A-bomb survivors denounce start of U.S. production of first low-yield nuclear warheads

by Kyosuke Mizukawa and Junji Akechi, Staff Writers

News that the United States has begun pursuing the production of low-yield nuclear warheads sparked an outcry of anger among A-bomb survivors in Hiroshima on January 30. The survivors are deeply concerned that this step raises the risk of a new nuclear arms race and the potential use of nuclear weapons.

“Considering the catastrophic damage caused by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the complete abolition of nuclear weapons is the only way to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again. Why is the United States producing new nuclear weapons?” Toshiyuki Mimaki, 76, the vice chair of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hiroshima Hidankyo, chaired by Sunao Tsuboi), said angrily.

Last February, the United States released that nation’s latest Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which spelled out its intention to develop low-yield nuclear warheads. There was concern that if this new type of weapon is actually produced, it would make nuclear weapons much easier to use. “Even small-type nuclear weapons have the same radiation dangers that the other nuclear weapons have,” said Mr. Mimaki. “We have to stop this movement.”

Kunihiko Sakuma, 74, the chair of the other Hiroshima Hidankyo, rebuked the U.S. government for its production of smaller ballistic missiles, saying, “This should not be allowed.” He added, “There must be many U.S. citizens who think this policy by their government is wrong.” He plans to appeal for the importance of working together with U.S. citizens to abolish nuclear weapons by pursuing a signature drive.

The United States said that they will produce low-yield nuclear warheads with the aim of countering Russia’s military build-up. At the same time, the U.S. government announced that it will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. On January 30, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki faxed letters of petition, addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, to the American and Russian embassies, urging them to take leadership to advance the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The letters of petition, which were signed jointly by Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, mention the fear of potentially eliminating the INF Treaty with no effective alternative to put in its place, and urge Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin to promote rational dialogue and make efforts to address the issue.

Hirotaka Matsushima, the head of the Peace Promotion Division for the City of Hiroshima, said, “Behind the arms race and the U.S. intention to produce low-yield nuclear warheads are the great fears and suspicions that the U.S. and Russia hold against each other. It is vitally important for both countries to work on building mutual trust.”

Masahiro Shimozaki, the head of the Peace Promotion Project Team for Hiroshima Prefecture, expressed his concern that U.S. policy involving nuclear arms runs completely counter to the goal of nuclear disarmament. He indicated his intention to carry out more in-depth discussion on the abolition of nuclear weapons at the gatherings of experts known as the Hiroshima Round Table and at other meetings organized by the Hiroshima prefectural government.

(Originally published on January 31, 2019)