Top News

The nuclear threat remains – 60 years after first Pugwash Conference

['Community Editorial Panel with Jerry Randall']
['Community Editorial Panel with Jerry Randall']

Community Editorial Panel with Jerry Randall

Last week, on the CBC News, there was a report that the major nuclear powers of the word, Russia and the U.S.A., are indulging in nuclear sabre-rattling rhetoric that is undoubtedly designed to put fear in the equation of which nation is the more powerful.

The report emphasized that Vladimir Putin wants to return Russia to superpower status, and has now disclosed that his country has nuclear weapons that are 10 times, or is it 100 times, more powerful than the first atomic bombs, nuclear missiles that are capable of evading all attempts by other nations to intercept and destroy their missiles, and state that now they are the most powerful nuclear nation on earth.

Donald Trump disputes that claim, and is adamant that the U.S.A. is far and above more powerful than Russia. The report went on to give some details of how many countries of the world have nuclear powers.

It stated that all it would take is one of leaders of those smaller countries, especially those who are obviously insane with power, to wrongly perceive an insult by any one of the other holders of nuclear power to cause one of them to push a button and begin the process of world destruction. It is indeed a very sobering thought!

Many years ago Cyrus Eaton, a very rich and famous U.S. industrialist, originally from Pugwash, started and hosted anti-nuclear conferences called Pugwash Conference, which were well attended by some of the most recognized names in science from throughout the world, a number of whom were involved in the historic Manhattan Project.

These conferences brought forward the need for the world to reduce nuclear weaponry, since the alternative could mean the destruction of the world. Those efforts actually did some good, and countries with nuclear powers agreed to start disarmament.

Jump forward some decades, and we find that efforts by local Pugwash residents Stephen and Denise Leahey, along with others from this county and from away, brought into existence the Pugwash Peace Exchange.

This was well supported by membership from far and wide of people who solidly supported the antinuclear movement. The exchange undertook to host an anti-nuclear conference, which happened in July of 1997. It was a massive undertaking due to the relatively high number of world-leading scientists from many disciplines, and from throughout the world, including Russia, China, India, the U.S.A., and many others. The guest speaker at the closing banquet was the Mayor of Hiroshima Tadoshima Akaba, and we all thought that the impressive efforts from these powerful people would significantly move the world to total nuclear disarmament.

Well a few years later something happened to the Pugwash Peace Exchange that caused the Leaheys to step away from their leadership roles, and the whole thing disintegrated.

As far as I know the membership of the exchange were never given a fully disclosed accounting of what happened, but it was a major shame indeed that it did. Here we were - a small little village in Nova Scotia regularly bringing major international players from throughout the world who had the ability, and the personal commitment, to work toward ending nuclear arms. And that very worthy effort fell away to nothing, and we all just shrugged and went away as well.

Now, we are getting news reports about nuclear re-armament that we hope is only an effort by those countries building their arms to put fear into the minds and hearts of the leaders of the other countries. It is a very dangerous game! All it would take is for one of those crazy guys, like the leader of North Korea, or Donald Trump in the U.S.A., or power-hungry Putin in Russia, and it would be game-over for all of us.

I think someone should step up and restart the efforts of the Pugwash Peace Exchange. Our little area was given a great deal of respect in the days of Cyrus Eaton, and again in the Peace Exchange days.

Maybe we could make a difference now.

To lighten the air a bit, find a good Irish celebration tomorrow evening and sing and drink your cares away. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone.

Jerry Randall is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel.

Recent Stories