COUNCIL leaders are backing a call by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two Japanese cities devastated by US atomic bombs 72 years ago, to accelerate international moves for a nuclear ban.

They are calling for the UK and other nations to renew their nuclear disarmament efforts in a bid to defuse growing fears of nuclear war in the wake of destabilising tensions between North Korea and the Trump administration.

A conference of ‘Mayors for Peace’ in Nagasaki earlier this month passed a resolution urging countries to ratify a new United Nations (UN) treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons as soon as possible. The treaty has been agreed by 122 countries but opposed by nuclear weapons states, including the UK.

The conference launched a “Nagasaki appeal” urging nuclear weapons states to urgently engage in nuclear disarmament talks. “Let Nagasaki be the last atomic-bombed site in the world,” it said.

As many as 100,000 people were killed by the small plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945, towards the end of the Second World War. Mayors for Peace involves 7,417 cities from 162 countries and regions across the world.

One supporter is Malcolm Bell, convener of Shetland Islands Council and an independent councillor. “We stand with Hiroshima, Nagasaki and fellow members across Scotland and the wider UK supporting their calls for a nuclear weapons free world,” he told the Sunday Herald.

“I also call on the UK Government to take heed of this call from the Mayors for Peace and re-engage in nuclear disarmament talks as a matter of urgency.”

Councillor David Blackburn, vice-chair of the nuclear-free group of local authorities in the UK, also welcomed the Nagasaki appeal. “We stand side by side in solidarity with Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the thousands of towns and cities around the world who also want and call for a nuclear weapons free world,” he said.

“It is incumbent on all of us, particularly in these potentially dangerous times, to redouble our efforts to encourage the nuclear weapon states, NATO members and states under the nuclear umbrella of the real folly in maintaining an expensive, immoral and unnecessary weapon of mass destruction.”

Janet Fenton, the vice-chair of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, accused the UK government of boycotting the UN nuclear ban talks without consulting the House of Commons or the Scottish Government. “It is very positive that Mayors for Peace are able to work internationally to support early ratification of the treaty,” she said.