Hiroshima and Nagasaki

On 6th August 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima by US air forces. This was the first time a nuclear weapon had ever been used; the fireball created by the bomb destroyed 13 square kilometres of the city, and those dead as a result numbered up to 180,000.

Three days later, a second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, killing between 50,000 and 100,000 people.

The impact of the bombing on Hiroshima

In Hiroshima , The bomb was dropped on the city centre, an area crowded with wooden residential structures and places of business. These factors meant that the death toll and destruction in Hiroshima was particularly high. Almost 63% of the buildings in Hiroshima were completely destroyed and many more were damaged.

Estimates of total deaths in Hiroshima have generally ranged between 100,000 and 180,000, out of a population of 350,000.

The impact of the bombing on Nagasaki

The excessive damage from the bombing was limited to the Urakami Valley and part of downtown Nagasaki. The centre of Nagasaki, the harbour, and the historic district were shielded from the blast by the hills around the Urakami River.

The nuclear bombing did nevertheless prove devastating, with approximately 22.7% of Nagasaki’s buildings being consumed by flames, but the death toll and destruction was less than in Hiroshima.

These two events still resonate to this day and serve as the greatest warning of the devastating effects of nuclear weapons.

As well as the high death toll, those that survived the initial detonation and firestorms quickly became ill with radiation poisoning with symptoms ranging from severe burns, hair loss, nausea and bleeding. This was compounded by the fact that 90% of medical staff in both cities were either killed or disabled and what medical supplies existed quickly ran out. Long after the bombings, survivors were still suffering from increased susceptibility to leukaemia, cataracts and malignant tumours with many also being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder later in life.
International momentum.

In 2010 the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference’s final document officially expressed ‘deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons’ for the first time. Following this, a group of countries began delivering joint statements on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons: . This movement was the precursor to demands at the United Nations for a global nuclear weapons ban.

The historical experience from the use and testing of nuclear weapons, including at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has demonstrated their devastating immediate and long-term effects. No political circumstances can justify their use. And of course, today’s nuclear bombs are many times more powerful than the ones used on Japan in 1945.

The International Red Cross has identified further humanitarian consequences of a nuclear explosion, including widespread famine and the destruction of medical facilities and personnel. The organisation has stated that the global humanitarian community would never be able to effectively respond to the aftermath of a nuclear conflict.

Increasing awareness of the impact of a nuclear bomb, building on what we know from the attacks in 1945, contribute to a growing sense of urgency in the international community about securing an end to nuclear weapons.
The international community needs to solidify its commitments to seek security without relying on nuclear weapons. Our efforts must reflect the collective desire for peace in a nuclear-free world.

In this regards, AAPSO stresses the first UN General Assembly resolution (1946) “totally and universally disarm all nuclear weapons” and calls for achieving and defending this peace require the total elimination of nuclear weapons. It is time for policymakers of the world to change their perspective and exercise decisive leadership. Most importantly, their decisiveness is required for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, because simply “There’s no winning in nuclear war”.