"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Friday, April 3, 2009

Non-Proliferation or Non-Existence


Wow! When was the last time you heard the President of the United States give a major speech (or any speech for that matter) on ANYTHING related to nuclear weapons??? Well, President Obama is scheduled to give a major speech on nuclear proliferation while in Prague, Czech Republic this Sunday, April 5th at 10:00 a.m Central European Time (4:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time). It may be broadcast on C-SPAN or C-SPAN2, and possibly CNN (according to FCNL's Nuclear Calendar). If you miss it, video of the speech will be posted on the White House website.

It is timely that the President will speak from the Czech Republic, considering that the Czech government recently fell after a no-confidence vote in mid-March by the Czech Parliament. The government had doggedly supported U.S. plans to site missile defense radar within its borders, but a nonviolent campaign made up of citizens and various groups (including a couple hundred Czech mayors) finally (after more than two years) convinced enough members of the Czech Parliament to oppose the plans; polls showed 70 percent of Czechs opposed the plans. Although some of the news coverage has focused on the government's poor handling of the economic crisis, the missile defense issue WAS a key issue in the government's ouster.
This was absolutely revolutionary - nuclear weapons abolitionists take note - that the Czech people, utilizing non-violent means helped bring down a government and sent a clear message to the United States: We do not support your military-industrial complex or your flaky (and destablilizing) missile defense plans! The proposed missile defense radar plans WILL be on the agenda during President Obama's meeting with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek; that should be interesting.

I am sure that all of us working for the abolition of nuclear weapons will be watching and listening carefully to President Obama's speech. This is a pivotal moment, and this speech will be an opportunity for the President to show his leadership by stating a firm U.S. commitment to real disarmament measures, and not just calling on other nations (like North Korea and Iran) to pull back. The U.S. (and Russia) must commit to definite, immediate and quantifiable measures to show a firm commitment to non-proliferation, and only then will they have the right call on nations like North Korea and Iran to join in these efforts.

The days of the nuclear haves and have nots is over. The infamous (and once exclusive) nuclear club is no longer exclusive. And the nations of the world have to make a choice; continue building these omnicidal weapons and face nonexistence or beat all our (nuclear) swords into ploughshares as a major step in building a world of nonviolence. Let us choose nonviolence.



Photographic Notes/Credits:
Photo of Czech demonstrators courtesy of Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.
The bronze sculpture "Let Us Beat Our Swords into Ploughshares," was created by Soviet artist Evgeny Vuchetich, and presented to the United Nations on 4 December 1959 by the Government of the USSR. The sculpture, depicting the figure of a man holding a hammer aloft in one hand and a sword in the other, which he is making into a ploughshare, is meant to symbolize man's desire to put an end to war, and to convert the means of destruction into creative tools for the benefit of mankind. It is located in the North Garden of the United Nations Headquarters. (UN Photo/Andrea Brizzi)

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