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[whitespace] Apocalypse Soon

Santa Clara--Helen Caldicott says she is not a Christian, but she speaks often of Armageddon. "I think that within 10 years, 10 countries will have the bomb, and within 20, if America doesn't stop this madness, we'll have a nuclear war," says the co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, who will speak at Mission College this weekend.

Caldicott, who authored influential book Nuclear Madness in 1979 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, is probably the world's best-known anti-nuclear activist. And after 25 years of revealing the dark truths of the atomic age, Caldicott believes a massive conflict is inevitable. "That's my prediction," she says. "And my children and grandchildren will then have no future."

Caldicott presents her lecture "Global Issues in a Nuclear Age: Solutions for the 21st Century," on Friday, Oct. 2, in the Center Space at Mission Community College.

Caldicott says that while the anti-nuclear movement has been moved out of the limelight recently, the nuclear threat has not disappeared. "Everyone thought it had," Caldicott says. "[But] America has still got 12,000 [nuclear weapons]. And Russia's still got 9,000--21 times the number needed to produce nuclear winter."

Caldicott argues that political and economic instability in both Russia and the United States, combined with the development of new, improved nuclear weapons, creates up to a high-risk situation.

"We almost had a nuclear war twice in the last two years by accident," she says.

"With the world laced with nuclear weapons as it is now, we are in a very terrifying situation, and I think people don't really understand that. We've got a new situation now where the scientists in the labs are building new and wonderful nuclear weapons to the tune of $4.5 billion a year for the next 10 years: more than they spent at the height of the Cold War. It's called the 'Stockpile Stewardship' program but really it's the Manhattan Two project. And that will encourage every country in the world to build nuclear weapons. So what is happening is pure evil."

How realistic is Caldicott's goal to abolish nuclear weapons? "The ending of the Cold War wasn't realistic, was it?" she asks. "But it did. So miracles occur. And we're capable of doing the most enormously important things."

"If we give up on that, we might as well give up on the human race."
Dylan Bennett

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Web extra to the October 1-7, 1998 issue of Metro.

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