Distinguished individuals and organisations worldwide have urged Presidents Obama and Medvedev, when they meet in London on 1 April, and discuss nuclear weapons reductions, to ‘take the apocalypse off the agenda’ by lowering the state of operational readiness of some 2,300 nuclear warheads that currently stand ready to launch in less than two minutes.
The letter urging reductions in nuclear weapons operational readiness, faxed on 25 March, was signed by amongst others, Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba of Hiroshima representing Mayors for Peace, an organisation that includes cities worldwide and represents a sizeable portion of the worlds population, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Nobel prize 1985), major international lobby groups, members of the European Parliament including its Vice-President Luisa Morgantini, and major UK and Japanese groups CND and Gensuikyo. The letter draws attention to a number of UN resolutions on operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems.
According to the coordinators of the letter:
“We are literally calling on the leaders of Russia and the US to ‘take the apocalypse off the agenda’. For decades, thousands of nuclear weapons have been kept in a state in which they can be launched in less than 2 minutes, and there have been a number of utterly terrifying incidents in which the world has for minutes, seconds or hours, hovered on the brink of destruction, often as a result of computer error or miscalculation. Lowering the state of operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems makes that much more difficult. Lowering the state of readiness of nuclear weapons systems is possibly the single step that does most to make the world safer, apart from the complete abolition of nuclear weapons, to which it is the first step. We call on Presidents Obama and Medvedev to take that step.”
A number of resolutions urging a lowering in the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems including one sponsored by Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden and Switzerland (adopted by 141 to 3) were passed at the last meeting of the UN General Assembly in October.
The letter was coordinated by Mr John Hallam of People for Nuclear Disarmament Nuclear Flashpoints campaign who in 2004/5 with Doug Mattern of AWC jointly coordinated an appeal signed by 44 nobels that persuaded six governments to sponsor a resolution in the UN General Assembly on nuclear weapons operational readiness.