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Restricting first-strike nuclear option would make the world safer, say activists

Restricting first-strike nuclear option would make the world safer, say activists

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One way to start making the world safer from nuclear weapons is to support the Markey-Lieu bills in the U.S. Congress, according to a spokesman for the Ploughshares Fund, an organization focused on reducing and eventually eliminating the dangers posed by nuclear weapons.

Geoff Wilson, grants and donor communications manager at the Ploughshares Fund, spoke at an event called “Nuclear Dangers” in Bloomington Wednesday night, and was interviewed earlier in the day at The Herald-Times.

He said the Ploughshares Fund’s legislative agenda is topped by the “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017” filed in both the House and the Senate.

This legislation, sponsored in the House by Rep. Ted Lieu, D-California, and in the Senate by Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Massachusetts, would prohibit the president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress. The president still would be free to retaliate in the event of an attack on the United States.

In describing the House bill, a news release issued by Lieu noted “the crucial issue of nuclear ‘first use’ is more urgent than ever now that President Donald Trump has the power to launch a nuclear war at a moment’s notice.”

Wilson, along with Bloomington Peace Action Coalition spokesman David Keppel, said the legislation would be wise no matter who was in the White House. Wilson called the current situation where the president can act unilaterally “inherently unAmerican,” because putting such power in the hands of an individual is not how the checks and balances of democracy usually work.

Wilson said he is focused on three key issues regarding nuclear armament: North Korea, the Iran nuclear accord and the nation’s own arsenal of nuclear weapons, along with arsenals around the world.

On North Korea, he said there is no military option that would not wipe out the entire Korean peninsula. The speed with which North Korea could respond to a military strike would devastate South Korea and potentially spread throughout the world.

“A so-called ‘war of prevention’ is not an option,” he said.

He said the deal former President Barack Obama struck with Iran has made progress in limiting that country as a nuclear threat at a modest economic cost.

He questioned Trump’s desire to spend $1 trillion upgrading the nation’s nuclear capability over the next 10 years when the U.S. already has 6,800 nuclear weapons. He noted Republicans, including former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and former presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, were among leaders who reduced the nuclear weapons stockpile the Trump administration is trying to build up.

He and Keppel both suggested diplomacy would be much more effective and less dangerous than aggressive rhetoric, and they urged citizens to get involved by contacting lawmakers about reducing the nuclear threat.

“The politically impossible happens all the time,” Wilson said, if there’s citizen pressure and dogged effort.

Wednesday night’s event was sponsored by the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Just Peace Task Force of the Unitarian Universalist Church, the Committee for a Just Peace in Palestine/ Israel, and the Bloomington Friends Meeting. ___

 

This article is written by Bob Zaltsberg from Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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