Earlier this month, Global Zero staged a guerrilla art action at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York City -- projecting a giant sitting duck onto the building to protest the practice of keeping nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert.
The projection was only part of the launch of our critical new effort to get us back on track toward a world without nuclear weapons.
Right now, 1,800 U.S.-Russian nuclear weapons are locked and loaded, ready to launch at a moment’s notice. Outdated Cold War-era defense policies in both countries require that these weapons be ready to launch within minutes or even seconds of being alerted to an impending attack.
This policy is called “launch-on-warning.” It’s grounded in the idea that nuclear missiles must be fired from their silos before the adversary’s weapons have detonated, in order to ensure retaliation. As a result, launch systems are set to hair-trigger alert in order to get nukes off the ground as soon as possible -- even in response to a false alarm.
Let me be clear: These weapons pose an urgent danger to human life, public health, the environment, and the global economy. As international tensions rise, the risk that these weapons will be used also rises. Keeping nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert raises the stakes when it comes to false or accidental warnings -- in fact, the world has narrowly escaped nuclear disaster many times throughout history. We are on the brink of nuclear catastrophe at all times -- because U.S. and Russian policies keep us there.
That’s why our entire international movement is mobilizing to urge the U.S. and Russia to abandon the dangerous Cold War-era practice of keeping nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert.
We’ve got a plan. The first step is for the U.S. and Russia to immediately end their so-called “launch-on-warning” policies -- which could send hundreds of nuclear missiles flying in response to a false alarm. The second step is for the U.S. and Russia to stand down their massive nuclear arsenals -- taking these weapons off high alert. The third is to lock in international commitments that would prevent ALL nuclear weapons from being placed on hair-trigger alert ANYWHERE -- stopping this dangerous trend from spreading to other nuclear-armed countries.
This plan will reduce the real and rising risk of nuclear weapons being used -- and get us back on track toward the elimination of all nuclear weapons globally. This is a critical step between the dangerous reality we live in and the future we’re working to achieve -- and one we can take today. Add your name in support of Global Zero’s international effort to stand down nuclear weapons.