Sir Richard Branson to global governments: Cut nukes, not vital services

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LOS ANGELES, Calif.

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Global Zero today issued an international call to action – urging world leaders to cut spending on nuclear weapons and reprioritize funds towards vital services at a time when the global economy is in financial crisis.

The group is meeting at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library today on the 25th anniversary of the historic Reykjavik Summit when Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev nearly agreed to eliminate all nuclear weapons.

One hundred eminent international leaders are participating in the event, including former US Secretaries of State George Shultz, who opened the meeting Tuesday morning, and James Baker, who spoke last night; Gen. (Ret.) James Cartwright, who delivered remarks this morning; and business leaders Richard Branson and Jeff Skoll, who spoke on a panel on the cost of nuclear weapons directly following Gen. Cartwright’s speech.

Sir Richard Branson, in his remarks, discussed the estimated one trillion dollar price tag to maintain nuclear weapons stockpiles for the next decade:

Our governments needs to listen to what the growing group of national security experts and the hundreds of thousands of citizens who make up the Global Zero movement are saying: Nuclear weapons undermine global stability and their cost inflicts a huge toll on the world economy and quality of life.

We need to re-set the course toward a world that aims to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide. Negotiations should begin with a core group of leading nuclear powers. The public is on our side and will continue to build global pressure and draw in other nations over time.

The one trillion dollars that governments spend on nuclear weapons, whose sole aim is to destroy civilizations, would be far better spent on preserving the world and making it better. And yet, twenty years after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, governments are now considering new investments in anachronistic weapons. If nations are looking into cutting spending, the first place they should look is here.

I encourage citizens around the world to sign the petition at www.cutnukes.org and join the global call to action that urges our elected leaders to stop wasting money on nuclear weapons and start investing in humanity’s future.

Today, our children are looking for work during an unprecedented record of unemployment. They will grow up in societies heavily reliant on fossil fuels and foreign oil, societies that take for granted our planet’s finite natural resources.

If we maintain the status quo, if we continue wasteful spending on Cold War relics, our children and our grandchildren will inherit an earth that has chosen nuclear stockpiling over job growth, education, health care, clean energy, innovation, and other global priorities we should preserve and grow.

The Global Zero Summit at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library took place from Tuesday, October 11 through Wednesday, October 12. The program included progress reports by leaders from key countries, strategy sessions, presentations by student leaders on Global Zero’s grassroots campaign focusing on the $1 trillion per decade cost of nuclear arsenals, and a gala dinner.

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