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US, RUSSIA, SHOULD TAKE THE APOCALYPSE OFF THE AGENDA NUCLEAR WAR RISK REDUCTION SHOULD BE PRIORITY

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IMMEDIATE USE FRI 20 JAN 2017

PEOPLE FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT NSW
HUMAN SURVIVAL PROJECT

US, RUSSIA, SHOULD TAKE THE APOCALYPSE OFF THE AGENDA
NUCLEAR WAR RISK REDUCTION SHOULD BE PRIORITY IN US/RUSSIA NUKE TALKS



In any talks on 'strategic stability' that take place between an incoming Trump administration and Russia, the highest priority item must be the reduction and elimination of the risk of nuclear war that has hung over the entire planet ever since the 1960s.

Decreasing the risk of a US/Russia nuclear war is a human survival priority and should be treated as such.

As of now, the opinion amongst nuclear weapons 'experts' – indeed amongst almost any diligent observer of nuclear weapons and nuclear risks – is that the risk of nuclear war between the US/NATO and Russia is (or was) as great or greater than during some of the tensest periods of the cold war.

The Doomsday Clock will announce its estimate of existential risks to civilisation and humans as a species on 26 Jan, just a week after Donald Trump has been inaugurated. Even if it chooses to retain the hands in their current position, a nerve-racking 3 mins to 'midnight' (representing the end of civilisation), this should be cause for anguish and corrective measures. It was last there in 1983, a year in which the world nearly ended twice in a 3 month period. Only once, in 1954, has it ever been set at 2 mins to 'midnight'.

The US and Russia both maintain just under 2000 nuclear warheads, largely land-based ICBMs, in a state in which they can be launched in a few short minutes. This nuclear posture is a holdover from the Cold War, and forces US and Russian presidents and senior military into a position in which they are forced to make potentially world-ending decisions in 8 minutes or much less.

US nuclear disarmament NGOs are currently urging Obama to lower the operational readiness of US nuclear weapon systems so that this is no longer the case.

A letter was sent last November to Obama and Putin signed by a number of distinguished persons including a former commander of Russian nuclear forces, urging the same measure plus the adoption by both sides of 'No-First Use' (NFU). If both sides adopt NFU, then in theory at least, nuclear war between them becomes impossible. That letter will be sent to the Trump administration and to the new US Congressional subcommittees on strategic forces after the inauguration.

Improved relations with Russia and concrete action to reduce the risks of an (accidental or otherwise) apocalypse isn’t merely a whim of a misogynist real-estate magnate who perhaps has Russian investments. It is a human survival priority. It is astonishing, indeed mind boggling in its stupidity, in its folly, that rational people who would like civilisation to still be here a year or so down the track cannot see the existential importance of a US-Russia dialogue aimed at taking the apocalypse permanently off the agenda.

Finally, the overwhelming majority of the governments of the world have now decided by a resolution in the First Committee of the UN known as L41, to meet in March and again in June/July of 2017 to undertake a negotiating process to make nuclear weapons illegal. The US and Russia have scorned this effort. Instead of scorning it they should participate in it with a view to the complete elimination of their nuclear arsenals as they are obligated to do under article VI of the NPT to which they are signatories.

John Hallam
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h61-2-9810-2598

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Last Updated on Friday, 20 January 2017 13:22