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Does Obama mean what he says

DESPITE his recent call for a world without nuclear weapons, the United States under President Barack Obama is about to embark on a trillion-dollar modernisation programme. This will ensure that the US will be nuclear armed for decades to come. And in the Northern Marianas, the US is about to build a massive military training complex on a tiny atoll from which it launched the aircraft which caused 144,000 casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Obama administration is reportedly developing new nuclear missiles with smaller yields and better targeting – “more usable” nuclear weapons – and has boycotted all attempts to negotiate a global prohibition of nuclear weapons. Global research shows that the United States and Russia maintain roughly 1800 of their nuclear weapons on high-alert status – ready to be launched within minutes of a warning. Most are many times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. A single nuclear warhead, if detonated on a large city, could kill millions of people, with the effects persisting for decades.

In total, nine countries together possess more than 15,000 nuclear weapons. And it was against this backdrop that Obama last month visited Hiroshima – the first US President in history to do so – and called for a world free of the weapons which wreaked havoc on the city and ended effectively World War II. Anyone who has visited Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park and its museum will be struck by the devastation caused by the bomb carried from Tininan Atoll aboard the B-29 Superfortress Bomber, Enola Gay, 71 years ago.

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