US envoy to UN visits Nagasaki A-bomb museum, pays tribute to victims

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TOKYO (AP) — The American envoy to the United Nations called Friday for countries armed with atomic weapons to pursue nuclear disarmament as she visited the atomic bomb museum in Nagasaki, Japan.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who became the first U.S. cabinet member to visit Nagasaki, stressed the importance of dialogue and diplomacy amid a growing nuclear threat in the region.

“We must continue to work together to create an environment for nuclear disarmament. We must continue to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in every corner of the world,” she said after a tour of the atomic bomb museum.

“For those of us who already have those weapons, we must pursue arms control. We can and must work to ensure that Nagasaki is the last place to ever experience the horror of nuclear weapons,” she added, standing in front of colorful hanging origami cranes, a symbol of peace.

The United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, destroying the city and killing 140,000 people. A second attack three days later on Nagasaki killed 70,000 more people. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, ending World War II and its nearly half-century of aggression in Asia.

Nagasaki Gov. Kengo Oishi said in a statement that he believed Thomas-Greenfield’s visit and her first-person experience at the museum “will be a strong message in promoting momentum of nuclear disarmament for the international society at a time the world faces a severe environment surrounding atomic weapons.”

Oishi said he conveyed to the ambassador the increasingly important role of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in emphasizing the need of nuclear disarmament.

Thomas-Greenfield’s visit to Japan comes on the heels of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s official visit to the United States last week and is aimed at deepening Washington’s trilateral ties with Tokyo and Seoul. During her visit to South Korea earlier this week, she held talks with South Korean officials, met with defectors from North Korea and visited the demilitarized zone.

The ambassador said the United States is looking into setting up a new mechanism for monitoring North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Russia and China have thwarted U.S.-led efforts to step up U.N. sanctions on North Korea over its ballistic missile testing since 2022, underscoring a deepening divide between permanent Security Council members over Russia’s war on Ukraine.

She said it would be “optimal” to launch the new system next month, though it is uncertain if that is possible.

The U.N. Security Council established a committee to monitor sanctions, and the mandate for its panel of experts to investigate violations had been renewed for 14 years until last month, when Russia vetoed another renewal.

In its most recent report, the panel of experts said it is investigating 58 suspected North Korean cyberattacks between 2017 and 2023 valued at approximately $3 billion, with the money reportedly being used to help fund its weapons development.

The United States, Japan and South Korea have been deepening security ties amid growing tension in the region from North Korea and China.

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