Hiroshima marks 77th anniversary of world’s first atomic bombing

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Bells tolled in Hiroshima on Saturday as the city marked the 77th anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing, with officials including the United Nations secretary general warning of a new arms race following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

After the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Vladimir Putin had obliquely raised the possibility of a nuclear strike. The conflict has also heightened concerns about the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear plants.

UN Secretary General António Guterres, who joined the thousands packed into the Peace Park in the centre of Hirshima to mark the anniversary of the bombing that killed 140,000 before the end of 1945, said that “nuclear weapons are nonsense,” pointing out that “they guarantee no safety - only death and destruction.”

“Three quarters of a century later, we must ask [ourselves] what we have learned from the mushroom cloud that swelled above this city in 1945,” he said.

Hiroshima’s mayor, Kazumi Matsui, whose city this year did not invite the Russian ambassador to the ceremony, was more pointed and critical of Moscow’s military actions in Ukraine. “In invading Ukraine, the Russian leader, elected to protect the lives and property of his people, is using them as instruments of war, stealing the lives and livelihoods of civilians in a different country,” he stressed.

“At the start of this year, the five nuclear-weapon states issued a joint statement: ‘Nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’. Why do they [the Russians] not attempt to fulfil their promises? Why do some even hint at using nuclear weapons?,” Mr Matsui asked. At 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, the US B-29 warplane “Enola Gay” dropped a bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” and obliterated the city with an estimated population of 350,000. Thousands more died later from injuries and radiation-related illnesses.