It’s two minutes to midnight according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock.
Between President Trump ripping up nuclear arms treaties and recklessly threatening countries with “fire and fury” on Twitter, scientists warn that we are closer to nuclear Armageddon than at any time since the Cold War.
While it’s easy to feel isolated from these threats living in the Green Mountain state, we’re not. In fact, with the new F-35 fighter bomber scheduled to arrive in our state in October, we’re on the front line of Trump’s new nuclear arms race. That’s because the plane is being modified to be a nuclear bomber.
When the Air Force decided to base the F-35 in Burlington, they never told us that this plane would be a part of our strategic and tactical nuclear weapons arsenal. But now we know the truth: the Department of Defense has made it crystal clear in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review that the Trump administration is including the F-35 in its nuclear bomber fleet.
According to General Jim Mattis, former secretary of defense, “F-35 fighter aircraft will maintain our ability to forward deploy nuclear weapons should the security situation demand it.”
Furthermore, the Air Force has developed a new nuclear bomb specifically to fit the F-35 bomb bay. This bomb is over three times more powerful than the nuclear bomb we dropped on Hiroshima, which killed 150,000 people.
Basing any part of this nuclear bomber fleet in Vermont would make us complicit in nuclear war.
It would also make us a target in the event of war. That’s because nuclear targeting strategy is to target the delivery system, not the bombs.
Our nuclear arsenal is 10,000 times more powerful than the bomb we dropped on Hiroshima. Ten thousand times. That’s ridiculous. One atom bomb ended WWII.
It’s the result of a perverse nuclear war machine gone berserk and stuck on repeat. People know it doesn’t make any sense but feel powerless to stop it. Well, we can at least stop this part of it in Vermont. And that will empower other local communities around the country.
Vermonters have a long history of leading the nation on banning nuclear weapons. It’s a travesty that we would host them in our back yard.
That’s why I joined the advisory council of a new organization called Citizens Against Nuclear Bombers in Vermont (CANBVT.org). We’re calling on all Vermonters to take a stand and become a citizen co-sponsor of our model resolution to direct our governor and members of our congressional delegation to inform the Department of Defense that no nuclear weapon delivery system will be allowed to be based in Vermont. Over 1,200 Vermonters have signed on so far. We hope to mobilize tens of thousands of more Vermonters from every corner of the state to stand up and say no to Trump’s new nuclear arms race and say no to nuclear bombers in our back yard — not in our name, not with our money.
Ben Cohen is the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s and a member of the advisory council for Citizens Against Nuclear Bombers in Vermont.