By Lindsay Potter
Over 100 medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, published a joint statement on August 1, warning of the ongoing threat nuclear weapons pose to human and environmental health and safety, and calling for urgent action to abolish nuclear weapons. The joint statement warns that ongoing modernization of nuclear arsenals needlessly heightens the risk of nuclear attacks “by design, error, or miscalculation,” risks that are created by nuclear weapons readiness or “deterrence.”
The letter, “Reducing the risks of nuclear war,” declares: “Any use of nuclear weapons would be catastrophic for humanity. Even a ‘limited’ nuclear war involving only 250 of the 13,000 nuclear weapons in the world could kill 120 million people outright and cause global climate disruption leading to a nuclear famine, putting two billion people at risk. A nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia could kill 200 million people and cause a global ‘nuclear winter’ that could kill five to six billion people.”
The warning was drafted by editors from 11 journals together with the World Association of Medical Editors and leaders of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which launched the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in 2007 and helped produce the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). It disparages current arms control efforts, calling on nuclear-armed states to immediately adopt a no-first-use policy, take nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert, pledge not to use nuclear weapons in current conflicts, and negotiate the verifiable and time-bound elimination of nuclear arsenals in preparation to adopting the TPNW.
— The British Medical Journal, Aug. 1; and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Aug. 7, 2023