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Nuclear-armed North Korea has hundreds of ballistic missiles that can target its neighbors in Northeast Asia but it will need foreign technology to upgrade its arsenal and pose a more direct threat to the United States. "A child born today is not likely to reach their 30th birthday without some nuclear event occurring in their world," writes Dodge. "Is this the world we want for our children and grandchildren?" (Photo: Vincent Yu, AP)

North Korea’s Nuclear Ambition and the US Presidential Campaign

Robert Dodge

With the news of North Korea testing another nuclear weapon its leadership continues the fallacy of nuclear deterrence promoted by the nuclear powers of the world. This action by North Korea must be condemned just as the continued possession of nuclear weapons by all of the nuclear states. This action is against the growing international consensus for a universal treaty banning all nuclear weapons and making their possession illegal just as chemical and biological weapons have been prohibited.

In a year of U.S. presidential elections, where is the voice of reason? Who among the candidates or media has spoken to the legal obligations of the United States and all nuclear powers to work in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Particularly in view of the current climate science confirming that a small regional limited nuclear war using only ½ of 1 percent of the global nuclear arsenals has the potential to cause the deaths of more than 2 billion people from the ensuing climate change following such a war. Who has the courage to speak the truth and put forth a plan to eliminate these weapons?

Where is the media in it’s investigative obligation and engagement of dialogue on this issue in the campaign. Outlets like PBS continue to cover the arms race and modernization of our Trident submarines, each with the potential for the above scenario many times over, as though it is an acceptable outcome of global doomsday if they are activated. This is accepted without question as a fait accompli. We must ask the candidates if they are actually aware of this science and if so under what circumstance they are ready to end life as we know it becoming defacto suicide bombers. For it would be only a matter of time before the global climatic effects of such a use would result in our own deaths. There can be no doublespeak in this response. You are either in favor of the status quo with existing arsenals that drive the arms race and promote nations like North Korea to develop their own capabilities or you work in earnest to eliminate these weapons.

Time is not on our side. The chance of accidental or intentional nuclear war is placed by probability theorists at 1% per year or more. A child born today is not likely to reach their 30th birthday without some nuclear event occurring in their world. Is this the world we want for our children and grandchildren?

The candidates and the media must overcome their cowardice in addressing this issue at this critical time.

We must demand answers to these questions about the greatest imminent existential threat to our world. We cannot rely on the hope that someone else will take care of this or the notion that I cannot make a difference. In our democracy each of us has a duty and responsibility to be informed and to take action.


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Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge, a frequent Common Dreams contributor, writes as a family physician practicing in Ventura, California. He is the Co-Chair of the Security Committee of National Physicians for Social Responsibility and also serves as the President of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles.

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