Presidential candidates should state their position, on campaign trail and in debates
By Jacqueline Cabasso
On July 1, at the close of its 87thAnnual Meeting, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), unanimously adopted a bold new resolution, “Calling on All Presidential Candidates to Make Known Their Positions on Nuclear Weapons and to Pledge U.S. Global Leadership in Preventing Nuclear War, Returning to Diplomacy, and Negotiating the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons”. The resolution calls on “all Presidential candidates of all political parties” to make these “priority issues in the 2020 Presidential campaign”.
The call comes at a time when the growing dangers of nuclear war have received little attention on the Presidential candidate debate stage or on the campaign trail. Citing the dangers of nuclear war and climate change as “twin existential threats,” in a July 6 op-ed, Dr. Ira Helfand of ICAN and IPPNW declared: “The enormity and imminence of these twin existential threats cannot be overstated and how to confront them must be the central issue of any presidential campaign.”
The USCM resolution quotes Renata Dwan, Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, who “has declared that the risk of nuclear weapons being used again is at its highest since World War II, calling it an ‘urgent’ issue that the world should take more seriously”, and notes that according to the Congressional Budget Office, “U.S. spending for nuclear warheads, delivery systems and supporting infrastructure over the 2019 – 2028 period is projected to cost $494 billion, for an average of nearly $50 billion a year”.
In remarks to a plenary session of the USCM annual meeting on Sunday, June 30, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, President of Mayors for Peace, declared: “As mayors, you are working every day for the wellbeing of your citizens, but all your efforts could be for naught if nuclear weapons are used again. I would also like to point out that, while every one of the nuclear-armed states is spending billions of dollars to modernize and upgrade their arsenals, that money could be much more productively spent to meet the needs of cities and the people who live in them.”
Warning that “the U.S. announcement, followed by Russia’s, of their intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty effective in August 2019 are signs of deepening crisis among the nuclear-armed states,” the resolution “calls on all Presidential candidates to pledge their support for the joint 1985 declaration by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, that ‘a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought,’ as urged by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres”.
The USCM resolution further “calls on all Presidential candidates to pledge, if elected, to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first and by actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.”
The resolution observes that despite the fact that “the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which entered into force in 1970, requires the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China to negotiate ‘in good faith’ the end of the nuclear arms race ‘at an early date’ and the elimination of their nuclear arsenals,” “nuclear-armed states are engaged in nuclear weapons modernization programs.”
And the USCM “calls on all Presidential candidates to pledge, if elected, to reverse U.S. opposition to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to embrace its humanitarian values and goals”.
The resolution was sponsored by Mayors for Peace U.S. Vice-President T.M. Franklin Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa and 18 co-sponsors including outgoing USCM President Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, and USCM International Affairs Committee Chair Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, Ohio.
The USCM, the nonpartisan association of 1,408 American cities with populations over 30,000, has unanimously adopted Mayors for Peace resolutions for 14 consecutive years. Resolutions adopted at annual meetings become USCM official policy.
As noted in this year’s resolution, “Mayors for Peace is working for a world without nuclear weapons and safe and resilient cities as essential measures for the achievement of lasting world peace, and has grown to 7,756 cities in 163 countries and regions, with 215 U.S. members.”
Mayors for Peace, founded in 1982, is led by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Read the full text of the resolution with the list of 19 co-sponsors.
Jacqueline Cabasso is the Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation.
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