What You Can Do to Stop Nuclear Tests
February 1962 Cincinnati Post Times Star photo on a protest against nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War. (Courtesy of Cincinnati Public Library)
After President Trump's threat to "totally destroy North Korea," which just carried out its sixth nuclear weapons test, the best thing to do is take a walk. That is what thousands of citizens did during the Cold War when nuclear weapons testing by the Soviet Union and the U.S. threatened all of humanity.
They encouraged President Dwight Eisenhower to stop nuclear tests, and Ike did start treaty negotiations with the Soviets in 1958. His successor John F. Kennedy continued that pursuit. The peace walks followed, urging Kennedy to keep up the fight for a nuke test ban treaty.
Kim Moody, a Johns Hopkins University student who organized a Baltimore peace walk in 1963, said "We're stressing the importance of public awareness of this issue particularly, so that in the event of such a treaty, Congress will be eager to ratify it."
That is exactly what happened. The Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963 banned atmospheric, underwater and outer space tests by the Soviet Union and America. The treaty was signed by President Kennedy and approved by the Senate. Underground tests were allowed to continue.
But a limited treaty was still a significant achievement in preventing more radioactive fallout from above ground testing. It put at least some restraint on the nuclear arms race. The treaty came one year after the Cuban Missile Crisis which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war between Russia and the U.S.
Now today we see how vital it is for a complete ban on all nuclear testing. Every nuclear test carried out by North Korea brings them closer to perfecting weapons that can strike our allies or even the U.S. mainland itself.
Let's be clear, there must be no more nuclear test explosions by North Korea. We need them to join the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear test explosions. Let's also realize that we don't want nuclear tests carried out by any nation.
Nuclear tests increase world tensions and spur expensive arms races that no nation can afford. It is an expensive burden on citizens to pour billions of dollars each year into nuclear weapons. North Korea is the worst example. Over seventy percent of their people live in hunger while the regime builds and tests nukes and missiles.
Any step to reduce the danger of a nuclear arms race is one we should take. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) give us this opportunity.
There are eight nations total needed to ratify the treaty for it to take effect: The United States, China, North Korea, Egypt, Israel, Iran, India and Pakistan.
Imagine if the United States, North Korea and China all ratified the CTBT at once. Not only would this stop nuclear testing, but it would serve as a confidence building measure between all three nations. An agreement to end nuke testing can help lead to others that can disarm North Korea's arsenal.
The United States has not tested nuclear weapons for decades, and has no need to because of advanced computer technology to maintain the arsenal. Ratification by the United States should be relatively simple. China would then follow the U.S. lead and influence their neighbor and ally North Korea to do the same
As during the 50's and 60's there is an activist group of college students that is encouraging the United States to pursue the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty as part of Korea diplomacy. They are called the CTBTO Youth Group and after the most recent North Korean nuclear test the group stated: “Now, more than ever, it is clear that there is a need for a legally binding prohibition on nuclear testing. As young people, we are the generation that will confront the humanitarian, environmental, political, and economic consequences of any future nuclear testing and conflict.”
The CTBTO Youth Group is trying to finish the journey started by the activists during the Cold War who tried to end nuclear testing. They want more students to join. They have partnered with groups like Global Zero which call for nuclear disarmament. This movement must grow stronger and make its voice heard even louder.
These young activists are going to encourage President Trump and the Congress to use the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty as a tool to resolve the North Korean crisis peacefully. It will be a long journey to peace and disarmament, but one we can walk step by step, starting by ending nuclear weapons testing.