bombs that struck the two Japanese cities.
Historians continue to debate the question as to why these capabilities were not put to use. There can, however, be no doubt that the shock that was experienced by those who saw and heard the testimonies of the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki made a colossal contribution to the ‘taboo’ adopted by humankind. These two cities became, as it were, the sacrificial victims on the altar to the prevention of total annihilation. The global powers ultimately recognised that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. Negotiations commenced which up until now have led to a tenfold reduction in the nuclear arsenals of the world.
But the world order and technologies are changing with alarming speed. Since the atomic drama of 1945 three generations have succeeded one another and tragic images are being effaced from the collective memory. Even worse is the fact that recent years have seen tensions in relations between the leading global powers become more acute; military rivalry is once again accelerating and the whole system of nuclear disarmament is in deep crisis. The threat of a nuclear catastrophe, which ten years ago seemed unthinkable, now once again hangs palpably over the world.
On these days the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe, which brings together sixty-five leading politicians and experts from sixteen countries, together with the rest of humanity, mourn the victims of this tragedy and hereby express their sympathy with the victims’ loved ones as well as their solidarity with the surviving eye-witnesses of the events.
We demand of the leaders of the great powers that they do their utmost to salvage the system of nuclear weapons control. First and foremost, it is essential to extend the term of the Prague (START 3) Treaty, declare a moratorium on the deployment of intermediate-range missiles, prevent the renewal of nuclear testing and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. We need to rebuild a reliable bulwark against the arms race and the growing threats of nuclear war.
Let us honour and abide by the wise promise carved on the memorial to the victims of Hiroshima: “Let all souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil”.