Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

REMEMBERING HIROSHIMA & NAGASAKI: 71 YEARS AFTER

Posted by strattof on August 4, 2016

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped a uranium 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 a plutonium bomb 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.  

On the 71st anniversary of these horrific events, we remember:

  • The victims of the 1945 bombings.
  • Those who have died or been injured in nuclear accidents.
  • Those who have died or been injured from working in the uranium industry.
  • Those whose lives, land, and resources have been impacted by uranium mining.

71 YEARS AFTER

71 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the threat of nuclear war still looms over humanity. Indeed, it is at its highest since the Cold War.

The world’s nine nuclear powers—the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea—together possess some 16,000 nuclear weapons, 95% of which  belong to the US and Russia.

Now, the US is embarking on a “modernization” of its nuclear arsenal, a euphemism for the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons. Russia and China are following suit.

According to former US Secretary of Defence, William Perry, “the possibility of a nuclear calamity is higher today than it was during the Cold War.”

CANADA & NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Canada has never produced a nuclear bomb. However, Canada’s nuclear record is not innocent. Indeed, Canada has been very much involved in nuclear arms from the beginning. For example:

1945: Canada was the primary source for the uranium for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The uranium came from Port Radium, NWT, and was refined at Port Hope, Ontario. 

1945 – 1969: Canada was the main supplier of uranium for the Cold War atomic arsenals of the US and Britain.

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. 

1974: India used a Canadian nuclear reactor, a gift from the Canadian government, to produce plutonium for its first atomic bomb, setting off a nuclear arms race with Pakistan.

2016: Today, Canada is the world’s second largest producer of uranium, exporting it to the US, Europe, China, and India.

THE SASKATCHEWAN CONNECTION

Northern Saskatchewan is, today, Canada’s only producer of uranium, with Cameco and AREVA dominating the landscape and accounting for about 20% of world uranium production.

What is the impact of Saskatchewan uranium mining on humanity on the communities in the mining area on national and provincial revenue?

IMPACT ON HUMANITY

Most of Saskatchewan uranium is exported to the US. This uranium is the initial source of much of the depleted uranium (DU) used by the US military for the production of DU weaponry. The demonstrated health effects of DU weaponry include cancer, immune system failing, kidney damage, and birth defects.

The US is also likely to use Saskatchewan uranium to develop its new generation of nuclear bombs, as is China.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the hand on the Doomsday Clock is now at three minutes to midnight, meaning that “the probability of global catastrophe is very high.” Nuclear weapons are foremost among the threats to the continued existence of humanity.

IMPACT ON COMMUNITIES IN THE MINING AREA

The uranium mining industry in Northern Saskatchewan is part of the on-going colonization of Indigenous peoples and lands in Canada. Located on traditional Dene, Cree, and Métis territories, the mines were established after minimal consultation and at the expense of traditional Indigenous land-based economies. No account was or is being taken of the effect of uranium mining on human health, wildlife, water, and land. While some jobs are on offer, most are at the lowest levels of employment. In the meantime, the uranium industry is making billions.

IMPACT ON NATIONAL & PROVINCIAL REVENUE

  • Uranium, a non-renewable resource, enjoys very low royalty rates in Saskatchewan.
  • In 1999, Cameco set up a subsidiary in Zug, Switzerland, a well-known tax-haven. Now, the Canada Revenue Agency has taken Cameco to court for tax avoidance of up to $2.1 billion. Saskatchewan’s portion of the tax bill would likely wipe out the 2016-2017 provincial deficit of $434 million.

TAKE ACTION FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

MAYORS FOR PEACE

Mayors for Peace is an initiative of the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It works for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

As of July 1 2016, 7,095 cities had joined the movement, including 105 cities in Canada—among them Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg.

Regina’s Mayor has been invited to join, but has declined to reply.

PEACE SYMBOL CONTEST

The peace symbol featured on the front of this pamphlet was designed for the nuclear disarmament movement. It is based on semaphore signals for the letters N and D, which, when put together, make the shape at the centre of the peace symbol.

Create a peace symbol on any surface: for example, a sidewalk using chalk; your garden using flowers or rocks; a cake using icing. Take a photo of your peace symbol and email it to makingpeace@sasktel.net. You will, in return, receive a peace gift and become eligible to win a major peace prize.

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