While the Trump administration seeks to greatly enlarge the United States nuclear weapons arsenal, Chesapeake PSR continues to build its program to advocate for nuclear disarmament.
There are about 15,000 nuclear weapons worldwide. Russia and the United States have the largest stockpiles, with 4,300 and 4,000 weapons, respectively. Some 1,800 weapons are on “hair-trigger alert,” meaning they can be launched in 15 minutes or less. President Trump reportedly wants to increase the U.S. nuclear stockpile to more than 30,000.
Even a limited regional nuclear war would result in cataclysmic environmental and public health consequences. Worldwide crop production would decline by 20 percent in five years, causing a global famine and putting two billion people at risk of severe malnutrition. Alternatively, the $57.6 billion the U.S. spent on nuclear programs in 2016 could provide health insurance for 3.4 million families.
In October, Chesapeake PSR, working with national PSR, held a speaker-training workshop in Baltimore for people interested in speaking to small groups on nuclear issues; and also in October, Chesapeake PSR members visited Dr. Lowell Schwartz, senior staff member on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee for Maryland's Senator Ben Cardin to express their concerns about U.S. nuclear weapons policy.
Chesapeake PSR has launched a petition asking Maryland’s congressional delegation to support a freeze on spending on nuclear weapons, to back U.S. ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and to support the Markey-Lieu bill (S 200, HR 669), which would prohibit a U.S. president from launching a first-strike nuclear weapon without congressional approval.
The United Nations treaty, adopted in early July, called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. The pact followed a decade of advocacy led by the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in October. Chesapeake PSR President Gwen DuBois, MD, MPH, was among those who lobbied international delegates in New York before the historic vote.
Responding to claims that the weapons are needed for international security, Dr. DuBois wrote in a recent Baltimore Sun editorial that deterrence was “just a theory": "We are spending $1 trillion over 30 years to modernize the fleet. Does threatening North Korea with nuclear weapons make them less likely to use their weapons or does it have the opposite effect? Could we even use these against the North without killing civilians in both Koreas?”
The U.S. and eight other nuclear nations – Russia, France, England, Israel, North Korea, China, India and Pakistan – boycotted the treaty negotiations.
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