Standouts against nuclear weapons planned for Northampton, Greenfield

  • About 30 people carry banners in Northampton during a demonstration to mark the entry into force of the 2017 U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 50 nations on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 1/20/2022 4:32:36 PM
Modified: 1/20/2022 4:31:32 PM

Members of local peace and justice groups plan to convene Saturday to call for nuclear disarmament on the one-year anniversary of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons becoming international law.

Demonstrations are planned from 11 a.m. to noon on the Greenfield Common and outside the Northampton courthouse on Main Street.

Pat Hynes, who sits on the Traprock Center for Peace & Justice’s board of directors, said she plans to attend the Greenfield event in hopes of educating the public on the dangers of nuclear war.

“We stand in solidarity with the majority of citizens of the United States, including Veterans for Peace, and the majority of citizens of the world who oppose nuclear weapons,” Hynes said.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted in July 2017 and signed by 122 countries. It went into effect on Jan. 22, 2021, when it was ratified by 50 countries. Nine more countries have ratified it since and dozens more are reportedly interested in ratification. However, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — all nuclear powers — have not signed the treaty.

“I think this will only continue to grow,” Hynes said of advocacy for nuclear disarmament. “It’s been the opinion of commentators and pundits that if the United States would take that huge step of signing this … that the other nuclear nations would follow.”

Susan Lantz of Nuclear Free Future plans to attend the standout outside the Northampton courthouse on Saturday. She said the main objective is to educate people.

“The average United States citizen has no idea that there is a worldwide international treaty that bans the use of nuclear weapons,” Lantz said. “We need to know that, and to find out how we can pressure our legislators, our governing bodies, to … begin to scale down the use of our nuclear stockpiles and to reallocate that money, which could be spent many other places.”

Lantz also said most people are oblivious to the number of nuclear close calls — incidents that could have led to at least one unintended nuclear detonation or explosion — there have been.

When asked about the argument that nuclear weapons are necessary for American national defense, more specifically as a deterrent for enemies, Lantz said this is a misnomer.

“It has been proven again and again that this doesn’t work,” she said. “Having nuclear weapons does not make us — and by ‘us’ I mean the United States — safe. It makes us a threat. It limits our capability to engage with other countries in a mutually trustworthy way.”

Hynes echoed this sentiment, pointing out that a nuclear arsenal did not prevent the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001. In fact, she said, the risk of an accidental detonation increases with each individual nuclear weapon’s age.

“So in that regard, they do not protect — they create risk,” she said.

She also mentioned that adversaries President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, and President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, engaged in talks of nuclear disarmament, decades apart.

“Why can’t we do it again?” Hynes asked.

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