Open Letter to President – elect Donald Trump on Nuclear Weapons

Prof. Richard Falk is an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years. Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He initiated this blog partly in celebration of his 80th birthday.

The text below is an Open Letter to the next American president urging complete nuclear disarmament as an urgent priority. The letter was prepared under the auspices of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and its current list of signatories are listed below. It is hoped that concerns with nuclear weapons policy will rise to the top of the global policy agenda and will engage people everywhere. It is our view that the elimination of nuclear weaponry is a matter of upholding the human interest of all peoples, as well as promoting the national interest of each country.

Open Letter to President-elect Trump: Negotiate Nuclear Zero

Open Letter to President-elect Trump: Negotiate Nuclear Zero

As president of the United States, you will have the grave responsibility of assuring that nuclear weapons are not overtly threatened or used during your term of office.

The most certain way to fulfill this responsibility is to negotiate with the other possessors of nuclear weapons for their total elimination.  The U.S. is obligated under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to engage in such negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race and for nuclear disarmament.

A nuclear war, any nuclear war, would be an act of insanity.  Between nuclear weapons states, it would lead to the destruction of the attacking nation as well as the attacked.  Between the U.S. and Russia, it would threaten the survival of humanity.

There are still more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, of which the United States possesses more than 7,000.  Some 1,000 of these remain on hair-trigger alert.  A similar number remain on hair-trigger alert in Russia.  This is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Even if nuclear weapons are not used intentionally, they could be used inadvertently by accident or miscalculation.  Nuclear weapons and human fallibility are a dangerous mix.

Nuclear deterrence presupposes a certain view of human behavior.  It depends on the willingness of political leaders to act rationally under all circumstances, even those of extreme stress.  It provides no guarantees or physical protection.  It could fail spectacularly and tragically.

You have suggested that more nations – such as Japan, South Korea and even Saudi Arabia – may need to develop their own nuclear arsenals because the U.S. spends too much money protecting other countries.  This nuclear proliferation would make for a far more dangerous world.  It is also worrisome that you have spoken of dismantling or reinterpreting the international agreement that places appropriate limitations on Iran’s nuclear program and has the support of all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.

As other presidents have had, you will have at your disposal the power to end civilization as we know it.  You will also have the opportunity, should you choose, to lead in ending the nuclear weapons era and achieving nuclear zero through negotiations on a treaty for the phased, verifiable, irreversible and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons.

We, the undersigned, urge you to choose the course of negotiations for a nuclear weapons-free world.  It would be a great gift to all humanity and all future generations.

To add your name to the open letter, click here.

Initial signers:

David Krieger
President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Richard Falk
Senior Vice President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Daniel Ellsberg
Distinguished Fellow, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Noam Chomsky
Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Oliver Stone
Film director

Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Survivor

Anders Wijkman
Co-President, Club of Rome

Helen Caldicott
Founding President, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Ben Ferencz
Former Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor

Robert Jay Lifton
Columbia University

Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament

Martin Hellman
Professor Emeritus, Stanford University

Robert Laney
Chair, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Rick Wayman
Director of Programs, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Ruben Arvizu
Latin America Representative, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Jonathan Granoff
President, Global Security Institute

Medea Benjamin
Co-Founder, Code Pink

Peter Kuznick
Professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute, American University

Barry Ladendorf
President, Veterans for Peace

Dr. Hafsat Abiola-Costello
Founder and President, Kudirat Initiative for Democracy

Marie Dennis
Co-President, Pax Christi International

Elaine Scarry
Professor, Harvard University

Richard Appelbaum
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Sandy Jones
Director of Communications, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Joni Arends
Executive Director, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

Sergio Grosjean
Instituto Mexicano de Ecologia Ciencia y Cultura

John Avery
Associate, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Leonard Eiger
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

April Brown
Marshallese Educational Initiative

Jill Dexter
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Robert Aldridge
Associate, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Charles Genuardi
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Bill Wickersham
Associate, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

John Hallam
People for Nuclear Disarmament

Mark Hamilton
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Mary Becker
Former Board member, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Judith Lipton, M.D.
Security Committee, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Sherry Melchiorre
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Elena Nicklasson
Director of Development, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Daniel Smith
Appellate Lawyer

Cletus Stein
The Peace Farm

Mario Fuentes
Sector Salud

Jim Knowlton
Blue Ocean Productions

Peter Low
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, University of Canterbury

Jenny Maxwell
Hereford Peace Council

Rodrigo Navarro
Comunicar para Conservar

Sergio Rimola
National Hispanic Medical Association

Julian Rodriguez


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