I am increasingly concerned about the possibility of nuclear war. That risk is heightened by Russian nuclear saber rattling and its war on Ukraine.
But, in actuality, the possibility that a nuclear weapon could be launched deliberately — or by accident or miscalculation — is with us every day. There are nine nuclear-armed countries; this means any one of nine fallible men could end life as we know it.
I understand that a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought. This was stated eloquently by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. It bears repeating today.
Therefore, I am calling on the United States to join the Treaty of Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which was adopted by 122 countries. It entered into force in 2021 and is now part of international law.
The United States boycotted the proceedings, but that was a shortsighted move by the Trump Administration. It is time for us to realize that our long-term security depends on the global abolition of nuclear weapons.
The TPNW contains a list of prohibitions, including the development, testing, production, and threatened use of nuclear weapons. The treaty also contains positive obligations. I especially want to make known the TPNW’s requirements for countries to mitigate the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of global nuclear testing.
I would rather help victims of past nuclear testing and focus on cleaning up contaminated areas than continue a dangerous global arms race that could end in unimaginable horror for us all.
Prohibiting nuclear weapons sends a powerful message that they are not only unacceptable but also immoral. This was the message that Pope Francis sent to the TPNW negotiations. Indeed, the Vatican was the first in line at the United Nations to sign and ratify the TPNW. We should pay attention.
The U.S. has an opportunity this month to take a small step to support the TPNW. The First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty will take place June 21-23 in Vienna, Austria. The U.S. could send an observer.
I call on President Biden to consider a future free of nuclear weapons. Biden, send your representative to Vienna. I also call on the U.S. media to cover this historic first meeting. We all need more information about the TPNW, in my hometown of Livermore and around the country.