Nobel Peace Prize Goes To Anti-Nuclear Group With WMass Ties

Oct 6, 2017

Springfield doctor Ira Helfand considers nuclear weapons a public health issue.

The disarmament activist co-founded the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which just won this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

This is Helfand's second brush with the prestigious honor. He is co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

Helfand said he's not expecting the prize to make much of an impact on President Trump, who undermined his own Secretary of State's efforts at diplomacy with North Korea.

But Helfand is hopeful it will energize the broader anti-nuclear campaign.

He said western Massachusetts activists were instrumental in ending the nuclear arms race of the 1980s.

And now?

"I think that our region has a very important role to play again in helping the world to step back from the brink and to save itself from the nuclear peril," he said.

Helfand said Massachusetts U.S. Senator Ed Markey has prioritized the nuclear threat, including introducing legislation that would prevent the president from making a first nuclear strike without congressional approval.

But Helfand said he'd like to see more leadership from Senator Elizabeth Warren, who's on the Senate Armed Services Committee (and who signed on to Markey's legislation).

When contacted about Helfand's comment, Warren's office sent a list of measures against nuclear proliferation that the senator has taken, including co-sponsoring a bill to limit research funding for intermediate range missiles. She has also spoken about nuclear issues at several Senate hearings.