Coalition for Peace Action: Commemoration of atomic bombings urges new effort for nuclear disarmament

Electronic candle lights are held as moment of silence and songs are sung closing out the 77th anniversary commemoration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 9.

As the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombings over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki passes, Coalition for Peace Action urges further reductions in nuclear weapons and the implementation of measures to reduce the potential of nuclear war.

Inside the Arts Council of Princeton, the grassroots citizens action group based in Princeton held an annual commemoration of the atomic bombings on Aug. 9.

The event featured remarks from physicists and professors from Princeton University, Frank von Hippel and Dr. Rod Goldston; and live music performances by The Solidarity Singers of the New Jersey State Industrial Union Council.

“We have been in retreat in recent years, because I think we thought that we won in the Cold War and nuclear weapons were on their way out. Unfortunately, they are not,” Hippel said. “Our government has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to modernize our nuclear so-called deterrent, so they can last at least till the 2080s. We have to mobilize again.”

The dropping of the world’s first and second atomic bombs occurred in August 1945 and happened only three days apart from each other.

In August 1945, the United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, which destroyed the city and is estimated to have killed more than 130,000 people.

A second bomb was dropped three days later on Nagasaki, with an estimate of more than 70,000 people killed.

Six days later following the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, which essentially ended World War II.

“In addition to remembering, we should celebrate that we have not had more Hiroshimas and Nagasakis. Strategic command [in the U.S.] argues that nuclear weapons deter other countries from attacking us or our allies,” Hippel said.

“They are right, but they ignore the danger of accidental nuclear war. Three decades after the end of the Cold War, 1,000 U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads are still ready to launch on warning. The Chinese are preparing to deploy hundreds of new Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).”

One of the goals of Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) is the global abolition of nuclear weapons and an ongoing effort to further nuclear disarmament, according to the organization.

Hippel stressed that “a new insurgency is needed.” He said there needs to be a focus on measures to reduce the “danger” of nuclear war.

“It is time for us to light a new fire to reverse the mindless new nuclear arms race that now involves China, as well as Russia,” Hippel said.

The physicist pushed for the U.S. to adopt a no-first nuclear-use policy similar to China, which calls for the U.S. to commit to never using nuclear warfare as a first strike; for the U.S. to get rid of 400 silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, to educate Congress and the state to divest from the nuclear-weapon industry.

In 2022, the Federation of American Scientists estimates that there are 12,700 nuclear warheads on Earth and 90% of all nuclear warheads are owned by Russia and the U.S.

Iran and Ukraine

Physicist Dr. Rod Goldston spotlighted the current crises with Iran and the Russia-Ukraine War.

“Iran has enough uranium right now that it could make enough material in just a couple weeks or maybe less for an efficient nuclear weapon. The next big report is in September, and we will see where they stand,” he said. “The Iran Deal involved having continuous monitoring and at least for now, it has been disconnected. This is a concern.”

There are three potential outstanding issues for the U.S. to reenter into the agreement with Iran, according to Goldston.

“What about the Islamic Revolutionary Guard core? Can we let them get some funding out of this deal, can it be delisted as a foreign terrorist organization, and what about the U.S. getting out again?” Goldston said.

“What economic guarantees can be provided to Iran? And then there is a third issue, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has detected manmade uranium particles in places that Iran says it did not do anything with nuclear particles.”

Goldston noted that the U.S. must make every effort to return to the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Pivoting to the war in Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24 when Russia invaded Ukraine, Goldston said Russia seized the Zaporizhzya Nuclear Power Plant in eastern Ukraine and is using it as a military base.

“It is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and pretty similar to the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant in Japan. If there were meltdowns at the Zaporizhzya, the effects would be similar to Fukushima or worse,” he said. “There has been shelling at the site, and both Ukraine and Russia have agreed for the IAEA to take a look at this.

Goldston stressed that the U.S. can propose win-win steps that enhance strategic stability between U.S. and Russia.

“Russia is very concerned about our missile defense system. We have to come up with ways to assure them that we are not going to have hundreds of thousands of defense missiles,” he said. “It may be enough to protect us from North Korea, but not enough to protect us from Russia.”

Goldston also suggested the U.S. can get rid of its ICBMs, and go through the nuclear declaratory policies that Hippel reiterated.

“There are a series of diplomatic things we can do to reduce the temperature and what could be viewed by both sides as wins,” Goldston said.

Rev. Robert Moore, CFPA’s executive director, said the CFPA has held commemorations of the atomic bombings every year since they were founded in 1980.

“The purpose is not to look back with 20-20 hindsight to question whether the atomic bombings in 1945 were justified. What’s done is done. Rather, our reason for having these commemorations is to remember the absolute horror that nuclear weapons represent and face the real and growing threat they present today,” he said.

“On this 77th anniversary, we re-commit ourselves to working for the global abolition of nuclear weapons so such total destruction can never again be inflicted.”

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Physicist Frank von Hippel (center) at remarking that a new insurgency is need to further nuclear disarmament inside Arts Council of Princeton on Aug. 9.
Dr. Rod Goldston (center) delivers his remarks at the commemoration marking the 77th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Princeton.
The Solidarity Singers perform inside the Arts Council in Princeton on Aug. 9.
Origami cranes created on Aug. 9.
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