Events are being held around the world this Friday to mark the 65th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima.
The scale of the disaster that overtook the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 is still difficult to fathom. The figures of 170,000-246,000 killed outright and thousands affected by the ongoing, insidious legacy of the cancers and genetic mutations passed through the generations do not really do justice to the actual experience of what it was like in the cities on the days of their destruction.
For this we turn to the testimonies of those who were there and who, in many cases, have devoted their lives to telling their stories and demanding global peace and the elimination of these weapons of mass murder.
Their testimonies are horrific and draw a picture of unspeakable human suffering that have a profound, personal impact. They include the stories of Taniguci Sumiteru, Sakue Shimohira and the streetcar survivors of Hiroshima.
Greenpeace is marking this year's anniversary, with our Israeli office using the occasion both to remember the suffering of the victims of the atomic bombings and to push for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction.
Depressingly, this anniversary finds the world still menaced by around 22,000 nuclear warheads. Global human annihilation remains only 15 minutes away in the event of an errant flock of geese or missile test… again being mistaken for an incoming nuclear strike.
This as global nuclear disarmament efforts are being undermined by the pressing proliferation risks of civil nuclear programs, fired by countries pushing technology for building new reactors all over the world.
It is impossible to ring-fence energy and research reactors in a manner that ensures that technologies and materials are not transferred to weapons programs and the existing non-proliferation regime is grossly inadequate for the task of policing the few strictures currently in place.
This, and the persistent dangers of nuclear accidents and waste, is why Greenpeace fights strongly both for total nuclear disarmament and the replacement of nuclear generation by clean, cost-effective renewable energy development.
Streetcar survivor Eiko Taoka speaks of her one-year old son:
"He had been standing by the window and I think fragments of glass had pierced his head. His face was a mess because of the blood flowing from his head. But he looked at my face and smiled. His smile has remained glued in my memory.
He did not comprehend what had happened. And so he looked at me and smiled at my face which was all bloody. I had plenty of milk which he drank all throughout that day. I think my child sucked the poison right out of my body. And soon after that he died. Yes, I think that he died for me."
(This post is by Dominic Moran, Greenpeace Disarmament Analyst)