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Norway: Nuclear blast effects dire

March 7, 2013 at 12:06 AM   |   Comments

OSLO, Norway, March 7 (UPI) -- The humanitarian disaster from a nuclear weapon blast would overcome the ability of any state or international group to cope with, Norway's top diplomat says.

Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide, who led an international conference on the humanitarian impact on nuclear weapons in Oslo this week, made that assessment as part of his official report on conclusions reached at the event.

Delegations representing 127 countries, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement and civil society participated in the conference, which assessed the global humanitarian consequences of nuclear detonations.

"It is the chair's view that this broad participation reflects the increasing global concern regarding the effects of nuclear weapons detonations, as well as the recognition that this is an issue of fundamental significance to us all," Eide said in a statement.

Humanitarian groups at the conference said they it would provide a starting point to reopen discussions about banning nuclear weapons worldwide.

Not present, however, were the five nuclear-armed members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia -- which stayed away from the event.

Eide said the one of the key points agreed on by the participants was that the scale of the devastation from a nuclear blast would be so profound it would swamp the abilities of states or international humanitarian groups to provide effective aid.

"It is unlikely that any state or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation in an adequate manner and provide sufficient assistance to those affected," he said. "Moreover, it might not be possible to establish such capacities, even if it were attempted."

The Norwegian diplomat also said attendees agreed on two other main conclusions.

First, despite the end of Cold War and a changed political landscape in which countries are no longer directly threatening each other with nuclear destruction, the "destructive potential of nuclear weapons remains."

Also, that the effects of a nuclear weapon detonation, "irrespective of cause, will not be constrained by national borders, and will affect states and people in significant ways, regionally as well as globally."

Eide told Norway's NTB news agency he was pleased with the outcome of the event, despite the absence of the Security Council members.

"We have managed without them because it is not only countries with nuclear weapons that can discuss this," he said, noting that Mexico has agreed to host a follow-up conference.

"This conference has shown that any use of nuclear armaments would cause mass suffering, with calculations of climate disruption and famine in non-nuclear as well as nuclear-armed countries," Rebecca Johnson, co-chairwoman of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said in a statement.

"This global impact makes it the responsibility -- and right -- of everyone to take action to stop this from happening."

Meanwhile, a member of Scotland's Parliament blasted Britain's decision to not attend.

Bill Kidd of the Scottish National Party asserted it was "utterly disgraceful" for Britain to boycott the gathering, adding that "as a nuclear weapons state, they're embarrassed to face up to the rest of the world."

The SNP, which is seeking independence from Britain, has promised to remove nuclear-armed Trident submarines from Scotland.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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