The International Committee of the Red Cross has a message for the world: scrap all your nuclear weapons — and do it now.
Remarks from the group came during an international conference about the humanitarian impact of atomic weapons in Nayarit, Mexico on Feb. 13 .
“The humanitarian consequences following a nuclear explosion would cause unprecedented devastation,” said Fernando Suinaga, Mexican Red Cross president and member of the Movement in Nayarit. “Any rescue or relief operation undertaken by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for those affected would be virtually impossible.”
“The inability to ensure safe access for rescue teams would further complicate relief operations for the affected populations,” Suinaga added.
The debate about nuclear weapons “must be shaped by a full grasp of the short-, medium- and long-term consequences of their use,” ICRC vice president Christine Beerli said. “We welcome the fact that states are expanding the discourse on nuclear weapons beyond military and security interests to focus on such essential issues this week.”
Well, some states, anyway.
While more than 100 countries are taking part in the second conference of its kind, which kicked off Thursday and includes survivors of America’s atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are notable absences.
The United States, Britain, France, Russia and China—the five powers allowed to have nuclear weapons under the The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty—have skipped out, Global Post reports.
Meanwhile, unless my Google News algorithm is screwy, it doesn’t look like any big American media outlets are covering the conference in Mexico. (Not so for the winter Olympics in Russia, for what it’s worth.)
Today, however, The New York Times has a big piece about a recent meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese officials, and that country’s apparent willingness to pressure North Korea to abolish its nuke program.
And while U.S. Pres. Barack Obama has said he wants to shrink America’s nuclear arsenal, we reported last year how a privatized U.S. atomic weapons production industry could defy attempts by politicians and activists to do that.
That said, at least one nuclear weapons watchdog says she sees the tide shifting toward a global ban on nuclear weapons.
“During the conference I was taking notes and tweeting as the delegations were speaking. Over and over again the cry came for the total elimination of nuclear weapons,” says Trish Williams-Mello, operations director of the Los Alamos Study Group in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “There was no wiggle room in the statements of the majority of countries and certainly civil society.”
“Their messages were crystal clear,” Williams-Mello continues. “Nuclear weapons are indiscriminate killers of all humanity, they are illegal, immoral, inhumane and must be banned immediately before there is either a nuclear accident, or worst of all—a nuclear war.”