Open Letter: Pull the Nation Back from the Brink of Nuclear War


Close to 3,000 concerned Americans signed this letter sent to

The Honorable Joe Biden, former Vice-President of the United States

c/o Biden Campaign Headquarters                                                  

June 20, 2020

Dear Presidential Candidate Joe Biden:

While we greatly admire many dimensions of your campaign and emerging platform, we are deeply distressed at the absence of an advocate for nuclear disarmament and the reining in of the enormous budgets proposed for nuclear weapons upgrades. President Trump’s pulling out of the Iran treaty and the Intermediate Nuclear Weapons treaty has increased the danger of accidental or intentional nuclear exchanges. The investment in upgrading nuclear weapons is provocative and destabilizing, and a terrible misuse of national resources during this Covid -19 crisis.

We ask you to return to the vison of peace and serious nuclear disarmament that former President Kennedy articulated in his courageous 1963 speech at American University and that former President Obama put forward in his 2009 Prague speech, and reject the escalation represented by, for example, the contracts just awarded for the Long-Range Standoff Missile. A natural step would be to add strong nuclear disarmament planks to your platform:

  1. No First Use of Nuclear Weapons;
  2. Promote the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty – no new nuclear weapons testing;
  3. Cancel the provocative, destabilizing and enormously expensive $2.0 trillion nuclear weapons modernization program;
  4. Lead with diplomacy in resolving international conflicts.
  5. Designate national and international nuclear disarmament a central goal.

One of the reasons that the richest country on earth faces the Covid-19 epidemic without adequate tests, masks, protective equipment and treatments is the diversion of the nation’s tax dollars into ever more expensive and dangerous nuclear weapons, such as those proposed in the nuclear weapons modernization.  Cutting the funding of these unnecessary programs will free up funds desperately needed for healthcare, education, infrastructure and climate programs.

The American people need passage of No First Strike Legislation, the reduction of work on  nuclear weapons upgrades, and an aggressive pursuit of New Start and other treaty initiatives. Our common security depends on ridding the world of nuclear weapons, an international effort which requires US leadership.

We urge that you include in your campaign one or more proponents of nuclear disarmament  -- such as former Secretary of Defense William Perry or former missile launch officer and co-founder of Global Zero, Bruce Blair or General Lee Butler, the former head of Strategic Nuclear Command -- who can keep the dire  nuclear peril in front of your eyes and who can help you to incorporate a compelling commitment to nuclear disarmament into your platform.




List of initial 200 signatories  (Individuals and/or Organizations):                                                                     

Edie Allen, Cambridge, MA  (Board Member, Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND).

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK, Washington DC.

Joseph Cirincione, President, Ploughshares Fund, Washington, DC.

Joan Ecklein, Brookline, MA (Women’s international League for Peace and Freedom).

Jodie Evans, CODEPINK, Washington DC.

Shelagh Foreman, Cambridge MA (Board member, Mass Peace Action).

Steve Gallant, Boston,MA (Nuclear Disarmament Working Group, Mass Peace Action).

Joseph Gerson, Arlington, MA (President of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security).

Gary Goldstein ,Professor of Physics, Tufts University, Medford, MA. (Board of MA Peace Action Education Fund).

Lynn Hall, Wellfleet, MA (Nuclear Disarmament Working Group, Mass Peace Action).

Ira Helfand, MD, Northhampton, MA. (Member International Steering Group, ICAN, the recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize).

Jeff Hoey, NJ, (Executive Director of New Jersey Peace Action).

Jonathan King, Professor of Molecular Biology, MIT, Cambridge, MA (Co-Chair Mass Peace Action).

Eileen Kurkoski, Boston, MA (Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom).

Susan Mirsky, Newton, MA (Newton Dialogues on Peace and War).

Jerold Ross, Chelmsford, MA (Peace and Justice Committee, Bedford, MA).

Suzanne Scarlata , Whitcomb Chair of Biochemistry, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA.

Elaine Scarry, Cabot Professor of Aesthetics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. (Author of Thermonuclear Monarchy).

Sayre Sheldon, Cambridge, MA (Board Member, Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND).

Steve Slaner, Prof. Northern Essex Community College (Nuclear Disarmament Working Group, Mass Peace Action)

Max Tegmark, Prof. of Physics, MIT, Cambridge, MA (President, Future of Life Institute).

John F. Tierney (Executive Director, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and of Council for a Livable World, Washington, D.C).

Carley Townes, CODEPINK, Washington DC.

Cornelia van der Ziel MD Brookline, MA (Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility).

Michael VanElzakker, Research Fellow, Neurotherapeutics Division, Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School (Nuclear Disarmament Working Group, Mass Peace Action).

Henry H. Wortis, MD, Professor of Immunology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA ( Our Revolution of MA).

Renate Rose, Cambridge, MA (Retired Pastor, UCC)

Christie Dennis, Cambridge, MA (Massachusetts Peace Action)

Alan Robock, Manasquan, NJ (Distinguished Professor of Climate Science, Rutgers University)

John Raby, New London, NH (Nuclear Weapons Working Group of New Hampshire)

Linda Davis, Needham, MA ( MAPA)

Dorothy "Sue" Malone, Westboro, MA (Retired Nurse)

Amy Hendrickson, Brookline, MA (Software Consultant)

Thea Paneth, Arlington, MA (Arlington United for Justice with Peace (Local), United for Peace and Justice (National))

James Engell, Cambridge, MA (Professor, Harvard University)

Kennette Benedict, Chicago, IL (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)

Susan Entin, Cambridge, MA (MassachusettsPeace Action Network and Quincy Climate Action)

Ida DelVecchio, Boston, MA

Patricia S. Jones, Hilton, NY (Educator, Retired)

David Rothhauser, Chestnut Hill, MA (Film Director/Memory Productions)

Sharon deVos, Cambridge, MA

Jean Athey, NY (Maryland Peace Action (Executive Director))

Cynthia Roche-Cotter, Quincy, MA (Family nurse practitioner)

Rachel Bronson, President & CEO, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Robert Redwine, Belmont, MA (Professor of Physics, MIT, Cambridge, MA (Leader, MIT Nuclear Weapons Education Project))

Emily Grosholz, State College, PA (Professor of Philosophy, African American Studies and English)

Julia Burgess, Boston, MA

Dan Luker, Boston, MA ( Veterans for Peace)

Seung Hee Jeon, Boston, MA (MA Korea Peace Campaign)

David Goldenberg, Boston, MA

Paul Atwood, Norwood, MA

Boryana Tacconi, MA (Merrimack Valley People for Peace)

Martha Spiess, Portland, ME (Peace Action Maine)

Councilor, Tony Palomba, Watertown, MA (Watertown Town Council and Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment)

Ellen Thomas, Tryon, NC (Proposition One Campaign for a Nuclear-Free Future)

Bernie Eisenberg, Los Angeles, CA

Charlie Cooper, MD (Prevent Nuclear War Maryland)

Max Obuszewski, Baltimore, MD (Baltimore Nonviolence Center)

Tony Langbehn, MA

John Burroughs, New York, NY (Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy)

Mike Ferner, Toledo, OH (Former President, Veterans For Peace)

John Spitzberg, Willow, Alaska (Veterans For Peace)

Patrick McCann, MA (Veterans For Peace, national board member)

John Moriarty, Furlong, PA

Dud Hendrick, Deer Isle, ME (Maine Veterans for Peace)

Albert Sargis, Oakland, CA

Daniel Higgins, Quincy, MA (Veterans for Peace)

Gerry Condon, CA (Veterans for Peace)

Buzz Davis, Tucson, AZ (Veterans for Peace)

Gislin Dagnelie, Baltimore, MA (IPPNW, Peace Action, VFP)

Robert Cable, Somerville, MA (Veterans for Peace)

Nate Goldshlag, Arlington, MA (Veterans for Peace)

David Larsen, MA (Veterans for Peace)

Rosalie Anders, Cambridge, MA (Massachusetts Peace Action)

Rose Mary Morrissey, Westborough, MA

Peter Castle, Cambridge, MA (Veterans for Peace)

Patricia Ferrone, Needham, MA (Pax Christi MA Board)

Homer Franck, Auburndale, MA

Andrea Burns, Boston, MA (Director, Age-Friendly Boston for the City of Boston, Massachusetts Peace Action )

Diane Turco, S. Harwich, MA (Cape Downwinders )

Nancy Wrenn, Auburndale, MA (MAPA)

James Babson, South Hadley, MA (The Paul and Edith Babson Foundation )

Alan Batten, Fairbanks, AK

Ralph Galen, Lawrence, MA (Unitarian Universalist Church of Wakefield, MA)

Emily Greene, Lamar, SC (Peace Task Force FCCPR,GG)

Joe Scarry, Madeline Island, WI (Member of United Church of Christ Back From the Brink Task Team)

Barbara With, Marshfield, MO (Conflict REVOLUTION Institute)

Rachel Bauman, Wisconsin

Nancy Cowger, Wheeling, IL 

Timothea Papas, Duncombe, IA (Chicago Area Peace Action (CAPA))

Hannaah Frisch, Chicago, IL (About Face)

Peter Gunther, Chicago, IL

Charles Johnson, Chicago, IL

David Hartsough, (Peaceworkers)

Kathleen Greene, (ACCE)

Michele Gloor, San Francisco, CA

Diane Pontius, Mishawaka, IN

Nat Jowett, Leicester LE4 0DR, UK

Maggi Simpson, Redcar TS10 UK

Michael Legget, Redhill RH1 1JT, UK (member of local CND and Constituency Labour Party)

Lindsay Warford, Orpington, Kent BR6 8BX, UK

Guntram Mueller, Newton, MA (Co-Chair, Boston Downwinders)

Ellen Bravo, Milwaukee, WI

Kenneth Ashe, Marshall, NC (Veterans for Peace)

Kathreen Greeley, MA

Sharon Marcus, New York, NY

Bruce Ackerman, New Haven, CT (Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University)

M.V. Ramana, Vancouver, BC (University of British Columbia)

Todd Kelly, Belfast, ME

Symeon Yovev, Berlin, Germany

Lydia Becker, Elizabethtown, PA 

Bertrand I. Halperin, Montclair, NJ (Harvard University)

Elias Funes, Hesperia, CA

Anthony Evans, Valley Village, CA

Diallo Banks, Richmond, VA

Michael Hale, Edmond, OK

Jesse Rothfus, Des Moines, IA

John Miqueli, Atlanta, GA

Luana Maroja, Western Massachusetts

Rick Wayman, Santa Barbara, CA (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation)

Lisa Randall, Chevy Chase, MD (Harvard University)

Chrostophe Ribault, Lyon, France

Michael Bates, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Todd Grodd, Watertown, MA (Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment)

Gavin Edwards, Ypsilanti, MI (Eastern Michigan University)

Joshua Pryer, LA, CA

Donald Pfister, Cambridge, MA (Harvard University)

Steven Pinker, Cambridge, MA (Harvard University)

Gary Nardino, LA, CA

Jesse Crall, Studio City, CA (New York University)

Jane Fox, Mesquite, TX

Stefan Gmaj, Liverpool, UK

George Jacobs, PA (FAHA)

Evan Seagraves, San Diego, CA

Matther Walton, Tampa, FL

Paige Lambert, St John, IN

Peter Pesic, santa Fe, NM (St. John's College, Santa Fe, NM)

Keaton Axtell, Carlsbad, CA

David Haig, Cambridge, MA (Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University)

Anna Chaney, Scotland, UK

Alice Andrews, Hudson Valley, NY

Samim Yaquby, NYC, NY (CaDex)

Tomas Foley, MD., Lititz, PA (US citizen and father concerned for his children)

Jennifer Bock, Louisville, CO

Jacqueline Payne, New Brunswick, NJ (Rutgers University Student)

Emerson Azarbakht, San Francisco, CA

Penny Peters, Swanville, ME

Marcel Lamoureux, PhD, Tampa, FL

Johan Rocha, Chicago, IL (University of Chicago)

Jan Otte, Germany (VU Amsterdam)

Ameen Younis, Orange county, CA

Brian Foley, PA

David Allred, MT

David Krieger, Santa Barbara, CA (founder and president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Jonathan Molina, CA

Lowell Schneider, CA

Nicholas Wogan, OR (University of Washington)

Nicholle Little, Atlanta, GA

Patrick Lewis, VT

Jason Pinto, UK

Harmony Daws, Portland OR

Jan Boudart, IL

David Williams

Hanna Walinska

John Copponex

Andrew Ryan

Brian Brown

David Williams

Francesca Bova

Jonathan Eng

Michael Kitson

Cat Thompson

Connor Kerrigan

Paula Adams

Vlad Prodan

Zachary Klughaupt

Dave Mills





Sponsoring organizations:

CodePINK; Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security; Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility; Institute for People’s Engagement; Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP);Women's Action for New Directions (WAND); Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF); Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA).