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People and Politics Forum 24. 09. 2010

"Do we need nuclear weapons?"

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A Realistic Goal or a Utopian Dream? A World Without Nuclear Weapons

Almost a year ago, US President Barack Obama pledged to rid the world of nuclear weapons. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also supports the drive for nuclear disarmament. Together with Japan and Australia, Germany is looking to promote that cause on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting this month. Those who live near nuclear storage facilities, like residents of the small community of Büchel in Germany's Eifel region, have welcomed the news. But some defense experts are opposed to nuclear disarmament.

Our Question was:

"Do we need nuclear weapons?"

René Junghans, Brazil

"We do not need nuclear weapons. They'll only serve to end the world prematurely. The more countries that possess nuclear weapons, the greater the risk that someone will at some time press the button and in so doing start the third and most probably last world war. So, let's do away with nuclear weapons! The money we'll save could be better used to build schools and hospitals. Certainly, mankind will feel more secure without nuclear weapons."

D. V. Charles, USA

“I'm afraid that we do. The toothpaste is out of the tube now, and no one can put it back in; and many countries, some politically unstable, have or soon will have access to them. How would you feel if Iran attacked your country with nukes and you had no response. What would you do? Pray a lot? Petition the UN for help? Lots of luck. The only time to have stopped nuclear weapons was not to have started it in the first place. Nuclear proliferation was only a matter of time. Maybe Einstein should have been a plumber.”

Bernard Sandstrom, USA

“Has anyone suggested how the genie gets stuffed back in the bottle? There are and will be other autocratic, opportunistic ideologues. Nuclear weapons were not invented with the first atomic bomb. The scientists in Mew Mexico 70 years ago were working on Einstein's e=mc2 that was being taught in technical colleges and free library references. The central European technical schools were recording the basic research well before WW2.”

Dirk Marotzke, Brazil

”Yes, we need nuclear weapons, so that we never need to use them."

Herbert Fuchs, Finland

“A world without nuclear weapons is just a castle in the air. The real problem is mankind, not the nuclear weapons. It's obvious that even after World War Two, mankind hasn't changed in the 21st century. On the contrary, people all over the world are playing fast and loose with peace. There are problems everywhere - from disputes over land and ideology to natural resources - and everyone wants to impose their will on others, by war if need be. Differing ideologies and the ignorance of people who are hungry for power leave no doubt that the choice is merely between the lesser of evils: nuclear weapons, or instability. Mankind is looking into an active volcano, and at some point the whole question might become obsolete because mankind in its madness will destroy itself – without or without nuclear weapons. Only when the last person has been forced to depart the planet will Mother Earth no longer need to fear for its security."

Gerhard Seeger, The Philippines

"A world without nuclear weapons would be very nice - but for some time to come it remains a utopian idea. With or without Obama, the US will at best reduce its arsenal, but it has also been suggested that its super-power status is based largely on its superior nuclear weapon stocks. And would it even be possible to get all nations with nuclear weapons to relinquish them? Hardly."

Martin Burmeister, Venezuela

"The answer is definitely no. Unfortunately, getting all countries with nuclear weapons to give them up is out of the question. Even a general disarmament would not be going far enough, because one single nuclear strike can cause unimaginable damage all over the planet." .

The editors of "People and Politics" reserve the right to abridge viewers’ letters.