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The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe
By Graham Allison
Reviewed by Thomas B. Newman, PSR Board member
Graham Allison's "Nuclear Terrorism" is the scariest book I have read in a long time. The first 2/3 of the book is a carefully documented and extremely readable demolition of all the myths that might comfort us about why nuclear terrorism is unlikely. It is so well done and so important that before I had finished the copy I borrowed from the library, I bought two more online, including one to send my congressman. Allison has done a great service by calling attention to this urgent problem.
Unfortunately, the last third of the book is disappointing. Rather than call for the worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons, Allison's "solutions" will perpetuate the status quo, with current nuclear powers retaining their nuclear oligopoly. This not only violates Article VI of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (and hence the U.S. Constitution), it sends a message that we believe the use or the threat of use of nuclear weapons is morally acceptable and militarily useful. This wrong message undermines efforts to prevent proliferation to other countries. In fact, the U.S. would be a big winner if nuclear weapons were abolished. As Bernard Lown, co-founder of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) wrote in 1996:
"One can puzzle with dismay that the industrialized nations are not leading the pack in the quest for nuclear abolition...Their long-range security is categorically undermined by the spread of nuclearism. Nuclear weapons afford them scant advantage as they already command awesome military establishments capable of projecting their might speedily to the remote corners of the earth." (From the forward to the book "Crude Nuclear Weapons Proliferation and the Terrorist Threat," available free on the IPPNW website.)
In order to galvanize the population of the world to work together to prevent nuclear catastrophe, we need a goal and a message capable of inspiring people. Allison does a great job of sounding the alarm, but IPPNW's goal and message are more inspirational.
Purchase this book from Amazon.com
Dr. Ira Helfand Speaks at the UN
Dr. Ira Helfand spoke before the Untied Nations General Assembly on September 10, 2015 as part of a panel addressing the pursuit of a nuclear weapons free world. Read more »
Video: We Have an Iran Deal! Now What?
Watch PSR Security Program's latest webinar to understand the details of the Iran Deal and what you can do to keep the deal safe from Congress. Featuring speaker Kelsey Davenport, Arms Control Association. Read more »
Nukes in Your Backyard
Ever wonder how many nuclear mishaps and facilities are in your own backyard? Then check out our new map featuring pinpoint locations of close calls and the stories behind them. Read more »
In the Spotlight
September 19, 2015
Nukebusters Short Film Awards
The votes are in! Five hundred people and three celebrity judges chose the best films on nuclear weapons.