The Alternative to Nuclear Annihilation: A Tribute to ICAN

23 October 2017, 3:45 PM
Nagasaki hypocentre

Monument at the hypocentre of the atomic bombing in Nagasaki - Photo by Dean S. Pemberton via Wikicommons

While most of the world was content that nuclear weapons were resting in the hands of responsible leaders and protected by rigorous safeguards, a terrifying thing happened. In the past few months, the presidential rhetoric between North Korea and the United States rose to the level of hysterical threats. For the first time since October 1962, people of the United States actually began to imagine that we might be dropping nuclear bombs in anticipation of nuclear bombs being dropped on us.

For the first time since October 1962, people of the United States actually began to imagine that we might be dropping nuclear bombs in anticipation of nuclear bombs being dropped on us.

In the face of this prospect of madness, on October 6, 2017, the Nobel Peace Prize was presented to the Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Perfect timing! And desperately needed in order to change the options from brutal catastrophe to sensible security!

ICAN is certainly not the only group with a nuclear conscience.  Hundreds and thousands of such groups span the globe and meet on a regular basis, as does the URI Cooperation Circle entitled "Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons." Why ICAN was chosen, from all of the rest, was because of its leadership role in facilitating a United Nations vote this past summer to ban nuclear weapons. One hundred and twenty countries of the world signed on. Even though the countries with the bombs poised to drop did not sign, nevertheless, this nuclear ban-treaty stood out in conspicuous contrast to the prevailing concept of  "mutually assured destruction." 

There has always been an alternative to nuclear annihilation, but that clarion call has mostly been on mute until now.

There has always been an alternative to nuclear annihilation, but that clarion call has mostly been on mute until now. Now is the urgent moment when we must do more than merely quake at the prospects. We need to demand that the weapons be taken out of circulation, for sake of life on this planet.

Therefore, as the Convener of URI's Voices CC, I want to congratulate our colleagues at ICAN on this world-renowned and well-deserved award.  And we pledge that just as chemical and biological weapons have been banned, we will work with you to make sure that nuclear weapons are abolished.

With great respect,

William E. Swing

Cooperation Circles Involved