Local groups join national call to ban nuclear weapons

  • A group gathered on the Greenfield Common in January 2022 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. One year later, at least two Franklin County groups have joined nearly 100 national, state and local organizations to call upon President Joe Biden to sign the treaty. STAFF FILE PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • HYNES

Staff Writer
Published: 1/25/2023 4:59:42 PM

At least two Franklin County groups were among nearly 100 national, state and local organizations to call upon President Joe Biden this week to sign the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

In a letter sent to the president on Sunday, peace campaigners outlined six reasons why Biden should sign the treaty, which recognizes the threat of nuclear weapons and requires their elimination. Since January 2021, the treaty has been signed into law in 68 countries, but not the U.S.

“Mr. President, as the first country to develop nuclear weapons and the only country to have ever used them in war, the United States bears a special moral responsibility to ensure they are never used again,” the letter states. “Please take the first clear step to nuclear abolition and sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty.”

In particular, the letter argues that signing the treaty would improve America’s standing in the world, particularly with allies, and would discourage other countries from seeking to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. The letter also calls upon Biden to “switch gears” and focus his efforts instead on addressing climate change.

The letter, coordinated by the nonprofit NuclearBan.US, included signatures from the Greenfield-based Traprock Center for Peace & Justice and The New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett.

“NuclearBan.US did extensive national outreach to have as many peace groups sign the letter to Biden encouraging him to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” said Pat Hynes, who sits on the Traprock Center for Peace & Justice’s board of directors. “The extensive outreach was to manifest national will for this.”

This past weekend, groups from across the country commemorated the second anniversary of the treaty. In Greenfield, it was the focus of the weekly Saturday vigil on the Greenfield Common.

In a My Turn published in the Greenfield Recorder earlier this month, Hynes questioned the funds being requested by the U.S. Department of Energy for nuclear weapon upgrades compared to the same department’s budget for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

She also wrote about the “existential costs” of nuclear weapons, including the “dread that world-ending nuclear bombs provoke in humans” and the “forever radioactive contamination that eludes cleanup to human and environmental standards.”

“The new UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons bolsters the hope that the United States and the eight other nuclear giants will grow up into pragmatic, if not ethical adult governments and eliminate forever their genocidal weapons,” Hynes wrote.

Efforts to reach The New England Peace Pagoda were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

To view the full letter, visit bit.ly/3XW7LZ9.

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne.


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