Updated on Aug. 8, 2017: President Donald Trump warned North Korea that it could face "fire and fury" after a new report Tuesday said U.S. intelligence believes Pyongyang has successfully produced a nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles.
Trump's remark turned the spotlight on President Harry S. Truman's use of the phrase "a rain of ruin" when he announced the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima to the nation.
On Aug. 6, 1945, the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Truman announced the news to the nation in a press release from the White House and in a solemn radio address.
The bomb, one of the greatest scientific gambles in history, Truman said, “has more power than 20,000 tons of TNT.”
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He described the atomic fury as “a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.
“The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In their present form these bombs are now in production and even more powerful forms are in development.”
Truman was aboard the USS Augusta returning from the Potsdam Conference in Europe when he was told that the B-29 bomber Enola Gay had dropped the world’s first atom bomb on Hiroshima.
Approximately 80,000 people died as a direct result of the blast; 35,000 more were injured. An additional 60,000 died by year’s end from the effects of the nuclear fallout.
Truman was discouraged by Japan’s refusal to accept the demand for unconditional surrender issued at Potsdam.
“It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam,” he said in a radio address regarding the bomb.
“Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.
“Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such number that and power as they have not yet seen and with the fighting skill of which they are already well aware.”
Writing of Hiroshima, The New York Times noted that Truman “made it plain that one of the scientific landmarks of the century had been passed, and that the ‘age of atomic energy,’ which can be a tremendous force for the advancement of civilization as well as for destruction, was at hand.”