The US has the responsibility to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday as the Japanese city of Nagasaki marked the 76th anniversary of the US atomic bombing that brought about the end of World War II.
The US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, making them the world’s first and second locations to come under nuclear attack.
“On the solemn anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, we remember the horrific power of nuclear weapons – the enormity of the death and destruction they can deliver – and reaffirm the responsibility of the US and all nations to ensure such weapons are never used again,” he tweeted.
His declaration comes as nuclear superpowers remain under scrutiny with a UN treaty to ban atomic weapons coming into effect in January with the support of many non-nuclear states, Kyodo News reports.
US President Joe Biden said during last year’s election campaign that he would “work to bring us closer to a world without nuclear weapons, so that the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are never repeated”.
But Biden also said during the campaign that creating “a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons” is an “ultimate” goal.
Biden served as vice president under Barack Obama, who won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize but failed to achieve his vision of a world without nuclear weapons.
The Biden administration has agreed with Russia to extend their nuclear arms reduction treaty and has launched a bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue toward future arms control initiatives.
In July, on the eve of the 76th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear test conducted in the US western state of New Mexico, Biden said Hiroshima and Nagasaki “opened our eyes to the truth that a nuclear war must never be fought”.
ABC News reports that Nagasaki on Monday marked the anniversary with its mayor urging Japan, the US and Russia to do more to eliminate nuclear weapons.
In his speech at the Nagasaki Peace Park, Mayor Tomihisa Taue expressed concern that nuclear states have backtracked from disarmament efforts and are upgrading and miniaturising nuclear weapons.
Tokyo renounces its own possession, production or hosting of nuclear weapons, but as a US ally Japan hosts 50,000 American troops and is protected by the US nuclear umbrella.
“Please look into building a nuclear-weapons-free zone in Northeast Asia that would create a ‘non-nuclear umbrella’ instead of a ‘nuclear umbrella’ and be a step in the direction of a world free of nuclear weapons,” Taue said as he urged Japan’s government to do more to take action for nuclear disarmament.
He also called on Japan’s government and lawmakers to quickly sign the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that took effect in January.
At 11.02am, the moment the US B-29 bomber dropped a plutonium bomb, Nagasaki survivors and other participants in the ceremony stood in a minute of silence to honour more than 70,000 lives lost in the single blast.
The Aug 9, 1945, bombing came three days after the United States carried out the world’s first atomic attack, killing 140,000 in Hiroshima.
Japan surrendered on Aug 15, ending World War II.