Nancy Covington, BSc, MD


December 01, 2008


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There are 27,000 nuclear weapons left in the world today, including 4000 on high alert, ready to be fired after a computer keystroke. In this age of political instability, these weapons will likely one day be used either by accident or design.

It is time to finalize the Nuclear Weapons Convention to abolish them. The draft of this "convention," or treaty, is an official UN document.[1] To ratify the Nuclear Weapons Convention, political will is needed and civil society must demand this. By going on the Website of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons,[2] you may add your name to a growing list of peoples of the world who want to see nuclear weapons made taboo.

In addition to our responsibility as members of civil society, we as physicians can reduce the threat of a nuclear catastrophe in an unique way. Medical isotopes are currently most often produced using weapons-grade uranium, a substance which is one of the main ingredients of "homemade" nuclear bombs and whose theft and smuggling cannot reliably be detected.[3] There are no technical obstacles to producing medical isotopes from low-enriched uranium[4] (LEU), which cannot be diverted to a make a terrorist bomb. Other than the cost of conversion, the long-term costs may actually be lower.[5]

As the sole consumers of medical isotopes, health professionals have considerable leverage and can press their manufacturers to use low-enriched uranium instead of weapons-grade uranium. As citizens and as physicians, we have a role to play in reducing the threat of a "final epidemic.[6]"

That's my opinion. I am Dr. Nancy Covington, President of Physicians for Global Survival.[7]



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