PSR Statement on Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal Amid Escalating Violence October 10, 2023

CONTACT: Isabella Javidan, ijavidan@psr.org, 612-812-3231

On October 7, 2023, Hamas-led Palestinian groups initiated a substantial invasion against Israel, a state armed with nuclear weapons, from Gaza. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel is “at war.” Certain observers have characterized these developments as the onset of a third Palestinian intifada.

The violence in the region, coupled with Israel’s possession of a nuclear arsenal, presents a precarious situation with profound implications. The presence of nuclear weapons in a conflict zone heightens risks, as any escalation to a nuclear level would make this current public health catastrophe exponentially worse. Already, at least one Israeli politician has called for the use of these ‘doomsday weapons’ against Gazans. This rhetoric is extremely dangerous and entirely unacceptable. 

Physicians for Social Responsibility has consistently supported work by the United Nations to establish a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction. If enacted, this would serve to reduce the risks of humanitarian catastrophe in this region. 

The possession and use of such indiscriminate weapons not only immediately threatens lives in the conflict zone but also can have far-reaching implications for the environment, public health, and future generations. We urge the international community to prioritize efforts addressing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation initiatives to ensure the safety and security of SouthWest Asia and the world.

Physicians for Social Responsibility stands firm that the theory of nuclear deterrence in practice doesn’t keep us safe, and actively contributes to our insecurity. It has not “kept the peace” and it is not currently keeping the peace. There are simply no situations in which using a nuclear weapon would be appropriate, ethical, or legal.

PSR urges the United Nations to take immediate action to resume negotiations toward establishing the Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction.

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