Minister for Foreign Affairs

Össur Skarphéðinsson, utanríkisráðherra Íslands

We are faced with an ugly reality in this heart-breaking exhibition on the victims of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan 67 years ago. But this is a reality that the whole world – including Icelanders – must face. It shows the undeniable horrors that the use of nuclear weapons can result in and should act as a reminder of our common goal in ensuring a nuclear-weapon free world for future generations. „Better is the harsh, grey truth than the blue-eyed deception with fair-hair“ wrote the Icelandic 19th century poet Steingrímur Thorsteinsson. This is indeed true.

I would like to thank the representatives of the Nagasaki Memorial Institute on the victims of the nuclear bomb for the honour bestowed upon us by showing this truly important exhibition in Iceland this year. It is not exactly an exhibition for the faint-hearted, such is the nature of the photographs and other items on display. But precisely therefore it is essential that we educate the young generation with regard to the massive destruction powers of the nuclear bomb. It is my feeling, that each and everyone that visits this exhibition, will experience impressions that will stay with them forever. And then the goal has been reached.

It is the policy of the Icelandic government that Iceland will be declared a nuclear-free-zone and that Icelandic authorities will work towards nuclear disarmament at international level. We work towards this goal, for instance, as a party to the Non-Proliferation-Treaty and by applying a powerful voice in international fora, such as the United Nations and within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Within Iceland there is broad consensus that Icelanders as a non-military nation should apply themselves on behalf of peace and disarmament – and that this should also be the policy of the government.

In August 1945, some sixty-seven years ago, nuclear bombs were dropped on the unsuspecting civilians of the two cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing 200 thousand of the inhabitants. Many more suffered serious, permanent injuries. In Iceland we have the tradition of attending a peace march on this day and to float live candles in memory of the victims. The exhibitions in the Reykjavik City Library and the University of Iceland and later the Hof Cultural and Conference Centre in Akureyri are a welcome addition to this tradition. The first candle-floating was held in August 1985 after survivors in Japan had sent candles to Iceland, requesting support in the fight for a nuclear-weapon free world. We felt both pleased and obliged to respond to their request as we are pleased today to welcome our friends from Japan. The nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki must never and will never be forgotten.

Össur Skarphéðinsson
Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade