Sixty years after Hiroshima, could atomic bombs be used again?
This is a second page of your comments and memories of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
As soon as the nuclear technology was invented, it was inevitable that countries would use nuclear weapons, simply because they are hugely powerful. No country is ever going to disarm - why would they and why should they? Everyone feels threatened by everyone. All this is going to continue and there's nothing we can do about it.
Gavin Parker, Newcastle
There is no justification for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. An invasion of Japan would have cost military lives. How can you justify avoiding this by wiping out two cities of civilians? And even if it did bring an end to the war surely one would have been enough?
Nuclear weapons are a blemish on the history of the entire human race. If it wasn't the Americans that had used the A-bomb it would have been someone else and perhaps with far more devastating consequences.
Nathan Alumbaugh, Wichita, USA
I am against nuclear weapons - no nation should have them. But isn't it hypocritical of the United States to place sanctions on countries trying to develop them when they are the only nation to have used them in combat against an enemy?
Andy, Cheshire, UK
You mention that "Countries like India, Pakistan and Iran have started nuclear programmes despite non-proliferation treaty". How can a few nuclear powers claim exclusive right to nuclear weapons, when one of them has actually used them in past?
Spsamantaray, Beira, Mozambique
The nuclear threat has actually been accentuated and by no means diminished. More and more nations are clamouring to join the nuclear club and are kidding themselves that by doing so they are restraining others from attacking them. There is also a lot of bullying going on: the ones who joined the club first feel they have the right to debar others from acquiring nuclear potential.
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium
While during the cold war nuclear threats were to some extent beneficial in deterring another global disaster, we cannot really say that we are now any safer. Not only have the five original nuclear powers not disarmed, it would also seem that there are other countries besides India and Pakistan that have nuclear capabilities, while other nations are on the brink of developing the ability. The questions remain: who can and cannot have them, and who can claim the right to stop other nations from developing nuclear capabilities?
Vincent E Ciliberti, B'kara, Malta
Atomic bombs are a complete evil and utter abomination and all should be banned and disarmed as part of an urgently required global peace process
Patrick Black, York
As long as these evil weapons exist, all it will take is one man with the authority to launch them and the lack of sanity to actually do it. Even if all atomic warheads are decommissioned and destroyed, creating a device intended to spread radioactivity requires nothing more than some commercial grade explosive and some nuclear waste, of which there is literally mountains. You can't rebottle the genie.
I have just read every letter of comment TWICE and am amazed by the number of people trying to justify the dropping of these atomic weapons. People who can somehow justify this war crime are far more dangerous for the future than ANY terrorist. Why? Because we allow it.
Dave Smith, Woking, Surrey
Was dropping a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki necessary? We cannot judge an action 60 years ago with today's knowledge, way of thinking and peaceful world. I have lived in Nagasaki for 2 years, and I can tell you in the city there is no hate, no anger and no blame to be pointed. 60 years on all there is, is a prayer for peace. May nuclear weapons never be used again in war. May there never be war.
Paul Thomas, Nagasaki, Japan
History is bound to repeat itself and it seems inevitable that as long as there exists nuclear weapons, there would likely be another Hiroshima. Having said that, stories from the hibakusha (A-bomb survivors) are so appalling that anyone with a conscience would vow never to cause such pain.
Kenny Endo, San Francisco USA
Some people talk of the weapons falling in the wrong hand. Somebody there tell me, where is the right hand that suppose to hold the weapons? Eliminate all the weapons and everybody will feel safe.
Mike Aziz, Vancouver, Canada
I agree that everyone who goes to Japan should visit the bombing sites in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But how many Japanese tourists actually visited Arizona Battleship Museum in Hawaii and Nanking Massacre Museum in China? Of course, the world should never forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and we want to make sure this tragedy will never happens again. But why do a lot Japanese still deny the Nanking massacre ever happened and why do most of Japanese tourists avoid visiting Arizona Battleship Museum? This really bothers me.
Edward, Chicago, USA
The use of the nuclear bomb was not just an act of aggression, but a crime against humanity. Unfortunately nations have learnt little from the death and destruction caused. Ironically, nations around the world, since Hiroshima have diverted more and more financial resources on acquiring and enhancing the destructive power of nuclear Weapons.
Kartikeya Tripathi, Bangkok, Thailand
I vividly remember the bombing because I spent six months near the devastated city, as an occupation soldier, in the aftermath of the bombing. It was a distressing experience, for there were hundreds of children who had survived the blast, but were dying from atomic burns. I prayed that the newly established UN would prevent this indiscriminate slaughter from reoccurring. Perhaps the world is a bit safer, but not nearly safe enough. The nuclear balance remains and could easily be disturbed. Our challenge on this anniversary is to strengthen the UN's capacity to further reduce the risk and ultimately achieve complete nuclear disarmament.
James Dunn, Canberra, Australia
I knew a man who survived the bomb in Hiroshima. He once told me what he saw there then, which was really unusual thing for him to do as he hated to even remember it. And it was nothing but appalling. Burnt people were searching for water in thirst and some of them actually tried to give their blood to others as drinking water. He saw kids of 14 or 15 of age throw themselves on their friends' bodies to save them. The story was just an endless pain.
He was lucky to survive without any after-effect, but many others did - and suffered social discrimination derived from the public fear of after-effects. He died a couple of years ago, but stayed single all his life. I guess the Japanese government should have done more to compensate these people and to portray the gut-wrenching facts to the world so that any similar tragedy never happens, but sadly, all they are trying to do is not to bother U.S. government.
T Nakata, Yokohama, Japan
The proliferation that's going on in the world, N.Korea, Iran, is proof that the Bush administration is right to pursue and anti-ballistic missile program. It won't protect us from Russia but it can save us from them.
Dave, Santa Barbara, CA
I have visited the memorials in Hiroshima and seen how the Japanese believe in the plaque that says "Please sleep well, we will not make the mistake again" . If only America and other nations would learn from their poor choices then perhaps we could all sleep a little better at night.
Craig, New York, USA
My hometown was created purely to help make the bombs that fell on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I personally think that nuclear weapons are horrible things and that no humans should ever have the power to create so much harm to so many. The Japanese were already on their knees. I think dropping the bombs would easily count as a crime against humanity. It makes me sick to think about the stories that I've read about what actually happened to the innocents on the ground. For shame, America!
Joy, Atlanta, USA
Iran and North Korea are going, somewhat understandably, into the Nuclear Age simply because they do not want to find themselves in the same situation as Afghanistan and Iraq. Really simple, but the Christian West is too full of itself to understand.
Christopher Sawtell, Christchurch, N.Z.
As an American living between two (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) tragically historic cities in Japan, I must say that I am truly disappointed with my fellow homo sapiens. When will we collectively decide to chart our own future World? Would we rather collectively assure our own mutual destruction. Nagasaki and Hiroshima must never be repeated; they should never be forgotten.
David A. Isaacs, Kitakyushu, Japan
The argument for the possession of nuclear weapons has for over half a century been as a deterrence against direct conventional war between the 'superpowers'. Is it any surprise that other nations have finally succumbed to this argument and see their own possession of a nuclear deterrent as being the only safeguard against aggression from a 'Superpower'.
David, Livingston, Scotland
Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a drop in the bucket so to speak. With the amount of unaccounted for nuclear material around the world it is not a question of if atomic weapons will be used, but rather a question of when. It is unconscionable for the west to be spending so much money and effort waging a war of choice in the middle-east, while practically ignoring (money and effort-wise anyway) the amount of nuclear material flowing out of the former Soviet Union. The result will be more blood on the hands of our western leaders via neglect.
Randal, Los Angeles CA, USA
If I were in charge of a nation like Iran or North Korea of course I would be scrambling to build nuclear weapons. With senior members of the Bush administration constantly rattling their swords at me and telling the press that a "limited" nuclear war could be fought and won, how would I have anything to lose by not building and using mine first?
Randal, Los Angeles CA, USA
I've visited Peace Park & the museum at Nagasaki, and I'll never forget it. The Japanese have done a service to the world with the park & museums they created from this experience. While I still can't deny the legitimacy of using the bombs to end WW2(although they did end it & millions of other lives were saved), it's obvious they should never be used again. States that see them as an easy way to grasp at power tend to be less than stable and that is truly frightening.
My uncle was to be part of the invasion of Japan. He used to say how grateful he was that the bomb was dropped so he did not have to fight.
Howard, Chicago, USA
The lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are that of sheer power. The United States used its power and brought an aggressor to its knees, ending WW2. Nuclear knowledge is power and each country seeks it, whether they admit it or not. Take North Korea, the world is now afraid to take any action against them, for fear that they will flex their Nuclear muscles. There is definitely a lesson from the invention of Atomic weapons and it is scary as hell.
Dwayne Chastain, West Jefferson, Ohio
I think we're far more likely to destroy ourselves by indirect means such as overpopulation or environmental damage. The thing to remember is that if something is dangerous enough that everyone agrees it is dangerous (like atom-bombs), everyone takes care to avoid that danger. When things are unobtrusively dangerous (like excess carbon-dioxide or social unrest), they get ignored until it's too late.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK
I think it is very sad that these bombs were even used on Japan. In my belief, the purpose was to hasten the war's end and fend off the Soviet Union from getting involved. In essence, those dead Japanese were the only casualties of the Cold War. In my eyes, the decision to develop and use these weapons will always be a black page in America's history book.
How many people were dieing every day under the brutal Japanese occupation in China, Korea and elsewhere? How many more would have died in those areas if the US had let the blockade take its course or went ahead with the planned invasion of the Japanese mainland? Without a doubt, the atomic bombs ended the war right then and there, and countless lives were saved in these countries. Not only Japanese and American lives were saved in the end.
I grew up in Los Alamos where the atomic bombs used in WWII were developed. My childhood had intimate associations with the historical and political situations of that era even though time had continued. It is the same today in Los Alamos, moving on the cutting edge of technology, yet carrying memories and lessons of a past frozen in time.
Martha, Erie, Colorado, USA
I believe that any person will deny the legitimacy of using nuclear weapons after visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I hope many more young people from all over the world will visit and see with their own eyes the true results of nuclear weapons.
Hide, Osaka, Japan
Nuclear technology is a two sided coin; on one side we have the potential to produce large amounts of energy much cheaper and more cleanly than conventional means and on the other, the potential for widespread destruction. This is a hard act to balance for any policy maker.
Eddie Benton, Magherafelt, Northern Ireland
Properly controlled and monitored, nuclear weapons are an effective peace keeping tool. The problem comes when they fall into the hands of the kind of lunatics that crashed the planes into the WTC or blew up the London transport network. With people like this, their own death is immaterial, and the major 'safety' net of a nuclear weapon - Mutually Assured Destruction - becomes irrelevant.
Dan, Yateley, UK
Charles, Bolton: There was no surrender plan from the Japanese government. There was almost a civil rebellion by the army even after bombs were dropped. In fact, the plan was to spend 5 million American and Russian lives to invade Japan. The end result would be another Germany, split by communists and free people.
CT, Houston, Texas
In response to Miguel Samos, Barcelona, Spain: your statement about Japan's willingness to surrender is not accurate. Yes they sent ambassadors, but to try and negotiate from a power position. The Japanese government tried to dictate the terms of their surrender when the rest of the world minus the axis had already stipulated that Japan was to surrender unconditionally. As horrific as they were, it still took two bombs to convince the Japanese that they had no power to negotiate.
John, St Paul, MN USA
Interesting to see that anti-American hate is driving some to support the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Third world dictatorships who openly slaughter their own people are far less likely to discriminate in their use of this weapon. Those who see no difference between the retention of nuclear weapons by the US and the retention of nuclear weapons by North Korea or Iran, are dangerously delusional.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to an arms race which prevented another global war based on 'world domination'. There is little doubt that if they had not been demonstrated, we would have tripped into another world war within a few years founded on 'Capitalism v Communism'. Today the threat from terrorism is the breaking of spirit, not outright destruction and conquering.
Lenny P, London
Whether one believes that the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary or not, the fact remains that atomic bombs are immoral, indiscriminate weapons. No justification will ever change that. As for the future of NPT, double standards practiced by Western countries undermine its credibility.
Kiyohiko Hasegawa, Kyoto, Japan
The nuclear threat has not diminished! Our extinction as a species due to nuclear proliferation is an absolute inevitability. It is only a question of when.
Stephen Lane, Ireland
I'm from India living in Japan. I've been to the Hiroshima dome and museum. It was so shocking to see the pictures of devastation and pain. For the first time I realized how much pain and destruction the A-bomb brought. What was even more shocking was that for countless people it wasn't just one time pain. Still people suffer from after effects.
What worries me the most is not nuclear proliferation but the apparent resurgence in nuclear weaponry as a means to fight wars. The devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki created a stigma against using these horrific weapons that has gradually been eroded. The US government's attempts to develop mini-nukes as bunker busters has fatally undermined the NPT, and has led to the countries that might be effected by this (including Iran) seeking their own nuclear deterrent.
Caroline, SW London
Hypocrisy has always been, and will always be a part of these issues. It's insane that a few selected nations are entitled to have nuclear weapons and simultaneously preach non-proliferation.
Jonathan Damsgaard, Malmo, Sweden
Reading the posting here, I noticed several factual errors and misconceptions as well as genuine concerns. The lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki must be understood within the context of the times, as well as the context of human conflict. More people died in Tokyo and Dresden than either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. Many more people died in the Nazi concentration camps than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. I see a connection between them but they are not equal events.
Michael, Calif, USA
America is the only country to use atomic weapons. How can they or any country have a problem with other countries setting up nuclear programs if they themselves still have nuclear weapons?
Tom, Cambridge, UK
Nuclear weapons can kill a large number of people in seconds. Adolf Hitler's Third Reich killed a large number of people over a long period of time. Either way the result is the same. Weapons of any kind are not the issue, it is the willingness of self-obsessed people to use them.
Paul O'Brien, Plymouth
While nuclear weapons are undeniably a horror that none would possess in an ideal world, the moral equivalence that produces such logic as 'if the US has them, Iran/North Korea should too' is absurd. Just as, during World War II, the Allies were deeply concerned with the abusive and dictatorial regimes of Germany and Japan making serious progress with their nuclear weapons programs, we should take all necessary actions to keep the world's most repressive and undemocratic regimes from acquiring the world's most powerful weapons.
Dan, Chicago, USA
In 1945 it was not definite that Japan would actually surrender, the military wanted to fight on and that would have cost many hundreds of thousands of lives probably over years. The bomb was justified. I don't think it has ever been US policy to use nuclear weapons as a first strike (that may change now). And it is an unfortunate fact that the MAD threat DID prevent anything more than a cold war.
Drew McMutrie, Livingston, Scotland
As long as the five nuclear powers have not disarmed and continued to starve every country with ambitions of developing a peaceful nuclear program, the end will be sooner than predicted. To answer the questions posed, the lessons have not been learned. And yes, I am terrified of a nuclear war!
Thomas Dougherty, Stephenville, Texas, USA
I live very close to where the intellectual work that shaped the 'gadget' and produced the Hiroshima and Nagasaki devices. The United States is the only nation that has used nukes on others. Yet we frown upon 'rogue states' for following suit. Sadly mankind who has an immense appetite for destruction cannot 'unlearn violence'.
James Waldrop, San Francisco, California
I am 81 years old. I was on Okinawa and prepared to fly bombing raids over Japan when the first bomb was dropped. We just looked at each other and questioned what effect it would have on our orders. When the second one fell, we waited for news and when it came most of us went to chapel and thanked God.
Robert B Gray, Irwin Pa USA
It is strange, but true, that the so-called 'hibakusha' (survivors of the atomic bombs) have been the victims of considerable social discrimination in Japan. The irony of the situation is tragic to the point of tears. It is exactly this kind of mindset that leads to extreme nationalism and the horrors of war. It is unfortunate that nothing seems to have been learned, at least in Japan, from the horrific events of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It is an unfortunate fact that nuclear weapons cannot be uninvented. We must keep a credible deterrent against less stable countries such as N Korea. We must also take care that the loonies don't get hold of them. It is true that early Magnox power stations were built to provide plutonium for bombs but later stations, AGRs and PWRs are purely for power generation with no ulterior purposes.
Roger, Stockport, England
Every person who is casual about nuclear weapons, should visit the City of Hiroshima "Ground zero" Site Museum, to see and understand the scale of destruction and devastation these weapons cause. For new members to the nuclear Club, their weapons will be just be as destructive today as those in 1945.
Today, North Korea is a serious danger in that same region, but is also in a very dangerous position, as they rattle what they think is a big stick with only 6 or 7 weapons. They surely realise that first use will likely attract in response 60 or 70 small precision warheads, from just a handful of missiles launched from a single submarine.
Iain Steven, Bridge of Weir, UK
Every new discovery has the power to be used for both good and bad. The principal issue is that man uses discoveries for the good of mankind not just the despotic few. Many will undoubtedly feel that the use of atom bombs against the people of Japan in 1945 served a greater purpose. This has some truth, but the school-yard chant of "mine's bigger or better than yours" as a method of intimidation or prevention has no place in a modern world. It's high time we focussed on what the world really needs - love of mankind, not enmity in such proportions that daily war and tribulation remain a constant threat.
Michael Black, Manchester
War can make people act in a desperate manner. Pakistan and India went close to war a couple of years ago. The US has reportedly debated the creation of new "mini nukes" for use in future conflicts, possibly to destroy underground facilities. This is encouraging other countries to develop a nuclear capability, thereby making the world more unsafe. The nuclear threat is not diminished, but is increasing due to the neo-imperial designs of the US. It is only a matter of time before these weapons fall into the wrong hands.
Hashim, Islamabad, Pakistan
Let us face reality here. The NPT has slowed, but not stopped the development of nuclear arms. This is why the Proliferation Security Initiative and good intelligence work is needed to stop networks like A. Q. Khan's in Iran, because the greatest threat now lies with Islamic terrorists obtaining a nuclear device.
Zach Smith, Bloomington, IN USA
I can't remember the war but I can remember the A bomb tests carried out by the allies and Russia in the 50's and 60's. I can also recall the opening of the Nuclear Facilities as the 'white heat of technology'. Am I worried about nuclear proliferation? No more than the previous generations were about the development of steam. It is worth remembering that as a bargaining chip the threat of use is a deterrent and any person believing that they would win would be deluding themselves. That, of course, would be no compensation if it happened. However, it is worth pointing out that America, Russia, and China have not used MAD.
Tony, Welling Kent
I think that despite the comments of many who think the bombs ought not to have been used, the very fact that they were has meant the chances of them being used now are much, much smaller. Seeing the devastation they caused to human life must have surely made later politicians think twice about deploying them.
Bill, London, UK
I don't think that the nuclear threat has diminished so much as changed. Most state leaders with access to nuclear missiles are well aware of the escalation that would occur if they decided to fire their missiles at another country. However, there is sufficient evidence out there to suggest that terrorist groups are seeking to acquire nuclear warheads and I don't dispute their wilful intention to use them.
Fraser Irving, Sheffield, UK
The chance of a full-blown, world-destroying nuclear war is low. However, a significant number of former Soviet nukes remain unaccounted for. If some radicals were to get their hands on such a device or even if they are able to get their hands on a "dirty bomb" then the consequences and retaliations might start WWIII.
Filip Michielsen, Antwerp, Belgium
Clearly the threat of nuclear war is currently less than at the height of the cold war. But one suspects this is simply a temporary rather than permanent reduction. For me, the threat of a nuclear strike doesn't just lie with so-called 'rogue' states like North Korea and Iran, but is probably just as likely from a US government led by religious extremism such as we have at the moment.
I was not born when the bombs were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I have read books about the incident and also, listen to the interviews of the pilot who dropped the bombs then. What happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a clear reminder that we should employ dialogue and peaceful means to resolve issues as they arise. War is not always the best solution as it results to loss of lives and destruction of properties. Nuclear proliferation bothers me a lot. With the incidents in Spain, London, Bali and Egypt still fresh in our minds, we must pray that extremist groups do not lay their hands on any nuclear weapons. It will be disastrous. br />Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA
I was not alive when the bombs were dropped, but the horror that they visited on the Japanese people came into my mind from early and has stayed there. It is this single act that has brought the world to where it can now destroy itself in mere nano-seconds.
Nigel Darwent, Trinidad and Tobago
As sorry for the loss of life that these bombs caused - has anyone thought for a second that seeing the devastation that could be caused by very early version of these devices actually gave pause for thought to world leaders in the future ? Blowing up desert or atolls is one thing, cities & people quite another, but unless we had seen what they actually do to those, I'm sure another, potentially much bigger, would have been used again. Pause for thought.
The Japanese were desperate for terms of surrender and even sent ambassadors begging for them to the Americans a week before the first bomb was dropped. The reason that the US remains the only nation to use nuclear weapons on civilians had nothing to do with saving lives and everything to do with trying to scare Stalin. The result? Nuclear proliferation and the balance of terror that still exists today.
Miguel Samos, Barcelona, Spain
I was 8 at the time. My only thought then was "now my Uncle Bill can come back from Burma". Having lived in East London with bombs dropping on me for the previous 6 years I had little sympathy for the Japanese, who by then had gained the same reputation as the Germans for the massacre and persecution of the innocent.
Anthony Barnes, Geneva, Switzerland
Nuclear proliferation was supposed to have been met by those countries with nuclear weapons disarming, and supplying nuclear materials to the countries that agreed to give up nuclear weapons. 3 friends of the US have been allowed to develop their own nuclear stockpiles and NOT sign the treaty. Iran was encouraged to develop nuclear technology by the US (until the Shah was deposed). The US continue to develop new nuclear weapons. We are probably less safe because people see that we in the west are not serious about nuclear disarmament
Mike, London UK
My grandfather was part of the Marine invasion force against Japan. If the bombs had not fallen on Hiroshima and Nagasaki I probably would not be here today. Also, nobody in Europe seems to be complaining about the fall of the Berlin wall; this came about because the arms race destroyed the economy of the USSR. Of course it would be great if there were no need for such weapons, what an ideal existence it would be for us all. Unfortunately such an idealistic view is best-left fairy tales, not in the actual reality of how the world works.
John, San Antonio, Tx, USA
I must respectfully disagree with Srinvasan from Denmark (below) who remarks, "Strangely enough, the world will be peaceful only if more countries achieve this capability." The real threat to our world today is the possibility of an atomic weapon getting into the hands of a terrorist group like al-Qaeda. More countries with nuclear weapons, weak governments, and less failsafe measures do NOT make this world a safer place.
Carrie, New Jersey, USA
Unfortunately the only thing we learnt from Hiroshima and Nagasaki was what happens when you detonate a nuclear warhead above a large civilian population. Given the flood of American scientists arriving as Japan surrendered, this seems to be knowledge they were keen to acquire. I know that it is generally accepted that this was the only alternative to invasion, but surely one bomb would have been sufficient to demonstrate their new power. The fact that they tested a second bomb on civilians, in different terrain and with a stronger variation of the device, makes Nagasaki the most unethical experiment in history.
Franchesca Mullin, Belfast, NI
No matter how you add it up, conventional weapons have killed more civilians than atomic weapons. It is funny how people don't realize how many civilians were killed in the bombing raids against the Germans or the Germans bombing raids against the English. Or the ground battles through out the ages that target civilians. If Europe is happy with Iran having a Nuke, then I say rock on. I am tired of my country bailing the Europeans out.
I do believe that an atomic bomb will be used in the next 50 years against some western power and the attack will be carried out by one of the nuclear newcomers. At the very least, they will have supplied the perpetrators. The most horrifying thing to me about all these new nuclear countries is their lack of stable government. All it will take is one dictator to fall and all of the sudden there will be fissile material available to the highest bidder.
John, St. Paul, MN USA
We still have not found the courage to face the horror of our own inventions or learn any lessons, Nagasaki and Hiroshima are but a sidenote in most history books - 200,000 deaths and millions suffering from the fallout apparent even today in genetic defects etc. - generally excused by expedience. People are worried about India, Pakistan, Iran but it was the USA that dropped this one. I am more worried about the 5 original powers and Israel and their capacity to use these weapons in the name of "peace" and "the war against terror". No one should have nuclear bombs we human beings are just not wise, compassionate or intelligent enough to have such a thing in our possession, and if we were we would have already destroyed them all.
One thing saved the cold war from escalating into a real war and that was the nuclear deterrent. At different times both US and Soviet leaders wished to attack the other, to stick before they were stuck at, but both knew such an act would be met with nuclear retaliation, escalating to the destruction of both nations, and just about everyone else. I have no doubt that not only did the bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki save millions of lives being lost in a fight for Japan, but also saved similar numbers in what could have been World War III.
Luke, Carlinghow, UK
Mutually Assured Destruction has been a great peacekeeper for the past 60 years, but depends entirely on the self preservation instinct we humans have. With the recently increasing threat of suicide bombers, and the large number of old Soviet warheads that have "disappeared" since the end of the Cold War, it does concern me that "one off" attacks against individual cities by fanatics aren't beyond the realms of possibility. A nuclear detonation in a city has the same result whether it comes from a state, or a demented individual seeking martyrdom.
Dan, Yateley, UK
Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain a stain on our conscience. But there is no need for so much breast-beating by the Western world. The Japanese slaughtered more than that number in Nanking alone and in more horrific ways. Yet the Japanese nation doesn't even learn about their atrocities in China. The decision to drop the bombs was made for a good reason - to prevent vastly greater numbers of casualties. There is no such justification for the Japanese behaviour in Nanking.
P Scott, Newcastle, UK
What happened 60 years ago defies description and I am appalled at the old photos of devastated areas and bodies of innocent people, charred beyond recognition. Though Japan acted as aggressor in WWII, there is no justification to the indiscriminate slaughter of Japanese. Modern nuclear weaponry is tenfold more powerful than the bombs used in 1945 and the insanity of nuclear war is obvious. Hopefully there will be enough common sense not to unleash it!
Egor, Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Nuclear proliferation is bound to occur. Why should some countries have it and hold a massive power of threat. Whilst others are threatened with sanctions if they attempt to build nuclear weapons.
TJ Newman, Bournemouth. UK
As a small boy I remember listening with horror at the radio accounts of this atrocity against innocent civilians in Hiroshima. And then to know that this was repeated yet again in Nagasaki was too much to comprehend. This ghastly weapon should never be used again and I totally abhor the glib way nations discuss this "ultimate weapon" and its use.
Alan, Warsaw, Poland
During the cold war, both sides a had 35,000 nuclear warheads each, directly targeted at each other and ready to go. We came within a hair's breadth of them being used on several occasions. Has the risk of millions of people being fried receded? Yes.
I was a member of the First Marine Division, on Okinawa. We were already training for the invasion of Japan. I had been two actions, Peleliu and Okinawa. I had small hope of surviving an invasion of the Japanese home islands.
When we heard the news of the first bomb we were excited beyond belief. Now, we might make it home. And, I am certain the Japanese civilians would have died in their millions. It would have been inevitable had we invaded.
William Pool, USA
To William Pool, can we please bury once and for all the myth that the Allies would have had to invade Japan but for the atom bomb? Japan was already trying to sue for peace but sought guarantees about the status of the Emperor that were, ultimately, granted anyway. The Allied (mainly US) submarine blockade of Japan meant that by August 1945 the Japanese people were starving. Simply maintaining this blockade would have led to a Japanese surrender eventually, though at the cost of prolonging the suffering of Allied personnel in Japanese hands and additional casualties from the fighting. But invasion, however much discussed, was not the only option available to the Allies - Britain's struggle to break the U-boat blockade cannot have been lost on Allied planners.
Charles, Bolton UK
I'm too young to remember the bombs being dropped - I was born 45 years later - but I do think that there are many lessons to be learned from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For a start, what a waste of life war is! What exactly was the point in World War 2? Okay, we got rid of Hitler, but have we learned from our mistakes? There are still dictators and there have since been concentration camps. We got one dictator, but then another one popped up in the shape of Saddam Hussain. Will we ever learn from the wars we fight? Somehow I doubt it. I am very worried about nuclear proliferation. Sooner or later, another world war will come along, and then the world will end because of all the nuclear weapons being fired from opposite sides. So I think we should take something from Japan in 1945 - the terrible waste of civilian life, and the utter pointlessness of war.
Laura Johnson, UK
I think Laura's comments are disgraceful! How dare she ask "What was the point of WW2"! Would she like to be living under oppression and tyranny under the Nazis? The atom bomb was important as it saved many 1,000s of Allied and Japanese lives from not having to invade the Japanese mainland. Nuclear weapons actually made the world more stable during the Cold War. No one would have dared use them as the results would have been so horrific. What is worrying is WMD falling in to the hands of non-rational dictators or terrorist organisations. The former Soviet Union is still awash with fissile material. We need to do more to tackle that too.
Jonathan, Chesterfield, Derbys
The atom bombs were a shock to the world. That something the size of a bike could destroy such a large area still shocks me. However, I fear that maybe I will see this in my own eyes, especially with countries such as Iran and North Korea working on them. Time will tell, but maybe we should set an example, and disarm. Having enough warheads to destroy the world several times over is just a bit excessive.
The most likely scenario of a nuclear conflict would be the next India-Pakistan war. A more far-fetched projection would be a pre-emptive Chinese attack on US mainland in 15 yrs, when punitive trade measures on China will really begin to bite. Apart from these 2 incidents, I cannot foresee any events that might require Nuclear weapons to be used. But questions like 'Has nuclear threat diminished' are rhetorical as the cost of human lives never stopped the warmongers in the past, and it never will.
The nuclear threat is still hanging over our heads. The only nation which has used it, still maintains the option of first use on any nation it considers as a threat. As long as the Americans continue this policy, countries like North Korea and Iran will try to attain the nuclear capability. Strangely enough, the world will be peaceful only if more countries achieve this capability. Only the mutually assured destruction(MAD) brought about stability during the cold war era.
Srinivasan Toft, Denmark
Its not easy to come to terms with how many countries hold nuclear bombs, and why so many are building their own programmes. My concern lies in what would happen if these should ever fall into the hands of the wrong people? With the current threat from terrorism, this is something clearly disturbing.
Simon , Birmingham, UK
I am glad Hiroshima & Nagasaki have never been repeated and Nagasaki should never have happened as the Japanese had decided to surrender and Truman knew it. Nuclear weapons are still a threat and the sooner we disarm the better. We spend, in the UK, £1bn a year on Trident and soon more will be needed to upgrade it. The only reason we have nuclear power industry is to fuel these weapons and the sooner that is closed down the better and the Billions spent on renewable energy sources.
Adrian Cannon, Edinburgh, Scotland
We have seen enough apocalyptic, "end of the world", movements in human history, and know enough about the implications of extremism and brain washing into belief, that we can be certain that the danger from nuclear weapons is not diminished as long as nuclear weapons remain available to any potentially unstable regions of the world. However, we must remember that the dangers from chemical and biological weapons are increasing daily, as the technology for more sophisticated production becomes more readily accessible to ever larger portions of the world. There is far too little security and surveillance in regard to the technologies that today could lead to new, essentially invisible, weapons of unimagined destructive power.
John Holmes, Canada
9/11 and 7/7 are 100% proof that the theory and practice of nuclear deterrence is utterly illogical and irrational. America, with the biggest nuclear stockpile in the world did not deter planes flying into it's buildings, did it? Our own stockpile isn't stopping our capital city being bombed. And if nuclear deterrence was working, how come Tony Blair based his entire invasion on Iraq because he believed we were under a "current and real threat of attack within 45 minutes". If deterrence worked, Iraq wouldn't have attacked us because they'd be afraid of our retaliation. In every scenario nuclear deterrence fails.
Tom Franklin, London, UK
This is a second page of your comments and memories of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.