Although Reagan deployed nuclear missiles to Western Europe during his term, in October 1983, he proposed eliminating all nuclear weapons in a speech in January 1984. Earlier, in April 1982, obviously affected by the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, he had pronounced that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. And, he also improbably declared, "To those who protest against nuclear war, I can only say: 'I'm with you!'"
Gorbachev subsequently initiated a unilateral Soviet nuclear testing moratorium and decided against building a Star Wars anti-missile system. Reagan refused to abandon the U.S. version of Star Wars, but the disarmament die had been cast. Gorbachev put the U.S. on the defensive by exercising what was termed the 'zero option', agreeing to remove all nuclear missiles from Europe.
In late 1984, twenty-two people got themselves arrested as they blocked the entrance to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Wake Forest, Illinois to protest U.S. warships in Central America and to protest the Navy 's part in spreading weapons and ammunition to the countries in the region. Sixteen went to trial, charges against eight were dropped and a ninth was dismissed. Seven protesters stood trial in the People v. Jarka No. 002170 in the Circuit Court of Lake County, Waukegan, Illinois.
After a one-week trial defendants were found "not guilty " by the jury. The judge in the case, Alphonse F. Witt, gave the following instruction to the jury regarding international law:
-- International law is binding on the United States and on the State of Illinois.
-- The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a war crime or an attempted war crime because such use would violate inter national law by causing unnecessary suffering, failure to dis tinguish between combatants and noncombatants, and poisoning targets by radiation.
(Source: Robert Aldridge and Virginia Stark, "Nuclear War, Citizen Intervention, and the Necessity Defense, " Santa Clara Law Review 26, no. 2 : 324 --325.)
The Jarka trial served as the basis for the defense of subsequent actions and protests against the Reagan administration's escalating militarism, mindless military buildup, and meddling military interventions abroad.
In the years that followed the anti-nuclear activism, New Zealand banned nuclear warships from their ports, Australia banned the testing of MX missiles, India halted work on nuclear weapons, and called for nuclear disarmament, the Philippines voted for a no nuke constitution and closed down U.S. military bases harboring nuclear weapons. South Africa abandoned an infant nuclear weapons program. BushI was intimidated into unilaterally withdrawing short-range missiles from Western Europe.
Later there were the influential protests at the Nevada Test Site which fostered a Nevada-based, Semipalatinsk nuclear disarmament movement in the Soviet Union which led to the closure of the Soviet nuclear test sites.
In 1992 underground nuclear testing was halted for nine months, and stringent restrictions were enacted on further U.S. testing, and test ban negotiations and an end to U.S. testing by late 1996 were initiated.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was achieved, despite resistance from Democrats including candidate Clinton during his presidential campaign. In spite of the resistance, anti-nuclear Congressmen and women organized a test ban and the Clinton administration extended the U.S. nuclear testing moratorium, encouraging a worldwide treaty. In September 1996, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed by several nuclear and non-nuclear countries.
That was then . . .
Now, we have been made to endure the mindless idiocy of BushII. For the first time since the U.S. banned the production of nuclear weapons in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; signed by the U.S. and Russia in 1968, entered into force in 1970; and since the moratorium on nuclear testing, which has been in place since 1992, the nuclear arms race has been restarted by the Bush administration, aided in part by an underground Pentagon campaign.
Gen. Lee Butler, of the Strategic Air Command, along with former Air Force Secretary Thomas Reed, and Col. Michael Wheeler, made a report in 1991 which recommended the targeting of our nuclear weaponry at "every reasonable adversary around the globe." The report warned of nuclear weapons states which are likely to emerge." They were aided in their pursuit by, John Deutch, President Clinton's choice for Defense Secretary; Fred Ikle', former Deputy Defense Secretary, associated with Jonathan Pollard; future CIA Director R. James Woolsey; and Condoleezza Rice, who was on the National Security Council Staff, 1989-1991.
The new nuke report recommended that U.S. nuclear weapons be re-targeted, where U.S. forces faced conventional "impending annihilation ... at remote places around the globe," according to William M. Arkin and Robert S. Norris, in their criticism of the report in the April 1992 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists ("Tiny Nukes").