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Countdown to Zero (2010)Countdown to Zero (2010)

           The good news is that after the Cold War we reduced nuclear weapons from about 60,000 to 23,000 (96% of which are controlled by the USA and Russia). The bad news of this documentary by the History Channel is that those which remain still pose a horrible risk to humanity. Producer Lawrence Bender (An Inconvenient Truth) and writer/director Lucy Walker use a famous speech by president Kennedy in 1961 to the United Nations to drive their narrative: "Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us." To this they add commentary by past presidents (Carter, Gorbachev, Blair, F.W. de Klerk, Pervez Musharraf), physicists, security experts from Harvard and Stanford, and government agents like Valerie Plame, to explain how and why nuclear weapons remain such a threat. We learn how nuclear bombs can fairly easily be bought, stolen, or made from scratch. We watch unnerving archival footage of nuclear near-misses. The end of the film argues for a world of zero nuclear weapons. See For another plea to disarm see the similar documentary by former Secretaries of State Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and former Senator Sam Nunn: Nuclear Tipping Point (available free at

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