Sophomore gets a lesson in nuclear proliferation

| News Editor

With Iran getting increasingly close to nuclear capabilities, weapons of mass destruction are more and more a concern in modern-day politics.

Sophomore Parsa Bastani, president of Wash. U.’s Global Zero chapter and regional team leader of the Midwest, just returned from an international conference in Paris, France, dealing with the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.

“[Nuclear weapons] are a huge issue that we have to start confronting now before an accident [or] before something tragic happens,” Bastani said.

The conference started off with a summit for 30 students from 12 different countries, where the participants learned about campus activism and organizing the grassroots movement for Global Zero.

“[The conference is] basically to get people to rally behind Global Zero,” Bastani said. “The whole point of the activism and organizing is so we can learn how to better pressure our politicians and get people to start caring about the issue so that, in general, everyone is pressuring our politicians to denuclearize.”

The second part of the conference included a world summit for Global Zero, with more than 200 diplomats, military officials and government officials present. They presented, debated and worked on Global Zero policy and activism, and the students were given the opportunity to participate as well.

“A lot of us were learning so much about the issue; being in [their] presence and listening to their debates was enlightening to us,” Bastani said.

Bastani learned a great deal at the conference, which he can now apply to Wash. U.’s Global Zero chapter. He stressed the chapter’s commitment to playing its part in ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

“The Cold War is over and nuclear weapons have outgrown any usefulness they might have had as deterrents,” Global Zero Media Director Gabe Magraner said. “It’s necessary that the world’s nine nuclear weapon states disarm to dissuade the potential nuclear states from developing nuclear arms.”

Bastani said there are many reasons why nuclear weapons should cease to be present in the world.

“Right now their use has faded so much that, one, they’re just a huge drain of world resources and money that could be put into other causes, and two, they’re just hugely dangerous,” Bastani said.

The Wash. U. chapter is currently attempting bring speakers to campus. Furthermore, they are trying to get more signatures on a petition to end nuclear proliferation. According to Bastani, there is a competition between many college campus chapters, and whichever group gets the most signatures wins the chance to present a petition to President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during an April summit on the issue.

“As students, we can sign the Declaration for Global Zero and demand that President Obama, President Medvedev and other world leaders work toward a legally binding, verifiable agreement,” Magraner said.

Sophomore Matt Wilmus agrees that nuclear weapons are an issue, but disagrees with Wash. U. students working against the weapons.

“I think they pose a large threat to the world and there is no reason for any countries that don’t have them now to acquire them,” Wilmus said. “[But] generally, I don’t think we are well informed enough to have much of an opinion on the subject. It’s okay to be vocal about not supporting nuclear weapons­—it’s another issue entirely to actively try to change policy regarding them.”

Overall, Bastani urges more students to join the cause. “We’re also trying to get more students and to recruit more people to come onboard who care about this issue to be a part of this organization, because the more students we have, the more we can reach out to the Wash. U. community and educate [its members] and inform them and connect them to these key officials,” Bastani said.