Peace and Disarmament
Make no mistake; nuclear weapons are a problem today. There are approximately 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world, belonging to nine countries: US, Russian Federation, UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. More than one thousand five hundred of them ready to launch at a moment's notice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Greenpeace volunteers fly peace doves for the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Although some may consider them an unfortunate relic from the Cold War, the truth is that the nuclear weapons states are clinging to them as hard as they can, reinventing new roles and designs for them, and recently even proposals for "smaller useable" weapons. And all this despite plenty of speeches, promises and legally binding treaties toget rid of them!
As well as the devestating impacts of the nuclear bombs on the cities and peoples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, over 2,000 nuclear weapons tests have left a legacy of global and regional contamination. People living near the test sites have suffered from cancers, still births, miscarriages and other health effects -- and are still suffering today.
Greenpeace has been shouting about nuclear dangers for over 30 years, beginning on 15 September 1971, when a group of North American peace activists chartered an old trawler named "Phyllis Cormack" and sailed from Vancouver towards the US nuclear testing zone near Amchitka, Alaska. The Greenpeace ship and crew were arrested by the US coastguard, but the press reports about the expedition put pressure on the US government. Four months later, the US canceled the test series.
Since then we have campaigned against both nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Bearing witness in test zones, supplying scientific data and measurements on human and environmental impacts and by conducting direct non-violent actions to call attention to the problem.
Not even the sinking of our flagship the Rainbow Warrior en route to the Moruroa test site by the French Secret Service in 1985 stopped Greenpeace's anti-nuclear activism. Since then, we have tracked plutonium and nuclear waste shipments around the globe, highlighted the dangers of reprocessing, protested against nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed warships or submarines and confronted the nuclear weapons states about their weapons programmes.
And people are with us: the majority of people and states want disarmament now!
We can stop the nuclear threat with the voice of the second superpower: public opinion. And that voice is getting louder and louder. Public opinion polls conducted in nuclear and non-nuclear weapon statesshow large majorities favouring the abolition of nuclear weapons:
A survey carried out in 1997 by Lake, Sosin and Snell said in the US found that 87% of those polled felt, "the US should negotiate anagreement to eliminate nuclear weapons."
A poll carried out by MORI in 2005, on behalf of Greenpeace, showed a majority (54%) of the British public oppose the development of a new nuclear weapons system. Only one in three (33%) support their development.
In 1998, 61% of Russians polled by Vox Populi commissioned by TASS said, "All nuclear weapons states should eliminate such weapons."
62% of Indians polled by The Hindu in 1998 said, "India should not produce nuclear bombs."
In a Japanese poll by Asahi Shimbun in 1998 78% agreed that, "all nuclear weapons states should eliminate such weapons."
A resounding 92% of Australians polled by Roy Morgan Research Co. in 1998 agreed, "Australia should help negotiate a global treaty to ban and destroy all nuclear weapons."
Similarly 92% of Norwegians polled in 1998 by 4 fakta A/S agreed "Norway should work actively for a ban on nuclear weapons.
72% of Belgian polled in 1998 by Market Response said they were for "an initiative on behalf of Belgium with an aim of initiating talks concerning a treaty for the abolition of nuclear weapons''.
93% of Canadians polled in 1998 by the Angus Reid Group agreed that, "Canada should take a leadership role in global negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons."
In 2004, an Infakto poll, commissioned by Greenpeace, found that 72% of Turkish people supported the idea of making Turkey a nuclear-free zoneand 75% would support Turkey leading an international campaign for international nuclear disarmament.
And every year at the United Nations when all governments vote, we see the vast majority of the 191countries voting for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Citizens in nuclear weapons states should question why their leaders feel so entitled to gamble with their lives.