In Hiroshima, UN chief says humanity is 'playing with a loaded gun'

At an annual ceremony held in the Japanese city to honor the victims of the 1945 bombing, Antonio Guterres made a strong appeal to world leaders to remove nuclear weapons from their arsenals.

In Hiroshima, UN chief says humanity is 'playing with a loaded gun'

At an annual ceremony held in the Japanese city to honor the victims of the 1945 bombing, Antonio Guterres made a strong appeal to world leaders to remove nuclear weapons from their arsenals.

77 years ago, "tens of thousands of people were suddenly killed in this city. Women, children and men were cremated in an infernal fire", he said.

"Buildings turned to dust. Survivors were cursed with a radioactive legacy" of cancers and other illnesses, Mr. Guterres added.

"We have to ask ourselves: what did we learn from the mushroom cloud that swelled over this city?"

Today, "crises with a strong nuclear connotation are spreading rapidly, from the Middle East to the Korean Peninsula to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Humanity is playing with a loaded gun," Antonio said. Guterres, reiterating warnings he issued this week at a conference of countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in New York.

For the past two years, commemorations of the Hiroshima bombing - attended by survivors, relatives, Japanese officials and some foreign dignitaries - have taken place on a restricted basis due to the Covid.

Saturday's ceremony was more important. A silent prayer was held at 8:15 a.m. (local time), when the American bomb devastated the city at the end of the Second World War.

The nuclear risk has haunted people's minds since Russia invaded its Ukrainian neighbor in February. Russia's ambassador to Japan was not invited to Saturday's ceremony, but traveled to Hiroshima on Thursday to lay a wreath in honor of the victims.

About 140,000 people died as a result of the August 6, 1945 bombing of Hiroshima, a toll that includes those who survived the explosion but later died due to radiation.

Three days later, the United States dropped another nuclear bomb on the Japanese port city of Nagasaki, killing around 74,000 people and ending World War II.

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