Rich Van Dellen: Imagine a world free of nuclear weapons -- we can make it happen

We need the money spent on nuclear weapons and war redirected to address poverty, climate change other human needs. We need this vision for our very survival and for our children and grandchildren.

Ballistic nuclear rocket flying over clouds.
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In the Aug. 6 and Aug. 9 print editions of the Post Bulletin, I saw no mention of the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, despite the current ongoing review conference at the United Nations of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons ( NPT).

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in his remarks early in that conference, said: "Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation."

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, concurring with that danger has had their “doomsday clock” set at 100 seconds to midnight since 2020, midnight being the end of life on earth. They cite the threat of nuclear war, climate change and the lack of world leaders addressing these issues.

This current 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT is the first formal gathering of NPT signatories since the separate United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) came into force, that is, became international law.

In 2017, 122 countries voted at the UN to approve the TPNW despite heavy pressure by nuclear weapons nations, including the United States, not to do so. The treaty entered into force on Jan. 22, 2021, when 50 countries had ratified it. As of Aug. 15, 2022, 66 countries have ratified the treaty.


The U.S. Conference of Mayors, representing 1,400 U.S. cities with populations of more than 30,000, in their meeting of August 2021, unanimously reaffirmed a 2018 resolution calling on the U.S. to embrace the TPNW as a step toward finally ridding the world of nuclear weapons. At their June 2022 conference, the U.S. Mayors called “on the U.S. and the other nuclear-armed states parties to the NPT, at the August 2022 10th Review Conference of the Treaty, to implement their disarmament obligations by committing” to a defined timeline to achieve nuclear weapons disarmament by 2045.

Instead, the U.S. and other nuclear weapons nations currently plan to “modernize” and/or increase their nuclear weapons at enormous expense.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the organization largely responsible for the TPNW, has a cities appeal and an individual call to legislators (the Parliamentarian pledge) to approve and support the TPNW. In the U.S. 62 cities, three counties and five states have indicated approval and support of the TPNW. Rochester and Olmsted County are not among them. I would encourage both the City Council and County Board to indicate their support.

Eleven members of the House of Representatives have taken the Parliamentarian Pledge, (including Reps. Omar and McCollum from Minnesota), but no Senators. I would encourage Senators Klobuchar and Smith to be the first Senators to do so. Six of our Minnesota State Legislators have taken the pledge.

Richard Van Dellen

On Armistice Day 1948, Army General Omar Bradley stated: “Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.”

We need a world of ethical giants to bring about a vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and peace, not more war. We need the money spent on nuclear weapons and war redirected to address poverty, climate change and other human needs. We need this vision for our very survival and for our children and grandchildren.

Rich Van Dellen, of Rochester, is an occasional opinion contributor.

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