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This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week,
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.
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
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.
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.
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, email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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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. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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