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J.Sri Raman. August 20. 2010. NUKES NEVER SAY SORRY


Nukes are never having

to say sorry


Hiroshima  before the atomic bombing in 1945American President  Barack Obama


by J. Sri Raman




Beg my boy's pardon,
Apologize on your knees,
Those who made the atomic bomb.

So demanded the mother of Fumiki Nagoya, a seven-year-old victim of the horror visited upon Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The searing lines from an English version of the elegy titled 'I Want to Live" have continued to be cited for six decades and a half. The demand, however, has also continued to be dismissed with a contempt it never deserved. 


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Some saw a change coming on the 65th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. Did not Barack Obama say in Prague last year what successive US Presidents have refused to say down the years since the world's first nuclear weapon vaporized Fukimi and over a hundred thousand others? Did not the "We can" man then declare a nuclear-weapon-free world as a cherished dream of his?

All Obama could manage in the end was to send a US representative (Ambassador John Roos) to the sad annual remembrance ceremony in Hiroshima. The US State Department went out of its way to announce that no apologies would be offered. None were.     

To quite a few back home, however, even this symbolic participation in the ceremony was going too far. Gene Tibbetts, son of Paul W. Tibbetts, pilot of the plane that dropped the bomb on an entirely unprepared Hiroshima, waxed indignant. He called Obama's semblance of a sympathetic gesture "an unsaid apology" and an "attempt to rewrite history." He was alluding to official history that maintained, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, that the use of the mass destruction weapon was mandatory in order to end the Second World War.

The frightening rise of a US far right after Obama's advent in power is reality that few can ignore. It is not, however, as if Washington was otherwise prepared to start moving instantly towards a world free from nukes. It is not as if the US military-industrial complex had gone into retirement once the results of the last presidential elections were announced.

It is clear by now that the cuts in the US nuclear arsenal, such as officially contemplated are no more than cosmetic. As experts on the subject point out, the recent termination by US Congress of the Reliable Replacement Warhead programme, represented no real advance. This programme has been replaced by a Stockpile Management Programme, which will help to "modernize the US nuclear stockpile along a spectrum of options ranging from ... refurbishment to the manufacture of new weapons."

The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference of May in New York ilustrated once again the hollowness and hypocrisy of the nuclear haves' talk of nuclear disarmament.The focus was again on fobbing off the blame for the nuclear situation today and raising fears of non-state actors and "rogue states" in this regard.  The "responsible nuclear weapon states" on the contrary, were projected, not for the first time, as part of the solution and not as the primary problem.

The NPT upheld by them has, in fact,  placed a powerful weapon in the hands of the nuclear hawks in countries like India and Pakistan against national peace movements. Unitil lately this is a fact that the Western part of the world peace movement appeared unable to appreciate fully.

In the NPT RevCon and other forums, the fashion of the day is to pretend that terrorists and traditionally West-wary states represent the main nuclear threat. As Pugwash President Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN under secretary general for disarmament affairs from the South Asian state of Sri Lanka, has said, "An arbitrary distinction has been drawn between 'good' and 'bad' proliferators."

As for the nuclear proliferation threat from terrorists, Dhanapala pointed out that the nuclear powers have only "seized upon (it) to distract attention from their own nuclear weapons."

States and systems, sitting atop mountains of nuclear weapons, need to apologise and not to Japan alone. It is time they said sorry to south Asia and to the rest of the world. And they must say sorry as though they meant it -- by readying themselves, however reluctantly, for concrete and credible steps and complete and nuclear disarmament. 

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