On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on the city of Hiroshima and, three days later, on August 9, dropped a second on the city of Nagasaki. In a few days, more than 200,000 people died. In the following years there were many more fatalities as a result of the explosions. Even today, the Japanese Red Cross hospitals continue to treat thousands of survivors and descendants of those survivors, as the effects of radiation have been transmitted to later generations. In Hiroshima, after August 6, 1945, 90% of the medical personnel died or were badly injured; 42 of the 45 hospitals were rendered useless … That was the only time that atomic bombs had been used against the civilian population, in the context of a military conflict.
Today’s nuclear weapons are between 10 and 20 times more powerful than those launched on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Therefore, if used, the humanitarian catastrophe would be much greater.
Faced with a panorama like the current one, in which the use of nuclear weapons is not ruled out, it is necessary to recall the different reports of the International Red Cross and the United Nations, and the work of various international conferences that evaluated the humanitarian effects derived from an explosion. nuclear. From all this, it was concluded that the explosion of a single nuclear bomb on a city would cause a humanitarian catastrophe of such magnitude that the health and emergency infrastructures would be unable to attend to the survivors. A situation applicable even to countries with a higher degree of development. If today a nuclear bomb were to explode on a city, much of the first aid fabric (hospitals, firefighters, assistance organizations) would be destroyed and, therefore, would not be operational. A single bomb would cause such a daunting situation. It is difficult to conceive the consequences of the explosion of the 13,000 bombs that today constitute the world’s nuclear arsenal.
Nuclear weapons testing has also had a negative impact on the population of the affected area and its environment. The nuclear armed states, except Israel, have wanted to test their weapons with the double objective of evaluating their effects and of demonstrating a position of force before their political and military rivals. They had no qualms about exposing people to the direct effects of radiation, polluting their homes and food sources, and leaving substantial amounts of long-lived radionuclides underground and under the sea. The total number of tests is 2,055, of which 1,032 were carried out by the United States, 715 by the USSR, 210 by France, 45 by the United Kingdom and 45 also by China. India, Pakistan and North Korea, less than 10 tests each.
The damages to the inhabitants and the environment are materialized in forced displacement of the population, radioactive contamination of the land – subsoil, aquifers, sea, fauna, flora … – and health consequences. The latter can be cardiovascular diseases, cancers, malformation of the fetus, chromosomal alterations that are transmitted to subsequent generations, decreased life expectancy, alterations of the nervous system, premature aging, facial malformations …
Consequences of a small-scale war
As several recent scientific studies have shown, the detonation of less than 1% of the world’s nuclear arsenal would cause (apart from immediate human casualties and material damage) a substantial change in global climate not restricted to the explosion zone, but would affect everything the planet. The enormous amount of smoke and soot generated by the fires derived from the explosion in an urban and populated area, would reduce solar radiation on the earth’s surface and, therefore, also evaporation. The temperature and rainfall would drop and, as a consequence, the agricultural production of the entire planet would decrease and could put more than 2 billion people at food risk.
The humanitarian catastrophe resulting from the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been a fundamental argument of the anti-nuclear movement. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare system has been under extreme stress to the point that, in some countries, it has almost collapsed. It is easy to imagine that this same health system, reduced by a good part of its personnel and its infrastructures, could not cope, at all, with an emergency such as the explosion of a nuclear bomb on a city. The fire and emergency department would also be affected in a similar way. If the destruction of infrastructures such as sewers, communication routes, electricity, water, gas, telecommunications, etc. is added. it is concluded that it would be impossible to cope with the repercussions of a nuclear explosion. The effects (health, economic, social, labor …) of the Covid-19 pandemic in a large city would be insignificant compared to those derived from a nuclear explosion. It should be noted that we are referring to the explosion of a nuclear bomb, but there are more than 13,000 in the world. And it does not seem unlikely that in a nuclear war there would be more than one explosion.
It is immoral and unacceptable that there are states that have this capacity to destroy and generate suffering in the population. The solution is the elimination and prohibition of nuclear weapons, which is what regulates the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, approved in 2017 by the UN General Assembly and in force since January 2021, after 50 states signed it and ratify. The Spanish State has not even signed it and does not seem to have the will to do so. Inadmissible.
This publication is part of the launch of the campaign ’10 Reasons to sign the TPAN ‘, which unites civil society entities at the state level with the aim that Spain adheres to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPAN), which came into effect on January 22, 2021.