Monday marks the 73rd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. In the world’s first use of the atomic bomb, 90% of the Japanese city was destroyed and 80,000 people killed, states the HISTORY channel‘s webpage. Still more died later as a result of radiation poisoning.
The city held a moment of silence this morning and recognized those lost at their annual Peace Declaration. According to The Japan Times, Hiroshima’a Mayor Kazumi Matsui called for world leaders to make the UN’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons “a milestone along the path to a nuclear-weapon-free world.” The 2017 agreement prohibits nuclear weapons, but will only go into effect after it’s ratified by 50 countries.
According to the Arms Control Association, roughly 15,000 nuclear warheads exist in the world, with more than 90% belonging to the U.S. and Russia. The others are scattered among the United Kingdom, France, Israel, Pakistan, India, China, and North Korea. Agreements such as the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty have succeeded in halting and reversing the growth of nuclear arsenals—both the U.S. and Russia have thousands of warheads waiting to be dismantled—but modern threats still exist.
While Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to work towards the totalitarian state’s “complete denuclearization” at their summit last June, new reports from the UN say North Korea has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs. According to the Associated Press, the nation is violating UN sanctions and smuggling petroleum products into the country.
Iran, which doesn’t currently have any known nuclear warheads but has long sought to build them, was once contained by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. This 2015 deal restricted Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, but Trump pulled the U.S. out of this deal earlier this year. Since then, the U.S. has planned to re-implement sanctions on Iran, putting the other nations signed onto the deal in a difficult position. After months of rising tensions, The New York Times reports that the sanctions are set to go into effect at midnight Monday.
Moves like these have only stressed efforts to keep denuclearization deals afloat. According to a U.N. representative at Hiroshima’s ceremony Monday, efforts towards disarmament have stalled, The Japan Times reports.
“World leaders must return to dialogue and diplomacy, to a common path towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons and a safer and more secure world for all,” he said, speaking on behalf of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “What occurred in Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 cannot and must not ever happen again. The future of our children and of our children’s children depends upon it.”