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This week marks the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan August 6th and 9th, respectively, killing a quarter of a million people. For two generations since these horrific nuclear explosions, mankind has lived both in fear and with a thin, false sense of security that these weapons make us safe.
We have allowed massive global nuclear arsenals to build to a point of placing the survival of the planet itself in peril. Recognizing this danger, a significant majority of citizens around the world want to see the elimination of all nuclear weapons. For years their efforts and that of countless organizations have worked to bring awareness to the dangers posed by these weapons and build the political will to eliminate them. At this time of remembrance we must redouble our efforts to make this vision a reality.
We are presently at a crossroads in the nuclear age. Events over the past two years have intensified the efforts to acknowledge the will of the people and begin the difficult work to eliminate global nuclear arsenals. International and bi-partisan calls for this process are increasing daily. In January 2007 the “Gang of Four”—former US Senator Sam Nunn, President Clinton’s Secretary of Defense, William Perry, President Reagan’s Secretary of State, George P. Shultz, and President Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger—called on the U.S. to take the international leadership role to eliminate nuclear weapons. The International Mayors for Peace with their 2020 Vision Campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 2020 and the Global Zero Campaign of international leaders headed by Queen Noor all add dramatic energy to this process. These efforts culminated April 5th in Prague when President Obama articulated “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
Subsequently President Obama has engaged Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in groundbreaking efforts—laying a bold agenda to turn the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons into a reality.
While the work will not be easy, the dangers of not pursuing this goal are far greater. As we continue these efforts, there are many steps to be taken. These include:
~Negotiate a strong, meaningful treaty with Russia to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expires in December ‘09, and send it to the Senate for ratification.
~Encourage Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear explosions worldwide.
~Declare a "No First Use" policy, pledging not to use nuclear weapons first under any circumstances.
We the people must write to President Obama and let him know we support his vision and these steps. We must also let our senators whose role is to ratify treaties know of our support.
So on this 64th anniversary of those devastating days, it is finally possible to envision a world free of this gravest threat to human survival—nuclear weapons. We do indeed stand at a crossroads, that of the status quo and great peril, or taking a new path with renewed opportunity. The Earth Charter states, “Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life.” The way forward depends on us.
ROBERT DODGE, MD is a family physician practicing in Ventura County, Calif. He is Co-Chairman of Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions (www.c-p-r.net), a Board Member and Nuclear Ambassador of, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles (www.PSRLA.org),and Board Member of Beyond War (www.beyondwar.org) and Team Leader for their Nuclear Weapons Abolition Team.