PBI-Canada to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Photo: Murray Thomson at a Hiroshima and Nagasaki remembrance ceremony that took place by the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada on August 9, 2017. Thomson was 22 years old at the time of the bombings and it initiated his 75-years of work in the peace movement, including co-founding Peace Brigades International in 1981. Thomson said, “Hiroshima made me a pacifist.” Photo by Koozma J. Tarasoff.
Peace Brigades International-Canada will commemorate this year’s 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9.
We remain convinced that enduring peace and lasting solutions of conflicts between and within nations cannot be achieved by violent means.
The nine nuclear powers spent $73 billion on nuclear weapons in 2019
On May 13, The Guardian reported: “The world’s nuclear-armed nations spent a record $73bn on their weapons last year, with the US spending almost as much as the eight other states combined, according to a new report [by ICAN].”
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) notes: “On 7 July 2017 – following a decade of advocacy by ICAN and its partners – an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations adopted a landmark global agreement to ban nuclear weapons, known officially as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).”
“The TPNW prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of these activities.”
Canada has not signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Reporting at the time of that July 7, 2017 vote, the CBC noted: “122 nations [voted] in favour, the Netherlands [which has U.S. nuclear weapons on its territory] opposed, and Singapore abstaining. Canada did not take part in negotiations.”
In December 2019, the Canadian Press reported: “[The treaty] has no support among the countries that possess nuclear weapons — including the United States and its allies, including Canada.”
“Canada doesn’t have nuclear weapons but its membership in NATO means it adheres to the 29-country military alliance’s nuclear-deterrent policy — that it supports having nuclear weapons in its arsenal essentially because its adversaries have them.”
Matt Korda, a research associate for the Nuclear Information Project, has commented Canada “actively participates in NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group” and allows “American and British nuclear-capable vessels to visit our ports.”
He also comments in reference to Canada’s commitment to a feminist foreign policy: “It is a well-established fact that nuclear weapons detonations disproportionately affect women –– not only in terms of the biological effects of ionizing radiation, but also in terms of the social, economic, and psychological impacts of the weapons themselves.”
Canada’s role in the development of nuclear weapons
Korda also notes: “We don’t like to talk about it much, but Canada played a critical role in the development of these horrific weapons: scientists at the Montréal Laboratory were an essential part of the Manhattan Project, and the first atomic bombs were made with uranium shipped from the Northwest Territories.”
Gordon Edwards, a Canadian scientist who co-founded the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility in 1975, adds that the uranium for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was refined at Port Hope, Ontario.
Canada’s role in supplying uranium for nuclear weapons
Edwards also highlights: “For twenty years after World War II, Canada sold plutonium (from Chalk River) and uranium (from Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the Mackenzie District) for use in the American and British nuclear weapons programs.”
In October 2008, Professor Jim Harding, the founder of the Regina Group for a Non-Nuclear Society, further explained: “Canada signed [the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] in 1970 and claimed that it would not be using uranium for weapons production. We now know that uranium out of Saskatchewan has been diverted through the depleted uranium (DU) system and has been fuelling the weapons stream.”
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has additionally noted: “Canada has long been the main source of uranium for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, globally the largest and deadliest at 10,000 warheads and bombs.”
75th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
While the details are not known at this point due to the pandemic, people around the world will be marking this coming August the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that killed up to 120,000 people instantly and tens of thousands of people later from radiation sickness. PBI-Canada is committed to supporting that remembrance and ongoing efforts to intervene in the cause of peace.