Is Switzerland Preparing Its Citizens for Nuclear Conflict?

A pack of iodide tablets. (Photo by Fabian Sommer/picture alliance/Getty Images)

Readers may want to stock up on Toblerone bars, high-end watches, and emmental cheese—at least if recent rumors that the Swiss government is preparing its population for a potential nuclear conflict are to be believed. 

A viral Facebook video posted by Alternative Media Television (AMTV) warnsviewers that the Swiss government’s recent distribution of iodine tablets signals fear in the country of an imminent nuclear conflict. AMTV, which is run by self-described media personality Christopher Greene, has almost 300,000 followers on its Facebook page and more than 680,000 YouTube subscribers. Greene’s website features a multitude of videos covering topics such as prepping, financial markets, cryptocurrency, and international affairs. It also features a store where he sells prepping and emergency equipment including nonperishable foods, water filtration devices, and solar generators.

In the video, Greene reveals that a subscriber tipped him off to a startling development in Switzerland—the country’s government had recently distributed millions of iodine tablets to substantial numbers of its citizens. “There’s 5 million Swiss that have received iodine tablets in the mail yesterday, actually today, the 25th of October, 2023,” Greene remarks. Use of potassium iodine is often recommended during radiation emergencies—such as in a nuclear power plant accident—because it can prevent a user’s thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine.

According to Greene, the tablets were supposedly distributed only to citizens in close proximity to nuclear power plants, but he argues that this is not the full story. “Now look, you can let your cognitive dissonance seep into your soul right now and pretend like this isn’t happening, but it is,” Greene says. “We are literally at a nuclear World War III,” he remarks later on.

But iodine tablets have been distributed within Switzerland for decades, and the claim that the current round of distributions was triggered by fear of nuclear war is baseless. On October 16, the Swiss government announced it would be issuing new iodine tablets in certain areas. “Iodine tablets are one of the Swiss Confederation’s precautionary measures to protect the population in the event of a major accident at one of the country’s nuclear power plants,” the announcement reads. “The tablets are issued every ten years to all persons living within 50 kilometres of a Swiss nuclear power plant,” and will be distributed to households between mid-October and mid-November, replacing tablets from 2014 that are due to expire.

According to the Bern-based news organization Swissinfo, 5 million people in 779 Swiss municipalities across 12 cantons—the rough equivalent of U.S. states—will be supplied with the tablets. Bloomberg reported that the distribution program will cost 34 million Swiss francs, some of which is financed directly by nuclear power plant operators.

Iodine tablet distribution occurs approximately every 10 years as stipulated by Articles 20 and 47 of the country’s Radiation Protection Act (Strahlenschutzgesetz) passed in March 1991.

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