On the 75th anniversary of Nagasaki, a world free of nuclear weapons remains a distant dream – here’s why

But the pandemic should serve as a wake-up call for countries to work together for peace

Seventy-five years ago today, the US dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. It came three days after Hiroshima suffered a similar fate on 6 August 1945. Between 110,000 and 210,000 people lost their lives across both events and thousands more would go on to die in the months and years after from the injuries sustained as a result of the explosion, as well as the ongoing effects of radiation.

Two bombs which began the nuclear age. Two bombs that are dwarfed by the almost 14,000 still possessed by US today. Two bombs whose modern counterparts have several thousand times their destructive power and which would, if ever used, have catastrophic consequences for the whole human race.

Seventy-five years later, the long-term goal of a nuclear weapon-free world remains a distant aspiration and there are several reasons to think that the level of nuclear weapons-related risk is rising.

There are growing tensions between global powers. Relations between Russia and the US, the two nuclear superpowers, are under significant strain and both are modernising their nuclear arsenals. Meanwhile, strategic competition between the US and China has sparked fears of a new cold war. There are a range of disputes between the two countries which could lead to a further deterioration in relations.

Models in Hiroshima museum depicting the scene after the nuclear bomb was dropped. The skin of those directly affected literally melted away due to the intense heat and radiation.

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