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National Committee For a Sane Nuclear Policy

National Committee For a Sane Nuclear Policy. In June 1957, twenty‐seven prominent citizens concerned with the direct and indirect hazards of nuclear fallout (e.g., strontium 90 found in cow's milk) met in New York City and formed the Provisional Committee to Stop Nuclear Tests. In the fall, they adopted the name National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, commonly known as SANE, and placed a full‐page advertisement in the New York Times that read: “We Are Facing a Danger Unlike Any Danger That Has Ever Existed.” SANE quickly became the largest and most influential nuclear disarmament organization in the United States. By the summer of 1958, it had about 130 chapters representing approximately 25,000 Americans.

For over three decades, men and women prominently associated with SANE, such as Norman Cousins, Clarence Pickett, Lenore Marshall, Norman Thomas, Dr. Benjamin Spock, H. Stuart Hughes, Sanford Gottlieb, and Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr., published full‐page advertisements, wrote letters, signed petitions, staged impressive rallies, and took to the streets to pressure U.S. leaders to stop testing, to lessen the risk of nuclear war, and to move toward peace with justice. From the first large American antinuclear rallies of the late 1950s and early 1960s, through the organizing of the largest yet demonstration of the Vietnam antiwar movement in November 1965, to helping bring about the massive June 1982 disarmament march and rally in New York City, SANE was at the forefront of liberal nuclear protest movements. The organization's greatest achievement was the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963, halting atmospheric nuclear tests.

In the 1980s, SANE activists played a leading role in the campaign to “freeze” nuclear weapons (to prevent proposed escalation of the arms race). In 1987, the two largest peace organizations in the country merged into SANE/FREEZE: Campaign for Global Security, an organization of over 240 local groups, 24 state affiliates, and 170,000 members. The goals of SANE/FREEZE remained a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing as the first step toward complete disarmament and a redirection of military spending to social programs. Reverend Coffin served as president until the end of the Cold War in 1989. In 1993, SANE/FREEZE adopted a new name, Peace Action.
[See also Arms Control and Disarmament: Nuclear; Peace and Antiwar Movements.]


Milton S. Katz , Ban the Bomb: A History of SANE, the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, 1986.
Robert Kleidman , Organizing for Peace: Neutrality, the Test Ban, and the Freeze, 1993.

Milton S. Katz

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