Organizations Call for Elimination of “Launch on Warning” Land-Based Nuclear Missiles in the US
(January 12, 2022) — More than 60 national and regional organizations on Wednesday issued a joint statement calling for the elimination of the 400 land-based nuclear missiles now armed and on hair-trigger alert in the United States.
The statement, titled “A Call to Eliminate ICBMs,” warns that “intercontinental ballistic missiles are uniquely dangerous, greatly increasing the chances that a false alarm or miscalculation will result in nuclear war.”
Citing the conclusion reached by former Defense Secretary William Perry that ICBMs “could even trigger an accidental nuclear war,” the organizations urged the US government to “shut down the 400 ICBMs now in underground silos that are scattered across five states — Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming.”
“Rather than being any kind of deterrent, ICBMs are the opposite — a foreseeable catalyst for nuclear attack,” the statement says. “ICBMs certainly waste billions of dollars, but what makes them unique is the threat that they pose to all of humanity.”
Norman Solomon, national director of RootsAction.org, said the statement could represent a turning point in the range of options being debated about ICBMs. “Until now, the public discussion has been almost entirely limited to the narrow question of whether to build a new ICBM system or stick with the existing Minuteman III missiles for decades longer,” he said.
“That’s like arguing over whether to refurbish the deck chairs on the nuclear Titanic. Both options retain the same unique dangers of nuclear war that ICBMs involve. It’s time to really widen the ICBM debate, and this joint statement from US organizations is a vital step in that direction.”
RootsAction and Just Foreign Policy led the organizing process that resulted in the statement being released today.
Here is the full statement, followed by a list of the signing organizations:
Joint statement by US organizations
released on January 12, 2022
A Call to Eliminate ICBMs
Intercontinental ballistic missiles are uniquely dangerous, greatly increasing the chances that a false alarm or miscalculation will result in nuclear war. There is no more important step the United States could take to reduce the chances of a global nuclear holocaust than to eliminate its ICBMs.
As former Defense Secretary William Perry has explained, “If our sensors indicate that enemy missiles are en route to the United States, the president would have to consider launching ICBMs before the enemy missiles could destroy them; once they are launched, they cannot be recalled. The president would have less than 30 minutes to make that terrible decision.”
And Secretary Perry wrote: “First and foremost, the United States can safely phase out its land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force, a key facet of Cold War nuclear policy. Retiring the ICBMs would save considerable costs, but it isn’t only budgets that would benefit. These missiles are some of the most dangerous weapons in the world. They could even trigger an accidental nuclear war.”
Rather than being any kind of deterrent, ICBMs are the opposite — a foreseeable catalyst for nuclear attack. ICBMs certainly waste billions of dollars, but what makes them unique is the threat that they pose to all of humanity.
The people of the United States support huge expenditures when they believe the spending protects them and their loved ones. But ICBMs actually make us less safe. By discarding all of its ICBMs and thereby eliminating the basis for US “launch on warning,” the US would make the whole world safer — whether or not Russia and China chose to follow suit.
Everything is at stake. Nuclear weapons could destroy civilization and inflict catastrophic damage on the world’s ecosystems with “nuclear winter,” inducing mass starvation while virtually ending agriculture. That is the overarching context for the need to shut down the 400 ICBMs now in underground silos that are scattered across five states — Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming.
Closure of those ICBM facilities should be accompanied by major public investment to subsidize transition costs and provide well-paying jobs that are productive for the long-term economic prosperity of affected communities.
Even without ICBMs, the formidable US nuclear threat would remain. The United States would have nuclear forces capable of deterring a nuclear attack by any conceivable adversary: forces deployed either on aircraft, which are recallable, or on submarines that remain virtually invulnerable, and thus not subject to the “use them or lose them” dilemma that the ground-based ICBMs inherently present in a crisis.
The United States should pursue every diplomatic avenue to comply with its obligation to negotiate nuclear disarmament. At the same time, whatever the status of negotiations, the elimination of the US government’s ICBMs would be a breakthrough for sanity and a step away from a nuclear precipice that would destroy all that we know and love.
“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction,” Martin Luther King Jr. said as he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Nearly 60 years later, the United States must eliminate its ICBMs to reverse that downward spiral.
Alaska Peace Center
American Committee for US-Russia Accord
Arab American Action Network
Arizona Chapter, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Back from the Brink Coalition
Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter, Veterans For Peace
Beyond the Bomb
Black Alliance for Peace
Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security
Center for Citizen Initiatives
Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility
Chicago Area Peace Action
Environmentalists Against War
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility
Historians for Peace and Democracy
Jewish Voice for Peace Action
Just Foreign Policy
Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
Linus Pauling Chapter, Veterans For Peace
Los Alamos Study Group
Maine Physicians for Social Responsibility
Massachusetts Peace Action
Muslim Delegates and Allies
No More Bombs
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Nuclear Watch New Mexico
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Pax Christi USA
People for Bernie Sanders
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Prevent Nuclear War Maryland
Progressive Democrats of America
San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility
Santa Fe Chapter, Veterans For Peace
Spokane Chapter, Veterans For Peace
US Palestinian Community Network
United for Peace and Justice
Veterans For Peace
Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility
Western North Carolina Physicians for Social Responsibility
Western States Legal Foundation
Whatcom Peace and Justice Center
Win Without War
Women Transforming Our Nuclear Legacy
World Beyond War
Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation
Youth Against Nuclear Weapons