Monday, December 21, 2020, 09:06 (GMT+7)
Issues on banning nuclear weapons and preventing radiation and nuclear incidents

At present, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), or the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, is still functioned; however, there remains the danger of nuclear weapons and nuclear, radiation incidents not only in wars but also in the development of each nation, including Viet Nam. Therefore, it is important to find solutions to actively prevent and cope with nuclear weapons and effectively respond to radiation and nuclear incidents.

Since the US detonated two nuclear bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the World War II, killing hundreds of thousands of people, the human race has been in danger of being devastated by nuclear wars. In addition, there exist the danger of radiation spread by terrorists and incidents by nuclear power plants or nuclear powered vehicles, which can spread radiation pollution and cause serious consequences for economy, environment, and human health. Acutely aware of that issue, the international community has struggled to prohibit developing, testing, manufacturing, possessing, transferring, using nuclear weapons, while gradually striving for the destruction of such dangerous weapons. Nevertheless, up to now, the number of nations possessing nuclear weapons has increased, instead of decreasing. More dangerously, some countries have taken advantage of the achievements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to accelerate research, development and modernisation of their nuclear arsenals and make their nuclear weapons "smarter" and more powerful, while seeking ways to avoid the supervision of international law. Besides, a number of countries, including those in the region, have built nuclear power plants; the risk of radioactive leakage and emission due to incidents, such as in Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, in 2011, has therefore increased. The above-mentioned situation imposes an urgent requirement on us to actively build and consolidate our potentials in all aspects, and improve our ability to prevent nuclear weapons and effectively respond to radiation and nuclear incidents, and minimise human and material losses, for the sake of national construction and protection. Due to the destructiveness of nuclear weapons and agents caused by radiation incidents, it is necessary to proactively mobilise the whole country’s resources and strength in which the Military shall play the core role.

To realise that goal, first of all, it is necessary to foster the work of propaganda and education relating to chemical defence in general and the prevention of nuclear weapons in particular. Doing so will help improve the awareness and responsibility of all branches, social organisations and people towards this important task, create a favorable condition to mobilise resources for the prevention of nuclear weapons and radiation and nuclear incidents on a national scale. To make this solution more effective, in addition to including it in basic political education programmes and defence-security education courses, ministries, agencies and localities should actively cooperate with press agencies in propagating the dangers, strengths and weaknesses of nuclear weapons, disseminating our Party and State's viewpoints and policies on the prevention of nuclear proliferation, and improving public awareness and individual ability to self-protect when radiation and nuclear incidents occur. In the process, importance should be attached to avoiding absolutising the power of nuclear weapons or exaggerating risks of radiation or nuclear incidents, which will possibly lead to psychological confusion within the society. Emphasis should be placed on rendering the international community fully aware of Vietnam's consistent policy to support the comprehensive disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. However, it is vital to underline States’ right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Doing so will contribute to enhancing our country's status in the international arena and taking advantage of technical, economic, commercial cooperation to raise our capabilities in preventing and fighting against nuclear weapons as well as responding to radiation and nuclear incidents on a national scale.

Secondly, it is necessary to proactively accurately anticipate the situation and especially grasp information about weapons of mass destruction and radiation and nuclear incidents to develop forces, posture, and responsive plan comprehensively. This is an important and fundamental solution to minimise the damage caused by nuclear weapons and radiation and nuclear incidents. To that end, competent agencies, particularly the Chemical Corps, should actively correctly assess the development of weapons of mass destruction in the region and the world, enemies’ conspiracy, tricks, technical measures, tactics, and method to use nuclear weapons in future wars as well as the risks of chemical, biological, radiation and nuclear incidents, especially the danger of radioactive spread into our country due to the leakage of a nuclear power plant in the region. Based on such assessments, they should give advice to the Party and State on measures for building chemical forces and defence posture, particularly in strategic and key areas and plans to prevent and cope with nuclear weapons, and respond to nuclear, radiation incidents and terrorist attacks. Agencies under the Ministry of National Defence and the Chemical Corps should review the implementation of the State’s regulations on preventing and coping with nuclear weapons and responding to nuclear, radiation incidents in order to create a legal corridor for formulating plans and mobilising forces and means, perfecting the mechanism of leadership and command over the prevention of nuclear weapons and nuclear, radiation incidents, and clearly defining the responsibilities of different forces and the regulations on operations, command, and coordination in responding to and overcoming incidents.

In the organisation and operation of provincial and municipal defensive zones, localities should focus on building a solid, mobile, flexible, and appropriate chemical defence posture so as to both minimise losses inflicted by enemy nuclear weapons and actively respond to nuclear and radiation incidents. At the same time, attention should be paid to enhancing drills on responding to and overcoming nuclear and radiation incidents in line with defensive zone exercises, and improving the ability to command and use forces in response to incidents in peacetime and in the event.

Thirdly, significance should be attached to developing human resources and maintaining readiness to respond to nuclear radiation incidents in all situations. To proactively deal with potential risks, it is important to consolidate the organisational structure of the chemical force in each agency and unit, ensuring that it is consistent with the Military’s organisational planning in the new situation. In this regard, great weight should be added to completing the organisational structure of the Centres for responding to toxic chemical, radioactive and nuclear incidents in the North, the Central and the South, the ASEAN Environmental Remediation Team, and the National Action Centre for Toxic Chemicals and Environmental Treatment (NACCET). Priority should be given to building a contingent of chemical cadres at all levels with strong political will, good foreign language and information technology skills, professional competence, advisory and managerial capabilities, and great capacity command and maintain coordination in combat and incident response.

To meet the task requirements, functional agencies should have appropriate remuneration policies to attract, keep and promote a contingent of highly qualified cadres, while diversifying forms of training and especially taking advantage of the assistance from international organisations and our partners in transferring technologies for manufacturing chemical equipment. Attention should also be paid to raising the quality of training and exercises, enhancing the capacity to command and control incident response amongst cadres, especially commanders who are in charge of responding to toxic chemical, radioactive and nuclear incidents, and providing intensive training for specialised forces so that they will be capable of handling complex domestic situations and ready to participate in regional and international tasks when needed. In addition, agencies, units, and localities should concentrate on organising training courses for part-time chemical defence forces, militia and self-defence force, and the entire population on measures to minimise the harmful effects of radioactive elements so as to satisfy the requirements set by initial response and mitigation within each locality.

Fourthly, attention should be paid to stepping up scientific and technological research and application and fostering international cooperation in preventing and fighting against the use of nuclear weapons, and responding to nuclear and radiation incidents. Currently, military science and technology, especially the robust development of nuclear and atomic science, have opened up opportunities for and posed challenges to the prevention of nuclear weapons and radiation incidents. Hence, competent agencies, particularly the Chemical Corps, should focus on conducting researches, building radioactive database, and anticipating damage caused by the enemy use of nuclear weapons at tactical, operational and strategic levels as well as by radiation and nuclear incidents in order to develop response plans and automated command and control systems for commanders in case of emergency. Great value should also be attached to investing in the procurement of synchronous, integrated, modern equipment and means and improving their reliability and capability to operate in the hard environment. It is also necessary to focus on modern technologies, such as AI, automation, new materials, Internet of Things, nanotechnology, and 3D printing to modernise the available production chain for chemical equipment, UAV, reconnaissance, search and rescue robots, and equipment for radiation reconnaissance and cleaning.

Furthermore, it is essential to strengthen international cooperation in order to share information, mobilise resources, and receive the transfer of technologies, techniques and experience in nuclear weapons prevention and control and in response to nuclear and radiation incidents from other countries with advanced science and technology. It is also important to take advantage of the assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other international organisations in training cadres and enhancing our capacity to ensure national radiation security and safety and incident response. Last but not least, due regard should be paid to actively participating in international exercises and defence dialogue mechanisms as well as in the activities of the ASEAN Committee for Disaster Management (ACDM) and the Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) to contribute to raising the country’s status in the international arena, preventing wars, and protecting the Fatherland from afar.

Sr. Col. NGUYEN DINH HIEN, Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of the Chemical Corps

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