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Guest Opinion

Challenge our leaders to deescalate the nuclear threat


Some disasters, like earthquakes and tornadoes, are natural and we can only prepare for them. Other disasters, like droughts, floods and forest fires, are aggravated by our warming planet and we are just beginning to reduce our carbon emissions and the damage they will cause.

One looming disaster, the threat of nuclear war, is entirely man made. Most of us ignore this potential disaster and never talk about it. But talk we did, with Mack Wagner, a staffer for U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1. My husband and I joined a group of activists from Coalition for Peace Action, Friends Committee on National Legislation and Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security to discuss different strategies to deescalate the nuclear threat.

The possibility of a nuclear war has haunted my dreams since I was a child ducking under a wooden desk. As a mother of an infant learning about nuclear proliferation, I worked for a nuclear freeze. Today my nightmares of a nuclear winter have returned as war rages in Ukraine and the United States responds by investing in more nuclear warheads. It was hopeful to learn that there are different steps we can take to reduce the possibility of a nuclear war.

After thanking Congressman Fitzpatrick for being open-minded and willing to listen, Dr. Stewart Prager and Dr. Frank von Hippel from Princeton shared some of the following talking points.

We need to have serious negotiations with Russia to retrieve the New Start Treaty and limit the number of nuclear warheads. The professors stressed that it benefits everyone to engage in nuclear diplomacy and that it has worked many times in the past.

Another point made was that we have spent over $350 billion on missile defense and found out it is unreliable. It does, however, help drive the development of new types of nuclear weapons and the Chinese nuclear buildup.

It is time to stop investing in missile defense because physicists agree it is impossible to make it work.

We asked Congressman Fitzpatrick to consider being the first Republican member of the Bicameral Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Working Group.

We also asked Rep. Fitzpatrick to consider co-sponsoring House Resolution 77 which supports the goals and provisions of The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. That treaty bans the use, possession, testing and transfer of nuclear weapons under international law. It went into effect on Jan. 20, 2021 with the support of more than 130 countries, but without U.S. support. Imagine how much safer the world would be if the U.S. paused the research, development, testing and acquisition of new, unnecessary, and expensive nuclear weapons.

Some weapons are too deadly to ever consider using. We humans have built our nuclear arsenals and we are the only ones who can dismantle them. It will take enormous courage, moral conviction and compassion to do so. Who will be the first to say we want out of this no-win game? The doomsday clock is ticking and we need to encourage Rep. Fitzpatrick and all our elected officials to take the possibility of a nuclear disaster seriously and do all they can to deescalate the nuclear threat.

Debra Orben lives in Springfield Township.

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