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China, Russia and the bomb

November 24, 2022

Even international alliances can unravel when nations confront the insanity of a nuclear holocaust.

Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (left) withdrew assistance in developing nuclear weapons from China in the 1950s over concerns that chairman Mao Zedong (right) would be unrestrained in their use.

An illustration of this point occurred recently, after Vladimir Putin once again threatened Ukraine and other nations with nuclear war.  “To defend Russia and our people, we doubtlessly will use all weapons resources at our disposal,” the Russian president said.  “This is not a bluff.”  In response to this statement and to sharp UN condemnation of Russian nuclear threats, Chinese president Xi Jinping issued a public statement early this November, assailing “the use of, or threats to use nuclear weapons.”  To “prevent a nuclear crisis” in Europe or Asia, he insisted, the world should “advocate that nuclear weapons cannot be used” and “a nuclear war cannot be waged.”

Aren’t these two nuclear-armed nations currently aligned in their resistance to U.S. foreign policy?  Yes, they are, and when it came to Putin’s war upon Ukraine, Xi refrained from suggesting a Russian withdrawal.  But nuclear war, as the Chinese leader made clear, was simply not acceptable.

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Nuclear weapons abolition must be part of the climate agenda

November 23, 2022

by Arun Mitra

Humanity is on a “highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator,” the UN secretary general has warned, saying “the fight for a liveable planet will be won or lost in this decade.”

He told world leaders at the opening of the Conference of Parties (COP27) UN climate summit in Egypt, “We are in the fight of our lives and we are losing … And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.”

He warned that the world faced a stark choice over the next fortnight of talks: either developed and developing countries would work together to make a “historic pact” that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and set the world on a low-carbon path – or fail to do so, which would bring climate breakdown and catastrophe.

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“We will not be silent in the face of evil”

November 22, 2022
Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford, 1939-2022

[Ed. note: Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford, IPPNW’s co-president from 1998-2002 and a former president of Canadian Physicians for Global Survival, died on November 19 as the result of injuries from a fall. A prolific writer and eloquent speaker, Dr. Ashford was an ardent advocate for peace, health, global security, human rights, and the environment. We offer these excerpts from Mary-Wynne’s speech at the closing plenary of IPPNW’s 14th World Congress in Paris, on July 2, 2000, where she spoke movingly about the interconnections among the major global issues of our time.]

Twenty years ago, in the dark times of the Cold War, a handful of doctors challenged orthodox beliefs about the enemy and founded an organisation of doctors determined to prevent nuclear war. From its beginning, IPPNW focused on the fact that there could be no meaningful medical response to a nuclear war, that prevention is the only rational course.

We are not a group of activists who happen to be doctors; we are doctors first, committed to easing suffering and death. We bring that commitment to the global stage in our attempt to prevent the ultimate suffering and death of nuclear war. The tools of our work are research, education and advocacy, and our unique contribution is that we bring the skills, expertise and ethics of medicine to the work of preventing war. We are non-partisan and neutral with regard to conflicts but we will not be silent in the face of evil. We recognise that nuclear war cannot be prevented without preventing conventional war.

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500 kilometers by bike from Nairobi to Mombassa: planning the trip to IPPNW’s 23rd World Congress

November 15, 2022

by Victor Chelashow

[Victor Chelashow, IPPNW Co-International Medical Student Representative, reflects on his experience leading a reconnaissance bike trip from Nairobi to Mombasa, Kenya. In April 2023, dozens of IPPNW Students, young doctors, and supporting members from around the world will take the 500km bike tour in advance of our 23rd World Congress in Mombasa, Kenya. Follow IPPNW Students on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on the bike tour and get involved.]

A brief stop on a bridge outside of Voi, Kenya

It’s been slightly over a month since I wrapped up my first bike tour, enough time to accept that the trip is done and reflect on the lifelong impression the experience has on me. I learnt a lot from my friend and IPPNW colleague, Timothy Ronoh, who accompanied me on the trip, cyclists I met along the way, kind strangers, and from the trip itself. I thought it best to share thoughts and reflections as a novice rider hoping you find some inspiration and lessons, not just for the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) bike tour in 2023, but for those who would like to take on biking as a hobby/way of life.

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Bye-bye world: while nuclear weapons and wars exist, annihilation beckons

October 22, 2022
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)

It’s been a long time since the atomic bombings of August 1945, when people around the planet first realized that world civilization stood on the brink of doom.  This apocalyptic ending to the Second World War revealed to all that, with the advent of nuclear weapons, violent conflict among nations had finally reached the stage where it could terminate life on earth.  Addressing a CBS radio audience in early 1946, Robert Hutchins, chancellor of the University of Chicago, summed up the new situation with a blunt warning:  “War means atomic bombs.  And atomic bombs mean suicide.”  

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War is a climate killer

October 17, 2022
Environmental impacts of war include toxic pollution from bombing and shelling.

by Angelika Claussen

War brings death and destruction – not least to the environment and climate. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine offers a depressing reminder of that fact, and further increases the military sector’s already enormous global CO2 footprint. In addition, the eastern Ukrainian cities where fighting is taking place are home to fossil fuel infrastructure such as chemical factories, oil refineries, and coal mines, the bombing of which produces a cocktail of toxic substances that has devastating environmental impacts. Efforts to arm the two sides, moreover, are consuming materials and resources that could otherwise go towards tackling the climate crisis.

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There is an alternative to war

October 13, 2022

The war in Ukraine provides us with yet another opportunity to consider what might be done about the wars that continue to ravage the world.

The current Russian war of aggression is particularly horrific, featuring a massive military invasion of a smaller, weaker nation, threats of nuclear warwidespread war crimes, and imperial annexation.  But, alas, this terrible war is but one small part of a history of violent conflict that has characterized thousands of years of human existence.  

Is there really no alternative to this primitive and immensely destructive behavior?

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“A broken system allows nine nations to hold the world hostage”

September 28, 2022
Molly McGinty speaks for IPPNW at the UN: “We reject the complacency of nuclear-armed states and their allies, and thank those who have paved the path to abolition.”

[IPPNW’s Associate Program Director Molly McGinty delivered the following remarks at the High-Level Meeting of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on 26 September.]

Honorable President, Distinguished Delegates, and friends,

I join you as a representative of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and a young person inheriting the world you are building in these very halls. Today, on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, 77 years after the world stumbled into the nuclear age, we stand on the precipice of nuclear annihilation. 

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What I learned about governments by reading classified documents

September 6, 2022

Donald Trump’s illegal retention of classified US government records reminded me that I have been reading these kinds of sensitive official files after their declassification―and learning from them―for decades.

The reason is that I am a scholar of international history and, in this connection, have drawn upon such material in my research. Governments keep secrets, and to understand the full story of their behavior, it is often necessary to dig into the documentary evidence.

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A four-week festival of double standards

August 30, 2022

Hypocrisy & outright lying by nuclear-armed states

Guest commentary by Jackie Cabasso

The 10th NPT Review Conference didn’t fail because it couldn’t produce a final document. It failed because the nuclear-armed states haven’t made good on their fundamental nuclear disarmament obligation under Article VI of the Treaty, undertaken 52 years ago, nor on the promises and commitments to action items that would lead to nuclear disarmament they agreed to in connection with the indefinite extension of the Treaty in 1995 and in the 2000 and 2010 final documents.

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