Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Hiroshima in the aftermath of nu

In March of 1946, eight months after the atomic bomb was dropped, the city of Hiroshima stood in ruins. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Nuclear Weapons Still a Clear and Present Danger 76 Years After Hiroshima

These weapons do not make us safer and benefit no one except the multibillion dollar arms production corporations who build these immoral instruments of death.

Robert Dodge

Seventy-six years ago today at 8:15 am, Japan Standard time, the world changed forever with the dropping of the first atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima resulting in the deaths of over 140,000 human beings—mostly civilians—by year's end.

Three days later a second bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki resulting in over 74,000 deaths. The existential threat initiated with these relatively crude small weapons continues to this day with the existence of approximately 13,100 weapons in the world’s nuclear inventories. This clear and present danger threatens all of humanity and in fact could very possible extinction of the human race, by intent, accident, miscalculation, or cyber attack. The voices of the Hibakusha, the survivors of the nuclear holocaust, serve as a reminder of those horrific events and we must heed their demand: "Never again."

Oblivious and seemingly unaware of the risks posed by the very existence of these weapons, leaders of the nuclear nations continue to pursue a new arms race of enhanced nuclear weapons. They remain addicted to the myth of deterrence when, in fact, it is the greatest driver of the arms race. These weapons do not make us safer and benefit no one except the multibillion dollar arms production corporations who build these immoral instruments of death.

Fortunately, there is hope. This year has seen the international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons move into force on January 22, marking the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons. This followed the ratification of the treaty by Honduras as the 50th nation to do so. Presently there are 55 nations who have done likewise.

Within the nuclear nations there are significant efforts calling on those governments to abolish their arsenals and join the Treaty as well. In the United States there is a national grassroots campaign called "Back from the Brink” seeking the abolition of nuclear weapons and a fundamental change in U.S. nuclear weapons policy. It calls on the United States to enter into negotiations now with the other nuclear arms nations for a verifiable, enforceable, time bound agreement to illuminate their weapons. It also calls for the U.S. to unilaterally adopt four additional key policies to reduce the danger of nuclear war while these negotiations proceed. These include: 

  • Renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;
  • Ending the soul, unchecked authority of any U.S. President to launch a nuclear attack;
  • Taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert; and
  • Canceling the plan to replace the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons. 

This effort can be endorsed by anyone and has currently been back by 354 organizations, 50 municipalities, and six state legislative bodies. It is being supported by a growing list of local and state elected officials across the nation who are calling on the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress to take bold action now. We all can and must encourage our local and state leaders to sign on, which they can do on the Open Letter for Elected Officials page.

At a time where the world is threatened with the effects of climate change and a global pandemic with no end in sight we must remember and learn from those events 76 years ago and call for an end to a security policy based on luck that there will not be another nuclear attack or war. Simultaneously we must call out the ignorance or outright lies of leaders who maintain a need for a "credible nuclear deterrent" or state that "all options are on the table" as euphemisms for the plan to use these weapons. We must demand an answer to the question of when they would ever consider such an action that would threaten the existence of humanity and simultaneously make it clear that this is not acceptable.

The Biden administration has an opportunity to now to live up to the campaign rhetoric of reducing our reliance on nuclear weapons as it develops its nuclear posture review and demonstrates to the world that the U.S. is committed and ready to lead the world in our 51-year commitment under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to work in good faith for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. 

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge, a frequent Common Dreams contributor, writes as a family physician practicing in Ventura, California. He is the Co-Chair of the Security Committee of National Physicians for Social Responsibility and also serves as the President of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

US Urged to End Drone Strikes After Pentagon Says Killing 10 Afghan Civilians Was 'Horrible Mistake'

"That was not a 'mistake,'" said journalist Anand Giridharadas. "War crimes are not oopsies."

Brett Wilkins ·

40+ NYC Activists Arrested for Protests Against Banks Fueling Climate Emergency

"We're sending a message loud and clear that the little action that politicians and greenwashing CEOs have taken so far does not begin to deal with the magnitude of this crisis."

Jessica Corbett ·

FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Booster Shots for People 65+ and Especially Vulnerable

The scientific advisory committee voted down a recommendation for other adults.

Common Dreams staff ·

'What Betrayal Looks Like': UN Report Says World on Track for 2.7°C of Warming by 2100

"Whatever our so-called 'leaders' are doing," said Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, "they are doing it wrong."

Jake Johnson ·

Critics Warn Biden That 30% Methane Reduction by 2030 Not Good Enough

Following the new U.S.-E.U. pledge, climate campaigners called for an urgent end to fossil fuel extraction and major reforms of agricultural practices.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo