Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

REMEMBERING HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI 66 YEARS AFTER

Posted by strattof on August 4, 2011

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, a city of 350,000. The bomb instantly killed a third of the population, most of them civilians. Three days later, it dropped another atomic bomb, this time on Nagasaki. It too killed tens of thousands of people. In both cities, many more would be dead by the year’s end, as a result of injuries and radiation poisoning.

CANADA AND THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS INDUSTRY

Canada has never produced an atomic bomb itself, despite having the technical ability to do so. However, Canada’s nuclear record is not innocent. Indeed, Canada has been very much involved in the nuclear arms industry from the beginning.

1942–1969: TRADING ATOMS

  • Canada started trading atoms in 1942 when it joined the US nuclear bomb effort known as the Manhattan Project, providing scientific skill and uranium to US weapons laboratories.  
  • Canada was the primary source of the uranium used in making the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The uranium came from Port Radium, North West Territories.
  •  Between 1945 and 1969, Canada was the main supplier of uranium for the Cold War atomic arsenals of the US and Britain. According to one estimate, Saskatchewan uranium alone was used to produce 27,000 American nuclear weapons.
  •  In 1970, Canada signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Officially, Canada now exports uranium exclusively for the generation of electricity. However, much of that uranium, whether exported raw or as fuel in a nuclear reactor, ends up being used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

 1970–2011: REACTOR EXPORTS AND ATOMIC BOMBS

  • In 1974, India used a Canadian nuclear reactor to produce plutonium for its first atomic bomb. The reactor, a forerunner of the CANDU reactor, was a gift to India from Canada. India now has between 40 and 95 nuclear weapons.
  •  India’s nuclear success set off a nuclear arms race with Pakistan. In 1998, Pakistan was able to detonate its first atomic explosion also using plutonium from a Canadian nuclear reactor. The on-going tension between India and Pakistan poses one of the greatest risks of nuclear war in the world today.
  •  Canada has already sold CANDU nuclear reactors to Argentina, China, India, Pakistan, Romania, and South Korea. CANDU produces larger volumes of plutonium than other commercial reactors. Every CANDU reactor that has been sold has been heavily subsidized by Canadian taxpayers.

1990-2011: RAW URANIUM EXPORTS AND WMDs

  • Canada exports 7.3 million kilograms of uranium annually, all of it coming from Saskatchewan and most of it going to the US.
  • This uranium is the initial source of much, if not all, of the depleted uranium currently being used by the US military for the production of depleted uranium weaponry–bullets and rockets coated with depleted uranium, making them dense enough to penetrate tank armour and concrete underground bunkers. 
  • On impact, depleted uranium bursts into flame, releasing tiny radiation particles that contaminate all living things and the environment with deadly radiation with a half-life of 4.5 billion years.
  •  A form of low-level nuclear warfare, depleted uranium weapons are classified as weapons of mass destruction under international law. Their demonstrated public health effects include cancer, immune system failings, kidney damage, infertility, and birth defects.
  • The US has used depleted uranium weaponry in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, and Kosovo.  Although both NATO and the US deny it, there are reports of the use of depleted uranium weaponry in the bombing of Libya.

NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

66 years after the nuclear desolation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the proliferation of nuclear weapons continues. This is despite the fact that all but 4 countries (India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea) are parties to the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  

By exporting uranium and nuclear reactors, Canada, one of the original signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, has played a key role in the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Here are two other ways in which Canada undermines the logic of the treaty:   

  • Canada is never critical of US use of depleted uranium in wars, not even those wars in which Canada is also involved as an ally.
  • Hypocritically, Canada regularly calls for new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program, but it never asks Israel to give up its sizable, undeclared arsenal of nuclear weapons or to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

THE ELM DANCE: HEALING THE WORLD

With us at the vigil today are the Singers of the Sacred Web.

We invite you to join in the Elm Dance.

From its Latvian roots this intimate folk song has grown into the Elm Dance and is danced by circles of activists around the world, from Novozybkov, 100 miles downwind from Chernobyl, to the uranium mines of northern Saskatchewan.  

Danced with reverence for human and more than human life, and in solidarity with trees who breathe in what we breathe out, the dance begins always with the dancers saying together this statement of intention: ’We do this dance as a way of strengthening our intention to participate in the healing of this beloved planet,  its humans and all beings.’  

On this anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima we dedicate this dance to all places and beings damaged by uranium mining, nuclear weapons, and nuclear power generation, including most recently Fukushima, Japan. 

SAY ‘NO’ TO NUCLEAR WASTE IN SASKATCHEWAN

The Committee For Future Generations is a group from Northern Saskatchewan which is raising awareness about the possibility of a nuclear waste dump coming to this province. The Committee has organized an 820 kilometre walk from Pinehouse to Regina. The purpose of the walk is to wake people up to the reality that northern Saskatchewan is being targeted to store millions of used nuclear bundles which would be highly radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. 

The walkers will be in Regina on August 16. You are invited to join them on the last leg of their journey down the Green Mile to the Legislative Building. Meet the walkers at about 11 am at 11th Avenue and Albert Street.

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