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Talk Nation Radio: Karl Grossman: Nuclear Radiation Is Good For You, and Other Tall Tales

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-karl-grossman-nuclear-radiation-is-good-for-you-and-other-tall-tales 

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

Grossman discusses a proposed change in policy by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that would permit nuclear radiation on the grounds that it is safe or even good for us. Submit your comment here:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NRC-2015-0057

Or write to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, Attention:Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff. Docket ID. Needed to be noted on any letter is the code NRC-2015-0057.

Some articles by Grossman:
Radiation Is Good for You, and Other Tall Tales of the Nuclear Industry
The Nuclear Cult
Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission
Nuclear Power/Nuclear Weapons
Embracing Nuclear Power Like a Religion
Money is the Real Green Power: The Hoax of Eco-Friendly Nuclear Energy
Nuclear Power Through the Fukushima Perspective
Nuclear Power Can Never Be Made Safe
The Perils of Nuclear-Powered Space Flights

Total run time: 29:00

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

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NEW CITIZEN CHALLENGE TO UK’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Campaigners aim to prosecute British state

On 1st October campaigners will begin a new and ambitious project to institute a citizen’s prosecution of the Government and specifically the Secretary of State for Defence for breaching international law by its active deployment of the Trident nuclear weapon system.

PICAT is co-ordinated by Trident Ploughshares and will involve groups across England and Wales in a series of steps which will hopefully lead to the Attorney General’s consent for the case to go before the courts.

Groups will begin by seeking an assurance from the Secretary of State for Defence that the UK’s nuclear weapons will not be used, or their use threatened, in such a way as to cause wholesale loss of civilian life and damage to the environment.

In the case of no response or an unsatisfactory one groups will then approach their local magistrates to lay a Criminal Information (1). If consent for the case is not forthcoming from the Attorney General the campaign will then consider approaching the International Criminal Court.

Veteran peace campaigner Angie Zelter (2), who has developed the project along with international lawyer Robbie Manson (3), said:

Pope Francis Statement on Nuclear Weapons

By Alice Slater

The stirring condemnation of nuclear weapons by Pope Francis today at the United Nations and his call for their prohibition and complete elimination in compliance with promises made in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), signed by the US in 1970, 45 years ago, should give new momentum to the current campaign to start negotiations on a ban treaty.  This initiative endorsed by 117  non-nuclear weapons states to sign the Humanitarian Pledge being circulated initially by Austria, to “fill the legal gap” for nuclear disarmament and ban the bomb just as the world has banned chemical and biological weapons would create a new legal norm, which was not established in the NPT which provided that the five nuclear weapons states (US, Russia, UK, France, China) would make “good faith” efforts for nuclear disarmament, but didn’t prohibit their possession, in return for a promise from all the other nations not to acquire nuclear weapons.   Every nation in the world signed the treaty except India, Pakistan, and Israel who went on to get nuclear weapons.   North Korea took advantage of the NPTs Faustian bargain to give “peaceful” nuclear power to nations who promised not to make bombs and walked out of the treaty using the keys it got to its own bomb factory to make weapons.

At the NPT five year review conference this spring, the US, Canada, and the UK refused to agree to a final document because they couldn’t deliver Israel’s agreement on a promise made in 1995 to hold a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone conference for the middleeast.  South Africa, condemned the nuclear apartheid enshrined in the double standard of the NPT which allowed the five signers to not only keep their nukes but to continue to modernize them with Obama pledging one trillion dollars over the next thirty years for two new bomb factories, delivery systems and new nuclear weapons.   Indeed, on the eve of the Pope’s UN talk, it was reported that the US is planning to upgrade its nuclear weapons stationed at a German NATO base, causing Russia to rattle a few nuclear sabers of its own.    The obvious bad faith of the nuclear weapons states is paving the way for even more non-nuclear weapons states to create the legal taboo for nuclear weapons just as the world has done for other weapons of mass destruction.   Inspired by the Pope’s talk, this may be a time to finally give peace a chance. 

Alice Slater is New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War

Tomgram: Krushnic and King, The Corporate Nuclear Complex

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

After the Iran Nuclear Agreement: Will the Nuclear Powers Also Play by the Rules?

When all is said and done, what the recently-approved Iran nuclear agreement is all about is ensuring that Iran honors its commitment under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) not to develop nuclear weapons.

But the NPT—which was ratified in 1968 and which went into force in 1970—has two kinds of provisions.  The first is that non-nuclear powers forswear developing a nuclear weapons capability.  The second is that nuclear-armed nations divest themselves of their own nuclear weapons.  Article VI of the treaty is quite explicit on this second point, stating: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

Nuclear War Theme Parks: Mass Destruction for the Whole Family

By John LaForge

Plutonium was named after Pluto, “god of the underworld,” Hades, or hell. It was created inside faulty reactors, concentrated, and machined by US scientists into the most devastating and horrifying of all weapons. Photos of what the Manhattan Project’s plutonium bomb did to human beings at Nagasaki prove the point. There is radioactive blowback in the fact that the thousands of tons of plutonium created since 1945 is so dangerously hot and long-lived that, like the underworld itself, nobody knows how to handle it at all -- except maybe to trivialize it. 

Hoping perhaps to show that the bomb from hell can be transformed from a vengeful, self-destructive, nightmare demon, into a benign, peace-loving, fairy-tale prince, nuclear propagandists and their friends in Congress are establishing nuclear war theme parks -- without the taint of mass destruction -- at former bomb factories and nuclear weapons launch pads all across the country.
Tours are being offered at the “B Reactor,” on the Hanford Reservation in Washington State which in 2008 was declared a National Historic Landmark. Plutonium production reactors for the nuclear arsenal were sloppily operated there for decades, releasing large amounts of radioactive fallout and causing permanent tainting of groundwater which now threatens the Columbia River—cover it up, make it a destination.

Hot and dry in the heartland: Radioactive Texas Waste Dump Threatens Key US Water Resource

By Paul DiRienzo

 

In a remote place in the desert of West Texas, outside the small town of Andrews, something dirty has been going on which threatens the water supply of nearly a third of America’s farmland (and perhaps the millions of people who eat the food grown using that water).  

U.S. Bows Out After Plowshares Conviction is Vacated: Appeals Court Ill-Informed on Nuclear Overkill

By John LaForge

The 2012 Transform Now Plowshares anti-nuclear action made the “Fort Knox” of weapons-grade uranium look like “F Troop.” Three senior peace activists got through four chain-link fences and past multiple “lethal force” zones before stringing banners, spray-painting slogans and pouring blood on the Highly-Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee – all without being noticed by guards.

The guard that finally spotted the three activists – Sr. Megan Rice, 85, of New York City, Greg Boertje-Obed, 60, of Duluth, and Michael Walli, 66, of Washington, D.C. – testified that he knew a peace protest when he saw one. He had watched a lot of them while on duty at Rocky Flats, the former plutonium warhead factory near Denver, Colorado. That’s why he shrugged off official protocol and didn’t draw his gun on Greg, Megan and Michael that night.

Make deal not war!: Obama’s, and Washington’s, Absurd Choice of a Nuclear Deal or War on Iran

By Dave Lindorff


I don’t know which is worse: President Obama asserting, in defense of the nuclear deal he and his Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated with Iran, that “The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon,” or the fact that most Americans, and most American pundits, seem to accept that limited choice of options as a given.

Tomgram: Susan Southard, Under the Mushroom Cloud -- Nagasaki after Nuclear War

 This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, 

Hiroshima-Nagasaki: 70-Year Nuclear Explosions Not Done Yet

By David Swanson, Telesur

This August 6th and 9th millions of people will mark the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in those cities and at events around the world. Some will celebrate the recent deal in which Iran committed not to pursue nuclear weapons, and to comply with the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and with requirements not imposed on any other nation.

Yet, those nations that have nuclear weapons are either violating the NPT by failing to disarm or by building more (U.S., Russia, U.K., France, China, India), or they have refused to sign the treaty (Israel, Pakistan, North Korea). Meanwhile new nations are acquiring nuclear energy despite possessing an abundance of oil and/or some of the best conditions for solar energy on earth (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE).

Nuclear missiles containing more than the entire bombing power of World War II in a single bomb are aimed by the thousands at Russia from the United States and vice versa. A thirty-second fit of insanity in a U.S. or Russian president could eliminate all life on earth. And the United States is playing war games on Russia's border. The acceptance of this madness as normal and routine is part of the continued explosion of those two bombs, begun 70 years ago and rarely properly understood.

The dropping of those bombs and the explicit threat ever since to drop more is a new crime that has given birth to a new species of imperialism. The United States has intervened in over 70 nations -- more than one per year -- since World War II, and has now come full-circle to the re-militarization of Japan.

The history of the first U.S. militarization of Japan has been brought to light by James Bradley. In 1853 the U.S. Navy forced Japan open to U.S. merchants, missionaries, and militarism. In 1872 the U.S. military began training the Japanese in how to conquer other nations, with an eye on Taiwan.

Charles LeGendre, an American general training the Japanese in the ways of war, proposed that they adopt a Monroe Doctrine for Asia, that is a policy of dominating Asia in the way that the United States dominated its hemisphere. In 1873, Japan invaded Taiwan with U.S. military advisors and weaponry. Korea was next, followed by China in 1894. In 1904, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt encouraged Japan in attacking Russia. But he broke a promise to Japan by refusing to go public with his support for its Monroe Doctrine, and he backed Russia's refusal to pay Japan a dime following the war. The Japanese empire became seen as a competitor rather than a proxy, and the U.S. military spent decades planning for a war with Japan.

Harry Truman, who would order the nuclear bombings in 1945, spoke in the U.S. Senate on June 23, 1941: "If we see that Germany is winning," he said, "we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible." Did Truman value Japanese lives above Russian and German? There is nothing anywhere to suggest that he did. A U.S. Army poll in 1943 found that roughly half of all GIs believed it would be necessary to kill every Japanese person on earth. William Halsey, who commanded U.S. naval forces in the South Pacific, vowed that when the war was over, the Japanese language would be spoken only in hell.

On August 6, 1945, President Truman announced: "Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese army base." Of course it was a city, not an army base at all. "Having found the bomb we have used it," Truman declared. "We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, and against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international law of warfare." Truman said nothing about reluctance or the price necessary for ending the war.

In fact, Japan had been trying to surrender for months, including in its July 13th cable sent to Stalin, who read it to Truman. Japan wanted only to keep its emperor, terms the United States refused until after the nuclear bombings. Truman's advisor James Byrnes wanted the bombs dropped to end the war before the Soviet Union could invade Japan. In fact, the Soviets attacked the Japanese in Manchuria on the same day as the Nagasaki bombing and overwhelmed them. The U.S. and the Soviets continued the war on Japan for weeks after Nagasaki. Then the Japanese surrendered.

The United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that, "… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated." One opponent of the nuclear bombings who had expressed this same view to the Secretary of War prior to the bombings was General Dwight Eisenhower. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy agreed: "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender."

The war wasn't just over. The new American empire was launched. "The revulsion against war ... will be an almost insuperable obstacle for us to overcome," said General Electric CEO Charles Wilson in 1944. "For that reason, I am convinced that we must begin now to set the machinery in motion for a permanent wartime economy." And so they did. Although invasions were nothing new to the U.S. military, they now came on a whole new scale. And the ever-present threat of nuclear weapons use has been a key part of it.

Truman threatened to nuke China in 1950. The myth developed, in fact, that Eisenhower's enthusiasm for nuking China led to the rapid conclusion of the Korean War. Belief in that myth led President Richard Nixon, decades later, to imagine he could end the Vietnam War by pretending to be crazy enough to use nuclear bombs. Even more disturbingly, he actually was crazy enough. "The nuclear bomb, does that bother you? … I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes," Nixon said to Henry Kissinger in discussing options for Vietnam. And how many times has Iran been reminded that "all options are on the table"?

A new campaign to abolish nuclear weapons is growing fast and deserves our support. But Japan is being remilitarized. And once again, the U.S. government imagines it will like the results. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with U.S. support, is reinterpreting this language in the Japanese Constitution:

"[T]he Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. ... [L]and, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained."

The new "reinterpretation," accomplished without amending the Constitution, holds that Japan can maintain land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, and that Japan will use war or threaten war to defend itself, to defend any of its allies, or to take part in a U.N.-authorized war anywhere on earth. Abe's "reinterpretation" skills would make the U.S. Office of Legal Counsel blush.

U.S. commentators are referring to this shift in Japan as "normalization" and expressing outrage at Japan's failure to engage in any wars since World War II. The U.S. government will now expect Japan's participation in any threat or use of war against China or Russia. But accompanying the return of Japanese militarism is the rise of Japanese nationalism, not Japanese devotion to U.S. rule. And even the Japanese nationalism is weak in Okinawa, where the movement to evict U.S. military bases grows stronger all the time. In remilitarizing Japan, rather than demilitarizing itself, the United States is playing with fire.

70 Years: Ban Nukes

By Alice Slater

On this fateful day, 70 years ago, the first of the only two atomic bombs ever used was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, with a second catastrophic detonation wreaked on Nagasaki on August 9th , killing over 220,000 people by the end of 1945, with many tens of thousands of more dying from radiation poisoning and its lethal after effects over the years.   Yet despite these horrendous cataclysms in Japan, there are still 16,000 nuclear weapons on the planet, all but 1,000 of them held by the US and Russia.  Our legal structures to control and eliminate the bomb are in tatters, as the five recognized nuclear weapons states in the Non-Proliferation Treaty—the US, UK, Russia, France, China--cling to their nuclear deterrents, asserting they are needed for their “security” despite the promises they made in 1970, 45 long years ago, to make good faith efforts to eliminate their nuclear arms.  This “security” in the form of nuclear “deterrence” is extended by the United States to many more countries in the NATO nuclear alliances as well as to the Pacific states of Japan, Australia, and South Korea.  Non-NPT states, India, Pakistan and Israel, as well as North Korea which left the NPT, taking advantage of its Faustian bargain for “peaceful” nuclear power, to make nuclear weapons similarly claim their reliance on nuclear “deterrence” for their security.

The rest of the world is appalled, not only at the lack of progress to fulfill promises for nuclear disarmament, but the constant modernization and “improvement” of nuclear arsenals with the US announcing a plan to spend one trillion dollars over the next 30 years for two new bomb factories, delivery systems and warheads, having just tested a dummy nuclear bunker-buster warhead last month in Nevada, its B-61-12 nuclear gravity bomb!  At this last NPT Review Conference in May, which broke up when the US, UK, and Canada refused to agree to an Egyptian proposal for a conference on a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone, made to fulfill a 1995 promise as part of the commitments from the nuclear weapons states for an indefinite extension of the 25 year old NPT, the non- nuclear weapons states took a bold step.   South Africa expressed its outrage at the unacceptable nuclear apartheid apparent in the current “security” system of nuclear haves and have nots—a system holding the whole world hostage to the security doctrine of the few.

In the past two years, after three major conferences with governments and civil society in Norway, Mexico and Austria to examine the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear war, over 100 nations signed up at the end of the NPT to the Austrian government’s Humanitarian Pledge to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.  There are now 113 countries willing to move forward to negotiate a prohibition and ban on nuclear weapons to stigmatize and delegitimize these weapons of horror, just at the world has done for chemical and biological weapons.  See www.icanw.org  It is hoped that countries harboring under their nuclear umbrellas will also be pressured by civil society to give up their alliance with the nuclear devil and join the Humanitarian Pledge. This August, as we remember and commemorate around the world the horrendous events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it’s long past time to ban the bomb!  Let the talks begin!!

Tomgram: Christian Appy, America's Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 Years Later

 This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week,

70 Years of Atomic Bombs: Can We Disarm Yet?

By Rivera Sun

Two days. Two bombs. More than 200,000 men, women, and children incinerated and poisoned. It has been 70 years since the United States military dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This August 6th and 9th citizens around the world will gather to remember--and to renew their efforts in working toward nuclear disarmament.

At Los Alamos (the cradle of the bomb), citizens will gather to mark the days with peace vigils, demonstrations, public speeches from nationally renowned activists, and trainings in nonviolence. Campaign Nonviolence, one of the organizing groups, will livestream four days of events to everyone, including broadcasts in Japan.

Los Alamos is a city that exists solely to research and develop nuclear weapons. The vigils for peace and disarmament will take place on the exact ground where the original bombs were built. In 1945, a set of buildings surrounded the top-secret laboratory. Today, Ashley Pond has been turned into a public park. The lab has been moved across a deep canyon, protected by security checkpoints, and pedestrians are not allowed to cross the bridge. Los Alamos National Laboratory consumes two billion taxpayer dollars annually. The county is the fourth-richest in the nation. It is located in the northern part of the second-poorest state, New Mexico.

The Golden Rule Sets Sail from Eureka to San Diego

Sailing for a Nuclear Free World

EUREKA, CALIFORNIA - The historic Golden Rule peace boat, restored by Veterans For Peace and many friends, sets sail from the Eureka marina at noontime on Thursday, July 23, on its way to San Diego.

The 30-foot ketch and its crew ignited an international movement to stop the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in 1958, when they attempted to sail into a nuclear bomb test zone in the Marshall Islands.  The Golden Rule will now continue its mission to educate millions of people about the perils of nuclear weapons.

“Nuclear weapons are still with us and the threat of nuclear war is very real,” said the Golden Rule’s captain David Robson, a Veterans For Peace member from Baltimore, Maryland. “We are dismayed that the U.S. government plans to invest One Trillion Dollars into upgrading its nuclear arsenal, instead of reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons, as called for in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.”

Joining David Robson on the sail to San Diego is first mate Jan Passion of Pleasant Hills, California, and crew members Michael Gonzales of Trinidad, California and Helen Jaccard of Seattle, Washington.

“The ongoing nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, Japan reminds us of the dangers of radiation poisoning posed by nuclear power plants,” said Golden Rule crew member Helen Jaccard.  “Nuclear power is the flip side of nuclear weapons, and we don’t need either of them,” said Jaccard.

The first voyage of the renewed Golden Rule sailboat will be from Eureka on California’s north coast to San Diego near the U.S./Mexico border. After an estimated 7-10 days, the Golden Rule will arrive in time for the national convention of Veterans For Peace, August 5-9.  That week is also the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed more than 200,000 people.  The convention theme is “Peace and Reconciliation in the Pacific.”

In Eureka, there is a sense of shared pride and joy among those who have worked hard for the last five years to see this day. 

“This little wooden boat is a honey,” said Leroy Zerlang, whose boatyard has been home to the Golden Rule during five years of restoration by volunteers.  “We all want to live in a peaceful world.  My family and staff were very happy to do our part,” said Zerlang.

The Golden Rule will return to Eureka in October, after visiting ports along the California coast as it works its way north from San Diego.  Over the next ten years, the Golden Rule will carry its message of peace around the United States and possibly around the world.

Follow the progress of the Golden Rule on its website, www.vfpgoldenruleproject.org

Are Nuclear Arms Control and Disarmament Agreements of Any Value?

The recent announcement of a nuclear deal between the governments of Iran and other major nations, including the United States, naturally draws our attention to the history of international nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements.  What accounts for their advent on the world scene and what have they accomplished?

Ever since 1945, when the atomic bomb was built and used by the U.S. government in a devastating attack upon Japanese cities, the world has lived on the brink of catastrophe, for nuclear weapons, if integrated into war, could cause the total destruction of civilization.

Nuclear Country Gets Non-Nuclear Country to Abolish Its Nukes

By Winslow Myers

“The human capacity to ‘live in truth,’ . . . is the nuclear weapon that gives power to the powerless.”  —Michael Zantowsky, writing about Vaclav Havel

I’m not an expert, just another interested citizen who follows the news, but something sticks in my craw about our negotiations with Iran, whether they are ultimately successful or not.

There is a huge distance between what can be realistically accomplished politically and some rarely acknowledged truths that might allow us to go much further. I admire the way President Obama (see the recent interview (link) with Tom Friedman in the New York Times) acknowledged candidly that Iran has had legitimate beefs with the U.S., like our meddling in their elections in 1953, or our support of Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war even as Saddam used chemical weapons against Iran. It’s a step toward truth, and not a mere giving in to facile moral relativism, to acknowledge that there are multiple frames of reference that are useful to take into account in international relations.

In no way should Iran be let off the hook for its virulent anti-Semitism and its own destructive meddling by proxy. But, as Obama rightly points out, Nixon negotiated successfully with China just as Reagan did with Soviet Russia, the erstwhile evil empire.

The true, almost entirely unspoken, context for negotiation between two or more sides in the nuclear age who each see the other as untrustworthy, flawed, or devious is epitomized by the sentence Albert Einstein wrote in a telegram to world leaders way back in 1946: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

That’s a huge assertion: everything has changed. Is it true?

Even taking into account U.S.-Russian arms reductions, there are still 17,500 nuclear weapons extant on this small planet, distributed among 9 nations. What Einstein prophesied has come to pass in spades: the nuclear powers maintain an elaborate fiction that their security interests are furthered by possessing a robust nuclear arsenal and that deterrence will protect us all forever into the future. This is the Big Lie that undergirds our anxious search for security.

The truth—the new mode of thinking that Einstein implied is desperately needed—is that the existence of nuclear weapons, no matter who has them, is a common, shared, trans-national challenge that, far from making us safer, moves us day by day toward the abyss. Ordinary people seem to have a clearer grasp of this than “experts” and politicians determined to maintain the status quo, a status quo that is actually a gradual drift, as Einstein said, toward catastrophe.

The assumption is that America is so technically advanced that our nuclear weapons are fail-safe must be set against accounts in the news of the bored servicemen in the missile silos of the Midwest cheating on readiness tests. Should a fatal error occur and a nuclear war begin by accident, it would be an ultimate evil that far transcends the putative good or evil of any existing national regime—including the United States, which refuses to see itself as anything but an exceptional force for good in the world.

A further danger of this illusion of exceptionalism is our propensity to define ourselves by who our enemies are (Iran tortures routinely; we do not—wait—oops!) without examining our own role in the mix. Politicians who wish to distract their constituency from domestic difficulties can find the notion of a fearsome “other,” whether African at home or Persian abroad, all too convenient—setting aside that it keeps the weapons industry humming. The truth is, on this small planet, there is no “other.” We’re all in this together.

So perhaps what bothers this ordinary citizen about the frenetic negotiations with Iran and the equally frenetic opposition to them on the part of hard-liners in both countries is the elephant in the room of a grossly hypocritical double standard. Our thousands of nukes, Israel’s hundreds, Pakistan’s hundred or so are O.K. Iran coming anywhere near building even one—not O.K.

Einstein would see this double standard, almost seventy years beyond his pronunciation of naked truth, as deeply illusory—a kind of planetary psychosis rooted in a now obsolete mode of thinking, which pits nation against nation as if we were back in the time before the world wars, when the most destructive weapon was a cannonball.

While we ought to applaud Obama and Kerry for their tenacious perseverance and fervently hope the newly minted arrangements with Iran overcome the doubts both in our Congress and among Iranian hard-liners, the deeper issue of seeking the worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons, no exceptions, continues to be painfully ignored in favor of obsolete power politics based on the Big Lie. Only if we live in truth can this be changed.

Winslow Myers, the author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide,” writes on global issues and serves on the Advisory Board of the War Prevention Initiative.

August 6 Peace Witness Commemorating the U.S. Nuclear Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Please join with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and other peacemakers for a nonviolent peace vigil to commemorate the U.S. nuclear bombings of Japan on August 6 and August 9, 1945 and to call for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. See details below. Please share with other friends.

Seventy years ago the U.S. government did the "unspeakable" and dropped atomic bombs on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Please join in a nonviolent witness as we seek to remember the pain, repent the sin and reclaim the future.
 
When and Where:
Thursday, August 6 (Anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and the feast of the Transfiguration): nonviolent witness at the Pentagon. Meet on corner of Army-Navy Drive and Fern St. at 6:45 a.m. Witness from 7:00 - 8:30 a.m. (8:15 a.m. was the actual time of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima)

Please Join Us!

For more info contact: Dorothy Day Catholic Worker--202-882-9649, artlaffin@hotmail.com

U.S. Conference of Mayors Passes Anti-War Resolution

U.S. Conference of Mayors Unanimously Adopts Resolution "Calling for Effective Implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Disarmament Obligation and Redirection of Nuclear Weapons Spending to Meet the Needs of Cities"

San Francisco, CA – At the close of its 83rd Annual Meeting today, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), for the 10th consecutive year, adopted a strong resolution in support of Mayors for Peace, noting that August 6 and 9, 2015 will mark the 70th anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Nuclear Realism

By Robert C. Koehler

There’s a category of political intellectuals who proudly proclaim themselves “realists,” then proceed to defend and advance a deeply faith-based agenda that centers on the ongoing necessity to prepare for war, including nuclear war.

These intellectuals, as they defend the military-industrial status quo (which often supports them financially), have made themselves the spokespersons for a deep human cancer: a soul cancer. When we prepare for war, we honor a profoundly embedded death wish; indeed, we assume we can exploit it for our own advantage. We can’t, of course. War and hatred link all of us; we can’t dehumanize, then proceed to murder, “the enemy” without doing the same, ultimately, to ourselves.

That isn’t to say there’s an easy way out of the mess we find ourselves in, here in the 21st century. Indeed, I see only one way out: a critical mass of humanity coming to its senses and groping for a way to create a peace that that has more resonance than war. We don’t have much political leadership around this, especially among the planet’s dominant — and nuclear-armed — nation states. But there is some.

Nuclear Weapons Proliferation – Made in the USA

By John LaForge

The United States is perhaps the principal nuclear weapons proliferator in the world today, openly flouting binding provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Article I of the treaty forbids signers from transferring nuclear weapons to other states, and Article II prohibits signers from receiving nuclear weapons from other states.       

As the UN Review Conference of the NPT was finishing its month-long deliberations in New York last week, the US delegation distracted attention from its own violations using its standard red herring warnings about Iran and North Korea -- the former without a single nuclear weapon, and the latter with 8-to-10 (according to those reliable weapons spotters at the CIA) but with no means of delivering them.

A Nuclear Weapons Ban Emerging

By Robert F. Dodge

Every moment of every day, all of humanity is held hostage by the nuclear nine.  The nine nuclear nations are made up of the P5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and their illegitimate nuclear wannabes Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan, spawned by the mythological theory of deterrence. This theory has fueled the nuclear arms race since its inception wherein if one nation has one nuclear weapon, its adversary needs two and so on to the point that the world now has 15,700 nuclear weapons wired for immediate use and planetary destruction with no end in sight. This inaction continues despite the 45-year legal commitment of the nuclear nations to work toward complete nuclear abolition. In fact just the opposite is happening with the U.S. proposing to spend $1 Trillion on nuclear weapons “modernization” over the next 30 years, fueling the “deterrent” response of every other nuclear state to do likewise.

Talk Nation Radio: Tim Wright: 107 Nations Now Want to Ban Nukes

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-tim-wright-107-nations-now-want-to-ban-nukes/

Tim Wright is the Australian Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. There are now 107 nations committed to legally banning the possession, production, or use of nuclear weapons. Wright discusses the strategy of this abolition movement. See also:

http://www.icanw.org

http://www.politicspersonified.com/2015/05/introducing-radical-dreamer-tim-wright.html

Total run time: 29:00

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

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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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Arresting the Wrong Suspects

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.

22 Arrested at U.S. Mission to UN Calling For Nuclear Abolition

By Art Laffin
 
On April 28, as the United Nations sponsored Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review conference was beginning its second day, 22 peacemakers from around the U.S. were arrested in a "Shadows and Ashes" nonviolent blockade at the U.S. Mission to the UN in New York City, calling on the U.S. to abolish its nuclear arsenal and on all other nuclear weapons states to do the same. Two main entrances to the U.S. Mission were blocked before arrests were made. We sang, and held a large banner reading: "Shadows and Ashes--All That Remain," as well as other disarmament signs. After being placed under arrest, we were taken to the 17th Precinct where we were processed and charged with "failure to obey a lawful order" and "blocking pedestrian traffic." We were all released and given a summons to return to court on June 24, the feast of St. John the Baptist.
 
 
In participating in this nonviolent witness, organized by members of the War Resisters League, I've come full circle in my journey of peacemaking and nonviolent resistance. Thirty-seven years ago marked my first arrest at the same U.S. Mission during the First U.N. Special Session on Disarmament. Thirty-seven years later, I returned to the same site to call upon the U.S., the only country to have used the Bomb, to repent for the nuclear sin and to disarm.
 
While there have been reductions in the nuclear arsenal over the last thirty-seven years, nuclear weapons are still the centerpiece of the U.S. Empire's war machine. Talks continue. Non-aligned and non-nuclear nations and numerous NGO's plead with the nuclear powers to disarm, but to no avail! The nuclear danger remains ever-present. On January 22, 2015, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists turned the "Doomsday Clock" to three minutes before midnight. Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, explained: "Climate change and the danger of nuclear war pose an ever-growing threat to civilization and are bringing the world closer to doomsday...It is now three minutes to midnight...Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity...And world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe.'"
 
In decrying the colossal nuclear violence that imperils all life and our sacred earth, I prayed during our witness for the countless victims of the Nuclear Age, now in its 70th year, and all victims of war--past and present. I thought about the immeasurable environmental destruction that has resulted from  decades of uranium mining, nuclear testing, and the production and maintenance of a lethal radioactive nuclear arsenal. I pondered the stark reality that, since 1940, some $9 trillion has been squandered to finance the U.S nuclear weapons program. And to make matters worse, the Obama Administration is proposing a projected $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize and upgrade the existing U.S. nuclear arsenal.  As the public treasury has, in effect, been looted to fund the Bomb and warmaking, a massive national debt has been incurred, vitally needed social programs have been defunded and a litany of human needs go unmet. These exorbitant nuclear expenditures have directly contributed to the dramatic social and economic upheaval in our society today.Thus we see blighted cities, rampant poverty, high unemployment, lack of affordable housing, inadequate health care, underfunded schools, and a mass incarceration system. 
 
While in police custody, I also remembered and prayed for Freddie Gray who died in such custody, as well as for the numerous Black citizens who have been killed by police across our land. I prayed for an end to police brutality against all people of color. In the name of God who calls us to love and not to kill, I pray for an end to all racial violence. I stand with all who are demanding accountability for those police officers responsible for killing Blacks and for an end to racial profiling. All Life is Sacred! No Life is Expendable! Black Lives Matter!
 
Yesterday afternoon, I had the great opportunity to be with some of the Hibakusha (A-Bomb survivors from Japan) as they gathered in front of the White House to collect signatures for a petition to abolish nuclear weapons. The Hibakusha have been relentless in their heroic efforts to appeal to the nuclear powers who have gathered for the NPT Review Conference at the UN, and in their travels to different places in the U.S., to plead for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. These courageous peacemakers are living reminders of the unspeakable horror of nuclear war. Their message is clear: "Humankind can't coexist with nuclear weapons." The voice of the Hibakusha must be heard and acted on by all people of goodwill. 
 
Dr. King declared that in the Nuclear Age the "choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Now, more than ever, we need to heed Dr. King's clarion call for nonviolence, work to eradicate what he called "the triple evils of racism, poverty and militarism," and strive to create the Beloved Community and a disarmed world.
 
Those Arrested:
 
Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert, Art Laffin, Bill Ofenloch, Ed Hedemann, Jerry Goralnick, Jim Clune, Joan Pleune, John LaForge, Martha Hennessy, Ruth Benn, Trudy Silver, Vicki Rovere, Walter Goodman, David McReynolds, Sally Jones, Mike Levinson, Florindo Troncelliti, Helga Moor, Alice Sutter, Bud Courtneyand Tarak Kauff.
 


 

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.

Making History and Building a Future in the Nevada Desert

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.    <brian@vcnv.org>

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