5 August 2010 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon honoured the victims of the Nagasaki atomic bombing today, noting that his "profoundly moving" visit to the Japanese city has strengthened his conviction that nuclear weapons must be outlawed.
“The only way to ensure that such weapons will never again be used is to eliminate them all,” he said, as he laid a wreath at Nagasaki’s hypocentre monument.
When Hiroshima was attacked on 6 August 1945 and Nagasaki three days later, more than 200,000 people died of nuclear radiation, shock waves from the blasts and thermal radiation.
More than 400,000 more people have died – and are continuing to die – since the end of the Second World War from the impacts of the bombs.
The hypocentre site in Nagasaki, the Secretary-General said, “does far more than mark the geographic centre of the bomb’s impact.
“It is a monument to the conviction that we must never allow such devastation to be inflicted on any population, anywhere, ever again,” he stressed.
While in Nagasaki, Mr. Ban met with hibakusha, or victims of the blasts, including Kwon Soon Geum, 84, who moved from Korea at the age of 5.
He also met Sumiteru Taniguchi, now 81, who was 16 when he suffered terrible burns all over his back.
“Their injuries were shocking. Their fortitude has been unimaginable,” he told reporters at the Urakami Cathedral, a short distance from the bombing site. “Their devotion to using their experiences to promote peace and disarmament is inspiring and humbling.”
Eliminating all nuclear weapons, the Secretary-General said, can only be achieved through political will and the continued efforts of citizens around the world telling their governments “no more.”
He emphasized that these weapons must be outlawed by either a nuclear weapons convention or by a framework of separate mutually-reinforcing instruments.
“I urge all nations to support my five-point action plan for nuclear disarmament and to agree to negotiate a nuclear weapons convention at the earliest possible date.”
Mr. Ban’s plan includes recommendations on increasing security, on verification, on establishing a legal framework for nuclear disarmament, on transparency and on conventional weapons.
“There must be no place in our world for such indiscriminate weapons.”
While in Nagasaki, he also visited a memorial for Korean atomic bomb victims. Some 2,000 Koreans perished in Nagasaki and 20,000 in Hiroshima.
“As a Korean, I am deeply grateful to the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima for erecting these moving tributes,” the UN chief, who also toured the Atomic Bomb Museum in Nagasaki today, said.
“As Secretary-General of the United Nations, as a global citizen, I see them as a powerful testament to the unity of all the world’s peoples in the face of disaster – whether this one 65 years ago, or those we face today.”
Tomorrow, Mr. Ban will be the first-ever UN Secretary-General to attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony on the anniversary of the nuclear attack on Hiroshima.
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