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Australia -Nuclear weapons are a threat to humanity, expert tells conference

  • Katrina Stokes
  • adelaidenow
  • November 04, 201210:30PM

GOVERNMENTS must work towards eliminating nuclear weapons for the sake of humanity or risk devastating effects in the future, a leading expert says.

Australian Red Cross international law expert Dr Helen Durham cited the dangers of immediate and long-term radiation damage to people and the environment, saying nuclear weapons were uniquely destructive weapons.

“They are a deadly and dangerous weapon,” she said.

“They have capacity to create immediate effects and long radiation damage to people and the environment.”

She was a speaker at nuclear discussions held at Uni SA over the weekend and organised by Flinders University and Australian Red Cross.

Dr Durham said Australia did not possess nuclear weapons and she reminded South Australians of their own experience, the nuclear testing at Maralinga in the 1950s.

She said the British tests had left parts of the community with long- term effects, including cancer and growths from the radiation.

“Australia doesn’t have any weapons,” Dr Durham said.

“We are in an arrangement with the US … we can have them used if we needed to.”

Leading academics from around the world debated the urgent need for a nuclear-free world at a two-day conference in Adelaide at UniSA this weekend, organised by the Australian Red Cross and Flinders University.

A panel of 20 international and Australian speakers discussed the issues flowing from the existence of more than 20,000 weapons of mass destruction in existence around the world today.

They will discuss the need for governments to act and introduce new laws to ban the use of nuclear weapons and their devastating humanitarian and environmental impacts.

Key speakers include Flinders University Professor of International Law Susan Breau, Hiroshima survivor Junko Morimoto and a professor from The Hague, Tim McCormack.

Dr Durham called on all governments to create stronger laws to prohibit the use and production of the weapons.

“(We need) a treaty or convention to clearly state that the use of nuclear weapons is illegal and work towards their eradication,” she said.

Dr Durham said the process should start at the bottom with communities.

“It needs to be a whole change of attitude,” she said.

“People in the community need to say this is not good enough that we have the capacity to blow ourselves up as well as stronger international laws.”

Dr Durham highlighted nuclear weapons cost billions of dollars to maintain and produce each year and believed the money could be better spent elsewhere.

“It’s an economic loss for the whole world (at present),” she said.

“The more that we have these weapons, the more chance they might be used.”

November 4, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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