Since its foundation 35 years ago the WFSW has warned of the dangers posed to humanity by the qualitative and quantitative development of nuclear weapons and of other weapons of mass destruction. We are acutely aware of the threat of a war in which such weapons would be used and that only the rapid mobilisation of all those who are resolutely opposed to their use can prevent it.
To avoid this danger the most important task is to revive the spirit of detente and of international co-operation which the struggle for peace has been able to create in recent decades. All policies of confrontation should be abandoned: antagonisms between countries and between social systems must not be used to justify increased levels of armaments.
Science and technology, the fruits of human development and ingenuity, are increasingly misused in the development of new weapons systems and new elements of sophistication deliberately designed to destabilise any possible balance of power and to make agreement on measures of control increasingly difficult. It is reckoned that activity related to military ends employs some 40% of the world’s stock of scientists, engineers and technicians. We believe that scientific workers, who are indebted to society both for their training and for the opportunity to exercise their skills, should repay that debt through active and continuous involvement in all movements for peace and disarmament.
The WFSW believes that the growing speed of the qualitative development of weapons systems makes it a matter of urgency for all governments to take the essential steps needed for mutual understanding and negotiation.
The WFSW believes that the problems of the arms race cannot be isolated from those of development. The poverty, the misery,.the desperation of the poorest countries of the world, is itself a major cause of tensions. The determination of some countries and of the transnationals to control and to exploit the latent riches of the Third World, and their claim to unimpeded access to these sources of profit, is another major cause of tension. We believe that the struggle for peace and for disarmament has to be closely linked with the fight against hunger, against deprivation, against exploitation and for the NIEO. If it is isolated, it may win only the support of those sections of the population able to detach themselves from the struggle for existence, even in times of peace.
We emphasize that our final aim is not just the maintenance of peace, but disarmament itself. We remember that .the Second World War, fought until its last days with so-called ‘conventional’ weapons, resulted in 55 million deaths. It is true that the first few hours of a war with nuclear weapons would kill many times more people than in the whole course of the Second World War from 1939-1945. Nevertheless the abandonment of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons would still leave mankind with the ability to create destruction on a scale far greater than anything so far suffered. Only positive steps towards the reduction of arms and armed forces to the level needed for minimum pro-tection will ensure the abandonment of war as an instrument of national policy.
We call on all scientific workers and their organisations, as their special contribution to the struggle for peace, to provide concrete and specific infor-mation from the angle of their various disciplines on:
- the consequences of nuclear war,
- the dangers of the concepts of “winnable” and limited nuclear wars,
- the current level of developments of weapons of mass destruction and the perspectives for their further development,
- the dangers of the militarlsation of science,
- the possibilities for the conversion of the arms industries and their resources to peaceful construction.
We call on scientific workers to support the WFSW in its demands for the banning of the development, production, deployment and use of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and for a comprehensive programme of general and comprehensive disarmament.
Roskilde, February 1982 Address: 40 Goodge St., London W1P 1FH, UK