University of Pittsburgh
May 11, 1999


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, May 12 -- In an unprecedented public forum bringing together University of Pittsburgh and community sponsors with local and national experts, more than 400 people will attend the two-day conference, "Eliminating Weapons of Mass destruction: Why Not Nuclear Abolition?" opening tomorrow on the Pitt campus.

The conference begins with a discussion of the facts -- the new dangers and opportunities -- in "The World of Nuclear Weapons," and ends the day hearing the keynote address, by General Lee Butler, USAF (ret.), former commander of all US. strategic nuclear forces, calling for a US goal to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide.

Thursday's topics include nuclear arsenals, medical and religious effects of nuclear weapons possession or use, proliferation and accidental nuclear war, Y2K bugs, terrorism, costs and economic consequences, international and religious norms and treaties, and expert groups and popular movements support of nuclear abolition.

Friday, May 14, the audience will hear diverse views from experts about the "Journey to A World Without Nuclear Weapons" -- proposals, requirements, dangers and objections. The conference will conclude with a luncheon address by Admiral Stansfield Turner, USN (ret.), former director of the CIA and author of the seminal book, "Caging The Nuclear Genie."

This conference aims to bring discussion of nuclear weapons out from the closed conclaves of experts within "the beltway", to people from every from every walk of life, so that they can decide whether nuclear abolition is in the public interest. It is motivated by the post Cold War anomaly that nuclear arsenals –- quintessential weapons of mass destruction -- are still embraced for national security, despite the fact that chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction have been outlawed by international treaty and widely condemned.

Sponsors of the conference include the University of Pittsburgh's Institute of Politics, School of Law, School of Medicine, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs; community groups including Rotary International, League of Women Voters, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Pittsburgh, World Federalist Association, Thomas Merton Center, Pennsylvania Peace Links and others. Conference sessions are located at University of Pittsburgh's Lawrence Hall, Forbes Avenue in Oakland. Dinner and luncheon addresses will be held at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association (PAA), 4215 Fifth Ave.



Note to editors, assignment directors: The following speakers in the program on Thursday, May 13, are available for interview:

• General Lee Butler, USAF (ret.), former commander of all US nuclear strategic forces.

• Stephen Schwartz, publisher, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and expert in nuclear weapons and costs.

• Ira Helfand, expert in medical-public health effects of nuclear weapons.

• Bryan Hehir, staff director for US Catholic Conference of Bishops pastoral letter on nuclear policy.

• Frank von Hippel, expert in accidental nuclear war and proliferation.

• John Rhinelander, legal adviser to SALT I Delegation.

• Cathleen Fisher, director of Henry Stimson Center study, "Building a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World."