Sixty-five years after the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima, and Nagasaki -- at the end of World War II - the U.S. view on nuclear weapons has changed. The Obama Administration is pushing for a nuclear-free world to prevent what happened in Japan from ever happening again.. A top Department of Defense official says the U.S. is committed to reducing nuclear weapons but will also counter any nuclear threats from terrorists.
More than six decades after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, painful memories still exist among many Japanese as they pray and reflect.
Seventy-eight-year-old Tomiko Matsumoto survived the atomic bomb. "I think that the reason I have been able to live so long is so that I can tell the next generation about the equality of life and the importance of peace. That's my mission," he said.
Freeing the world of nuclear weapons has personal meaning for Yukia Amano, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency. "As a human being and particularly as a citizen of the only country ever to suffer such a nuclear catastrophe, I believe with all my heart and soul that these horrific weapons must be eliminated," he said.
A nuclear-free world is also U.S. President Barack Obama's vision - a vision he presented in April during a visit to Prague. "The United States will take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons. To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urge others to do the same," he said.
The Obama Administration says it will not be conducting underground nuclear tests or developing new nuclear warheads, because it does not want a repetition of what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
"The things that we're doing to lock down special nuclear materials, the things that we're doing to reduce the number of nuclear weapons helps go to preventing that from ever occurring again," said Steve Henry, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters.
He says while the U.S. cuts back on its own nuclear posture, it will be protecting itself from nuclear threats, especially from terrorists. "When you take a look at terrorists they have to be able to get access to the materials. Now what you want to do is lock down the materials so they can't get to them." Henry says there is not only a need to keep track of the nuclear weapons in the world. It is also important to secure nuclear materials in countries that enrich uranium for fuel.
"This isn't a US problem. This is a global problem. Something that can do an attack on the United States, a US interest with the ties that we have and globalization and our economics effects everybody," he said.
Henry says a nuclear-free world also means that countries need to work together and create an environment that will help prevent international conflicts.