90 seconds till midnight
BY ROBERT DODGE, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR – 01/28/23 3:30 PM ET
It’s 90 seconds till midnight. We are closer to the brink of nuclear war than at any point since the first and only use of nuclear weapons 77 years ago in 1945.
Tuesday’s unveiling of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientist’s Doomsday Clock moved the minute hand 10 seconds closer to midnight representing the theoretical point of global annihilation.
The decision to move the hand forward resulted from the progressive interconnected threats of nuclear war, climate change, and global pandemics coupled with the current war in Ukraine.
The risk of nuclear war — either by accident, intent, or miscalculation — is ever heightened in today’s world. Each of the nuclear nations is modernizing their nuclear arsenals, erroneously thinking that these weapons will make them safer or that there can be a winner in a nuclear war.
The non-nuclear nations of the world are refusing to be held hostage, bullied by the nuclear nations, and are moving forward to abolish these weapons by ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This treaty makes it illegal to use, stockpile, build, transfer, or threaten to use nuclear weapons — and just this past Sunday celebrated its second anniversary since entering into force. Currently 92 nations have signed the Treaty with 68 nations having ratified it. These countries understand the growing danger of these interrelated issues and the reality that there is no adequate medical or humanitarian response to even a limited use of nuclear weapons.
By contrast, the legal obligation to work in good faith to abolish nuclear weapons under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons, (NPT) has been ignored by the nuclear nations. Our national elected officials lacking the courage to take the bold initiatives necessary to reverse the arms race, and funded by the very manufacturers of these weapons, have made little progress, if any, toward reducing the nuclear threat.
Ultimately, it is up to the people to build the political will — and provide the political cover — for our elected officials to take these necessary steps.
While most reasonable people understand the need to abolish these weapons, few officials have been willing to suggest elimination as a first step. Fortunately, there is a voice of reason in a growing grassroots coalition in the United States, endorsed by 426 organizations, 66 cities and 7 state legislative bodies along with 329 local, state and federal elected officials. This Back from the Brink movement supports the elimination of nuclear weapons through a negotiated, verifiable time-bound process with the common sense precautionary measures necessary during the process to prevent nuclear war. It calls on the U.S. to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by:
1. Actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their arsenals;
2. Renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;
3. Ending the sole, unchecked authority of any U.S. President to launch a nuclear attack;
4. Taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert;
5. Cancelling the plan to replace the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons.
Back from the Brink can be endorsed by all persons and will be reintroduced into our national legislative process in the weeks to come.
Some will argue that it is naïve to think that nuclear weapons can be eliminated — when in reality, it is probably more naïve to think that we can continue to survive if these weapons continue to exist.Does it matter if Trump believes he won the 2020 election?The world loses when Big Oil holds all the cards
Each of us has a role to play in the final outcome.
Remaining silent implies consent with the status quo. We must demand that our elected officials endorse these bills and work together for our future with the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. It’s 90 seconds till midnight.
Robert Dodge, M.D., is a family physician practicing in Ventura, Calif. He is the President of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles (www.psr-la.org), and sits on the National Board serving as the Co-Chair of the Committee to Abolish Nuclear Weapons of National Physicians for Social Responsibility (www.psr.org). Physicians for Social Responsibility received the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize and is a partner organization of ICAN, recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Price. Dodge also sits on the Steering Committee of Back from the Brink.