By Sheri Deal-Tyne, Iowa City
Sept. 26 marks the U.N.’s International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Did you know that Iowa City was one of the first Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones in the U.S.? In 1985, concerned community members signed petitions calling for the designation. The city ordinance declares that nuclear weapons facilities or work on nuclear weapons are prohibited in Iowa City because they are “in direct conflict with the maintenance of the community’s public health, safety, morals, economic well-being and general welfare.”
When the ordinance was passed, the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, China, France and Israel possessed nuclear weapons. Now, three more countries — India, Pakistan and North Korea — hold nuclear arsenals; but more than 90 percent belong to the U.S. and Russia. The possession of nuclear weapons as “deterrence” is a myth. Deterrence theory hinges on the rationality of military and political leaders. Human beings are fallible and human technology is equally fallible.
Eighty thousand people died instantly on Aug. 6, 1945 in Hiroshima when the first nuclear weapon was used in war. This is more than the current population of Iowa City. In all, nearly 200,000 were killed, including those who died from radiation and other aftermath. That was one bomb, and today’s nuclear warheads are even more destructive. No country, not even the US, possesses the emergency response preparedness to deal with a nuclear exchange.
The attack on a major Saudi Arabian oil facility prompted Trump to tweet that the U.S. was “locked and loaded.” Last week, escalating tensions between India and Pakistan generated the words “nuclear war.” Today, more than ever, we need sane nuclear disarmament policies.