Let me express
first my gratitude to God that this round table conference on New
Threats to life can be held and that I can be here today. We live
in a world where there is no security for any human beings. It is just
possible that, even while we are sitting here, peacefully talking to
each other about how to avoid a nuclear catastrophe, the mushroom
clouds can appear in some part of the world spilling disaster over all
of us, no matter where we live. That is the kind of world we live in.
This is not just rhetoric. This is the plain, brutal fact. Our minds
boggle at this possibility. So we refuse to believe it, even when the
evidence is mounting. I am grateful to God that this round table can
be held, and I hope and trust in God that the evidence will be made
available here in a lucid form, and that it will help many people to
become aware of the dimensions and scale of the peril that faces the
sacred gift of life, and to begin to do something about it.
It is in such
a perilous world that I add my own humble, warm greetings to all of
you who have taken the trouble to come here. I am grateful to His
Holiness Patriarch Pimen, to His Eminence Metropolitan philaret, to
Dr. Alexei Buevsky, and to all the others who have taken the trouble
to call us together.
I have not
been in a position to take part in the preparatory process for this
round table, but I would like to apologize to you for all the
inadequacies of the preparation, for the very short notice given to
some participants, and for the insufficient expertise and preparatory
materials available to us here.
evidence, however, has been available since the end of 1983. And the
evidence was scientifically produced, and scientifically verified by
others. It was in 1983 (Oct 31--Nov 1) when we had the scientific
conference on The World After Nuclear War in Washington DC, the
capital city of the USA. One hundred high ranking scientists from all
over the world met there to assess together their own work of two
years on the biological, physical, and climatological consequences of
differing magnitudes. Six months before that (April 25–26), an
epoch-making conference on The Long-term Worldwide biological
Consequences of Nuclear War had been held at Cambridge,
Massachusetts with forty scientists present. Among them were such
luminaries as Paul Ehrlich of Stanford, Carl Sagan of Cornell, and
Stephen Gould of Harvard. This conference appointed an expert
committee who prepared the basic document that was discussed at the
October/ November meeting in Washington. This was published in
Science (23 Dec. 1983.
Vol. 222: No. 463) as a Christmas gift to humanity. Besides the basic
document signed by the preparatory committee of twenty scientists
(including Norman Myers of Oxford and Rafael Herrera of Venezuela,
besides 18 from North America), there was another significant paper in
the same issue by Carl Sagan and four Californian scientists which
describes the method of study used, and the result in greater
technical detail. I hope you have these papers before you.
study by Carl Sagan was verified, I understand, by soviet scientists
at the Computing Centre of the USSR Academy
of sciences using the BESM-6 machine and the GEA mathematical model.
This was of course based on a 5000 megaton (12% of our present
stockpiles) explosion scenario. The soviet scientists, I understand,
came to the following conclusion based on Carl Sagan’s primary data:
winter would envelop the earth, irrespective of the location of
the nuclear explosions.
first month after the explosions, the air in the layer close to
the soil would grow colder by 15 to 20 degrees centigrade on the
lead to change in global air circulation as well as wind velocity
drinking water would freeze in many areas, and ecological chains
would break. Crops would perish.
beings on the land surface -- humans, animals, plants, and
micro-organisms would die out.
as all phytoplankton is destroyed, life would also perish in the
would admit that all scientific predictions, and especially when such
complicated forecasts and estimates of wind direction and volume of
matter consumed are involved, may go wrong by a certain factor. In
fact it has been argued by other scientists like Edward Teller that
certain factors like the amount of water-vapour present in the
atmosphere have not been taken into account in the calculations. Of
course, the model used for the scientific predictions were developed
for other purposes like weather prediction and computing the possible
effects of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. But, despite all
imprecise elements in the calculations, the overall impact of the
study should shake our foundations.
As our experts
will no doubt tell us in greater detail, even a very limited nuclear
war, involving only 100 megatons of exploding power will have
disastrous long-term and short term consequences. Our present arsenals
have 12,000 megatons of primary strategic and
theatre weapons and possibly a total of more than 20,000
megatons including the 30,000 lower yield tactical warheads and
study has several scenarios with variables in the megaton yield of 100
(megatons attack on urban-industrial targets), a 300MT southern
hemisphere war, a 1000MT interchange, a 3000MT exchange with another
3000MT counterforce response, a 10,000MT massive war, and even a
25,000MT future war. The results would vary, depending upon whether
the explosions are at or near the ground surface, on urban or forest
areas, in high atmosphere or stratosphere, and so on. The vertical
optical depth or thickness of the nuclear smoke-cloud produced by the
explosion is another important variable. The dust mass (total
tonnage), range of dust size, and amount of water present are other
variables. Fire area, fire plume heights, fire duration, radiation
emission, dust and smoke injection rates, temperature perturbations
and solar energy fluxes, meteorological perturbations,
inter-hemispheric transport, pyrotoxine generation, ozone depletion in
the stratosphere, snow-fall and rain, perturbations in planetary wave
amplitudes which may be critical for the transport of the nuclear
debris, and other variables were taken into account, though accurate
predictions on several of these variables are extremely difficult.
uncertainty factors, the main thrust is quite clear. I shall state the
conclusions cautiously and carefully:
relatively large (5000-megaton) nuclear explosion anywhere around
the globe would have major climatological effects that would
endanger life in general on our planet.
“limited” nuclear war concentrated on urban and industrial centres,
with a 100-megaton yield in explosion will also, besides burning
out several hundred cities, is dangerous to life and health of all
one-megaton warhead, bursting in the air, will lead to total
destruction in about 250 square kilometers of urban area. Even
one-tenth of a megaton airburst can level out and burn out an area
of about 50 square kilometers.
climatological factor, referred to as nuclear winter, comes
from the emission and pumping of nuclear debris, dust and smoke
into the stratosphere (i.e. the layer above the troposphere or
lower atmosphere), where the air is comparatively stable and
non-turbulent. The dust can remain there for long period of time
and shut out the sunlight substantially. There will be significant
surface darkening on the earth for considerable periods of time.
Temperatures, even in summer can go below freezing point in the
temperate zones. This in turn will lead to large perturbations in
global wind patterns. Crops would certainly be damaged and famines
would result. Epidemics are also possible. Chlorophyll activity on
the earth can be dangerously lowered. Large numbers of living
beings will die including plants, trees and bacteria. The
long-term effects of these are hard to predict.
nuclear debris injected into the stratosphere will soon be
exchanged from hemisphere to hemisphere. Soon after nuclear
exchange in the northern hemisphere the climate in the southern
hemisphere would also be substantially affected to the point of
seriously endangering life all over the earth.
effects of radioactive fall-out and pyrogenic toxin and consequent
air pollution will affect all life on earth, even if the nuclear
war is limited in megatonnage and location.
nuclear war can kill close to a billion people or more. Half as
many at least would be severely injured, disfigured and disabled.
During the course of the first year after a limited nuclear war,
the survivors of a nuclear war, irrespective of where they live,
including non-human beings may face death and extinction, as the
total eco-balance is disrupted. This eco-consequence can be more
devastating in its effect than the climatological aspect we call
the nuclear winter.
1. Given these
cautious conclusions, why do we allow anyone to go on manufacturing
nuclear weapons? Are the peoples of the world so powerless and
impotent vis-à-vis their governments, some of which seem to be either
blind or insane? Why do the people allow themselves to be so deceived
as to accept the false argument that reduction of arsenals is more
necessary than a freeze and therefore let us concentrate on reduction
and forget the freeze? Let us be clear: we need freeze, reduction
and total elimination. We should have them in that order. So let us
have freeze now, reduction soon, and total elimination in the near
future. The people of the world should say this clearly.
2. The leading
nuclear powers have a major responsibility in this regard. The
government of the Soviet Union has already affirmed its support for an
immediate freeze, a negotiated reduction ensuring equal security for
all and a final elimination fairly soon. So has the Delhi
declaration of the six nation non-aligned summit. Is it a matter of
false pride that keeps the USA, UK, France, China and others from
joining the other socialist countries and the non-aligned world in a
determined joint initiative? Or is it the power of those who make
profit from the arms race and the arms trade? Or is it also the fact
that democratic political institutions in market economy countries are
financed by the corporations and defense contractors? Whatever it is,
the heaviest share of the responsibility now devolves on the peoples
of nuclear countries and non-nuclear countries. If the peoples can
understand the situation, things can change.
3. What are
the public media in all our nations doing in this regard? Can we as
religious organizations put some pressure on the media? To do that
effectively, religious organizations will have to develop some
competence in this regard. Why do we not, as religious organizations,
mobilize our own scientists and social thinkers to give priority
attention to these matters? Can we help the media in our countries
serve the real needs of our people and help them understand reality as
4. We have, in
our last Round Table Conference, clearly affirmed our strong
opposition to the so-called Strategic Defence Initiative (wrongly
known as “Star Wars”), and we reaffirm our clear position against this
initiative, for at least the following seven reasons:
It is not
primarily a defence initiative, its basic purpose is aggression
and world domination, the word “defence” in the SDI serves only to
defence strategy, the experts are nearly unanimous that it cannot
be an effective means of defence in an all-out nuclear war.
It is so
expensive a proposition that in a world of so much poverty and
want there would be no justification for it, even if it were half
majority of the people of even the USA
in whose interests SDI is being developed, are avowedly opposed to
It is a
gross violation of existing Anti-Ballistic Missile and other
international treaties on which world peace is dependent.
system is set in place it may not at all easy to dislodge them
from space and dispose of them without serious peril to humanity.
being only 100 to 200 miles away, these weapons become
uncomfortably close to every human being on earth, and thus
imperils the lives of all people everywhere.
In spite of
all these cogent reason which render the SDI both futile and foolish,
research and development take place in countries at a fast space. We
had agreement, at our last Round Table, between American space
experts, on the draft of a treaty to ban weapons in space. Why is it
that governments cannot agree?
threats to peace, since our last Round Table, are more in the nature
of fresh information about the consequences of a nuclear war, than
many actually new threats. The physicians of the world had already
drawn our attention to the impossibility of providing sufficient care
to the survivors of a nuclear war. The new scientific evidence shows
that the world after even a limited nuclear war can only be hell. Let
me repeat, we must, as reasonable beings, stop the nuclear arms race.
We must, as humanity, obtain a freeze on the research, development,
manufacture and deployment of all nuclear weapons. We must as
reasonable human beings immediately reduce our nuclear stockpiles by
negotiated agreement and by unilateral actions. We must very soon
eliminate nuclear weapons all together from the face of the earth.
Humanity must build a world without nuclear weapons before this
century is over. To help reach that goal is the urgent task of all
Philaret has already specified the main theme: New Dangers to the
Sacred Gift of Life: Our Tasks.
We deal with
this theme under three sub-themes:
scientific Data on the Disastrous Effects of Nuclear War:
for Reducing Threats to Peace in the world Today; and
of Religious Circles and other public Forces.
Our time is
limited. We will need to work in plenary most of the time, but will
also need to do some drafting. We should now in this session decide
what documents we need to produce, and possibly also appoint a
Drafting Committee which can take notes from the beginning.
propose to you the following documents:
giving the basic details of our meeting
Statement (somewhat longer) of the content of the main theme and
sub-themes based on the presentations and discussions; and
some letters to the nuclear powers, to the non-aligned movement,
and to others as we may decide.
will have to be ready by Tuesday (tomorrow) night, so that we can
adopt them on Wednesday morning. This means hard work for our Drafting
Committee as well as for our translators and typists.
and friendly atmosphere of the publications Department and the genial
assistance of His Eminence Archbishop Pitirim, we know, will
facilitate our work. We all will have a long day today. Some of you
have just arrived over long distances, and it is unfair to make you
work so hard the first day. But we are under pressure of time.
Once again, on
behalf of the working Presidium and my own behalf, let me extend to
you a most cordial and hearty welcome, and three days of pleasant and
fruitful work together.
We want to
express a special word of thanks to our secular experts who are
willing to share their knowledge and experience with us. Without their
sustained help, we cannot, as religious organizations, make much
headway. We know that they cooperate with us so readily and willingly
because the peril is common for all humanity, and all of us have to
work together to save the sacred gift of life.
facing humanity today are daunting, formidable and unprecedented. The
hopes are small, sometimes even feeble, but always precious. We have
the United Nations as a forum for national governments to meet and
confer. Let us cherish and support it. We have the Gromyko-Schultz
Geneva agreement to open comprehensive negotiations for reduction of
nuclear weapons. That is indeed a very precious hope. We have the
six-nation Non- aligned Movement Summit and its Delhi Declaration
which shows that non- nuclear governments are now actively concerned
about nuclear war and its consequences. Let us lend our support to it,
so that governments can exert some pressure on other governments.
But above all
these things, to me, are the stirrings of the divine through the
movements of the human spirit. The divine power working through the
human spirit is more powerful than the 50,000, or more megatons of
explosive power in our nuclear arsenals. The peoples of the world are
astir. They will not tolerate Star Wars and the pursuit of the nuclear
arms race when they become fully aware. To contribute to that
awareness and stirring among the people is the sacred task of
religious organizations today. Let us dedicate ourselves afresh to our
goal -- to save the sacred gift of the life from nuclear catastrophe.
Trusting in the divine Sprit, let us get to work.