Chesapeake PSR

Supporting a nuclear weapons ban

Peace and Social JusticeTimothy WhitehouseComment

The world has already outlawed biological and chemical weapons, and land mines and cluster bombs – why not nuclear weapons? The use of nuclear weapons would cause global destruction and chaos on a scale incomparable to any other weapon. The use of less than half a percent of the world’s stockpile, for example, could result in a billion people facing starvation around the world. 

Members of the United Nations (UN) have drafted a treaty to outlaw the use of these weapons. Negotiations on the final language of this treaty are taking place in New York from June 15 to July 7. While the issue has received little attention in the United States, there is overwhelming support for the UN’s effort to ban nuclear weapons around the world.

Unfortunately, the United States and the eight other nuclear-armed states are boycotting the negotiations and are proceeding to upgrade their nuclear arsenals.

Chesapeake PSR showed its support for the draft treaty at the "Women's March to Ban the Bomb" in New York on June 17. Chesapeake PSR President Gwen DuBois, MD, MPH, spent June 19-23 at the UN as a citizen’s lobbyist. Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Executive Director Jeff Carter moderated a side event, "The Road Back to the Nuclear Brink," outlining the most troubling aspects of the new nuclear arms race. PSR Security Committee Co-Chair Ira Helfand, MD, will present at a June 27 side event on "The Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons."

Even without the participation of the United States and other nuclear states, some 130 nations are expected to sign the ban treaty, which will serve to further stigmatize nuclear weapons. Our role at PSR is to advocate for a fundamental change in U.S nuclear weapons policy and stop the current U.S. drive to spend 1.2 trillion over the next 30 years on "the nuclear weapons enterprise."

You can read PSR's June 15 press statement denouncing the U.S. boycott.

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