This article was originally published by Common Dreams.
Following the arrival of spring each year, on Tax Day, April 15, our nation renews its commitment to our priorities from education to health care to infrastructure to national defense.
Included among these expenditures are billions of dollars for nuclear weapons programs—for weapons that must not ever be used. The funding for these programs, while more transparent than in the past, is still quite secretive. From the beginnings of our nuclear program in 1940, we have spent in excess of $6 trillion on them. This Tax Day, we are slated to spend $56.3 billion more on these same programs. From Ventura County, California at $177 million, to Los Angeles County’s expenditure of $1.785 billion, to our nation’s capital at $107 million, these are monies that we can ill afford to spend. The squandering of these dollars, while continuing to inadequately fund national programs on infrastructure, education, health care and the environment, speaks to who we are as a nation. No logical person would argue against spending the entirety of these monies to secure, dismantle and clean up the existing environmental legacy of these weapons. Thereafter, these monies could be more appropriately allocated to programs that benefit all.
This year’s expenditures come at a critical time. Just when international efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons through the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the remarkable and long-sought controls over Iran’s capability to acquire a nuclear weapon are coming to fruition, some of our leaders propose these massive expenditures. Is this the best we can do to lead by example?
This month’s preliminary accord between the P5+1 and Iran, for Iran to remove its capability to build a nuclear weapon, would significantly enhance security of the region and the world. It needs the support of anyone who wishes to reduce the likelihood of nuclear war. Yet this, too, is being held in abeyance by political hardliners in Iran and in the U.S. Congress.
Seventy years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we continue to maintain and modernize our nuclear arsenals as though locked in a Cold War time warp. Our president, held hostage by Congressional leadership, proposes to spend an additional $1 trillion over the next 30 years just on the modernization of our arsenals. This is in spite of being bound, along with the other nuclear states, by Article VI of the NPT to work in good faith toward complete disarmament. The NPT Review Conference will begin this month in New York City at the U.N. This year’s conference comes at a critical time as the non-nuclear states have grown impatient with the lack of progress of the nuclear states in meeting their legal obligations. Failure to make real progress threatens the entire treaty and will likely shift the focus to a nuclear weapons ban convention similar to conventions on other weapons of mass destruction, like chemical and biological weapons.
The world must come together this 70th year of the Nuclear Age and speak with one voice for humanity and the future of our children. Now is the time to end the insanity that hangs over us, the threat of nuclear annihilation. We must move forward with a shared sense of tomorrow. Our children deserve this.
Robert Dodge is a family physician practicing full-time in Ventura, California. He serves on the board of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angles, serving as a Peace and Security Ambassador and at the national level, where he sits on the security committee. He also serves on the board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions. He writes for PeaceVoice.