Divesting From Nuclear Weapons—

One City at a Time

by Jonathan King, with photos by Phyllis Bretholtz

Denise_at_conf_MG_8655_copy.jpgIn an effort led by Mayor E. Denise Simmons, the Cambridge City Council voted unanimously in March to call for the Cambridge pension fund to divest from stocks in corporations that profit from the manufacture and maintenance of nuclear weapons. The resolution was brought to the Council by a coalition including MIT physicist Max Tegmark; students from Harvard, Tufts, Boston College, and MIT; Mass Peace Action; and many others. They are concerned about the billions of tax dollars being siphoned from crucial civilian programs such as housing, transportation, environment protection and biomedical research, in order to build and maintain thousands of dangerous and expensive nuclear weapons on high alert.

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On April 2nd, several hundred people, including former Secretary of Defense William Perry, gathered at MIT for a conference “Reducing the Dangers of Nuclear War.” A highlight of the conference was Mayor Simmons’ announcement of the Cambridge divestment vote. “It’s my hope that this will inspire other municipalities, companies, and individuals to look at their investments and make similar moves,” Simmons said. A number of other community and campus groups are now following this path. Conference participants discussed, among other topics, the real and growing danger of an accidental nuclear launch and subsequent exchange; and the global “nuclear winter” that could ensue from even a “limited” exchange, such as one between India and Pakistan.

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