Mon, Aug 08, 2005 - Page 7 News List

US activists call for a global ban on nuclear weapons


At the birthplace of the atomic bomb, outside the national labs that feed today's nuclear arsenal, and in the US' capital, survivors of the deadly blasts that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki 60 years ago joined hundreds of activists in support of a global ban on nuclear weapons.

"No more Hiroshimas. No more Nagasakis," bombing survivor Koji Ueda wrote in a statement distributed on Saturday at a rally in the Los Alamos park that had held research laboratories when the Manhattan Project developed the world's first atomic bomb.

"We send this message to our friends all over the world, along with a fresh determination of the `hibakusha' [atomic bomb survivors] to continue to tell about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, aiming at a planet set free of wars of nuclear weapons," Ueda said.

In Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 15 protesters from a group of more than 1,000 were arrested on Saturday for blocking a road outside the heavily guarded weapons factory that helped fuel the bomb during World War II.

At the Nevada Test Site, peace activists discussed ways to eliminate nuclear weapons. While in California, hundreds of activists marched to the gates of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, some holding sunflowers and others hoisting a 12m inflatable "missile."

Ueda, who was 3 when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, was joined at Los Alamos by Masako Hashida, who was 15 and working in a factory about 1.5km from where the second bomb fell three days later on Nagasaki.

In the Los Alamos park where research laboratories stood during the Manhattan Project, placards carried anti-war slogans including "No more war for oil and empire" and "We're sorry about Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

A group of veterans offered an opposing message across the park from the more than 500 activists. One sign read: "If there hadn't been a Pearl Harbor, there wouldn't have been a Hiroshima."

Steve Stoddard, 80, of Los Alamos, said the group was trying to counter the "demonizing of the bomb."

"We feel the bomb saved our lives," said Stoddard, a World War II veteran who fought in Europe. He believes he would have been sent to fight in Japan had the bombs not ended the war when they did.

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