To the Editor:
In September 2019, I attended a meeting “Nuclear Disarmament Now: What can we do?” Prior to this meeting, this issue was not at the top of my agenda. However, after hearing the speakers and reviewing the information provided, I became aware of the urgency of taking action and informing others about an impending crisis that impacts us as individuals and our earth.
In January 2017, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reset the hands of the Doomsday clock to two minutes to midnight. “The danger cannot be overstated,” said the scientists. A growing number of military and policy experts including those from the far right are calling for the United States to take concrete steps toward complete nuclear disarmament. They are saying our nuclear arsenal makes us less secure, not more secure.
On July 7, 2017, on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly, 122 nations voted to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The treaty bans the use, threatened use, possession, development, production, testing deployment or transfer of nuclear weapons under international law. It will enter into legal force once 50 nations have signed and ratified it. As of November 2019, 80 nations have signed the treaty and 34 have ratified it. The United States has not signed the treaty.
While many think North Korea (or maybe Iran in view of recent events) may be the most imminent nuclear threat to us, the greatest threat to our security is our nuclear weapons, which we use to threaten others and they use to justify their own nuclear ambitions.
Recent legislation that has been introduced includes a resolution “Embracing the Goals and Provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” (HR 302) calls on the president to align U.S. policy with the goals of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of national security policy.
“Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2019” (HR 669 and SB 200) would require a declaration of war from Congress in order to launch a nuclear first strike. The requirement would not apply in the event of a nuclear attack on the United States or its allies. HR 921 and SB 272 would establish U.S. policy to not use nuclear weapons first. For more information, contact Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (www.ananuclear.org) or Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (www.orepa.org).
Please contact your legislators in Congress asking whether they support any of the proposed legislation and urge others to do the same. Now is the time; we must stand up to be heard. Our future demands an end to nuclear armament now.
Mary A. Herr