EU boosting stockpile of iodine pills and nuclear protective gear

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Brussels has accelerated plans designed to improve the EU’s health response in case of a nuclear incident following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to EU officials. The European commission is seeking to encourage EU members to stockpile iodine pills, protective suits and other medicine.

It is also working on ways to deal with possible chemical and biological attacks after the US warned that Russia could use such weapons in Ukraine. A commission spokesman said: “The commission is working to ensure it enhances preparedness in the area of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear threats (CRBN) generally, and this predates the war in Ukraine.”

The move comes as Vladimir Putin, Russian president, put his nuclear weapons forces on high alert. Earlier this month pharmacies in countries including Belgium, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic ran out of iodine pills after Russian forces targeted and damaged a Ukrainian atomic power station.

The attack prompted warnings about the risks if a radioactive leak spreads across the continent. Such leaks release radioactive iodine, which concentrates in the thyroid gland when it is inhaled and can lead to cancer. Potassium iodine tablets saturate the gland with iodine, preventing the absorption of the radioactive material.

Photo – Iodine tablets lie in a box in a college in Fessenheim, France. EPA-EFE/PATRICK SEEGER

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