Toward a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

A Titan intercontinental ballistic missile in its silo  [Telstar Logistics]

The threat of nuclear annihilation would seem to be something belonging to a bygone age, an age of spies and grim suspicions, when the enemy was starkly defined and schoolchildren practiced diving under desks if the bomb should come. It was an era in which people on both sides of a divided world prayed that no one would be insane enough to push the nuclear button. The era passed and we sighed with relief to have escaped the nightmare of that uncertainty.

And yet today, thousands of nuclear weapons remain on hair-trigger alert, aimed and poised; we are still never more than 15 minutes from the end of life as we know it. As those few countries with nuclear weapons remain reluctant to give them up, and as other countries and terrorist organizations become eager to acquire them, experts tell us that we are now at greater risk than before from these weapons of mass, indiscriminate death. As long as they exist it is a question of "when" not "if."

What could possibly justify this state of affairs? If there ever was a rationale for holding on to nuclear weapons, such a rationale no longer exists.

It is possible to abolish nuclear weapons--to outlaw them, as chemical and biological weapons have been outlawed. Momentum toward this goal is gathering. Becoming informed and sharing awareness is the first, important step, a step that this issue of the SGI Quarterly aims to assist.