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Pugwash scientists' conference ends with call to eliminate atomic weapons

Kyodo

Scientists and nuclear experts from across the world on Thursday wrapped up their meeting in Japan with a call for all nuclear states to eliminate atomic weapons, and for nonnuclear states that depend on the extended nuclear umbrella to change their security policies.

In a declaration released at the end of the five-day Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs held in Nagasaki, a city devastated by the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing, participants touched on the sufferings of hibakusha, or atomic bomb survivors, for the first time and urged world leaders to “heed their call now.”

Pugwash meetings have been held twice in Japan, both in the city of Hiroshima, which suffered the world’s first atomic bombing three days before Nagasaki, but the previous declarations did not refer to the suffering of hibakusha.

The declaration comes at a time when the rift between nuclear and nonnuclear states has become more apparent, with U.S. and Russian disarmament officials making statements in justification of nuclear deterrence.

The latest meeting, the 61st of its kind, drew roughly 200 participants from about 40 countries.

The declaration also said it was “crucially important that the experiences of the Hibakusha from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and nuclear test sites around the world should be transferred to the next generation.”

It also said, “Global initiatives aimed at legally banning nuclear weapons through coalition among states, civil society and international organizations can play a significant role in eliminating nuclear threats.”

The statement said the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant “reminded us of the importance of nuclear safety and the containment of nuclear technology risks,” adding, “The social responsibility of scientists is perhaps today more critically important than ever.”

Open debate on the civilian use of nuclear power during the meeting was centered on ways to ensure safety and did not touch on whether nuclear power generation should be abolished.

Among the speakers at the event, Yoshiro Yamawaki, an 81-year-old hibakusha, shared his experience and called for nuclear abolition, while Nobel chemistry prize laureate Osamu Shimomura, who was exposed to the atomic blast in a city adjacent to Nagasaki, spoke of how the atomic bombing changed his perception of life.