Purpose of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was to protect the world from radiation

The Legacy of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, counterpunch  by JOSEPH J. MANGANO and JANETTE D. SHERMAN, MD, 5 Aug 13,   “…….The treaty is often referred to as a peace treaty, a step against nuclear war. While it was a goodwill gesture between hostile nations, it did nothing to prevent a war, since both sides continued to furiously test weapons underground and add to its already-large stockpiles. Only in the 1970s did non-proliferation treaties begin the process of cutting nuclear arsenals.

The 1963 test ban treaty was actually an environmental and public health action to reduce threats of deadly radiation, especially to the more susceptible infants and children. In a speech urging passage of the treaty, Kennedy – whose prematurely born son died that summer after living only 39 hours – made the case to prevent suffering among the youngest members of society:

“The number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs might seem statistically small to some, in comparison with natural health hazards. But this is not a natural health hazard, and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of even one human life, or the malformation of even one baby, who may be born long after we are gone, should be of concern to us all. Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics toward which we can be indifferent.” Officials who had downplayed the idea that fallout was causing cancer and other diseases now told the truth. In October 1964, at a campaign stop in New Mexico, President Lyndon B. Johnson triumphantly told a cheering crowd:

“We cannot and will not abandon the test ban treaty to which I just referred, which is the world’s insurance policy against polluting the air we breathe and the milk we give our children.

Already that policy has paid off more than you will ever know, and since this agreement was signed and the tests stopped, the dread strontium-89 and iodine-131 have disappeared from the environment. The amount of strontium-90 and cesium-137 has already been, in a year, cut in half. This is technical language, but what it means is that we can breathe safely again.”

Johnson was correct. U.S. infant mortality had only dropped 13% in the 14-year period from 1951 to 1965, during bomb testing (the fallout peak was 1964).  The next 14 years showed a decline of about 50% – the same 50% drop during the prior 14 year period. The years 1951-1965 had the poorest improvement in infant mortality during the 20th century. Cancer cases in children under age five in Connecticut, the only state with a cancer registry, plunged from 58 to 30 from 1963 to 1968. Years later, a 1999 report by the National Academy of Sciences estimated that up to 212,000 Americans developed thyroid cancer from radioactive iodine in bomb fallout. ….. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/08/05/the-legacy-of-the-comprehensive-test-ban-treaty/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: