A sign points the way to a site where survival condos are being built in a former nuclear missile silo north of Salina, Kansas.National Journal

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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 a study from Middlebury College's Center for Nonproliferation Studies, which projected the 30-year cost to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal at $1 trillion. Global Zero estimates there are 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, and it seeks the "verified elimination" of all of them by 2030.

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?

Correction: This story originally attributed the $1 trillion figure to a Congressional Budget Office report.

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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