Can Nuclear War be Prevented?

Peace Advocate November 2023

Medical Campaign against nuclear weapons protest - via Wikimedia Commons

by Jeanne Trubek

On November 15, 2023, about 25 people from Watertown MA and surrounding suburbs attended the November monthly meeting of Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment. The Peace and Common Security Working Group, with cosponsors Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, Back from the Brink Boston Hub, and the Nuclear Disarmament Working Group of Mass Peace Action sponsored a webinar by Denise Duffield, Associate Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles (PSR-LA). Within PSR-LA, Denise directs the Nuclear Threats program, which advocates for nuclear weapons abolition and policies that prevent exposure to radioactive waste and contamination.

Denise Duffield, Physicians for Social Responsibility

As director of the nuclear threats program, Denise led PSR-LA’s efforts to fully clean up the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), a contaminated nuclear and rocket-engine testing site located just 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles. She was inspired by parents and community members whose health has been impacted by exposure to SSFL contaminants. Denise also leads PSR-LA’s participation in Back from the Brink, a national grassroots campaign that brings communities together to abolish nuclear weapons.

In her webinar, Denise focused on the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), currently being considered in Congress: House Resolution 77. She gave us background information on Back from the Brink, a nuclear disarmament organization in which she is a leader, as well as on the treaty and on what we can do to promote its adoption by the US Congress. She explained that while she was working with the community concerning SSFL, she searched for meaningful ways people could take action. This effort led her to Back from the Brink, which was founded in 2017 after the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was written.

The TPNW has been adopted by 122 countries, but not by any countries possessing nuclear weapons. BftB’s goals are to help communities bring diverse groups together to understand the risks of nuclear war and to develop grass-roots pressure on local governments so that they advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons and understand why nuclear weapons are a local issue. BftB urges people to bring local resolutions to their communities and to their city councils as a means of building support for the TPNW.

In Massachusetts, municipalities that have adopted resolutions supporting Back from the Brink’s policy solutions include Amherst, Brookline, Boston, Cambridge, Easthampton, Goshen, Holyoke, Leverett, Marshfield, Needham, Newton, Northampton, Somerville, Springfield, Wendell, Windsor and Worcester. Members of MAPA’s Nuclear Disarmament working group can advise people who would like to bring a resolution to their city council.

This year the focus of Back from the Brink Boston Hub is Massachusetts House Resolution 77, Embracing the Goals and the Provisions of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. You can help. Please call your Congressional Representative to urge that they support this resolution.

The entire webinar with Denise Duffield can be viewed on YouTube.