70 years after the devastating atomic bombing of Hiroshima, US Secretary of State John Kerry has today made a commemorative visit to the Hiroshima Peace Park, making him the most senior US official to have ever done so.
Laying a wreath at the cenotaph, a memorial for the hundreds of thousands who died as a result of the bombing, Kerry stated that his visit was ‘a harsh, compelling reminder not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our effort to avoid war itself’.
The Hiroshima bombing is a terrifying example of the huge destructive power of nuclear weapons on civilian lives, and attempts to justify the USA’s use of the atom bomb ignore the massive and enduring human cost of the use of nuclear weapons.
Visits by US officials to the Peace Park have previously been avoided in order to maintain the US’s unapologetic stance on the bombing, and while Kerry made clear that he saw the event as tragic, describing the museum’s exhibits as ‘gut-wrenching’, he was careful to frame it as a reminder of the ‘extraordinary complexity of choices of war.’
CND’s Kate Hudson responded to Kerry’s visit:
“We welcome the sentiment of John Kerry’s statement, but in practice the nuclear powers are not doing enough to work towards a nuclear free world.
“The Obama administration produced a defence budget in 2012 which included a commitment to renew the US nuclear weapons arsenal, and here at home the government is committed to replacing Trident, the UK’s nuclear weapons system, despite enormous public opposition. And both are failing to comply with their international legal commitments to disarm under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”