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New nukes

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If you're keeping a list of the top reasons you don't want George W. Bush elected to a second term, you might want to consider adding an item from Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action, a Washington D.C.-based group that touts itself as "a pro-peace and citizen action organization."

Speaking Sunday night to a North Carolina Peace Action meeting in Chapel Hill, Martin said, if given a second term, Bush will likely resume nuclear weapons testing in order to introduce a new arsenal of what are being called "usable nuclear weapons."

For more than a decade, the U.S. has not conducted a live nuclear test at the Nevada test site, but Martin says the Bush Administration wants to push forward the approval of a new era of smaller, more useable nuclear weapons to use in the war on terrorism.

"A lot of people think it's just matter of time--if Bush gets another term--before he says, 'Oh, we can no longer rely on the nuclear weapons we have now without testing them,' especially testing new types of nuclear weapons," Martin said. "The United States is pushing for new types of more usable nuclear weapons. This is of course on top of the 10,000 nuclear warheads the United States already has. To the rest of the world this looks like what it is--the height of hypocrisy."

The nuclear warheads the U.S. has now are mostly Cold War-era weapons that are thousands of times more powerful than the atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan in 1945, causing more than 100,000 deaths.

"Those are too big, and they can't really be used," Martin said. There's "a moral line" that precludes the U.S. from using such weapons that would cause "such horrific death and destruction."

The smaller variety being pushed by Bush could "blur the line" between conventional and nuclear weapons and make using nuclear weapons more plausible in future wars, Martin said.

"I do think that most people are complacent or underestimating the potential for the use of nuclear weapons, particularly when you look at the absolute failure of our non-proliferation policy," Martin said. "How many more countries have to declare themselves nuclear powers before we understand that our do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do non-proliferation policy is a joke with the rest of the world, and it has a lot to do with Bush's talk about preemptive war?

"If I were in Syria or North Korea or Iran I would be trying like hell to get nuclear weapons right now to protect myself from a rogue superpower that decides it can invade anybody anytime we want to."

To counter the Bush push for more nukes and preemptive war, Peace Action is waging a campaign to back a new foreign policy. At Sunday's meeting at the Chapel Hill Community Church, state Peace Action coordinator Bill Towe passed out a sheet of postcards to be sent to members of Congress urging them to sign Peace Action's "Pledge for a New Foreign Policy."

The new policy "must be based on: support for human rights and democracy by ending U.S. arms sales to dictators; a serious commitment to nuclear disarmament and international law and cooperation," the card states.

In concluding his remarks, Martin told a story of riding a D.C. Metro bus up 16th Street and seeing a church with a banner that said: "Love or Perish," a message Martin said presents the choice facing humanity in the 21st century.

"I just thought what a fantastic, succinct message that really speaks as to where we are in human civilization right now," Martin said. "I think that's our choice. We either learn to love each other and live together on this planet or we die together as fools, as Martin Luther King said."

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