Guest Commentary

UCS

Leading experts from a variety of fields bring their insights to The Equation, providing guest commentary on a broad range of issues that connect to our work.

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Why a National Day of Remembrance for Downwinders is Not Enough

Lilly Adams

Peaceful Demonstration with Trinity Downwinders at the Trinity Site Open House in New Mexico, ( L-R): Tina Cordova and Laura Greenwood. Trinity downwinders have been fighting for inclusion in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act for over 15 years. Source: Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium.

There’s no question that the US government killed and sickened many of its own people through explosive nuclear testing: estimates of the death toll in the United States from nuclear testing vary widely, from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. But the harm doesn’t stop there. Other nuclear weapons activities, like uranium mining, production, and waste storage and cleanup, have also caused unknown deaths and illnesses. As is so often the case, the people who have borne the heaviest burden of these activities are often people of color, Indigenous communities, women and children, and those living in poor, rural communities. These people are the largely ignored, often forgotten casualties of the Cold War and the US nuclear weapons program.  

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The Unheard Voices of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Daniel Puentes

The beginning of 2021 marks a prominent time in the world of arms control. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) enters into force today, January 22, 2021. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) is set to expire on February 5, 2021. Both the Biden administration and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have expressed their wish to extend New START unconditionally for five years, signaling the US and Russia’s commitment to arms control. Most people don’t know that over 58 years ago, another important event in nuclear security occurred in January 1963: the formal end to the Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the October Crisis. While those fateful 13 days (October 16–28, 1962) brought the world near the brink of a thermonuclear war, danger persisted for the remainder of the year. This event was one of the dangerous periods in recent history.
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A 75-year Rally Against Nuclear Weapons Brings the World Closer to Justice

Miyako Kurosaki, Nuclear policy research consultant

Finally, the day is coming. On January 22, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will enter into force. This treaty, the first comprehensive ban of nuclear weapons, sets an important precedent in its recognition of the humanitarian consequences of using nuclear weapons. The movement to center the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons has gained momentum over the last ten years. However, the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, called hibakusha, have tirelessly given witness to this humanitarian perspective for 75 years in order to convince the world to eliminate nuclear weapons.
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Why an Atomic Veteran Says the U.S. Must Never Resume Nuclear Weapons Testing

Jim Dangerfield, atomic veteran

I was an Army specialist fourth class in 1957 when I was bused to the Nevada Test Site with other servicemen for an operation we were told nothing about. We soon witnessed a series of nuclear bomb blasts that created such intense flashes of light that I could see the blood vessels and bones in my hands as I covered my closed eyes. Years later, I am still haunted by those excruciatingly bright bursts.
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Resuming Nuclear Testing a Slap in the Face to Survivors

Lilly Adams

D. Meyers/Unsplash

The news that the Trump administration is considering resuming nuclear weapons testing is morally abhorrent. The current US moratorium on nuclear testing was put in place for many reasons, but we must not forget one crucial reason: In conducting explosive nuclear tests, the US government killed thousands of innocent people and sickened untold thousands more.
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