Missiles are paraded across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade earlier this year in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Wong Maye-E / The Associated Press

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 was presented last Sunday to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. This represents the recognition of the urgent need to rid the world of the force that could terminate meaningful life on our planet.

Yet the general public has not recognized this threat, which is currently as high or higher than during the height of the Cold War. This is likely because the weapons are out of sight and effectively hidden from public view.

However, recent exchanges of threats between North Korea and President Trump have brought the problem to more public view and concern.

This conflict is nearly an unmanageable situation without a nonviolent solution in sight.

It highlights the vulnerability of our planet and how two individuals, acting by themselves without any effective way to prevent their behavior, could destroy it. To paraphrase President Kennedy when briefed on the nuclear weapons arsenal: “This is an insane situation when two individuals on opposite sides of the globe could end meaningful existence for everyone else.”

President Reagan stated in his inaugural address: “We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.”

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said, “It is my firm belief that the infinite uncontrollable fury of nuclear weapons should never be held in the hands of any mere mortal ever again, for any reason.”

Thus, the conclusion of thoughtful leaders faced with the ultimate responsibility: That these weapons do not belong in any human hands. The risk is completely unacceptable.

Representatives of many nations met this past July under the auspices of the United Nations. After careful and extensive discussions, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by 121 nations. It is for this reason that the Nobel Peace Prize is being awarded to ICAN.

The United States (and other nuclear-armed or -dependent nations) opposed the treaty and refused to participate in the process. Regardless, official ratification by 50 nations will make the treaty provisions permanently and legally binding on the signers.

We have many chaotic and dangerous conflicts in the world. Eliminating this extremely dangerous nuclear weapons arsenal will not solve these conflicts. But it will eliminate the extreme risk they pose to our survival.

Please contact Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake and urge that they support the ban treaty, and, if not, ask them why not? Our generation will not be forgiven if we do not act to accomplish this.

Raymond F. Graap, MD, and Schuyler Hilts, M.D. Commander (Ret) USNR, are members or Physicians for Social Responsibility.