Utcha is a resourceful smuggler who would get you anything you want: drugs, guns, and even “yellowcake,” a type of uranium concentrate powder that can be used for the production of nuclear weapons. However, his deals were interrupted by the ghost of a victim of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, who has been haunting him ever since and reminding him of her sufferings…
From the Director
“Hiroshima Girl” was inspired by two documentaries: Lucy Walker’s “Countdown to Zero” and NHK’s “The Nuclear Black Market.” Both movies revealed the largely neglected fact that the threat of nuclear weapons has increased since the end of the Cold War due to terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and most alarmingly, the theft of nuclear materials and weapons. Very few people realize that there are still between 1.300 and nearly 1.600 tons of HEU stored in Russia, the United States and some 30 more countries. Some of the ca. 500 civilian nuclear power stations and ca. 120 academic HEU-powered research reactors are far from well protected. In fact, studies on terrorism shows that there have been twenty known cases of theft of plutonium and HEU since 1990 and many more of other radioactive materials.
What struck me most when watching “Countdown to Zero” was that the smuggling of nuclear material didn’t seem to be an ethical issue at all to those involved. Oleg Khintsagov, once a small-time trader, was arrested in Georgia in 2006 after attempting to sell 100 grams of highly enriched uranium for $1 million to a terrorist organization. When asked for his motives, he gave a list of luxury cars that he dreamed of buying. In his eyes, as well as in the eyes of numerous participants in the nuclear black market, the dealing of nuclear material is no different from any other profitable smuggling – the money is real, but the potential threat of nuclear material in the wrong hands seems distant.
To me, the elimination of nuclear threat in a peaceful era is more than a technical issue of guarding the HEU sites better. It also involves an emotional reflection over the personal inflictions caused by the inhumane use of nuclear technology. As long as the voices of the victims are still being heard, we will always be haunted the possible consequences of unchained nuclear activities.