News Release

Non-Proliferation and the Nuclear Shadow


With the review conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) now underway at the United Nations, commentators include independent policy analysts and Americans who have direct experience with nuclear weapons tests.

Burroughs, executive director of the New York-based Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, is monitoring the Non-Proliferation Treaty conference in New York. Burroughs presented the paper “Building a Nuclear Weapons-Free Future” at the January meeting on the NPT at the Carter Center. He said today: “As the four-week NPT Review Conference opened this week, the U.S. is showing no flexibility about arms control steps like negotiation of a verifiable treaty banning production of fissile materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) for nuclear weapons. That is a treaty under which international inspectors would monitor U.S. facilities, a prospect not attractive to the Bush administration. In turn, non-nuclear countries are resisting non-proliferation measures like IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei’s proposal for multilateral controls on the spread of technology to produce fissile materials for use in nuclear reactors but also potentially in nuclear weapons.”
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Nelson is the director of Support & Education for Radiation Victims. He said today: “I know first hand what it means to grow up downwind from atom bombs, and I know the history of government deception and its failure to acknowledge the great harm that was done. … Renewed nuclear testing would be an insult to all those who have suffered so much from the effects of the atom bomb. Those who have lost their lives have yet to be acknowledged and honored for their ultimate sacrifice in the name of ‘national security.'” In November 2002, the National Geographic magazine recounted Nelson’s history as a downwinder: “Born and raised in St. George, Utah, Nelson was seven when atomic bombs with names like ‘Charlie’ and ‘Baker’ began exploding less than 120 miles from his home. But with safe assurances from the Atomic Energy Commission, his family thought they were unaffected. They continued to eat vegetables from a garden irrigated with water polluted from fallout dust and drink fresh milk from the farmer up the street. They were unaware that scientists would eventually show that radioactive iodine 131 often entered the food chain through milk from cows that ate contaminated grass or feed, and increased the risk of thyroid cancer. The Nelsons’ health eventually began to unravel. In a family of seven, seven different kinds of cancers were diagnosed, including colon cancer, which claimed his sister Margaret.”

Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Peace and Economic Security Program and the author of the book With Hiroshima Eyes: Atomic War, Nuclear Extortion and Moral Imagination, Gerson said today: “Few in the U.S. are aware of the world’s growing anger over U.S. double standards and Washington’s hypocrisy. [They] are the primary forces driving nuclear weapons proliferation and threatening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. … At the last NPT Review Conference in 2000, under pressure from the non-nuclear nations, the nuclear powers agreed to take 13 ‘practical steps’ toward implementing Article VI: ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, strengthening the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, reducing their nuclear arsenals, halting production of weapons-grade nuclear materials, and more. The U.S. has since refused to ratify the CTBT, abrogated the ABM [treaty], and continues to develop new nuclear weapons. … The current U.S. administration’s counter-proliferation policy is an extension of its first-strike unilateralism.”
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Director of the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment and a coordinator of the AbolitionNow! campaign, Slater said: “The bargain enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty was that any non-nuclear state may develop peaceful nuclear power so long as they foreswear developing nuclear weapons. In exchange, the nuclear signatories promised to make ‘good faith’ efforts to get rid of their nuclear weapons. That was over 30 years ago, and today the U.S. maintains enough nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert to destroy the world hundreds of times over and is now researching new, more usable tactical nuclear weapons and adopting a military posture that allows the use of nuclear weapons in preemptive attacks. Technically, Iran is not yet in violation of any terms of the Treaty while the U.S. continues to violate it on a daily basis. If the U.S. demonstrated a commitment to genuine disarmament, it would surely then have the moral authority to close the loopholes in the Treaty that allow nuclear power programs to be used covertly to develop nuclear weapons.”
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For more information, contact the Institute for Public Accuracy at (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan at (541) 484-9167