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The end of nuclear weapons…or the end of us?

May 10, 2018

In an important new article published today by the New England Journal of Medicine (The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize and the Doomsday Clock—The End of Nuclear Weapons or the End of Us?), former IPPNW executive director Lachlan Forrow, co-president Tilman Ruff, and Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow warn that “a nuclear strike remains only a computer malfunction, other human or technical error, or military escalation away.”

The authors cite the massive reinvestments in nuclear weapons by the US and the other nuclear-armed states, the failure of those states to engage in any meaningful disarmament negotiations, and the Trump administration’s “unprecedented plans”—articulated in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review—”to use nuclear weapons in response to nonnuclear threats or attacks and plans for the development of ‘more usable’ nuclear weapons.”

The article describes ICAN’s role in the humanitarian initiative that led to the adoption of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the nuclear ban treaty). By focusing on the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons, non-nuclear-weapon states and their civil society partners argued successfully that “the global devastation that would result from a nuclear attack means that any country possessing nuclear weapons is accepting an ever-increasing possibility of self-destruction.”

“ICAN’s Nobel Peace Prize,” they conclude, “is a step toward mobilizing citizens worldwide to help ensure that humanity survives the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons lights a path that all countries can take. The stakes could not be higher.”

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