This year, on the 61st anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the stakes are higher than ever in the struggle to eliminate a destructive power that could end life as we know it.

At the same time as it develops new types of nuclear weapons and ways to deliver them, the Bush administration uses the world’s well-founded fear of their destructive power to advance its objective of permanent world domination.

The administration claimed Saddam Hussein had a nuclear weapons program, to justify unleashing a war in which countless Iraqis have been killed or injured, over 2,500 U.S. soldiers have died and thousands more have been physically or psychologically maimed. But no nuclear weapons have ever been found there.

George W. Bush is now using the same scheme against Iran, driving for UN sanctions unless Tehran stops enriching uranium — an activity it has a right to do for civilian use as a signer of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Top-ranking U.S. military planners have even prepared contingency plans to use U.S. nukes against Iran.

Thus, it is the height of cynicism for the Bush administration to agree to provide India with nuclear fuel for its civilian reactors. India has not signed the NPT, and possesses up to 100 nuclear weapons. Last week Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation, said the pact would “allow India to dramatically increase its production of nuclear weapons and will likely spark the globe’s next arms race.”

When the NPT entered into force in 1970, the U.S. and the other four acknowledged nuclear powers pledged to negotiate seriously for complete nuclear disarmament. As the only country to use nuclear arms, and always the leader in their development, the U.S. should take the first steps to rid the earth forever of this scourge.

As the world remembers those who died or were grievously injured on that long-ago August 6 and 9, let us honor them by insisting our government change course and make universal and complete nuclear disarmament truly its goal.