Canada enabled the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we should work to end the scourge of nuclear militarism

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Image by Thoughtco.

Seventy-six years ago, the United States Army Air Force dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima (on August 6) and Nagasaki (on August 9). By the end of 1945, those bombings had killed more than 210,000 people.

Setsuko Thurlow, who survived the bombing of Hiroshima when she was 13-years-old, reminds us: “Each person had a name. Each person was loved by someone. Let us ensure that their deaths were not in vain.”

Canada’s role in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Matt Korda, a research associate for the Nuclear Information Project, has noted: “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.”

And Gordon Edwards, who co-founded the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, has further explained that the uranium for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was refined in Port Hope, Ontario.

There were alternatives

Professor Benoît Pelopidas has written: “According to the US Air Force’s own review, finalized not long after the end of the war, Japan would likely have surrendered that same autumn even in the absence of atomic bombings or an invasion.”

Canada supplies uranium for nuclear weapons

Edwards has also highlighted: “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.”

Professor Jim Harding, the founder of the Regina Group for a Non-Nuclear Society, has further explained: “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.”

A massive diversion into nuclear militarism

It has been estimated that the United States, between 1940 and 2005, spent more than $7.5 trillion on nuclear weapons.

The International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has stated: “In 2020, the report estimates that nine countries spent $72.6 billion on nuclear weapons, $27.7 billion of which went to a dozen defence contractors to build nuclear weapons.”

It further highlights: “Those contractors then spent $117 million lobbying policy makers and up to $10 million funding think tanks writing about nuclear weapons to ensure they can continue to line their pockets with nuclear weapon contracts for years to come.”

This represents a massive diversion of spending away from the public good and speaks to the need to defund nuclear war and divert that spending to alternatives.

Canada’s role today

Significantly, Canada has not signed the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons with the goal of leading towards their total elimination.

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.”

And Korda has noted Canada “participates in NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group” and allows “American and British nuclear-capable vessels to visit our ports.”

As we commemorate the 76th anniversary of the death of more than 210,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, let us recommit ourselves to stopping this country’s role in supplying, facilitating, participating in and providing cover for nuclear militarism.

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