Red Alert!

Nuclear Weapons

new internationalist
issue 315 - August 1999

Red alert!

Doomsday scenarios were bound to explode into life as the year 2000 (Y2K) neared but the danger of nuclear disaster being triggered by the millennium bug in computers is very real. Even some of the military departments responsible are saying their weapons systems will not be fully ‘Y2K compliant’. Yet political leaders still refuse to take missile systems and nuclear submarines off ‘alert status’ because this would mean lowering their guard. The insanity of having nuclear weapons at all – of holding in readiness warheads that could wipe out human civilization within minutes – has never been more evident.

The New Internationalist urges the governments of all the nuclear powers to remove their weapons from alert status throughout the danger period, which begins this month, and to restart initiatives to rid the world of nuclear weapons – permanently.

Probably one out of five days I wake up in a cold sweat thinking
[Y2K] is much bigger than we think, and then the other four days
I think maybe we really are on top of it. Everything is so interconnected,
it’s hard to know with any precision whether we have got it fixed.

– US Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre.

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New Internationalist issue 315 magazine cover This article is from the August 1999 issue of New Internationalist.
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