“Fail Safe” Sparks the Anti-Nuclear Movement

Press Release

March 31, 2000

WASHINGTON, DC: Nuclear disarmament advocates plan to capitalize on heightened public awareness of the danger posed by nuclear weapons thanks, in part, to CBS’s remake of the 1964 nuclear weapons thriller, “Fail Safe.” Groups such as Project Abolition, Disarmament Clearinghouse, Global Security Institute and Peace Action are organizing hundreds of watch parties for concerned citizens nationwide to view “Fail Safe” on April 9, 2000. For information about watch parties in your area, please call 1-800-997-2224.

In “Fail Safe,” a computer glitch triggers an accidental attack by US nuclear bombers on Russia, resulting in the destruction of Moscow and the subsequent annihilation of New York City. Organizers of the watch parties believe that the numerous nuclear weapons accidents that have occurred over the last 50 years are proof that leaving 3,600 Russian and 2000 US nuclear warheads on permanent hair trigger alert, poses an unnecessary risk to our global security.

“The re-make of Fail Safe should help re-awaken the American public to the nuclear danger,” says Kevin Martin, Director of Project Abolition. Organizers point to an incident in 1995 that brought the world minutes from an all out nuclear war when a routine satellite launch was mistaken by Russia as a U.S. nuclear missile attack. “Ten Years after the end of the Cold War, we have the opportunity to eliminate the scourge of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth, if enough people demand it,” says Martin.

According to former U.S. Senator Alan Cranston who currently heads the Global Security Institute, “Fail Safe” is a dramatic story of how there could have been, and still could be, an accidental nuclear war. There have been more than 1000 false alarms leading to the mistaken assumption that one nuclear super power had fired against the other. At least three of these came dangerously close to triggering a nuclear exchange between the two nuclear super powers, including in 1995 when Russia mistook a Norwegian weather satellite launch for a nuclear attack.”

Aids woke President Boris Yeltsin in the middle of the night and alerted him of an approaching U.S. Trident nuclear missile. For what is believed to be the first time in history, the Russian President activated his “nuclear briefcase” for a retaliatory attack against the West. Just six minutes before the final impact of the missile, the Russians switched on a special communications circuit that connected Kremlin headquarters with silo-based missiles, missile-carrying trains and submarines – the Russians were, in effect, at “Battle Stations.” Minutes before the launch of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, the alarm was determined to be false.

According to CBS advertising executives, between 20 and 30 million viewers are expected to tune in to the live broadcast of the movie that is based on the best-selling novel by Harvey Wheeler and Eugene Burdick. The groups organizing the watch parties want the US and Russia to take concrete steps to de-alert nuclear weapons and move toward global nuclear disarmament. Currently Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts is sponsoring Congressional Resolution 177 which seeks to take U.S. nuclear weapons off high alert as part of a diplomatic effort to urge Russia to do the same. Markey has 90 co-sponsors of the measure.

For more information about locations of watch parties, to arrange interview with organizers, or Congressman Markey, please contact Adam Eidinger at 202-547-3577 or 202-744-2671.

Thumbnail image courtesy of: DeepArtNature

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