Physicians for Social Responsibility denounced a change in US policy announced this week by Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton that the United States would no longer respect a long-standing agreement to limit consideration of a nuclear response only to attacks from a nuclear-armed foe.

President Carter made the no-nuclear-use pledge in 1978 as germane to U.S. commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It has been honored implicitly by all subsequent administrations, and was explicitly re-affirmed by then Secretary of State Warren Christopher in 1995.

"Breaking such a serious commitment will compromise the United States in all its relationships with other nations," said Robert K. Musil, Ph.D., M.P.H., Executive Director and CEO of PSR. "This international insult brings the United States to a new low, where we function as a loaded nuclear weapon pointed at the head of our allies and enemies alike."

The pledge not to use our nuclear forces against countries without nuclear weapons was reiterated by Christopher as the United States continued negotiations on the Non Proliferation Treaty. The four other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council similarly embraced pledges on nuclear weapons use. The pledge has been included as part of a resolution adopted by the Security Council in April 1995.

"Morally, no nation can claim the right to use the supremely destructive force of a nuclear weapon against an enemy who doesn't possess such a weapon," said Musil. "This careless statement -- combined with our growing bellicose rhetoric and treaty-bashing unilateralism -- voids our ability to counsel our colleagues on averting war and other calamities."

Undersecretary Bolton claimed the long-standing agreement to avoid using nuclear weapons reflected "an unrealistic view of the international situation." However, PSR believes that the agreement makes the world a safer place by ensuring that international pacts like the Non-Proliferation Treaty are honored and enforced. The alternative -- a lawless world with a few dozen nuclear states with no qualms about using these weapons indiscriminately -- would be a dangerous place.

"Now we've committed to using nuclear weapons whenever -- and on whomever -- we wish," Musil said. "What's to stop Russia from using nuclear weapons in its war in Chechnya? How can we urge India and Pakistan to step back from the nuclear brink? Why would Iraq or North Korea slow their nuclear weapons development programs?"


- Physicians for Social Responsibility, founded in 1961, is an organization of over 20,000 physicians and health professionals opposing the development, testing and use of nuclear weapons

Physicians Denounce Administration Nuclear Weapons Decision
By Tarek Rizk
23 February 2002

Add Your Own Comments

Emperor of the Earth
By Archimedes 3:27am Sat Feb 23 '02

Nuclear weapons are the most indiscriminate and deadly of all weapons of mass destruction. They would kill thousands or millions of innocent people, destroy vast areas beyond any putative military target, and result in environmental degradation of the most pernicious and persistent sort. Bush's rhetoric about an "axis of evil" and its weapons applies most to his own administration. Bush's bellicosity, unilateralism and disregard for even the laxest of moral standards is truly frightening and reveals his desire to be Emperor of the Earth.

Physicians Denounce Administration's Nuclear Weapons Decision with comments
Posted on the Independent Newswire on 23 February 2002

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