Nuclear disarmament is the goal for a Santa Barbara-based non-profit
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation works towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
A world free of nuclear weapons may seem farther away than ever, but that's what the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation works towards.
They’re a non-profit, non-partisan organization, based in Santa Barbara, who have been advocating for 40 years for nuclear disarmament.
"There are some big tasks ahead of us if we are to truly have a world free of nuclear weapons", Dr. Ivana Hughes, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, told KCLU.
She is one of a group of respected scientists tasked with studying key issues to advance nuclear disarmament.
"Scientists were part of the problem in creating these weapons and scientists actually have to be part of the solution," said Hughes.
There are nine countries which currently have nuclear weapons – Russia, The United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea. Together they have 12,700 nuclear warheads. Hughes explains that just a single nuclear missile could kill hundreds of thousands of people, with lasting and devastating humanitarian and environmental consequences.
"We are talking about cities with millions of people ravaged by, destroyed by, incinerated by nuclear weapons. We are not talking about coming back a couple of months later to rebuild," said Hughes.
"Radiation could persist for hundreds if not thousands of years," she said. "It's like a face change."
She says the goal feels closer than ever to achieving.
"If we are at a point when 77 plus years after attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and decades of testing - there's so much evidence for the fact that these weapons have no place in human civilization," she said.
She says she's grateful to have a voice in a democratic society on the subject, but the important question is how to be heard by Putin and other authoritarian regimes.
"That kind of activism does have impact in places where the citizens may not be able to hear but the authoritarian governments are paying attention to what civilized society is saying," said Hughes.
Dr. Hughes was recently appointed as a Member of the Scientific Advisory Group to the Treaty of the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – which was formed to advise states on the treaty.
Nuclear weapons have twice been used in conflict – which changed the course of history. Hughes says she’s not naive in advocating for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
She says that progress has been made in denuclearization.
"Weapons can be eliminated because at the height of the Cold War, there were 70,000 warheads, and now there's just under 13,000."
She added, "To really be safe, we have to go down to zero."