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The Challenge of Abolishing Nuclear Weapons

A BOOK REVIEW Edited by David Krieger President of The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, The book presents the views of many scholars and policy analysts. Topics are arranged to progress from history to progress in negotiations, obstructions by nuclear weapons states and finally solutions including the need for a binding "Nuclear Weapons Convention." Can mankind control and abolish this looming threat? This book will further convince you of the urgency and of the efforts being made to accomplish it.

The book was inspired by a conference (of the same name) in San Francisco in 2007.  It was sponsored by the Toda Institute for Global peace and The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.  A very historic and profound statement about nuclear weapons is in the Foreword (and further expanded in appendix A) . This “Toda Declaration,” was conceived by Josei Toda a Japanese Buddhist in 1957.  He proclaimed nuclear weapons to be, “the ultimate evil of mankind, our numbed and remorseless readiness to deprive others of their inviolable right to live.” It remains the guiding principle of the worldwide (twelve million members) peace movement of the Soka Gakkai International.

The credentials, affiliations, topic and main theme of each of the contributing authors of the book are briefly outlined as follows:

David Krieger PhD JD, a Founder and President (from 1982) of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation,  organizer of the  conference,  editor, and first author in the book.

The policy of deterrence is characterized as, “a well promoted delusion.” It has led to proliferation that is uncontrolled by diplomacy, sanctions or military intervention.  Nuclear Weapons are unusable because: of their enormous areas of destruction,  radioactive fallout and atmospheric pollution,  dangerous  because they are controlled by small groups of people with  an impossible short time frame for decision-making,  wastefully expensive (seven and a half trillion dollars),  illegal by judgment of The International Court, immoral and cowardly.  “Those of us alive today are the gatekeepers to the future. It cannot be left to governments or interest groups. Large numbers of people must become informed and active. It is not someone else’s problem, but a shared problem of humanity.”

Laxminarayan Ramdas,   Retired chief of India’s Navy

He cites the United States for ignoring the nonproliferation treaty and continuing to design and build third and fourth generations of new nuclear weapons and for the recent Indo-USA 123 Civil Nuclear Treaty that establishes a dividing line of influence in Asia. He advocates a conference of Nuclear Weapons states to first discuss a “workable management and safety regime” that should then lead to de-alerting and a binding nuclear cease fire.

Wade L. Huntley PhD,   Political Science Berkeley Director Simons Center for Disarmament and Non Proliferation Research University of British Columbia Vancouver.

For nuclear strategists, the existence of nuclear weapons opens a logic of its own, i.e., theories of deterrence and war fighting hold for any “rational" actor.  For nuclear abolitionists, the cataclysmic potential of nuclear warfare renders their use unthinkable and establishes the imperative for nuclear disarmament.

Daniel Elsberg PhD Economics, Harvard   Writer, lecturer and Peace Activist

Over sixty years, nine of ten US presidents have on twenty-five occasions been prepared to use nuclear weapons. “Strategists have lost track of what a nuclear bomb does.”

Sverre Lodgaard,   Director of the Peace Research Institutes in Oslo and Stockholm.  Member of the executive Committee of the Pugwash Conferences.

With the Nuclear Weapons states having failed to control proliferation by economic and political means, it is now time to turn to the Non Proliferation Treaty and finally agree to disarmament (“the peaceful bargain at the heart of the treaty”).

Ved P. Nanda, Law Professor U of Denver, International Legal Studies Officer in multiple American and International Law Societies.

He provides a detailed account of non governmental efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament from Reykjavik onward.  The more recent, “Model Nuclear Weapons Convention,” submitted by Costa Rica in 2007 is highlighted. It has been supported by all non nuclear weapons states.

Jacqueline Cabasso,   Exc Director of The Western States Legal Foundation2009 / books : “US Weapons of Terror, The global Proliferation Crisis" and  "Paths to Peace”

The Hidden Architecture of US Militarism – Cabasso’s excellent overview of current US nuclear policy (becoming   more aggressive in its indications for using nuclear weapons),  details of  ongoing nuclear weapons refurbishing and upgrading and a new unified command structure with nuclear weapons mixed in with conventional weapons with new long range missiles being designed to carry either.  While clearly understanding the momentum of defense and the military industrial complex, Jacqueline Cabasso offers the alternative.

“Nuclear disarmament should serve as the leading edge of a global trend towards demilitarization and redirection of military expenditures to meet human and environmental needs.  The United States government has a special responsibility to take leadership in this massive undertaking."


Erika Simpson  Ph.D. , Toronto University,  currently at University of Western Ontario / Vice Chair of Pugwash Canada

Dr. Simpson points out the change in US policy for using nuclear weapons from primarily a reaction to a hostile act (chemical, biological or nuclear) to one of preemption. This transition was made clear to the public through the (leaked) Nuclear Posture Review of 2002 and the National Security Strategy Report of 2006. From the latter: “To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.”

She predicts that this aggressive stance “will incite an arms race, where many states will seek to deter or preempt by using all types of new weapons, including enhanced radiation weapons, space control satellites and nuclear-survivable communications systems.”

She describes three levels of “deterrence” and the nuclear capability of each:

1)    The United States - most advanced weapons, delivery systems and declared policies for using them.

2)    Britain,  France (Israel) -  2 to 400 warheads each, strategic missiles and submarines

3)    NATO Forces – Belgium, Italy, Germany, Netherlands and Turkey –           100 nuclear gravity bombs and planes to deliver them “under US control”

Commanders and leaders in these latter countries are voicing concerns about whether these weapons are providing security or vulnerability.  The Pentagon’s response: Removing these weapons from NATO will put us on the “slippery slope of disarmament.

Stephen Zunes,   Professor of International Studies at the University ofSan Francisco (Acknowledged Authority on the Middle East)

Professor Zunes presents a detailed account of the complicity of U.S. administrations and both political parties of Congress from 1957 to the present in:

1)     Supplying countries with nuclear technology, reactors, fuel and F-16 planes

2)    Abrogating treaties

3)    Blocking nonproliferation and disarmament negotiations

4)    Pursuing the arbitrary  policy of “nuclear apartheid”

These policies have become increasingly counter- productive, isolating and should be changed to multilateral negotiations and diplomacy.

Jurgen Scheffran ,  Ph.D Physics from Marburg Germany, Currently at University of Illinois / The International Network of Engineers and Scientists against Proliferation (Co founder).

Details of the current, “Model Nuclear Weapons Convention” which he helped to draft with a committee at the 2007 UN Conference of State Parties to the Non Proliferation Treaty

Ronald McCoy MD,  Retired Malaysian Obstetrician / Long time antinuclear activist/ Past President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention

The only nuclear weapons states that are unwilling to agree to a time frame for beginning and concluding the process of eliminating nuclear weapons are The US, Israel, France and Russia.

In a convention, the primary goal is nuclear disarmament using political, technical and legal measures. This focus avoids the current negotiation road blocks of “deterrence” and “proliferation"

Kevin P Clements,   Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia

Overcoming the Politics of Fear / “The doctrines used to justify nuclear weapons are based on worst case scenarios and absurd notions of “deterrence” and “Mutually Assured Destruction.” Their legitimacy has rested on very intentional political manipulation of fear and anxiety much of it through the executive branch  of governments by official security “specialists.”

Douglass Roche ,  Canadian Senator and ambassador for disarmament /  Professor University of Alberta / Author- Last book – “Creative Dissent"

A   World Free of Nuclear Weapons

“The rationale constantly advanced for the possession of nuclear weapons is deceit and an insidious manipulation of public thinking.  We must fully recognize the immediate common danger to ourselves and all humanity and build the architecture to support a nuclear weapons free world.”

Douglass B Shaw  Ph.D,  International Relations Georgetown / Assoc Dean of George Washington University / Lectures on nonproliferation and disarmament

“The sovereignty of States is increasingly jeopardized by depending on nuclear weapons for security. Keeping a monopoly on nuclear weapons has not and will not work. I propose that the careful and timely use of international legal rules in an evolving construction of sovereignty may permit nuclear weapons to be gradually excluded from outcomes of interest in global politics and nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament increasingly institutionalized as essential elements of twenty-first century statehood."

Randy Rydell  Ph.D. in Political Science from Princeton,  He is the senior political officer in the Office of The Representative for Disarmament Affairs at The United Nations.

Dr. Rydell presents a detailed outline of the many disarmament committees and their resolutions starting from the League of Nations in 1919 through the present United Nations. These multilateral efforts now include the following goals:

a)     The total elimination of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.

b)    The reduction of conventional armaments and armed forces to levels sufficient to maintain domestic order and sustain contributions to international peace support operations.

Eventually the obvious advantages of real security through disarmament and the actual relationship (distinction) between nuclear and conventional weapons will ensure that General and Complete Disarmament will remain as the internationally agreed means to finally integrate the various strands of disarmament into a coherent comprehensive framework.

Great book with good conclusion,

Stan Dienst

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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.