NYC rally calls for end to nukes as pow­ers talk


Global ac­tivists pre­sented 8 mil­lion pe­ti­tions to the U.N. dis­ar­ma­ment chief on Sun­day de­mand­ing a world free of nu­clear weapons, kick­ing off a con­fer­ence by world pow­ers to re­view progress to­ward even­tu­ally achiev­ing to­tal dis­ar­ma­ment.

U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry and Iran’s for­eign min­is­ter are both ex­pected to speak at the con­fer­ence Mon­day amid in­tense in­ter­est in the fate of ne­go­ti­a­tions over Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram.

The Nu­clear Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty, or NPT, Re­view Con­fer­ence hap­pens ev­ery five years, and ex­perts have warned that lit­tle progress is ex­pected this time, es­pe­cially with re­la­tions cool be­tween the two largest nu­clear pow­ers, Rus­sia and the United States.

The more than a thou­sand demon­stra­tors de­manded that the world’s nine nu­clear-armed coun­tries do far more to­ward cut­ting stock­piles. Many pro­test­ers were from Ja­pan, the only coun­try ever hit by a nu­clear attack. Frag­ile sur­vivors of the U.S. at­tacks on Hiroshima and Na­gasaki 70 years ago led the way in wheel­chairs.

“I hope we don’t have to have the NPT five years from now!” said 83-year-old Hiroshima sur­vivor Set­suko Thur­low.

The U.N. dis­ar­ma­ment chief, An­gela Kane, stood by the wall of boxes of pe­ti­tions and told the crowd that re­ceiv­ing the mil­lions of names was “very hum­bling.” She said she had signed one of the pe­ti­tions her­self when she was in Ja­pan.

Kane said she spoke Fri­day with U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki­moon and told the crowd, “He’s with you.”

As the march made its way up­town past the Man­hat­tan brunch crowd, some by­standers showed lit­tle grasp of the num­ber of nu­clear weapons re­main­ing around the world to­day.

Guesses ranged from 120 to 150,000 to “no idea what­so­ever.” Ex­perts es­ti­mate it’s more like 16,000.

“Hun­dreds. Thou­sands. Doesn’t mat­ter. They’re all bad,” said Hal Al­ter­wein, 75. “All you need is one nut case to blow it up.”

The other nu­clear-armed coun­tries are the United King­dom, France, China, In­dia, Pak­istan, Is­rael and North Korea. Only the U.S., Rus­sia, the UK, France and China have signed on to the Nu­clear Non­pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty.


Sur­vivors of the nu­clear at­tacks on Ja­pan in 1945 par­tic­i­pate in an anti-nu­clear rally in Union Square in New York City on Sun­day, April 26.

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