Uttalande av IPPNW, NPT 2023

På den första förberedande kommittén av Icke-spridningsavtalet (NPT RevCon) i Wien höll International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, IPPNW, ett uttalande. Läs mer här!

Statement by IPPNW for NPT Preparatory Committee
Delivered by IPPNW Co-President, Carlos Umaña
Vienna, August 2, 2023

Thank you, Mr. President.

Today, over 100 prominent medical journals have jointly issued an urgent call for the elimination of nuclear weapons and in support of the TPNW.

IPPNW, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, remains committed to helping create a world free from the threat of annihilation by nuclear war. We call for evidence-based policymaking to be the mainstay in all decisions regarding nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, placing science at the service of the people and people at the center of all discussions regarding nuclear weapons.

Lately, we have been dismayed at the state of the world, at how we are closer to the edge of disaster than ever before. The war on Ukraine has highlighted the dark side of the nuclear era, with an ever-greater risk of a nuclear disaster, including the unprecedented situation of having nuclear power plants within a war zone.

Today, if a single tactical nuclear weapon were to be detonated over a large city, with a destructive yield of about 100 kilotons -roughly 6 times that of the one detonated over Hiroshima-, the consequences would be almost unimaginably dire. The blast, the heat and the radiation would instantly kill hundreds of thousands of civilians, and many more would be injured. These people would not only suffer from the usual trauma and burn wounds from explosive weapons, but they would also suffer acute and chronic radiation poisoning. Acute radiation syndrome, one of the most painful conditions anyone can endure, would cause a breakdown of vital organs and tissues. This means, as we saw in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that their eyes would fall out, their faces would melt, their abdomens would explode. Their wounds would not heal, and they would bleed to death. And the victims of this horrible disease, the non-combatant women, elderly and children, would suffer their agony alone as the radiation and the destroyed communication and health infrastructure would prevent them from receiving medical attention or first-response aid.

Those who survive this would have a higher incidence of cancers and other chronic diseases, and would have a high probability of miscarriages and bearing offspring with serious congenital and genetic defects.

But this is one detonation. If a full-scale nuclear war breaks out, it would not be one or two detonations, but many detonations over many cities. This would cause tens of millions of deaths, hundreds of millions of wounded people, and a great environmental devastation caused not only by the destruction of the bombs and by the radiation that would spread globally, but also by the soot and debris that would rise to the atmosphere and block the sunlight, drastically lowering the world’s temperature by an average of 25 degrees Celsius for several years, in what is known as a nuclear winter. Given that few food chains would be able to withstand the lack of sunlight and such a drastic cooling, this would mean the demise of many of the Earth’s ecosystems. A large-scale nuclear war could thus not only end our civilization, but also our species, along with many others.

The consequences of a nuclear winter have been further verified by climate scientists in recent years, revealing that even a so-called “small nuclear war” between two foes, such as India and Pakistan, could put as many as three billion people worldwide at risk of starvation due to crop failure.

And the risk of this occurring is greater than ever, as the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists noted when they marked this year’s Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds to midnight, the highest risk in history. This is partly due to the risk of accidents or miscalculations. Of the current arsenal of roughly 12,500 warheads, around 2000 warheads are on a state of high-alert. And the high-alert systems detecting incoming nuclear attacks are increasingly reliant on automated systems, and thus, increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks and technical and human error. Many accidents have been documented with nuclear arsenals and, on six occasions that we know of, the world has been on the brink of nuclear war. By accident. The famous words of Robert McNamara, Secretary of State in the United States during the Cuban missile crisis stand out: “it was luck that prevented nuclear war”. Continuing to rely on luck to prevent a global catastrophe is beyond reckless and irresponsible.

Distinguished delegates,

We are also deeply concerned by the enormous risk of having nuclear power plants in a war zone. On a good day, nuclear power plants are vulnerable to external power shortages, cyber attacks, and technical and human error. In a war zone, all of these risks are heightened, plus the risk of a direct military attack. Either by accident or by intention, a meltdown in any of the 15 reactors in Ukraine, particularly the 6 ones in the nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia, would result in a regional radioactive disaster, with potential global consequences, including food insecurity.

We call for this conference to acknowledge the vulnerability of nuclear power reactors as military targets, making them huge, pre-positioned radiological disasters-in-waiting, and to establish the principle sought by the International Atomic Energy Agency, designating demilitarized zones around all nuclear power plants.

Indifference toward the risks regarding nuclear weapons and nuclear energy threatens all three pillars of the NPT. The disregard for disarmament obligations under this treaty and the insistence in enshrining nuclear weapons in security doctrines not only puts the world at great risk of nuclear annihilation, but also erodes the non-proliferation regime, as the prevailing message continues to be that nuclear weapons are the currency of power and a necessary element for national security. We call on all nations to reject any use of nuclear weapons, either directly or in their name, and to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is complementary to the NPT, particularly the Article 6 obligations, and an essential component of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Distinguished delegates,

The world needs brave and responsible decision-making, based on evidence and the true interest of people and life on Earth. The status quo is unsustainable and will end in disaster. We call on the members of this conference to commit to working towards the goals of this Treaty. Nuclear disarmament is urgent and necessary, and more importantly, it is possible. It is high time to give a peace a chance. Now, more than ever, our existence depends on it.

Thank you.