Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

REMEMBERING HIROSHIMA AND NAGASAKI 70 YEARS AFTER

Posted by strattof on August 11, 2015

At least as far back as Woodstock in 1969, history has linked folk festivals to the peace movement. This year’s Regina Folk Festival coincides with the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped a uranium bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, it dropped a plutonium bomb on Nagasaki. These bombs instantly killed 225,000 people. Burns, injuries, and radiation poisoning would kill many more by the year’s end.

Canada was the primary source of the uranium for the Hiroshima bomb.

On the 70th anniversary of these horrific events,

  • We remember the victims of the 1945 bombings, as well as all those who have died or been injured since in nuclear accidents or from working in the uranium industry.
  • We call on the Canadian government to ban the mining and export of uranium.

70 YEARS AFTER

70 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the threat of nuclear weapons still looms over humanity.

Together with climate change, nuclear weapons pose one of the greatest threats to human survival—and the threat is growing.

The world’s nuclear weapons powers—the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea—together possess some 17,000 nuclear warheads. All are expanding or “modernizing” their nuclear weapons programs.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

In April, Canada finalized a nuclear deal with India to ship 3,000 tons of uranium there.

According to the CBC, on the very day the pact was signed, India test-fired a nuclear-capable ballistic missile, signalling its neighbours that “Canada was willing to overlook its obligations under the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] and contribute to global nuclear proliferation.”

At a July press conference in Regina, Premier Wall praised Prime Minister Harper’s efforts to secure the deal.

Yet non-proliferation experts have said the nuclear deal with India seriously undermines global efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons, and will spur nuclear proliferation worldwide:

“Even if Canadian uranium is used only for civilian purposes, ‘whatever uranium India produces domestically will now be freed up for a military program,’ says Greg Koblentz of George Mason University in Washington.”

Arms control experts also say Canada’s uranium will end up fuelling the Indian-Pakistan arms race, directly or indirectly.

Arms control experts estimate the Indian arsenal at 90 to 110 warheads, and its weapons program is growing, as are those of all the other nuclear powers.

Writing for the Arms Control Association, Hans Kristensen has said that none of the nuclear powers appears willing to eliminate its weapons in the foreseeable future.

SOME NUCLEAR WEAPONS HISTORY

1940s: Canadian uranium and scientific expertise played a crucial role in the Manhattan Project, the top-secret US plan to create the bombs eventually dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

1968: The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty committed all nuclear weapons states to eliminate their atomic weapons. Canada signed the treaty. India, together with Israel, Pakistan and North Korea are the lone holdouts.

1974: India used Canadian nuclear technology to create its first nuclear weapon.

Today: Most Saskatchewan uranium goes to the US. This uranium supplies much—if not all—of the US military’s depleted uranium (DU) weaponry. International law calls DU weapons—a form of low-level nuclear warfare—Weapons of Mass Destruction. These weapons cause cancer, immune-system failings, kidney damage, and birth defects. The US has used DU weaponry in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, and Kosovo.

Canada should not be exporting uranium to countries that refuse to abide by the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Period.

NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

70 years after the nuclear desolation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the proliferation of nuclear weapons continues.

Exporting uranium and nuclear reactors, Canada—one of the original signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty—has actually helped proliferate nuclear weapons. Here are two other ways in which Canada undermines the treaty:

  • Canada never criticizes US use of depleted uranium weapons, not even in those wars in which Canada serves as a US ally.
  • Hypocritically, Canada never asks Israel to give up its sizable, undeclared arsenal of 80+ nuclear weapons, or to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but continues to call for sanctions on Iran despite the nuclear agreement Iran has reached with major world powers.

ANTI-NUCLEAR FOLKSONGS

I’m only seven although I died

In Hiroshima long ago

I’m seven now as I was then

When children die they do not grow

The Byrds, words by Nazim Hikmet

 

We don’t want no nuclear war

With nuclear war we won’t get far

Peter Tosh

 

Just a little boy standing in the rain,

The gentle rain that falls for years.

And the grass is gone,

The boy disappears,

And rain keeps falling like helpless tears,

And what have they done to the rain?

Malvina Reynolds

HIBAKUSHA WORLDWIDE

The posters some of us are holding are from Hibakusha Worldwide, an exhibition “dedicated to the millions of people whose lives have been affected by the nuclear industry.” For more information, go to: http://www.nuclear-risks.org/en/hibakusha-worldwide.html   

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