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Agence France Presse

Nagasaki Commemorates Anniversary of Nuclear Attack


TOKYO  - Nagasaki on Saturday demanded North Korea fully abandon nuclear weapons, while urging India to sign nuclear treaties, as the Japanese city marked 63 years since it was flattened by an atomic bomb.0809 04 1

Thousands of people offered a minute's silence at 11:02 am (0202 GMT), the exact moment the city was hit by the world's second and last nuclear attack on August 9, 1945, killing more than 70,000 people."As the victim of nuclear bombs, our country has a duty and responsibility for taking the initiative to eliminate nuclear weapons," Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue told the ceremony.

"The Japanese government must strongly demand complete abolishment of nuclear weapons in North Korea," Taue said, standing at the foot of the Peace Statue -- a bronze figure of a man pointing to the sky.

"It should seriously consider the creation of a Northeast Asian nuclear weapon-free zone," he said.

On Wednesday the people of Hiroshima held a remembrance to mark the 63rd anniversary of the first ever nuclear attack, which killed 140,000.

The dropping of the two bombs by the US was followed by Japan's surrender in World War Two on August 15. However, it ushered in the nuclear age and an era of fear of the use of atomic bombs again.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who flew from Beijing early Saturday after attending the opening ceremony of the Olympics, renewed his efforts to "spearhead" a global campaign against atomic bombs.

North Korea has agreed to abandon its nuclear programme in exchange for aid, but it is still uncertain if Pyongyang has completely met its promise to permanently dismantle its atomic plants and hand over all nuclear material and weaponry.

Taue also urged India to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) amid growing concerns over its atomic deal with the United States.

"India, whose nuclear cooperation with the United States is a cause of concern, should be strongly urged to join the NPT and CTBT," Taue said.

India has been under international pressure over a controversial nuclear deal in which the United States will provide the energy-starved nation with civilian nuclear fuel and technology.

Japan has voiced concerns over the deal and urged New Delhi to sign the two treaties as soon as possible. Japan is a key member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group of 45 nations, which controls trade in nuclear fuel, material and technology to make sure they are used only for civilian purposes.

India needs a waiver from the group and ratification by the US Congress before the deal can go through.

Shigeko Mori, 72, who was 4.1 kilometres (2.5 miles) from the epicentre of the blast, recalled the horror, which killed her brother instantly and later took the lives of her parents and sisters who suffered radiation-related diseases.

"The devilish nuclear bomb blasted everything in a second," Mori told the ceremony. "It was a deadly weapon that has also afflicted survivors for the rest of their lives."

© 2008 Agence France Presse

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