The recent test firing of a US missile previously banned under a nuclear arms control treaty has heightened alarm among anti-nuclear activists that a reckless new arms race threatens humankind. The launch of the modified Tomahawk missile on August 18 came just over two weeks after the US formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which it signed in 1987 with what was then the Soviet Union. Yet renewed proliferation is not confined to the US. Military and intelligence experts suspect a recent radioactive explosion in northern Russia that killed seven people, including five scientists, is evidence of Moscow’s intent to develop new nuclear weapons that can evade missile defences.
In a post-Cold War world many other nuclear-armed countries are reconfiguring their weapons stockpiles unbound by treaties. China is thought to have overhauled its stock of medium-range nuclear missiles, North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities are shrouded in secrecy, and a rise in tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan over Kashmir has jangled nerves in the region.
Anti-nuclear activism has a proud history, with women-led protests at Greenham Common, the Nuclear Freeze campaign, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament helping raise public awareness of the threat posed by weapons proliferation. Their example has inspired a new generation of movements to fight back against nuclear weapons. But with the climate emergency foremost in the minds of activists and the general public alike, how can a new current of anti-nuclear arms movements focus attention on winding the Doomsday Clock back from two minutes to midnight? Join the conversation.
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