Statement at Hiroshima and Nagasaki Memorial Ceremony

Vienna, Austria

by Ana MarĂ­a Cetto Acting Director General and IAEA Deputy Director General, Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation

We are gathered here today to add a strong voice to those who consider it important that the memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki do not fade from the consciousness of political leaders and people at large.

A world without nuclear weapons still remains a far-off goal as the world continues to be burdened with some 25,000 nuclear warheads. Massive arsenals that are capable of annihilating entire nations within an hour cannot be considered an asset by any standard. They breed mistrust and worst-case scenarios among other States. Quick launch nuclear weapon systems perpetuate the risk of an accidental or unauthorized launch. Nor do nuclear weapons serve any practical role in deterring non-State adversaries.

To date, Hiroshima and Nagasaki mercifully remain the only instances in which nuclear weapons have been used. The devastation of these two cities stands as a constant reminder of why preventing the further use and proliferation of such weapons - and why nuclear disarmament leading to a nuclear-weapon-free world - is of utmost importance for the survival of humankind and planet Earth.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, born in 1957 out of the "Atoms for Peace" vision, came at a time when the horrifying consequences and images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still fresh.

Through its programmes in support of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and other similar agreements, the IAEA has done a great deal of work to help stem the tide of nuclear proliferation, while ensuring that the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy are made available to all those who want them.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty opened for signature in 1996 has not yet entered into force, and the negotiation of a global treaty on the verified production ban on fissile material for nuclear weapons has yet to start more than 55 years after it was first proposed.

Despite continuing challenges, there are symbols of hope and indicators of the path to follow - the NPT is almost universal, five nuclear-weapon-free zones cover all of the landmass of the southern hemisphere, and now also include six countries in the northern hemisphere; and there seems to be momentum for moving towards a world with fewer nuclear weapons.

We should remain humbled by what we have learned and have failed to learn from the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We cannot allow six-and-a-half decades to soften our memories of how devastating such weapons are. Let us instead ensure that the memories of what happened on 6 and 9 August 1945 are a catalyst for a new way of thinking. The best protection against nuclear weapons, and the only way to prevent future Hiroshimas and Nagasakis, is to bring about an end to all nuclear weapons.

I would like to conclude with the words pronounced by UN Secretary General last 6 August at the annual commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima: "Together, we are on a journey from ground zero to global zero - a world free of weapons of mass destruction. That is the only sane path to a safer world."

With these introductory remarks I invite you to the video message from IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries.

Last update: 28 October 2014