Takoma Park is a small city in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in the Eastern U.S., with a population of less than 20,000. It became widely known in America during the 1980s, during fears of a Soviet-American nuclear war, for declaring itself a “nuclear-free zone.” It attracted attention because “nuclear-free” wasn’t just a slogan. It went beyond Japan’s nuclear-free principles — don’t possess nuclear weapons, don’t make them, don’t bring them there — to legally banning contracts with companies involved in nuclear weapons. It lived up to its reputation when it became the first regional legislature to support the U.N.’s resolution banning nuclear weapons three years ago. This resolution, grounded in the ideal of a nuclear-free world, comprehensively bans the development, manufacture and use of, as well as intimidation by, nuclear weapons, and pledges to work toward their demise. America and the nuclear powers collectively oppose it, and following them, Japan has done nothing to work toward these aims.
How should we push it through? The spring U.N. session that would have reconsidered the Non-Proliferation Treaty has been postponed due to the novel coronavirus. It’s better to debate it seriously, even if at a different time, than to settle for a diminished scope. North Korea and Iran’s nuclear developments are, of course, problems. At the same time, the behavior of America and Russia — obsessing over developing new nuclear weapons while charged with the obligation to disarm — cannot be overlooked. The world must come together to compel them to change their minds. Takoma Park, the pioneer of the denuclearization discussion, is now debating the first resolution in America to eliminate fossil fuels. This time it wants to force an environmental revolution. It may be small, but as a model for shining leadership, it is large.
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