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Los Angeles City Council Votes to Support U.N. Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty

Council honors Atomic Bomb Survivors as it endorses "Back from the Brink" Resolution

Los Angeles has added its name to a growing number of individuals, organizations, and cities that are calling for the United States to take action to prevent nuclear war. On August 8, the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve a resolution that urges the U.S. to embrace the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and implement important protective policies such as ending the President’s sole, unchecked authority to launch a nuclear attack, taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert, and canceling U.S. plans to replace its entire nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons. The resolution was introduced by Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin.

The resolution was introduced by Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin. “We’ve reached a time where the nuclear threat is the greatest since the Cold War,” said Councilmember Koretz. “We need to have the United States join the 122 nations that voted to adopt the U.N. Treaty on Treaty on Nuclear Weapons, and we support a grassroots movement called ‘Back from the Brink’ which has been endorsed by cities across the country.”

Proponents of the resolution include Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA.) “Nuclear weapons pose a tremendous threat to public health,” said Dr. Robert Dodge, President of PSR-LA. “And today I’m very concerned. We are in the midst of a new arms race and have a President who has threatened to use nuclear weapons. But it’s not too late to change course. The policies recommended in this resolution provide a clear pathway back from the brink of nuclear war."

Advocates are also concerned with environmental health impacts related to nuclear weapons. “Building new nuclear weapons poses significant risks, from the creation of deadly long-lived radioactive waste and contamination to the prospect of renewed nuclear weapons testing,” said Martha Dina Argüello, Executive Director of PSR-LA. “Communities near and downwind from nuclear weapons complex sites are still suffering from Cold War production. Indigenous and low-income communities of color have suffered disproportionate impacts, and will again if we don’t stop this.”

The L.A. resolution is part of a national grassroots campaign called “Back from the Brink,” which has support from prominent public health, science, environmental, faith-based and justice organizations. The U.S. Conference of Mayors voted unanimously in June to support a similar resolution, and cities throughout the country are following suit. Los Angeles is now the largest city to do so. The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons endorsed in the resolution also has broad support, from the American Medical Association to Pope Francis to former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. The Treaty, which was adopted last year with the support of 122 countries, bans nuclear weapons in the same way that biological and chemical weapons are banned. The U.S. and other nuclear states currently oppose it.

“U.S. leaders have been derelict in their duty to develop a sustainable security framework and achieve a world without nuclear weapons. With this action, the L.A. City Council is joining the movement bringing democracy to disarmament and declaring that the people of Los Angeles have a right to live free from the fear of imminent destruction and reject the use of these weapons of mass destruction in their name,” said Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. “L.A.’s leadership will ripple across the country and awaken Americans to the immoral and catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. I thank Physicians for Social Responsibility-LA and the Back from the Brink Campaign for their tireless work and support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and I commend the bold leadership of Councilmember Paul Koretz.”

 Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs for Peace Action, also noted the significance of the L.A. resolution. “Representing one of the largest cities in the country, the L.A. City Council just passed a common sense resolution calling for reasonable steps to reduce the threat of nuclear war,” Martin said. “More and more cities are stepping up efforts to challenge Cold War era nuclear policies and outlandish escalations in nuclear weapons spending that make us less safe. Taking this important action during the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the City of Angels clearly understands the importance of defending against the hell of nuclear war.”

Prior to the resolution vote, the City presented the American Society of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors (ASA) with a commendation for their decades of nuclear disarmament efforts. “Today, 73 years later some of the survivors are still experiencing cancer, leukemia, and the radiation sickness,” said Junji Sarashina, President of ASA. “We must abolish the atomic and nuclear weapon so no one will ever it again on human beings. We must pursue the peace of the world.” ASA members present for the commendation also included Midori Seino, Toshiyuki Seino, Hiroko Nakano, Taeko Okabe, Howard Kakita, and ASA Honorary Director/Historian Gloria Montebruno Saller.

The resolution was also supported by Beyond the Bomb, Fukushima Support Committee, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Nuclear Free Schools-Alliance Dr. Olga Mohan High School, SoCal 350 Climate Action, Veterans for Peace, and Women’s Action for New Directions.

 
Video of the commendation to ASA and resolution vote is available on the City's website here lacity.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php.

 

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PSR-LA was founded in 1980 as a chapter of the national organization, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR.) PSR is the U.S. affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize and Partner Organization of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. PSR-LA advocates for policies and practices that protect public health from nuclear and environmental threats and eliminate health disparities.

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