Marina Lopez Guell
Costa Rican doctor Carlos Umaña, an activist for the prohibition of nuclear weapons and winner -as a member of the award-winning organizations- of two Nobel Peace Prizes, warns, in an interview with EFE, that “we are facing the highest risk of the story of a nuclear war being started.
Umaña has traveled to Barcelona to participate in two events in Barcelona and Mataró organized by entities in favor of peace to promote a speech of “stigmatization of nuclear weapons to put an end to them”.
Carlos Umaña, who was born in Costa Rica, in addition to being a physician, is an activist against nuclear weapons and is currently co-president of the International Association of Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1985, and director of the Campaign International to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the same award in 2017.
The Costa Rican activist declares that “stigmatization is an essential step” on the road to banning nuclear weapons and that it must be led by a “strong” social movement that exerts pressure on decision-makers, since only in this way “can prevail a climate of moral condemnation”.
“Nuclear weapons are not made to attack the military, but to kill civilians – he remarks – and Putin has shown several times that he does not care about the well-being of civilians and has attacked them, as was the case in Chechnya or Syria.”
“Nuclear weapons serve to scare, because they represent the ultimate power, but Putin has gone to another level and now uses them as a threat: if you don’t stop doing that, we will use the weapons against you,” he continues.
Carlos Umaña points out that right now “the Russians have the war on the right track” so he does not understand why they need to threaten nuclear weapons, taking into account that “because of its scope and repercussion, it would also be a suicide weapon”, if not for “break the nuclear taboo”.
“Of the 12,000 nuclear weapons in the world, some 1,800 are on high alert, that is, they are ready to be detonated in minutes, and this decision depends on people who, however lucid they may be, the context influences. Desperation is not a friend of common sense,” he warns.
THE NUCLEAR TABOO
There are currently nine nuclear-armed countries: Russia, the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea, ordered by the amount of ammunition they possess from most to least.
“If the nuclear taboo is broken, this could serve as a precedent for other conflicts in which countries with these weapons are involved and could lead us to a large-scale nuclear war,” warns the activist.
Taking into account that current technology “is far from the primitive bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hundreds of thousands of people could be killed instantly.”
In addition, he warns that “it would also leave many more people with acute radiation syndrome, which causes vital organs and systems to break down. And since the area would be closed by radiation, no one could help these people.”
The impact would also be seen in the climate, since “the nuclear material would end up rising into the atmosphere and we would live in darkness and with significant decreases in temperatures, which would mean the end of many species on the planet.”
“This -he emphasizes- if it were only a bomb, but we are talking about a large-scale nuclear war”.
Umaña comments that “recently, Putin said that he was afraid that Ukraine would use dirty weapons – ordinary bombs to which radioactive material is added – against them. This does not have a significant scope, but it could break the nuclear taboo. It seems that they are simply looking for excuses to attack.
In a positive message, Umaña points out that “the good part of this crisis is the opportunity for change to achieve nuclear disarmament.”
From the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), of which Umaña is a director, they are promoting a multilateral treaty for countries to sign a commitment to prohibit nuclear weapons, a treaty that 91 countries have signed, although none of them has Nuclear weapons.
Umaña clarifies that “the nuclear world is not black or white, it has layers, because military alliances are also relevant when it comes to getting a country to position itself”.
“This is the case -he exemplifies- of South Korea or NATO countries such as Spain, which in 2018 said it would sign it and has not yet done so.”
“The prohibition treaty, by the simple fact of existing, puts countries at a crossroads to decide whether nuclear weapons are acceptable or not, and that implies a lot of political pressure,” says the activist.
Although “with the game between NATO and Russia for power it is difficult for countries to position themselves, Spain will probably be one of the first in the organization to sign it,” he predicts.
“It is not easy, but it is possible to live in a world without nuclear weapons. What is not possible is to continue living with them, because at some point, whether on purpose or by mistake, they will end up being used,” he warns.
“I am not motivated by fear, I am motivated by hope and, for example, seeing how in 2017 they gave us the Nobel Peace Prize was precious, because many people came, our logo was all over the city and it opened many doors for us For us activists, it meant recognition of our work, which is often invisible,” he concludes.
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Carlos Umaña, Nobel Peace Prize: We are facing the highest risk of nuclear war