Tomorrow marks the 67th anniversary of an event that has changed the world perhaps more than any other, when on Aug 6, 1945 a United States army plane dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The bomb killed an estimated 80,000 people immediately and the horrible effects of the radiation from the explosion are still with us today. The event is past the memory of the great majority of people alive, but to a large extent the incredible destruction unleashed that day has shaped modern history and continues to do so. While some believe that the use of the bomb was necessary to end World War Two in the Pacific, everyone knows that such weapons must never be used again.
Yet today there are thousands of thermonuclear bombs which are much more powerful than the ones dropped on Hiroshima and shortly later on Nagasaki, fitted onto guided missiles in fortified shelters around the world, most of them under the control of the US and Russia.
A key component of the 1968 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), aside from the unsuccessful aim of keeping the possession of nuclear weapons from spreading beyond the original five nuclear-armed states, was that these states must take progressive steps to disarm until the day comes when there are no more nuclear weapons in the world. But although the US and Russia have each decommissioned thousands of nuclear warheads, this part of the NPT is a distant and some say an impossible dream.
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