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Stop this cycle of hypocrisy now

Talk in Aigina by Maria Arvaniti Sotiropoulou, 22nd April 2009

Sunday 17 May 2009

22nd April 2009 : Maria Arvaniti Sotiropoulou, microbiologist, President of the Greek section of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and founding member of the Capodistrias-Spinelli-Europe initiative, speaks at the screening of the France 3 documentary “Uranium, the Scandal of Contaminated France”, Karapanou Residence, Aigina (part of the Owl Week programme).

The growing oil crisis and the insatiable need for energy of the “developed” and “developing” world have led, as we have long predicted, to a deterioriation of collective memory of the consequences of Chernobyl, and to first the advertising, and then the shameless implementation, of plans to bring back nuclear energy and put it in the front line of “solutions” to the energy problem. The point has been reached where nuclear energy is being promoted as the only way out of the climate change impasse.

In the European Union nuclear power stations are being accepted as a good solution for the greenhouse phenomenon. From the Russian promotion of little floating nuclear power stations as the key to catering to the energy needs of islands (like ours in the Aegean) up to and including the intervention of the former Mme. Sarkozy in the freeing of the Bulgarian nurses by Libya (in exchange for being provided with French nuclear knowhow); from the American bargaining and the threats to make the North Koreans buy nuclear technology from them, and not from Russia or China, to the announcement of construction of a nuclear power station in Vietnam, the nuclear lobby, after a retreat for a few years, now seems to be winning the war.

This silent agreement of all to promote the purchase of nuclear power stations comes at precisely the moment when developments in Iran and North Korea and the reactions of the international community show clearly that states start with nuclear power to end with nuclear weapons and that today’s allies are often tomorrow’s enemies. The recent announcement by the CIA not only of Israel’s possession of a nuclear arsenal since 1974 but also of provision of nuclear expertise to countries such as iran shows the shamelessness of governments which only yesterday resolutely denied the existence of nuclear weapons in their region, and condemned Vanunu and anyone else who told the truth. It was too much to hope that the Balkans could stay outside this game.

The real energy needs of countries that have now embarked on European-style wastefulness, the irresponsibility of the old nuclear-weapons states, which start jostling each other to be first in line the minute they smell the possibility of such a market, the hypocrisy of governments like the Greek which, while announcing to all comers that they oppose nuclear power, applaud their neighbours (Bulgaria) when they decide to extend their nuclear programme (despite the fact that they are still spreading radioactive materials in all directions owing to the way they manage their antiquated and dangerous old unit Kozloduy – these are all factors underlying the new developments. 2009 finds Greece encircled by new nuclear power stations.

In Turkey, where after titanic battles the construction of Akuyu was stopped, now three new nuclear power stations are scheduled; Bulgaria in summer announced the construction of new nuclear units, apart from the threatened Belene power station; Albania announced the construction of a nuclear power station in conjunction with the French; the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia embarks on discussions with European companies with a view to building a nuclear power station. Rumania and Egypt are also declaring themselves interested.

Nuclear energy is being represented as a necessary evil and the ONLY SOLUTION, while institutions such as the World Health Organization cover up the results of medical studies because of the Protocol of collaboration that is in force between themselves and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Our organization (the IPPNW) is petitioning health authorities to oblige the WHO to terminate this complicity, which has become blatantly obvious from the shifting statistics in the annual reports on Chernobyl.

Thus, in its announcement in 2005 we see the World Health Organization for the first time supporting the view that there were only 54 immediate casualties from Chernobyl and around 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer in children, ignoring the increase in the incidence of the relevant diseases from 15% to 85% in Belarus, from 10% to 94.5% in Ukraine, ignoring the indirect deaths and the variety of illnesses that make their appearance in hundreds of official epidemiological studies.

Recent medical data not only from Chernobyl but also from statistics from regions in the vicinity of nuclear power stations in England, France and Germany support our view; and there is the precedent of the tobacco companies, which were obliged to conform after the accumulation of so much damage to the health of millions of people and the evidence of financial statistics submitted by insurance companies. The situation with nuclear power stations is much worse, because the victims are in no way responsible for their own exposure to radioactivity, and the effects pass into the genes and into unborn children. Everyone agrees that radioactivity induces significant increases in all types of cancer, and in leukaimia, particularly in children, increases in perinatal and infant mortality, large numbers of miscarriages, genetic diseases and mutations, cognitive and neurological disorders, blindness, diseases of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, urinary-genital tract and endocrine glands.

The friends of nuclear power merely assert that this is the price of progress. We as doctors disagree because for us no death and no injury is to be regarded as ‘collateral damage’ and we believe that humanity must find a different way of solving the energy problem. Bear in mind that radioactivity knows no borders and affects future generations. It is medically irresponsible to promote disease – in this case a pandemic – under the guise of economic well-being. And let us remember finally that nuclear power is neither cheap (a 30-year life-cycle with huge decommissioning costs) nor safe, particularly in earthquake-prone and/or underdeveloped countries. Nuclear-power stations are the six-lane highway leading to construction of nuclear or radiological weapons, and the danger of their being targeted in a conventional war or a terrorist attack is by no means negligible.

Bear in mind that that industrial nuclear activity and atmospheric nuclear testing has to date been responsible for 500 million miscarriages, five million neonatal deaths, 376 million cancers, 235 million instances of genetic damage, 587 million mutant births, 5 million cases of mental retardation. All in all over a billion and a half people have to date been killed, maimed, or made sick by nuclear technology The anti-nuclear movement has to wake finally from its slumbers and fight with the determination that has been shown in the past, for example when they threatened us with construction of a nuclear power station in Euboea.

If we don’t become active NOW there is a danger that soon we will be hearing arguments that since we will be threatened by a nuclear accident next door anyway, why shouldn’t we build a nuclear power station ourselves so as not to have to buy the electricity from our neighbours. This will be the ultimate in self-delusion. We must stop this cycle of hypocrisy now. No nuclear power station must be built, either here or in neighbouring countries.

Message of Greeting from “Sortir du Nucléaire: Chernobyl Day.
""Sortir du nucléaire" is happy to be offered the opportunity to send a greeting to this first meeting of the Capodistrias - Spinelli - Europe Initiative.

We consider the choice of the Chernobyl Day period for this first meeting as rather relevant, since the consequences of this catastrophe concern the whole Europe. Since contamination knows no borders, we must unite to fight nuclear power at the European level.
We can see that the nuclear lobby has become increasingly influential in European Institutions, whereas a broad majority of people in Europe are opposed to the use of nuclear power. We thus consider it as urgent to build a citizens’ Europe, which would preserve safety and peace rather than the interests of some industrialists and heads of state.

Our Network has registered more than 200 actions to be held in Europe on this week-end to commemorate Chernobyl Day, and we hope that this call for a nuclear-free Europe will be heard all over the continent !"

Charlotte Mijeon

Maria Sotiropoulou’s speech in Greek: http://kaspin.wordpress.com/2009/05/02/

Also from Maria Sotiropoulou and Wayne Hall: An exchange on the role of Greece in the European Union (correspondence with the European organization of anti-nuclear medical doctors) (see attachment below)