Marking Hiroshima anniversary, Ban Ki-moon calls for elimination of nuclear weapons

6 August 2007 –

On the 62nd anniversary of the world’s first-ever atomic bomb attack, which devastated the Japanese city of Hiroshima, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the occasion serves as a “powerful reminder” of the efforts necessary to halt nuclear proliferation.

“Today, our challenge – as it was for the founders of the United Nations – is to make the world safer for succeeding generations,” Mr. Ban said in a message, delivered by Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, to the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Japan. “This requires us to continue to work towards a world free of nuclear dangers, and ultimately, of nuclear weapons.”

Mr. Ban stressed the pressing nature of nuclear proliferation, and noted that the nuclear threat has been compounded by terrorists’ attempts to acquire weapons and materials.

He paid special tribute to the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who, along with their predecessors, have promoted the “Mayors for Peace” initiative – which now has support from over 1,600 mayors in 120 countries – for the last quarter century.

“It has not only helped inform millions of people around the world of the catastrophic effects of the nuclear attacks of 1945,” the Secretary-General said of the programme, which “has also drawn attention to the dangers that cities would face with any future use of such weapons.”

He paid tribute to the memory of Sadako Sasaki, who was two years old when Hiroshima was attacked by the bomb and died a decade later from the “atom bomb disease.” Before her death, she folded one thousand origami peace cranes and her words – “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.” – is inscribed under her statue in the Hiroshima Peace Park.

“We must do all we can to turn back the tide of nuclear proliferation, and ensure that Sadako’s experience is never repeated,” Mr. Ban said.

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