The documentary "Countdown to Zero", produced by one of the top producers of "An Inconvenient Truth" airs Friday. The documentary discusses the terrorism dangers of keeping stockpiles of nuclear weapons. It calls for complete worldwide disarmament of nukes, including the U.S.'s massive stockpiles.  (Source: YouTube)

U.S. President Barack Obama, despite being a strong supporter of nuclear energy, has called for international, unilateral nuclear arms reductions.

One of the biggest proponents of the U.S. maintaining a nuclear arsenal -- Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger -- has reversed his stance, becoming an anti-nuclear weapons advocate.  (Source: NSA Archive)
Ultimately strategic defense initiative may prove movement a moot point

The Cold War is fading into distant memory, but new concerns like dirty bombs, nuclear proliferation, and terrorism continue to mount.  Amid that backdrop, the documentary Countdown to Zero will be released this Friday and offers a new battle-cry to the nuclear disarmament.

The movie is based on the Global Zero campaign, which launched in 2008, calling for complete worldwide nuclear disarmament.  The campaign, initiated by the World Security Institute, is the culmination of decades of calls for nuclear arms reductions.

"Countdown to Zero" may be a keystone of this new campaign, but it follows in a long line of successful anti-nuclear flicks.  Among the many fictional films that dealt with the topic include 
Godzilla (1954), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb(1964), Planet of the Apes (1963), Damnation Alley (1977), When the Wind Blows (animated, 1986), The Terminator (4 films, 1984, 1991, 2003, 2009), and Grave of Fireflies (animated, 1988).  

Among the nonfiction films to tackle the topic include 
The War Game (1965), If You Love This Planet (1982), Deadly Deception: General Electric, Nuclear Weapons and Our Environment(1991) Doomsday: "On The Brink" (1997), Nuclear Related Activities in Burma (2010).

Despite this slew of films, it's commonly thought that the public in nuclear-armed nations/confederations such as the United States and European Union has grown apathetic to the cause of arms reductions.  

The new film, directed by Lucy Walker, aims to drive home that we should still be worried, showcasing hundred interviews on camera (and many more off), with physicists, writers, nuclear weapons experts (which include former CIA officers Valerie Plame Wilson and Rolf Mowatt-Larssen) and top world leaders (including Tony Blair, Mikhail Gorbachev and Pervez Musharraf).

Among its most compelling interviews, though, is with a potential terrorism supplier, Oleg Khinsagov, a Russian smuggler who was arrested in Georgia for allegedly attempting to deliver highly enriched uranium to a man believed to be affiliated with a terrorist group.  Walker argues that in a volatile geopolitical climate, the only solution is to have 
no nuclear weapons.  She states, "No matter what you used to think, the only stable solution today is zero."

Walker's film is the second major U.S. documentary this year to support nuclear disarmament.  Back in April the documentary 
Nuclear Tipping Point was released.  This documentary was perhaps even more convincing that Countdown to Zero, in that it featured four key nuclear arms supporters who have since recanted their views --former Secretaries of State Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and former Senator Sam Nunn.  The men first came together when they wrote a 2007 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, entitled "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons".

Lawrence Bender, one of the producers of Al Gore's global warming documentary 
The Inconvenient Truth, produced the film.  An Inconvenient Truth achieved both mass commercial appeal and won an Academy Award; Bender envisions similar critical and commercial success for the new picture.

The movement enjoys the support of U.S. President Barack Obama.  Despite being an ardent supporter of increased U.S. use of nuclear energy, President Obama has also vocally supported nuclear arms reductions.  In an April 2009 speech in Europe before the Czech Republic, President Obama proclaimed, "So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. This goal will not be reached quickly - perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change."

Ultimately if the U.S. and others succeed in developing reliable, affordable laser defense/missile shield technologies, the issue of nuclear missiles may become a moot point (though dirty bombs/ground based bombs remain a concern).  For that reason it seems that 
Countdown to Zero will see its vision achieved, at least in the long run -- the U.S. will have to adjust to global politics without the aid of its nuclear arsenal -- be it sooner or later.

A trailer of the film can be found here.

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