Statement on the 40th Anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima

August 6, 1985

This week millions around the world will mark the 40th anniversary of the first and only uses of nuclear weapons -- events that brought to an end a long and terrible war. The war over, an unprecedented friendship between the free peoples and democratic governments of the United States and Japan was born. Thus, as we reflect on the meaning of the events of 40 years ago, we and the people of Japan can take pride in having demonstrated that, even between former enemies in warfare, lasting reconciliation is possible.

We must never forget what nuclear weapons wrought upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet we must also remain mindful that our maintenance of a strong nuclear deterrent has for four decades ensured the security of the United States and the freedom of our allies in Asia and Europe. In Europe, these years represent the longest period of peace since the early 19th century. Peace has not made us complacent, for we are continually seeking ways to reduce still further the risks of war. As I have often stated, ``A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.'' This anniversary is, therefore, a time not only for reflection but for action.

The United States will take every reasonable step to build a more peaceful world. Just last week I extended to the Soviet leadership an invitation to send a team of Soviet experts to our Nevada test site to observe and measure the yield of an American nuclear test. My offer involved no preconditions; the Soviet experts were invited to bring with them any instrumentation devices that they deemed necessary to measure the yield of the test. Our objective was straightforward: to set in train a process that, regarding limitations on nuclear testing, could markedly increase confidence and cooperation between our nations.

It is my hope that the Soviet leadership will accept this invitation in the spirit of good will in which it has been tendered. I would also urge the leadership of the Soviet Union to work with us to achieve deep, verifiable, and equitable reductions in nuclear arsenals; to resolve questions relating to compliance with existing arms control agreements; and to establish a constructive dialog on ways to reduce the risk of accidental war.

We must also be vigilant in our efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation -- and here all nations must share the burden. Those who would profit from the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology to trouble parts of the globe pose a threat to world peace. Action must be taken, and we encourage all nations to join us in requiring comprehensive safeguards as a condition of nuclear export. We look forward to the third review session of the nonproliferation treaty, which will begin this month. The United States, the Soviet Union, and all the nations of the world must work to ensure that the atom is never again used as a weapon of war, but as an instrument of peace.