International Meeting, 2001 World Conference against A & H Bombs, Japan August 2001
SPEECH TO THE CLOSING SESSION OF THE ATOMIC AND HYDROGEN BOMB CONFERENCE
NAGASAKI, JAPAN, 9TH AUGUST 2001
There has been a recurring reminder throughout this Conference that this is the first one this century. So what sort of century do we want for ourselves, our children and the young people present here today and throughout the world?
Obviously we want a future which is free of nuclear weapons. I believe that we have to aim for a future which is free of nuclear production all together. Every aspect of the nuclear cycle produces real and potential victims.
We have to stop producing the material that makes a nuclear weapon possible anywhere in the world. We also have to stop production because we do not know how to clean up the toxic waste that the entire nuclear industry produces. We have heard all too much in this conference about the horrific realities of living and dying through the effects of nuclear contamination.
But to achieve a nuclear-free future, we have to challenge the nuclear-supporting decision-makers in politics and those who support them.
They have to explain to us, the people, why they think we can best secure the future of the world by possessing the fire-power that threatens to blow it up. My own government – the United Kingdom – has nuclear warheads capable of delivering 1000 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. The nuclear powers will tell us the genocide in Rwanda was wrong and against international law; the holocaust was wrong and against international law; yet, for them, it is not wrong to prepare the means of indiscriminate slaughter of thousands. Why not?
Next year, in September 2002, our heads of Government will meet in South Africa to discuss the progress they have made towards making this planet a more sustainable place. They will talk about crucial issues such as global warming, biodiversity and the involvement of local people in deciding how best to protect their environment. Some of those governments will still possess nuclear weapons and will see no contradiction in their fine speeches about protecting the planet while having the means to destroy it.
We have to challenge those contradictions. This conference has not been short of proposals as to how to do that.
To protect our planet – the life-force on which we all depend – requires co-operation and taking responsibility. Just as the young people here have spoken of taking responsibility for passing on the experience of the hibakusha*.
Maintaining nuclear weapons means seeing others as enemies and creating them where they do not exist in order to keep the profits rolling and the people’s attention away from problems in their own country.
There have been many calls at this conference for the peace movement to deepen and widen our contacts – to see the truth behind the propaganda.
In closing, I want to say what has touched me most deeply about this, my first visit to both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. There are many parts of the world where those who have suffered deeply from the actions of others are seeking vengeance – blood for blood, suffering for suffering. All that I have heard in these two great cities is a desire for peace and that no-one else should suffer such agony.
That is a powerful lesson that you have to teach the world. All of us here will do everything we can to pass that teaching on.
Member of the European Parliament (Green Party, London)
*Originally used to refer to survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. Now also used for all those affected by nuclear weaponry including development testing.