Hiroshima, dated August 2nd, 2014
Mr. Chairman (Miss Chairwoman),
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Chairman (Miss Chaiwoman) for kindly allowing me to make a speech on this occasion.
On behalf of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin Vietnam I am going to make a few comments on the impact of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In May 2010, the parties to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty held a conference at the United Nations Headquarters in order to express their “deep concern for the dire consequences of using any kind of nuclear weapons” and continued to reaffirm “the need for every country to forever comply with the existing international laws, including the international humanitarian laws.” Since then, there have been two international conferences, one in Oslo, Norway and another in Nayarit, Mexico to discuss the impact of nuclear weapons on humans. The above-said topic will be discussed further in Vienna, Austria’s Capital in early next year.
At the Oslo and Nayarit Conferences, the participants already came to accurate conclusions on the impact of nuclear weapons on people. But what I want to say herein is that these conclusions are also properly applied to the case where chemical weapons were used by the U.S. military in the recent Vietnam War.
Ladies and gentlemen,
During the war in Vietnam War, the U.S. forces did resort to over 80 million liters of herbicides, 61% of which was Agent Orange, containing about 366 kg of dioxin, the most potent toxin ever known to human beings. How is the impact of US chemical weapons on humans in the light of the conclusions drawn by the Nayarit Conference on the effects of nuclear weapons? It can be said that chemical weapons used by the US in Vietnam also have had the same effects as those imposed by any nuclear weapons!
– Firstly: The chemical warfare in Vietnam has left behind its extremely heavy consequences on the environment and people of Vietnam:
+ Three million hectares of forests were devastated. Several species of plants were annihilated and many kinds of animals were extinct and most of water sources were contaminated. These are the negative consequences for the living environments that requires several generations of Vietnamese people to overcome.
+ More than 4.8 million people in Vietnam have been exposed to toxic chemicals. Over 3 million of them have been suffering from deadly diseases; including hundreds of thousands of people have been killed by them. Those who are still alive are daily, even hourly struggling to ocercome the pains caused by these diseases.
However, like the conclusions drawn by the Nayarit Conference on the scope of nuclear weapons’s bad outcome, the effects of chemical weapons used by the U.S. in Vietnam war is not confined to Vietnamese only, but also to several Vietnam veterans of the US and its allies ( South Korea, Australia and New Zealand) who fought in Vietnam and their descendents. Many countries where toxic chemicals used in Vietnam War were manufactured, tested, stored and destroyed also suffer serious consequences, such as Japan, Canada or Philippines. This does not include Vietnam’s neighboring countries such as Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.
– Secondly, the US toxic chemicals may not only generate immediate effects, but also long-term ones: The war has ended almost 40 years, but those were used then still affect our environments and people. Many areas that are still contaminated with residues of toxic chemicals used during war time remain poisoning people living in and nearby. Especially now, these toxic chemicals have began to badly influence the forth coming generations of children, and grandchildren of those who were and are exposed directly to them.
– Thirdly, if any nuclear explosion incidents may cause enormous difficulties for humanitarian relief operations, and if the conferences held in Oslo and in Nayarit likely hold that no national or international bodies may well handle and ensure necessary humanitarian relief in case a nuclear explosion incident takes place, then it is quite clear that the similar difficulties as a result of toxic chemicals used in Vietnam have been demonstrated in this country already for many years: Although the State and people of Vietnam, with the support of various foreign organizations and individuals, have made great efforts to overcome the consequences of toxic chemicals, those consequences are still very serious, and their ending day is still unknown.
Furthermore, as concluded in Nayarit, Agent Orange victims in Vietnam are the poorest people who have to shoulder greatest difficult time. With more than 3 million people, many families in Vietnam who have 4 to 5 and even more people who are unable to work for a living, even unable to control themselves. This state does not just constitute the pain of the families of the victims themselves, but also creates a burden to society, especially after the passing-away of the parental generation, who leave behind the unsupported ill offspring.
The last point I wish to raise here is, if the Nayarit Conference’s conclusion indicates that there are nowadays more and more countries who decide to deploy nuclear weapons and that the risk of accidental or errornous incidents is more likely to happen, then this conclusion is also right with the chemical weapons, particularly when the production of chemical weapons seems to be more simple and less expensive than that of nuclear weapons.
Therefore, the strict implementation of laws and international treaties on nuclear weapons in particular and mass destruction weapons in general should be considered as a very meaningful matter with practical urgency for humanity to avoid such a disaster as that happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki where Japanese people have suffered, or a disaster caused by Agent Orange that the people of Vietnam have been the victims.
Thank you very much.