KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima underscored the importance of a deal reached on Iran’s nuclear programme last month.
Ceremonies were held in Hiroshima on Thursday to mark the anniversary of the world’s first atomic bombing. The city’s mayor, Kazumi Matsui, urged that nuclear weapons be abolished.
Asked before meeting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of a regional gathering in Malaysia whether he had any thoughts about the significance of the anniversary, Kerry replied:
“It is impossible not to have thoughts about it. I watched the ceremony ... Needless to say, it is a very, very powerful reminder of not just the impact of war lasting today on people and countries but it also underscores the importance of the agreement we have reached with Iran to reduce the possibility of more nuclear weapons.”
Kerry said the anniversary also emphasised the importance of work by the United States with other countries, particularly Russia, to reduce the number of existing nuclear weapons.
Under a July 14 pact with Iran, the United States and world powers agreed to lift sanctions in return for curbs on a nuclear programme the West suspects was aimed at developing the means to build an atomic bomb.
American Republicans have objected to the deal as not tough enough and the U.S. Congress has until Sept. 17 to accept or reject the agreement.
The U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, which killed 140,000 people by the end of 1945, was followed by the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, which killed about 40,000 instantly.
World War Two ended on Aug. 15 with Japan’s surrender.
The United States was represented at the Hiroshima ceremonies by its ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, and Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller.
Kerry said he had listened to one Japanese woman talking about her experience of the bombing as a very young girl, “how she passed out, how the light flashed, how she was hit by this incredible blast of air that deprived her ability to breathe”.
“She’s a great witness to the human spirit and to our ability to reconcile after war,” Kerry said, describing today’s U.S. relationship with Japan as “one of the most important that we have in the world”.
“We share common values and a common vision for the future, and I think that today is really a great tribute to the remembrance but also the possibilities of the future,” he added.
Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Dean Yates