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Peace activists wearing masks of Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and newly elected US President Joe Biden pose with mock nuclear missiles in front of Berlin's landmark the Brandenburg Gate on January 29, 2021 in an action to call for more progress in nuclear disarmament. (Photo: John MacDougall / AFP)

Peace activists wearing masks of Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and U.S. President Joe Biden pose with mock nuclear missiles in front of the U.S. embassy in Berlin on January 29, 2021 in an action to call for more progress in nuclear disarmament. (Photo: John Macdougall/AFP via Getty Images)

Presidents Biden and Putin, Heed This Appeal

It is time to once and for all end the Cold War "us and them" thinking.

Robert Dodge

At this time of a global pandemic, climate change, and teetering international economies, Presidents Biden and Putin will meet for their first official visit on Wednesday under a nuclear cloud that many observers feel is analogous to the Cold War. This meeting is expected to have frank discussions by each leader on many issues including the topic of strategic stability. Yet there is cause for hope. Noting previous occasions of cooperation and collaboration, on June 7, both governments were simultaneously delivered a high level appeal from more than 30 American and Russian organizations including international nuclear policy experts, former senior officials from both governments, international physicians and scientific organizations urging the presidents to, "Commit to a bilateral strategic dialogue that is regular, frequent, comprehensive and result oriented leading to further reduction of the nuclear risk hanging over the world and to the rediscovery of the road to a world free of nuclear weapons." The appeal recalls the Reagan - Gorbachev Principal and joint statement following their November 1985 summit in Geneva, "A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought." This group also understands that since that historic summit, our nuclear world has changed. It is now generally recognized that:

1. Nuclear weapons are far more dangerous than we previously thought as noted from the climatic and humanitarian consequences from even a limited nuclear war identified in the Nuclear Famine Studies.

2. The risk of nuclear war is far greater and likely to happen as long as these weapons exist, either by intent, miscalculation or cyber attack as long as these weapons exist. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' famous Doomsday Clock is currently set at 100 seconds to midnight.

3. This is a situation that does not have to be. Nuclear weapons are not a force of nature. Mankind built nuclear weapons and mankind has the ability to eliminate them. What is needed is the political will.

We must end the new arms race which finds the United States spending approximately $75 billion this year alone on all nuclear weapons related programs.

The list of signatories on the appeal includes among others: Peter Buijs, M.D., chair of the Netherlands International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, who initiated the Appeal; Igor Ivanov, former Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation; Academician Alexandre Dynkin, Chair, Russian Pugwash Committee; William J. Perry, former U.S. Secretary of Defense; Amb. Sergio Duarte, president of the Pugwash Conferences; General Vyacheslav Trubnikov, IMEMO (Institute of World Economy and International Relations); Joan Rohlfing, president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative; Edmund G. Brown Jr., former Governor of California Executive Chair of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; and Colonel General Victor Esin, former chief of staff, Russian Strategic Missile Forces.

This week's Summit comes at a time of great challenge and opportunity. It is time to once and for all end the Cold War "us and them" thinking. We must end the new arms race which finds the United States spending approximately $75 billion this year alone on all nuclear weapons related programs. After a year fighting a global pandemic while simultaneously addressing the catastrophic and increasing global challenges of climate change it should be ever more clear that we are one human family and it is time once again to demand cooperation and collaboration working together to jointly solve the problems faced by our world. The rest of the world is watching, though not waiting. Nations are taking action and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which entered into force on January 22 making nuclear weapons, including their use, threatened use, development, testing, stockpiling, and transfer, illegal under international law like all other weapons of mass destruction. The majority of citizens in NATO countries including the United States support their governments joining the Treaty. Presidents Biden and Putin must listen and seize this opportunity to make real progress towards nuclear disarmament when they meet in Geneva.


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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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