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It’s the end of the world, as we know it

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With nearby Raytheon Missile Systems being “the world’s largest manufacturer of missile systems for the United States and its allies,” according to Manufacturing Today, the UA found itself the perfect setting for a forum of this magnitude.  

On Saturday, Oct. 21, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Arizona Chapter hosted a forum to raise awareness on negotiations for a nuclear weapons ban, risks of war, environmental impacts of a nuclear attack and statewide community engagement for prevention.  

The forum was held in the University of Arizona’s Student Union Memorial Center North Ballroom. Dr. Rick Grapp of the Physicians for Social Responsibility expressed a sentiment some Americans share today.

“Nuclear weapons are homicidal, and suicidal,” he said.

With North Korea and its nuclear abilities in the back of many American’s minds, the forum was live streamed nationally and teleconferenced to Flagstaff. 

The forum discussed two of the greatest public health threats facing humanity today, climate change and nuclear war. The challenges are unique in the threat they pose to human civilization.

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Courtesy Ashley Lynch


Keynote speaker Dr. Ira Helfand, co-director of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, was joined by a panel of community experts to discuss the urgency of dealing with both threats, as well as the critical responsibility of the public health community and elected officials to take action.

Helfand is a member of the International Steering Group, a part of the International Committee for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. 

The group won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize "for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons,” according to the Nobel Prize Committee.

With nearby Raytheon Missile Systems being “the world’s largest manufacturer of missile systems for the United States and its allies,” according to Manufacturing Today, the UA found itself the perfect setting for a forum of this magnitude. 

It’s not just the missiles at Raytheon. The company is also at the forefront of nuclear development.

In August, Raytheon was awarded a $900 million contract to develop the nation’s next-generation air-launched nuclear cruise missile, according to David Wichner of the Arizona Daily Star.

The prevailing message from the forum was that nuclear weapons should not, and cannot, be viewed as a means of protection in the world today. 

“People have to understand that nuclear weapons are not a means of our security,” Helfand said. “In fact, they are the greatest threat to our security. That if we use our own weapons, we commit suicide.”

Helfand and the rest of the panel called for action that would help lead to a world without nuclear weapons. 

"The crises in Korea and Iran underline the extraordinary danger of nuclear war that confronts the world today,” Helfand said. “We need to urgently pursue negotiations with the other nuclear armed states for a verifiable, enforceable agreement to eliminate these weapons before they are used."

The panel called for action from the people of Arizona, and the world.

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“I urge every Arizonan to take immediate action, as we all have a stake in the issue and are directly impacted by the threats of nuclear war,” said Dr. David Spence, a member of Physicians for Social Responsibility. 

Arizona State Representative Dr. Randy Friese had a few words to leave with the people of Arizona, and the world. “The solution starts with the individual,” said Friese. “It starts with grassroots, and I think elections in general are seeing the power of a grassroots movement.”


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