If You Love This Planet, Dr. Helen Caldicott

Joseph Cirincione on the historic window for U.S./Russian nuclear disarmament, and how to vanquish the bomb lovers


Russian President Medvedev and U.S. President Obama at their April 1 meeting

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama

Joseph Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund, joins
Dr. Caldicott for a lively discussion about the world’s current nuclear environment, and proliferation concerns. Cirincione is author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons (published by Columbia University Press), and an expert advisor to the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States. Ploughshares Fund is the largest grantmaking foundation in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to security and peace funding.

Cirincione and Dr. Caldicott start and end their discussion by focusing on the recent meeting between President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who issued a remarkable and historic document calling for a world free of nuclear weapons, and committing to steps to achieve total disarmament, including affirming the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (which has awaited ratification by the U.S. Senate for 10 years). This window to achieve disarmament is tremendously important, Dr. Caldicott and Cirincione agree, and the public must urge Obama to stay the course and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Cirincione talks about the new organization Global Zero, dedicated to increasing the present momentum to disarm nuclear weapons, and whose signatories include many major political and military figures.

Joseph Cirincione

Joseph Cirincione

This episode also examines the forces in government and industry who want to maintain the nuclear status quo, and continue to build nuclear weapons. Read the May 8 article The News on Nukes about U.S. plans regarding arms control and weapons building.
Dr. Caldicott has Cirincione elucidate exactly why
the nuclear superpowers still retain their weapons
20 years after the Cold War officially ended. Despite major reductions in their arsenals, both nations
still hold 96% of the world’s nuclear weapons, and could destroy the earth many times over in an accidental or deliberate nuclear holocaust. As mentioned previously, the Emmy-Award-winning 2007 documentary film White Light Black Rain powerfully illustrates the effects of nuclear weapons, and buying, watching and sharing the DVD is strongly recommended.

Today’s program covers the numbers of U.S. and Russian weapons and which ones are on alert and ready to fire, what countries the two nations target, and the shocking redundancy of weapons targeted on major cities. See the World Nuclear Stockpile Report (2009). Cirincione mentions how the many human and ecological effects of nuclear detonations, such as firestorms and fire damage, are seldom considered by war planners. In her lectures,
Dr. Caldicott has presented the findings of Lynn Eden, who wrote the report Whole World on Fire: Organizations, Knowledge, and Nuclear Weapons Devastation. Dr. Caldicott refers to an article she wrote with former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, Still on Catastrophe’s Edge.

Dr. Caldicott asks Cirincione if the U.S. policy of first-strike winnable nuclear war is still in place, and Cirincione talks about the policy of first use of nuclear weapons which was implemented in the George W. Bush administration. In their discussion of nuclear war, Dr. Caldicott mentions the “Dead Hand” which is described in the article The Return of the Doomsday Machine. Bruce Blair, Ph.D., President of the World Security Institute and a former Minuteman ICBM launch control officer, talks about the hair-trigger alert status of the U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons, the few-minute decision time presidents face about whether to launch missiles, and how easily nuclear war could occur in his article A Rebuttal of the U.S. Statement on the Alert Status of U.S. Nuclear Forces. The World Security Institute started the Global Zero project.

The effects of electromagnetic pulse are described, and Dr. Caldicott and Cirincione concur it is a definite threat from nuclear warfare. However, Cirincione says the logic Newt Gingrich uses to support building a missile defense shield in his article EMP From One Nuke Could Destroy America is flawed. Cirincione says any missile defense concept is completely unworkable, and there is no effective protection which can block nuclear bombs once launched.

This program also addresses nuclear power. Dr. Caldicott and Cirincione illuminate how the U.S. selling nuclear power technology around the world means more and more countries could potentially build nuclear weapons. As mentioned on earlier programs, a nuclear power plant is itself a weapon that could kill hundreds of thousands of people, if it is bombed or sabotaged by terrorists and melts down. And contrary to propaganda by the nuclear power industry, atomic energy does not reduce global warming, as Dr. Caldicott describes.

To rid the world of nuclear weapons, Cirincione and Caldicott agree that every nuclear weapons state must eliminate all of their nuclear weapons, and the U.S. cannot enforce a policy of non-proliferation if it keeps any of its arsenal. Cirincione refers to the article The Logic of Zero: Toward a World Without Nuclear Weapons. Dr. Caldicott analogizes that in medicine, removing all cancer from a sick patient is necessary to prevent the cancer from spreading or recurring, and on the planet, eliminating all nuclear weapons is the only way to arrest the dangers nuclear weapons pose. This is another vital episode you won’t want to miss!

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