For nuclear security beyond Seoul, eradicate land-based 'doomsday' missiles
America's 450 launch-ready land-based nuclear-armed ballistic missiles are the opposite of a deterrent to attack. In fact, their very deployment has the potential to launch World War III and precipitate human extinction – as a result of a false alarm. We’re not exaggerating.
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It would still be imperative to reduce US (and Russian) total warheads to levels that do not threaten the possibility of causing human extinction.Skip to next paragraph
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And even the smaller existing nuclear arsenals of India and Pakistan threaten global disaster. Professor Robock and his colleagues have estimated that in a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan in which each side used 50 Hiroshima-size bombs (each side now has more than that number), the smoke rising into the stratosphere could cause a global reduction of sunlight and destruction of ozone leading to crop failures and global famine.
By comparison, the launch-ready thermonuclear forces of the US and Russia contain roughly 500 times the explosive power of the 100 atomic bombs of India and Pakistan.
Now is the time for the people and nations of the world to stand up against the potential extinction of the human species and demand that political leaders pursue the path to zero nuclear weapons, a path mandated by the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the International Court of Justice. Until then, protest and civil resistance will be necessary.
We should seek two principal goals: first, a commitment by the existing nuclear weapon states to forego launch-on-warning and first use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances; and second, good faith negotiations for a new treaty for the phased, verifiable, irreversible, and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons.
It is our hope that by committing nonviolent civil resistance, being arrested, going to federal court, and explaining our actions to the public, we will help to awaken and engage the American people on this issue of utmost importance to our common future.
David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Daniel Ellsberg is a distinguished senior fellow at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and a former strategic analyst for the Department of Defense. He released the Pentagon Papers. This statement represents the authors’ individual views. The authors benefitted greatly from consultations with Steven Starr and Alan Robock.