6. The Nuclear Age

“With the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world entered the nuclear age. Nuclear deterrence was a theory held by the nuclear powers which maintains that threatening other countries with powerful nuclear weapons prevents them from attacking. The nuclear powers, including the U.S. and Russia, greatly escalated the nuclear threat by developing missiles, other delivery systems, and a broad spectrum of electronic technology. Even today, in a climate of advancing nuclear disarmament, more than 20,000 nuclear warheads remain. A full-scale nuclear war would still threaten the human race with extinction.”

Here the museum starts to move to its main theme: the eradication of all nuclear weapons from the planet. It asks the simple question: with all the nuclear weapons there are in the world, can we really trust to human nature not to annihilate each other? To answer for myself; I’m not sure I have that much trust in my fellow man.

“From creation to dismantling, a nuclear weapon emits radioactive contamination at every stage. Massive contamination is reported at uranium mines, where the raw material is harvested, at nuclear test sites, where tests are conducted for the development of nuclear weapons, and at manufacturing plants. By nature, nuclear weapons cannot be stored long-term. When a certain amount of time elapses, they must be tested for performance; finally, they must be dismantled. At present, vast numbers of nuclear weapons manufactured during the Cold War are being retired and discarded. Radiation is emitted each time one is dismantled. Simply by possessing nuclear weapons, we continuously pollute the global environment.”

There is a lot of emphasis placed on nuclear testing in this section; there is a wall covered with the letters written by the Mayor of Hiroshima to the heads of state of various countries that have undertaken nuclear tests since the bombing of Hiroshima. I found this wall fascinating, as the countries represented as well as the dates of the tests paint a very interesting picture of the nuclear world. The giant globe showing every country that is known to possess nuclear weapons, and the number they have, is also intriguing.

When North Korea tested a nuclear device on 10th October 2006, the following appeared in the article in the Asahi Shimbun:

“Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum director Koichiro Maeda says, ‘We are concerned that more nations will start to believe their national security can be strengthened by possessing nuclear weapons. It is extremely foolish.’ The museum is now considering making room for North Korea in the reference library exhibit, which displays information about nations possessing nuclear weapons. About 300 survivors of the Hiroshima nuclear bombing gathered in the park near the museum condemning the possession and testing of all nuclear weapons by all nations.”

This proves that the museum continues to act when countries insist on continuing their nuclear posturing, like peacocks strutting around trying to attract a mate.

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