Tue, Aug 10, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Nagasaki mayor urges US to scrap `mini-nuke' plans

AP , Tokyo

Nagasaki's mayor warned yesterday that new nuclear weapons the US wants to develop would cause as much radiation contamination as the atomic bomb dropped on the southern Japanese city 59 years ago, as he marked the anniversary of the attack.

At the annual ceremony, Itcho Ito recounted how tens of thousands perished in the World War II bombing of Nagasaki and said many victims continue to suffer.

"The `mini-nukes' that the US is trying to develop possess terrible power, despite their smaller size. The radiation destruction they would cause is no different from that of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki,'' Ito told thousands gathered at the city's Peace Park.

Ito said Washington must scrap its nuclear arsenal before the world can be free of nuclear weapons. He urged Americans to face the "terrifying reality" that the bomb's victims have lived with since the attack.

"It's clear that as long as the world's most powerful country continues to rely on nuclear weapons, other countries can't pursue nuclear non-proliferation," he said in a nationally broadcast speech. "If humankind is to survive the only path left for us is the abolition of nuclear weapons."

Washington has had a self-imposed ban on nuclear testing since 1992. But it has conducted so-called subcritical nuclear weapons testing -- which detonates bomb-grade plutonium but stops short of full-fledged nuclear blasts -- since 1997. In June, US lawmakers approved spending for research into nuclear warheads that would set off smaller explosions or destroy underground targets.

Ito pointed to the UN International Court of Justice's 1996 advisory calling for nuclear disarmament and the abolishment of nuclear arms. However, the court's 15 judges were divided over whether to consider the threat or use of nuclear weapons illegal.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi yesterday reiterated Japan's policy banning the production, possession and transport of nuclear weapons within its borders.

"Our country won't change that stance," Koizumi said, echoing his remarks Friday on the anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing in Hiroshima.

Koizumi also vowed to continue pressing for more nations to ratify a nuclear non-proliferation pact and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would ban nuclear arms testing and make developing new weapons almost impossible.

At the ceremony, officials placed chrysanthemum wreaths at the foot of a peace statue. Attendees then observed a minute of silence as a bell tolled at 11:02am -- the minute the B-29 bomber Bock's Car dropped the bomb dubbed "Fat Man" on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. About 70,000 people were killed in the explosion.

Hiroshima had been bombed three days earlier, killing or wounding 160,000 people. On Aug. 15, 1945, Japan's surrender ended World War II.

Nagasaki this year added 2,707 people to a list of those who have died from aftereffects, putting the total number of the city's bomb victims at 134,592.

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