|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MARCH 31, 2005
|CONTACT: Los Alamos Study Group
Greg Mello 505-265-1200
AP Poll Shows Americans Prefer Nuclear Disarmament to Alternatives by Large Margins
Findings Consistent with Larger and More Detailed 2004 Poll; Americans Implicitly Condemn Current Nuclear Policies Path Open to New Political Leadership on Issue
ALBUQUERQUE -- March 31 -- An Associated Press poll conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs (at http://www.ap-ipsosresults.com/) shows that two-thirds (66%) of Americans believe no nation should have nuclear weapons.
The AP story can be found at, for example, http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=628195. [That story is also attached below in-line for future ease of reference.]
These findings are consistent with a more in-depth prior study conducted by the prestigious Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and collaborator organizations at the University of Maryland in 2004, available in full at http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/WMD/WMDreport_04_15_04.pdf.
A key finding of this week's results is that Americans prefer a policy of universal and complete nuclear disarmament to other alternatives by a ratio of more than 4 to 1. In contrast to the 66% who chose the statement "No countries should be allowed to have nuclear weapons," only 13% chose "Only the United States and its allies should be allowed to have nuclear weapons." Only 11% chose "Only countries that already have nuclear weapons should be allowed to have them."
"These results are remarkable from several perspectives," said Study Group Director Greg Mello. "First, they show that the basic wisdom of the tradeoff which became the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) -- that the nuclear weapon states would gradually and complete disarm in order that other countries not acquire nuclear weapons -- is still very widely appreciated in the U.S., despite decades of contrary practice and endless rhetoric about the supposed necessity of "nuclear deterrence." Americans fundamentally do not buy into this idea. They understand what our national leaders do not: we cannot get others to disabuse nuclear weapons if we seek to make them legitimate for ourselves. The core of all nonproliferation efforts in a practical world has to be that nuclear weapons are illegitimate, and indeed this is the basic idea at the heart of the NPT. Americans understand this basic core principle, despite all the propaganda claiming otherwise.
"Second, Americans distinguish nuclear weapons from the military generally. Trust in the military is running very high in the U.S. right now, but this is not translating into trust in nuclear weapons for security.
"Third, these results suggest that New Mexico, a state which is 20 times more economically dependent upon nuclear weapons than any other state -- and which has declined sharply in relative economic performance relative to other states as that dependence has grown -- is home to an industry which is not embraced by Americans. New Mexico must beware, lest its identity and reputation be captured by an industry which Americans apparently associate with insecurity and worse. The direction of this industry, e.g. toward plutonium pit production for the long haul and toward modified and more "usable" nuclear weapons, is not democratically supported -- not at all.
"Fourth, these findings should cause liberal congresspersons and arms controllers to take stock and re-think their implicit and explicit support for retaining a "safe and reliable" nuclear stockpile. Most Americans do not support retaining nuclear stockpiles indefinitely. It is not just new nuclear weapons they don't want. They want fewer, and then zero, nuclear weapons. The PIPA poll found that 84% of Americans supported the NPT's requirement for full nuclear disarmament. It also found that the average guessestimate of the U.S. stockpile is 200 nuclear weapons and the average number of weapons desired is 100. (We have more than 10,000 weapons and there are no actual binding laws or treaties, other than executive branch memoranda, under which this number is to be decreased, despite extensive misrepresentations of the Moscow Treaty.)
"Finally, those who seek to find a political voice for these anti-nuclear attitudes -- like most members of the Santa Fe City Council and the 200 + New Mexico businesses and nonprofits who have endorsed disarmament and nonproliferation resolutions like the "Call for Nuclear Disarmament" (at http://www.lasg.org) -- should take heart. Their efforts are very broadly supported in society, and any electoral impact from this kind of political leadership is likely to be positive, not negative. Yearnings for peace cannot be forever stilled; most Americans reject the embrace of apocalyptic violence; and credit will come to those political leaders who can articulate and help realize these near-universal values."