Open Letter to President-elect Trump: Negotiate Nuclear Zero

The text below is an Open Letter to the next American president urging complete nuclear disarmament as an urgent priority. The letter was prepared under the auspices of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and its current list of signatories are listed below. We hope you will add your name to the list.

As president of the United States, you will have the grave responsibility of assuring that nuclear weapons are not overtly threatened or used during your term of office.

The most certain way to fulfill this responsibility is to negotiate with the other possessors of nuclear weapons for their total elimination. The U.S. is obligated under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to engage in such negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race and for nuclear disarmament.

A nuclear war, any nuclear war, would be an act of insanity. Between nuclear weapons states, it would lead to the destruction of the attacking nation as well as the attacked. Between the US and Russia, it would threaten the survival of humanity.

There are still more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, of which the United States possesses approximately 7,000. Some 1,000 of these remain on hair-trigger alert. A similar number remain on hair-trigger alert in Russia. This is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Even if nuclear weapons are not used intentionally, they could be used inadvertently by accident or miscalculation. Nuclear weapons and human fallibility are a dangerous mix.

Nuclear deterrence presupposes a certain view of human behavior. It depends on the willingness of political leaders to act rationally under all circumstances, even those of extreme stress. It provides no guarantees or physical protection. It could fail spectacularly and tragically.

You have suggested that more nations – such as Japan, South Korea and even Saudi Arabia – may need to develop their own nuclear arsenals because the US spends too much money protecting other countries. This nuclear proliferation would make for a far more dangerous world. It is also worrisome that you have spoken of dismantling or reinterpreting the international agreement that places appropriate limitations on Iran’s nuclear program and has the support of all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.

As other presidents have had, you will have at your disposal the power to end civilization as we know it. You will also have the opportunity, should you choose, to lead in ending the nuclear weapons era and achieving nuclear zero through negotiations on a treaty for the phased, verifiable, irreversible and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons.

We, the undersigned, urge you to choose the course of negotiations for a nuclear weapons-free world. It would be a great gift to all humanity and all future generations.

To add your name to the open letter, click here.

Initial signers:

David Krieger
President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Richard Falk
Senior Vice President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Daniel Ellsberg
Distinguished Fellow, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Noam Chomsky
Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Oliver Stone
Film director

Setsuko Thurlow
Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Survivor

Anders Wijkman
Co-President, Club of Rome

Helen Caldicott
Founding President, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Ben Ferencz
Former Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor

Robert Jay Lifton
Columbia University

Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament

Robert Laney
Chair, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Rick Wayman
Director of Programs, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Ruben Arvizu
Latin America Representative, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Jonathan Granoff
President, Global Security Institute

Medea Benjamin
Co-Founder, Code Pink

Peter Kuznick
Professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute, American University

Barry Ladendorf
President, Veterans for Peace

Dr. Hafsat Abiola-Costello
Founder and President, Kudirat Initiative for Democracy

Marie Dennis
Co-President, Pax Christi International

Elaine Scarry
Professor, Harvard University

Alice Slater
New York Representative, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Richard Appelbaum
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Sandy Jones
Director of Communications, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Joni Arends
Executive Director, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

Sergio Grosjean
Instituto Mexicano de Ecologia Ciencia y Cultura

John Avery
Associate, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Leonard Eiger
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

April Brown
Marshallese Educational Initiative

Jill Dexter
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Robert Aldridge
Associate, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Charles Genuardi
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Bill Wickersham
Associate, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

John Hallam
People for Nuclear Disarmament

Mark Hamilton
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Mary Becker
Former Board member, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Frank Bognar
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Judith Lipton, M.D.
Security Committee, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Sue Hawes
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Sherry Melchiorre
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Elena Nicklasson
Director of Development, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Daniel Smith
Appellate Lawyer

Nancy Andon
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Lawrence Markworth
Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Cletus Stein
The Peace Farm

Mario Fuentes
Sector Salud

Jim Knowlton
Blue Ocean Productions

Peter Low
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, University of Canterbury

Jenny Maxwell
Hereford Peace Council

Rodrigo Navarro
Comunicar para Conservar

Sergio Rimola
National Hispanic Medical Association

Julian Rodriguez
#Revolucionando

  • Anti-Empire

    So many of these people smeared Trump, attacking him for every evil trait imaginable, but now wish to appeal to him at a moment when he is already talking of negotiating nuke reductions with Russia.
    Trump has expressed an aversion to nuclear wespons in the past a fact which these worthies seem unwilling to recognize.
    Most of these people, not all, Richard Falk being an exception, do not matter. The ones who crowned Hillary as lesser evil, eg. Noam Chomsky, stand disgraced. He and the rest have an ever smaller and irrelevant following.

    • “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” — Donald J. Trump, 12/22/16

      As with everything else, Trump is whatever you want him to be concerning nukes. He’s said enough things, all of them mutually exclusive with each other, that you can attribute any position to him you want and you will be correct.

      We won’t know his real position on nukes until we see it in action.

      • Anti-Empire

        Notice the qualifier, Thomas. Why don’t you just go and write for HuffPost and leave AW.C ungated.

        • I write for numerous publications, but HuffPo isn’t one of them.

          If I left Antiwar.com, it would not magically become “ungated.” Especially if by “ungated” you mean “nobody ever argues with me.”

          • Anti-Empire

            The HuffPo was a joke. You do not write there, but you should. ;-)
            Your sense of irony, the mark of a subtle intellect, is quite obviously superb.
            If a pol says something that will win him votes, he could be lting or telling the truth. BUT if he says something that stands to lose him votes and open him to attack, then it is likely to be heartfelt. Do it is with Trump and Russia, the main place where nuclear confrontation becomes likely.
            It is quite unPC to point this out and to a large degree many who do not regard themselves as liberal follow their PC line.

          • “If a pol says something that will win him votes, he could be lting or telling the truth. BUT if he says something that stands to lose him votes and open him to attack, then it is likely to be heartfelt.”

            That is indeed one approach that many people take to analyzing politicians.

            My preferred way is to assume, until and unless it’s proven otherwise, that a politician will keep all his worst promises and break all his best promises. That model has a pretty good track record for being predictive.

          • Don

            I would just like to know what you consider ‘best’ and ‘worst’.

            “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” — Donald J. Trump, 12/22/16

            Well done on finding that one. Do you keep a reference book handy on Trump promises. I’ve heard it but I wouldn’t have dug it up so fast.

          • Don,

            I would consider his best promises to be those that tend toward non-intervention, and his worst promises to be those to e.g. crater the American economy and build a police state so that his supporters are spared the horror of being around brown people ’cause MURKA.

        • dieter heymann

          Do you believe that Israel, Pakistan, and India will ever come to their senses? I do not. Hence the qualifier is meaningless to me.

        • dieter heymann

          I do not believe that Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and India will ever come to their senses hence the qualifier is meaningless to me.