After Hiroshima visit, diplomat says nuclear weapons should never be used again

WATCH ABOVE: It has been a sombre week in Japan, marking 70 years since the country was devastated by two atomic bombs — the first dropped on Hiroshima and the second flattening Nagasaki. Pledges are made to remember the tragedies and to continue world nuclear disarmament. Mike le Couteur reports.

TOKYO – A U.S. diplomat who attended this week’s 70th anniversary of the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima said Friday that nuclear weapons should never be used again.

Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller was the highest-ranking U.S. official at Thursday’s ceremony.

READ MORE: Japan marks 70th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing with call for nuclear arms ban

Gottemoeller said she was moved by seeing aging Japanese survivors continue to tell their stories to help the world understand the consequences of nuclear weapons. She said those stories must be passed on to future generations and the world must continue nonproliferation efforts.

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“I do think that it’s very, very important that the word get passed down to the next generation. We don’t want to see nuclear use happen again,” she said. Gottemoeller added that people need to understand “the dire and terrible consequences of nuclear weapons’ use for humanity.”

The U.S. atomic attack on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, killed 140,000 people from injuries and the immediate effects of radiation within five months. Another on Nagasaki three days later initially killed more than 70,000.

Gottemoeller is also scheduled to attend the Aug. 9 ceremony in Nagasaki.

WATCH: Lanterns released to commemorate WWII Hiroshima bombing

With the average age of surviving victims, or hibakusha, now exceeding 80 this year, passing on their stories is considered an urgent task.

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The bomb, called “Little Boy,” destroyed 90 per cent of Hiroshima. A “black rain” of radioactive particles followed the blinding blast and fireball, and has been linked to higher rates of cancer and other radiation-related diseases among survivors.

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