Nuclear weapons and health

Today, NVMP, the Dutch affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, hosted a seminar on nuclear weapons and health. About 50 people came together in Amsterdam, to learn more about what nuclear bombs can do, and what you can do about them.

The seminar opened with a brief film about Stanislov Petrov, who on this day in 1983, decided not to trust his early warning equipment and not to start the process to launch a nuclear counter-strike from the Soviet Union to the United States. His story is immortalised in the film “The Man Who Saved the World“.

Speakers through the day included:

Rutger Jan van der Gaag, chair KNMG
Alexander Rinnooy Kan, D66
*Jan Hoekema, Mayor of  Wassenaar, and
Mirjam de Bruin, Legal Advisor International Humanitarian Law, Nederlandse Rode Kruis

I also spoke, where I gave a brief presentation of our Rotterdam Blast study- focusing mainly on the immediate impacts of a nuclear blast.

There was overwhelming support in the room for the successful Teken Tegen Kernwapens campaign, and an eagerness to discuss what can be done next. Most comments made from the floor focused on what can people do?

There was a bit of tension in the room when the Dutch national position was discussed, with a lot of disappointment expressed that the government has not (and does not appear willing to) sign onto the Humanitarian Pledge to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.

There was also a great deal of concern raised that the Netherlands continues to appear willing to break international humanitarian law, and has not condemned any use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances. This is not the position of a country that is known globally for its leadership on international law and justice.

Finally, Casper van der Zijde, summed up the issue in a powerful and succinct way:  nuclear weapons deny democracy, the voice of the people must be heard and the time is now to ban the bomb.