The Humanitarian Imperative for Nuclear

January 25, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Science, Health Science, Immunology
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Rebecca E. Johnson Ph.D Co-Chair, ICAN Director, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy

Nuclear weapons could destroy us all. To prevent nuclear use and war we must understand their catastrophic health and environmental consequences and, in that knowledge, pursue their elimination

“We know from history that deterrence can fail; and we know from experience that some enemies cannot be deterred.” 2002 US National Security Strategy

15 kT explosion over Mumbai Firestorm zone 10 cal/cm2

Severe blast damage >10 psi Lethal prompt radiation >4 Gy

Up to 860,000 prompt deaths, 2.1 million injured Ramana MV. Bombing Bombay? IPPNW Global Health Watch Report 3, 1999

If nuclear weapons are used, these are the early effects: 

Blast  

direct Indirect

Heat/flash 

Initial  Direct  Induction of radioactivity Fallout  Local (mostly external)  Intermediate (mostly external)  Global (mostly internal)

Electromagnetic pulse 

Burns, blindness fires

Radiation 

Environmental effects  

communication systems break down on Biota (living things) on Climate

Complex synergistic effects

> e.g. blast lethal area of 150 km2 would have fire conflagration area 350 km2 > Radiation would weaken immune systems > Persistent high mortality years later, genetic effects harming future generations

Nuclear weapons – a very urgent threat to health

In Hiroshima... 

90% of physicians and nurses killed or injured

42 out of 45 hospitals non-functional • 70% of victims with combined injuries • 65% with burns

Hiroshima and Nagasaki 

Ground temperatures reached about 7,000 degrees C

“Black rain” containing radioactive fallout poured down for hours after the explosions

Ionising radiation Capacity to damage core genetic blueprint DNA → cancer → other health effects → genetic damage Many different isotopes Each behaves

Radioactivity of plutonium 

     

1 millionth of a gram → fatal cancer Half-life (T1/2) 24,400 years Decayed to 1/1024th of original amount after 244,000y Neanderthals died out 30,000 y Last Ice Age glaciation 10,000 y Settled agriculture 12,000 y Writing invented 6,000 y

NUCLEAR USE – WHEN, not IF! NOW over 19,000 weapons + 9 nuclear-armed states PLUS proliferation incentives, drivers + risks of nuclear terrorism and regional nuclear war

Current arsenals 2012 >19,000 weapons >2,000 Mt Down from peak arsenals (1986)  70,000 weapons 15,000 Mt BUT NOWHERE NEAR ZERO!

Dangerous Dependency: 9 countries spend over $100 billion p.a. on nuclear weapons 2011 in $ billions US




















This is $100 billion they did NOT spend on health, climate security, education, food, water, development....

Imagine... a Hiroshima-sized (15 kt) nuclear bomb on Mumbai  860,000

prompt deaths?  pulverised infrastructure  injuries from blast, heat, fires, collapsed buildings, radiation poisoning  destruction of hospitals and doctors, nurses, ambulances  paralysed health services, no blood supplies...

Early Effects of nuclear explosions 

Blast  

direct Indirect

Heat/flash 

Initial  Direct  Induction of radioactivity Fallout  Local (mostly external)  Intermediate (mostly external)  Global (mostly internal)

Electromagnetic pulse 

Burns, blindness fires

Radiation 

Environmental effects  

communication systems break down on Biota (living things) on Climate

Complex synergistic effects

> e.g. blast lethal area of 150 km2 would have fire conflagration area 350 km2 > Radiation would weaken immune systems > Persistent high mortality years later, genetic effects harming future generations

In Hiroshima, survivors envied the dead

Current Nuclear Forces (SIPRI 2012) Nuclear-armed States

Member of the 1968 NonProliferation Treaty?

United States of America


Warheads (approx) TOTAL // of which, deployed-active 8,500 // 2,150

Russia (formerly USSR)



// 1,800

United Kingdom














non- NPT

80-100 (?)


non- NPT



non- NPT


North Korea

withdrew from NPT (2003)

7 (?)

Warhead total (approx)


What if... 100 nuclear weapons are used in a ‘limited’ nuclear war in South Asia? India and Pakistan are both nuclear armed, with estimated 80 – 110 nuclear bombs each, and a history of conflict and terrorism. Nuclear mistakes and war are possible and could cause: •20 million deaths in major cities in India and Pakistan •Radioactive contamination throughout the region •Global climate disruption from smoke and soot

Nowhere to Hide Regional war with a few nuclear weapons would mean: • Nuclear explosions ignite fires that burn whole cities • Soot lofted high into the atmosphere absorbs incoming sunlight • Dramatic decrease in sunlight and warmth reaching the planet’s surface • Abrupt dropping of temperature • Extreme weather and disrupted rainfall

‘Little Boy’ on 6 August 1945 US detonated a 13-15 kiloton uranium gun-type bomb over Hiroshima  Deaths - 118,661  Injuries - 78,000 

140,000 deaths by end 1945

‘Fat Man, 9 August 1945 

US detonated a 21 kiloton plutonium implosion bomb over Nagasaki

Deaths - 73,884  Injuries - 74,909  Deaths by end of 1945 - 90,000  6.7 square km levelled 

“Reliance on nuclear weapons for [deterrence] is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.” Kissinger, Schultz, Nunn and Perry, WSJ Jan 2007

Trident submarine near Faslane, Scotland

In 1988, Rajiv Gandhi said that nuclear deterrence is the “...ultimate expression of the philosophy of terrorism” that “...will take us like lemmings to ” our own suicide...”

Preventing nuclear use: recasting the nuclear weapons problem => NW cause unacceptable harm and humanitarian disaster with catastrophic regional and global consequences. => Nuclear weapons use needs to be recognized and treated as a crime against humanity and war crime, as is the use of chemical and biological weapons. This would create strong disincentives, have impact on doctrines and ambitions, and pave the way for A GLOBAL LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE BAN

New and recent research on environmental and climate effects of nuclear explosions

Evaluated effects of 100 ‘small’ nuclear explosions (15 kt, Hiroshima size) on urban centres: Less

than 0.5% of today’s nuclear arsenals Up to 20 million immediate deaths 5 m tonnes radioactive soot and debris into upper atmosphere Lofting, circulation and persistence of smoke/dust clouds for ~ 10 years Global temperatures drop 1.25-1.5 deg Substantial + long lasting climatic effects would cause widespread global famine

The resarch scenario of a limited nuclear war in South Asia showed: Even if you live in a NWFZ like Africa... If others use nuclear weapons it will have terrible consequences for innocent people  1 billion dead from starvation alone? International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

Starvation and lowered immune systems  Epidemic Diseases  Cholera, other diarrhoeal disease  Plague  Malaria  Typhus International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

Desperation, Conflict and Further wars  Food riots  Disruption of trade  Hoarding  Intra-state ‘civil’ wars  Wars between nations  and further nuclear weapons detonated? International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

Bunker Mentality won’t keep us safe!

Time to ban nuclear weapons “Weapons of mass destruction cannot be uninvented. But they can be outlawed, as biological and chemical weapons have been, and their use made unthinkable. Compliance, verification and enforcement rules can, with the requisite will, be effectively applied. And with that will, even the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons is not beyond the world’s reach.” Weapons of Terror, Report of the WMD Commission, chaired by Dr Hans Blix, June 2006

Red Cross gets active – 2011 Resolution pledges:

In Nov 2011 the Red Cross passed a new resolution on NW – first since 1982

to ensure that nuclear weapons are never again used... - to pursue in good faith and conclude with urgency and determination negotiations to prohibit the use of and completely eliminate nuclear weapons through a legally binding international agreement, based on existing commitments and international obligations....

Nuclear-free countries in the driving seat 16 nation statement at May2012 NPT PrepCom: Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Holy See, Indonesia, Egypt, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, Switzerland

became 35 nation statement at UN in Oct 2012, addiing: Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Iceland, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Malta, Marshall Islands, Peru, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Thailand, Uruguay, Zambia,

New thinking to inspire and coordinate civil society and

government initiatives to reframe NW and pave the way for banning them on humanitarian terms, creating conditions for total elimination

By themselves, the current arms control and NPT regimes fail to stem proliferation. They perpetuate nuclear value and reward possessors

>A Nuclear Ban Treaty would erode this and contribute towards crucial task to discredit and delegitimize nuclear weapons and their justifications, including deterrence, status economic investment and other drivers

WE MUST FRAME a new security mindset that puts people before weapons Human security must take precedence over military notions of security  Prioritise real and global security above national state ‘defences’  Nuclear weapons make us INSECURE and VULNERABLE  They waste and divert resources from tackling real domestic and security problems e.g. environmental/climate desecration, health/pandemics, cuts, economic chaos, water, food, shelter 

Banning nuclear weapons: the next step, not the last step Examples from other weapons: 

asphyxiating chemicals 

biological and toxin weapons 

1925 Geneva Protocol (use)1972 BTWC

antipersonnel landmines 

1925 Geneva Protocol (use)1993 CWC (all aspects)

1997 Mine Ban Convention (use, stockpiling, production and transfer...)

cluster munitions 

2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM prohibits use, production, stockpiling and transfer...)

How can we change the debate on nuclear weapons in India?

Educate, mobilise and strategise! Link, network, build campaign WHAT WILL IT TAKE?

Prevention is better than cure! We cannot cure nuclear addiction and we won’t be able to protect ourselves if nuclear weapons are used

• So, what can we do? • What do YOU want to achieve?

• AND HOW?? • And how can ICAN help?

It’s necessary, possible and achievable – if we mobilise and ACT!

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