Experts hold webinar to discuss nuclear weapons’ effect on state

Massachusetts Peace Action (Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Peace Action)

By Emily Pauls
Boston University News Service

The need for a “Nuclear Weapons Commission” in Massachusetts was at the center of a discussion held online by the nonprofit organization, Massachusetts Peace Action.

Held on Saturday, March 26, speakers included Ira Helfand, former president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, state Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, Jonathan King, a professor at MIT, Joseph Gerson, the director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Peace and Economic Security Program, Emma Pike, a peace educator and Elaine Scarry, a professor at Harvard. 

Speakers discussed the state bill H.3688/S.1555 which would “establish a Citizens’ Commission to research and recommend to the state legislature ways to better protect the citizens of Massachusetts from the existential threat of nuclear weapons,” according to their website

“This commission would simply report to the state legislature and the people of Massachusetts of Massachusetts’ involvement with nuclear weapons,” King said in an interview.

While the state doesn’t build any nuclear weapons, King said, it is “heavily involved” in other aspects of them, such as the “command and control” of the Charles Stark Draper Lab in Cambridge, which deals with nuclear weapons work. He also said taxpayers are affected by nuclear weapons. 

“Nuclear weapons aren’t made by the government, they’re made by corporations and sold to the government,” King said. “It’s taxpayers who pay for them.”

Pike, who is currently creating a dossier about nuclear weapons in the state in order to help get the bill passed, said voting on the bill has been postponed until May 4. 

“Part of the reason that I support this bill so much is that I think that people in Massachusetts really deserve to know,” Pike said in an interview. “You deserve to have answers to these questions about what is the connection of my state with nuclear weapons.” 

Other topics at the event included the potential impact of a nuclear war and which parts of the state would be most affected. 

“We need to seize this as a very teachable moment to educate people about the nuclear danger so that we can build the movement needed to get rid of these weapons,” Helfand said. 

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