The following is the text of a message from U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, delivered on his behalf at the memorial ceremony in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 2019, on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city.
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I am honored to pay homage to the victims of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima -- to those who perished in the initial blast and the many whose lives were devastated by its lingering long-term effects.
The reaction to the cataclysmic events of 6 August 1945 was also the beginning of a global push to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again. The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, led by the hibakusha -- those brave survivors -- have been at the forefront. The world is indebted to them for their courage and moral leadership in reminding us all about the human cost of nuclear war.
Today, we are sadly witnessing a worsening international security environment. Tensions between nuclear-armed states are rising. The disarmament and arms-control institutions that have made the world a more secure place for decades are being called into question.
We must recall the core message that the hibakusha have traveled the world to spread: the only guarantee against the use of nuclear weapons is the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear disarmament was the subject of the very first resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in 1946. This objective underpins the new disarmament agenda that I put forward last year. Today, I renew my call on world leaders to intensify our efforts towards that goal.
As we mark this 74th anniversary of the first use of a nuclear weapon in war, nearly 14,000 nuclear warheads exist, many still on hair-trigger alert. Much work remains to be done to lessen and ultimately remove this peril.
Inspired by the resilient spirit of the people of Hiroshima, I am fully committed to working with the hibakusha and all others to realize our shared goal: a world free of nuclear weapons.