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Canadians should support freeze

Joanna Miller — March 1984

The International Task Force of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign has appealed to Canadians to lend support to the American effort to bring about a U.S./U.S.S.R. freeze on the development and deployment of nuclear weapons systems. As set out in the Special Plea from the U.S. Freeze Campaign, the Task Force believes that support for the Campaign is building. steadily and that help from the international peace community could be an important factor in its success.

The 1983 Congressional vote of’ 278 to 149 in favour of the freeze has been ignored by the Reagan Administration as it proceeds with plans for spending $450 billion in the next six years on fifteen major nuclear weapons systems now in production or being planned for the 1980s and early 1990s. The 1984 Freeze strategy, therefore, will focus on finding congressional co-sponsors for a bill to cut off funding for any nuclear weapons’ development, testing and deployment which is readily verifiable. The proposed funding freeze would be contingent on Soviet commitment to halt its testing and deployment of equivalent weapons systems.

Canadians can help the Freeze Campaign in two ways. First, we should urge our government to. press the governments of the United States and the Soviet Union to agree to a mutually-verifiable freeze on the testing and deployment of nuclear weapons as a step toward dismantling their nuclear arsenals A second important step would be for us to contact personally our friends and associates in the United States, requesting that they encourage their congresspeople to become co-sponsors of the Freeze legislation.

The need for swift action is underlined by the recent call of 13,000 international physicists for an immediate freeze on deployment of all new nuclear weapons or delivery systems anywhere. In presenting their appeal to world leaders they acknowledged that the original targeting of nuclear weapons on the large cities of potential adversaries had served as a deterrent and given us four decades free from world war. “But,” they warned, “nuclear technology is not static.” The new precision and speed of the modern missiles gives them the capacity to destroy hardened silos, thus increasing the temptation for either side to strike first in times of extreme tension.

“Defense against such a possibility,” say the physicists, “may invite a ‘launch-on-warning’ posture entirely triggered by automatic sensors and computers since no time for human intervention is available.” Thus we face the clear possibility of a nuclear holocaust through computer error.

A U.S./U.S.S.R. freeze, as the first step to halting the technological momentum of a nuclear arms race’ out of control, is a priority for those who – like these physicists – realise that time is not on our side.