US Disarmament Official Discusses Hiroshima Visit with White House

May 22nd, 2014 - by admin

Yoshiaki Kasuga / Asahi Shimbun – 2014-05-22 00:53:48

NEW YORK (May 14, 2014) — Citing her “awe-inspiring” experience in Hiroshima, the US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security said she was in contact with the White House on her impressions after visiting the city devastated by the 1945 atomic bombing.

Rose Gottemoeller, a key figure in the Obama administration’s nonproliferation efforts, also quoted President Barack Obama as saying he would be “honored” to visit Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

“My trip to Hiroshima was a stark reminder of the sacrifices that so many people of the world made during World War II, and it was really awe-inspiring for me, personally,” Gottemoeller said in a recent telephone interview with The Asahi Shimbun.

“I heard many voices (of people who want Obama to visit Hiroshima), and it was so interesting for me to visit Hiroshima and to be able to meet with people there, including a survivor of Hiroshima (atomic bombing),” she said. “It was a very, very good opportunity.”

Gottemoeller was invited to a foreign ministers’ meeting of the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) held in Hiroshima by 12 non-nuclear countries in mid-April.

She laid a wreath at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and also visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

“At the time, I mentioned that the president has said he would be honored to come to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but I cannot tell you what his schedulers have to say,” Gottemoeller added.

In a speech at the Third Meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference on April 29 in New York, Gottemoeller said, “It is imperative that we make sure that people remember the human impact of nuclear weapons.”

She continued: “The United States’ deep understanding of the consequences of nuclear weapons use — including the devastating health effects — has guided and motivated our efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate these most hazardous weapons.”

Many countries viewed her speech as the first US acknowledgment of the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons. The United States has distanced itself from ongoing disarmament discussions emphasizing the “inhumanity of nuclear weapons.”

During the telephone interview, Gottemoeller reaffirmed that Washington has a deep understanding of the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons use.

She also pointed out that the 1962 Cuban missile crisis instilled a sense of fear among Americans of nuclear warfare.

US citizens also became more aware of radiation contamination in the 1960s, after food and milk products were contaminated with strontium-90, a radioactive substance released during atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, she said.

Gottemoeller, however, said Washington does “not support the notion of a nuclear ban treaty,” which would prohibit the development, production, testing and use of nuclear weapons and mandate nuclear nations to scrap their weapons.

“We really feel that we have made so much progress over the years by taking a practical-minded approach to reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons,” she said.

Some Comments from Disarmament Activists

(May 17, 2014) The Asahi Shimbun article featuring the US Undersecretary Rose Gottemoeller [is] based on a telephone interview with her during the NPT PrepCom. In the last few paragraphs you’ll see her response to the questions regarding humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. She basically said that the US is fully aware of the devastating impact, but does not support a nuclear ban treaty.
Akira Kawasaki

(May 19, 2014) — For those who asked… Anita Friedt @AnitaFriedt @StateDept Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nuclear and Strategic Policy at the Bureau of Arms Control Verification and Compliance was who spoke and her answer was pretty off-the-cuff along the lines of Rose’s… “We know that it is bad.” Didn’t specifically answer my question, which then included the implication that the use of even a small number of weapons would not be in the best interests of Americans.
Andy Kanter

(May 20, 2014) — Same in UK. When in January this year we asked officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, they said that they understood the nature of the catastrophic consequences: but were rather silent when I — very solemnly (and, unusually for me, pulling my medical hat) — questioned whether they REALLY did!
Frank Boulton