US and Russia ‘playing nuclear chicken with each other’

Helen Caldicott
Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1938, Dr Caldicott received her medical degree from the University of Adelaide Medical School in 1961. She founded the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital in 1975 and subsequently was an instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and on the staff of the Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Boston, Mass., until 1980 when she resigned to work full time on the prevention of nuclear war. In 1971, Dr Caldicott played a major role in Australia’s opposition to French atmospheric nuclear testing in the Pacific; in 1975 she worked with the Australian trade unions to educate their members about the medical dangers of the nuclear fuel cycle, with particular reference to uranium mining. While living in the United States from 1977 to 1986, she co-founded the Physicians for Social Responsibility. She also founded the Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament(WAND) in the US in 1980. Dr Caldicott has received many prizes and awards for her work, including the Lannan Foundation’s 2003 Prize for Cultural Freedom and 21 honorary doctoral degrees, and she was personally nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Linus Pauling – himself a Nobel Laureate. The Smithsonian has named Dr Caldicott as one of the most influential women of the 20th Century. She has written for numerous publications and has authored seven books. Dr. Caldicott’s two most recent books are the revised and updated If You Love This Planet (March 2009) and Loving This Planet, The New Press 2012. Dr Caldicott currently divides her time between Australia and the US where she lectures widely. She founded the US-based Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI), which evolved into Beyond Nuclear. Currently, Dr Caldicott is President of The Helen Caldicott Foundation/NuclearFreePlanet.org, an educational outreach project that informs people of the dangers of nuclear power and weapons.
Russian S-400 air defence mobile missile launching systems (Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)
Current US and Russian war games at a time of serious international tension are very dangerous and someone’s mistake or a computer error could push the world over the brink into a nuclear war, claimed Dr. Helen Caldicott to RT.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond claims the UK could deploy US nuclear missiles as a response to increased “levels of activity both by Russian forces and by Russian-controlled separatist forces” in Ukraine. Hammond added Russia needs to get "a clear signal" that "we will not allow them to transgress our red lines." Nevertheless, the UK hosting US nuclear missiles still remains a distant prospect.

For more on this RT asked pediatrician Dr. Helen Caldicott, founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and president of the Helen Caldicott Foundation for a Nuclear Free Future.

RT:Why is the US is so eager to show its nuclear might? What is the point of that given that fact that multiple states possess nuclear weapons right now?

Helen Caldicott: It’s very alarming. I think the US has pushed Russia into a corner over Ukraine. I know that Putin has reportedly put his nuclear missiles on a higher-than-normal state of alert. Both Russia and America are practicing nuclear war games close to each other’s borders and a mistake by someone, an officer, a computer error at a time of heightened international tension could easily push us over the brink into a nuclear war. I think both countries are playing nuclear chicken with each other.

RT:What can be the repercussions of such US actions as deploying arms in the UK to frighten Russia?

HC: Russia could reply or respond in kind and start deploying cruise missiles itself in Russian territory and then we end arms control, it violates the intermediate-range INF agreement. We are heading into very dangerous territory, which very few Americans or people around the world understand which could lead us to nuclear war. We can’t have these sorts of dynamics between the two countries that can in fact destroy almost all life on earth and create a nuclear winter. Once one country launches its missiles, the other country will do it and that’s it.

READ MORE: UK could host US nukes to counter increased 'Russian activity' - Hammond

RT:How should the world react to statements like those made by the US government?

HC: The Americans don’t understand what is really happening in Ukraine, they don’t understand how the US government is pushing Putin into a corner. Nor do they understand that their lives and the lives of their children are at risk. So therefore without education and proper understanding nothing will be done. I’m very worried.

RT:As a nominated Nobel peace activist, please tell us, would Obama be awarded the peace price now – taking into consideration his current policy?

HC: I don’t think he would. Obama is a very intelligent man but I don’t understand what he is doing at the moment. He talked at the G7 meeting and with David Cameron about deploying cruise missiles in Britain. It’s very serious and now I don’t think he would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize now.

RT:Is there any sense at all in nuclear arms race right now?

HC: There is absolutely no sense and I’ll tell you the human race is sleepwalking towards extinction and I’m pessimistic. As a doctor, my prognosis is grim and if things don’t change rapidly internationally I think there will be probably a nuclear war and that’s the end of everything and all of us.

RT:You said that the demonstration of nuclear might by the US may even lead to a new war. This is a very disturbing scenario. What would be the point of no return in this case?

HC: There is no return. Once a weapon is launched and they are poised on a hair trigger ready to go in both Russia and the US. Of the 16,400 nuclear weapons of the world Russia and the US own 94 percent of them….This is a very serious situation and it’s the first time Russia and the US have confronted each other militarily since the end of the Cold War.

READ MORE: Moscow 'closely looks' into reported US plans to return medium-range missiles to Europe

I hope Putin is sensible and restrained, and I just hope that Obama will be too. But it’s not just Obama. You see the US has a policy still to fight and win a nuclear war against Russia. And when they do that launch first and land 200 hydrogen bombs on each of your missile silos and kill your missiles. The fact that billions of people will die is called by the Pentagon ‘collateral damage’. I don’t know what the Russian military strategy is about this, but the whole thing is extremely dangerous and the news media is not talking about it on the whole.

The last thing I would say as a medical doctor who helped to found International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and Physicians for Social Responsibility, nuclear war will create the final epidemic of the human race, and indeed Gorbachev recognized that and in the end Reagan did and they worked together at Reykjavik and they almost came to a decision to abolish nuclear weapons in the world – two mere men. Now that has to happen again, we must move rapidly towards abolishing of nuclear weapons. If the US decided to abolish nuclear weapons, Russia would to. I know they both would. What if Russia decided to abolish its nuclear arsenal - it would make the US very bad in the eyes of the rest of the world and then maybe the US might come to the party and start abolishing its nuclear weapons. Something really radical has to be done or else I think the human race will become extinct.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.