NEW YORK - Promoting specific views on the history of U.S. atomic bomb development is not the intention of a national park to be built to commemorate facilities related to the Manhattan Project, the secret U.S. wartime atomic bomb program, the head of a body cooperating with the U.S. government on the plan indicated Friday.
During a meeting with the mayors of the two Japanese cities that suffered atomic bombings during World War II, Cynthia Kelly, president of the Atomic Heritage Foundation, said she hopes the planned park exhibits will offer “an open-ended interpretation” and will let visitors decide for themselves what was right or wrong.
Kelly made the remarks as Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue said he is paying attention to whether the park will convey “all the facts in a fair manner” over the development of atomic bombs and their use, as well as the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons.
Last December, Taue wrote in a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy that people in Nagasaki are worried that commemorating the Manhattan Project with a national park “may lead to a justification of the atomic bomb attack (on Japan) and promotion of the development of nuclear weapons.”
During the meeting in New York, Kelly said the creation of the atomic bomb changed the history of the United States and the world in many ways for good and bad, and the National Park Service, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior, “is not going to try to cover up, or just tell the story as a science and technology triumph.”
Instead, it “will reach out and solicit ideas of yours, and your communities and hibakusha and think about how the world can best understand how this happened and what happened because of the atomic bomb, and where we can go in the future,” she said.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law in December, authorizing the designation of facilities related to the Manhattan Project as a national park to be established in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Hanford, in Washington state.
The Atomic Heritage Foundation, founded by Kelly in 2002, is a Washington-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the historic sites of the Manhattan Project in cooperation with local and federal governments.
Also Friday, Taue and Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui urged countries attending a U.N. conference to pursue a nuclear-free world through such means as a nuclear weapons ban treaty.
Calling nuclear arms the “ultimate inhumane weapons,” Matsui told the conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. “Now is the time at this conference that the NPT parties agree … to start negotiation on a nuclear weapons convention at the earliest possible time.”
Taue warned that nuclear war “is ever more likely” amid tensions between the United States and Russia regarding the Ukraine crisis and proposed the two superpowers speed up their nuclear arms reductions so that other countries will follow suit.
“While we have been unable to rid ourselves of our old-fashioned reliance on nuclear deterrence, the danger has once again grown. Seventy years after the (U.S.) atomic bombings, let us make this review conference a turning point in the creation of a new world which denies the value of nuclear weapons,” Taue said.
The speeches were delivered at the beginning of an NPT review conference session, in which nongovernmental organizations were given a chance to make presentations and express their concerns to country delegations over nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation issues.