2004 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Peter Leary
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the UK

Chairpersons, conference
It is a great honour for me to have the opportunity to address you today. Being here in the place where humanities destructive power was so starkly demonstrated 59 years ago today has filled me with the inspiration to redouble my efforts to strive for a future in which we all can live free from the scourge of nuclear weapons and war. Inspired by what I can only describe as the miracle of Hiroshima, transforming the site of one of the most wicked events in human history into a beacon of peace and of hope. Inspired by the determination of the hibakusha to keep their memories alive lest history be forced to repeat the mistakes it has forgotten. And above all inspired by so many young and old gathered here in the name of peace.

And yet today we look out upon a frightening and uncertain future. The United States and its allies, particularly Britain, remain committed to a project which can only lead to war after war and ultimately to nuclear war, the consequences of which this city knows only too well. The ongoing occupation of Iraq reminds us daily of the true nature of human conflict and reveals before the world the lies and hypocrisy of those governments who have lead their people there. It is difficult to imagine anything more ironic than their claim to be protecting the world from weapons of mass destruction. While no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq we know that those who point the finger of accusation at others do so in order that they may hide their own guilt.

Those of us working in belligerent countries such as Britain understand only too well the responsibility we face. The responsibility to stand firm in opposition to our government for the sake of those whose lives they would extinguish in our names. We have heard much about the danger that the current Bush administration poses but we in Britain understand with every step it takes our government has a critical role to play.

The plan to develop National Missile Defense, previously banned under the ABM treaty because the ability to use nuclear weapons with impunity can only serve to accelerate the use of such weapons, requires the use of bases in Britain which are already being upgraded for this purpose.

Britain, along with the US is developing new tactical, mini-nukes, not to bust mythical bunkers, but to make more palatable the use of nuclear weapons on a sliding scale which stretches from depleted uranium to all out nuclear war. Britain stands shoulder to shoulder as a willing, albeit, junior partner in the project for a new American century filled with more violence and greater injustice. Along with the US Britain continues to turn a blind eye to Israel, the only state in the Middle East which we know posses nuclear weapons due to the courage and bravery of Mordichi Vanunu hero of our movement, true weapons inspector, imprisoned for eighteen years for the crime of truth. And above all like all nuclear states Britain refuses to honour its commitments under the non-proliferation treaty to abolish its nuclear arsenal.

It is indeed a heavy responsibility that rests upon our shoulders but one which I pledge to you we are committed to fulfill. And we will. There is a law of physics as true as those which enabled them to predict the consequences of splitting an atom, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The events of recent years have provoked a reaction which if harnessed will prove unstoppable, millions across the world many for the first time are asking questions they never thought or dared to ask before, a whole generation of young people have awoken and will never again believe the lies or fail to understand the motives for war. Here today we are but a drop in an ocean, part of a global peace movement better placed than ever before to challenge a system based on inequality and the war to which it leads. Together we can, we will and we must begin to build a new society with peace as its foundation and with justice as its law. Thank you.


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Japan Council
against A & H Bombs
2-4-4 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8464