The following is an open letter to Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, signed by David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and others. The Bertrand Russell Society, of which I am a member, endorses it.
In a dramatic recent decision, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved its iconic Doomsday Clock ahead from three minutes to only two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.
Humankind faces two existential challenges of global and potentially apocalyptic scope: nuclear weapons and climate change.
Our focus here is on nuclear dangers, but we strongly encourage you, Presidents Trump and Putin, to undertake in a spirit of urgency all necessary steps to avert further global warming.
As the leaders of the United States and Russia, the two countries with the largest nuclear arsenals, you have the grave responsibility of assuring that nuclear weapons are not used — or their use overtly threatened — during your period of leadership.
The most certain and reliable way to fulfill this responsibility is to negotiate with each other, and the other governments of nuclear-armed states, for their total elimination.
The U.S. and Russia are both obligated under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to engage in such negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race and for complete nuclear disarmament. Your success in this endeavor would make you heroes of the Nuclear Age.