Late Breaking News
|Date: August 27, 1998 2:22 pm
Contact: Physicians for Social Responsibility
Sharon Pickett, 301-365-9307
or Robert Tiller, 202-898-0150, ext. 220
|Physicians for Social Responsibility, Other Groups Urge Leaders To De-Alert Nuclear Weapons|
|WASHINGTON - August 27 - The following was released today by Physicians
for Social Responsibility:
As President Clinton and President Yeltsin prepare to hold talks next week, a coalition of national and international organizations have joined in a campaign to urge immediate de-alerting of nuclear weapons. A letter to the two presidents, initiated by Physicians for Social Responsibility and Methodists United for Peace with Justice, has been signed by 68 disarmament, religious and grassroots organizations.
The United States and Russia maintain thousands of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. The letter highlights the threat of accidental or unauthorized launch of these weapons and calls on the two leaders to take action to reduce this threat. The organizations call on President Clinton and President Yeltsin to discuss de-alerting of nuclear weapons at the upcoming summit. The groups urge the two leaders to commence mutual de-alerting no later than January 1999 and to complete de-alerting no later than Dec. 31, 1999. The letter also urges the United States and Russia to work with other nuclear nations to de-alert their weapons as well.
De-alerting of nuclear weapons can be accomplished by executive actions of the two presidents. No legislative action is required to take warheads off their delivery vehicles, a simple action that would significantly increase the security of both nations. President Bush and President Gorbachev demonstrated the effectiveness of executive action when they reduced the alert status of strategic bombers in 1991.
In addition to support from NGOs and religious groups, de-alerting also carries the endorsement of many heads of state, prime ministers and military experts. De-alerting was recommended in a 1996 statement signed by 60 generals and admirals and has been endorsed by the Canberra Commission and the National Academy of Sciences.
India and Pakistan demonstrated their nuclear capability in May of this year. Russia is having major problems in ensuring the security of its fissile materials. Terrorist attacks are on the rise. In light of these and other recent events, the sign-on letter urges the United States and Russia to make de-alerting a priority topic in next week's talks.
Note: Copies of the letter and interviews with experts available
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