Grassroots Activists Descend On Nuclear Security Summit

Their Message To World Leaders: 'The Only Way To Prevent Nuclear Terrorism Is To Eliminate All Nuclear Weapons'

20 March 2014
THE HAGUE — Youth-led activists sent a powerful message to world leaders as they arrived in The Hague ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's Nuclear Security Summit. These grassroots members of the Global Zero movement projected an enormous image on the side of the Steigenberger Kurhaus Hotel, one of the summit venues, stating: "SECURITY IS NOT 17,000 NUCLEAR WEAPONS. #DEMANDZERO."
The summit, organized by President Obama with the goal of preventing nuclear terrorism, will only address plans to secure nuclear materials. Nuclear weapons are absent from the agenda, despite Obama’s statement last year in Berlin that "so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe."
"Securing nuclear material is important, but there's no such thing as 'nuclear security' while there are more than 17,000 nukes in the world. Eliminating these weapons must be at the top of the agenda," said Dominique van Heukelom, the lead organizer and a student of the University of Leiden.
Additional demonstrations and activities are planned throughout the week to draw attention to the nuclear threat, including a student-organized bike ride around The Hague that traces the 7.5-km thermal blast radius of a "small" nuclear weapon – the zone of devastation in which most injuries would be fatal, overwhelming any possible humanitarian relief efforts.
"We're here to remind everyone that these weapons of mass destruction were designed to wipe cities off the map. The danger is very real and everywhere – even here in The Netherlands, which is home to several U.S. nukes many times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki," said van Heukelom.
"I applaud the leadership of this global youth-led movement to end the catastrophic nuclear threat, which for too long we have allowed to endanger human life and public health, the environment and the global economy," said Dr. Hans Blix, former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"As with the most powerful social movements in history, young people are turning out around the world to fight this fight. And they're backed by a powerful group of political leaders and security experts who understand that the only way to prevent nuclear terrorism is to eliminate all nuclear weapons," said former CIA counter-proliferation operative Valerie Plame Wilson.
"We should not wait for a nuclear weapon to be used – in conflict or by accident – where casualties could number in the hundreds of thousands, before we act urgently to eliminate them. If we are serious about preventing a nuclear catastrophe, what we need now is a Nuclear Weapons Summit that brings the key countries together to discuss real plans to verifiably eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide," said Global Zero Co-Founder Matt Brown.
Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of all nuclear weapons, has grown to 300 eminent leaders, nearly half a million citizens and more than 175 campus chapters worldwide. Its step-by-step plan to eliminate nuclear weapons has been endorsed by political leaders and leading newspapers, the Financial Times concluding that, "Global Zero's plan has shown the direction to be travelled; the world’s leaders must now start moving." For more information, please visit
Photo by Marco De Swart.

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