Saturday, June 25, 2011

Three Cheers for Global Zero!

Global Zero, launched in December 2008, is an international movement working for the phased, verified elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide.
According to their website, “Global Zero members believe that the only way to eliminate the nuclear threat—including proliferation and nuclear terrorism—is to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, secure all nuclear materials and eliminate all nuclear weapons: global zero.”
Perhaps you already know about Global Zero. I didn’t until I read the June 16 issue of The Economist. When I learned about what the movement is trying to do, I soon signed on. I encourage others to do the same.
Global Zero’s London “summit” ended yesterday. Yesterday was also the first screenings (in the U.K.) of the new Global Zero film, “Countdown to Zero,” produced by the same Academy Award winning people who did “An Inconvenient Truth.”
At the “2010 Paris Summit,” keynote speaker Secretary George Shultz declared that the growing political support for our shared goal means that we are “entitled to hope and believe that this is an idea whose time has come.
According to Plowshares Fund (based on the most reliable reports available and updated last month), there are now up to 6,900 operational nuclear weapons in the world today. And note this: 6,650 (96%) of those are possessed by Russia and the United States. (It is not known how many such weapons Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea have.)
There are currently five nations who have nuclear weapons and who have agreed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In order of their acquisition of nuclear weapons, these are the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China.
There are four other countries who have, or probably have, nuclear weapons but have not signed the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea.
The two main nations suspected of being actively engaged in developing nuclear weapons are Iran and Syria. That is scary. But I don’t know if it is any scarier than Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea having nuclear weapons. And, it must be remembered, the U.S. is the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons on a human population.
Last year there was a move to reduce the number of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons with the signing of the new START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement. It was signed in April 2010 and went into effect in February of this year.
That was a significant step in the right direction. Global Zero wants to continue that movement, in four phases, until there is complete elimination of nuclear weapons by 2030.
If I should die at the same age my father did, that would be in 2030. For the sake of my grandchildren (and all the children of the world), I hope and pray that I will live to see the world eradicated of nuclear weapons by then (although I might not be ready to die quite yet!).
There is still very much that must be done in order for the goal to be reached, but Global Zero is working hard to that end. I hope you will join me in saying, Three cheers for Global Zero!


  1. The concept of eliminating all nuclear weapons is very noble. And, in fact, I support the effort. One of the problems is that we do not even know where some of the nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union exist today. Also, could we trust Syria or Iran even if they signed treaties? Further, if inspectors go into countries, we could conceivably repeat wars similar to the one in Iraq. Remember George Bush's justification for invading Iraq?

  2. I would like to say to Blane, and others such as another TF who sent an e-mail about this same concern, that certainly verification is a problem--and one that Global Zero is well aware of.

    But the main issue, as I see it, is not Syria or Iran getting nuclear weapons. The main danger is terrorists getting their hands on such weapons. And one of the main ways to eliminate that danger is to eliminate nuclear weapons in all the countries of the world.

  3. A faithful blog reader, commentator, and esteemed friend wrote in an e-mail,

    "Amen to that, Leroy! We need a renewed sense of concern for the danger our world faces from nuclear weaponry."

  4. I concur with Blane. This is a very noble concept. But there are four other concerns I see.
    1) Nuclear is the great equalizer. We could never win a traditional war with the orient - they have the numbers. And WMD: 2) Chemical weapons are easily produced. 3) Biological weapons are easily produced. 4) The genie is out of the bottle, and nuclear power is wide-spread (easily convertible to military uses), and we need that energy source.
    As a side note, there are also new technologies such as EMPs, and not all nuclear weapons are massive - some are very small and tactical for taking out subterranean WMD facilities. (The final count of WMD found, which Hussein had stockpiled was near 500 - they had all been moth-balled.)

    Also, as you mentioned, not all peoples have compatible world view which can be negotiated with, regardless how big ones stick is. Comments in your previous blog note this problem, even among allies. What is trust without forgiveness?

    (Israel only had access two small research facilities for materiel - both now closed, much like the units at several of our state universities. It's doesn't take much, and the technology is readily available - rather amazing no one has used one, other than for testing, in a long time.)

    A global spiritual revival seems the best option...

  5. Peace is a holistic process. Abstracting out one strand of the process may have marketing value, but it cannot succeed by itself. The early cold war was a very dangerous time, and one irony is that the various nuclear technologies developed by both the USSR and USA quickly spread to multiple players. For that reason it is extremely risky to continue development of new nuclear weapons that would be of high value to terrorists, such the so-called "suitcase bomb." However, that does not mean that we can roll back the nuclear system now in place, or that the world would be a better place if we did.

    Peace can only succeed when it is pursued in all dimensions together, a very slow and painful process. To take one partial example, consider Muslim flash-points with the non-Muslim world. From Kashmir to Chechnya to Palestine, a whole series of areas cry out for peaceful resolution. And that peaceful resolution would do more to further the aims of nuclear disarmament than the disarmament itself would.

    Unfortunately, peace demands even more. Resource scarcities and exploding human populations interplay in dangerous ways with financial instabilities and exploitive systems. Climate change and environmental disasters threaten widely. At this point in time, it may well be that, far from destroying humanity, nuclear weapons may have saved us from WW III, and maybe even WW IV. The dark options are truly terrifying.

    Jesus tells us to let the wheat and the tares grow together. We are to let our light shine in the darkness. Some day nuclear weapons will be obsolete. We must envision the world where that is so. Then we must make it so. The Kingdom of Heaven does not depend on banning nuclear weapons. The Kingdom calls us to something even bigger.