THIS weekend will make it 77 years since US forces inflicted the world’s first nuclear strike on the people of Hiroshima. It was the single most destructive bomb ever dropped.

It was an unprecedented act of violence that devastated five square miles of the city and killed over 100,000 people. Many of them were killed instantly, while others suffered for weeks and months from injuries and acute radiation sickness.

Only three days later the same callous brutality was inflicted on Nagasaki. It had a similarly devastating impact and killed a further 50,000 people.

Just think about those numbers. Think about the tens of thousands of lives that were taken and the millions of hopes and dreams that were lost in those obscene blasts. These were real people with lives, futures and people who loved them.

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I have met survivors and they have spoken of the horrors they experienced and how it cast a shadow over their lives and their families for generations.

They include peace campaigner Sunao Tsuboi, who passed away last year. Sunao survived the Hiroshima bombing and would use his role as co-chair of Nihon Hidankyo, a Japan-wide organisation of atomic and hydrogen bomb sufferers, to share testimonies and work for a nuclear-free world.

In 2017, Sunao described his experience to the Guardian, saying: “there was so much smoke in the air that you could barely see 100 metres ahead, but what I did see convinced me that I had entered a living hell on earth.”

With every year that passes there are even fewer people who experienced the bombs. Their voices and their stories are just as vital now as they were then.

Thankfully these deadly weapons haven’t been used as a weapon of war in the years since. However, that doesn’t mean that the threat has gone away. There have been too many close-calls, like the Cuban missile crisis and the other crises of the Cold War.

Our world was fortunate to avoid further nuclear attacks, but hoping that leaders will always behave rationally can never act as a substitute for disarmament.

Luck is not a nuclear shield.

As long as nuclear weapons exist there will always be a risk that they will be used. As the United Nations’ secretary general, Antonio Guterres, reminded us in a speech this week, we are only “one miscalculation away” from annihilation.

Citing Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and long-term tensions on the Korean border and in the Middle East, Guterres also warned that we face “a nuclear danger not seen since the height of the cold war.”

I fear that he’s right.

There are far more nuclear warheads in the world today than there were in 1945, and they are even more deadly. The Trident missiles that are kept here in Scotland, for example, are thought to be eight times as powerful as the bombs that were used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I have highlighted concerns about the convoys transporting these missiles through Scotland. The suffering that their use would unleash is unthinkable.

Last year the UK Government committed to increasing its nuclear warhead stocks by 40%. There is no reason to believe that this will change under Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, who are both on record as supporting Trident.

The £170 billion price tag is eye watering. That money could have a transformative impact on our pandemic recovery or for the millions of people across the UK who are being forced to choose between heating and eating but can no longer afford either. It could play a huge role in tackling the climate crisis by providing much needed investment for renewable energy.

However, even if Trident had no cost implications whatsoever, my Green colleagues and I would still be utterly opposed to its renewal. It is one of the main reasons why we also oppose membership of an alliance like Nato, which claims the right to launch the first strike of a nuclear weapon if it thinks it necessary.

But with both main UK-wide parties supporting Trident, it is clear that the only way we can remove these deadly weapons from our shores is with independence. Next year’s referendum will give us the chance to get these abhorrent weapons out of Scotland.

It would be a major step towards building a fairer, greener and more peaceful Scotland that stands with human rights defenders, not one that is constantly focused on projecting so-called strength and status through ever-soaring military budgets, hypocritical arms sales to tyrants and joining disastrous military interventions.

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It is not just Scotland that we want to see scrapping nuclear weapons. We hope that independence would also lead the UK Government to reconsider its position. With the powers of independence we would use our international platform to push for global disarmament.

There are 66 countries that have already signed the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Opposition is growing and signatories met in Vienna earlier this year to implement the treaty, which will make nuclear weapons and their supply chains illegal.

It is our moral responsibility to keep building the foundations for more widespread multilateral nuclear disarmament. Even at the height of the Cold War states were able to step back from the brink and agree to a treaty that removed nuclear arsenals. That is why I was heartened to see Joe Biden calling for the US, China and Russia to negotiate a new nuclear arms deal. We must hope that it results in lasting change.

Global politics rarely stands still, and we must be ready for the next opportunity to make the world nuclear free. I look forward to the day when an independent Scotland can take its place as a nuclear-free nation that stands for peace and works with others to do the same.