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The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the world’s future

January 12, 2022

Late January of this year will mark the first anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  This momentous international agreement, the result of a lengthy struggle by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and by many non-nuclear nations, bans developing, testing, producing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, and threatening to use nuclear weapons.  Adopted by an overwhelming vote of the official representatives of the world’s nations at a UN conference in July 2017, the treaty was subsequently signed by 86 nations.  It received the required 50 national ratifications by late October 2020, and, on January 22, 2021, became international law.

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The friendship of two heart doctors

January 11, 2022

by Mary-Wynne Ashford

Dr. Lown and founding co-president Eugueni Chazov accepted the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of IPPNW.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) is mourning the deaths last year of its founding co-presidents, Dr. Bernard Lown and Dr. Evgueni Chazov. Lown was a cardiologist in Boston; Chazov was a cardiologist in Moscow.

As colleagues with shared interests, Lown and Chazov began collaborative research in 1960. They were particularly concerned about sudden cardiac death in young men.

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The time to act is now

January 5, 2022

[The following presentation was made by Jasmine Owens, Lead Organizer and Policy Coordinator at Physicians for Social Responsibility (IPPNW’s US affiliate) at an event sponsored by the Peace and Planet network on 4 January. IPPNW is a member of the network, which has called on the postponed NPT Review Conference to “fulfill the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty’s promise of a nuclear weapons-free world.”]

Over the course of this pivotal tenth NPT Review Conference, when asked why the US has stalled on its Article VI commitments,  you will hear the US delegates claim that we must “create the environment for nuclear disarmament,” and that such an environment does not yet exist. If we are to entertain this notion that there could be a perfect environment conducive to nuclear disarmament, what the US fails to take into account is that this environment will not magically appear out of thin air. It takes genuine and sustained effort to illustrate to adversaries– and the world– that we are fully committed to maintaining peace. The US has done no such thing. Instead, we have continued to modernize and upgrade our nuclear arsenal, something that is both a blatant disregard of our Article VI commitments and serves only to encourage other nations to do the same. We have continued to stoke hostilities with Russia and China instead of committing ourselves fully to diplomacy, transparency and confidence-building measures. 

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Peace & Planet message to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference and to the international community

January 4, 2022

[IPPNW has co-signed the following statement as a participating organization in the Peace & Planet Network.]

In 1955, at the height of the Cold War, the philosopher Bertrand Russell and the physicist Albert Einstein issued an appeal to the world to prevent nuclear holocaust. Most compellingly, their appeal stated:

“There lies before us, if we choose continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.” 

Today, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, set at 100 seconds to midnight, warns that humanity stands at the brink of apocalypse due to the twin existential threats posed by nuclear weapons and climate change. As stated by The Bulletin:

Accelerating nuclear programs in multiple countries moved the world into less stable and manageable territory last year. Development of hypersonic glide vehicles, ballistic missile defenses, and weapons-delivery systems that can flexibly use conventional or nuclear warheads may raise the probability of miscalculation in times of tension.” Continuing preparations for nuclear war by the nine nuclear powers and the climate emergency are compounded by the continuing corruption of the information ecosphere on which democracy and public decision-making depend.” 

Solutions to these threats are readily apparent: fulfill the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty’s promise of a nuclear weapons-free world; end the use of fossil fuels; and make massive investments in green energy alternatives. 

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Paradigm change needed to address the current crisis in Ukraine, Russia and NATO

December 17, 2021

Statement of the IPPNW Executive Committee issued 17 December 2021

The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) is deeply concerned about the current tensions between NATO, Ukraine and Russia. There is an acute danger of war which could easily escalate into a nuclear war.

Recognizing the security needs of Russia, Ukraine as well as those of the EU is vital. Military maneuvers close to the Russian and Ukrainian borders, and arms deliveries to Ukraine, must be stopped immediately.

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Evgeny Chazov: 1929-2021

November 16, 2021
Dr. Chazov at IPPNW’s 16th World Congress in Beijing with (from left) Hiroshima Mayor Taditoshi Akiba, Prof. Ian Maddocks, and Dr. Herman Spanjaard.

IPPNW’s founding co-president Dr. Evgeny Chazov died on 12 November in Moscow at the age of 92. News of his death, along with a profile of his life and scientific accomplishments, appeared in TASS, Russia’s largest news agency. Earlier this year, IPPNW lost our other founding co-president, Dr. Bernard Lown, who died on February 16 in Boston. 

Together, the two longtime friends and fellow cardiologists forged a partnership with other Soviet and American physicians to sound a global warning that the only medical response to a nuclear war is to prevent one from happening.  The launch of IPPNW in 1980 was a courageous experiment to set aside the bitter geo-political differences between their two countries, in order to speak with one voice about the necessary goal of abolishing nuclear weapons.  

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The bad and the good at crunch time for humanity

November 11, 2021
Members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board, Robert Rosner and Suzet McKinney, reveal the 2021 setting of the Doomsday Clock: It is still 100 seconds to midnight. (Photo: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists / Thomas Gaulkin)

“The international security situation is now more dangerous than it has ever been, even at the height of the Cold War” stated the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in setting the Doomsday Clock in 2020 at 100 seconds to midnight, further forward than it has ever been before.  This year, the clock remains at 100 seconds to midnight. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ Our Common Agenda report to the UN General Assembly in September makes clear: “humanity faces a stark and urgent choice: a breakdown or a breakthrough. …  The choice is ours to make; but we will not have this chance again.”

The goal of this year’s COP26 UN climate change conference is clear: “The world needs to halve emissions over the next decade and reach net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century if we are to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.” Yet the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions is still upward. The COVID-19 pandemic, of moderate severity by historical standards, has caused about 5 million recorded deaths to date and exposed deep faultlines of inequity in vaccine access, which by mid-2021 saw only 3% of people in Africa having received any dose of a vaccine. Associated with the pandemic, in 2020 an estimated 124 million people were pushed into extreme poverty, and the number of people worldwide who did not have access to adequate food increased by 320 million to 2.37 billion, almost one in three people in the world. Early estimates suggest a possible increase of up to 45% in child mortality because of health service shortfalls and reduced access to food.

In an increasingly climate stressed world, since 2010, the number of non-state armed conflicts has increased more than fourfold, as has and the number of armed conflicts involving nations outside the area of conflict – many nuclear-armed – with attendant risks of nuclear escalation. If ever there was a time for nations to collaborate to address the urgent complex global challenges that require cooperative solutions, that time is now.

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IPPNW statement on how WHO could advance the planetary health imperative to eradicate nuclear weapons

October 29, 2021

IPPNW was pleased to have the opportunity for the first time to make a statement to the World Health Organization Western Pacific Region Committee on how WHO could advance the planetary health imperative to eradicate nuclear weapons.

Statement to WHO WPRO Regional Committee Meeting, Oct 2021 by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)

Presented by Tilman Ruff, Co-President 18 Oct 21

The WHA’s response to WHO’s first 1983 report on “The effects of nuclear war on health and health services” concluded that: “nuclear weapons constitute the greatest immediate threat to the health and welfare of [hu]mankind.”  The second 1987 report underscored that: “It is obvious that the health services in the world could not alleviate the situation in any significant way” and “Therefore the only approach to the treatment of health effects of nuclear warfare is primary prevention, that is, the prevention of nuclear war.” It discussed then new scientific findings that after nuclear war, global cooling would create unprecedented famine and disease epidemics.

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Passing the torch

October 26, 2021

Joint statement of Russian Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Physicians for Social Responsibility-USA
National affiliates of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)

To the Health Professionals of the World,

Participants in the intergenerational Moscow meeting included (from left): American co-founder Dr. James Muller, Ekaterina Schelkanovtseva, Olga Perekosova, Regional Vice-President for Russia/CIS Dr. Olga Mironova, Dr. Joe Hodgkin, and other rising leaders of the RPPNW and PSR student movements.

We write as Russian and American physicians – young and old – to describe the passing of the torch of our four-decade international effort to protect the life and health of humanity. The creation of nuclear weapons has resulted in a permanent threat to civilization that will require management by all future generations. Our meeting today of new and senior physician-activists, in Moscow and in Boston, is an essential component of our duty to train each new generation of health professionals.

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Why is US military spending increasing to new, outlandish levels?

October 26, 2021

Although critics of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better plan to increase funding for US education, healthcare, and action against climate catastrophe say the United States can’t afford it, there are no such qualms about ramping up funding for the US military.

This May, the Pentagon asked Congress to fund a $715 billion budget for Fiscal 2022—an increase of $10 billion over the previous year.  Together with another $38 billion requested for military-related programs at other government agencies, this would bring total US military spending to $753 billion. 

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