Why an Inflatable Missile Is Set To Hit the National Mall

An unarmed U.S. Air Force LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Dec. 17, 2013.

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Yvonne Morales/

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An unarmed U.S. Air Force LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Dec. 17, 2013.

Proposed upgrades to America's nuclear arsenal provide the backdrop for this weekend's scheduled appearance of a 'life-size, four-story inflated nuclear missile.'

The presence of a nuclear missile on the National Mall sounds like a scene out of Independence Day. But this Saturday, such a missile—albeit a facsimile of one—will appear outside the White House.

On Saturday afternoon, the group Global Zero, which advocates for nuclear disarmament worldwide, will stage a protest outside the White House with a “life-size, four-story inflated nuclear missile” to illustrate the humanitarian threat posed by nuclear weapons.

The name of the protest, “No $1 Trillion Nuclear Arsenal,” refers to the Congressional Budget Office’s 30-year projection of the costs to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The group estimates there are 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, and it seeks the “verified elimination” of all of them by 2030.

(See also: Can Ash Carter Tame the Nuclear Weapons Budget?)

Since its founding, Global Zero’s cause has attracted the likes of Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Mikhail Gorbachev, Vicente Fox, Virgin CEO Richard Branson, former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar López, Queen Noor of Jordan, and Valerie Plame Wilson. A bevy of actors, including Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Naomi Watts and Robert DeNiro have also supported the cause.

Six year ago, President Obama said he would seek ‘the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,’ but now he is doubling down on them,” Global Zero cofounder Matt Brown said in a press release. “This massive $1 trillion upgrade will lock us into a nuclear weapons future for generations.”

The protest comes at an opportune time for the group, as debate over negotiations with Iran remain up in the air. Both Iran and the United States are party to the United Nations’ Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, meaning that they are expected to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.”

If a giant, inflatable missile outside the president’s house won’t lead to more good-faith negotiations, what will?

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