Big news coming from California, USA today: The state senate just approved a resolution calling for support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, make nuclear dis armament the centerpiece of our national security policy, and spearhead a global effort to prevent nuclear war. The resolution (Sacramento–Assembly Joint Resolution 33 or AJR 33) was introduced by Santa Barbara’s State Assembly member, Monique Limón, and passed by a vote of 25 to 10.
Representing over 38 million Americans, the California State Legislature is the largest local government to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. They follow the lead of the LA City Council and 10 other municipalities (as well as the US Conference of Mayors), who have endorsed similar resolutions. Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN, applauds this resolution:”As democratic representative bodies, they have a responsibility to reflect the views of their constituents and ensure those who represent the US in international negotiations do so authentically. US national leaders are unwilling to make the right choice, so local government and citizens must make it for them.”
And these resolutions are more than just symbolic gestures, because the current endorsement of nuclear weapons at a state and federal level also come with big financial implications. At a state level, California-based companies enable with finance, technology or logistics the nuclear weapons industry. California public institutions like the University of California enable nuclear weapons development by managing the nation’s two nuclear weapons laboratories. Many top nuclear weapons scientists come through the UC pipeline, funded by California taxpayers.
At a national level, the U.S. government currently has a $717 billion military budget and a plan to spend $1.7 trillion on nuclear weapons over the next 30 years. California’s decision not only shows that there is opposition to this nuclear arms race, but also invites people to imagine the things that could be done to make the world a better place by diverting even part of that money to productive, not destructive purposes.
As Rick Wayman, Deputy Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and one of the many campaigners that worked hard to make this new resolution possible, stated in his address to the California State Assembly: “Right now, we have a federal government that is choosing to spend over $100,000 per minute for the next 30 years on nuclear weapons upgrades. But it’s not just dollars that we’re squandering. Nuclear weapons are, simply put, indiscriminate mass killing devices. Any use would be illegitimate and wholly unacceptable.”
It’s exciting to see California join the right side of history, and we hope that city by city, state by state, the US government will realise that it’s citizens demand action. Denuclearisation means the US too.