Beyond Nuclear International

Did a tweet about women’s rights just make the world safer?

Canada may have unintentionally killed Westinghouse nuclear deal with Saudis

By Henry Sokolski and Victor Gilinsky

In the latest you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up event, Saudi Arabia’s furious campaign of economic retaliation against Canada — in response to Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland’s criticism of the arrest of Saudi women’s rights activists — threatens to dash Westinghouse’s hopes for a lucrative nuclear deal with the Saudis. And, ironically, it may help to preserve tough rules on nuclear exports (“gold standard”) that the Saudi deal might otherwise scuttle.

On Aug. 7, the Saudis recalled their ambassador and expelled Canada’s ambassador, canceled flights to and from Canada, ordered Saudi students and even Saudis in Canadian hospitals to leave Canada, ordered the immediate sale of Saudi-owned Canadian assets “no matter the cost,” and — what is most important for our story — suspended all new business with Canada.

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Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, tweeted about women’s rights in Saudia Arabia. Now that country is tossing out everything — and everyone — Candian including, maybe, a nuclear power deal.

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Urgent petition to save nuclear disarmament summit

Pro-nuclear forces want to cancel event aimed at nuclear abolition

From the Basel Peace Office

In less then two months the United Nations General Assembly will decide whether to hold the UN High-Level Conference (Summit) on Nuclear Disarmament, which has been planned for five years, or to yield to the pressure from pro-nuclear forces and cancel the event.

You can help keep the UN on track for nuclear abolition.

  1. Sign the Avaaz petition United Nations: Step up for nuclear abolition;
  2. Forward the petition to your networks;
  3. Send a letter to your government (Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, UN Ambassador).

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Did bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki save lives?

The question goes to the heart of the debate about the utility of nuclear weapons and the rationale for keeping them

By Ward Wilson

Zachary Keck makes an able case that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki saved lives. He argues two main points: that Japan would not have surrendered immediately without the shock of the bomb (the Soviet declaration of war was not enough), and secondly that the limited use of nuclear weapons during World War II created a taboo that prevented a larger use during the Cold War. Both of these arguments are plausible but, I think, wrong. This is not just a question of 70 year-old history. This goes to the heart of the debate about the utility of nuclear weapons and the rationale for keeping them. These are arguments, in other words, that matter.

Apples and Oranges

First, a preliminary point that is not essential, but is still worth mentioning. It is certainly true that many more people would have died had the Allies launched a full-scale invasion of Japan. Japan’s soldiers often fought fanatically. After all, out of 31,000 Japanese soldiers stationed on Saipan, only 921 were taken prisoner after the fighting there. But there is an important distinction that gets overlooked when you compare people killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki with people killed in an invasion of Japan. The casualties in an invasion of Japan would have been largely soldiers, the people killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were almost all civilians.


The Hiroshima bombing killed mostly civilians, not military personnel, an important distinction. (Photo: WikiCommons)

The distinction between those who fight for their country, and those who do not fight is one of the most important in war. Killing civilians isn’t morally equivalent to killing soldiers and comparisons like Keck’s have to be thrown out on moral grounds even before other things are considered. Of course, I have seen attempts to make the same point by arguing that killing 200,000 civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki prevented the deaths of many more civilians who were dying as a result of harsh Japanese rule in the occupied territories in China, Burma, Philippines, and the rest. In other words comparing civilian lives taken for civilian lives saved. This is a more morally plausible argument. But it also depends, as Keck’s argument depends, on the assumption that bombing Hiroshima mattered.

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Nagasaki Hibakusha pass on experiences through traditional story-telling

All the people smelled of gunpowder, recalls bombing survivor

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima tends to grab the headlines. It was first. It killed more people. But on August 9, 1945, a second atomic bomb, with a solid plutonium core, was dropped by the US on Nagasaki. Not originally the intended target, Nagasaki’s fate was sealed when cloud cover obscured Kokura. The bomb unleashed the equivalent force of 22,000 tons of TNT. Today, some of the survivors of the horror in Nagasaki, known as Hibakusha, are using traditional narrative-driven performance art to tell their stories. This article, from Kyodo, first appeared on March 16, 2018.


A pair of atomic bomb survivors from Nagasaki have been passing on their experiences using traditional storytelling techniques, as part of efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Hiroshi Suenaga, 82, a survivor of the 1945 U.S. attack on the city, has documented survivors’ stories using kamishibai (paper drama) — a form of narrative-driven performance art that uses paper picture boards. He has put on shows at elementary, junior high and high schools in Japan.

His first kamishibai, titled “No More Hibakusha,” is about the life of activist Senji Yamaguchi, who died in July 2013 at age 82.

A leading figure in Japan’s anti-nuclear arms movement, Yamaguchi served as chairman of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations for nearly three decades through 2010.

The kamishibai highlights when Suenaga became the first survivor to speak at a United Nations session on disarmament, in 1982.

In one scene, Yamaguchi shouts “No more hibakusha!” during his speech, while showing a photo of himself with severe scarring on his face and body — from the massive burns he suffered as a 14-year-old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945.

By Aki Sato_Kamishibai_Performer_In_Japan

A traditional Kamishibai performer in Japan. (Photo: Aki Sato. Wikicommons.)

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“Sharing the warning until my last breath”

Hiroshima survivor, and Nobel Laureate, Setskuo Thurlow’s first person account of experiencing and surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima at 13 is a powerful narrative that never fails to move people to tears. Now it has helped entire nations move to ban nuclear weapons. Here is a version of the account she has delivered many times, as told to Physicians for Global Survival in 2003. (Headline photo by Paule Saviano for Hibakusha Stories.)

By Setsuko Thurlow

As a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, I feel a powerful commitment to tell the story of Hiroshima. The survivors are getting old and passing away, leaving a smaller number of us. We feel it is imperative to tell the younger generation of that terrible dawn of the nuclear age. All of us are familiar with the scenes of devastation in New York following the terrorist attacks. But that devastation extended only several blocks. Imagine the devastation of an entire city.

When I sit down to write down my recollections of that time, I have to brace myself to confront my memories of Hiroshima. It is exceedingly painful to do this because I become overwhelmed by my memories of grotesque and massive destruction and death. My message could be painful to you as well, as I intend to be as open and honest as possible in sharing my experience and perceptions.

Setsuko hug

Setsuko Thurlow gives a hug. ©Janis Lewin.

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Hiroshima’s Children

With a gift of art supplies, children who survived the bombings drew visions of joy

Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard is a 52-minute documentary produced by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and written and directed by Bryan Leichhardt.

The film depicts the aftermath of the first atomic bomb through the remarkable drawings and stories of surviving Japanese school children who were part of an extraordinary, compassionate exchange with their American counterparts after the war.

In 1995, a parishioner of the All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., discovered a long-forgotten box containing dozens of colorful drawings made by Japanese children from the Honkawa Elementary School in Hiroshima just two years after their city was destroyed. The surprisingly hopeful drawings were created and sent to the church nearly 50 years earlier in appreciation for much-needed school supplies received as part of the church’s post-war humanitarian efforts.

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