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Preparedness on the agenda as day two begins in Oslo

March 5, 2013

The second day of the international conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Oslo promises to be controversial. The topic of the third session is preparedness, and the stage was set yesterday when Peter Scott-Bowden of the World Food Program acknowledged that international relief agencies were unequipped to deal with the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, but suggested that the answer was to ramp up relief infrastructure and logistical preparedness plans. This perspective was challenged from the floor by the New Zealand delegation and others, who reiterated no amount of preparation would be adequate to mitigate the consequences or provide assistance to the victims.

How this controversy will play out during the morning remains to be seen, but as I write this, the director of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority has already drawn a sharp distinction between responses to nuclear power plant disasters, which he said are possible but extremely challenging, and responses to nuclear weapons explosions, which are non-existent.

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