Doctors’ Movement to Avert Nuclear War

Programs 132, 133 • 58 mins


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This one-hour special recounts how American and Soviet physicians joined together on a mission to educate their governments and their peoples about the medical effects of nuclear war. The effort began in the early 1960s among American physicians who for the first time calculated the medical consequences of a nuclear war. This eventually led to the founding of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the first global medical movement dedicated to disseminating factual information on the consequences of that nightmare scenario. Through its Soviet-American dialogue, the group is credited with helping to initiate the Soviet Union’s unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing in the mid-1980s. At one point, the movement attracted about two-hundred-thousand members representing fifty-five countries. In late 1985, the two founders, Bernard Lown and Eugene Chazov, journeyed to Oslo, Norway where they received the Nobel Peace Prize.

A man fell off by accident from the Empire State Building. As he was passing the fortieth floor, he was heard to mutter, ‘So far so good.’ Nuclear weapons continue to be a threat. Rogue states and terrorists have more and more nuclear fissile material available. Nuclear weapons and human beings cannot survive on the same planet, the same beleaguered planet. One or the other will prevail.”

—Bernard Lown, M.D.

The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything, save our modes of thinking.”

—Albert Einstein


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