News

A NEW ARMS RACE?

By Molly Rush

Twenty-five years of struggle to gain major agreements on arms control and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons are being systematically dismantled or attacked by the Trump Administration. 

The arms race expanded between the Soviet Union and the U.S. with the move toward development of First Strike capability under President Reagan and counter-measures by our adversary. The threat of all-out nuclear war that would destroy life on the planet produced widespread opposition on both sides of the Cold War and led to the creation of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). 

An affiliate, the Pittsburgh chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) chaired by Dr. Daniel Fine, who also formed a local coalition that met monthly at Friends Meeting House. The group educated, lobbied and held regular protests. The global anti-nuclear movement grew in size and effectiveness. In 1982 two million people protested the threat of nuclear war at the United Nations in New York City. This was the lead up to two major treaties. The landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was passed in 1987 and helped to end the Cold War arms race. 

On August 2, the Trump administration officially withdrew from the treaty and is now seeking to deploy INF-range missiles in Europe and Asia. Russia and China are likely to deploy more missiles in response. The House of Representatives has voted to block funding for the new INF missiles. Now pressure must build for the Senate to act and Congress to support a “no first use” agreement. 

The Trump administration is also poised to abandon the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). The result: no legally-binding limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972. The Arms Control Association (ACA) Board Chair Tom Countryman testified before Congress that abandoning the treaty without a new deal in place is “national security malpractice.” 

The ACA is leading the effort to secure U.S. and Russian support to extend START. The House voted to extend the treaty. Now it requires a major campaign to build strong support for a new bipartisan bill in the Senate that would do the same. 

Trump now threatens to walk away from the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty. Nuclear bomb tests are not only provocative but would be an environmental nightmare and a disaster as radiation spreads. CTB established a global taboo against nuclear testing. Now some Senators are pushing the White House to formally “un-sign” the treaty. This would also mean the United States would no longer have access to valuable test monitoring data. The ACA is pressing for confidence-building measures to resolve compliance concerns and strongly enforce this vital treaty. 

Last year, the Trump administration walked away from the successful 2015 Iran nuclear deal by imposing punishing sanctions on Iran, prompting Iran to respond by exceeding some nuclear limits. The future of the agreement is now in doubt and the threat of war is far too great. 

Further Information: 

Arms Control Association 

1200 Eighteenth Street NW 

Suite 1175 

Washington, DC 20036 

Molly Rush is the co-founder of the Thomas Merton Center and a member of the Editorial Collective.

NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 49 No. 8. October, 2019. All rights reserved.

Categories: News

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