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Tucson Opinion: Nuclear weapons, an issue submerged from view
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Tucson Opinion

Tucson Opinion: Nuclear weapons, an issue submerged from view

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Raymond Graap

The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

Donald Trump had it right after being told about nuclear weapons: Briefing officer: “You know, we can’t use them.” Trump answered: “Then why do we have them?”

So why can’t we use them? Because a launch would result in a catastrophic counter launch that would destroy both attacking nations.

It is also now known that a “limited” nuclear war between India and Pakistan, besides unbelievable destruction and death of a massive scale, would send 6 million metric tons of debris up to 50,000 feet.

That would result in a nuclear winter and could put 2 billion people at risk of famine.

Previous treaties have reduced the number of nuclear warheads so that the U.S. and the Soviet Union have “only” 1,500 each, which is better than the 30,000 years ago. But now other nations feel the need for the nuclear gun. Here are facts to consider:

It would take only a dozen or so warheads to destroy the major cities of any country.

Accidents, even with warheads distributed in place, have happened. Eric Schlosser in his 2013 book “Command and Control” points these out in chilling detail. Cybersecurity threats are on the increase.

On six occasions, a launch due to human and computer failure has come within minutes of happening.

Destroy the planet by mistake? Absolutely possible and more likely now than during the Cold War.

These weapons remain on U.S. Cold War status: hair-trigger alert, sole authority by the president to launch, and first-use authority to launch. Once launched, there is no possibility to recall them.

Proposed plans are to replace the entire triad of delivery vehicles: new bombers, new submarines, and new land-based missiles. Estimated cost: $1 trillion.

New and more lethal and accurate missiles are now being made and designed by engineers here in Tucson.

Once a city is bombed, there is no medical or public health response possible.

What about “deterrence,” the threat of holding nuclear guns to each other’s heads?

To quote Gen. George Butler, Commander of Nuclear Forces in the early 90s: “Over time, as arsenals multiplied on both sides and the rhetoric of mutual annihilation grew more heated, we were forced to think about the unthinkable, justify the unjustifiable, rationalize the irrational. We contrived a new and desperate theology to ease our moral anguish, and we called it deterrence.”

Through sheer luck, the planet has not yet been destroyed.

Mankind has made little progress in finding creative ways to resolve conflicts peacefully. Technology has allowed us to see our small planet from space, but also has created the most sordid weapons conceivable.

Politicians often say, “This is not the right time.” If 76 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then when is “the right time?”

So where does that leave us? We are spending huge amounts of tax dollars and scientific expertise to support an effort on something that cannot be used.

For the first time in our history, a treaty titled “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” passed by the United Nations in 2017, presents the chance to end the nuclear madness. It was entered into force this past January; more nations, including those with nuclear weapons, need to sign on.

In his 2014 book “No Use” by Thomas M. Nichols, he states: “If disaster eventually strikes due to our inaction, we will not have the titanic ideological struggle of the twentieth century to blame.

And so, we must begin to create a more durable nuclear peace by reducing the number of nuclear arms and renouncing them as weapons of war. It is long past time, and we are out of excuses.”

Our current and prospective legislators need to break their silence and take this issue out of the darkness and speak up.

Raymond Graap is a retired physician and a member of the Committee for Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

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