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To abolish nuclear weapons, PSR chapters “think globally, act locally.”

Back from the Brink:
A Call to Prevent Nuclear War

We call on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by:

  • renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first
  • ending the sole, unchecked authority of any President to launch a nuclear attack
  • taking US nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert
  • cancelling the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons;
  • actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals

The only way to protect human health from nuclear weapons is to eliminate all nuclear arsenals worldwide. But how do we get there from here? A key 2018 strategy for PSR’s Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program is to mobilize local communities—in particular by finding common ground with other causes, and by working towards involving a greater diversity of communities in the nuclear abolition movement.

According to former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, “All politics is local.” Inspired by the international success of the Ban Treaty vote in 2017 and compelled by increasing risks on the Korean Peninsula, local PSR chapter leaders are stepping up to the plate with local tactics to generate grassroots political power behind nuclear disarmament. Chapter leaders have found local (and even state) resolutions to be a useful tool in their grassroots organizing toolboxes.

PSR members from Chesapeake PSR and PSR San Francisco Bay Area testified in Annapolis and San Francisco in favor of state resolutions organized by PSR allies. Bob Gould, MD wrote: “With the conservative composition of the current Congress, it’s especially important that states and cities weigh in on this issue. We in San Francisco Bay Area PSR were pleased to join our colleagues in Beyond the Bomb and Ploughshares Fund in achieving a San Francisco Board of Supervisors resolution unanimously supporting California Assembly Joint Resolution 30 (Aguiar-Curry) that urges passage of federal measures to rein in the power of a president to order a first strike using nuclear weapons.”

Several PSR chapters have been promoting another resolution, Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War. Last November, PSR Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts chalked up a local victory when the city council of Northampton adopted a Back from the Brink resolution.

The resolution (sidebar) calls for five important changes to nuclear weapons policy, including multilateral negotiations for all nuclear-armed countries to eliminate their arsenals. A broad spectrum of national and local organizations have now endorsed it, such as Pax Christi USA, the Hip Hop Caucus, Peace Action, Soka Gakkai International-USA, CodePink, World Beyond War, Future of Life Institute, Sierra Club of Massachusetts, and Maine Nurse Practitioner’s Association

PSR Maine leaders secured endorsements from the Maine Nurse Practitioner’s Association, Maine Rivers, and several faith-based organizations, and is now moving forward to build a coalition among these endorsers. PSR Maine Executive Director Karen D’Andrea said, “The thought of children burned and buried in rubble suffering in the aftermath of a nuclear weapons detonation should be enough motivation for nuclear-armed countries to work together to abolish them completely. History has been ignored and we seem to have learned nothing from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is not just a humanitarian issue but also a moral one. I’m grateful that many faiths are coming together with the medical community to address this issue and help begin the work of bringing us back from the brink.”

Chesapeake PSR President Gwen DuBois, MD, working with Marylanders Preventing Nuclear War, recruited 17 Maryland organizations to rally around Back from the Brink. According to David Spence, MD in Flagstaff, “When the national PSR leadership established a goal for chapters to build coalitions with like-minded organizations, Arizona PSR started building a statewide coalition using the ‘Back from the Brink-Call to Prevent Nuclear War’ as an organizing tool.”

PSR Committee to Abolish Nuclear Weapons co-chair Bob Dodge, MD delivered another clear-cut local victory for disarmament in California. In a press release, Dr. Dodge wrote: “The Ojai City Council voted unanimously April 10 to declare the City a nuclear-free zone with the added language of the “Back from the Brink Resolution” and divestment from institutions and companies that are involved in the financing, manufacture, development, stockpiling and testing of nuclear weapons. Ojai is the first U.S. city to become a Nuclear-Free Zone in decades and hopes to influence communities across the country to follow suit in the elimination of nuclear weapons, the greatest public health threat facing our world.”

For more information about local organizing for nuclear weapons abolition, email Martin Fleck, PSR’s Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program Director at mfleck@psr.org.