Thanks to you, the White House got a clear message about the need to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Daryl Kimball, with the Arms Control Association, Stephen Young, with Union of Concerned Scientists, and Kathy Crandall Robinson of Women’s Action for New Directions represented the leadership of CNWFW. John Isaacs of Council for a Livable World, Eric Sapp of American Values Network, and Stephen Colecchi of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Heather Hurlburt (not pictured) were also in attendance.
On May 7, 2012, members of the Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World coordinating committee presented our petition with 50,000 signatures that you helped collect to Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications and speechwriting at the White House. This was the text of our petition:
Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for supporting the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and for pledging to “put an end to outdated Cold War thinking.” In the 21st century, nuclear weapons are a global security liability, not an asset. You must act now to reduce the nuclear danger and the role of nuclear weapons.
In the coming weeks, I urge you to end outdated U.S. nuclear war-fighting strategy, dramatically reduce the number of U.S. nuclear weapons and the number of submarines, missiles, and bombers that carry those weapons, and take U.S. nuclear weapons off high alert. Maintaining large numbers of nuclear forces on alert increases the risk of accident or miscalculation.
By taking these steps, you will facilitate reductions in Russia’s nuclear arsenal, encourage other nuclear-armed countries to join in reductions, and move us closer to a world free of nuclear weapons.
In the meeting, campaign representatives emphasized the grave danger that nuclear weapons pose to the world, and encouraged the President to use the current review of our nuclear weapons policy as an opportunity to make the world safer by reducing the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.
Our colleagues spoke in depth with Mr. Rhodes about the recommendations in our petition, laying out why it would be in our nation’s best interests to change the current US nuclear war-fighting strategy and dramatically reduce the number of weapons in the US nuclear arsenal. They also spoke about the current alert status that has thousands of our weapons ready to launch in mere minutes, and why that policy should be changed, to reduce the risk of accidents or miscalculations leading to a devastating nuclear exchange.
We cannot share everything that was said in the meeting, but afterwards Mr. Rhodes sent this email:
The White House appreciates the engagement of citizens across our country who support efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and seek the peace and security of a world without them. This type of grassroots activism is critical to build awareness around the dangers of nuclear weapons, and to support common sense arms control policies. We look forward to continued dialogue on these critical issues for U.S. and global security.
Thanks to your work gathering signatures, the Obama administration has heard your voice, and we have shown that when we work together to show the power of the grassroots, we can engage the White House in a substantive discussion about the urgency of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.
The administration has not yet submitted their new policy to the Pentagon, so we can’t stop now. We will be following up the successful petition with a campaign to get grassroots organizations and NGOs across the country to write a letter to the White House to urge them, yet again, to make the most of this opportunity to change US nuclear weapons policy.
Thank you for everything you did to make this petition a success, to get 42 organizations across the country collecting over 50,000 signatures, and to show the Obama administration that ridding the world of nuclear weapons is an important issue to the American people.