by Cole Harrison
Remarks delivered at “Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki” event, Watertown Sq Dock on Charles River, August 6, 2023
On July 16, 1945, the first nuclear weapon in human history was detonated in the desert of New Mexico. The story of the Trinity nuclear test and the people who led the creation of humankind’s deadliest weapon is dramatized in the film, Oppenheimer.
Three weeks after the Trinity test, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and then a second bomb on Nagasaki. To date we remain the only country ever to actually use nuclear weapons in war.
Today we remember the more than 220,000 people killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the thousands of others left suffering from leukemia, cancer, and other illnesses due to radiation exposure, the vast majority of whom were innocent civilians. Nuclear weapons must never, ever be used again, and to make sure of that, the world must be rid of them.
Unfortunately, the Biden Administration is moving ahead with plans to spend $1.7 trillion dollars over the next three decades creating new, “more usable” nuclear weapons. Not surprisingly, Russia and China are responding in kind, increasing the likelihood that nuclear weapons could be used again.
Some of our friends and neighbors are part of this disastrous enterprise. The guidance system for the submarine launched ballistic missiles is developed at Draper Labs in Kendall Square. The command and control system for US nuclear forces is developed at Hanscom Air Base. Raytheon, until recently headquartered in Waltham, is building the new air launched cruise missile.
In 2017 the UN launched the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 92 states have now signed the TPNW and 68 have ratified it. The United States and the other 8 nuclear weapon states have not signed.
In Congress, Jim McGovern of Worcester has sponsored H.Res.77, which calls on the United States to sign the ban treaty, and to take steps to immediately reduce the danger of nuclear war, called the Back from the Brink initiative. 36 members of Congress have signed on, including Reps. Neal and Pressley, but so far Reps. Clark, Auchincloss, and the rest of the Massachusetts House delegation, have not done so.
After the Soviet Union fell, the US took advantage of Russia’s weakness and expanded NATO to cover most of Eastern Europe. We intervened in Ukraine’s civil uprising in 2014 and helped anti-Russian forces in an unconstitutional change of government. Ukraine’s eastern provinces rebelled and asked to join Russia, followed by a deadly civil war that killed 15,000. Russia offered a draft treaty in December 2021 which would have relaxed East-West tensions, but Secretary Blinken contemptuously rejected it.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 is a heinous crime. But President Biden and the rest of our politicians lie when they say Russia’s attack was unprovoked. It was richly provoked, by us. In addition to a fight by Ukraine to defend itself, this is also a proxy war between the US and NATO on one side and Russia on the other. And the war is escalating. Neither side can win this war on the battlefield – we need a ceasefire and peace talks. We have postcards to Congress asking them to support this call. Please sign three postcards, to Senators Markey and Warren, and to your Representative, before you leave tonight.
As to China, after encouraging US companies to profit there and help China grow its economy, US elites changed their minds around 2015 and put the brakes on cooperation with China. Suddenly China was portrayed as the adversary. We are now clearly in a new cold war with both Russia and China, which Biden is aggressively continuing.
Nuclear weapons represent collective insanity. To prevent them from being used again, we need peace. We need reconciliation. We need cooperation with Russia and China. You don’t like Putin? You don’t like Xi Jinping? Too bad. Deal with it. Another great power arms race will destroy us all. The planet is roasting. Can we stop climate change from destroying our world? Not while the two largest emitters, the US and China, are locked in a nuclear arms race.
And so we cry out tonight from this beautiful spot on the banks of the Charles River: Never Again! Abolish nuclear weapons! Stop the new cold war! Let us build a new era of international cooperation. We must, because our survival is at stake.
Cole Harrison is executive director of MAPA. Thanks to Jon Rainwater for some material.