Question: As a seasoned campaigner for global nuclear disarmament are you more or less concerned by the danger of a catastrophic war erupting today compared with earlier times?
Helen Caldicott: Yes, we have never been closer to nuclear annihilation now since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. I knew Robert McNamara who was President Kennedy’s secretary of defense and was in the Oval Office at the time of the crisis, and he later said to me, “Helen, we came so close, to within three minutes of nuclear war.”
Question: What factors do you see as increasing the risk of a world war and nuclear conflagration?
Helen Caldicott: Well, for the first time since the Cuban missile crisis, the two nuclear powers, each armed with thousands of nuclear weapons, many on hair-trigger alert, are opposing each other on the battle field, and as the United States has refused to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin who asked that the Ukraine not join NATO and for the U.S. to remove the missiles placed in the NATO countries, targeted on Russia, Putin has his back to the wall, and at some point, as he has suggested, could use a small tactical nuclear bomb which would vaporize and burn hundreds and thousands of people with many more dying of acute radiation illness, and that action could well trigger a nuclear response from the U.S., which could then escalate into full-scale nuclear war.
However, I will add here that Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine and the dreadful killing that is going on makes my heart sick.
Question: Do you view the United States as having an onerous responsibility for undermining world peace given that it is the U.S. that has primarily abandoned key arms-control treaties, such as the ABM, INF, and Open Skies Treaty?
Helen Caldicott: Yes, I do. I do not understand their motivation except that if one examines the neocons who have always hated Russia even though it is now a capitalist country, including Victoria Nuland, Robert Kagan, Antony Blinken and others whom Biden has elevated to his cabinet, we are in serious trouble. These people are well funded by the ever-powerful military-industrial complex which profits enormously from all wars including of course the Ukraine.