A World Free From Nuclear Weapons
The last few years have felt disappointing for those of us advocating for a nuclear weapons-free world. U.S. policies, weapons systems, budgets, and relations with nuclear-armed states have all maintained an unacceptable status quo, or gotten significantly worse. Reflecting this, as well as the overall state of the world, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock stands at 90 seconds to midnight, its most dire position ever. Going forward, Peace Action is emphasizing pressure on the president and Congress to reject the nuclear business as usual in favor of leadership to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons.
A president has a responsibility to protect the country, and the world, from nuclear catastrophe. President Biden has acted with some success to protect the U.S. populace from COVID, economic inequality, and climate catastrophe. Peace Action will make the case he needs to do more to protect us from nuclear dangers, with pressure from the public and concerned members of Congress.
Peace Action is participating in and helping lead several collaborative efforts with nuclear disarmament allies and with Congressional leaders as well as some in the Biden Administration. Additionally, we’re helping recruit more U.S. grassroots and international colleagues to join in collaborations on policy advocacy, communications, and organizing for nuclear disarmament. With Congress, Peace Action will work more closely with the congressional Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group, headed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and John Garamendi (D-CA).
As to the Biden Administration, while it has been disappointing in mostly promoting the nuclear status quo, the president himself has stated progress on nuclear diplomacy with Russia must get back on track despite strained relations including the war in Ukraine. Peace Action will push the administration to engage in diplomacy with Russia, but also to take internal steps to improve nuclear weapons policy. Joe Biden probably knows more about nuclear weapons, overall national security policy, diplomacy, and treaties than perhaps any previous U.S. president. Should he choose, with sufficient grassroots pressure, to use that vast experience to lead on nuclear disarmament, he would likely have broad public support to do so. At a minimum, re-instituting New START inspections with Russia needs urgent attention, but further reductions in strategic arsenals as well as adopting a no-first-use policy and ending sole authority for a president to initiate a nuclear war must also be on the table.
Stop a New Nuclear Arms Race
We’re working to stop the expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal that began under President Obama, escalated under President Trump, and continues today. This so-called “modernization” program is really a euphemism for rebuilding our nuclear arsenal from head to toe, at an estimated cost of $1.7 trillion (that’s $1,700,000,000,000) over the next three decades. Not only can our nation not afford this absurd price tag, this escalation is also contributing to a new nuclear arms race between all the nuclear weapons states, but particularly the U.S., Russia, and China, making the whole world less safe.
To address this threat, we’re working to raise public and congressional opposition to this ill-advised escalation, and working to cut funding for the most destabilizing aspects of the expansion. In that vein, we’re supporting legislation known as the SANE Act, introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and named after Peace Action’s founding organization, the Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy, which would cut a modest but critical $100 billion from this nuclear weapons spending spree over the next ten years.
Protect and Promote Nuclear Diplomacy
From the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to the New Start Treaty to the Iran nuclear agreement and others, we’re working to ensure that the U.S. lives up to its commitments under treaties and agreements we’ve already signed onto. Trump’s foolish withdrawal from the Iran Anti-Nuclear agreement needs to be reversed by President Biden; the withdrawal has decreased regional and global security, bad in and of itself but also an example of how trashing diplomatic achievements serves no one.
We’re also encouraging the U.S. to participate in further nuclear weapons reduction diplomacy with Russia (even more crucial now with tensions so high over the war in Ukraine) and other nuclear-armed nations to accelerate the reduction of the world’s nuclear arsenals and take steps to decrease the threat of nuclear war. Unfortunately, the U.S. and other nuclear-armed states boycotted the successful United Nations effort to negotiate the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, but that didn’t stop Peace Action and nearly 100 of the world’s nations from supporting and passing it through the U.N. General Assembly.
The resolution urges the President and Congress to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by supporting common-sense policies, including:
– Actively pursuing and concluding negotiations on a new, bilateral nuclear arms control and disarmament framework agreement with the Russian Federation before 2026 and pursuing negotiations with China and other nuclear-armed states on an agreement or agreements for the verifiable, enforceable, and time-bound elimination of global nuclear arsenals;
– Renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;
– Ending the President’s sole authority to launch a nuclear attack;
– Taking the nuclear weapons of the United States off hair-trigger alert;
– Canceling the plan to replace the nuclear arsenal of the United States with modernized, enhanced weapons.
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