We are now engaged in a war in a far off country where poverty is rampant and the people are under the heel of a government which controls by violence with no rule of law. Our troops are there, we are told, because this government possess weapons of mass destruction and is a danger to the United States. It has not been proven that Iraq possesses biological and chemical weapons that pose a serious risk, and it does not have the most destructive nuclear weapons.
Twenty-five years ago, doctors recognized the danger to their patients and tried to educate the public on the consequences of nuclear arms. They were largely successful, and an anti-nuclear movement developed which included people from many countries working internationally and in their own nations. Sadly, most Americans are still unaware of the nuclear danger.
There are no secrets to making nuclear weapons. The genie is out of the bottle, and the intellectual ability to understand the process resides in every country. After working all these years to prevent an accident or purposeful use of the bomb, I have come to realize that proliferation under today’s international circumstances is probably inevitable.
The news that North Korea, a poor and underdeveloped country, has the capacity to build a nuclear weapon or is possibly in possession of several and intends to build more is disheartening. This means that any country on the Earth can duplicate whatthe North Koreans are doing—and may do so. It is personally painful to realize that many people, including myself, have been unsuccessful in their belief that an educated public will demand that their governments eschew the bomb. The South African government has done this and provides an example to the world of an ethical decision that is rare among nations.
Our own country has, in contrast, pursued a policy of proliferation despite being a signatory to treaties created to contain and eliminate weapons. The safeguards for the prevention of a war have unilaterally (by the US) been scrapped. In addition “preemption” is now a government policy. Smaller countries cannot help but feel the danger posed by our actions and our inventory of weapons. The stimulus to obtain nuclear weapons is made clear in the present situation, where we attack a weak country with our overwhelming military might because it is thought by some of our leaders to have a program to build nuclear bombs, and we do nothing with a country (North Korea) which we believe has nuclear capability. Not even diplomatic engagement!
What does this tell other countries, weak and strong alike? That the possession of nuclear technology gives great advantage, enough to face up to any opponent no matter how powerful. The monopoly has been broken, and chaos will ensue.
It is more imperative than ever that we pursue the elimination of nuclear weapons. We have no choice. Armageddon is staring us in the face, and the fate of future generations hangs in the balance. What will you do? I have regrets that I didn’t do more, but one person cannot do this alone.
In my view, the problem resides within us, in our own country. Just as we are the nation that developed nuclear armaments, we must be the ones who dedevelop them. We must follow South Africa’s example and show that our interest lies in peace and cooperation.
The Earth may be divided by oceans and time and by artificial lines drawn on a map, but technology has made this one world, and what affects one quickly affects all. The rapid spread of Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome is a prime example of illness and financial disaster that simultaneously affects many nations though separated by wide stretches of sea and land.
This then is a political question that we here must answer. Do we have leaders who have a comprehensive intelligence of how others live and struggle? Can they comprehend how to solve problems through discourse and peaceful procedures rather than nuclear weapons? Because hopefully we can still elect these leaders, it serves our interests that our people are better informed. This is a monumental task. While we speak mostly to those who agree with us, we need leaders who can speak to the mass of citizens. There is great ignorance out there. Hopefully, that will not be corrected by some catastrophic accident rather than by education. Our job is to save the species.