The mayor of Hiroshima in Japan has marked the 58th anniversary of the world's first atomic bomb attack by criticising the world's pursuit of new nuclear weapons technology.
The atomic bomb on Hiroshima devastated a city of 300,000
"The world without nuclear weapons... that bomb survivors have sought for so long appears to be slipping under a thick cover of dark clouds that they fear at any minute could become mushroom clouds," Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba said.
He was speaking at the annual ceremony commemorating the 160,000 killed or injured in the blast.
At 8.15am local time a bell marked the minute on 6 August 1945 when the US atomic bomb exploded.
Mr Akiba spoke of the "blazing hell fire that swept over this very spot" and called all nuclear weapons "utterly evil, inhumane and illegal under international law".
This year's ceremony comes less than a week after North Korea agreed to US demands for six-nation talks to resolve the standoff over Pyongyang's suspected nuclear programme.
Mr Akiba did not directly criticise North Korean leader Kim Jong Il - but he urged him, as well as US President George W Bush and the heads of other nuclear-armed countries to visit Hiroshima.
The Bush administration wants Congress to approve US$68m for research into advanced nuclear weapons technology - including research on a ground-penetrating nuclear warhead, and smaller weapons called mini-nukes.
Thousands of doves were released during Wednesday's ceremony
Mr Akiba also made clear his disapproval of the US-led campaign to topple Saddam Hussein.
"As the US-British-led war on Iraq made clear, the assertion that war is peace is being trumpeted as truth," he said
Thousands of white doves were released into the sky during Wednesday's ceremony, which was attended by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.