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Widespread Ignorance In Congress About Nuclear Weapons

President Obama’s announcement this past week in Berlin that he will pursue reductions in massive U.S.-Russian Cold War nuclear arsenals met with vigorous opposition from many in Congress. But a new video released today by Global Zero shows that most members of Congress cannot think of any situation in which the United States should actually use its nuclear weapons – nor do they even know how many nuclear weapons the United States has.

President Obama’s announcement in Berlin this past week that he will pursue reductions in massive U.S.-Russian Cold War nuclear arsenals met with vigorous opposition from many in Congress. But a new video (above) released by Global Zero shows that most members of Congress cannot think of any situation in which the United States should actually use its nuclear weapons, nor do they even know how many nuclear weapons the United States has.

More than 70 members of Congress were polled and 99 percent of them did not know –- even roughly speaking –- how many nuclear weapons the United States has. Also, 95 percent could not think of any situation in which the United States should use nuclear weapons.

In the video, answers to the question about the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal range from 300 to more than 15,000 to “it’s classified,” which it is not. The question about a scenario in which the United States should use nuclear weapons was most often met with periods of long silence.

Global Zero Co-Founder Matt Brown said, “How can Congress continue to defend maintaining our massive Cold War arsenal of 7,700 nuclear weapons at a cost to taxpayers of $60 billion per year, when they can’t think of one scenario in which we would use them and don’t even know how many we have?”

Global Zero, which is backed by 300 political and military leaders around the world, calls for the elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide through phased, verified, multilateral reductions.

Global Zero believes that the reductions President Obama called for reflect the mainstream view that has emerged –- since President Reagan began the process of arms reductions –- that the massive nuclear arsenal inherited from the Cold War is poorly suited for today’s threats, including proliferation and nuclear terrorism, and consumes precious financial resources.

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