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How have nuclear tests affected the atmosphere?

Ensayo-nuclear-Polineasia-1971-580x300Since the July 16, 1945 detonation in the Jornada del Muerto desert, 56 kilometers from the city of Alamogordo in the state of New Mexico, the first nuclear bomb, called Trinity; and then 20 days later, dropped another two on the Japanese civilian population in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nearly 2,500 nuclear bombs have been tested.

As a result of its detonation in recent decades, a total energy of more than 540 megatons has been released on Earth. The bombs released into the atmosphere alone accounted for 428 megatons, the equivalent of more than 29,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs, causing 166,000 deaths by the end of 1945.

Due to the need to measure different safety, efficacy and potency parameters, these tests were carried out in various types of environments, in remote parts of the world and far from civilization; because due to its scope, people could suffer from skin lesions or poisoning, to various types of long-term cancers, due to the harmful effects of radiation.

In addition to the direct effects on the environment expressed in radioactive fallout -deposition of a mixture of particles from the atmosphere from an explosion-, anthropogenic contamination, and other phenomena.

For example, the 1954 detonation of the Castle Bravo bomb on Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean reached the highest power recorded in the US of about 15 megatons; and the cloud of smoke, a derived atomic mushroom, reached 14 kilometers in altitude and seven kilometers in diameter in one minute. Within 10 minutes, the cloud exceeded 40 km in altitude and 100 km in diameter, expanding at more than 100 meters per second.

Its reach caused a radioactive rain with pulverized coral that spread to the rest of the islands of the archipelago and fell, more heavily in the form of white ash, on residents and soldiers.

Meanwhile, a more particulate and gaseous one reached the rest of the world as far as Australia, India and Japan, including the US and part of Europe, totaling direct damages in an area of ​​some 18,000 square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean.

As a consequence and according to an investigation carried out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even today radioactive fallout is present in small quantities throughout the world.

To which they add that any person born after 1951 in US territory has received some type of exposure to radiation associated with the phenomenon of nuclear weapons tests.

Researchers have delved into how the electrical charge – released by the ionization of the air due to radioactivity – affects the rain; and causing effects in the clouds thousands of kilometers from the detonation of a nuclear device.

A group of British physicists from the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, in the United Kingdom, compared the days with low and high radioactive load between 1962 and 1964 in Scotland, after which they found that the clouds were visibly denser and thicker, and there was 24 percent more rain on average on the days with the most radioactivity.

Every August 29, the International Day Against Nuclear Tests is celebrated, after the growing threat caused by this type of weapon, on December 2, 2009, the General Assembly unanimously approved its resolution 64/35 declaring that date as such.

The proposal made by the Republic of Kazakhstan, and supported by other countries, then sought to celebrate the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, which occurred on that same day in August 1991.

But challenges still persist, since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (Tpcen) of 1996, an international instrument designed to prevent them, unfortunately has not yet entered into force.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for defending health, human survival and the planet in his message on the occasion of the International Day Against Nuclear Tests today.

Nuclear tests have long poisoned the natural environment of our planet and the species and people who call it home, Guterres said in a statement released by the office of his spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric.

He said the celebration represents a worldwide acknowledgment of the catastrophic and persistent damage caused in the name of the nuclear arms race.

The UN chief called for the world to finally establish a legally binding ban on all nuclear tests.

Given the current risks, “the time has come for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty to enter fully into force, backed by an effective verification system,” he stressed.

Those weapons have no place nor do they guarantee any victory or security, by design, their only result is destruction, added the secretary general.

He lamented that the world was “held hostage to these death devices for a long time.”

Let’s ensure the end of testing now and forever, and make nuclear weapons a thing of the past, once and for all, he concluded.

On August 26, after three weeks of discussions, the Tenth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ended. Guterres warned at the opening session of the meeting that there are times when geopolitical tensions reach new heights and that humanity “is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.”

Cuba reaffirms position against all nuclear weapons and tests

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez today reiterated his country’s position in favor of the prohibition and cessation of all nuclear tests and the total elimination of these weapons.

On August 3, Cuba stated at the United Nations (UN) its defense of a world free of the danger that these weapons represent and warned that political manipulation, selectivity and double standards in non-proliferation must cease.

The only sustainable solution to the existential problem that nuclear weapons represent is their total elimination, said Yuri Gala, deputy permanent representative of the Caribbean nation, speaking at the Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). .

The diplomat lamented the lack of concrete progress in nuclear disarmament, in particular regarding the fulfillment of the obligations and commitments acquired by the nuclear powers 52 years after the entry into force of the treaty.

He pointed out that it is neither fair nor acceptable that a group of States Parties strictly comply with all the obligations of the NPT and others do not.

Nor is it that certain countries are condemned and demonized for alleged violations of the non-proliferation regime by the same States that continue perfecting their nuclear arsenals, supplying and transferring technologies, said the Cuban ambassador.

The NPT entered into force in 1970 and has the adherence of 191 States, including five possessors of nuclear weapons, which makes it the multilateral disarmament agreement with a binding commitment and with the largest number of consents.

Cuba is a signatory to it and has reiterated on numerous occasions its firm position in favor of the total elimination of this weaponry in a transparent, verifiable and irreversible manner.

According to Rodríguez, there are “more than 13,000 nuclear weapons in the world, 3,825 of which are ready for immediate use.”

(With information from Telesur and Prensa Latina)

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