Since 2013, 26 September has been, by decision of the UN General Assembly, the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
Reputable scientists warn that the explosion of only one percent of today’s deployed nuclear weapons in the world would amount to about 4000 times the energy released by the US atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
A nuclear explosion causes massive destruction of both living beings and structures. By combining different effects, it can lead to immediate death but also to prolonged after efects that affect health, either as a result of direct exposure to radiation or the effects of environmental contamination resulting from the spread of radioactive dust.
As a result of nuclear deflagration, temperatures of several thousand degrees Celsius in the impact zone can be generated as well as winds with speeds that may exceed 1000 kilometers per hour. These effects lead to the formation of firestorms of enormous destructive power.
A nuclear conflagration, whether regional or continental, will have lasting effects on the environment, leading to catastrophic global weather changes that could persist for several years. In addition to the direct destructive action of nuclear explosions, the immediate effects and the prolonged effects of radiation emission and radioactive dust, the meteorological changes associated with the so-called “nuclear winter” – prolonged and significant decrease in average environmental temperatures due to the concealment of sunlight due to the ashes projected into the upper atmosphere – would shorten the duration or eliminate the fertile periods of plant growth for years, leading most humans and other animal species to succumb to starvation.
The Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation (CPPC), heir to the peace-loving movements that emerged in the early 1950s – which had precisely in the demand for the end of atomic weapons one of its most important causes and in the Stockholm Appeal its greatest expression – has always supported this claim, which is so important for securing world peace and the future of humanity, a demand which today has a significant instrument in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
This Treaty, negotiated in 2017 by a United Nations conference and then approved by 122 countries, needs to be ratified by more than 50 states to enter into force – so far it has been signed by 70 states and ratified by 26. None of the nuclear powers or NATO members have signed or ratified this Treaty, and the whole process is marked by multiple pressures, mainly from the United States, against the signing of the Treaty.
The CPPC launched a petition for Portugal to sign and ratify this Treaty, which collected more than 13,000 signatures, and was delivered to the Assembly of the Republic, that discussed it last July.
Called to pronounce on draft resolutions that substantiated the substance of the petition’s content, the Socialist (PS), Social Democrat (PSD) and Christian Democrat (CDS) parties voted against Portugal’s accession to the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, opting to keep the country tied to “international commitments” that collide openly with the interest of Portugal, with the aspiration for peace on the part of the Portuguese people and the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic – which, among other matters, calls for ‘general, simultaneous and controlled disarmament’ and for the ‘dissolution of political-military blocks’.
The CPPC considers that the most recent developments in the international situation, namely the development of new nuclear weapon technology and the unilateral decision by the United States to withdraw from international agreements and treaties aimed at nuclear weapons restraint, make the demand for nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction eradication even more urgent, in the interest of humanity’s survival and life on the planet.
Portugal’s accession to the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty will constitute an important contribution to peace and disarmament!
26 September 2019
National Board of the CPPC