Take Nuclear Weapons Off Alert Status

April 4, 2005

Take Nuclear Weapons Off Alert Status

A Plea By Nobel Laureates, Parliamentarians, The Euro parliament, And NGOs Around The World

32 Nobel Laureates and 237 organizations and parliamentarians from around the world have signed a Statement of Endorsement that calls for removing all strategic nuclear weapons from "hair-trigger alert and "Launch on Warning" status. In addition the Statement has been endorsed by the European Parliament and by the Australian Senate.

The Statement is being released in the warm-up to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Review Conference in New York May 2-29 and is aimed at raising the profile of the issue of nuclear weapons operating status at that review.

Of the 32 Nobel Laureates signing the Statement, eight are Peace Laureates, including the Dalai Lama, Jose Ramos Horta, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Mairead Corrigan Maquire, Joseph Rotblat, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Oscar Arias Sanchez, and Betty Williams. In addition, the International Peace Bureau and IPPNW, that have received the Nobel Peace Prize, also endorsed the Statement.

A total of 53 parliamentarians have signed the Statement from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Russia, Belgium, Germany, Brazil, U.S.A., and Italy.

The appeal was endorsed in motions concerning the Nuclear Nonproliferation Review Conference on march 10th by both the European Parliament and the Australian Senate.

This project was initiated and is coordinated by the Association of World Citizens in San Francisco and by Friends of the Earth Australia in Sydney, with assistance from many other groups worldwide including Abolition-2000, the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA), Mayors for Peace, and the War & Peace Foundation.

In spite of significant reductions in the number of nuclear warheads held by the U.S. and Russia from 1990 onwards, both countries maintain thousands of warheads on 'launch on warning' and 'hair-trigger" alert status to this day and will continue to do so, in spite of the Moscow Treaty, through 2012.

A recent report by the RAND corporation reported that the 4,000 U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads on hair-trigger alert could be launched in a few minutes notice destroying both countries in an hour.

A number of terrifying 'near misses' to nuclear war have taken place, both during and after the end of the Cold War, in which the fate of civilization has depended on correct decision-making by highly stressed military personnel or on presidents whose sobriety has sometimes been questionable.

Moreover, the nuclear danger has accelerated with the acquisition of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan, and the evolution of centralized command and control systems in those countries. The subcontinent is moving toward a highly dangerous 'hair trigger' status.

Taking nuclear weapons systems off hair-trigger alert has been called for repeatedly by the European Parliament, the UN General Assembly, and was a key recommendation of the Canberra Commission in 1996, and of the Atlanta Consultation, chaired by President Carter in January of 2005.

Removing strategic nuclear weapons from launch on warning status is seen by the Canberra Commission and the Atlanta Consultation as a first step toward the elimination of nuclear arsenals worldwide, as required by article VI of the NPT. The issue of removing nuclear weapons from "hair-trigger" alert underlines the necessity of ceasing to play Russian (or American, or Indian or Pakistani) roulette with the entire world.

Our Statement calling for the elimination of hair-trigger policy will be released in Melbourne, Geneva, Hiroshima, San Francisco, New York (at the UN), and London on April 5th.

This project was initiated from the World Citizen Award presented to Stanislav Petrov in Moscow on 21 May 2004 by the Association of World Citizens. Petrov is credited by many arms experts as probably saving the world from nuclear war though his singular decision when in charge of an early-warning bunker outside of Moscow on September 26, 1983, when the system indicated the Soviet Union was under a missile attack by the United States.

For more information contact:

Douglas Mattern
Association of World Citizens, San Francisco
55 New Montgomery Street, Suite 224, San Francisco, CA 94105
Email: [email protected]   Tel: 415 541 9610 or 650 326 1409

John Hallam
Nuclear Weapons Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Australia,
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 61-2-9567-7533, fax 61-2-9567-7166
1 Henry Street Turella NSW Australia 2205