Is your Mayor for Peace?

Feature story - 18 February, 2005
Until we can rid the world of nuclear weapons nation by nation, we'll start town by town. That's the strategy behind the Mayors for Peace project - an international effort which began with the mayor of one city, Hiroshima, Japan, who in 1982 said "never again" to the suffering his own town endured.

192,000 people died from the bombing of Hiroshima. 'As long as nuclear weapons exist, it is inevitable that some country, at some point, will experience the horror that Hiroshima and Nagasaki already know.' --Former Hiroshima mayor Takashi Hiraoka

Today, more than 700 mayors from 119 countries have joined Mayors for Peace.

These mayors know that the end of the cold war didn't mean the end of the nuclear threat. The world is still bristling with nearly 36,000 nuclear weapons. The US and Russia have in excess of 10,000 each. The pressure on smaller states to develop a nuclear capability to defend themselves is higher than ever, and for violent extremists of every ilk, a nuclear weapon is the ultimate prize.

The nuclear threat has quite literally scaled down in the last two decades. While the prospect of an all out exchange of arsenals between the Soviet Union and the US has receded, the 15 kilotons of destruction that obliterated Hiroshima could today be accomplished with a lunch-box sized bomb. George Bush talks openly of developing new "more useable" nuclear weapons. Even more alarmingly, this years US nuclear weapons budget talks of spending 100 million US dollars over the next 5 years on designing more robust, more 'usable' nuclear weapons.

The prospects of a nuclear weapon actually being used are perhaps greater today than during the cold war, when the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction provided an effective, if surreally sinister, deterrent.

The only thing that will stop the threat is the voice of the second superpower: world opinion.

"In any war, it is cities and the people living in them that suffer. As Hiroshima and Nagasaki attest, this suffering becomes total destruction when nuclear weapons are involved. To protect their citizens' lives, it is incumbent on all mayors to make every effort to prevent war and eliminate nuclear weapons." Mayor Akiba, current Mayor of Hiroshima, Japan
"What we need now is for individuals and communities to mobilise and help put nuclear disarmament back on the political agenda" Nicky Davies, Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner for Greenpeace, "the pressure has to come up from the streets. Abolishing nuclear weapons is not a pipe dream - it's a sensible step toward self-preservation".

In May, 2005, an international meeting will review the cornerstone treaty for nuclear disarmament, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). "To add a community voice to this meeting, we are asking every Mayor to sign the statement supporting nuclear disarmament. We're asking our supporters worldwide to ask their mayors to sign. And we're asking them to ask their friends to ask their mayors to sign".

When nations signed the NPT, they signed up to a two-way deal. Non-nuclear states wouldn't seek nuclear weapons, and under Article 6, those who already had them agreed to get rid of them.

Mayors for Peace are simply urging nuclear weapon states to do what they promised. Until they do so, new countries will continue to pursue their own nuclear weapon programs; and the non-proliferation regime, along with the treaty that created it, will simply collapse.

Two recent news events have underscored just how important it is to ramp up demands for a nuclear-free world. North Korea became the eight declared nuclear power when it announced it had produced "enough nuclear weapons to deter a US attack." North Korea has missile delivery systems capable of reaching China, Japan, and, according to some reports, even the US -- thus threatening a whole new regional nuclear arms race.

And from the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in the UK comes news that about 30 kilograms of plutonium (66 pounds) is "missing." That's enough to make about 7 to 8 city-destroying nuclear weapons.

The only way to stop nuclear weapons is to stop nuclear weapons: everywhere, with no exceptions: one rule for all. The best place to start is at home. Contact your mayor today.

Take action

Contact your local council mayor ask them to join Mayors for Peace.

Send an e-card to your friends and colleagues about Mayors for Peace.

Sign up to the "Follow the Rainbow" list and receive updates about more things you can do to help promote nuclear disarmament and help shape Greenpeace's work. You'll receive a free monthly e-zine, your own homepage, and membership in the Greenpeace Cyberactivist discussion centre.

More information

Mayors for Peace website.

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