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Are the U.S. and Russian Governments Once Again on the Nuclear Warpath?

A quarter century after the end of the Cold War and decades after the signing of landmark nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements, are the U.S. and Russian governments once more engaged in a potentially disastrous nuclear arms race with one another?  It certainly looks like it.

With approximately 15,000 nuclear weapons between them, the United States and Russia already possess about 93 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal, thus making them the world’s nuclear hegemons.  But, apparently, like great powers throughout history, they do not consider their vast military might sufficient, especially in the context of their growing international rivalry.

Three Minutes to Midnight

By Robert F. Dodge, M.D.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has just announced its latest nuclear Doomsday Clock moving ahead the minute hand to three minutes till midnight. The clock represents the count down to zero in minutes to nuclear apocalypse - midnight. This significant move of two minutes is the 22nd time since its inception in 1947 that the time has been changed.

In moving the hand to three minutes to midnight, Kennette Benedict, the Executive Director of the Bulletin, identified in his comments: "the probability of global catastrophe is very high"... "the choice is ours and the clock is ticking"..."we feel the need to warn the world" ..."the decision was based on a very strong feeling of urgency." She spoke to the dangers of both nuclear weapons and climate change saying, "they are both very difficult and we are ignoring them" and emphasized "this is about doomsday, this is about the end of civilization as we know it." The Clock has ranged from two minutes to midnight at the height of the Cold War to 17 minutes till midnight with the hopes that followed the end of the Cold War. The decision to move the minute hand is made by the Bulletin's Board of Directors in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates.

 What is clear is that the time to ban nuclear weapons is now. Today’s announcement by the Bulletin further corroborates the dangers confirmed by recent climate science. These studies identify the much greater dangers posed by even a small regional nuclear war using “just” 100 Hiroshima size bombs out of the 16,300 weapons in today’s global stockpiles. The ensuing dramatic climate changes and famine that would follow threaten the lives of up to two billion on the planet with effects that would last beyond 10 years. There is no escaping the global impact of such a small regional nuclear war.

Medical science has weighed in on the impacts and devastation of even the smallest nuclear explosion in one of our cities and the reality is there is no adequate medical or public health response to such an attack. We kid ourselves into a false sense that we can prepare and plan for the outcome of a bomb detonation. Every aspect and facet of our society would be overwhelmed by a nuclear attack. Ultimately the resultant dead at ground zero would be the lucky ones.

 Probability theorists have long calculated the dismal odds that the chance for nuclear event either by plan or accident are not in our favor.  Recent documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act detail more than 1,000 mishaps that have happened in our nuclear arsenals. Time is not on our side and the fact that we have not experienced a nuclear catastrophe is more a result of luck than mastery and control over these immoral weapons of terror.

The time to act is now. There is so much that can and must be done. Congress will soon begin budget debates that include proposals to increase nuclear weapons spending for stockpile modernization by $355 billion over the next decade and up to a trillion in the next 30 years--expenditures for weapons that can never be used and at a time when the economic needs for our country and world are so great.

Around the world, there is a growing awareness of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, and a corresponding desire to rid the world of these weapons. The Vienna Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons conference last month saw 80 percent of the nations of the world participating. In October 2014, at the UN, 155 nations called for the elimination of nuclear weapons. At Vienna, 44 nations plus the pope advocated for a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

The people are making their voices heard and demanding a change of course from the status quo.

In this week’s State of the Union address, President Obama emphasized that we are one people with a common destiny. He said this both in reference to our nation and our world. The threat of nuclear weapons unites us even as it threatens our very existence.  This reality can also be remembered in the words of Martin Luther King when he said,

“We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

The time for action is now, before it is too late. It’s three minutes till midnight.  

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice,and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

Activists hold mock funeral for the Earth at Washington State nuclear submarine base

By Leonard Eiger
 
Activists from a local peace group blocked the main gate and staged a mock funeral at the Navy’s West Coast Trident nuclear submarine base in an act of civil resistance to nuclear weapons.

Over sixty people participated in Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr's life and legacy on Saturday, January 17, 2015. The event concluded with a vigil and nonviolent direct action at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington.

Under the theme “Building the World House,” the day focused on Dr. King’s commitment to nonviolence and his opposition to war and nuclear weapons. Dr. King's essay "The World House" may very well be the best summation of Dr. King's teachings.
 
While some participants maintained a peaceful vigil at the Main Gate to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington on Saturday afternoon, others dressed in black monk's robes carried a coffin containing a globe representing the earth to the side of the road. People walked up to the casket and placed flowers on it, and then another robed participant recited a eulogy, "Mourning the Death of the Earth after Nuclear Annihilation." A funeral dirge completed the ceremony.
 
When the ceremony was finished participants carried the casket onto the roadway, blocking traffic entering the base. Washington State Patrol officers ordered the resisters to move the coffin out of the roadway. They complied, and carried the coffin to the median where they were detained. All received citations for being in the roadway illegally, and then released.
 
Those cited were Mary Elder, Seattle, WA; Peter Gallagher, Seattle, WA; Raghav Kaushik, Kirkland, WA; Mona Lee, Seattle, WA; Bernie Meyer, Olympia, WA; Michael Siptroth, Belfair, WA; and Rick Turner, Seattle, Wa; 
 
Following the initial action more protesters entered the roadway and blocked traffic. Gilberto Perez, Bainbridge Island, WA carried a sign calling for no naval base on Jeju Island, Korea. Jonathan Landolfe, Tacoma, WA carried a sign saying "Sea Hawks, Not War Hawks." Bruce Gagnon, Bath, ME carried a sign saying "Human Needs, NOT WAR$". All were removed from the roadway by State Patrol and cited for being in the roadway illegally.
 
Gagnon, the Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, gave the keynote address earlier in the day at Ground Zero Center. Gagnon spoke of the unsustainability of the US Navy's shipbuilding budget, and how "entitlement" programs including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are being defunded in order to fund the newest ships that include a new fleet of ballistic missile submarines. The OHIO Class Replacement Program alone (12 new Trident submarines) will cost an estimated $100 billion. 
 
Members of Ground Zero Center also participated in the Seattle MLK Rally & March on January 19th, carrying a full size inflatable replica of a Trident II D-5 thermonuclear armed missile. Accompanying the missile was a banner with a famous quote by Dr. King: "When scientific power outruns spiritual power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men." Participants handed out leaflets with facts on Trident.

The Trident nuclear weapons system was designed during the height of the Cold War and was predicated on the theory of Strategic Nuclear Deterrence, a doctrine that no longer applies long after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Continued deployment of Trident increases the risk of either accidental or intentional nuclear war, and building a new generation of ballistic missile submarines is increasing global proliferation of nuclear weapons at a time when the nuclear armed powers should be reducing reliance on nuclear weapons and making good faith efforts toward disarmament.
 
The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons in the US arsenal. Each of the 8 Trident submarines at Bangor carries up to 24 Trident II (D-5) missiles, each capable of being armed with as many as 8 independently targetable thermonuclear warheads.  Each nuclear warhead has an explosive force of between 100 and 475 kilotons (up to 30 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb). It has been estimated that by the time the new generation of ballistic missile submarines are put into service, they will represent 70 percent of the nation's deployed nuclear warheads.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action holds three scheduled vigils and actions each year in resistance to Trident and in protest of U.S. nuclear weapons policy. The group is currently engaged in legal actions in Federal court to halt the Navy’s construction of a Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor. Ground Zero is also working with other organizations to de-fund the Navy’s plans for the next generation ballistic missile submarine. 

For over thirty-seven years Ground Zero has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Photos attached.  Photo Credit: L. Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (Note: High resolution images available)

Contact:  Leonard Eiger, Media and Outreach
               Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
               www.gzcenter.org

Nuclear Madness and Resistance

The Jeffrey Sterling trial is a bit disheartening for anyone who'd rather humanity paid a bit of attention to avoiding nuclear apocalypse, even though Sterling exposed the CIA's crime to Congress, and Sterling or someone else (at least 90 people could have done it) exposed the crime to an author who put it in a book and would have put it in the New York Times if, you know, it weren't the New York Times (the paper obeyed Condoleezza Rice's demand for censorship).

The last time a whistleblower defendant faced prosecution in civilian U.S. court for "espionage" it was Dan Ellsberg, and the New York Times was a radically different beast.

Here's a report from Ray McGovern on Thursday's appearance by Condoleezza Rice in the Sterling trial:

"It was surreal in court earlier today; stiletto-heeled Rice prancing in within 2 feet of me, as if on the modeling runway, with a Paula Broadwell-type look on her face -- and, at the same time, Bill Harlow sitting down next to me after his testimony explaining how hard he had tried to get Jim Risen to listen to reason and not pursue/publish the story about the botched CIA 'Merlin' operation.....and how listening to Rice's request at the White House meeting, NY Times Washington Bureau Chief Jill Abramson felt 'out of her pay-grade range,' and how her NYT masters (surprise, surprise) bowed to the White House/CIA hyperbole re the dangers of publishing, and agreed to the urgent demand/request of Rice and her boss.  (Pls see my piece yesterday on pitfalls of letting covert action eager beavers loose on the basis of a false major premise i. e., that Iran was working on a nuclear weapon.)

"(As for Abramson, for being a good girl, she made it to the very top of NYT as Executive Editor, for services performed -- she was also Washington Bureau Chief when Judith Miller was plying her wares with the likes of Ahmed Chalabi.  But then Jill forgot her place; got too uppity and was unceremoniously dumped by the top men of that 'all-the-news-that's-allowed-by-the-White House-to-print' exclusive club of male chauvinist cowards.)

"Back to the courtroom:  All at once I find myself wondering what might be the appropriate reaction when an amateur Goebbels (Harlow) sits down next to you; so I wrote a little note to him.  (It did not seem to phase him one bit, so I'm sure he would not mind me sharing it with you):

"'Newsweek, Feb 2003, quote from Hussein Kamel's debrief 1995: "I ordered the destruction of all weapons — biological, chemical, missile, nuclear." Harlow: Newsweek story "incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue."  4,500 U.S. troops dead.  A consequential lie.'

"All stand; judge and jury leave; and I'm not sure he has read the note.  I give it to him; he reads it, smiles, 'Good to see you Ray!'

"Aaaarrrgggh."

Back to the disheartening nature of what Sterling or someone else let us know about:

Either the CIA went on completely mindless autopilot -- as everyone but I seems to believe -- or it tried to plant evidence of a nuclear weapons program on Iran. That is to say, it illegally proliferated nuclear weapons technology, presented Iran with an obvious fraud, risked serious hostility with Russia, and had zero chance of fulfilling its stated mission of slowing down an Iranian weapons program, should one have existed, and had zero chance of learning what Iran was doing. Stuffing nuke plans under a door in Vienna doesn't tell anyone what Iran is doing. Handing Iran nuke plans (or constructed nuke parts, as was contemplated) doesn't slow down a nonexistent program or even an existing one -- not even when obvious flaws are inserted in the plans. The CIA's Russian-American front man spotted flaws immediately. The CIA's own "red team" spotted flaws, fixed them, and built a working part from the plans in a matter of months. So, again, either this was just a crazed desire to do something, anything, serving no possible purpose and risking advancing the destruction of the planet, or somebody had in mind that it would be advantageous to plant nuke plans on Iran. After all, the Iranians weren't going to believe that Russian plans were written in American English. But Americans might conceivably believe that Iran would have nuke plans written in English, as they were asked to believe of Iraq as well. Foreigners speak English in American movies all the time, after all.

Maybe I shouldn't hunt for scraps of intelligence in "intelligence" operations.

But I can find them elsewhere.

The United States doesn't just write up Russian plans for nuclear weapons parts and spread them around the globe. It also manufactures U.S. versions of the same parts. It does so in Kansas City. And the good people of Kansas City protest it. And a judge has just declared a protester "not-guilty" of any crime -- the first time that's happened in some 120 protests. May the jury holding Jeffrey Sterling's fate in its hands take heed:

From the Nuclear Resister:

Nuclear weapons protester Henry Stoever found “not guilty” of trespass at new Kansas City plant

Nuke-Free-Worldby Jane Stoever

After a 90 minute trial on January 16, 2015, at the Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Court, Judge Elena Franco found that the City had failed to prove that Henry Stoever had the “mens rea” (guilty intent, criminal mind) for conviction of trespass. Judge Franco also found that the City witness had failed to prove where the property line was located at the new Honeywell nuclear weapons production, procurement and assembly plant in southern Kansas City, Missouri. This plant makes, procures and assembles 85% of the non-nuclear parts of a nuclear weapon. Early in the trial, Henry had played the video for the judge that showed him and two companions crossing the line.

When Judge Franco declared Henry “not guilty,” the 31 members in the audience burst into applause. Henry shook the hands of Judge Franco, the City Prosecutor, and the complaining witness, and then visited with supporters outside the courtroom, wiping back tears of joy.

In this case, Henry had filed with the Court and with the Prosecutor a 12-page Pre-trial Notice of Defenses, Brief and Motion in Limine, where he set forth a number of “claim of right” points for taking his action on August 22, 2014, to cross the supposed line at the weapons plant. In his closing statement, Henry quoted a dissenting opinion from Supreme Court Justices Douglas, Brennan, and Fortas in 1966, in Adderley vs. Florida: “We do violence to the First Amendment when we permit this ‘petition for redress of grievances’ to be turned into a trespass action.”

Henry was surprised at the not guilty finding, for the Judge said you may feel disappointed by my finding (because it was based on a technicality … and earlier, Henry had said he didn’t want to quibble over whether the line was a true property line, and that if the line were 20-30 feet farther onto the property, Henry would have gone there). Also, about two years ago, Henry had invited Franco to find him guilty so he could appeal his case to State Court (but that case was dismissed without going to a jury trial). In truth, the Judge today was not convinced Henry committed a crime—bravo! Bravissimo!

The entire Stoever family is celebrating. Many, many thanks to all who’ve risked arrest, to all who’ve supported our now about 120 individual instances of a person crossing the line, to all who’ve sent well-wishes! This is the first in the 120 instances in which a judge saw fit to say, “not guilty!”

Talk Nation Radio: Alice Slater on Nuclear Abolition, Nuclear Peril

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-alice-slater-on-nuclear-abolition-nuclear-peril

Alice Slater is New York director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and serves on the Coordinating Committee of Abolition 2000 and on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War. Her blog is at http://globalhousework.org She discusses the growing movement to abolish nuclear weapons, the nations that are developing nuclear energy in order to be close to having the weapons, the offer that North Korea has made to the United States, and the history of resentments -- and the ignorance of that history -- that are leading toward potential nuclear conflict and apocalypse.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Time to Ban the Bomb

By Alice Slater

Global Momentum is building for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons! While the world has banned chemical and biological weapons, there is no explicit legal prohibition of nuclear weapons, although the International Court of Justice ruled unanimously that there is an obligation to bring to a conclusion negotiations for their total elimination.   The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), negotiated in 1970 required the five existing nuclear weapons states, the US, Russia, UK, France and China (P-5) to make “good faith efforts” to eliminate their nuclear weapons, while the rest of the world promised not to acquire them (except for India, Pakistan, Israel, who never signed the NPT).  North Korea relied on the NPT Faustian bargain for “peaceful” nuclear power to build its own bomb, and then walked out of the treaty. 

More than 600 members of civil society, from every corner of the globe, with more than half of them under the age of 30 attended a fact-filled two day conference in Vienna organized by the International Coalition to Ban Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), to learn of the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons from the bomb and from testing as well, and of the frightening risks from possible accidents or sabotage of the nine nuclear arsenals around the world.  The meeting was a follow up to two prior meetings in Oslo, Norway and Nayarit, Mexico.   ICAN members, working for a treaty to ban the bomb, then joined a meeting hosted by Austria for 160 governments in the historic Hofburg Palace, which has served as the residence of Austrian leaders since before the founding of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

In Vienna, the US delegate, delivered a tone-deaf statement on the heels of heart-wrenching testimony of catastrophic illness and death in her community from Michelle Thomas, a down winder from Utah, and other devastating testimony of the effects of nuclear bomb testing from the Marshall Islands and Australia.  The US rejected any need for a ban treaty and extolled the step by step approach (to nuclear weapons forever) but changed its tone in the wrap-up and appeared to be more respectful of the process.   There were 44 countries who explicitly spoke of their support for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, with the Holy See delegate reading out Pope Francis’ statement also calling for a ban on nuclear weapons and their elimination in which he said, “I am convinced that the desire for peace and fraternity planted deep in the human heart will bear fruit in concrete ways to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all, to the benefit of our common home.”.  This was a shift in Vatican policy which had never explicitly condemned deterrence policies of the nuclear weapons states although they had called for the elimination of nuclear weapons in prior statements. [i]

Significantly, and to help move the work forward, the Austrian Foreign Minister added to the Chair’s report by announcing a pledge by Austria to work for a nuclear weapons ban, described as “taking effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal.!   [ii]The NGO strategy now as presented at the ICAN[iii] debriefing meeting right after the conference closed, is to get as many nations as we can to support the Austrian pledge coming into the CD and the NPT review and then come out of the 70th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a concrete plan for negotiations on a ban treaty.   One thought about the 70th Anniversary of the bomb, is that not only should we get a huge turnout in Japan, but we should acknowledge all the victims of the bomb, illustrated so agonizingly during the conference by Hibakusha and down winders at test sites.   We should also think about the uranium miners, the polluted sites from mining as well as manufacturing and use of the bomb and try to do something all over the world at those sites on August 6th and 9th as we call for negotiations to begin to ban nuclear weapons and eliminate them.   

Only a few days after the Vienna conference, there was a meeting of the Nobel Laureates in Rome, who after meeting with Nobel Prize winning IPPNW members Dr. Tilman Ruff and hearing the testimony of Dr. Ira Helfand, both ICAN founders, continued the momentum created in Vienna and issued a statement which not only called for a ban on nuclear weapons, but asked that negotiations be concluded within two years! [iv]

We urge all states to commence negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons at the earliest possible time, and subsequently to conclude the negotiations within two years. This will fulfill existing obligations enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will be reviewed in May of 2015, and the unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice.  Negotiations should be open to all states and blockable by none. The 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2015 highlights the urgency of ending the threat of these weapons.

One way to slow down this process to negotiate a legal ban on nuclear weapons would be for the NPT nuclear weapons states to promise at this five year NPT review conference to set a reasonable date to bring to a conclusion time-bound negotiations and effective and verifiable measures to implement the total elimination of nuclear weapons.   Otherwise the rest of the world will start without them to create an explicit legal prohibition of nuclear weapons which will be a powerful taboo to be used for pressuring the countries cowering under the nuclear umbrella of the nuclear weapons states, in NATO and in the Pacific, to take a stand for Mother Earth, and urge that negotiations begin for the total abolition of nuclear weapons!

Alice Slater is NY Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and serves on the Coordinating Committee of Abolition 2000.

US Attends, then Defies Conference on Nuclear Weapons Effects & Abolition

By John LaForge

VIENNA, Austria—A pair of conferences here Dec. 6-9 have tried to raise public and government awareness of nuclear weapons.

The first, a Civil Society Forum put on by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, brought together NGOs, parliamentarians, and activists of all stripes to try and boost morale and renew enthusiasm in efforts to ban the bomb.

About 700 participants spent two days delving into the ghastly health and environmental effects of nuclear war, the hair-raising frequency of H-bomb accidents and near detonations, the horrifying impacts of bomb testing—and other human radiation experiments conducted without informed consent upon our own unwitting civilians and soldiers.

This is ground that’s been plowed for decades, but it’s nevertheless staggering to the uninitiated and is never repeated too often—especially in view of the destabilization and skyrocketing death toll of what the Pope has called today’s “World War Three.”

ICAN’s infusion of youthful encouragement and high-energy mobilization is a welcome relief for the doddering anti-nuclear movement that’s seen a generation of activists lost to campaigns against corporate globalization and the perpetrators of climate collapse. Mary Olson, of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, who presented expert testimony on the misogynistic gender bias in radiation effects, said she had gotten a “surprisingly big jolt of hope from the youngness of the gathering.”

A second conference -- the “Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons” (HINW) -- brought together government representatives and hundreds of others, and was the third in a series. Austria, which has neither nuclear weapons nor nuclear reactors, sponsored the gathering.

After decades of negotiations over the strategic and numerical size of nuclear arsenals, the HINW meetings have faced the harsh ugliness and catastrophic health and environmental effects of nuclear testing and warfare.

Expert witnesses spoke directly to 180 government representatives about the ethical, legal, medical and ecological consequences of H-bomb detonations which are—in the language of diplomatic nicety—“foreseeable.” Then, scores of nation-state delegates called on nuclear-armed states to pursue abolition. Dozens of speakers noted that landmines, cluster munitions, gas, chemical and biological weapons have all been banned, but the worst of all¾thermonuclear WMD—have not.

But the emperor can’t see his own nakedness

It turns out that a gathering of elites like the HINW is like a prison population: there is a strict, arcane etiquette; a rigorous separation of classes; and a blatant violation of all the rules by privileged, rich and pampered chieftains.

The most blatant violation came at the start of the first question-&-answer session, and it was my own government—which skipped previous HINW meetings in Norway and Mexico—that put a radioactive foot in its bomb-cratered mouth. Immediately following harrowing personal testimonies from downwind bomb test victims, and a review by Ms. Olson of the science showing women and children to be far more vulnerable to radiation than men, the U.S. interrupted. Everyone noticed.

Although facilitators twice directed participants to ask questions only the U.S. delegate, Adam Scheinman, was first at the mic, and he declared flatly, “I will not ask a question but make a statement.” The bully then ignored the panel’s hour-long discussion of the brutal, gruesome, and long-term effects of nuclear weapons testing. Instead, in ringing non sequitur, Scheinman’s prepared statement declared U.S. opposition to a nuclear weapons ban and noted support for negotiations for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Mr. Scheinman also lauded the U.S. embrace of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty¾code language for decades of winking at open US violations of the treaty’s requirements.

(Principle among U.S. NPT violations are Pres. Obama’s planned $1 trillion, 30-year budget for new nuclear weapons; “nuclear sharing” agreements that keep 180 U.S. H-bombs at US bases in Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy and Turkey; and sales of Trident nuclear missiles to the British submarine fleet.)

Mr. Scheinman’s rude defiance of conference protocol was a microcosm of the country’s global militarism: oblivious, contemptuous, imperious, and defiant of law. Conducted at 1:20 in the afternoon, the scene-stealing disruption was well-timed to be the lead headline on nightly TV news. U.S. refusal to support and dismissal of the movement for a nuclear weapons ban/treaty should be the story of the conference, but corporate media can be counted on to note only Obama’s public agenda and his finger-pointing at non-nuclear Iran.

The desired result of Scheinman’s outburst is that the U.S. momentarily diverted attention from the indiscriminate, uncontrollable, widespread, persistent, radiological and genetically destabilizing, scofflaw impact of its nuclear weapons—and got television to pat it on the back merely for showing up and “listening.”

Indeed, after its usurpation of center-stage here—and after having temporarily recast the subject of the conference—the U.S. may now get back to its real agenda, the massively expensive “upgrade” of machinery for producing 80 new H-bombs a year by 2020.

-- John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, edits its Quarterly newsletter, and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.

Vienna Conference Could ‘Change the Calculus’ of US Nuclear Policy

By Joseph Cirincione, Defense One

VIENNA, Austria — While Iran negotiations get screaming headlines, recent conferences on the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons have not gotten much attention. Maybe they should. They are generating a growing movement that could have a bigger impact on U.S. nuclear policy than many have assumed.

Most security analysts were only dimly aware, if at all, that a conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons was held in Oslo, Norway, in March 2013, then a second conference, somewhat larger, in Nayarit, Mexico, in February 2014. I personally did not pay much attention — and nuclear policy is my job.

But a third Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons conference is underway this week in Vienna that could be changing the calculus. It is the largest yet, with 800 delegates from almost 160 nations. I am attending for the first time, as are dozens of my colleagues. More importantly, the United States has sent an official delegation, as have the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan. This is a first for the nuclear-weapon states, who shunned the previous discussions.

The grand, historic Hofburg Palace is filled with officials and scores of nongovernment groups who jam the galleries and mingle in the hallways debating strategies. The nongovernment groups held a separate “civil forum,” sponsored by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, in the two days preceding the official conference. It was packed with over 600 participants, with most in their twenties and thirties.

There’s clearly something happening here, but, as Buffalo Springfield said, “What it is, ain’t exactly clear.” The ICAN conference pushed a new treaty to ban the bomb. The official Vienna conference does not have that goal, in part, because the U.S. and the nuclear-weapon states strongly oppose it. It is uncertain how many nations favor a new treaty, but they are searching for new ideas, new initiatives – something that can jump-start the moribund efforts to reduce nuclear dangers.

Speaker after speaker at the conferences warn of the dangers of keeping 16,000 nuclear weapons in fallible human hands 25 years after the end of the Cold War. The use of one modern nuclear weapon would be a catastrophe many times worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, triggering global economic turmoil. The use of a dozen would be destruction never seen before in human history. The use of just one hundred in a regional war would trigger a nuclear winter that could starve one billion people. A global nuclear war would be the end of human civilization.

Nuclear risks are growing, the speakers warn, from increased risk of accidents and miscalculation, from tensions in South Asia, from new nuclear use doctrines in Russia. Worse, they say, nearly every one of the nine nations with nuclear weapons is modernizing their arsenal. The United States alone is on track to spend an estimated $1 trillion on nuclear weapons over the next 30 years.

(RelatedThis Is a Pivotal Moment for the US Nuclear Arsenal)

The use of one modern nuclear weapon would be a catastrophe many times worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, triggering global economic turmoil. The use of a dozen would be destruction never seen before in human history.

Such “spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations,” Pope Francis said in a statement to the conference. The Catholic Church has long opposed nuclear weapons, but had accepted the policy of deterrence during the Cold War. This week, however, the Pope said that threatening to use nuclear weapons, even to prevent others from using them, is no longer justifiable. “Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states,” he said. Nuclear weapons must be “banned once and for all.”

This may seem completely alien to defense experts in Washington and the capitals of other nuclear-weapon states. For many, nuclear weapons are an essential part of a national security strategy. They hesitate to reducing their arsenals, least they appear weak to their adversaries or political opponents, even though few imagine actually using the weapons.

But what if they were used? What would happen? “We believe the world needs to know more about the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons use,” over 100 experts and former global government leaders wrote in an open letter to the Vienna conference. “The risks pose by nuclear weapons and the international dynamics that could lead to nuclear weapons being used are under-estimated or insufficiently understood by world leaders.” Signers included former Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar, Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright, ret., former British Ministers Margaret Beckett, David Owen and Des Browne, and this author. 

The letter signers urged the conference delegates to move to a sustained public education effort on the “catastrophic consequences” of nuclear use. This may well happen. A fourth “impact” conference is already planned. New films, reports, panels and citizen actions are in the works. Some groups are eager to follow the model of the successful land mine ban treaty, which began with a few states signing and snowballed into an effective global pact. The organizers of these conferences are encouraged by their success, excited by their potential, and angry at what they see as the failure of many elected leaders to do anything about the real and present nuclear dangers.

Call it part of the “we don’t trust government” movement. Or see it as a revival of the anti-nuclear movements of the 1950’s or 1980’s. Or think of it as nuclear Paul Revere’s racing to warn of coming threats.

Whatever you think, the Vienna conference signals the maturing of a new, significant current in the nuclear policy debate. Government policy makers would be wise to take this new factor into account.


By Joseph Cirincione // Joe Cirincione is president of Ploughshares Fund and the author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late.

More Than 120 Former Leaders Offer Agenda & Support for Humanitarian Impact Conference

Dec. 5, 2014, NTI

His Excellency Sebastian Kurz
Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs
Minoritenplatz 8
1010 Vienna
Austria

Dear Minister Kurz:

We are writing to commend publicly the Austrian government for convening the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. As members of global leadership networks developed in cooperation with the U.S.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), we believe it is essential for governments and interested parties to state emphatically that the use of a nuclear weapon, by a state or non-state actor, anywhere on the planet would have catastrophic human consequences.

Our global networks–comprised of former senior political, military and diplomatic leaders from across five continents–share many of the concerns represented on the conference agenda. In Vienna and beyond, in addition, we see an opportunity for all states, whether they possess nuclear weapons or not, to work together in a joint enterprise to identify, understand, prevent, manage and eliminate the risks associated with these indiscriminate and inhumane weapons.

Specifically, we have agreed to collaborate across regions on the following four-point agenda for action and to work to shine a light on the risks posed by nuclear weapons. As we approach the 70th anniversary of the detonations over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we pledge our support and partnership to all governments and members of civil society who wish to join our effort.

Identifying Risk: We believe the risks posed by nuclear weapons and the international dynamics that could lead to nuclear weapons being used are under-estimated or insufficiently understood by world leaders. Tensions between nuclear-armed states and alliances in the Euro-Atlantic area and in both South and East Asia remain ripe with the potential for military miscalculation and escalation. In a vestige of the Cold War, too many nuclear weapons in the world remain ready to launch on short notice, greatly increasing the chances of an accident. This fact gives leaders faced with an imminent potential threat an insufficient amount of time to communicate with each other and act with prudence. Stockpiles of the world’s nuclear weapons and materials to produce them are insufficiently secure, making them possible targets for terrorism. And while multilateral non-proliferation efforts are underway, none are adequate to growing proliferation dangers.

Given this context, we urge international leaders to use the Vienna Conference to launch a global discussion that would more accurately assess steps to reduce or eliminate the risk of intentional or unintentional use of nuclear weapons. The findings should be shared for the benefit of policymakers and wider public understanding. We commit to support and engage fully in this endeavor by working together through our global networks and other interested parties.

Reducing Risk: We believe insufficient action is being taken to prevent nuclear weapons use, and we urge conference delegates to consider how best to develop a comprehensive package of measures to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons use. Such a package could include:

  • Improved crisis-management arrangements in conflict hotspots and regions of tension around the world;
  • Urgent action to lower the prompt-launch status of existing nuclear stockpiles;
  • New measures to improve the security of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons-related materials; and
  • Renewed efforts to tackle the increasing threat of proliferation from state and non-state actors.

All nuclear-armed states should attend the Vienna Conference and engage in the Humanitarian Impacts Initiative, without exception, and while doing so, should acknowledge their special responsibility on this set of issues.

At the same time, all states should re-double efforts to work toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Raising Public Awareness: We believe the world needs to know more about the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons use. It is therefore imperative that the Vienna discussions and findings are not limited to Conference delegations. A sustained effort should be made to engage and educate a global audience of policymakers and civil society on the catastrophic consequences of the use—intentional or accidental—of a nuclear weapon. We commend the Conference organizers for taking a broad approach to addressing the effects of a detonation, including the wider environmental impacts. The latest climate modeling suggests major and global environmental, health and food security consequences from even a relatively small scale regional exchange of nuclear weapons. Given the potential global impact, the use of a nuclear weapon anywhere is the legitimate concern of people everywhere.

Improving Readiness: The Conference and the ongoing Humanitarian Impacts Initiative must ask what more the world can do to be prepared for the worst. Time and again, the international community has been found wanting when it comes to preparedness for major international humanitarian crises, most recently in the shamefully slow response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Preparedness must include a focus on the resilience of domestic infrastructure in major population centers to reduce the death tolls. Since no state is capable of responding to a nuclear weapon detonation sufficiently by relying solely on its own resources, preparedness also must include generating plans for a coordinated international response to an incident. This could save tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of lives.

We wish all those engaged in the Vienna Conference well, and pledge our ongoing support and partnership for all those involved in its important work.

Signed:

  1. Nobuyasu Abe, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament, Japan.
  2. Sergio Abreu, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and current Senator of Uruguay.
  3. Hasmy Agam, Chair, National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and former Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations.
  4. Steve Andreasen, former Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control on the White House National Security Council; National Security Consultant, NTI.
  5. Irma Arguello, Chair, NPSGlobal Foundation; LALN Secretariat, Argentina.
  6. Egon Bahr, former Minister of the Federal Government, Germany
  7. Margaret Beckett MP, former Foreign Secretary, UK.
  8. Álvaro Bermúdez, former Director of Energy and Nuclear Technology of Uruguay.
  9. Fatmir Besimi, Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Defense, Macedonia.
  10. Hans Blix, former Director General of the IAEA; Former Foreign Minister, Sweden.
  11. Jaakko Blomberg, former Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland.
  12. James Bolger, former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
  13. Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Prime Minister, Norway.
  14. Davor Božinović, former Minister of Defence, Croatia.
  15. Des Browne, NTI Vice Chairman; ELN and UK Top Level Group (TLG) Convener; Member of the House of Lords; former Secretary of State for Defence.
  16. Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, former Deputy Foreign Minister, Netherlands.
  17. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister, Norway.
  18. Alistair Burt MP, former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, UK.
  19. Francesco Calogero, former Secretary General of Pugwash, Italy.
  20. Sir Menzies Campbell MP, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, UK.
  21. General James Cartwright (Ret.), former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S.
  22. Hikmet Çetin, former Foreign Minister, Turkey.
  23. Padmanabha Chari, former Additional Secretary of Defence, India.
  24. Joe Cirincione, President, Ploughshares Fund, U.S.
  25. Charles Clarke, former Home Secretary, UK.
  26. Chun Yungwoo, former National Security Advisor, Republic of Korea.
  27. Tarja Cronberg, former Member of the European Parliament; former Chair of the European Parliament Iran delegation, Finland.
  28. Cui Liru, former President, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.
  29. Sérgio de Queiroz Duarte, former United Nations Under Secretary for Disarmament Affairs and member of Brazil's diplomatic service.
  30. Jayantha Dhanapala, President of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs; former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament, Sri Lanka.
  31. Aiko Doden, Senior Commentator with NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation.
  32. Sidney D. Drell, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Professor Emeritus,  Stanford University, U.S.
  33. Rolf Ekéus, former Ambassador to the United States, Sweden.
  34. Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Denmark.
  35. Vahit Erdem, former Member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Chief Adviser to President Süleyman Demirel, Turkey.
  36. Gernot Erler, former German Minister of State; Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership Countries.
  37. Gareth Evans, APLN Convener; Chancellor of the Australian National University; former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia.
  38. Malcolm Fraser, former Prime Minister of Australia.
  39. Sergio González Gálvez, former Deputy Secretary of External Relations and member of Mexico's diplomatic service.
  40. Sir Nick Harvey MP, former Minister of State for the Armed Forces, UK.
  41. J. Bryan Hehir, Practice of Religion and Public Life professor, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, U.S.
  42. Robert Hill, former Defence Minister of Australia.
  43. Jim Hoagland, journalist, U.S.
  44. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Professor of Nuclear Physics, Pakistan.
  45. José Horacio Jaunarena, former Minister of Defense of Argentina.
  46. Jaakko Iloniemi, former Minister of State, Finland.
  47. Wolfgang Ischinger, current Chair of the Munich Security Conference; former Deputy Foreign Minister, Germany.
  48. Igor Ivanov, former Foreign Minister, Russia.
  49. Tedo Japaridze, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Georgia.
  50. Oswaldo Jarrin, former Minister of Defense of Ecuador.
  51. General Jehangir Karamat (Ret.), former chief of Pakistan’s Army.
  52. Admiral Juhani Kaskeala (Ret.), former Commander of the Defence Forces, Finland.
  53. Yoriko Kawaguchi, former Foreign Minister of Japan.
  54. Ian Kearns, Co-Founder and Director of the ELN, UK.
  55. John Kerr (Lord Kerr of Kinlochard), former UK Ambassador to the US and the EU.
  56. Humayun Khan, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.
  57. Lord King of Bridgwater (Tom King), former Defence Secretary, UK.
  58. Walter Kolbow, former Deputy Federal Minister of Defence, Germany.
  59. Ricardo Baptista Leite, MD, Member of Parliament, Portugal.
  60. Pierre Lellouche, former President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, France.
  61. Ricardo López Murphy, former Minister of Defense of Argentina.
  62. Richard G. Lugar, Board Member, NTI; former U.S. Senator.
  63. Mogens Lykketoft, former Foreign Minister, Denmark.
  64. Kishore Mahbubani, Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School, National University of Singapore; former Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations.
  65. Giorgio La Malfa, former Minister of European Affairs, Italy.
  66. Lalit Mansingh, former Foreign Secretary of India.
  67. Miguel Marín Bosch, former Alternate Permanent Representative to the United Nations and member of Mexico's diplomatic service.
  68. János Martonyi, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hungary.
  69. John McColl, former NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, UK.
  70. Fatmir Mediu, former Defence Minister, Albania.
  71. C. Raja Mohan, senior journalist, India.
  72. Chung-in Moon, former Ambassador for International Security Affairs, Republic of Korea.
  73. Hervé Morin, former Defence Minister, France.
  74. General Klaus Naumann (Ret.), former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr, Germany.
  75. Bernard Norlain, former Air Defense Commander and Air Combat Commander of the Air Force, France.
  76. To Nu Thi Ninh, former Ambassador to the European Union, Vietnam.
  77. Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman and CEO, NTI; former U.S. Senator
  78. Volodymyr Ogrysko, former Foreign Minister, Ukraine.
  79. David Owen (Lord Owen), former Foreign Secretary, UK.
  80. Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
  81. José Pampuro, former Minister of Defense of Argentina.
  82. Maj. Gen Pan Zennqiang (Ret.), Senior Adviser to the China Reform Forum, China.
  83. Solomon Passy, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bulgaria.
  84. Michael Peterson, President and COO, Peterson Foundation, U.S.
  85. Wolfgang Petritsch, former EU Special Envoy to Kosovo; former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria.
  86. Paul Quilès, former Defence Minister, France.
  87. R. Rajaraman, Professor of Theoretical Physics, India.
  88. Lord David Ramsbotham, ADC General (retired) in the British Army, UK.
  89. Jaime Ravinet de la Fuente, former Minister of Defense of Chile.
  90. Elisabeth Rehn, former Defence Minister, Finland.
  91. Lord Richards of Herstmonceux (David Richards), former Chief of the Defence Staff, UK.
  92. Michel Rocard, former Prime Minister, France.
  93. Camilo Reyes Rodríguez, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Colombia.
  94. Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, former Foreign Secretary, former Defense Secretary, UK
  95. Sergey Rogov, Director of Institute for US and Canadian Studies, Russia.
  96. Joan Rohlfing, President and Chief Operating Officer, NTI; former Senior Advisor for National Security to the U.S. Secretary of Energy.
  97. Adam Rotfeld, former Foreign Minister, Poland.
  98. Volker Rühe, former Defence Minister, Germany.
  99. Henrik Salander, former Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, Secretary-General of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, Sweden.
  100. Konstantin Samofalov, Spokesman for the Social Democratic Party, Former MP, Serbia
  101. Özdem Sanberk, former Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey.
  102. Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, former Minister of Science and Technology and member of Brazil's diplomatic service.
  103. Stefano Silvestri, former Under Secretary of State for Defence; consultant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministries of Defence and Industry, Italy.
  104. Noel Sinclair, Permanent Observer of the Caribbean Community - CARICOM to the United Nations and member of Guyana's diplomatic service.
  105. Ivo Šlaus, former member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Croatia.
  106. Javier Solana, former Foreign Minister; former Secretary-General of NATO; former EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Spain.
  107. Minsoon Song, former Foreign Minister of Republic of Korea.
  108. Rakesh Sood, former Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, India.
  109. Christopher Stubbs, Professor of Physics and of Astronomy, Harvard University, U.S.
  110. Goran Svilanovic, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbia.
  111. Ellen O. Tauscher, former  U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and former seven-term U.S. Member of Congress
  112. Eka Tkeshelashvili, former Foreign Minister, Georgia.
  113. Carlo Trezza, Member of the Advisory Board of the UN Secretary General for Disarmament Matters and Chairman of the Missile Technology Control Regime, Italy.
  114. David Triesman (Lord Triesman), Foreign Affairs spokesperson for the Labour Party in the House of Lords, former Foreign Office Minister, UK.
  115. Gen. Vyacheslav Trubnikov, Former First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Former Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Russia
  116. Ted Turner, Co-Chairman, NTI.
  117. Nyamosor Tuya, former Foreign Minister of Mongolia.
  118. Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tyagi (Ret.), former Chief of the Indian Air Force.
  119. Alan West (Admiral the Lord West of Spithead), former First Sea Lord of the British Navy.
  120. Wiryono Sastrohandoyo, former Ambassador to Australia, Indonesia.
  121. Raimo Väyrynen, former Director at Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
  122. Richard von Weizsäcker, former President, Germany.
  123. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, Chair, Global Task Force on Nuclear Weapons, World Evangelical Alliance, U.S.
  124. Isabelle Williams, NTI.
  125. Baroness Williams of Crosby (Shirley Williams), former Advisor on Non-Proliferation issues to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, UK.
  126. Kåre Willoch, former Prime Minister, Norway.
  127. Hide Yuzaki, Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.
  128. Uta Zapf, former Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation in the Bundestag, Germany.
  129. Ma Zhengzang, former Ambassador to the United Kingdom, President of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, and President of the China Institute of International Studies.

Asia Pacific Leadership Network (APLN):  A network of more than 40 current and former political, military, and diplomatic leaders in the Asia Pacific region—including from nuclear weapons-possessing states of China, India and Pakistan—working to improve public understanding, shape public opinion, and influence political decision-making and diplomatic activity on issues concerning nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.  The APLN is convened by former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans. www.a-pln.org

European Leadership Network (ELN):  A network of more than 130 senior European political, military and diplomatic figures working to build a more coordinated European policy community, define strategic objectives and feed analysis and viewpoints into the policy-making process for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament issues.  Former UK Defense Secretary and NTI Vice Chairman Des Browne is Chair of the Executive Board of ELN. www.europeanleadershipnetwork.org/

Latin American Leadership Network (LALN):  A network of 16 senior political, military, and diplomatic leaders across Latin America and the Caribbean working to promote constructive engagement on nuclear issues and to create an enhanced security environment to help reduce global nuclear risks.  The LALN is led by Irma Arguello, founder and chair of Argentina-based NPSGlobal.  http://npsglobal.org/

Nuclear Security Leadership Council (NSLC):  A newly formed Council, based in the United States, brings together approximately 20 influential leaders with diverse backgrounds from North America. 

Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to reduce threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. NTI is governed by a prestigious, international board of directors and is co-chaired by founders Sam Nunn and Ted Turner. NTI’s activities are directed by Nunn and President Joan Rohlfing.  For more information, visit www.nti.org. For more information about the Nuclear Security Project, visit www.NuclearSecurityProject.org.

Nuclear Weapons and the International Security Context

Civil Society Statement to the United Nations First Committee, 28 October 2014

            At the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, states parties reaffirmed their commitment to a “diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies to minimize the risk that these weapons ever be used and to facilitate the process of their total elimination.”[1] Nearly five years have passed; another Review Conference is in the offing. Nuclear stockpiles of civilization-destroying size persist, and progress on disarmament has stalled.[2]

            The commitment to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in security policies assumed that de-coupling nuclear weapons from conventional military forces would help facilitate elimination of nuclear arsenals. Yet there has been little progress in reducing the role of nuclear weapons. All nuclear-armed states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals. Modernization efforts include development by the leading nuclear weapons states of new nuclear-capable missiles, aircraft, and submarines that will incorporate advances in stealth and accuracy.[3]    Publicly available information shows that nuclear weapons continue to have a central role in security policies, and in the case of the United States, the integration of conventional and nuclear forces in current war planning.[4]  Potential adversaries of the United States see its advantage in long-range conventional forces as a rationale for retaining and modernizing their nuclear arsenals.

            The decoupling of nuclear from conventional military forces is further impeded by arms-racing in non-nuclear weapons of strategic significance. These include missile defenses, more accurate and powerful stand-off weapons, and concepts such as “prompt global strike” that aim to hit targets anywhere on earth with a non-nuclear payload in an hour or less. The United States has taken the lead, but many others are participating in this accelerating new arms race which is not constrained to a bi-polar confrontation.

            Nuclear war will not come as a bolt from the blue.  It will come when national elites misjudge one another’s interests in a conflict on the borderlands of some nuclear-armed country, and “conventional” warfare escalates out of control.  This is all the more likely in the 21st century strategic context where stealthy, precision stand-off weapons and delivery platforms face sophisticated and increasingly capable air and missile defenses, while electronic warfare measures target sensors and data-dependent systems. These elements can interact at levels of speed and complexity that defy human comprehension, much less rational decision-making.

            For more than two decades, the political and military elites of the leading nuclear-armed states have engaged in perilous double-think about their arsenals. They have assured their publics that the continued existence of nuclear weapons in civilization-destroying numbers no longer presented a real danger because the risk of war among nuclear-armed states was a feature of the Cold War, now safely past.  At the same time, they have done everything necessary to keep catastrophe-capable nuclear arsenals long into the future, as a hedge against the day when the most powerful states again might make war with one another.

            Today we see a new round of confrontations among nuclear-armed states, in economic and political circumstances that bear worrisome resemblances to those that brought about the devastating wars of the 20th century. Amidst one crisis after another from Ukraine to the Western Pacific, the world’s most powerful militaries brandish their nuclear arms, while claiming that “routine” exercises with weapons of mass destruction pose no danger, could never be misconstrued or get out of hand.

To those who view the world from the heights of power and privilege in nuclear-armed states, all this only gives further reason to hold on to the weapons they have, and to develop more. For the vast majority of humanity, struggling just to get by in a world of immensely stratified wealth and power, it means a return to madness, to a world where at any moment the people can be annihilated to preserve the state.  The lack of urgency on disarmament in the ruling circles of the most powerful states should shock the conscience of every person who still has one.

The growing risks of great power war and use of nuclear weapons make the abolition of nuclear weapons all the more imperative. It is far more likely to succeed if linked to economic equity, democracy, climate and environmental protection, and dismantlement of highly militarized security postures. For our part, Abolition 2000 members and partner groups are organizing a large-scale civil society conference, march and rally on these themes on the eve of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the presentation of millions of signatures calling for the total ban and elimination of nuclear weapons, and local actions around the world.[5]

-- Statement coordinated by Western States Legal Foundation, Oakland, California, USA, a member of the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons. Endorsed by 100 international, national, regional and local civil society organizations in 11 countries (plus 8 individuals for organizational identification only).

 

Statement endorsed by:

 

Action AWE, London, United Kingdom

 

Arab Human Security Network, Damascus, Syria

 

Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, USA

 

Ban All Nukes generation(BANg, international)

 

Basel Peace Office, Basel, Switzerland

 

Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship, Oakland, California, USA

 

Beyond Nuclear, Takoma Park, Maryland, USA

 

Brooklyn for Peace, New York City, New York, USA

 

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, United Kingdom

 

Christians For The Mountains, Dunmore, West Virginia, USA

 

Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), India

CODEPINK, USA

 

Code Pink Golden Gate Chapter(Bay Area Code Pink), California, USA

 

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

 

Crabshell Alliance, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

 

Democratic World Federalists (international)

 

Earth Action(international)

 

Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC(Clergy and Laity Concerned), Berkeley, California, USA

 

Fairmont, MN Peace Group, Fairmont, Minnesota, USA

 

Fellowship of Reconciliation, USA

 

Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation,Washington, USA

 

Friends Committee on National Legislation, USA

 

Fukushima Response Bay Area, northern California, USA

 

German chapter, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, Berlin, Germany

 

Green Shadow Cabinet, USA

 

International Network of Engineers and Scientists(INES)

 

INND(Institute of Neurotoxicology & Neurological Disorders), Seattle, Washington, USA

 

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War(IPPNW)

 

International Peace Bureau

 

Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo),Japan

 

Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, Missoula, Montana, USA

 
Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, New York City, New York, USA
 
Le Mouvement de la Paix, France
 
LEPOCO Peace Center, Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,   USA
Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, Garden City, New York, USA
 
Los Altos Voices for Peace, Los Altos, California, USA
 
Metta Center for Nonviolence, Petaluma, California, USA
 
MLK (Martin Luther King) Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA

 

Montrose Peace Vigil, Montrose, California, USA
 
Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center, Walnut Creek, California, USA

 

Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice, Palo Alto, California, USA
 
Nafsi Ya Jamii community center, Oakland, California, USA
 
Nevada Desert Experience, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
 
No Nukes Action Committee, northern California, USA/Japan
 
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Santa Barbara, California, USA

 

Silicon Valley Chapter, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Menlo Park, California, USA
 
Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Takoma Park, Maryland, USA
 
Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
 
Nukewatch, Luck, Wisconsin, USA
 
Oakland CAN(Community Action Network), Oakland, California, USA
 
Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA
 
Office of the Americas, Santa Monica, California, USA
 
Oregon PeaceWorks, Salem, Oregon, USA
 
Our Developing World, Saratoga, California, USA

 

Pacem in Terris, Wilmington, Delaware, USA

 
Pax Christi International
 
Pax Christi USA
 
Pax Christi Long Island, New York, USA
 
Pax Christi Metro New York, New York City, USA
 
Peace Action, USA
 
Peace Action West, California, USA
 
Peace Action Staten Island, Staten Island, New York, USA
 
Peace Boat, Japan/international
 
Peace Foundation, New Zealand

 

Peaceworkers, San Francisco, California, USA

 

People for Nuclear Disarmament, Australia

 

Physicians for Social Responsibility, USA

 

Physicians for Social Responsibility– Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

 

San Francisco Bay Area Chapter Physicians for Social Responsibility, California, USA

 

Popular Resistance, USA

 

Prague Vision Institute for Sustainable Security, Prague, Czech Republic

 

Proposition One Campaign, Tryon, North Carolina, USA

 

Rachel Carson Council, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

 

Reach and Teach, San Mateo, California, USA

 

Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Boulder, Colorado, USA

 

RootsAction.org, USA

 

Scientists for Peace, Germany

 

Sisters of Charity Federation, North America

 

Sisters of Charity of New York, New York City, New York, USA

 
Soka Gakkai International(SGI)

 

Swedish Peace Council. Sweden

 

The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy,

 

The Colorado Coalition for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Denver, Colorado, USA

 

The Ecological Options Network, EON, Bolinas, California, USA

 

The Human Survival Project, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

 

The Nuclear Resister, USA

 

The Peace Farm, Amarillo, Texas, USA

 

The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society(international)

 

Topanga Peace Alliance. California, USA

 

Tri-Valley CAREs(Communities Against a Radioactive Environment), Livermore, California, USA

 

2020 Action, USA

 

United for Peace and Justice, USA

 

United Nations Association, San Francisco, California, USA

 

US Peace Council, USA

 

Veterans for Peace, USA

 

War Prevention Initiative, Portland, Oregon, USA

 

WarIsACrime.org, USA

 

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – US Section(WILPF US)

 

World Future Council(international)

 

World Peace Now, Point Arena, California, USA

 

Dr. Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee, USA*

 

Stephen McNeil, American Friends Service Committee, Wage Peace program, San Francisco,  California, USA*

 

Aaron Tovish, International Campaign Director, Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision Campaign*

 

David McReynolds, former Chair, War Resisters International*

 

Rev. Marilyn Chilcote, Parish AssociateSt. John's Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, California, USA*

Sarah H. Lorya, MA, School Outreach Coordinator,

AFS-USA, Inc.*

 

Don Eichelberger, Abalone Alliance Safe Energy Clearinghouse, San Francisco, California, USA*

 

Libbe HaLevy, Nuclear Hotseat Podcast, USA*

 

*for purposes of identification only

 




[1] 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Final Document, Volume I, NPT/CONF.2000/28 (Parts I and II), p.15; reaffirmed by 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Final Document, Volume I, p.19.

 

[2]  See Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons, 2014,”Bulletin of Atomic Scientists online, 2014.

 

[3] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Slowing Nuclear Weapon Reductions and Endless Nuclear Weapon Modernizations: A Challenge to the NPT,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 2014 No.70 p.94.

 

[4] Nuclear weapons continue to be a core element of NATO’s strategic concept, with the nuclear arsenals of the United States, France, and the United Kingdom considered to be the “supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies.” Active Engagement, Modern Defence : “Strategic Concept For the Defence and Security of The Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation,” Adopted by Heads of State and Government in Lisbon, 19th November 2010. The 2014 Master Plan of the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, responsible for the missile and bomber elements of U.S. nuclear forces, states that “AFGSC [Air Force Global Strike Command] will maintain and improve its ability to employ nuclear weapons in a range of scenarios, to include integration with conventional operations….” U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, Strategic Master Plan 2014, p.9. Russia’s most recent publicly available military doctrine document states that “ [t]he Russian Federation reserves the right to utilize nuclear weapons in response to the utilization of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, and also in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation involving the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is under threat.” http://carnegieendowment.org/files/2010russia_military_doctrine.pdf

 

[5] Call to Action: Spring 2015 Mobilization for a nuclear free, fair, democratic, ecologically sustainable and peaceful futurewas released on 26 September, 2014, the first International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. http://www.abolition2000.org/?p=3546

 

United States’ H-Bomb Addiction Running to Trillion$

By John LaForge

In 2008, the Obama Administration made eye-popping headlines by announcing a 10-year, $80 billion nuclear weapons development program. In 2009, Mr. Obama promised to pursue a “world without nuclear weapons,” but that was then.

By 2010, new warhead plans had grown to an estimated $355 billion, decade-long cash cow that amounts to a cool $1 trillion over 30 years. The colossal expense has already been generally adopted by the House and Senate in military authorization bills -- according to the Sept. 22 New York Times.

One of three new production sites just opened -- a $700 million non-nuclear parts plant run by Honeywell in Kansas City, Missouri. The other factories include a uranium fabrication complex at the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and a plutonium processing works at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico. The latter two programs have run up such enormous cost increases that even the White House has blinked.

Plans for LANL’s plutonium production -- originally expected to cost $660 million -- expanded into a $5.8 billon golden goose. The project was suspended in 2012, and engineers went to work at cost cutting. At Oak Ridge, the uranium processing “canyon” rocketed from a $6.5 billion proposal to a $19 billion war contractor’s wet dream. The White House halted the scheme this year, and the lab is reworking plans for fixing its 60-year long nuclear meth habit.

New H-bomb production is advertised as “revitalization”, “modernization”, “refurbishment” and “improvements”. The buzz words are used by corporate weapons contractors and their congressional lapdogs who speak of the “40-year-old submarine warhead” (known as the W-76), or who feign concern over “fires, explosions and workplace injuries” that are “deplorable” because the equipment “breaks down on a daily basis”, the Times reported.

The War System always neglects to mention that 15,000 plutonium warheads are currently maintained at Pantex, Texas and are good for 50 years, according to The Guardian, Sept. 29. The trillion dollar nuclear bomb building plan is to produce up to 80 new warheads every year by 2030.

The military currently deploys almost 5,000 nuclear warheads -- on submarines, land-based missiles, and heavy bombers. This, even though Pentagon Chief Chuck Hagel signed a report (before he was appointed to his current job) that found that only 900 nuclear warheads were “necessary.” Hagel’s report recommended abolishing 3,500 warheads now in ready reserve, saying warhead numbers are much larger than required.

Independent observers, watch dogs and think tanks have argued for decades that the arsenal can be drastically reduced and made less dangerous: a) by not replacing retired warheads; b) by taking deployed warheads off “alert”; and c) by separating warheads from missiles and bombs. This separation would lengthen warning-to-launch times, thus easing international tensions and ending the terrifying likelihood of accidental or unauthorized launches.

Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group, which bird dogs the Cold War lab, says the reason new H-bomb production is being considered at all is simply private greed. For-profit corporations now run all the government’s nuclear weapons labs, ever since they were privatized in 2006. Mello says, “The nuclear weapons labs are sized for the Cold War, and they need a Cold War to keep that size.”

Further, in a report leaked last year, the Navy itself questioned the need for producing any new warheads. (The Navy controls at least 1,152 warheads spread across its 14 Trident submarines.) And James Doyle, a 17-year veteran scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (who was fired this past July 8 for independently publishing a scholarly article defending nuclear disarmament), told The Guardian, “I’ve never seen the justification articulated for the 50-to-80- pits per year by 2030.”

Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, was shocked by the President’s double talk, telling the Guardian, “Obama’s proposed 2015 budget is the highest ever for nuclear weapons research and production. And at the same time, they’re cutting non-proliferation budgets to pay for it.”

The $1 trillion doesn’t include a few hundred billion more for new nuclear war-fighting systems like:

·       The $80 billion cost of building 12 new ballistic missile submarines to replace the Navy’s Trident fleet. Sen. Richard Blumenthall, D-CT, told the New London Day Sept. 23, “The essence here is this boat will be the strongest, stealthiest, most sustainable of any in the history of the word.” “Sustainable”? Well yes; like bankruptcy or suicide.

  • The Air Force’s $44 billionplans for a new nuclear bombercalled the Long-Range Strike Bomber Program (LRS-B). The Air Force reportedly wants 80-100 of them at roughly $550 apiece. The chilling rationale for these billions was provided by Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, Chief of Global Strike Command, who said Sept. 16 at in Washington, DC, “It will be essential as we move forward to have a bomber force that can penetrate any place on the globe and hold any target on the planet at risk.”
  • The planned replacement of 450 Minuteman 3 ICBMs known as the “Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent” -- set to be deployed in existing silos after 2030 -- that a RAND study said would cost between $84 and $219 billion.

 John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice,is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group—andlives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.

Responding to Ebola: Cuba Sees a Crisis, and Sends Docs; The US Sees an Opportunity and Sends Troops

By Dave Lindorff

 

How’s this for a juxtaposition on how nations respond to a global health catastrophe. Check out these two headlines from yesterday’s news:

 

Cuba Sends Doctors to Ebola Areas

 

US to Deploy 3000 Troops as Ebola Crisis Worsens

 

Get a grip America: Who’s the Real Aggressor in Ukraine? (Hint: It’s Not Russia)

By Dave Lindorff

 

            The US corporate media are awash in fevered articles and news stories about a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine, as though it was 1938, with German troops marching into Sedetenland and Austria. But let’s step back and look at what’s going on, calmly and rationally.

 

IPB to award MacBride Peace Prize to the people and government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands

The International Peace Bureau announced today that it will award its annual Sean MacBride Peace Prizefor 2014 to the people and government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, RMI, for courageously taking the nine nuclear weapons-possessing countries to the International Court of Justice to enforce compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and international customary law.

The tiny Pacific nation has launched a parallel court case against the USA at the Federal District Court.  RMI argues that the nuclear weapons-possessing countries have breached their obligations under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) by continuing to modernize their arsenals and by failing to pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament.

The Marshall Islands were used by the USA as testing ground for nearly 70 nuclear tests from 1946 to 1958. These tests gave rise to lasting health and environmental problems for the Marshall Islanders. Their first-hand experience of nuclear devastation and personal suffering gives legitimacy to their action and makes it especially difficult to dismiss.

The Marshall Islands are presently working hard on both court cases, whose final hearings are expected in 2016. Peace and anti-nuclear activists, lawyers, politicians and all people seeking a world without nuclear weapons are called upon to bring their knowledge, energy and political skills to build a powerful constituency to support this court case and related actions to ensure a successful outcome.

It is certainly not the case that the RMI, with its some 53,000 inhabitants, a large proportion of whom are young people, have no need of compensation or assistance. Nowhere are the costs of a militarized Pacific better illustrated than there. The country is burdened with some of the highest cancer rates in the region following the 12 years of US nuclear tests. Yet it is admirable that the Marshall Islanders in fact seek no compensation for themselves, but rather are determined to end the nuclear weapons threat for all humanity.

The world still has some 17,000 nuclear weapons, the majority in the USA and Russia, many of them on high alert. The knowhow to build atomic bombs is spreading, largely due to the continued promotion of nuclear power technology. Presently there are 9 nuclear weapon states, and 28 nuclear alliance states; and on the other hand 115 nuclear weapons-free zone states plus 40 non-nuclear weapons states.Only 37 states (out of 192) are still committed to nuclear weapons, clinging to outdated, questionable and extremely dangerous ‘deterrence’ policies.

IPB has a long history of campaigning for disarmament and for the banning of nuclear weapons (http://www.ipb.org). The organisation was, for instance, actively involved in bringing the nuclear issue before the International Court of Justice in 1996. The International Peace Bureau hopes to help draw attention to the aim of the various court cases on this issue by awarding the Sean MacBride Peace Prize to the people and government of the Marshall Islands. IPB sincerely hopes that the Marshall Islands initiative will be a significant and decisive step in ending the nuclear arms race and in achieving a world without nuclear weapons.

The prize ceremony will take place in Vienna in early December at the time of the international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and in the presence of the RMI’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tony de Brum and other dignitaries. Since its inception in 1992, many eminent peace promoters have received the Sean MacBride Prize, although it is not accompanied by any financial remuneration.

To learn more about the lawsuits and the campaign go to www.nuclearzero.org

Greenpeace Report: Obama Exporting Climate Change by Exporting Coal

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Greenpeace USA has released a major new report on an under-discussed part of President Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan and his U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon rule: it serves as a major endorsement of continued coal production and export to overseas markets.

Doom from the Depths: Coming Your Way

Ever since the horrors of submarine warfare became a key issue during World War I, submarines have had a sinister reputation.  And the building of new, immensely costly, nuclear-armed submarines by the U.S. government and others may soon raise the level of earlier anxiety to a nuclear nightmare.

U.S. Conference of Mayors Adopts Bold New Resolution

U.S. Conference of Mayors Adopts Bold New Resolution Calling for Constructive Good Faith
U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forums; Commends Marshall Islands for
bringing lawsuits against U.S. and 8 other Nuclear-Armed States

The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), the non-partisan association of America’s big cities, on June 23, 2014 unanimously adopted a sweeping new resolution Calling for Constructive Good Faith U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forums at its 82nd annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. According to USCM President Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, California, “These resolutions, once adopted, become official USCM policy.”

Recalling that “August 6and 9, 2015 will mark the 70th anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed more that 210,000 people by the end of 1945,” the resolution notes that “the people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) continue to suffer from the health and environmental impacts of 67 above-ground nuclear weapons test explosions conducted by the U.S. in their islands between 1946 and 1958, the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima-sized bombs detonated daily for 12 years.”

On April 24, 2014, the RMI filed “landmark” cases in the International Court of Justice against the U.S. and the eight other nuclear-armed nations, claiming that they have failed to comply with their obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law to pursue negotiations for the global elimination of nuclear weapons, and filed a companion case in U.S. Federal District Court. In its resolution, the USCM “commends the Republic of the Marshall Islands for calling to the world’s attention the failure of the nine nuclear-armed states to comply with their international obligations to pursue negotiations for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons, and calls on the U.S. to respond constructively and in good faith to the lawsuits brought by the RMI.”

Over the past three years there has been a new round of nuclear disarmament initiatives by governments not possessing nuclear weapons, both within and outside the United Nations. Yet the U.S. has been notably “missing in action” at best, and dismissive or obstructive at worst. The USCM resolution documents the dismal U.S. record and calls on the administration to participate constructively in deliberations and negotiations regarding the creation of a multilateral process to achieve a nuclear weapons free world in forums including the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons to be held in Vienna, Austria in December 2014, the UN Conference on Disarmament, and the May 2015 NPT Review Conference.

The USCM also “calls on the President and Congress to reduce nuclear weapons spending to the minimum necessary to assure the safety and security of the existing weapons as they await disablement and dismantlement, and to redirect those funds to meet the urgent needs of cities.”

Recalling the U.S. commitment under the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to pursue negotiations in good faith on the elimination of nuclear weapons, the resolution notes that “forty-four years after the NPT entered into force, an estimated 16,400 nuclear weapons, most held by the U.S. and Russia, pose an intolerable threat to humanity, and there are no disarmament negotiations on the horizon” and that “the U.S. and the eight other nuclear weapon possessing states are investing an estimated $100 billion annually to maintain and modernize their nuclear arsenals while actively planning to deploy nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future.”

The resolution states that “according to the General Accounting Office, the U.S. will spend more than $700 billion over the next 30 years to maintain and modernize nuclear weapons systems,” and that “this money is desperately needed to address basic human needs such as housing, food security, education, healthcare, public safety, education and environmental protection.”

Reflecting current international tensions, the resolution warns that “the U.S.- Russian conflict over the Ukraine may lead to a new era of confrontation between nuclear-armed powers, and nuclear tensions in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and on the Korean peninsula remind us that the potential for nuclear war is ever present.” The resolution “urges President Obama to engage in intensive diplomatic efforts to reverse the deteriorating U.S. relationship with Russia.”

Expressing its “deep concern” about the U.S. failure to engage in recent intergovernmental and United Nations nuclear disarmament initiatives, the USCM “calls on the U.S. to participate constructively and in good faith in the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons to be hosted by Austria in Vienna, December 8 – 9, 2014” and “in urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament for the early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons,” and “to press the other nuclear weapon states to do likewise.”

The USCM “calls on the U.S. to demonstrate a good faith commitment to its disarmament obligation under Article VI of the NPT by commencing a process to negotiate the global elimination of nuclear weapons within a timebound framework, under strict and effective international control, at the May 2015 NPT Review Conference, and to press the other nuclear weapon states to do likewise.”

The USCM also “calls on its membership to Proclaim September 26 in their cities as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and to support activities to enhance public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination.”

The resolution notes that Mayors for Peace, with over 6,000 members in 158 countries, representing one seventh of the world’s population, continues to advocate for the immediate commencement of negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons by 2020, and that “Mayors for Peace, with members in the U.S. and Russia; India and Pakistan, and Israel, Palestine and Iran can be a real force for peace.” The USCM “expresses its continuing support for and cooperation with Mayors for Peace,” and “encourages all U.S. mayors for join Mayors for Peace.”

The resolution was sponsored by Mayor Donald Plusquellic of Akron, Ohio, past President of the USCM and a Vice-President of Mayors for Peace, and 26 co-sponsoring mayors from cities in Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Florida, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Maine, California, Minnesota, and New Mexico.

Mayors for Peace is an international association, founded in 1982 by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The United States Conference of Mayors is the national non-partisan association of cities with populations over 30,000.

Full text of the resolution, with the complete list of co-sponsors: http://wslfweb.org/docs/MSPUSCMsponsorsfinal.pdf

More information about Mayors for Peace: www.mayorsforpeace.org and www.2020visioncampaign.org

More information about the U.S. Conference of Mayors: www.usmayors.org

# # #

Savannah River Site Becoming World’s Nuclear Dumping Ground, despite Safety Risks

By: GLORIA TATUM, Atlanta Progressive News

(APN) ATLANTA -- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is close to finalizing plans to accept highly radioactive commercial spent nuclear fuel from Germany to be deposited at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina, according to news reports that were buried deeper than the plutonium itself.

 

SRS.jpg


However, it is not only Germany that is sending, or has sent, nuclear waste to SRS, but also Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Canada, and perhaps other countries not yet known, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.


Atlanta Progressive News can report that South Carolina’s Savannah River Site is quietly becoming the world’s nuclear dumping ground, and de facto nuclear waste storage site, despite the facts that frequent rain and an overlapping earthquake zone make the site extremely dangerous, especially to our water supply.


There is no long-term storage plan for the waste in the U.S., with the Yucca Mountain proposal on the rocks, as it were, and with a temporary nuclear waste storage site in New Mexico having been closed to new shipments indefinitely.


SRS is already quietly storing plutonium brought in from other countries, and is now also planning to import 23,000 liters of liquid high-level waste from the Chalk River Laboratories in Canada, which would end up in the already stressed high-level waste tank system, according to an SRS Watch news release.


Shipments of foreign plutonium appear to have been secretly brought in via Charleston, South Carolina, in February and March 2014 of this year, according to an article by the Ottawa Citizen, dated March 29, 2014.  

 

The article has a photo of PNTL transport ship Pacific Egret, noting that the ship carried guns and cannons, and that the ship--which originated in Italy with sensitive nuclear material-- disappeared from an online marine tracking system after entering Canadian waters:


http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Covert+mission+Plutonium+source+might+Canada/9675369/story.html


Italy and Belgium have announced the transfer of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) to the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site.  The Italy and Belgium imports are admitted to in two respective statements posted to the White House’s website, just days before the Ottawa Citizen report:


http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/24/fact-sheet-italy-highly-enriched-uranium-and-plutonium-removals


http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/24/fact-sheet-belgium-highly-enriched-uranium-and-plutonium-removals


Meanwhile, according to Reuters and other reports, Japan will transfer HEU and plutonium to the U.S., but that the destination is not known.  However, based on the closure of the New Mexico facility, it is highly reasonable to suspect that the Japanese shipment will also be dumped at SRS.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/24/nuclear-proliferation-idUSL5N0ML2MP20140324


At the National Security Summit at the Hague on March 24 and 25, 2014, a priority item on the agenda was to reduce the amount of dangerous nuclear material in the world.  They issued a statement that countries should repatriate highly enriched uranium (HEU) to its country of origin, thereby reducing the number of locations that terrorist groups could target to obtain it.  


With the U.S. being the country of origin for much of the world’s nuclear material, this means all our nuclear chickens are coming home to roost.


After the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, the U.S. and Sweden announced the successful removal of plutonium (PU) from Sweden to the U.S.  


According to the White House fact sheets, this is the first shipment of plutonium to the U.S. under the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), and can be a model for other countries seeking to permanently dispose of nuclear material.  This was probably the model at the 2014 NSS that Italy and Belgium used to ship their nuclear waste to SRS.  


A powerful agency inside the DOE, called the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is responsible for getting nuclear material out of the other nations’ inventories and transporting it to the U.S.


However, SRS is not acknowledging that other countries’ nuclear waste is coming to them for public relations reasons, Clements said.


"They are claiming it’s for nonproliferation but the Germans don't know what to do with this unusual kind of spent fuel.  On the German side, it is nuclear dumping and on the U.S. side the primary motivation is to make money for the SRS to continue operating the so-called H Canyon reprocessing plant,” Tom Clements, Director of SRS Watch, told APN.


"The SRS already has more nuclear waste than it knows how to deal with… We should not be putting more nuclear waste into the waste system at SRS,” Clements said.


The German nuclear waste will come in canisters containing graphite pebble fuel elements from a closed facility that operated from 1967 to 1988.  The U.S. provided the HEU to Germany between 1965 and 1988.

 

Construction on SRS began in 1951 and H Canyon began operations in 1955.  The 310 acre site is over sixty years old and holds millions of gallons of high level nuclear waste already from reactors that produced plutonium for nuclear weapons from 1953 to 1989.  


Clements’s group claims that while it is unclear if such unusual high-level nuclear waste can even be processed at SRS, there is no disposition plan for the waste.  Though DOE claimed that the material would be disposed of safely, there is no disposal plan for such high-level nuclear waste, so it is essentially being sent to SRS for long-term storage or dumping.

 

"My fear is we are turning South Carolina and Georgia into a long term nuclear waste dump for other people's problems… What do you do when it leaks off site?  Historically, every one of these sites have leaked.  You can't call Germany up and say, 'Come and get your waste, it’s now half way down the Savannah River.'  Once we take this stuff, it’s ours forever and some of these isotopes stay in the environment for more than a thousand years… and plutonium hangs around for 240,000 thousand years," Arnold Gundersen, Chief Nuclear Engineer of Fairewinds Energy Education, told APN.


"It does not belong in Georgia or South Carolina because it rains here and the best place for plutonium is in a place where it does not rain much like the New Mexican desert," Gundersen said.

 

SRS sits on an earthquake fault and the largest aquifers in the South.  They have had problems with old storage tanks leaking and contamination at the facility.  The soil is sandy with rainy, swampy conditions that are vulnerable to waste seepage.

 

Until this year, the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico was the nation's only permanent repository for the U.S. government's stockpile of nuclear waste.  


But then on Valentine's Day this year, one of the canisters blew up and contaminated the entire underground cave system.  It is uncertain, at this time, when or if it will reopen to receive thousands of drums of waste from around the country waiting to come to WIPP.  


The explosion is blamed on the wrong kind of cat litter being used to absorb radioactive material. They switched from clay to organic cat litter, which caused the explosion.


http://yubanet.com/usa/Breaking-Bad-A-Nuclear-Waste-Disaster.php#.U5XvAygelZg


"We are wasting money and increasing the risk of a terrorist accident if we build that MOX plant at SRS.  Plutonium fuel cost more than uranium fuel and there's plenty of uranium on the planet.  So we are taking other people's plutonium to keep a MOX plant running and no one wants to buy the output from it," Gundersen told APN.


Plutonium is a man made element derived from the transformation of uranium through fission. Plutonium, Pu-239, has a half life of 24,100 hundred years; that's the time it will take for half of the plutonium to radioactively decay.  Radioactive contaminants are dangerous for ten to twenty times the length of their half-lives, meaning that if plutonium gets into the environment, it will be dangerous essentially forever.  If ingested into the body, it causes DNA damage in tissue, and cancer.


The use of MOX fuel does not get rid of plutonium; instead it becomes part of the lethal soup of ingredients termed "high level nuclear waste."  There are no safe long-term storage for nuclear waste, only interim storage solutions for waste that will remain hazardous for thousands of years.


"When I hear plutonium in the environment, it becomes a problem not only for the next generation - we were not even a [human] species a quarter of a million years ago - we might be a new species before this stuff completely disintegrates from the environment,” Gundersen said.


Citizens living downstream from the site have complained for years of high levels of cancer and death in their community, which they attribute to the SRS and Plant Vogtle's nuclear reactors across the river on the Georgia side.


“The DOE is more interested in jobs this year and totally forgetting about the environmental costs for the next 300 or a thousand years.  It’s unfair to the people of Georgia and South Carolina to make some money now and pollute the Savannah River for a thousand years,” Gundersen said.


"Why we have to take it [nuclear waste] from Germany, Belgium, or Italy makes no sense.  They can put it underground just as easily as we can, but their populations are more environmentally sensitive than we are.  We are becoming the dumping ground for nuclear waste," Gundersen said.

 

According to SRS Watch, the import may be a violation of the International Convention on Nuclear Safety, as well as the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.  


A public meeting on the the issue, “Environmental Assessment for the Acceptance and Disposition of Used Nuclear Fuel Containing U.S.-Origin Highly Enriched Uranium From the Federal Republic of Germany,” is scheduled for Tuesday, June 24, 2014, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the North Augusta Community Center, 495 Brookside Drive, North Augusta, South Carolina 29841.   

To submit written comments:  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-06-04/pdf/2014-12933.pdf

The public is encouraged to attend the June 24 meeting and make comments on both the proposed import of the German waste and also the trend of SRS to accept foreign nuclear waste and plutonium.

For more information on this subject visit www.srswatch.org

Talk Nation Radio: Rick Wayman on Taking the Nuclear Powers to Court

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-rick-wayman-on-taking-the-nuclear-powers-to-court

The Marshall Islands have sued nine nuclear nations to compel compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty, which requires the elimination of nuclear weapons.  We speak with Rick Wayman, director of programs and operations at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Rick is a graduate of Marquette University’s College of Business Administration and has a Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management and Political Advocacy from the School for International Training. Rick began working full-time on nuclear weapons issues with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK before moving to California in 2007 to join NAPF. Learn more at http://nuclearzero.org

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Canadian ‘Experts’ Comfy with Radioactive Pollution of Great Lakes

By John LaForge

“No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.” — Lily Tomlin

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) — which owns or leases 20 nuclear reactors across Ontario — would save loads of cash by not having to contain, monitor and repackage leaky above-ground radioactive waste storage casks. Last Sept., I testified in Ontario against the company’s plan to deeply bury some of this waste next to Lake Huron.

OPG officially plans to let its waste canisters leak their contents, 680 meters underground, risking long-term contamination of the Great Lakes — a source of drinking water for 40 million people, including 24 million US residents.

The Bruce reactor complex — the world’s biggest with 8 reactors —is on Huron’s Bruce Peninsula and is the storage site for  radioactive waste (other than fuel rods) from all of OPG’s 20 reactors. Digging its dump right next door would save the firm money — and put the hazard out of sight, out of mind.

OPG’s public statements make clear that it intends to poison the public’s water. First, the near-lake dump would be dug into deep caverns of porous limestone. The underground holes are to “become the container” OPG testified last fall, because its canisters are projected to be rotted-through by the waste in 5 years. (On April 13 the Canadian government was shocked to learn that OPG grossly understated the severe radioactivity of its waste material, some of which, like cesium, is 1,000 times more radioactive than OPG had officially claimed. (See http://www.freep.com/article/20140413/NEWS06/304130074/great-lakes-nuclear-waste)  

Second, OPG’s callous poisoning plan was broadcast in a December 2008 handout. Radioactive contamination of the drinking water would not be a problem, OPG says, because, “The dose is predicted to be negligible initially and will continue to decay over time.”

The ‘expert’ group’s report says it’s possible that as much as 1,000 cubic meters a year of water contaminated with radiation might leach from the dump, but calls such pollution “highly improbable.” (Emphasis on “predicted” and “improbably” here: The US government’s 650-meter-deep Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico was predicted to contain radiation for 10,000 years. It failed badly on Feb. 14, after only 15.)

OPG’s pamphlet goes further in answer to its own question, “Will the [dump] contaminate the water?” The company claims, “…even if the entire waste volume were to be dissolved into Lake Huron, the corresponding drinking water dose would be a factor of 100 below the regulatory criteria initially, and decreasing with time.”

This fatuous assertion made me ask in my testimony: “Why would the government spend $1 billion on a dump when it is safe to throw all the radioactive waste in the water?” Now, what I thought of then as a rhetorical outburst has become “expert” opinion.

‘Experts’ unworried about drinking industrial radiation

On March 25, the “Report of the Independent Expert Group” was issued to the waste review panel. The experts are Maurice Dusseault, Tom Isaacs, William Leiss and Greg Paoli. They concluded that the “immense” waters of the Great Lakes would dilute any radiation-bearing plumes leaching from the site.

Dusseault advises governments and teaches short courses at the Univ. of Waterloo on oil production, petroleum geomechanics, waste disposal and sand control.

Paoli founded Risk Sciences International and the company’s web site notes his position on Expert and Advisory Committees of Canada’s National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy.

Isaacs, with degrees in engineering and applied physics, works at the plutonium-spewing Lawrence Livermore National Lab, studying “challenges to the effective management of the worldwide expansion of nuclear energy.” Of course, hiding the effects of radioactive waste from public scrutiny is one of his industry’s biggest challenges.

Leisshas degrees in history, accounting and philosophy, and has taught sociology, eco-research, risk communications and health risk assessment at several Canadian universities.

So what level of expertise do the experts bring? None of them have any background in water quality, limnology, radio-biology, medicine, health physics or even radiology, hazardous nuclides, health physics, or radiation risk.

As plumes of Fukushima radiation spreading into the Pacific continue to show, the poisons spread from the source and can contaminate entire oceans. (See: http://www.ibtimes.com/fukushima-radiation-reach-west-coast-april-experts-weigh-how-dangerous-it-1560580)Fish large and small, and other organisms, bio-accumulate the cesium, strontium (which persist for 300 years), and cobalt (persisting for 57), etc. in the plumes. The isotopes also bio-concentrate in the food chain as albacore tuna studies repeated in April. (http://www.ibtimes.com/radiation-tripled-some-pacific-tuna-fukushima-meltdown-study-says-levels-too-small-cause-1578495>)

Canada’s expert group’s opinion on how radioactive waste might spread and be diluted in Great Lakes drinking water is inane and meaningless; its cubic meter estimates and risk assessments nothing but fairy tales. You could call the report a rhetorical outburst.

– John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice,is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group—andlives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.

Marshall Islands Sues the Nuclear-Armed Nations

Nuclear Zero LawsuitsJust a few hours ago, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed lawsuits against all nine nuclear-armed nations. All nine were named in applications to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, while an additional lawsuit was filed against the United States in U.S. Federal District Court in San Francisco.

The courage of the Marshall Islands in filing these lawsuits is admirable. The people of the Marshall Islands were subjected to 67 nuclear weapon tests by the United States from 1946-1958. The tests caused untold suffering that continues to this day through cancers, displacement and death.

Did Israel steal bomb-grade uranium from the United States?

Victor GilinskyRoger J. Mattson, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Last month the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), the nation’s highest classification authority, released a number of top-level government memoranda that shed additional light on the so-called NUMEC affair, "the story that won't go away—the possibility that in the 1960s, Israel stole bomb-grade uranium from a US nuclear fuel-processing plant.”

A Letter to President Obama

Dear President Obama,

During the closing session of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 25, 2014, you cited a number of concrete measures to secure highly-enriched uranium and plutonium and strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime that have been implemented as a result of the three Nuclear Security Summits, concluding: “So what’s been valuable about this summit is that it has not just been talk, it’s been action.”

End the Drug War: Happy Pot Legalization Day!

A Special Report today on the issue of ending Marijuana Prohibition and the massively destructive War on Drugs, by TCBH! collective journalist Linn Washington, Jr. and three students in his Temple University journalism class:


Marijuana: Facts and Falacies, by Linn Washington


US Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: We’re No. 1!

By John LaForge

The corporate media is focused on the question of how or if Iran could ever break out of its promise under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to eschew nuclear weapons, to use reactors only for civilian purposes. So many headlines refer to sanctions imposed against Iran that millions of people mistakenly think Iran has a nuclear arsenal. It doesn’t.

Meanwhile the Congress in January fully funded production of a new B61 thermonuclear gravity bomb, a program dubbed “Life Extension.” This year’s $537 million is the down payment on the 12th version of the B61 that the millionaires in DC agreed should get $11 billion over the next few years.

Dubbed the “solid gold nuke” by critics, the 700-lb. H-bomb is running $28 million apiece at the moment. That much gold bullion is only worth $16 million.

The program to replace today’s B61s with a new “mod12,” is being condemned by our allies in NATO, by Congressional budget hawks and of course by the entire arms control community. Even former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright has said the bombs are “practically nil” in military value. (Gen. Cartwright only is partly right: Since it seems the Department of Defense is in the business of producing suicides by the thousands, among veterans and active duty soldiers, the suicidal mission of deploying B61s across Europe — for detonation there — seems a perfectly ghastly fit.)

“This decision represents the triumph of entrenched nuclear interests over good government. The B-61 is no longer relevant for U.S. national security, but continues to rob billions of dollars from programs that would make America safer,” President Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund told Hans M. Kristensen for the Federation of American Scientists.

Kristensen reported March 12 that the Pentagon has decided that the new B61 will begin its deployment in Europe next year.

This 300-to-500 kiloton “variable yield” thermonuclear device has 24 to 40 times the destructive power of the US bomb that killed 170,000 people at Hiroshima in 1945. Still, this machine’s threat of meaningless, genocidal, radioactive violence is called “tactical.”

Rush to Deploy New H-bomb Before It’s Killed by Public Opposition

The Air Force budget makes it appear that the older B61s will all be replaced — in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany — by 2020. This rush job is being hustled through the military-industrial-complex in a very big hurry because the broad international condemnation of the program is gaining depth and breadth.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., along with Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Rep Jared Polis, D-Colo., tried to curtail the program last year. Five NATO partners — Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Norway — asked four years ago that all B61s be removed permanently from Europe. In Germany, every major political party has formally resolved to pursue final withdrawal of the 20 remaining B61s at Buchel AFB.

Major US allies in Europe informed Gen. Cartwright’s critical opinion. High-level European politicians have been saying the B61s are “militarily useless” since the end of the Cold War. In a widely published op/ed in 2010, former NATO secretary-general Willy Claes and three senior Belgian politicians said, “The US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe have lost all military importance.”

Still, Kristensen reports, “integration” of the new B61 is supposed to take place on Belgian, Dutch, and Turkish F-16 jets and on German and Italian Tornado fighter-bombers soon.

Another reason for the rush to deploy this perfect candidate for dumb bomb retirement is that Germany is considering replacing its Tornado jets in short order. All the expense of refitting its current Tornadoes to carry the “more accurate” and “more usable” B61-mod 12 would be wasted. New B61 production could also be made expensively moot by progress in arms control.

The “nuclear sharing” arrangement with the five technically non-nuclear NATO partners glaringly contradicts, in Kristensen’s words, “the non-proliferation standards that member countries are trying to promote in the post-Cold War world.” In its 2012 posture review, even NATO’s ministers pledged to work for a world without nuclear weapons.

So as the White House and its Secretary of State wag fingers at Iran, we and our NATO friends openly violate the binding promise made in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty “not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly.”

Maybe Iran can arrange for some sanctions to be imposed on us.

—end—

– John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice,is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group—andlives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.

Your Doctors Are Worried

Your doctors are worried about your health―in fact, about your very survival.

No, they’re not necessarily your own personal physicians, but, rather, medical doctors around the world, represented by groups like International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).  As you might recall, that organization, composed of many thousands of medical professionals from all across the globe, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for exposing the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons.

Well, what seems to be the problem today?

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