At a recent international conference in Norway on the humanitarian impact of nuclear detonations, consensus emerged that the immediate humanitarian emergency created by a nuclear explosion—whether military, terrorist, or accidental—cannot be adequately prepared for. The conference also reached consensus on a related issue: Though it would be most severe in the country where it occurred, a detonation's impact would spread across borders and persist over the long term.
In the developed world, concerns about nuclear detonations tend to focus on terrorist attacks against wealthy countries. But even if that were the form that a detonation took, developing nations far from the bomb site would suffer. As documented in a recent study by the disarmament program Reaching Critical Will, disasters of various types exacerbate development challenges that range from poverty reduction to establishing gender equality. With Mexico planning to host a follow-up to the Norway conference early next year, Siddharth Mallavarapu of India, Jaime Aguirre Gómez of Mexico, and Robert Mtonga of Zambia address the following questions: How might a nuclear detonation affect poor and middle-income nations' efforts to achieve development goals—and how can development issues best be incorporated into arguments that nuclear weapons must be abolished?