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Local View: Is a nuclear-free world still possible?

Thursday and today mark the 70th anniversaries of our using nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For seven decades, the world has lived with the threat of nuclear holocaust. Isn't it time we stopped this madness and finally abolished nuclea...

Thursday and today mark the 70th anniversaries of our using nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For seven decades, the world has lived with the threat of nuclear holocaust. Isn’t it time we stopped this madness and finally abolished nuclear weapons?
We are the nation that created these weapons of mass destruction and are the only nation ever to use them against civilian targets. Perhaps we should take responsibility for them by actively working for their abolition instead of restarting a new arms race.
President Barack Obama began office advocating for a nuclear-free world. But his administration’s proposed 2015 budget increases spending on nuclear weapons systems by 6 percent, or by $445 million. A new $687 million, 1.5 million-square-foot “National Security Campus” was just completed in Kansas City. Upgrades in other nuclear facilities are planned or are underway. The total cost is estimated to be $1 trillion in the next 30 years.
We have an obligation under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to make good-faith efforts to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons. As our spending and nuclear modernization programs clearly demonstrate, we have not honored this treaty obligation.
People have been advocating for the abolition of nuclear weapons since 1946. The 2007 United Nations Nuclear Weapons Convention is a detailed plan to begin abolishing nuclear weapons. All countries would be prohibited from pursuing or participating in the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear countries would be obligated to destroy their arsenals in a series of phases. The U.S. has not signed this treaty.
Nuclear weapons do not deter potential enemies or keep us safe. They do not work for terrorists, suicide bombers or “rogue states.”  It is questionable whether deterrence worked with the Russians during the Cold War.
Gen. George Lee Butler, head of Strategic Nuclear Forces from 1991-94 said it well: “It is my profound conviction that nuclear weapons did not, and will not, of themselves prevent major war. To the contrary, I am persuaded that the presence of these hideous devices unnecessarily prolonged and intensified the Cold War. In today’s security environment, threats of their employment have been fully exposed as neither credible nor of any military utility.”
Nuclear weapons are a threat to the safety of everyone. Given the power of nuclear weapons, the environmental damage caused by their production and the record of accidents involving them, this is not just rhetoric. Their existence makes disasters possible. Just having them makes their use possible, whether intentionally or by accident. They are not worth the cost or the risk.
A nuclear-free world is possible. But citizen action will be required to end nuclear weapons. We must demand an end to the madness.
Philip Anderson of Maple is a member of Veterans for Peace, Chapter 80, Duluth-Superior. Veterans for Peace is a national organization with 140 local chapters that advocates for reduced military spending, avoiding military interventions in other countries, eliminating nuclear weapons and abolishing war.

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