Don’t wait to share nuclear concerns

More than 500 persons from the Southeast, many while attending our recent Southern Energy and Environmental EXPO in Fletcher, signed postcards that have gone to candidates Obama, McCain and others, pleading for action to:

• prevent the spread of nuclear weapons

• end pursuit of new warheads

• halt continued weapons production

• engage with other nations to begin dismantling existing stockpiles Contemplating our current economic situation, we noted how tragic it is that our nation maintains the equivalent of 150,000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs, costing more than $17 billion annually and $3 trillion since the 1940s.

Forty years ago, the United States committed itself to move progressively toward nuclear disarmament via approval of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Since then, our actions have often belied our rhetoric. Our nation has actively promoted the proliferation of nuclear weapons through failure to adhere to that treaty. One example has been our threat to use nuclear weapons in first strikes against nations of our choosing that we have labeled as potential targets.

During the pre-election debates of 2004, both presidential candidates agreed that the nuclear dangers were the greatest security threat we faced, but little has been done to address this peril. Now, Obama and McCain have each spoken forcefully about the need to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and to reduce the inventory that exists. They should continue to insist that the job of the next president should include doing exactly that. We might hope these current candidates will more seriously confront this dire threat to all of our current and future global inhabitants.

We are also concerned that nuclear power also promotes the proliferation of nuclear weapons, inasmuch as nuclear reactors produce plutonium and maintain vast amounts of very hazardous nuclear waste at their sites—both of which can be used by those who would do us grave harm.

This is no time for complacency. You may address concerns to: Sen. Barack Obama, Obama for America, P.O. Box 8102, Chicago, IL 60680 and Sen. John McCain, John McCain 2008, P.O. Box 16118, Arlington, VA 22215.

— Lewis E. Patrie, M.D., Chair
WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility

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