News Release

· Presidential Politics and Nuclear Weapons · Hiroshima Anniversary


The New York Times reports: “[Senator Barack Obama’s] remarks about removing nuclear weapons as an option in the region [Afghanistan or Pakistan] drew fresh attacks from Democratic rivals who had already questioned his foreign policy experience. American officials have generally been deliberately ambiguous about their nuclear strike policies.”

Walsh is a research associate with the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He said today: “This incident follows a bizarre moment in a recent Republican presidential debate when virtually all the candidates affirmed that the U.S. should consider attacking Iran with nuclear weapons in order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. … Presidential candidates who think they can go around threatening the potential use of nuclear weapons to look tough without serious international repercussions are living in a bubble. Clinging to the nuclear ‘option’ looks like a not-so-veiled nuclear threat to other countries. It increases their incentive to acquire nuclear weapons in order to defend themselves and makes the U.S. look like a nuclear rogue. It reduces our ability to work with other countries to improve the nonproliferation regime, making us look both hypocritical and dangerous. Loose nuclear talk makes us vulnerable, not strong, and calls into question the judgment of those who seek to be commander in chief.”

Walsh added: “Candidates are given a free pass when they intone, ‘all options are on the table.’ This sounds good but is often offered without content. … But wait a minute. Everything is on the table? What about poison gas or biological weapons? Is a candidate weak if he or she refuses to endorse their possible use? The press has to take some responsibility for this ugly state of affairs. Where are the follow-up questions?”
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Shaw is the director of security programs at Physicians for Social Responsibility. He said today: “Today’s debate over building a new generation of nuclear weapons and gung-ho assertions by presidential candidates that they would use nuclear weapons against Iran are best understood in the context of the human tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
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Burroughs is executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy and co-editor of the recently released book Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security? He said today: “Use of nuclear weapons would violate well-established rules protecting civilians against the effects of attacks on military targets, rules that the U.S. military says it follows in regular military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. For that reason, the International Court of Justice concluded in a 1996 opinion that use of nuclear weapons is generally contrary to international humanitarian law governing the conduct of warfare.”
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Tomero is the director for nuclear non-proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Isaacs is the executive director of the Center. Tomero said today: “As part of the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), whereby 182 countries have given up the right to develop or acquire nuclear weapons, the United States — along with France, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia — promised never to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states that are members of the NPT, except if attacked by a non-nuclear state that is allied with a state possessing nuclear weapons. Pledged in 1995, these so-called ‘negative security assurances’ were reiterated at the 2000 Non-Proliferation Review Conference.”

Isaacs said today: “For more than 60 years, there has been a bright line drawn against dropping atomic bombs that would kill untold tens or even hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.”
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Kelley is executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) located in Livermore, California. She said today: “On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb used in war on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. … As we approach the 62nd anniversary of that horrific event, instead of apologizing to the Japanese people or foreswearing a future ‘nuclear option,’ the United States government is busy developing a new nuclear weapon, vastly more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The Livermore Lab in California has been chosen to design the next hydrogen bomb, to be launched from U.S. submarines and dubbed the ‘Reliable Replacement Warhead-1.’ This RRW-1 is the first in a series of new H-bombs, part of the Bush administration’s ‘Complex 2030’ plan to re-design and rebuild every nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal. … This month, people of peace will gather at Livermore Lab and locations across the country and around the globe to commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and vow ‘never again.'”
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For more information, contact the Institute for Public Accuracy at (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan at (541) 484-9167.