Survivors of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima lay flowers at the cherry tree in Merrion Square, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)
President, Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Irish CND Annual Hiroshima Day Commemoration,
6 August 2022
1 p.m., Merrion Square, Dublin 2
It is good to be with you this afternoon in Merrion Square on this anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. I’m sorry that I’m not with you in person. Instead, I’m here in Milton Keynes, and for health reasons I’m not able to travel very much at the moment.
But I am with you in this video link and I am with you very much in spirit.
I am here at the monastery beside the Japanese Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes which has very strong associations and very strong links with the Hibakusha and the victims of and survivors of the Hiroshima bombing on 6 August 1945.
Many people may be wondering why, 77 years later, we need to remember that bombing. But, of course, we are living in dangerous times. We have never been closer to Hiroshima than we are today.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists says that the ‘Doomsday Clock’ is only 100 seconds to Midnight. That is the nearest we have been to Global Hiroshima since the ‘Doomsday Clock’ was first inaugurated in 1947. In 1947, we were seven minutes from Midnight. When it came to the end of the Cold War in 1991, the world could take a breather, take a deep breath. By then we were, in fact, 17 minutes from Midnight.
Now it likes increasingly like the world is running out of time.
We edge closer and closer, by microseconds, every moment, to Doomsday.
That push comes because of global warming; but it also comes because once again we are living in an atmosphere where the world is at war and where the nuclear powers are threatening to use their nuclear weapons if each alliance starts to expand any further.
Many experts, many commentators, are saying that Russia is in danger of resorting to nuclear or chemical weapons if the war in Ukraine intensifies.
Indeed, Vladimir Putin has exploited gaps in international law and policies. International law has failed in recent years because the international powers, particularly the nuclear weapons powers, have failed to regulate nuclear capabilities.
Putin says that he has special combat readiness for his nuclear weapons. He is threatening his foes in the West that he has identified, telling them that they face consequences that ‘you have never faced in history.’
In other words, there is no such thing as a ‘nuclear deterrent.’
He is willing to use his nuclear weapons, and we can presume therefore that all the nuclear powers are willing to use their ‘nuclear option’ too.
Who is going to pull us back from the precipice?
Who is going to say that enough is enough?
Who is going to try to lead the way so that we can get back to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that Trump walked away from in 2019, paving the way for Putin being able to make his nuclear threats?
Now Putin has abandoned any thought of making a commitment to ‘no first use’ as a principle in international law.
The experts agree that it is now hard to predict what is going to happen with nuclear weapons and the nuclear stockpiles in the world.
Never before has the need for CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) been greater.
We need to campaign for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons.
We need to campaign for a commitment from the nuclear powers, to give a commitment not to use their nuclear weapons and to reduce their stockpiles.
We need to remind the world that just one nuclear weapon 77 years ago on 6 August 1945 wiped out 200,000 people in Hiroshima – and that nuclear weapon was smaller than any of the intermediate-range nuclear missiles that we are being threatened with use today.
I am sad that’s may be my last address on Hiroshima Day as President of the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Health is telling me that I should soon step down.
But that does not reduce my commitment to campaigning for nuclear disarmament, campaigning for the abolition of all nuclear weapons, campaigning and reminding us all that we need to remember Hiroshima – not just on 6 August but every day, every moment, until all nuclear weapons are put out of reach!
(Revd Canon Professor) Patrick Comerford is President of the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. A priest in the Church of Ireland, he is now living in retirement in Milton Keynes. This address was recorded for Irish CND’s annual Hiroshima Day commemorations in Merrion Square, Dublin, on 6 August 2022.