‘Lift Shadow of Nuclear Annihilation’, Strengthen Disarmament, Secretary-General Urges at Peace Memorial Marking 75 Years since Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message to the Nagasaki Peace Memorial on the seventy-eighth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, held today:

This ceremony is an opportunity to remember a moment of unmatched horror for humanity — the use of atomic weapons on Nagasaki 78 years ago.

We mourn those killed, whose memory will never fade.  We remember the terrible destruction wrought upon this city and Hiroshima.  We honour the unrelenting strength and resilience of the people of Nagasaki to rebuild.  And we recognize the brave hibakusha, whose powerful and harrowing testimonies will forever stand as a reminder that we must achieve a world free of these inhumane weapons.

It is in their name — and in memory of what happened here in 1945 — that the Secretary-General has declared that the elimination of nuclear weapons is the United Nations’ highest disarmament priority.  We must never again allow such devastation to occur.

Despite the terrible lessons of 1945, humanity now confronts a new arms race.  Nuclear weapons are being used as tools of coercion.  Weapons systems are being upgraded, and placed at the centre of national security strategies, making these devices of death faster, more accurate and stealthier.

All this, at a moment when division and mistrust are pulling countries and regions apart.  The risk of nuclear catastrophe is now at its highest level since the cold war.

In the face of these threats, the global community must speak as one.  Any use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable.  We will not sit idly by as nuclear-armed States race to create even more dangerous weapons.

That’s why disarmament is at the heart of the recently launched Policy Brief on a New Agenda for Peace.  The Agenda calls on Member States to urgently recommit to pursuing a world free of nuclear weapons, and to reinforce the global norms against their use and proliferation.  Pending their total elimination, States possessing nuclear weapons must commit to never use them.  The only way to eliminate the nuclear risk is to eliminate nuclear weapons.

The United Nations will continue working with global leaders to strengthen the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime — including through the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  I have pledged to do everything in my power to ensure that the voices and testimonies of the hibakusha continue to be heard.

I call on young people — tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers — to carry their torch forward.  We can never forget what happened here.  We must lift the shadow of nuclear annihilation, once and for all.  No more Nagasakis.  No more Hiroshimas.

The United Nations looks forward to working with the people of Nagasaki and Japan in this essential effort.

For information media. Not an official record.