Date: December 5, 1984.
Source: "Konstantin Chernenko's message to international movement of physicians". Soviet News, 12 December 1984, No. 6254, page 427.
Moscow, December 5, 1985
I have carefully read the appeal addressed to me by the fourth congress of the movement "International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War".
The ideas contained in it reaffirm that your activities are imbued with humanitarianism because they are based on caring for the health and life of people. The Hippocratic Oath obliging physicians to protect their patients from everything that might threaten their lives has, in the nuclear age, acquired a new dimension.
Studying the potential medico-biological effects of nuclear war, you honestly warn that such a war, should it break out, would be the "last epidemic" the scale of which is impossible to exaggerate. It is not only the fate of modern civilization that is at stake, but the preservation of man as a biological species.
You are quite right, nuclear war cannot be squeezed into a "limited framework". A burnt-out planet would be the price to be paid for the miscalculations of irresponsible politicians.
One of your congresses rightly pointed to the danger of the so-called "nuclear illusions" possessing the leaders of certain states. Chasing the spectre of military superiority, these leaders are loading with weapons the land and the oceans and are now planning to do the same thing in outer space.
We in the Soviet Union share your fervent desire to stop the stampede to the irreparable. We are consistently working for nuclear weapons never to be put to use, for ensuring in practice the supreme right of man -- the right to life.
The USSR has already assumed the obligation not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and proposes to freeze nuclear arsenals an to agree on the complete cessation of nuclear weapons tests.
Resolving the question of space weapons is now of primary importance. Militarisation of outer space if not securely blocked would cancel everything that has so far been achieved in the field of arms limitation, spur the arms race in other areas and dramatically increase the danger of nuclear war.
The Soviet Union is prepared to for the most radical solutions which would allow an advance along the ways leading to the cessation of the arms race, the prohibition and, eventually, complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
Firmly determined to achieve a major breakthrough in reducing the danger of an outbreak of war, the Soviet Union looks to the forthcoming Soviet-US negotiations with a view to achieving mutually acceptable understandings on the entire set of questions related to nuclear and space weapons.
We are prepared to co-operate, honestly and constructively, with all those who really desire that the further development of world affairs should proceed not through new states of nuclear competition but along the way of strengthening peace and security, detente and confidence.
In today's troubled world it is highly important that all states shouldering the formidable and costly burden of nuclear arsenals realise their historic responsibility for the destiny of manking and through their concrete actions contribute to reducing the danger of an outbreak of nuclear war and to improving the international situation.
The fourth congress of your movement was launched under the motto "Physicians Insist: Nuclear War Can be Prevented". This optimistic statement coincides with our conviction that the forces of peace will be able to prevail. The growing anti-war movements among which that of physicians occupies a prominent place is one of the guarantees of that.
I wish the participants of the movement further success in carrying out their socially significant and salutary mission.
With best regards,