Boston Area Academics and Peace Advocates Welcome Nobel Award for Nuclear Ban Treaty Organizers

Ban the Bomb rally, United Nations, New York, July 7, 2017
Ban the Bomb rally, United Nations, New York, July 7, 2017

Massachusetts Peace Action joined Boston area academics and peace advocates today in welcoming the Nobel Committee’s announcement that it will award the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which organized the United Nations’ Nuclear Ban Treaty.

“The nuclear ban treaty is a major step toward ending the constant threat to all of humanity posed by the enormous – and growing – arsenal of the most destructive of weapons of mass destruction. This award is a strong condemnation of the current bellicose US policymakers, who disregard international agreements, threaten countries with mass destruction, all while increasing the size of the huge US nuclear arsenal,” said Gary Goldstein, professor of physics at Tufts University.

“Let’s hope that this serves to wake up the consciences of the nuclear states, to realize that nuclear weapons are the ultimate weapons of terror, and that humanity must eliminate them if it is to survive,” added Guntram Mueller, emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of Massachusetts – Lowell.

“The continuing plans of nuclear weapons advocates to modernize are so expensive that they will undermine the civilian economy,” said Jonathan King, professor of biology at MIT and chair of Massachusetts Peace Action’s Nuclear Disarmament Working Group. “The proposed $1  trillion dollar ‘modernization’ of U.S. nuclear weapons over the next 30 years spends a thousand billion of our income tax dollars on extraordinarily dangerous and economically useless nuclear weapons. We need these dollars for biomedical research, public transit, sustainable energy development, environmental cleanup, and higher education, to name a few programs being cut back to finance the weapons buildup. A dozen nuclear weapons manufacturers will reap super profits, and the rest of the nation will be at increased risk and reduced services.”

“ICAN’s well-deserved Nobel Prize reflects a growing movement to entirely ban a terminal threat to the human species – nuclear weapons. Just last week, the Assistant Director of the CIA’s Korea mission reiterated what US intelligence services have been saying for many years: that North Korea is ‘not suicidal,’ and ‘the last person who wants conflict is actually Kim Jong Un,'” said Massachusetts Peace Action and Democratic Socialists of America member Michael VanElzakker, who is a postdoctoral research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is understood by all involved to be a deterrent against attack by the United States, with whom the Korean War was never formally ended. The only way North Korea will disarm its nuclear weapons is if the United States disarms its nuclear weapons as well, and ICAN’s Nobel Prize is a signal that the rest of the world wants worldwide nuclear disarmament.”

“The Nobel Prize will encourage government officials who are working for nuclear disarmament,” pointed out Joseph Gerson, author of Empire and the Bomb and director of the Peace and Economic Security Program at American Friends Service Committee and of the newly-launched Campaign for Disarmament, Peace, and Common Security.  “I think they offer the most hope in Britain and Europe. It will reinforce Jeremy Corbyn, who has long opposed nuclear weapons and who is on the brink of becoming Britain’s Prime Minister, as well as members of Parliament in NATO states who will press their governments to break from the strictures of the nuclear NATO alliance and press for their governments to sign and ratify the Treaty. Should Britain turn back from Trident replacement or one or two NATO nations sign and ratify the Treaty, it will shake the world’s nuclear architecture and unleash a global disarmament dynamic.  At the same time, we cannot ignore that the U.S., Britain, France and Russia have all denounced the Nuclear Ban Treaty, that all of the nuclear weapons states are in the process of upgrading and/or expanding their nuclear arsenals, that Trump has said that ‘all options are on the table’ in the confrontation with North Korea, and that he is undermining the nuclear deal with Iran,” Gerson continued.

Elaine Scarry, professor at Harvard University and author of Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom, is organizing a one-day conference, sponsored by Massachusetts Peace Action Education Fund and other groups, on “Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons – Is it Legal? Is it Constitutional?  Is it Just?” at Harvard on November 4.