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Anti-Nuclear Walkers Visit Area:
Vermont March Pauses In Wilder on 1-Week Trek

Valley News, August 19, 1998

    WILDER - Reducing the United States' nuclear arsenal to a few hundred weapons and decreasing the political value of nuclear weapons to less dominant countries are necessary first steps to lessen the worldwide threat of nuclear weapons, Thomas Graham Jr., who has spent more than 25 years work on disarmament issues on in on of the American government, told a group of roughly 70 activists last night.

    The activists were guests of the Advent Christian Church and Conference Center at White River Camp in Wilder.

   Graham is currently president of the Lawyers Alliance for World Security, which is based in Washington. From 1994 to 1997, he served with the rank of ambassador as a special representative of the president for arms control, nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament matters.

    "The Cold War was a dangerous period. We are now in a very dangerous period. A world filled with nuclear-weapons states would be unimaginably dangerous," Graham told a group gathered as part of the Vermont Walk for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. A world filled with countries that are able to build and launch nuclear weapons would be a world inhabited by humans unsure from week to week whether humanity would continue to exist, Graham said.

    For decades, the United States and the four other members of the so-called nuclear club --- Russia, France, Britain and China applied a double standard to the world by maintaining large numbers of nuclear weapons but working to prevent other countries from gaining the same abilities, Graham said.

   David Montgomery, a Dartmouth physics professor who also addressed the group, spoke about how countries have come to believe they can be taken seriously by other countries only if they possess nuclear weapons.

   So, 53 years after the nuclear arms race began, the world has India and Pakistan conducting nuclear tests aimed at expressing dominance in their portion of their world and Iraq suspected of working to conceal its nuclear capabilities.

    The threat of thermonuclear war among two superpowers is gone, Graham said, but the threat of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, unstable regimes or criminals is on the rise. "This technology is simple. It's 1945 technology," he said.

   The United States needs to take the lead in reducing the number of existing nuclear weapons and in diminishing the value of nuclear weapons in the political arena, Graham said.

    The audience sitting in the tabernacle at the White River Camp was receptive to Graham's remarks as well as to those of Montgomery and Thetford author and poet Grace Paley. A cool breeze drifted through the screened windows, as did the twitter of crickets and an occasional bark from a dog.

   Those participating in the Vermont Walk for Nuclear Abolition walked into West Hartford from South Royalton yesterday afternoon and were scheduled to begin walking toward Hartland this morning. The walk began in Montpelier on Saturday and is scheduled to end in Springfield, Vt., on Friday.

   "If we're ever going to turn around the cycle of confrontation and violence and build a stable and secure world ... it's got to some from the public. It's not going to come from governments," Graham said in praise of the walkers' efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of nuclear weapons and nuclear wastes.

   The walk was organized by the American Friends Service Committee, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and other groups.

    Montgomery also praised the activists and urged people to think about how to replace an economy that thrives on military spending and how to deal with what appears to be a built-in human trait of aggression. Until the "meanness" of humans is addressed, nuclear weapons are only one stage in an ongoing cycle, he said.

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