I hold this truth to be self-evident, that no one should live under the threat of a nuclear attack.
And yet, every day, many millions of people around the world are held hostage to just that threat.
Weapons of mass destruction recognize no human rights. They allow no refuge, no freedom from their catastrophic effects. Radiation and nuclear winter recognize neither national borders, wealth, religion nor class.
This nuclear threat is so potent that, whether we are aware of it or not, our lives are constrained and quietly terrorized.
Well, incredible as it might seem, "now" appears to be a very good time to make some progress toward nuclear disarmament. Here are some reasons why:
• On December 5, START (the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the United States and Russia) officially expired, but both countries have pledged to continue to work together in the spirit of START and vowed to continue to negotiate for a new treaty in the coming weeks and months. This new agreement would further reduce the nuclear stockpile held by both nations. (The US and Russia hold about 95% of all 23,000 weapons in existence, including about 2,000 on high alert.) In July, Presidents Obama and Medvedev announced they had agreed to cut their nations' deployed nuclear warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675 each.
• On December 10, US President Barack Obama receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. The prize committee gave special importance to "his vision and his work for a world without nuclear weapons."
• In the new year, the Obama Administration is expected to seek ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in the Senate. If successful, this could clear a stumbling block to international nonproliferation efforts which has been in place since 1999 when the Senate failed to ratify the treaty.
• Next spring, the Nonproliferation Treaty review conference will offer an international opportunity to make tangible gains toward nuclear disarmament in line with the UN Security Council's nuclear disarmament resolution 1887 (2009) in September.
North Korea and Iran illustrate the dangers of a world political order based on nuclear weapons. The ability to cause mass destruction and terror with these weapons has become the ultimate tool and symbol of political power.
Containing such proliferation will only grow more difficult over time as more nations - and other organizations - launch efforts to join "the nuclear club." The only effective nonproliferation strategy is a world where no one can use nuclear weapons because there is an international agreement to ban them. We must act quickly or face a greater danger.
That's why I'm calling for a peaceful revolution.
It starts with what I call The Declaration of Independence - From Nuclear Weapons.
And don't worry, I won't have to start from scratch. I'm taking inspiration from one of America's masters of social change.
So let's have that first line again:
We hold this truth self-evident - that no one should live under the threat of nuclear attack.
Great. Feels good, doesn't it? Stating the truth does so rejuvenate a person.
Now, just imagine Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers are us, and King George on the throne, usurping the rights and liberty of the American colonists, stands for the tyranny of nuclear weapons in world politics.
We also believe that people have certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness and the Freedom from indiscriminate destruction of large civilian populations, their homes, neighborhoods and cities.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among People, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. --That whenever any Form of Government - such as the tyranny of nuclear weapons -- becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it through multilateral, phased and verifiable process, and to institute new Government, such as a Treaty for a World Without Nuclear Weapons, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect the Safety and Happiness of the People.
When a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same Object of Global Destruction, evinces a design to reduce individuals and their families under absolute Despotism, it is the people's right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
We are in need of "new Guards" for our "future security." Our descendants need them, too.
Nuclear weapons control us because we cannot control their impact. No one is free from the threat of their use. The time is now to tell your elected officials and national leaders that we must unthrone the nuclear despot.
We must end the nuclear threat that claims our obedience at risk of our lives and our children's future. We must declare ourselves independent of nuclear weapons. We must support all attempts to make progress down the road toward disarmament. And we must do it now.