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Nuclear Weapons Protesters’ Sabotage Conviction Overturned -- Court Says Jury Verdict Was Not Rational
By John LaForge
An Appeals Court has vacated the sabotage convictions of peace activists Greg-Boertje-Obed, of Duluth, Min., and his co-defendants Michael Walli of Washington, DC, and Sr. Megan Rice of New York City. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found that federal prosecutors failed to prove -- and that “no rational jury could find” -- that the three had intended to damage “national defense.”
In July 2012, Greg, Michael and Megan clipped through four fences and walked right up to the “Fort Knox” of weapons-grade uranium, the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility inside the Y-12 complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Uranium processed there puts the “H” in our H-bombs. With three hours before they were spotted, the nuclear weapons abolitionists painted “Woe to an Empire of Blood” and other slogans on several structures, strung banners, and celebrated their luck in catching the nuclear weapons system asleep at the wheel. When a guard finally confronted them, they offered him some bread.
They were convicted in May 2013 of damage to property and sabotage and have been imprisoned since then. Boertji-Obed, 59, and Walli, 66, were both sentenced to 62 months on each conviction, to run concurrently; and Sr. Megan, who is 82, was given 35 months on each count, also running concurrently.
Questions about the legal status of nuclear weapons were not on appeal, but rather the issue of whether the Sabotage Act applies to peace protesters who do no damage to weapons. During the appeal’s oral argument, the prosecutor insisted that the three senior citizens had “interfered with defense.” Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge asked pointedly, “With a loaf of bread?”
The Court’s written opinion, also by Judge Kethledge, ridiculed the idea of depicting peaceful protesters as saboteurs, saying. “It is not enough for the government to speak in terms of cut fences…” The government must prove that the defendant’s actions were “consciously meant or practically certain to” interfere with “the nation’s capacity to wage war or defend against attack.” Greg, Megan and Michael, the court said, “did nothing of the sort,” thus, “the government did not prove the defendants guilty of sabotage.” The opinion went so far as to say, “No rational jury could find that the defendants had that intent when they cut the fences.” The point is shockingly uncharacteristic in its direct implication of prosecutorial over-reach and manipulation of the jury.
Another reason the Appeals Court vacated the sabotage conviction was that the Supreme Court’s legal definition of “national defense” is unclear and imprecise, “a generic concept of broad connotations…” The Court said it needed “a more concrete” definition because, “vague platitudes about a facility’s ‘crucial role in national defense’ are not enough to convict a defendant of sabotage. And that is all the government offers here.” The definition was so general and vague, the Court said, that it barely applies to the Sabotage Act, since, “It is hard to determine what amounts to ‘interference with’ a ‘generic concept’.”
Re-sentencing may result in “time served” and release
The Court took the additional and unusual step of voiding the prison sentences for both the sabotage and the damage-to-property convictions, even though the lesser conviction still stands. This was because the harsh prison terms given for property damage were heavily weighted in view of the (ill-gotten) sabotage conviction. The result is that the three radical pacifists will be re-sentenced and may be released. As the Appeals Court said: “It appears that the [sentencing] … for their [damage to property] conviction will be substantially less than their time already served in federal custody.”
If the federal prosecutor does not challenge the reversal of his overzealousness, and another superior court doesn’t reverse the 6th Circuit’s decision, the three could be freed in July or sooner.
The high-profile nature of uranium enrichment at Oak Ridge, and the vulnerability of the site to senior citizens, brought enormous media attention to the case, which has been featured in lengthy investigations by the Washington Post, The New Yorker and others. The action, known as “Transformation Now Plowshares,” also helped uncover scandalous misconduct and malfeasance among security contractors at Y-12/Oak Ridge complex. Arguably and ironically, these pacifists almost certainly thus strengthened the defense of the country.
What remains unscathed is the White House’s plan to spend $1 trillion on new weapons production facilities over the next 30 years -- $35 billion a year for three decades. The role of the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility in this Bomb production -- a clear violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — was named with blood by the Plowshares action, but H-bomb business marches on. Protesters will converge on the site again Aug. 6.
For more on Y-12 and the weapons build-up, see the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, OREPA.org.
-- John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, edits its Quarterly newsletter, and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.
By John LaForge
NEW YORK, NY – Here at the United Nations, talk is focused on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (N-P.T.). At about 11 a.m. Apr. 28, I was handcuffed with 21 other nuclear realists after blocking an entrance to the US Mission. I say “realists” because US media won’t pay much attention to US violations of nuclear weapons treaties unless somebody is taken off to jail.
Barrels of ink are used detailing Iran’s non-existent nuclear arsenal. The US has about 2,000 nuclear weapons ready to launch and used as ticking time bombs every day by presidents -- the way gunslingers can get the dough without ever pulling the trigger. Deterrence it is not.
When we were ordered to leave or face arrest, we called ourselves crime-stoppers and asked the officers to arrest the real scofflaws. We were packed into vans and driven to the 17th Precinct. Our band of nuclear abolitionists concluded long ago that US nuclear banditry and pollutionism was worth dramatizing for a day, or a month, or a lifetime.
We talked while the cops worked through the booking routine. David McReynolds, 85, the long-time staff member of War Resisters League (Ret.), asked us all to watch when he exited the van to see that he didn’t lose his balance. I wondered if I’d have the guts to keep doing these actions if I get to the wobbly decades.
The day before, Sec. of State John Kerry double-spoke to the Gen. Assembly, promising both to continue with US nuclear posturing and to dream of a nuclear-free world. I skipped his puffery and went to hear Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico explain the US government’s plans for three new H-bomb factories (one each in Tenn., Kansas and New Mexico), and plans for building 80 new plutonium warheads every year until 2027. In 1996, the World Court declared the N-P.T.’s pledge to eliminate nuclear weapons to be a binding, unequivocal and unambiguous legal obligation. Our arrest citation is ironic because it’s the US that has “refused a lawful order.”
Back in the police truck, time dragged. Somebody said we should share a few political jokes. Q: “Why are statistics just like prison inmates?” A: “If you torture them enough, they’ll tell you anything you want to hear.” Bad prison puns are easy to come by among political dissidents.
Finally inside the precinct, I sat in the holding cell next to Jerry Goralnick, a playwright with The Living Theatre, who is trying to get a script staged involving the jail-house relationship between Dorothy Day and a colleague who shared a cell for 90 days. Day, a founder of the Catholic Worker movement, and her friend were jailed in New York City for refusing to obey civil defense officers and go down into fallout shelters. It was during the delusional era of “winnable” nuclear war. Their defiance was a simple case of refusing to lie about nuclear weapons. They were realists who knew that the 10-square-mile firestorms ignited by H-bombs suck all the air out of fallout shelters where the huddled then suffocate. They knew there is no defense under such nuclear conflagration, that survivors would envy the dead.
These days, nuclear war planning goes on 6 stories below Strategic Command HQ at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha. Deep in Strat-Com’s sub-basements, technicians with the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff select people and places to be incinerated if need be. The targets are lands belonging to US trading partners, allies and friends that have the Bomb -- China, Russia, India, Pakistan -- and non-nuclear countries like Iran and North Korea (which may have 3 nukes but have no way to deliver them).
This target planning has been going on for decades. A few thousand hard-bitten, nuclear-obsessed optimists have been crying “foul” about it the whole while. I was in custody with 21 of them for a few hours. It was a relief to be there.
Our complaint, which should be on display at the June 24 court arraignment, is that nuclear weapons producers, deployers and trigger men in the US (the ones we’re responsible for), are criminal gangsters, dangerous sociopaths, members of a global terror cell making non-stop bomb threats that they disguise with a theatrical hoax called “deterrence.”
I’ve seen this legal argument succeed in court only twice, but those two not-guilty verdicts convince me that the law is on our side. Dum-dum bullets, nerve gas, landmines, cluster bombs, chemical agents, biological weapons and poison are all illegal -- banned by Treaties. Nuclear warheads do all the harm of these outlawed weapons combined -- plus mutagenic and teratogenic damage to multiple generations. Our State Department man says the Bomb is unfortunate and legal -- but the Secretary Has No Clothes.
While UN member states argue over whether the possession of H-bombs violates the N-P.T., I’ll stay with the realists just out of handcuffs -- at least until the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff and Mr. Kerry are charged with disturbing the peace.
-- John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, edits its Quarterly newsletter, and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.
Anti-Nuke Demonstrators Planning Blockade of U.S. Mission
On Tuesday, April 28, members from several peace and anti-nuclear organizations, calling themselves Shadows and Ashes--Direct Action for Nuclear Disarmament will gather at 9:30 am near the United Nations for a legal vigil at the Isaiah Wall, First Avenue and 43rd Street, calling for the immediate elimination of all nuclear weapons world-wide.
Following a short theatre piece and reading of a few statements, several from that group will continue up First Avenue to 45th Street to participate in a nonviolent blockade of the United States Mission to the UN, in an effort to call attention to the U.S.’s role in unending the nuclear arms race, despite U.S. pledges to eliminate all nuclear weapons.
This demonstration was organized to coincide with the opening of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review conference, which will run from April 27 to May 22 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The NPT is an international treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. Conferences to review the operation of the Treaty have been held at five-year intervals since the Treaty went into effect in 1970.
Since the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 -- killing more than 300,000 people -- world leaders have met 15 times over several decades to discuss nuclear disarmament. Yet more than 16,000 nuclear weapons still threaten the world.
In 2009 President Barack Obama pledged that the United States would seek the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons. Instead his administration has budgeted $350 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade and modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons program.
“The abolition of nuclear weapons will never happen if we just wait for the leaders who gather at the East River to do it,” explained Ruth Benn of War Resisters League, one of the demonstration organizers. “We need to make a more dramatic statement beyond marches, rallies, and petitions,” continued Benn, echoing Martin Luther King’s statement from Birmingham jail, “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”
Florindo Troncelliti, a Peace Action organizer, said he planned to participate in the blockade so he can directly tell the United States “We began the nuclear arms race and, to our eternal shame, are the only country to have used them, so it’s time for we and other nuclear powers to just shut up and disarm.”
Shadows and Ashes is sponsored by War Resisters League, Brooklyn For Peace, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Codepink, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace, Global Network against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space, Granny Peace Brigade, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, Jonah House, Kairos Community, Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, Manhattan Green Party, Nodutol, North Manhattan Neighbors for Peace and Justice, Nuclear Peace Foundation, Nuclear Resister, NY Metro Raging Grannies, Pax Christi Metro New York, Peace Action (National), Peace Action Manhattan, Peace Action NYS, Peace Action of Staten Island, Roots Action, Shut Down Indian Point Now, United for Peace and Justice, US Peace Council, War Is a Crime, World Can’t Wait.
By Brian Terrell
On March 26, I was in Nevada in my role as event coordinator for Nevada Desert Experience, preparing for the annual Sacred Peace Walk, a 65-mile trek through the desert from Las Vegas to the nuclear Test Site at Mercury, Nevada, an event that NDE has sponsored each spring for about 30 years. Two days before the walk was to begin, a car load of us organizers traced the route.
The last stop but one on the traditional itinerary is the “Peace Camp,” a place in the desert where we usually stay the last night before crossing Highway 95 into what is now known as the Nevada National Security Site. When we got there we were surprised to find the entire camp and the way leading from it to the Test Site surrounded by bright orange plastic snow fencing.
There was no apparent reason for the fence and no apparent access into the camp, which had been a staging area for anti-nuclear testing protests for many years. Not only were we blocked from our traditional camp site, there was no safe, legal or convenient place to park vehicles for about a mile around, nowhere that we could even drop off equipment or allow for dropping off those participants in our protest who could not make the long walk over rough terrain. We were only beginning to assess the logistic difficulties this new situation presented when a Nye County Sheriff’s deputy drove by.
After warning us that it was illegal to be stopped on the road as we were, the deputy allowed us to tarry while he explained the situation as he saw it. Some big shots at the university, he said, had convinced the Nevada Department of Transportation that the Peace Camp is a site of historical significance and so could not be messed with. The fences went up just a week or so earlier, he said, in anticipation of the Sacred Peace Walk. The artifacts of past protests would not be allowed to be disturbed by the presence of contemporary protestors. No one but archeologists, the deputy told us, would ever be allowed in the camp again. The irony of this picture was not lost on us.
Returning to Las Vegas, I immediately started calling various offices of the Department of Transportation, especially the numbers I found (to some surprise) for the DOT’s office of archeology. I also did a web search of issues around Peace Camp and its history and found that in 2007, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (the BLM claims ownership of the site) and the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office had determined that Peace Camp is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
I read in Archeology, a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, and other publications how some anthropologists from the Desert Research Institute had researched the site and successfully made the case that Peace Camp is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. I read that to be eligible, a site must meet these qualifications: “a) association with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history, and b) embodiment of distinctive characteristics...that possess high artistic values...”
While the implications of this designation for us were still unclear, it was gratifying to know that at least a couple of agencies in the federal and state bureaucracies recognize, along with some of the academic anthropological community, the fact that a couple of generations of antinuclear activists had “made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history.” Designs, symbols and messages affected by arrangements of rock of different colors and sizes (“geoglyphs,” in archeology talk) and the graffiti scrawled on tunnels under the highway have official recognition that they “possess high artistic values” deserving to be protected by law!
We had already left Las Vegas on our five day trek to the Test Site before return calls from the various agencies confirmed that the deputy had misunderstood the state of affairs. The fences were not put up to protect the Peace Camp from peacemakers, but as a temporary measure to prevent some contractors who were about to begin road repairs from running through it with their heavy equipment. A gate in the fence would be opened to let us in. Parking, camping, setting up a field kitchen, all would be allowed as in the past.
This news was a relief. We had expected and even planned for confronting the National Nuclear Security Administration when we arrived at Mercury and the Test Site and furthermore, expected that many of us would be arrested for trespassing there, despite the permission grated to us by the Western Shoshone National Council, legal owners of the land. We did not wish, however, to contend with the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office, and getting arrested for disturbing an archeological site does not carry with it the same moral cachet as the struggle against potential nuclear annihilation.
The chief archeologist for the Department of Transportation was particularly effusive in his high estimation of the significance of Peace Camp. Peace Camp is the only designated historic site in Nevada, he boasted, that is less than 50 years old. My own experience with Peace Camp and the Test Site, is perhaps less than historic. I was there once at the height of protests there in 1987, again sometime in the 1990s, and then with increasing frequency after the protests against drones operated out of nearby Creech Air Force Base began in 2009. Until this encounter, I confess that I thought of Peace Camp as little more than a convenient place from which to stage protests against nuclear bomb tests conducted on the other side of Highway 95.
The mushroom clouds of the first tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site could be seen from far off Las Vegas. The Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 moved the tests underground. Although the United States did not ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, it stopped full scale testing in 1992, though “subcritical” testing of weapons, tests that stop short of critical mass, are still conducted at the site.
From 1986 through 1994, 536 demonstrations were held at the Nevada Test Site involving 37,488 participants, with some 15,740 activists arrested. Many of the demonstrations in those years attracted thousands at a time. This year’s Sacred Peace Walk and our April 3 Good Friday protest at the Test Site was modest in comparison, with about 50 participants, and we were happy that 22 of these were arrested after crossing into the site.
The numbers coming to protest testing in Nevada decreased sharply with the end of full scale testing there, and it is not surprising that nuclear testing is not the burning cause of the times. Protests at sites more directly involved with nuclear weapons development still gather respectable numbers. Just three weeks before our most recent protest, about 200 protestors camped outside the gates of Creech Air Force Base, the hub of drone murders just down the highway from the Test Site.
It is crucial, though, that some of us keep showing up at the Test Site and using our bodies to add to the slowly growing tally of those who risk arrest there to say no to the unspeakable horror of nuclear war.
Thousands of workers still drive each morning from Las Vegas to report for work at the Nevada National Security Site. We do not know all the hellish works that are planned and carried out beyond the cattle guard. Some are conducting subcritical tests, others no doubt are simply keeping in practice, training new workers and maintaining the equipment and infrastructure for the possible resumption of full scale tests. The day a rogue president gives the order, the Nevada National Security Site will be ready to detonate nuclear explosions under the desert sands.
Against the likelihood of that terrible day, we must keep in practice, too. We must maintain our mailing lists and data bases, send messages of encouragement and information in newsletters and email blasts, keep all channels of communication open. We must nurture our friendships and love for one another. Perhaps our peace walk and act of civil resistance at the test site, tiny in comparison to the big protests of the 1980s, could be considered a “subcritical demonstration,” a test by which we can measure our potential to mobilize in resistance to full scale nuclear bomb testing if we need to.
The protests at the Nevada Test Site have appropriately been recognized for their historical significance. Perhaps one day tourists to Nevada will leave the casinos for a time to visit Peace Camp as a place of celebration and hope, where humanity turned from its path of destruction. On that day, the Nevada National Security Site, restored and returned to the sovereignty of the Western Shoshone Nation, will be a monument of regret for crimes perpetrated there against the earth and its creatures. This time has not yet come. What will be regarded as the history of the Peace Camp and Test Site, not to mention the history of this planet, is still being written as we walk and as we act.
Brian Terrell is event coordinator for the Nevada Desert Experience and a co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence. <email@example.com>
Credit where credit's due...but only where it's due: How Can Obama Claim the Alternative to a Nuclear Deal with Iran is War?
By Dave Lindorff
A kudo to President Obama. But just one.
If he manages to pull off an agreement with Iran on limiting that country's nuclear fuel enrichment program in the fact of determined resistance from Republicans, Neocons, the Israel Lobby and the warmongers in both the GOP and his own Democratic Party, he will have finally earned at least some small portion of the gold in his Nobel Peace medallion.
Given all the frothing by hawkish U.S. Senators about Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons, one might think that Iran was violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
But it’s not. The NPT, signed by 190 nations and in effect since 1970, is a treaty in which the non-nuclear nations agreed to forgo developing nuclear weapons and the nuclear nations agreed to divest themselves of their nuclear weapons. It also granted nations the right to develop peaceful nuclear power. The current negotiations in which Iran is engaged with other nations are merely designed to guarantee that Iran, which signed the NPT, does not cross the line from developing nuclear power to developing nuclear weapons.
Potomac Reichstag or ‘Planet of the Apes’?: Hooting American Yahoos on the Benches and Racist Israeli Demagogue on the Podium
By Dave Lindorff
By Richard Greve © -- February 2015
They are the Nuclear Nine – the ones with the Bomb.
They can trigger The End
at any time.
A mad leader, a mistake, miscalculation
buttons are pushed, and, well,
there it isn't. Gone.
Fast death for some,
slow for others.
Those with money might go underground
or maybe New Zealand if the wind
hasn't shifted. Hoping against hope.
Those in the cities have a few minutes to panic
In the hinterlands long struggles
with a slower demise,
poisoned milk, nuclear winters
where crops will not grow.
Oh what a deed these mushrooms will do.
Kids under desks won't be saved
in their schools,
nor will they be saved by
fast running moms.
By Norman Solomon
A month after former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was convicted on nine felony counts with circumstantial metadata, the zealous prosecution is now having potentially major consequences -- casting doubt on the credibility of claims by the U.S. government that Iran has developed a nuclear weapons program.
With negotiations between Iran and the United States at a pivotal stage, fallout from the trial’s revelations about the CIA’s Operation Merlin is likely to cause the International Atomic Energy Agency to re-examine U.S. assertions that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.
In its zeal to prosecute Sterling for allegedly leaking classified information about Operation Merlin -- which provided flawed nuclear weapon design information to Iran in 2000 -- the U.S. government has damaged its own standing with the IAEA. The trial made public a treasure trove of information about the Merlin operation.
Last week Bloomberg News reported from Vienna, where the IAEA is headquartered, that the agency “will probably review intelligence they received about Iran as a result of the revelations, said the two diplomats who are familiar with the IAEA’s Iran file and asked not to be named because the details are confidential.”
The Bloomberg dispatch, which matter-of-factly referred to Merlin as a “sting” operation, quoted a former British envoy to the IAEA, Peter Jenkins, saying: “This story suggests a possibility that hostile intelligence agencies could decide to plant a ‘smoking gun’ in Iran for the IAEA to find. That looks like a big problem.”
After sitting through the seven-day Sterling trial, I don’t recall that the government or any of its witnesses -- including 23 from the CIA as well as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- ever referred to Operation Merlin as a “sting.” Instead, it was consistently portrayed as an effort to send Iran down the wrong technical path. In fact, over the years, Operation Merlin may have been both.
Near the end of the Clinton administration, CIA documents released at the trial show, Merlin was a botched effort to screw up Iran’s nuclear program. (There is no evidence that Iran’s government took the bait.) But documents also show that Merlin continued for years, with the CIA considering plans to widen the operation beyond Iran.
As a matter of fact, one CIA document was not redacted sufficiently to hide evident interest in also trying a similar tactic against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. History certainly tells us that the Bush-Cheney administration would be capable of seeking to cite fabricated evidence in a push to justify military action against a targeted country.
Investigative journalist Marcy Wheeler, my colleague at ExposeFacts, has written an extensive analysis of the latest developments. The article on her EmptyWheel blog raises key questions beginning with the headline “What Was the CIA Really Doing with Merlin by 2003?”
An emerging big irony of United States of America v. Jeffrey Alexander Sterling is that the government has harmed itself in the process of gunning for the defendant. While the prosecution used innuendos and weak circumstantial evidence to obtain guilty verdicts on multiple felonies, the trial produced no actual evidence that Sterling leaked classified information. But the trial did provide abundant evidence that the U.S. government’s nuclear-related claims about Iran should not be trusted.
In the courtroom, one CIA witness after another described Operation Merlin as a vitally important program requiring strict secrecy. Yet the government revealed a great deal of information about Operation Merlin during the trial -- including CIA documents that showed the U.S. government to be committed to deception about the Iranian nuclear program. If, as a result, the International Atomic Energy Agency concludes that U.S. assertions about an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program lack credibility, top officials in Washington will have themselves to blame.
Norman Solomon is the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.
By John LaForge
It’s hard to imagine celebrating nuclear war planning, but that’s what was on the agenda at Hill Air Force Base, near Ogden, Utah last Thursday, Feb. 12.
At an official awards ceremony, there were prizes for “top performers” at the base including Team of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Key Spouse of the Year. Base commander, Col. Ron Jolly, said, “The Airmen here see the big picture and know that it is … about providing support to Team Hill.”
What is “Team Hill”? At one-million acres and 20,000 personnel, Hill AFB is tasked with maintaining and testing the “reliability” of, among other things, the country’s 450 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles or ICBMs. The 60-foot-tall, 39-ton rockets, with 335-kiloton nuclear warheads (think Hiroshima, times 22), can fly 6,000 to 7,000 miles before detonating on targets chosen by the Global Strike Command (its real name) in Omaha.
Hill AFB’s “state of the art” test facility conducts exams of “nuclear hardness, survivability, reliability” … “nuclear radiation, air blast, shock and vibration” and “electromagnetic pulse.” These are the effects of nuclear weapons detonations, and the base keeps our ICBMs “reliable” -- that is ready-to-launch from bunkers across North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska.
In ballistic missile terms, “reliability” means the guarantee that radioactive firestorms covering 40-square-miles-per-warhead can be unleashed a world away using rockets launched with the turn of a key. (Daniel Berrigan once wrote that in World War II the Germans delivered people to the crematoria, and that now missiles carry crematoria to the people.)
In April 2014, military teams still doing their Cold War duty -- 26 years after the “war” ended -- were given fresh encouragement when Hill AFB handed out its “Brent Scowcroft Awards.” They went to hard-working personnel in the “Launch and Test Team” and to others working in maintenance, logistics, acquisition and something called “sustainment.”
The prize is named after Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who at the height of Cold War hostilities led a Reagan-era commission that recommended increased spending on ICBMs. The 1983 Scowcroft Commission recommended “a land-based force with a significant, prompt hard target kill capability.”
The euphemism “hard target kill” refers to H-bombs accurate enough to destroy another country’s missiles in bunkers before they are launched -- a nuclear “first-strike.” This is what Minuteman III missiles can now accomplish and what they now threaten, 24/7, with their Mark 12A warheads. Scowcroft’s commission advised the Air Force to develop single-warhead missiles, which is exactly what our arsenal of Minuteman IIIs has become.
Like scandal-ridden “missileers” in their boring, dead-ended launch sites around Malmstrom Air Base, FE Warren Air Base and Minot AFB, Team Hill prepares and polishes the machinery of nuclear holocaust. Its ICBM System Program Office has “real” Minuteman missile “launch facilities and launch control center facilities.” Hill’s Nuclear Weapons Center “develops, acquires and supports silo-based ICBMs…manage spares…sustains silo-based ICBM systems” and it buys “spare parts, services, and repairs” for “Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) programs and ammunitions.”
Two years ago, Hill awarded a $90-million contract to a Cincinnati firm to build a new truck for hauling the giant ICBMs. The truck, called a “transporter erector,” installs and transports the rockets. According to the Air Base, it “will serve the Minuteman III ICBM through 2035.”
But what about the Peace Prize President’s “world free of nuclear weapons”? The Most Powerful Man can’t even close a small, relatively new, off-shore penal colony at Guantanamo. To even challenge -- much less cut back -- the trillion-dollar nuclear war budget, the Prez would need a massive grassroots anti-nuke rebellion and the fearlessness of MLK.
Meanwhile, the bureaucrats, attendants and supporters who plan and practice the unspeakable are so desensitized, distracted or benumbed, that at Team Hill’s Feb. 12 gala, “well-known local civic leaders and special guests presented the awards.” One event committee co-chair said, “We really wanted our award nominees to feel like celebrities.” The Public Affairs office boasted of “valet parking, interviews on the ‘red carpet,’ hors d’oeuvres, a string quartet and dancing.”
It’s past time to admit this behavior is deranged and to declare the nuclear war party over. The question isn’t how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but how many “key spouses” can waltz atop 450 loaded ICBMs.
-- John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, edits its Quarterly newsletter, and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.
By Dave Lindorff
The Nobel Peace Laureate President Barack Obama, the guy who once campaigned claiming one US war -- the one against Iraq -- was a “bad” one, and the other -- against Afghanistan -- was a “good” one, turns out to be a man who, once anointed commander-in-chief, can’t seem to find a war he doesn’t consider to be a “good” idea.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki. We are determined to build up public support and actions to make
this year a milestone to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.
First, our focus is the 2015 NPT Review Conference. We call on all
governments of the world, in particular, those of nuclear weapon states to
fulfill the obligation of nuclear disarmament under Article 6 of the NPT and
implement the agreements of the 2010 NPT Review Conference. In order to open
up the way leading to a total ban and the elimination of nuclear weapons,
we, the NGOs and movements of the world, decided to carry out actions in NY
at the time of the NPTRevCon: International Conference (April 24-25), Rally,
Parade and Festival (April 26).
We call on you to join the international joint action in NY on April 24-26.
For more details:
On this action, we want to ask for your help and cooperation:
1)Please collect signatures for a total ban on nuclear weapons.
As part of the action, we will submit to the 2015 NPT RevCon our collected
signatures in support of the "Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons".
We will bring all collected signatures to NY and pile up millions of
petitions in front of the United Nations to show strong public support for a
total ban and elimination of nuclear weapons. (Attached please find the
signature form) Please bring your collected signatures to NY or please send
them to us. We will bring them to NY.
You can sign the petition on line:
You can download the petition form:
We have the versions of Chinese, Spanish, Germany, French, Russian and
Nearly 7 million petitions submitted to 2010 NPT Review Conference
2) Let's Hold A-bomb exhibitions at your places.
In concert with the effort of a number of governments to raise awareness of
the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, we will hold A-bomb photo
exhibitions across the country. Not only that, we will send an A-bomb photo
set overseas so that you can hold the exhibition in your schools, workplaces
and communities. It is a portable-sized photo set with 17 pieces of photos
depicting the catastrophic damage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If you want to
receive it, please contact us. Japanese peace groups will send it to you.
Hiroshima just after the A-bombing
3) Join the International Relay of the National Peace March
The National Peace March for the abolition of nuclear weapons will start on
May 6 from Tokyo. The marchers of the Tokyo-Hiroshima course will walk for
3 months to reach Hiroshima in August. Last year we conducted International
Youth Relay, in which many young people from overseas joined the march and
played an important role to spread a message of nuclear free and peace.
This year again, we will do the relay under the slogan “NO NUKES! Challenge
7 0”. you want to challenge the peace march, please contact us for more
Young peace marchers from Guam and the Philippines walked through Tokyo and
Map of peace march courses
Thank you in advance for your help and cooperation.
Assistant General Secretary
Japan Council against A & H Bombs (GENSUIKYO)
2-4-4 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8464 JAPAN
If you've followed the trials of James Risen and Jeffrey Sterling, or read Risen's book State of War, you are aware that the CIA gave Iran blueprints and a diagram and a parts list for the key component of a nuclear bomb.
The CIA then proposed to do exactly the same for Iraq, using the same former Russian scientist to make the delivery. How do I know this? Well, Marcy Wheeler has kindly put all the evidence from the Sterling trial online, including this cable. Read the following paragraph:
"M" is Merlin, code name for the former Russian used to give the nuclear plans to Iran. Here he's being asked, just following that piece of lunacy, whether he'd be willing to _______________. What? Something he agrees to without hesitation. The CIA paid him hundreds of thousands of our dollars and that money flow would continue to cover a more adventurous extension of the current operation. What could that mean? More dealings with Iran? No, because this extension is immediately distinguished from dealings with Iran.
"WE WILL WANT TO SEE HOW THE IRAN PART OF THE CASE PLAYS OUT BEFORE MAKING AN APPROACH...."
It seems that a national adjective belongs in that space. Most are too long to fit: Chinese, Zimbabwean, even Egyptian.
But notice the word "an," not "a." The word that follows has to start with a vowel. Search through the names of the world's countries. There is only one that fits and makes sense. And if you followed the Sterling trial, you know exactly how much sense it makes: Iraqi.
"MAKING AN IRAQI APPROACH."
And then further down: "THINKING ABOUT THE IRAQI OPTION."
Now, don't be thrown off by the place to meet being somewhere that M was unfamiliar with. He met the Iranians in Vienna (or rather avoided meeting them by dumping the nuke plans in their mailbox). He could be planning to meet the Iraqis anywhere on earth; that bit's not necessarily relevant to identifying the nation.
Then look at the last sentence. Again it distinguishes the Iranians from someone else. Here's what fits there:
"IF HE IS TO MEET THE IRANIANS OR APPROACH THE IRAQIS IN THE FUTURE."
North Koreans doesn't fit or make sense or start with a vowel (And Korean doesn't start with a vowel, and DPRK doesn't start with a vowel). Egyptians doesn't fit or make sense.
The closest words to fitting this document, other than IRAQI and IRAQIS, are INDIAN and INDIANS. But I've tried approximating the font and spacing as closely as possible, and I encourage typographical experts to give it a try. The latter pair of words ends up looking slightly crowded.
And then there's this: The United States knew that India had nukes and didn't mind and wasn't trying to start a war with India.
And this: the mad scheme to give slightly flawed nuke plans to Iran was admitted in court by the CIA to risk actually proliferating nukes by giving Iran help. That's not such a bad outcome if what you're really after is war with Iran.
And this: The Sterling trial, including testimony from Condoleezza "Mushroom Cloud" Rice herself, was bafflingly about defending the CIA's so-called reputation, very little about prosecuting Sterling. They doth protested too much.
What did blowing the whistle on Operation Merlin put at risk? Not the identity of Merlin or his wife. He was out there chatting with Iranians online and in-person. She was outed by the CIA itself during the trial, as Wheeler pointed out. What blowing the whistle on giving nukes to Iran put at risk was the potential for giving nukes to more countries -- and exposure of plans to do so (whether or not they were followed through on) to the nation that the United States had been attacking since the Gulf War, began to truly destroy in 2003, and is at war in still.
When Cheney swore Iraq had nuclear weapons, and at other times that it had a nuclear weapons program, and Condi and Bush warned of mushroom clouds, was there a bit more to Tenet's "slam dunk" than we knew? Was there an alley oop from the mad scientists at the CIA? There certainly would have been an attempt at one if left up to "Bob S," "Merlin," and gang.
Did Sterling and other possible whistleblowers have more reason to blow the whistle than we knew? Regardless, they upheld the law. Drop the Charges.
UPDATE: Multiple sources tell me that each letter in the font used above is given the same space, which is why they line up in vertical columns, so in fact IRAQI and IRAQIS use the right number of spaces.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!'
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:
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!”
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
Dec. 5, 2014, NTI
His Excellency Sebastian Kurz
Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs
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.
- Nobuyasu Abe, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament, Japan.
- Sergio Abreu, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and current Senator of Uruguay.
- Hasmy Agam, Chair, National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and former Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations.
- Steve Andreasen, former Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control on the White House National Security Council; National Security Consultant, NTI.
- Irma Arguello, Chair, NPSGlobal Foundation; LALN Secretariat, Argentina.
- Egon Bahr, former Minister of the Federal Government, Germany
- Margaret Beckett MP, former Foreign Secretary, UK.
- Álvaro Bermúdez, former Director of Energy and Nuclear Technology of Uruguay.
- Fatmir Besimi, Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Defense, Macedonia.
- Hans Blix, former Director General of the IAEA; Former Foreign Minister, Sweden.
- Jaakko Blomberg, former Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland.
- James Bolger, former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
- Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Prime Minister, Norway.
- Davor Božinović, former Minister of Defence, Croatia.
- 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.
- Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, former Deputy Foreign Minister, Netherlands.
- Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister, Norway.
- Alistair Burt MP, former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, UK.
- Francesco Calogero, former Secretary General of Pugwash, Italy.
- Sir Menzies Campbell MP, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, UK.
- General James Cartwright (Ret.), former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S.
- Hikmet Çetin, former Foreign Minister, Turkey.
- Padmanabha Chari, former Additional Secretary of Defence, India.
- Joe Cirincione, President, Ploughshares Fund, U.S.
- Charles Clarke, former Home Secretary, UK.
- Chun Yungwoo, former National Security Advisor, Republic of Korea.
- Tarja Cronberg, former Member of the European Parliament; former Chair of the European Parliament Iran delegation, Finland.
- Cui Liru, former President, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.
- Sérgio de Queiroz Duarte, former United Nations Under Secretary for Disarmament Affairs and member of Brazil's diplomatic service.
- Jayantha Dhanapala, President of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs; former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament, Sri Lanka.
- Aiko Doden, Senior Commentator with NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation.
- Sidney D. Drell, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, U.S.
- Rolf Ekéus, former Ambassador to the United States, Sweden.
- Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Denmark.
- Vahit Erdem, former Member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Chief Adviser to President Süleyman Demirel, Turkey.
- Gernot Erler, former German Minister of State; Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership Countries.
- Gareth Evans, APLN Convener; Chancellor of the Australian National University; former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia.
- Malcolm Fraser, former Prime Minister of Australia.
- Sergio González Gálvez, former Deputy Secretary of External Relations and member of Mexico's diplomatic service.
- Sir Nick Harvey MP, former Minister of State for the Armed Forces, UK.
- J. Bryan Hehir, Practice of Religion and Public Life professor, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, U.S.
- Robert Hill, former Defence Minister of Australia.
- Jim Hoagland, journalist, U.S.
- Pervez Hoodbhoy, Professor of Nuclear Physics, Pakistan.
- José Horacio Jaunarena, former Minister of Defense of Argentina.
- Jaakko Iloniemi, former Minister of State, Finland.
- Wolfgang Ischinger, current Chair of the Munich Security Conference; former Deputy Foreign Minister, Germany.
- Igor Ivanov, former Foreign Minister, Russia.
- Tedo Japaridze, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Georgia.
- Oswaldo Jarrin, former Minister of Defense of Ecuador.
- General Jehangir Karamat (Ret.), former chief of Pakistan’s Army.
- Admiral Juhani Kaskeala (Ret.), former Commander of the Defence Forces, Finland.
- Yoriko Kawaguchi, former Foreign Minister of Japan.
- Ian Kearns, Co-Founder and Director of the ELN, UK.
- John Kerr (Lord Kerr of Kinlochard), former UK Ambassador to the US and the EU.
- Humayun Khan, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.
- Lord King of Bridgwater (Tom King), former Defence Secretary, UK.
- Walter Kolbow, former Deputy Federal Minister of Defence, Germany.
- Ricardo Baptista Leite, MD, Member of Parliament, Portugal.
- Pierre Lellouche, former President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, France.
- Ricardo López Murphy, former Minister of Defense of Argentina.
- Richard G. Lugar, Board Member, NTI; former U.S. Senator.
- Mogens Lykketoft, former Foreign Minister, Denmark.
- Kishore Mahbubani, Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School, National University of Singapore; former Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations.
- Giorgio La Malfa, former Minister of European Affairs, Italy.
- Lalit Mansingh, former Foreign Secretary of India.
- Miguel Marín Bosch, former Alternate Permanent Representative to the United Nations and member of Mexico's diplomatic service.
- János Martonyi, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hungary.
- John McColl, former NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, UK.
- Fatmir Mediu, former Defence Minister, Albania.
- C. Raja Mohan, senior journalist, India.
- Chung-in Moon, former Ambassador for International Security Affairs, Republic of Korea.
- Hervé Morin, former Defence Minister, France.
- General Klaus Naumann (Ret.), former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr, Germany.
- Bernard Norlain, former Air Defense Commander and Air Combat Commander of the Air Force, France.
- To Nu Thi Ninh, former Ambassador to the European Union, Vietnam.
- Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman and CEO, NTI; former U.S. Senator
- Volodymyr Ogrysko, former Foreign Minister, Ukraine.
- David Owen (Lord Owen), former Foreign Secretary, UK.
- Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
- José Pampuro, former Minister of Defense of Argentina.
- Maj. Gen Pan Zennqiang (Ret.), Senior Adviser to the China Reform Forum, China.
- Solomon Passy, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bulgaria.
- Michael Peterson, President and COO, Peterson Foundation, U.S.
- Wolfgang Petritsch, former EU Special Envoy to Kosovo; former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria.
- Paul Quilès, former Defence Minister, France.
- R. Rajaraman, Professor of Theoretical Physics, India.
- Lord David Ramsbotham, ADC General (retired) in the British Army, UK.
- Jaime Ravinet de la Fuente, former Minister of Defense of Chile.
- Elisabeth Rehn, former Defence Minister, Finland.
- Lord Richards of Herstmonceux (David Richards), former Chief of the Defence Staff, UK.
- Michel Rocard, former Prime Minister, France.
- Camilo Reyes Rodríguez, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Colombia.
- Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, former Foreign Secretary, former Defense Secretary, UK
- Sergey Rogov, Director of Institute for US and Canadian Studies, Russia.
- Joan Rohlfing, President and Chief Operating Officer, NTI; former Senior Advisor for National Security to the U.S. Secretary of Energy.
- Adam Rotfeld, former Foreign Minister, Poland.
- Volker Rühe, former Defence Minister, Germany.
- Henrik Salander, former Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, Secretary-General of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, Sweden.
- Konstantin Samofalov, Spokesman for the Social Democratic Party, Former MP, Serbia
- Özdem Sanberk, former Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey.
- Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, former Minister of Science and Technology and member of Brazil's diplomatic service.
- Stefano Silvestri, former Under Secretary of State for Defence; consultant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministries of Defence and Industry, Italy.
- Noel Sinclair, Permanent Observer of the Caribbean Community - CARICOM to the United Nations and member of Guyana's diplomatic service.
- Ivo Šlaus, former member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Croatia.
- Javier Solana, former Foreign Minister; former Secretary-General of NATO; former EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Spain.
- Minsoon Song, former Foreign Minister of Republic of Korea.
- Rakesh Sood, former Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, India.
- Christopher Stubbs, Professor of Physics and of Astronomy, Harvard University, U.S.
- Goran Svilanovic, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbia.
- 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
- Eka Tkeshelashvili, former Foreign Minister, Georgia.
- Carlo Trezza, Member of the Advisory Board of the UN Secretary General for Disarmament Matters and Chairman of the Missile Technology Control Regime, Italy.
- David Triesman (Lord Triesman), Foreign Affairs spokesperson for the Labour Party in the House of Lords, former Foreign Office Minister, UK.
- Gen. Vyacheslav Trubnikov, Former First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Former Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Russia
- Ted Turner, Co-Chairman, NTI.
- Nyamosor Tuya, former Foreign Minister of Mongolia.
- Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tyagi (Ret.), former Chief of the Indian Air Force.
- Alan West (Admiral the Lord West of Spithead), former First Sea Lord of the British Navy.
- Wiryono Sastrohandoyo, former Ambassador to Australia, Indonesia.
- Raimo Väyrynen, former Director at Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
- Richard von Weizsäcker, former President, Germany.
- Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, Chair, Global Task Force on Nuclear Weapons, World Evangelical Alliance, U.S.
- Isabelle Williams, NTI.
- Baroness Williams of Crosby (Shirley Williams), former Advisor on Non-Proliferation issues to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, UK.
- Kåre Willoch, former Prime Minister, Norway.
- Hide Yuzaki, Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.
- Uta Zapf, former Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation in the Bundestag, Germany.
- 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.
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.” 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.
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. 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. 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.
-- 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
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)
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
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
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,
Don Eichelberger, Abalone Alliance Safe Energy Clearinghouse, San Francisco, California, USA*
Libbe HaLevy, Nuclear Hotseat Podcast, USA*
*for purposes of identification only
 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.
 See Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons, 2014,”Bulletin of Atomic Scientists online, 2014.
 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.
 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
 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
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.
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