Manhattan Project national park to highlight inhumane aspects of atomic weapons

Kyodo

A U.S. national park commemorating facilities related to the Manhattan Project, the secret wartime atomic bomb program, will include exhibits on the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons, a park official said.

The plan to display the damage caused by the U.S. atomic bombings of Japan during World War II is welcome news for atomic bomb survivors, who have strived to convey the horror of the weapons and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences.

“We intend to address this issue thoroughly and respectfully,” said Kris Kirby, superintendent of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

In November 2015, the U.S. government officially designated the Manhattan Project facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford in Washington State as a national park.

Work on the exhibition plan may start in 2019, and officials hope to complete it within two years.

Where the exhibits on the inhumane aspects of atomic weapons will be placed hasn’t been decided, but Kirby said they would be “incredibly important elements” of the story surrounding the Manhattan Project.

The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and the second on Nagasaki three days later. Around 210,000 people — mostly civilians — are estimated to have died as a result of the attacks by the end of 1945. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15 that year, bringing an end to World War II.

An official of the Hiroshima Municipal Government welcomed the development.

“We hope the exhibition … will be based on objective facts, and not glorify the development of the atomic bomb.”

In the park’s policy document, which was compiled by the administration of former President Barack Obama, the A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are recognized as devastating and indiscriminate, according to the National Park Service, a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The document also said many people died in the blasts and ensuing flames, and that survivors suffered from cancer and leukemia throughout their lives as well as from the loss of family.

The document also notes that millions of lives were saved because the bombs helped avert an Allied invasion of the mainland in the closing days of the war.