Authored by Daryl Kimball, Kathy Crandall Robinson, and Tony Fleming on September 16, 2020
Donald Trump came into the presidency without a clear plan for reducing the nuclear danger. In one breath, he would threaten to “win” a new nuclear arms race; in the next, he would declare hope for arms control deals to constrain adversaries. Under Trump, no new nuclear deals have been struck and key agreements to reduce nuclear dangers have been abandoned or, like New START, are in jeopardy. The U.S. nuclear weapons budget is growing. New, more “usable” types of nuclear warheads have been deployed and there has been talk of resuming nuclear weapons test explosions. Worse yet, U.S. arms sales...
Authored by Daryl Kimball, Kathy Crandall Robinson, and Tony Fleming on August 3, 2020
The U.S. atomic bomb attack on the people of Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, and the second attack on the city of Nagasaki at 11:02 a.m. on August 9 killed and wounded hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting men, women, and children in a horrible blast of fire and radiation, followed by deadly fallout. “We are badly off course in efforts to honor the plea of the hibakusha—the survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings—and end the nuclear threat." Kazumi Matsui Mayor of Hiroshima The atomic bomb survivors—the hibakusha —have served as the conscience of the global disarmament movement. Their...
Seventy-five years ago on July 16 1945, the nuclear age began with the world's first nuclear weapons test explosion in the New Mexico desert. In this annotated video essay from the Arms Control Association, we describe the events that transpired three weeks later with the atomic attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
A more detailed review of the geopolitical, environmental, and humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, the rise of a global disarmament movement, and the work of the hibakusha (survivors of the nuclear attacks) is available in our special July/August 2020 issue of Arms Control Today, available at ArmsControl.org/75years.
On July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert, the United States detonated the world’s first nuclear weapons test explosion.
Three weeks later, U.S. bombers carried out surprise atomic bomb attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
At 8:15 in the morning on August 6, the uranium-based atomic bomb "Little Boy" was used on Hiroshima, home of approximately 320,000 people.
The blast packed a destructive force equivalent to about 15 kilotons of TNT.
In minutes, half of the city ... vanished.
The explosion produced a supersonic shock wave followed by extreme winds that remained above hurricane force over three kilometers from ground zero.
A secondary and equally devastating reverse wind followed, flattening and severely damaging homes and buildings several kilometers further away.
The intense heat of the Hiroshima bomb reached several million degrees Celsius and scorched flesh and other flammable materials over three kilometers away.
Flash burns from the primary heatwave caused most of the deaths at Hiroshima.
Three days later, U.S. leaders ordered “Fat Man,” a plutonium-based bomb with an explosive yield of 21 kilotons, dropped on Nagasaki, home to over 260,000 people.
The attack occurred two days earlier than planned, 10 hours after the Soviets entered the war against Japan, and as Japanese leaders were contemplating surrender.
Intense firestorms ravaged each city for hours after each attack. They leveled neighborhoods only partially damaged by the blast itself, killing more victims trapped under fallen debris.
Black rain laden with radioactive soot and dust contaminated areas far away from ground zero.
By the end of 1945, the blast, heat, and radiation of the nuclear attacks had killed an estimated 74,000 in Nagasaki and 140,000 in Hiroshima.
Many of those who survived the nuclear attacks would die from radiation-induced illnesses for years to come.
Historians now largely agree that the United States did not need to drop the bombs to avoid an invasion of Japan and bring an end to World War II.
Though aware of alternatives, President Harry Truman authorized use of the bombs in part to further the U.S. government’s postwar geostrategic aims.
Survivors of the nuclear attacks, known as hibakusha, and their descendants formed the nucleus of the Japanese and global nuclear disarmament movements.
The remaining hibakusha and organizations around the globe continue to work for a nuclear weapons-free world “so that succeeding generations of people will not see hell on earth ever again.”
Today, nine states still possess more than 13,000 nuclear weapons.
The risk of nuclear war is still with us.
To reduce this danger, we must freeze and reverse the arms race and, ultimately, eliminate nuclear weapons.
Atomic Heritage Foundation ･ Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
UN/Nagasaki International Cultural Hall ･ UN/Yosuke Yamahata
Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images ･ Joyce Naltchayan/AFP via Getty Images
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images ･ Junko Kimura/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images ･ Peter Parks/Getty Images
Seventy-five years ago, the nuclear age began with the world's first nuclear weapons test explosion in the New Mexico desert. In this annotated "silent film"-style video essay from the Arms Control Association, we learn about the events that transpired three weeks later with the atomic attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Authored by Daryl Kimball, Kathy Crandall Robinson, and Tony Fleming on June 23, 2020
Our nation and the world face a daunting array of challenges: a global pandemic; deepening economic hardship and inequity; a lack of cooperation and growing tensions between the world’s major powers; and ongoing deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police that underscore the systemic racism that continues to plague our society. Surely, this is not the time to continue to abandon effective nuclear arms control agreements, like the Open Skies Treaty, and ignite a new arms race with Russia and China—let alone to begin testing nuclear weapons again. Yet that is what senior officials at the...
Authored by Daryl Kimball, Kathy Crandall Robinson, and Tony Fleming on May 18, 2020
Since I wrote to you in April, the human toll of the global coronavirus pandemic has grown and the public health forecast about the crisis remains murky. The pandemic is not only affecting our daily lives, but also accelerating several worrying trends in international and security affairs. We continue to witness the decline of U.S. leadership, which is often necessary to forge international cooperation on an array of global threats, including weapons-related dangers, that don’t respect national borders. With your support, the staff and the board of directors continue working hard to bring...
Authored by Daryl Kimball, Kathy Crandall Robinson, and Tony Fleming on April 24, 2020
We were looking forward to seeing many of you in person today, the original date for our 2020 Annual Meeting. While the immediate focus of the world's attention is, appropriately, on the national and global response to COVID-19 pandemic, the many weapons-related challenges we work on with your support have not gone away. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas noted at a virtual conference held earlier this month, "While we are fighting against the coronavirus, we must not neglect our work on other global issues. Arms control and disarmament are crucial for global peace and stability." Here at the...
Authored by Daryl Kimball, Kathy Crandall Robinson, and Tony Fleming on March 24, 2020
Dear Arms Control Association Members and Friends: We hope that you and your families are taking care and staying safe during this unprecedented worldwide struggle against the novel coronavirus crisis. Whether it is managing the impacts of a global disease pandemic, addressing the ongoing global climate emergency, or preventing the outbreak of nuclear war, we are all in this together. The coronavirus crisis underscores how effective global governance and smart, coordinated actions at the international, national, and community level can make a difference. Our staff and Board of Directors...
Authored by Daryl Kimball, Kathy Crandall Robinson, and Tony Fleming on February 10, 2020
In less than a year—on February 5, 2021—the last remaining treaty limiting the world’s two nuclear arsenals is due to expire unless the U.S. president decides to take up Russia’s offer to extend it for another five years. To date, however, the Trump administration has yet to officially decide on the future of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Instead, Trump is talking about a new and more ambitious treaty involving all types of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons as well as those of China. These are worthy goals, but a new treaty cannot be concluded before 2021. Extending New START is the...
Authored by Daryl Kimball, Elana Simon, and Tony Fleming on December 16, 2019
Over the course of 2019, the international arms control and nonproliferation system took some serious hits, and the coming year looks to be just as challenging, if not more so. Foundational arms control and disarmament treaties are in jeopardy, the world’s nuclear-armed states are pursuing new weapons capabilities, and rising tensions between major powers are increasing the risk of conflict. These are serious challenges. But in 2020 you can rely on the Arms Control Association to steer the course toward safety. Our dedicated professional staff and high-powered Board members will work to seize...