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Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation Why Demand Nuclear Abolition Now - Talking Points

In the midst of the ongoing slaughter in Iraq, why focus on a call for nuclear abolition?

• The war machine invokes “nuclear proliferation” to manipulate public fears, to get buy-in for empire-building U.S. policies of war and threatened war. Yet the threatened first use of nuclear weapons, the only true “weapons of mass destruction,” plays a central role in U.S. militarism and empire. Almost every President since Harry Truman – a Democrat – ordered the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, has prepared and threatened to initiate nuclear attacks during international crises and wars. Again and again, the U.S. has used nuclear weapons the way a robber uses a gun pointed at someone’s head, even if the trigger is never pulled.

• Add to this the Bush policy of preventive war, the military threats against Iran and North Korea’s suspected nuclear weapons programs, a sizable and sophisticated undeclared Israeli nuclear arsenal in the volatile Middle East, the simmering conflict between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, the ongoing nuclear standoff between Russia and the United States, and the possibility of terrorist acquisition, and the risk of use of nuclear weapons is higher than it has been in decades.

• U.S. nuclear weapons spending has grown by 84% since 1995 - six years after the Cold War ended. This year the U.S. will spend nearly $7 billion to maintain and modernize nuclear warheads, useable for decades to come, and many billions more to operate and modernize their means of delivery. Altogether, the U.S. is spending about $40 billion annually on nuclear forces. Ten thousand nuclear warheads - two thousand on hair-trigger alert, remain in the U.S. arsenal, each one many times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped 60 year ago.

• The NPT prohibits almost all states from acquiring nuclear weapons, and in return requires the United States and other nuclear-armed countries to negotiate the elimination of their nuclear arsenals. But sixteen years after the end of the Cold War, there are still nearly thirty thousand nuclear weapons in the world.

• The treaty-allergic Bush administration also opposes the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; and negotiated an arms reduction agreement with Russia - the Moscow Treaty - that contains no verification requirements. The administration has thus abandoned the decades-old process aimed at controlling and eventually eliminating nuclear arsenals globally.

Indigenous people have born the brunt of health and environmental damage caused by uranium mining, nuclear weapons testing and production wherever it has taken place. Further, radioactive and toxic contamination has damaged the health of tens of thousands of workers and people living near nuclear facilities in the United States and other nuclear weapons states, and has put at risk our earth and water. Ongoing nuclear weapons activities compound these health and environmental crises.

• If the most powerful country that has ever existed asserts the right to use nuclear weapons to ensure its security, we shouldn’t be surprised to see other countries follow suit. As responsible global citizens, we must demand a more sustainable concept of universal security based on human and ecological needs.

May 2005


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