Ridding the World of Nuclear Weapons
by David Krieger (*)
If the world were not so mad (as in crazy), it would riot be necessary to fight so hard
to rid the world of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. With a
somewhat saner world, it would be self-evident that possesslng weapons capable of
blowing apart cities and vaponzlng their inhabitants is a less than adequate approach
to national security - particularly when attacking another nation's cities would invariably
result in having one's own cities attacked.
The ultimate absurdity of nuclear weapons arose when it was discovered that either
the United States or the former Soviet Union would destroy itself in a large-scale
attack on the other, even if the other side did not retaliate. The attacker would cause a
Nuclear Winter, which would result in its own annihiliation. An interesting footnote on
history is that the Soviet Union was able to destroy itself first as a society by its
expenditures on its nuclear arsenal. Its successor state. Russia, was left to cope with
the dilemma that a large-scale nuclear attack would result in self-assured destruction.
In this mad world the nuclear weapons states appear to be more attached to their
nuclear weapons than they are to reason, security morality, legality, or democracy.
Logical arguments in any of these areas have very little effect on the leaders of the
nuclear weapons states. Such is the nature of addiction. French govenment officials
have had the audacity to say that their nuclear testing in the South Pacific will assure
their nuclear deterrent force well into the 21st century it is as though they believe that the rest ol Ihe world
should be enraptured that the French government has improved and prolonged the life
of its deterrent force, a force many times more powerful than all bombs dropped in the
Second World War. Such is the nature of delusion.The U.S. govemment cooperated
with the French in allowing French military planes to overfly U.S. territory on their way
to the French test sites in the South Pacific. The U.S. itself has announced plans to
conduct two subcritical nuclear weapons tests later this year. Like the other nuclear
weapons states, the U.S. does not conceive of the promised Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty as an end to all nuclear weapons testing and development, but merely an end
to testing by means of nuclear test explosions.
As subtler ways of testing become available to the technologically advanced nuclear
weapons states, they are willing to ban and forego the cruder forms of testing. They
are willing to ban what they no longer need in order to prevent others from following in
their footsteps. Such is the nature of dominance camouflaged as altruism.
For the nuclear weapons states, these weapons confer the false prestige of power and
the dangerous illusion of security. That the weapons are an immoral tool of mass
annihilation that undermines the security of their possessors appears
incomprehensible to the five declared nuclear weapons states. These are the same
states that are charged in the United Nations Charter with maintaining international
peace and security and developing a plan for the regulation of armaments (Article 26).
The latter has been treated as a joke by the nuclear weapons states for the past 50
years. Such is the nature of hybris.
So what are we to do to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons in a world in which
the nuclear weapons states appear committed to maintaining their nuclear arsenals? I
would suggest the following:
1. Support the 111 states of the Non-Aligned Movement, representing the majority of
humankind, in calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons within a time-bound
2. Focus attention on achieving a Nuclear Weapons Convention by the year 2000 that
would set forth a step-by-step program to eliminate nuclear weapons within a
3. use the Abolition 2000 Slatement, prepared by the Abolition Caucus at the
Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference, as a guideline for the
steps that need to be taken;
4. At every opportunity hold the promises and the hypocrasy of the nuclear weapons
states before them Iike a mirror;
5. Educate key representatives of the news media to better understand the issues,
subleties feasibility, and benefits of abolishlng nuclear weapons;
6. Continue to network among the growing number of citizen action groups throughout
the world committed to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons;
7. Prepare to mount coordinated public outreach throughout the world on nuclear
weapons abolition at key upcoming international events, such as the Non-Proliferation
Treaty Review Conferences scheduled for 1997, 1998 and 1999, the 50th anniversary
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 100th anniversary of the first
Hague Peace Conference in 1999; and
8. Persevere and keep your spirits strong. Our cause is right. our cause is necessary.
We will prevail.
(*) David Krieger is president of the US-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and a
member of the Executive Committee of the lntemational Network of Engineers and
Scientists for Global Responsibility