Quotable

“The only people who should be allowed to govern countries with nuclear weapons are mothers, those who are still breastfeeding their babies." -Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.”


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

We DON"T need a new Cold War!!!

Editor's Note: Just how dangerous is the underlying U.S. - Russian confrontation related to the Ukraine and Crimean peninsula? With both countries bristling with nuclear weapons, it could be very dangerous indeed. A new Cold War appears to be heating up, even as we approach the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. Lawrence Wittner's article (that follows) presents a sobering reflection on the situation.


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Are the U.S. and Russian Governments 
Once Again on the Nuclear Warpath?

by Lawrence S. Wittner

Originally published in the History News Network on January 15, 2015

Dr. Lawrence Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, "What’s Going On at UAardvark?

A quarter century after the end of the Cold War and decades after the signing of landmark nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements, are the U.S. and Russian governments once more engaged in a potentially disastrous nuclear arms race with one another? It certainly looks like it.

With approximately 15,000 nuclear weapons between them, the United States and Russia already possess about 93 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal, thus making them the world’s nuclear hegemons. But, apparently, like great powers throughout history, they do not consider their vast military might sufficient, especially in the context of their growing international rivalry.

Although, in early 2009, President Barack Obama announced his “commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” the U.S. government today has moved well along toward implementing an administration plan for U.S. nuclear “modernization.” This entails spending $355 billion over a ten-year period for a massive renovation of U.S. nuclear weapons plants and laboratories. Moreover, the cost is scheduled to soar after this renovation, when an array of new nuclear weapons will be produced. “That’s where all the big money is,” noted Ashton Carter, recently nominated as U.S. Secretary of Defense. “By comparison, everything that we’re doing now is cheap.” The Obama administration has asked the Pentagon to plan for 12 new nuclear missile-firing submarines, up to 100 new nuclear bombers, and 400 land-based nuclear missiles. According to outside experts and a bipartisan, independent panel commissioned by Congress and the Defense Department, that will bring the total price tag for the U.S. nuclear weapons buildup to approximately $1 trillion.

For its part, the Russian government seems determined to match―or surpass―that record. With President Vladimir Putin eager to use nuclear weapons as a symbol of Russian influence, Moscow is building, at great expense, new generations of giant ballistic missile submarines, as well as nuclear attack submarines that are reportedly equal or superior to their U.S. counterparts in performance and stealth. Armed with nuclear-capable cruise missiles, they periodically make forays across the Atlantic, heading for the U.S. coast. Deeply concerned about the potential of these missiles to level a surprise attack, the U.S. military has already launched the first of two experimental “blimps” over Washington, DC, designed to help detect them. The Obama administration also charges that Russian testing of a new medium-range cruise missile is a violation of the 1987 INF treaty. Although the Russian government denies the existence of the offending missile, its rhetoric has been less than diplomatic. As the Ukraine crisis developed, Putin told a public audience that “Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers,” and foreign nations “should understand it’s best not to mess with us.” Pravda was even more inflammatory. In an article published in November titled “Russia prepares a nuclear surprise for NATO,” it bragged about Russia’s alleged superiority over the United States in nuclear weaponry.

Not surprisingly, the one nuclear disarmament agreement signed between the U.S. and Russian governments since 2003―the New START treaty of 2011―is being implemented remarkably slowly. New START, designed to reduce the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons (the most powerful ones) in each country by 30 percent by 2018, has not led to substantial reductions in either nation’s deployed nuclear arsenal. Indeed, between March and October 2014, the two nations each increased their deployed nuclear forces. Also, they maintain large arsenals of nuclear weapons targeting one another, with about 1,800 of them on high alert―ready to be launched within minutes against the populations of both nations.

The souring of relations between the U.S. and Russian governments has been going on for years, but it has reached a very dangerous level during the current confrontation over Ukraine. In their dealings with this conflict-torn nation, there’s plenty of fault on both sides. U.S. officials should have recognized that any Russian government would have been angered by NATO’s steady recruitment of East European countries―especially Ukraine, which had been united with Russia in the same nation until recently, was sharing a common border with Russia, and was housing one of Russia’s most important naval bases (in Crimea). For their part, Russian officials had no legal basis for seizing and annexing Crimea or aiding heavily-armed separatists in the eastern portion of Ukraine.

But however reckless the two nuclear behemoths have been, this does not mean that they have to continue this behavior. Plenty of compromise formulas exist―for example, leaving Ukraine out of NATO, altering that country’s structure to allow for a high degree of self-government in the war-torn east, and organizing a UN-sponsored referendum in Crimea. And possibilities for compromise also exist in other areas of U.S.-Russian relations.

Failing to agree to a diplomatic settlement of these and other issues will do more than continue violent turmoil in Ukraine. Indeed, the disastrous, downhill slide of both the United States and Russia into a vastly expensive nuclear arms race will bankrupt them and, also, by providing an example of dependence on nuclear might, encourage the proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional nations. After all, how can they succeed in getting other countries to forswear developing nuclear weapons when―47 years after the U.S. and Soviet governments signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in which they pledged their own nuclear disarmament―their successors are engaged in yet another nuclear arms race? Finally, of course, this new arms race, unless checked, seems likely to lead, sooner or later, to a nuclear catastrophe of immense proportions.

Can the U.S. and Russian governments calm down, settle their quarrels peacefully, and return to a policy of nuclear disarmament? Let’s hope so.

Source URL:  http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/158159

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Court to hear Transform Now Plowshares appeal

Editor's Note: The following press release was just issued regarding the Transform Now Plowshares appeal to be heard tomorrow. The March 9th issue of The New Yorker magazine has a feature article by Eric Schlosser (Author of Command and Control) on the Transform Now Plowshares action. Click here to read BREAK-IN AT Y-12.

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WHILE PRESIDENT PRAISES COURAGE OF NONVIOLENT ACTIVISTS OF FIFTY YEARS AGO, NONVIOLENT ACTIVISTS TODAY—INCLUDING 85 YEAR OLD NUN—HELD IN FEDERAL PRISON, CHARGED WITH SABOTAGE, FOR SAME COURAGEOUS ACTION, US SIXTH CIRCUIT TO HEAR APPEAL OF TRANSFORM NOW PLOWSHARES 9:00AM, THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 2015, IN CINCINNATI, OH

Five days after President Barack Obama’s March 7, 2015, speech on the Edmund Pettis Bridge, praising the courageous leadership of nonviolent demonstrators, modern day nonviolent activists languish in Leavenworth, McKean, and Brooklyn federal prisons, serving terms from three to five years, for the July 28, 2012, Transform Now Plowshares action at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Embarrassed by the security breach at the bomb plant, Obama’s Justice Department charged Megan Rice, then 82 years old, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed with sabotage, invoking a little used statute originally intended for wartime saboteurs.

The Transform Now Plowshares three were convicted in 2013, imprisoned, and sentenced in 2014; Rice received a sentence of 35 months; Boertje-Obed and Walli, veterans of previous nonviolent plowshares actions, received sentences of five years. Rice, now 85, is currently incarcerated in Brooklyn, NY; Walli in McKean prison in Bradford, PA; Boertje-Obed in Leavenworth, KS.


Attorneys for the Transform Now Plowshares activists will have fifteen minutes on Thursday, March 12, 2015 to argue before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, that the government’s misapplication of the sabotage statute was inappropriate and the sentences of Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed should be recalibrated.

Like John Lewis and the Selma demonstrators fifty years ago, the Transform Now Plowshares action was designed to call attention to the failure of the United States government to live up to its ideals: in this case, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, in which the US promised, in 1970, to negotiate an end to the nuclear arms race and complete nuclear disarmament “at an early date.”

When Boertje-Obed, Rice and Walli learned of US plans to build a new multi-billion dollar nuclear weapons production facility—the Uranium Processing Facility—at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, they selected the site for the Transform Now Plowshares action. Fully aware of the grave personal risk they were taking, they entered the high security, deadly-force-authorized security zone at Y-12 and painted biblical peace slogans on the walls of the nation’s radioactive nuclear bomb material storehouse—the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility. They surrendered peacefully when accosted by security.

“The President, on the Bloody Sunday anniversary, might well have been speaking of Walli, Rice and Boertje-Obed when he said: ‘It’s the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress; who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo. That’s America. That’s what makes us unique.’” said Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance.

Hutchison and other supporters from around the country will be in Cincinnati for the court hearing on Thursday, March 12, 2015. The hearing will be held at the federal courthouse, 100 East Fifth Street, beginning at 9:00am.

“Courageous agents of social change are often praised decades later,” Hutchison said. “Sometimes they get apologies. Sometimes, like Rosa Parks, they get medals. We believe it is an injustice to imprison them in the meantime. What the President said in Selma is true in Cincinnati today: ‘What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?’”

During motions hearings in federal court in Knoxville in 2013, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark testified the United States is not keeping its Nonproliferation Treaty commitment made while he was serving as Attorney General and declared the weapons production activity at the Y12 complex “unlawful.”

The Transform Now Plowshares action was one of several events that have so far thwarted plans for the new UPF bomb plant in Oak Ridge. Despite having spent more than $1.5 billion on design plans, no plan has yet been approved, and construction has not yet begun.

Two and a half years after the action, its effects continue to resonate; the March 8, 2015 issue of the New Yorker carries a major article by Eric Schlosser about the action.

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for more information on Transform Now Plowshares, the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex or the Uranium Processing Facility: Ralph Hutchison 865 776 5050, orep@earthlink.net

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Where’s America’s commitment to seek a world without nuclear weapons?

Editor's Note: David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, is a strong and trusted voice for nuclear abolition. His question(s) lay bare the hubris of the United States government and its continuing pursuit of nuclear weapons, while demonstrating no sincere commitment to leading the way to a nuclear weapons-free world. The question really is whether President Obama will demonstrate the courage to the lead us to a nuclear weapons-free world or to the brink of nuclear omnicide. We, the people, need to bring the pressure to bear on the President to make the right choice. Our children's future is at stake.

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Where’s America’s commitment to seek a world without nuclear weapons?

By David Krieger, January 30, 2015, Originally published in The Hill

Nuclear weapons do not make Americans safer. Rather, they threaten us all with their uncontrollable and unforgiving power. They are weapons of mass annihilation, indiscriminate in nature, threatening combatants and civilians alike. They kill and maim. They cause unnecessary suffering. They are immoral and their use would violate the humanitarian laws of warfare. No country should be allowed to possess weaponry that is capable of destroying civilization and ending most life on the planet, including the human species.

Nuclear weapons and human fallibility are a most dangerous mix. As long as nuclear weapons exist in the world, civilization and the human species are threatened. Nuclear deterrence is not foolproof, and time is not our friend. We must approach this task with the urgency it demands. We must confront nuclear weapons and those countries that possess and rely upon them with what Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the fierce urgency of now.”

There are still more than 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world, most in the arsenals of the United States and Russia. However, seven other countries also possess these annihilators. These countries are: the UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Even one of these weapons can destroy a city, a few can destroy a country, and an exchange of 100 of them between India and Pakistan on the other side’s cities could trigger a nuclear famine resulting in the deaths of some two billion people globally. A larger nuclear exchange between the US and Russia could return the planet to an ice age, resulting in nearly universal death.

What is needed today is for the countries of the world to engage in negotiations in good faith to end the nuclear arms race and to achieve total nuclear disarmament. That is what is required of us and the other countries of the world under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and customary international law. Unfortunately, rather than negotiating in good faith for these ends, the nuclear-armed countries are engaged in expensive programs to modernize their nuclear arsenals.

The goal of negotiations should be a universal agreement for all the nuclear-armed countries to give up their nuclear arsenals in a phased, verifiable, irreversible and transparent manner. It will require the participation of all countries, but some country will need to lead in convening these negotiations. That country should be the United States of America, given its background in developing, using and testing nuclear weapons. But, if history is a guide, that won’t happen until the people of the United States demand it of their government.

The country that has stepped up to take a leadership role in calling on the nuclear-armed nations to fulfill their obligations for nuclear disarmament is a small, courageous Pacific Island state, the Republic of the Marshall Islands. It is suing the nine nuclear-armed nations to require them to do what they are obligated to do under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and customary international law; that is, to negotiate in good faith to end the nuclear arms race and for nuclear disarmament.

The Nuclear Zero initiative of the Marshall Islands falls in this 70th anniversary year of the first use of nuclear weapons by the United States. Enough people have already suffered from nuclear weapons – those in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, those in the Marshall Islands, the Nevada Test Site, Semipalatinsk, Lop Nor and other nuclear weapon test sites around the world. It is time for humanity to take charge of its own destiny. In the Nuclear Age, ridding the world of nuclear weapons is an imperative. Our common future depends upon our shared success.

Of course, the perspective expressed above is my own. It is tragic, though, that such a perspective did not make it into the President’s 2015 State of the Union Message to the Congress and People of the United States. It was an opportunity to teach and lead that was missed by the President. Why, we might ask, is he engaged in modernizing the US nuclear arsenal, a trillion dollar project, instead of negotiating for the elimination of nuclear weapons? After all, in Prague in 2009, the president expressed boldly, “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” What has happened to that commitment?

Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). He is the author of ZERO: The Case for Nuclear Weapons Abolition.

Original source URL: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/231191-wheres-americas-commitment-to-seek-a-world-without-nuclear

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Stubborn like a musk ox -- why Homo sapiens can't think straight about nuclear weapons

Editor's Note: David P. Barash is an evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology at the University of Washington. Since the early 1980s he has actively researched, promoted and practiced the field of peace studies. His op-ed in the Los Angeles times presents a unique, thought-provoking perspective on our thinking about nuclear weapons (and how we might change it "in our own self-interest). David gave permission to reprint his op-ed here, and encourages others to share it as well. I hope it will be shared widely.

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Stubborn like a musk ox -- why Homo sapiens can't think straight about nuclear weapons

By David P. Barash

Note: Originally published in the Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2015, Reprinted here with the author's permission

Most people can be forgiven for ignoring the threat posed by nuclear weapons. It might seem surprising, but we have been preprogrammed by our own evolutionary history to engage in such ignorance. The nuclear age is just a tiny blip tacked on to our very recent phylogenetic past, so when it comes to the greatest of all risks to human survival, we are more threatened by the instincts we lack than by those we possess..

And yet, we are genuinely threatened by those weapons we possess, which the United States government is planning to upgrade at an estimated cost of $1 trillion over the next three decades. Partly in response, on Thursday the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reset its iconic Doomsday Clock from five minutes to midnight to three minutes and counting.

How does evolution create our ignorance, thereby adding to our danger? Because its two forms — biological and cultural — are disconnected, and so are we, from our own self-interest.

Homo sapiens is the product of biological evolution — a painfully slow Darwinian process — yet we are simultaneously enmeshed in its cultural counterpart, a Lamarckian phenomenon which, by contrast, is blindingly fast and proceeds under its own rules. We have one foot thrust into the cultural present and the other stuck in our biological past.

Individuals, after all, do not evolve in the Darwinian sense; only populations and lineages do. And they are shackled to the realities of genetics and reproduction, since organic evolution is a process whereby gene frequencies change over time. Accordingly, generations are required for even the smallest evolutionary step.

By contrast, cultural evolution is astoundingly rapid. Acquired characteristics can be “inherited,” a la Lamarck, in hours or days, then passed along to other individuals, modified yet again before being picked up or dropped altogether. For example, in just a few decades (less than an instant in biological time), personal computers were developed, proliferated and modified. If they had “evolved” by Darwinian, biological means, as a favorable mutation to be promoted in one or even a handful of individuals, there would currently be only a dozen or so computer users instead of billions.

Just a superficial glance at human history shows today's world is vastly different from that of a century ago, which is almost unimaginably different from 50,000 years ago. And yet a Cro-Magnon baby, magically plunked down at birth in 21st century America, could very well find herself comfortably reading on her iPad, and offspring of today's technophiles could adapt to the world of saber-toothed cats and stone axes.

Consider that stone ax. The history of civilization is, in large part, one of ever-greater efficiency in killing, as in the progression from club, knife and spear, to bow and arrow, musket, rifle, cannon, battleship, bomber and nuclear-tipped ICBM. At the same time, the human being who creates and manipulates these devices has not changed much at all.

As a biological creature, in fact, Homo sapiens is poorly adapted for killing, given his puny nails, minimal jaws and laughable little teeth. But cultural evolution has made it not only possible but easy.

This biology-culture disconnect is especially acute in the realm of nuclear weapons. At the one-year anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Albert Einstein famously noted that “the splitting of the atom has changed everything but our way of thinking; hence we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

He might have been talking about musk oxen. These shaggy Arctic beasts have long employed a very effective strategy when confronted by their enemies: wolves. They herd the juveniles into the center while the adults face outward, arrayed like the spokes of a wheel. Even the hungriest wolf finds it intimidating to confront a wall of sharp horns and bony foreheads, backed by a thousand pounds of angry pot roast. For countless generations, their behavior served musk oxen well.

But in more modern times, their primary threat hasn't been wolves, but human hunters carrying high-powered rifles. Today, musk oxen would do better if they spread out and high-tailed it toward the horizon, but instead they respond as previous generations always have — forming their trusted defensive circle — and are easily slaughtered.

Human actions changed everything but the musk ox way of thinking; as they clung to their biology they drifted toward unparalleled catastrophe, until another human action (conservation) intervened.

Humans also cling to (or remain unconsciously influenced by) our biology. That stubbornness is especially evident when it comes to thinking, or not thinking, about nuclear weapons.

Take, for example, this widespread difficulty: When told something is “hot,” most of us readily think in terms of boiling water or burning wood. The biological creature within cannot effectively grasp the meaning of millions of degrees. Before the artificial splitting of uranium and plutonium atoms, nuclear explosions had never occurred on Earth. Even in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we are unprepared to wrap our minds around them, including the vast scale of destruction, deaths by the millions, and in minutes.

And so the conflict between our biological natures and our cultural products cloaks nuclear weapons in a kind of psychological untouchability.

But does this mean that things are hopeless, that we are the helpless victims of this aspect of our human natures? As Carl Sagan emphasized, eliminating nuclear weapons — certainly not building more or upgrading what we have — is a basic requirement of species-wide sanity and good planetary hygiene.

The missiles, bombers, bombs and warheads in our nuclear arsenal are our own creation, our own responsibility, not something imposed upon us by a malignant God. And we are the most adaptable of all creatures, probably the only ones capable of acting, consciously, in our own self-interest. Once we stop acting like musk oxen.

Original source URL: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-barash-nuclear-weapons-evolution-20150125-story.html

Thursday, January 22, 2015

It is 3 minutes to midnight (and counting)!!!

Earlier today the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that it was moving the hands of the famous Doomsday Clock ahead, from 5 minutes to midnight to 3 minutes to midnight.


The Bulletin created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 "using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet." Each year the distinguished scientists of the Bulletin's Science and Security Board decide whether or not to move the minute hands of the Doomsday Clock.

This year's decision considered many factors, and nuclear weapons figure prominently in it. The optimism that came with the end of the Cold War has disappeared due to two principal factors - "nuclear weapons modernization programs and nuclear disarmament machinery that has ground to a halt." The world is on the brink of a new and dangerous nuclear arms race.

The announcement begins with this:
In 2015, unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth. 
In 1984, as the United States began a major defense build-up that included the pursuit of a potentially destabilizing ballistic missile defense system, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union reached an icy nadir. "Every channel of communications has been constricted or shut down; every form of contact has been attenuated or cut off. And arms control negotiations have been reduced to a species of propaganda," the Bulletin wrote then, in explaining why the hands of the Doomsday Clock had been moved to three minutes to midnight, the closest they had been to catastrophe since the early days of above-ground hydrogen bomb testing. 
Today, more than 25 years after the end of the Cold War, the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board have looked closely at the world situation and found it highly threatening to humanity—so threatening that the hands of the Doomsday Clock must once again be set at three minutes to midnight, two minutes closer to catastrophe than in 2014.
Today's announcement focuses on the current and potential risks posed to humanity by nuclear weapons, climate change and emerging technologies. These risks, when combined, pose extraordinary challenges to the very survival of humanity, and it is the "stunning governmental failures [that] have imperiled civilization on a global scale." The scientists of the Bulletin make it clear that time is short, and that we as citizens must demand that our nations' leaders take action before it is too late.


Here is how the announcement wraps it up:
The threat is serious, the time short. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists does not move the hands of the Doomsday Clock for light or transient reasons. The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization. 
During the past several years, the Bulletin's Science and Security Board has grown increasingly concerned as world political leaders dithered, leaving an undeniable threat to the future of mankind—climate change—largely unaddressed. In 2014, leaders in the nuclear weapons countries have consented to a mad dash down an expensive and dangerous path toward "modernizing" their nuclear arsenals; in the process, they turned away from reasonable disarmament efforts and allowed an economic dispute between Ukraine and Russia to turn into an East-West confrontation that hinders cooperation on worldwide nuclear security, arms control, and nonproliferation. 
These stunning governmental failures have imperiled civilization on a global scale, and so we, the members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board, implore the citizens of the world to speak clearly, demanding that their leaders: 
  • Take actions that would cap greenhouse gas emissions at levels sufficient to keep average global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. The 2-degree target is consistent with consensus views on climate science and is eminently achievable and economically viable—if national leaders show more interest in protecting their citizens than in serving the economic interests of the fossil fuel industry. 
  • Dramatically reduce proposed spending on nuclear weapons modernization programs. The United States and Russia have hatched plans to essentially rebuild their entire nuclear triads in coming decades, and other nuclear weapons countries are following suit. The projected costs of these "improvements" to nuclear arsenals are indefensible, and they undermine the global disarmament regime.  
  • Re-energize the disarmament process, with a focus on results. The United States and Russia, in particular, need to start negotiations on shrinking their strategic and tactical nuclear arsenals. The world can be more secure with much, much smaller nuclear arsenals than now exist—if political leaders are truly interested in protecting their citizens from harm.  
  • Deal now with the commercial nuclear waste problem. Reasonable people can disagree on whether an expansion of nuclear-powered electricity generation should be a major component of the effort to limit climate change. Regardless of the future course of the worldwide nuclear power industry, there will be a need for safe and secure interim and permanent nuclear waste storage facilities.  
  • Create institutions specifically assigned to explore and address potentially catastrophic misuses of new technologies. Scientific advance can provide society with great benefits, but the potential for misuse of potent new technologies is real, unless government, scientific, and business leaders take appropriate steps to explore and address possible devastating consequences of those technologies early in their development. 
Last year, with the Doomsday Clock at five minutes to midnight, the members of the Science and Security Board concluded their assessment of the world security situation by writing: "We can manage our technology, or become victims of it. The choice is ours, and the Clock is ticking." 
In 2015, with the Clock hand moved forward to three minutes to midnight, the board feels compelled to add, with a sense of great urgency: "The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon."
The scientists of the Bulletin have provided the blueprint for moving ahead. They have also made clear what many of us have been saying for years - that governments will not take the necessary steps unless we, as global citizens, demand it of them. They have, for far too long, been locked in the grip of massive corporate machines that serve only their own interests. It is high time that those who govern begin the work of "ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.



The people who make the decision to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock ahead do not do so lightly. These are scientists, not alarmists. They employed sound, scientific reasoning to reach their decision, and we must listen and understand the gravity of the situation. As they concluded, "The probability of global catastrophe is very high," and the consequences to humanity would be unacceptable. We must take action, and we must take it now.

Each of us needs to stand up and pressure our government to take action on the issues raised by the Bulletin. Send a copy of the Bulletin's announcement to President Obama, your representatives in Congress, and anyone else you think should read it. Ask them to read it and reply to you, explaining how they plan to respond to the Bulletin's call to action. Do not settle for anything less than a full commitment to action.

We cannot turn back the hands of time, and we certainly cannot undo the damage we have already done. We can, however, make the difficult, yet critical, choices that will provide a livable world for future generations, and thereby turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock.

Time is short, and "the clock is ticking."

Click here to read the full text of today's announcement.

Click here to watch today's announcement and press conference.