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The Threat of Nuclear War Is an Ever-Present Existential Threat to Our Survival: Our Work Is Essential

A Review of What PSR-Arizona, PSR National and International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) Are Working on to Prevent a Nuclear Disaster

Offered by David Spence, Chair of the Board of the AZ chapter of PSR

The Arizona Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility continues its work and mission to address one of the greatest threats to our survival, working along with PSR National and International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) to end the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war.

We invite members and supporters to join us in these efforts. The threat of nuclear war is not waning; it is greater today than any time during the Cold War. Nine nations (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea) now have nuclear weapons, together possessing 13,400 warheads.

In the U.S., national legislation is focused primarily on the nation’s nuclear arsenal, which currently consists of 3,800 nuclear bombs/warheads. These are deployed on three legs of our nuclear “triad”: 400 silo-based ICBMs; 66 strategic bombers, which carry both gravity bombs and cruise missiles; and 14 nuclear-powered submarines carrying 280 ballistic missiles. Russia and China are matching these aspects of the arms race.

Sociological research shows that when at least 3.5% of the population is committed to and actively engaged in a non-violent campaign, it almost always wins. Please join us in Arizona and nationally to strengthen PSR’s long-standing commitment to eliminate these true weapons of mass destruction.

When at least 3.5% of the population is committed to and actively engaged in a non-violent campaign, it almost always wins.

5 Important Steps

The five elements listed below in the fight to end nuclear proliferation and war (to bring us “Back from the Brink” of a nuclear catastrophe), are important steps that the Biden Administration and Congress can take today to move the world away from a nuclear holocaust, whether by design or by accident.

  1. Pursue global elimination;
  2. Renounce first use;
  3. End sole authority;
  4. End hair-trigger alert; and
  5. Cancel current plans to upgrade and enhance our nuclear arsenal.

Currently, proposed U.S. legislation addresses elements 2, 3, and 4 — renounce first use; end sole authority; and end hair-trigger alerts. This legislation dealing with the US nuclear arsenal can be followed at www.psr.org/nwatracker. The arsenal enhancement (element 5) was started during the Obama Administration and has continued up to the present budget cycle under President Biden, in which all three legs of our triad of warheads and delivery systems are to be upgraded and enhanced over the next three decades to the tune of $1.7 trillion. In turn, Russia and China are matching this nuclear arms race.

How to Get Involved

Locally, PSR-Arizona participates in weekly protests at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson. The city’s largest employer, the Raytheon facility near the airport produces nuclear missile components. It is a major supplier of these components, with government contracts valued in the billions. Contact me at ds0268@gmail.com to learn more.

At the PSR national level, we are focused on the above “Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War” (www.preventnuclearwar.org), a grassroots campaign that seeks the abolition of nuclear weapons as well as a fundamental change in U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

PSR-Arizona is not alone in its support of “Back to the Brink”: the City of Tucson is one of the 56 municipalities that have adopted resolutions in support of this effort to save the world from nuclear weapons, doing so in August 2019.

PSR, active in nuclear disarmament through its membership in IPPNW (www.ippnw.org), joined forces with the International Committee on Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to help organize and pass the TPNW treaty (www.icanw.org).

At the international level we promote the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which is element 1 above. Passed in January 2021, 122 nations signed the historic treaty and 56 have now ratified it. None of the nine nuclear states, including the U.S., has signed the treaty, which bans nuclear weapons in the same manner as biological and chemical weapons.

To date, the U.S. has boycotted and stymied any implementation of the TPNW treaty. Let’s request the Biden Administration join our NATO ally, Norway, in sending an observer to the first meeting of the signees next March 22-24. The treaty outlines procedures and protocols for the nine nuclear-armed nations to come into compliance “in a multilateral, verifiable and irrevocable fashion.”

The nuclear arms race to oblivion is fueled by powerful, moneyed players — the arms merchants and their campaign financing efforts.

Two Important Past Treaties

There have been other treaties. The first, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), has been in force since 1970. The U.S. ratified this treaty, which requires all participating nations to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date, etc.” Judge for yourself if the U.S. is complying.

The next periodic review of this treaty is scheduled for January 4-28, 2022.

The other treaty is the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), opened for ratification in 1996. Russia has ratified CTBT; the U.S. and China have not. This is another issue that we need to encourage President Biden to address. CTBT bans nuclear weapons test explosions.   While it has not formally come into force, the United Nations Agency set up through the CTBT monitors the explosions ban provision through a global array of monitoring stations located in more than 89 countries (170 seismic, 80 radionuclide, 60 infrasound and 11 hydroacoustic stations).

The Only REAL Solution

To ensure the safety of the world’s population and the earth itself, we need to remember the challenges we face to end the threat: The nuclear arms race to oblivion is fueled by powerful, moneyed players — the arms merchants and their campaign financing efforts.

President Ronald Reagan said it best in his 1984 State of the Union address: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But, then, would it not be better to do away with them entirely?”

Let’s ask President Biden to submit the CTBT to the Senate for ratification and ratify the TPNW now!