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We are told that the possession of nuclear weapons - in some cases even the testing of these weapons - is essential for national security. But this argument can be made by other countries as well.
To sum up, there is no evidence that a world without nuclear weapons would be a dangerous world. On the contrary, it would be a safer world, as I will show later.
This means that the only function of nuclear weapons, while they exist, is to deter a nuclear attack.
This is the reality of nuclear weapons: they may trigger a world war; a war which, unlike previous ones, destroys all of civilization.
VThere is no direct evidence that nuclear weapons prevented a world war. Conversely, it is known that they nearly caused one.
The time has come to formulate guidelines for the ethical conduct of scientist, perhaps in the form of a voluntary Hippocratic Oath.
The present basic philosophy is nuclear deterrence.
The most terrifying moment in my life was October 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. I did not know all the facts - we have learned only recently how close we were to war - but I knew enough to make me tremble.
The decision to use the atom bomb on Japanese cities, and the consequent buildup of enormous nuclear arsenals, was made by governments, on the basis of political and military perceptions.
The Cold War is over but Cold War thinking survives.
The chief task was to stop the arms race before it brought utter disaster. However, after the collapse of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, any rationale for having nuclear weapons disappeared.
So I ask the nuclear powers to abandon the out-of-date thinking of the Cold War period and take a fresh look. Above all, I appeal to them to bear in mind the long-term threat that nuclear weapons pose to humankind and to begin action towards their elimination.
Since the end of the Cold War two main nuclear powers have begun to make big reductions in their nuclear arsenals. Each of them is dismantling about 2,000 nuclear warheads a year.
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