No one wins in the nuclear arms race

David Hutter

“The more we build these weapons to keep us safe, the less safe we become.”

These words came from Jonathan Granoff, president of the Global Security Institute, an agency committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons, to students and community members on Oct. 29 in Alumni Hall.

More than 15 years after the end of the Cold War, Russia and the United States have thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at each other, he said. Other nations known to possess such weapons include China, France, and the United Kingdom, while India, Pakistan, and North Korea are working to develop them. The very existence of nuclear weapons is a moral affront to people everywhere, Granoff said.

“The weapons themselves are intrinsically immoral. They do not discriminate between current and future generations. They cannot distinguish between civilians and soldiers,” he said.

However, very few Americans ever talk about the dangers these weapons possess, he said.

“A collective form of psychic numbing” has befallen the American psyche, he said.

He lamented the United States’ dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in August 1945 at the end of World War II. The bombs and the ensuing radiation killed hundreds of thousands of people.

In January 1995, a team of Norwegian scientists released a weather satellite in the Arctic Ocean that was destined for the North Pole, Granoff said. Then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin initially mistook the satellite for a war submarine, he said. Yeltsin was planning to fire a nuclear weapon when he and his administration learned the identity of the satellite, he said.

Had Russia fired a nuclear weapon, it may have triggered a nuclear war that could have eradicated human civilization, Granoff said.

“It’s unimaginable what these weapons could do,” he said.

Granoff hopes all governments get rid of their nuclear weapons programs. Currently, 182 nations have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“Earth may be the only place in the universe where consciousness, reverence, and love exist. To not work for such values is a violation of every human religious tradition,” Granoff said.