Seventy years ago, the awesome power of nuclear weapons was unleashed with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Japanese cities were flattened, and hundreds of thousands of people died – some on the days the bombs fell and many more in the weeks, months and years that followed, as the gruesome effects of radiation took their toll.
In commemorating this day, we must remember the victims – but we must also honor their memory by rededicating ourselves to building a safer world, so that no city anywhere in the world is ever again reduced to ash by a nuclear weapon.
It has now been a generation since Hiroshima and Nagasaki ushered in the Atomic Age. It’s been a quarter century since the end of the Cold War between nuclear superpowers. Too many of us have become complacent about the ongoing dangers posed by the staggering power of nuclear weapons.
The fact is that the world today is facing a new and potentially more dangerous nuclear era. Nuclear material and know-how are spreading. The number of countries with bombs or bomb-making capacity is increasing. And terrorist groups have the capacity to completely change the equation, especially if they ever get hold of weapons of mass destruction.
All of us must demand greater attention to this threat from our leaders; leaders must be bold in taking action on this threat. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to say never again – and we owe it to the memories of those who perished on those August days 70 years ago.
Philanthropist Ted Turner is co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to reducing the threats posed by nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.