Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nevada Test Site: Ho-Hum

A great example of the trivialization
of what has gone on at the Test Site.
The Nevada Test Site tour was an eye-opening endeavor in many ways. Seeing the remnants of our nuclear testing regime was shocking. What struck me over and over from the moment we left Las Vegas on the bus early in the morning was the "ho-hum" attitude of our tour guides, the nonchalance with which they presented a selected set of facts and other statements about the test site and the long-term effects of radiation and nuclear waste.

I suppose that to live with yourself as a NTS lifer, you must force yourself to believe that what has gone on there over the past 60 years has been of great benefit to the country, or at least not particularly damaging. I will give some examples of how this attitude came across.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Can the "Superpowers" Abolish Nuclear Weapons?

One of the arguments I often hear from supporters of nuclear weapons and skeptics of nuclear disarmament in the United States is that Russia would never agree to fully abolish nuclear weapons, so there is no reason to even pursue it.

Next week (October 11-12) is the 25th anniversary of the Reykjavik Summit, where Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev came close to an agreement to abolish all strategic nuclear weapons within 10 years.

Can you imagine? In the thick of the Cold War, the Presidents of the United States and the Soviet Union seriously discussed getting rid of all of their nuclear weapons, and almost accomplished it. Of course, there would have been a lot of details to work out - among them tactical nuclear weapons and missile defense (Reagan's insistence upon missile defense is what ultimately derailed the summit).

So why is it that now, 20 years after the Cold War ended, there are still over 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world? Why do the US and Russia each have about 1,000 nuclear weapons on high-alert? Come on, President Obama and Prime Minister Medvedev. If Reagan and Gorbachev can almost accomplish it, certainly you can at least start talking about it! A Nuclear Weapons Convention for the phased, verifiable, irreversible and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons is within reach if the leaders will lead.

For more background on the Reykjavik Summit of 1986, see NAPF President David Krieger's essay "Looking Back at Reykjavik."
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