Washington (August 6, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), top Democrat on the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and long-time Congressional leader on nuclear non-proliferation, released the following statement on the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima.
“Seventy-five years ago, a B-29, the ‘Enola Gay,’ dropped a previously untested weapon over Hiroshima, Japan, one which would shape much of the 20th century and modern war. While the Manhattan Project scientists who designed the bomb could predict the immediate blast effects, they could not account for the slow, silent killer of cancer that was caused by exposure to radioactive material. Exposure to radiation would remain a fixture of the decades to follow as the United States and the former Soviet Union conducted thousands of atmospheric and underground nuclear-explosive tests, all of which left thousands more victims in their destructive wake, from the American Southwest, to the steppes of Kazakhstan, to the South Pacific Marshall Islands.
“Each year, as the number of survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki – known as the ‘Hibakusha’ – diminishes, our resolve to prevent war, much less nuclear war, must grow. As long as nuclear weapons exist and humans remain fallible, the United States has a moral responsibility to reduce the chance that these ultimate weapons of mass destruction can be used in anger or accidentally.
“The unchecked development of these weapons of annihilation led me to Central Park in 1982 where I addressed the largest peace demonstration in our nation’s history. One million people strong came together to demand that President Reagan freeze the unaffordable and unwinnable U.S. arms race with the Soviet Union. The energy, activism, and pressure borne by the ‘Nuclear Freeze Movement’ spurred Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev to complete serious arms control treaty negotiations.
“In 1985, I visited Hiroshima on the 40th anniversary of the devastating bombing, which inspired me to lead the successful effort to stop U.S. underground nuclear-tests in 1986. Regrettably, President Trump has worked to roll back progress by floating the first U.S. nuclear tests since the George H.W. Bush administration, for no logical reason.
“We will not retire the nuclear-bomb overnight, but we can work to ensure that the events of August 1945 will never be repeated. That is why I introduced the PLANET Act, legislation to prevent new nuclear testing. It is also why we must extend the New START Treaty with Russia to place mutual, verifiable limits on strategic nuclear warheads. As the first and only country to ever use nuclear weapons in conflict – 75 years ago today – the United States has a special responsibility to ensure they are never used again and that starts by breathing five-years of new life into the New START Treaty.”