Red Cross urges Netherlands to sign UN nuclear weapons ban

Nuclear explosion
Nuclear explosionPhoto: egal/DepositPhotos

Aid organization Red Cross and peace organization PAX are calling on the Dutch government to sign the United Nations nuclear weapons ban, a treaty adopted by the UN in July 2017. The Netherlands then abstained from voting on the ban - all the countries with nuclear weapons and almost all NATO countries boycotted the vote, NOS reports.

The Red Cross shared an anti-nuclear weapons video on social media on Monday. "We do this to get more awareness about nuclear weapons", spokesperson Iris van Deinse explained to the broadcaster. "And especially of the effect of such a nuclear weapon." 

The video focuses on the question: Would you rather die in a nuclear attack, or survive it? "It's certainly an intense video. But the effects of a nuclear weapon are also very intense. It is something you sometimes do not realize, if that's what the discussion is about. We therefore find it important to show it. Our relief workers in Japan are still helping people after the nuclear disaster in 1945. Because they get cancer, or children are born with mutations. Help remains necessary."

According to Van Deinse, providing aid after a nuclear attack is virtually impossible. People in a wide area are affected by extreme heat, shock waves and radiation. "We can not help in such a catastrophe. Relief workers can't even go there because of radiation." The aid organization also points out the environmental consequences of a nuclear attack - the large amounts of soot that end up in the atmosphere can lead to failed crops, falling temperatures and starvation.

Earlier this month both te United States and Russia withdrew from the INF treaty dating from the Cold War. The treaty, signed in 1987, bans the development of cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. Shortly before the two countries withdrew from this treaty, the Dutch government's advisory council for international affairs AIV said that the number of new nuclear weapons and the increased tensions between countries that own such weapons pose a major risk for international security. The AIV advised the Netherlands to raise this issue with the UN.