WASHINGTON: Over seventy prominent scholars and activists, including Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to visit with Hibakusha, atomic bomb survivors, and to announce concrete steps toward nuclear disarmament when he visits Hiroshima this Friday after the Group of Seven economic summit in Japan.
American University Professor Peter Kuznick remarked, “This is an extraordinary moment. President Obama can either use it to further the cause of world peace and nuclear disarmament or he can use it as a cover for his militarization of the conflict with China and his trillion dollar nuclear modernization program to make nuclear weapons more usable. Such an opportunity may never come for him again.”
The signers expressed support for the president’s visit to Hiroshima, but advocated further action to fulfill the promise to reduce nuclear weapons outlined in his 2009 Prague speech. Despite the significant achievement of the Iran nuclear deal and successes in securing and reducing nuclear weapons grade material globally, the president’s Prague agenda has been mostly stalled since the 2010 New START agreement with Russia, with no further nuclear weapons reductions.
Joseph Gerson, of the Quaker peace organization American Friends Service Committee, said, “The U.S. is on track to spend a trillion dollars over thirty years on the next generation of nuclear weapons and delivery systems. President Obama should cancel this spending, revitalize disarmament diplomacy by announcing a reduction of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and challenge Russian President Putin to join in beginning negotiations to create the nuclear weapons-free world promised in Prague and required by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
One of the letter’s organizers, Kevin Martin, President of Peace Action, noted, “President Obama still has time to move boldly on his Prague agenda before he leaves office. He no doubt will be deeply moved by visiting Hiroshima, as Secretary of State John Kerry was, and if the president acts to further reduce the menace of nuclear weapons, he will have strong, grateful support worldwide.”