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Doomsday Clock makes an ominous move

Asheville Citizen Times, Guest Column, Feb. 13, 2015 Lewis Patrie, M.D. 3:03 p.m. EST February 13, 2015


Last month The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists released its latest “Doomsday Clock”. It moved the symbolic minute hand to two minutes to midnight. The clock represents the countdown to zero to nuclear apocalypse. The bulletin noted that nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals threaten existence of humanity. World leaders have failed to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures endanger every person on earth.

What effects have deteriorating US-Russian relations played in the global threat from nuclear weapons?
In January The Guardian published, “US and Russia in danger of returning to era of nuclear rivalry”, citing increased tension which “comes at a time when the arms control efforts of the post-cold-war era are losing momentum”. Contrary to earlier trends “the number of strategic nuclear warheads deployed by the US and Russia actually increased last year, and both countries are spending many billions of dollars a year modernizing their arsenals”.

How has the United States progressed with its obligations under the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty requiring each participant to work toward elimination of nuclear weapons?
Not well. Despite candidate Obama’s 2008 pledge to work toward their elimination, last year the New York Times reported President Obama had initiated a 30-year, $1 trillion “revitalization” plan for the nuclear weapons systems of the United States, including nuclear warheads as well as the intercontinental bombers, submarines, and land-based missiles. For example, eight of our Trident Submarine fleet can be armed with a total of over 1500 thermonuclear warheads. Each warhead has an explosive force of up to 30 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb. This would constitute only one part of our nation’s proposed nuclear revitalization plan.

What roles do mega-corporations play regarding our nuclear weapons? Mega-corporations perpetuate large nuclear weapons expenditures. Billions are provided annually for nuclear weapons. In this month’s Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Robert Alvarez, senior policy adviser to the Energy Department’s secretary for national security and the environment from 1993 to 1999, quoted a Government Accounting Office’s 1996 report. The report stated US nuclear weapons complex has operated for decades on a philosophy called “least interference”. This management was based on an “undocumented policy of blind faith in its contractors’ performance”. He noted that in 2014, the recently formed “Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise” consisted largely of individuals with close ties to military weapons producing firms including Lockheed Martin Corporation and Sandia Corporation which manages the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons facilities. Not surprisingly, they argued for less government monitoring and safety regulations.

Locally, Move to Amend of Buncombe County, working with national <>, pursues ending the legalized corruption whereby corporations are allowed to conduct unlimited lobbying to enhance their profits, regardless of other consequences. This requires a constitutional amendment ending corporate “personhood”.

WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility is concerned about the immense humanitarian consequences from even a limited nuclear war.

Contact President Obama, your senators and congressional representatives. Request that they eliminate corporate personhood and establish nuclear weapons management policies that make good sense.

Lewis Patrie M.D. is a member of Western North Carolina Chapter, Physicians for Social Responsibility. This article was co-authored by Terry Clark, M.D. and Robert Howarth, M.S.E, who are also members.

Mission Statement

PREVENTING WHAT WE CANNOT CURE: Physicians for Social Responsibility is the medical and public health voice working to prevent the use or spread of nuclear weapons and to slow, stop and reverse global warming and the toxic degradation of the environment.