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Must demand that the nuclear-armed states disarm

Many Americans are not aware that about 15,000nuclearweapons, most orders of magnitudemorepowerful than theHiroshima andNagasaki bombs, more than90 percent heldby theU.S. andRussia, continue to pose an intolerable threat to humanity.

By Jacqueline Cabasso, Marylia Kelley and TomWebb

In August 1945, the United States ushered in the nuclear age with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, incinerating tens of thousands of children, women and men in an instant.

By the end of 1945, more than 210,000 people were dead. More than 90 percent of the doctors and nurses in Hiroshima were killed or injured. The survivors, their children and grandchildren continue to suffer physical, psychological and sociological effects of the bombings. Health effects caused by genetic damage to future generations are still unfolding. In July 1946, the United States began a series of 67 nuclear test explosions over the Marshall Islands, detonating the equivalent of 1.7 Hiroshima-sized bombs daily for 12 years. The largest, the 15-megaton Bravo shot, turned the sky blood red for hundreds of miles. Birth defects never seen before and other radiation-related health effects continue to plague the Marshallese people.

In 1951, the U.S. also opened a nuclear testing range on Western Shoshone ancestral land 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, spreading fallout across cities like St. George, Utah, and tracked as far as New York.

The U.S. government has linked testing in Nevada to domestic cancers and other health problems.

Lasting health and genetic effects are not the only nuclear dangers that remain today.

Many Americans are not aware that about 15,000 nuclear weapons, most orders of magnitude more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, more than 90 percent held by the U.S. and Russia, continue to pose an intolerable threat to humanity. And the dangers of wars among nuclear-armed nations are growing.

Nuclear weapons have again taken center stage in confrontations between the U.S., its NATO allies and Russia. Tensions have been intensified — potentially catastrophically — by the brandishing of nuclear arms by both sides.

The conflict in Europe is only one of several potential nuclear flashpoints, with new tensions and arms-racing from the Western Pacific to South Asia.

In Syria, the U.S., Russia and France — three nuclear-armed nations — are bombing side-byside and on different sides. An accidental or intentional military incident could send the world spiraling into nuclear confrontation.

Further, the U.S. plans to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize its nuclear bombs and warheads, the submarines, missiles and bombers needed to deliver them, and the infrastructure to sustain the nuclear enterprise indefinitely.

At the nearby Livermore Lab, scientists are modifying a new warhead for a new long-range standoff weapon capable of launching a nuclear sneak attack.

Recognizing these growing dangers, the Republic of the Marshall Islands stepped forward to challenge the nuclear-armed states in the International Court of Justice and U.S. federal court for their failure to disarm as required by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and customary international law.

Other international initiatives to achieve nuclear weapons abolition are gaining momentum. Locally, a growing number of peace and justice advocates and their allies are opposing new weapons activities in Livermore and globally.

On Tuesday, the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, people will gather at Livermore Lab to call on the nuclear-armed states to disarm now. Nagasaki A-bomb survivor Nobuaki Hanaoka will share his experience and insights. International lawyer John Burroughs will discuss the Marshall Islands’ lawsuits. The 8 a.m. rally will be followed by a procession to the gates and nonviolent direct action.

Jacqueline Cabasso is executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation in Oakland.

Marylia Kelley is executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs in Livermore. Tom Webb is regional coordinator Pax Christi Northern California.

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