The world has not tamed the nuclear beast and it is cause for concern.
This month, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a group formed 70 years ago by some of the physicists who worked on the Manhattan Project, will decide whether to update their Doomsday Clock which currently says, “It Is 5 Minutes to Midnight®.”
The clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences.
Why should Iowans worry when most don’t think about this in daily life? We don’t need to freak out, but we do need to be aware that the U.S. nuclear program matters in Iowa.
In 2009, President Obama announced pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons in Prague. Things have gone unexpectedly under his leadership.
“I note the United States does not support efforts to move to a nuclear weapons convention, a ban, or a fixed timetable for elimination of all nuclear weapons,” said Adam Scheinman, U.S. State Department delegate to a Dec. 8, 2014 international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in Vienna, Austria.
Jaws dropped at the tone-deaf statement in a room where people had gathered to hear the witness of Hibakusha who survived the nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Here’s the problem. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the administration plans to spend $355 billion over the next 10 years to modernize our nuclear arsenal. This is an absurd waste of taxpayer dollars on weapons that should never be used. These are our tax dollars, over $1,100 from every person.
The Doomsday Clock is a reminder that we can’t afford the luxury of an incremental approach to nuclear disarmament, and in Iowa it matters.