Thursday, 11 December 2014

Nuclear Killing Fields

I submitted this text, along with a much longer detailed country-by--country profile of the uranium producer-country uranium legacies, to the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Human Weapons, held on 8-9 December 2014, Hofburg Palace Vienna, Austria,

“I want make this submission following on the presentation by Dr Arjun Makijani of the US-based Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in the US in session 1b, who highlighted the often overlooked environmental degradation, lack of remediation and health hazards posed by uranium mining for the raw materials to make nuclear explosives for the nuclear arsenals of the nuclear weapons states (NWS). I note that this joint human health and environmental concern is the focus of an excellent and disturbing  poster exhibition outside the main door to the stage of this Conference Hall.


I also note the conclusions of the interpretation of existing environmental law to military nuclear activities discussed in depth and breadth by the excellent panel in Session  IV.


Both this conference and the predecessor Civil Society Conference in Vienna over the weekend  have heard the moving testimony of radiation victims from the testing and belligerent us eof  nuclear weapons: the Japanese “Hibakusha”, direct victims of nuclear wepons deliberately used upon on their communities,  and the US, Marshallese Islanders, Australian indigenous peoples, and  Kazakh “Downwinders, who have suffered from nuclear testing.


But there are hundreds of thousands of radiation victims worldwide  from the production of nuclear weapons, even if  we remain lucky enough that they are never used by deliberate decision, or detonated by accident.


I raised this matter of concern with the United Kingdom delegation, representing the country of which I am a citizen, in the margins of this conference, to be told the exposure to radiation from uranium procurement was a long time ago. That is true, but the impact of exposure lives on through  genetic transfer across  generations, as the compensation agreements  in the United States ( surprising not mentioned by the US Ambassador to this conference in either  contribution he  made from the floor)  have demonstrated  recognise the responsibility of current political administrations for past administration’ actions.

Therefore, as my own Government has declined to  take moral responsibility for the significant deleterious impact of the production process for the procurement of the raw uranium that, in its converted form, now makes up the nuclear explosives in each of the
UK ‘s 180 nuclear warheads, I will set out below  some examples of the impacts, especially to inform my own Government why they have a duty to wider humanity to  take responsibility for the desecration of sacred land and for damaging the heath of exposed indigenous peoples and their successor generations, especially as indigenous people’s land  in former colonies were used as the sources of the UK’s uranium used in nuclear warheads.

Governments have accepted the importance of recognizing and mitigating the carbon  footprint of the production process of commercially tradable goods; they also need to accept the radiological footprint of past nuclear explosive materials production needs to be mitigated, and act accordingly in a moral fashion.

Nuclear warheads, even if never detonated, have not only an extraordinary financial cost, but even more importantly , an ecological, environmental, and enduring health cost – both radiological and toxicological -  to the people whose communities have been exploited for the procurement of the uranium, which in processed and manufactured form, currently sits in the  global nuclear arsenals of over 16,000 warheads, with no positive benefit, but huge detriments, for the human communities from which it was expropriated.”

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