The enforceable Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and effective Jan. 22, 2021, is now two years old. In all, 68 nations have ratified it, declaring nuclear weapons illegal in their territories, and another 24 countries are actively in the process of doing so. Maryland nuclear weapons abolitionists celebrated the anniversary at the Baltimore-Baltimore County line on York Road, where one of the city’s road signs advises inbound travelers that they are entering a Nuclear-Free Zone (”U.S. must take action to prevent nuclear holocaust,” Dec. 2, 2022).
In 1992, Baltimore became the first major city to declare itself a nuclear-free zone, prohibiting all nuclear weapons-related activity within its boundaries. Violators face fines up to $1,000 per violation per day. Among the York Road celebrants was City Comptroller Bill Henry who worked with Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke to achieve unanimous passage of the NFZ ordinance. There are hundreds of NFZs around the United States including in Takoma Park, Garrett Park and Sykesville.
As a city councilman in 2018, Henry spearheaded the passage of Baltimore’s Back From The Brink resolution that has also been passed in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and the city of Frederick. The resolution urges Congress to end several Cold War policies that many believe make a nuclear war more possible by accident, mistake or terrorist activity like keeping bombs on hair-trigger alert and giving the President of the United States the power to launch a nuclear strike without consultation. Congress has committed to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal for $1.7 trillion, which Back From The Brink proponents demand be spent on domestic needs, including debt reduction, or not at all. A verifiable enforceable global nuclear disarmament treaty such as the UN Treaty, would make that $1.7 trillion expense unnecessary.
On Monday and Tuesday, Maryland pacifists are visiting the embassies of the nine nations that ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the past year, delivering colorful formal certificates of appreciation and symbolic bouquets, as it did at the embassies of the 59 nations which had ratified the treaty by its first anniversary.
Prevent Nuclear War Maryland, an all-volunteer coalition, urges Marylanders to let their member of Congress know if they want to live in a world without nuclear weapons.
— Lou Curran, Baltimore
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