Last month the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), the nation’s highest classification authority, released a number of top-level government memoranda that shed additional light on the so-called NUMEC affair, "the story that won't go away—the possibility that in the 1960s, Israel stole bomb-grade uranium from a US nuclear fuel-processing plant.”
You are hereNuclear
By John LaForge
VIENNA, Austria—A pair of conferences here Dec. 6-9 have tried to raise public and government awareness of nuclear weapons.
The first, a Civil Society Forum put on by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, ICAN, brought together NGOs, parliamentarians, and activists of all stripes to try and boost morale and renew enthusiasm in efforts to ban the bomb.
About 700 participants spent two days delving into the ghastly health and environmental effects of nuclear war, the hair-raising frequency of H-bomb accidents and near detonations, the horrifying impacts of bomb testing—and other human radiation experiments conducted without informed consent upon our own unwitting civilians and soldiers.
This is ground that’s been plowed for decades, but it’s nevertheless staggering to the uninitiated and is never repeated too often—especially in view of the destabilization and skyrocketing death toll of what the Pope has called today’s “World War Three.”
ICAN’s infusion of youthful encouragement and high-energy mobilization is a welcome relief for the doddering anti-nuclear movement that’s seen a generation of activists lost to campaigns against corporate globalization and the perpetrators of climate collapse. Mary Olson, of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, who presented expert testimony on the misogynistic gender bias in radiation effects, said she had gotten a “surprisingly big jolt of hope from the youngness of the gathering.”
A second conference -- the “Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons” (HINW) -- brought together government representatives and hundreds of others, and was the third in a series. Austria, which has neither nuclear weapons nor nuclear reactors, sponsored the gathering.
After decades of negotiations over the strategic and numerical size of nuclear arsenals, the HINW meetings have faced the harsh ugliness and catastrophic health and environmental effects of nuclear testing and warfare.
Expert witnesses spoke directly to 180 government representatives about the ethical, legal, medical and ecological consequences of H-bomb detonations which are—in the language of diplomatic nicety—“foreseeable.” Then, scores of nation-state delegates called on nuclear-armed states to pursue abolition. Dozens of speakers noted that landmines, cluster munitions, gas, chemical and biological weapons have all been banned, but the worst of all¾thermonuclear WMD—have not.
But the emperor can’t see his own nakedness
It turns out that a gathering of elites like the HINW is like a prison population: there is a strict, arcane etiquette; a rigorous separation of classes; and a blatant violation of all the rules by privileged, rich and pampered chieftains.
The most blatant violation came at the start of the first question-&-answer session, and it was my own government—which skipped previous HINW meetings in Norway and Mexico—that put a radioactive foot in its bomb-cratered mouth. Immediately following harrowing personal testimonies from downwind bomb test victims, and a review by Ms. Olson of the science showing women and children to be far more vulnerable to radiation than men, the U.S. interrupted. Everyone noticed.
Although facilitators twice directed participants to ask questions only the U.S. delegate, Adam Scheinman, was first at the mic, and he declared flatly, “I will not ask a question but make a statement.” The bully then ignored the panel’s hour-long discussion of the brutal, gruesome, and long-term effects of nuclear weapons testing. Instead, in ringing non sequitur, Scheinman’s prepared statement declared U.S. opposition to a nuclear weapons ban and noted support for negotiations for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Mr. Scheinman also lauded the U.S. embrace of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty¾code language for decades of winking at open US violations of the treaty’s requirements.
(Principle among U.S. NPT violations are Pres. Obama’s planned $1 trillion, 30-year budget for new nuclear weapons; “nuclear sharing” agreements that keep 180 U.S. H-bombs at US bases in Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy and Turkey; and sales of Trident nuclear missiles to the British submarine fleet.)
Mr. Scheinman’s rude defiance of conference protocol was a microcosm of the country’s global militarism: oblivious, contemptuous, imperious, and defiant of law. Conducted at 1:20 in the afternoon, the scene-stealing disruption was well-timed to be the lead headline on nightly TV news. U.S. refusal to support and dismissal of the movement for a nuclear weapons ban/treaty should be the story of the conference, but corporate media can be counted on to note only Obama’s public agenda and his finger-pointing at non-nuclear Iran.
The desired result of Scheinman’s outburst is that the U.S. momentarily diverted attention from the indiscriminate, uncontrollable, widespread, persistent, radiological and genetically destabilizing, scofflaw impact of its nuclear weapons—and got television to pat it on the back merely for showing up and “listening.”
Indeed, after its usurpation of center-stage here—and after having temporarily recast the subject of the conference—the U.S. may now get back to its real agenda, the massively expensive “upgrade” of machinery for producing 80 new H-bombs a year by 2020.
-- John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, edits its Quarterly newsletter, and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.
By Joseph Cirincione, Defense One
VIENNA, Austria — While Iran negotiations get screaming headlines, recent conferences on the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons have not gotten much attention. Maybe they should. They are generating a growing movement that could have a bigger impact on U.S. nuclear policy than many have assumed.
Most security analysts were only dimly aware, if at all, that a conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons was held in Oslo, Norway, in March 2013, then a second conference, somewhat larger, in Nayarit, Mexico, in February 2014. I personally did not pay much attention — and nuclear policy is my job.
But a third Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons conference is underway this week in Vienna that could be changing the calculus. It is the largest yet, with 800 delegates from almost 160 nations. I am attending for the first time, as are dozens of my colleagues. More importantly, the United States has sent an official delegation, as have the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan. This is a first for the nuclear-weapon states, who shunned the previous discussions.
The grand, historic Hofburg Palace is filled with officials and scores of nongovernment groups who jam the galleries and mingle in the hallways debating strategies. The nongovernment groups held a separate “civil forum,” sponsored by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, in the two days preceding the official conference. It was packed with over 600 participants, with most in their twenties and thirties.
There’s clearly something happening here, but, as Buffalo Springfield said, “What it is, ain’t exactly clear.” The ICAN conference pushed a new treaty to ban the bomb. The official Vienna conference does not have that goal, in part, because the U.S. and the nuclear-weapon states strongly oppose it. It is uncertain how many nations favor a new treaty, but they are searching for new ideas, new initiatives – something that can jump-start the moribund efforts to reduce nuclear dangers.
Speaker after speaker at the conferences warn of the dangers of keeping 16,000 nuclear weapons in fallible human hands 25 years after the end of the Cold War. The use of one modern nuclear weapon would be a catastrophe many times worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, triggering global economic turmoil. The use of a dozen would be destruction never seen before in human history. The use of just one hundred in a regional war would trigger a nuclear winter that could starve one billion people. A global nuclear war would be the end of human civilization.
Nuclear risks are growing, the speakers warn, from increased risk of accidents and miscalculation, from tensions in South Asia, from new nuclear use doctrines in Russia. Worse, they say, nearly every one of the nine nations with nuclear weapons is modernizing their arsenal. The United States alone is on track to spend an estimated $1 trillion on nuclear weapons over the next 30 years.
Such “spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations,” Pope Francis said in a statement to the conference. The Catholic Church has long opposed nuclear weapons, but had accepted the policy of deterrence during the Cold War. This week, however, the Pope said that threatening to use nuclear weapons, even to prevent others from using them, is no longer justifiable. “Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states,” he said. Nuclear weapons must be “banned once and for all.”
This may seem completely alien to defense experts in Washington and the capitals of other nuclear-weapon states. For many, nuclear weapons are an essential part of a national security strategy. They hesitate to reducing their arsenals, least they appear weak to their adversaries or political opponents, even though few imagine actually using the weapons.
But what if they were used? What would happen? “We believe the world needs to know more about the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons use,” over 100 experts and former global government leaders wrote in an open letter to the Vienna conference. “The risks pose by nuclear weapons and the international dynamics that could lead to nuclear weapons being used are under-estimated or insufficiently understood by world leaders.” Signers included former Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar, Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright, ret., former British Ministers Margaret Beckett, David Owen and Des Browne, and this author.
The letter signers urged the conference delegates to move to a sustained public education effort on the “catastrophic consequences” of nuclear use. This may well happen. A fourth “impact” conference is already planned. New films, reports, panels and citizen actions are in the works. Some groups are eager to follow the model of the successful land mine ban treaty, which began with a few states signing and snowballed into an effective global pact. The organizers of these conferences are encouraged by their success, excited by their potential, and angry at what they see as the failure of many elected leaders to do anything about the real and present nuclear dangers.
Call it part of the “we don’t trust government” movement. Or see it as a revival of the anti-nuclear movements of the 1950’s or 1980’s. Or think of it as nuclear Paul Revere’s racing to warn of coming threats.
Whatever you think, the Vienna conference signals the maturing of a new, significant current in the nuclear policy debate. Government policy makers would be wise to take this new factor into account.
By Joseph Cirincione // Joe Cirincione is president of Ploughshares Fund and the author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late.
Dec. 5, 2014, NTI
His Excellency Sebastian Kurz
Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs
Dear Minister Kurz:
We are writing to commend publicly the Austrian government for convening the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. As members of global leadership networks developed in cooperation with the U.S.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), we believe it is essential for governments and interested parties to state emphatically that the use of a nuclear weapon, by a state or non-state actor, anywhere on the planet would have catastrophic human consequences.
Our global networks–comprised of former senior political, military and diplomatic leaders from across five continents–share many of the concerns represented on the conference agenda. In Vienna and beyond, in addition, we see an opportunity for all states, whether they possess nuclear weapons or not, to work together in a joint enterprise to identify, understand, prevent, manage and eliminate the risks associated with these indiscriminate and inhumane weapons.
Specifically, we have agreed to collaborate across regions on the following four-point agenda for action and to work to shine a light on the risks posed by nuclear weapons. As we approach the 70th anniversary of the detonations over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we pledge our support and partnership to all governments and members of civil society who wish to join our effort.
Identifying Risk: We believe the risks posed by nuclear weapons and the international dynamics that could lead to nuclear weapons being used are under-estimated or insufficiently understood by world leaders. Tensions between nuclear-armed states and alliances in the Euro-Atlantic area and in both South and East Asia remain ripe with the potential for military miscalculation and escalation. In a vestige of the Cold War, too many nuclear weapons in the world remain ready to launch on short notice, greatly increasing the chances of an accident. This fact gives leaders faced with an imminent potential threat an insufficient amount of time to communicate with each other and act with prudence. Stockpiles of the world’s nuclear weapons and materials to produce them are insufficiently secure, making them possible targets for terrorism. And while multilateral non-proliferation efforts are underway, none are adequate to growing proliferation dangers.
Given this context, we urge international leaders to use the Vienna Conference to launch a global discussion that would more accurately assess steps to reduce or eliminate the risk of intentional or unintentional use of nuclear weapons. The findings should be shared for the benefit of policymakers and wider public understanding. We commit to support and engage fully in this endeavor by working together through our global networks and other interested parties.
Reducing Risk: We believe insufficient action is being taken to prevent nuclear weapons use, and we urge conference delegates to consider how best to develop a comprehensive package of measures to reduce the risk of nuclear weapons use. Such a package could include:
- Improved crisis-management arrangements in conflict hotspots and regions of tension around the world;
- Urgent action to lower the prompt-launch status of existing nuclear stockpiles;
- New measures to improve the security of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons-related materials; and
- Renewed efforts to tackle the increasing threat of proliferation from state and non-state actors.
All nuclear-armed states should attend the Vienna Conference and engage in the Humanitarian Impacts Initiative, without exception, and while doing so, should acknowledge their special responsibility on this set of issues.
At the same time, all states should re-double efforts to work toward a world without nuclear weapons.
Raising Public Awareness: We believe the world needs to know more about the devastating consequences of nuclear weapons use. It is therefore imperative that the Vienna discussions and findings are not limited to Conference delegations. A sustained effort should be made to engage and educate a global audience of policymakers and civil society on the catastrophic consequences of the use—intentional or accidental—of a nuclear weapon. We commend the Conference organizers for taking a broad approach to addressing the effects of a detonation, including the wider environmental impacts. The latest climate modeling suggests major and global environmental, health and food security consequences from even a relatively small scale regional exchange of nuclear weapons. Given the potential global impact, the use of a nuclear weapon anywhere is the legitimate concern of people everywhere.
Improving Readiness: The Conference and the ongoing Humanitarian Impacts Initiative must ask what more the world can do to be prepared for the worst. Time and again, the international community has been found wanting when it comes to preparedness for major international humanitarian crises, most recently in the shamefully slow response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Preparedness must include a focus on the resilience of domestic infrastructure in major population centers to reduce the death tolls. Since no state is capable of responding to a nuclear weapon detonation sufficiently by relying solely on its own resources, preparedness also must include generating plans for a coordinated international response to an incident. This could save tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of lives.
We wish all those engaged in the Vienna Conference well, and pledge our ongoing support and partnership for all those involved in its important work.
- Nobuyasu Abe, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament, Japan.
- Sergio Abreu, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and current Senator of Uruguay.
- Hasmy Agam, Chair, National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and former Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations.
- Steve Andreasen, former Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control on the White House National Security Council; National Security Consultant, NTI.
- Irma Arguello, Chair, NPSGlobal Foundation; LALN Secretariat, Argentina.
- Egon Bahr, former Minister of the Federal Government, Germany
- Margaret Beckett MP, former Foreign Secretary, UK.
- Álvaro Bermúdez, former Director of Energy and Nuclear Technology of Uruguay.
- Fatmir Besimi, Deputy Prime Minister and former Minister of Defense, Macedonia.
- Hans Blix, former Director General of the IAEA; Former Foreign Minister, Sweden.
- Jaakko Blomberg, former Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland.
- James Bolger, former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
- Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Prime Minister, Norway.
- Davor Božinović, former Minister of Defence, Croatia.
- Des Browne, NTI Vice Chairman; ELN and UK Top Level Group (TLG) Convener; Member of the House of Lords; former Secretary of State for Defence.
- Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, former Deputy Foreign Minister, Netherlands.
- Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister, Norway.
- Alistair Burt MP, former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, UK.
- Francesco Calogero, former Secretary General of Pugwash, Italy.
- Sir Menzies Campbell MP, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, UK.
- General James Cartwright (Ret.), former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S.
- Hikmet Çetin, former Foreign Minister, Turkey.
- Padmanabha Chari, former Additional Secretary of Defence, India.
- Joe Cirincione, President, Ploughshares Fund, U.S.
- Charles Clarke, former Home Secretary, UK.
- Chun Yungwoo, former National Security Advisor, Republic of Korea.
- Tarja Cronberg, former Member of the European Parliament; former Chair of the European Parliament Iran delegation, Finland.
- Cui Liru, former President, China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.
- Sérgio de Queiroz Duarte, former United Nations Under Secretary for Disarmament Affairs and member of Brazil's diplomatic service.
- Jayantha Dhanapala, President of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs; former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament, Sri Lanka.
- Aiko Doden, Senior Commentator with NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation.
- Sidney D. Drell, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, U.S.
- Rolf Ekéus, former Ambassador to the United States, Sweden.
- Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Denmark.
- Vahit Erdem, former Member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Chief Adviser to President Süleyman Demirel, Turkey.
- Gernot Erler, former German Minister of State; Coordinator for Intersocietal Cooperation with Russia, Central Asia and the Eastern Partnership Countries.
- Gareth Evans, APLN Convener; Chancellor of the Australian National University; former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia.
- Malcolm Fraser, former Prime Minister of Australia.
- Sergio González Gálvez, former Deputy Secretary of External Relations and member of Mexico's diplomatic service.
- Sir Nick Harvey MP, former Minister of State for the Armed Forces, UK.
- J. Bryan Hehir, Practice of Religion and Public Life professor, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, U.S.
- Robert Hill, former Defence Minister of Australia.
- Jim Hoagland, journalist, U.S.
- Pervez Hoodbhoy, Professor of Nuclear Physics, Pakistan.
- José Horacio Jaunarena, former Minister of Defense of Argentina.
- Jaakko Iloniemi, former Minister of State, Finland.
- Wolfgang Ischinger, current Chair of the Munich Security Conference; former Deputy Foreign Minister, Germany.
- Igor Ivanov, former Foreign Minister, Russia.
- Tedo Japaridze, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Georgia.
- Oswaldo Jarrin, former Minister of Defense of Ecuador.
- General Jehangir Karamat (Ret.), former chief of Pakistan’s Army.
- Admiral Juhani Kaskeala (Ret.), former Commander of the Defence Forces, Finland.
- Yoriko Kawaguchi, former Foreign Minister of Japan.
- Ian Kearns, Co-Founder and Director of the ELN, UK.
- John Kerr (Lord Kerr of Kinlochard), former UK Ambassador to the US and the EU.
- Humayun Khan, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.
- Lord King of Bridgwater (Tom King), former Defence Secretary, UK.
- Walter Kolbow, former Deputy Federal Minister of Defence, Germany.
- Ricardo Baptista Leite, MD, Member of Parliament, Portugal.
- Pierre Lellouche, former President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, France.
- Ricardo López Murphy, former Minister of Defense of Argentina.
- Richard G. Lugar, Board Member, NTI; former U.S. Senator.
- Mogens Lykketoft, former Foreign Minister, Denmark.
- Kishore Mahbubani, Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School, National University of Singapore; former Permanent Representative of Singapore to the United Nations.
- Giorgio La Malfa, former Minister of European Affairs, Italy.
- Lalit Mansingh, former Foreign Secretary of India.
- Miguel Marín Bosch, former Alternate Permanent Representative to the United Nations and member of Mexico's diplomatic service.
- János Martonyi, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hungary.
- John McColl, former NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, UK.
- Fatmir Mediu, former Defence Minister, Albania.
- C. Raja Mohan, senior journalist, India.
- Chung-in Moon, former Ambassador for International Security Affairs, Republic of Korea.
- Hervé Morin, former Defence Minister, France.
- General Klaus Naumann (Ret.), former Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr, Germany.
- Bernard Norlain, former Air Defense Commander and Air Combat Commander of the Air Force, France.
- To Nu Thi Ninh, former Ambassador to the European Union, Vietnam.
- Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman and CEO, NTI; former U.S. Senator
- Volodymyr Ogrysko, former Foreign Minister, Ukraine.
- David Owen (Lord Owen), former Foreign Secretary, UK.
- Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
- José Pampuro, former Minister of Defense of Argentina.
- Maj. Gen Pan Zennqiang (Ret.), Senior Adviser to the China Reform Forum, China.
- Solomon Passy, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bulgaria.
- Michael Peterson, President and COO, Peterson Foundation, U.S.
- Wolfgang Petritsch, former EU Special Envoy to Kosovo; former High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria.
- Paul Quilès, former Defence Minister, France.
- R. Rajaraman, Professor of Theoretical Physics, India.
- Lord David Ramsbotham, ADC General (retired) in the British Army, UK.
- Jaime Ravinet de la Fuente, former Minister of Defense of Chile.
- Elisabeth Rehn, former Defence Minister, Finland.
- Lord Richards of Herstmonceux (David Richards), former Chief of the Defence Staff, UK.
- Michel Rocard, former Prime Minister, France.
- Camilo Reyes Rodríguez, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Colombia.
- Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, former Foreign Secretary, former Defense Secretary, UK
- Sergey Rogov, Director of Institute for US and Canadian Studies, Russia.
- Joan Rohlfing, President and Chief Operating Officer, NTI; former Senior Advisor for National Security to the U.S. Secretary of Energy.
- Adam Rotfeld, former Foreign Minister, Poland.
- Volker Rühe, former Defence Minister, Germany.
- Henrik Salander, former Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, Secretary-General of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, Sweden.
- Konstantin Samofalov, Spokesman for the Social Democratic Party, Former MP, Serbia
- Özdem Sanberk, former Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Turkey.
- Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, former Minister of Science and Technology and member of Brazil's diplomatic service.
- Stefano Silvestri, former Under Secretary of State for Defence; consultant for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministries of Defence and Industry, Italy.
- Noel Sinclair, Permanent Observer of the Caribbean Community - CARICOM to the United Nations and member of Guyana's diplomatic service.
- Ivo Šlaus, former member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Croatia.
- Javier Solana, former Foreign Minister; former Secretary-General of NATO; former EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Spain.
- Minsoon Song, former Foreign Minister of Republic of Korea.
- Rakesh Sood, former Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, India.
- Christopher Stubbs, Professor of Physics and of Astronomy, Harvard University, U.S.
- Goran Svilanovic, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbia.
- Ellen O. Tauscher, former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and former seven-term U.S. Member of Congress
- Eka Tkeshelashvili, former Foreign Minister, Georgia.
- Carlo Trezza, Member of the Advisory Board of the UN Secretary General for Disarmament Matters and Chairman of the Missile Technology Control Regime, Italy.
- David Triesman (Lord Triesman), Foreign Affairs spokesperson for the Labour Party in the House of Lords, former Foreign Office Minister, UK.
- Gen. Vyacheslav Trubnikov, Former First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Former Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Russia
- Ted Turner, Co-Chairman, NTI.
- Nyamosor Tuya, former Foreign Minister of Mongolia.
- Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tyagi (Ret.), former Chief of the Indian Air Force.
- Alan West (Admiral the Lord West of Spithead), former First Sea Lord of the British Navy.
- Wiryono Sastrohandoyo, former Ambassador to Australia, Indonesia.
- Raimo Väyrynen, former Director at Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
- Richard von Weizsäcker, former President, Germany.
- Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, Chair, Global Task Force on Nuclear Weapons, World Evangelical Alliance, U.S.
- Isabelle Williams, NTI.
- Baroness Williams of Crosby (Shirley Williams), former Advisor on Non-Proliferation issues to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, UK.
- Kåre Willoch, former Prime Minister, Norway.
- Hide Yuzaki, Governor of Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan.
- Uta Zapf, former Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation in the Bundestag, Germany.
- Ma Zhengzang, former Ambassador to the United Kingdom, President of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, and President of the China Institute of International Studies.
Asia Pacific Leadership Network (APLN): A network of more than 40 current and former political, military, and diplomatic leaders in the Asia Pacific region—including from nuclear weapons-possessing states of China, India and Pakistan—working to improve public understanding, shape public opinion, and influence political decision-making and diplomatic activity on issues concerning nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. The APLN is convened by former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans. www.a-pln.org
European Leadership Network (ELN): A network of more than 130 senior European political, military and diplomatic figures working to build a more coordinated European policy community, define strategic objectives and feed analysis and viewpoints into the policy-making process for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament issues. Former UK Defense Secretary and NTI Vice Chairman Des Browne is Chair of the Executive Board of ELN. www.europeanleadershipnetwork.org/
Latin American Leadership Network (LALN): A network of 16 senior political, military, and diplomatic leaders across Latin America and the Caribbean working to promote constructive engagement on nuclear issues and to create an enhanced security environment to help reduce global nuclear risks. The LALN is led by Irma Arguello, founder and chair of Argentina-based NPSGlobal. http://npsglobal.org/
Nuclear Security Leadership Council (NSLC): A newly formed Council, based in the United States, brings together approximately 20 influential leaders with diverse backgrounds from North America.
Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to reduce threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. NTI is governed by a prestigious, international board of directors and is co-chaired by founders Sam Nunn and Ted Turner. NTI’s activities are directed by Nunn and President Joan Rohlfing. For more information, visit www.nti.org. For more information about the Nuclear Security Project, visit www.NuclearSecurityProject.org.
Civil Society Statement to the United Nations First Committee, 28 October 2014
At the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, states parties reaffirmed their commitment to a “diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies to minimize the risk that these weapons ever be used and to facilitate the process of their total elimination.” Nearly five years have passed; another Review Conference is in the offing. Nuclear stockpiles of civilization-destroying size persist, and progress on disarmament has stalled.
The commitment to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in security policies assumed that de-coupling nuclear weapons from conventional military forces would help facilitate elimination of nuclear arsenals. Yet there has been little progress in reducing the role of nuclear weapons. All nuclear-armed states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals. Modernization efforts include development by the leading nuclear weapons states of new nuclear-capable missiles, aircraft, and submarines that will incorporate advances in stealth and accuracy. Publicly available information shows that nuclear weapons continue to have a central role in security policies, and in the case of the United States, the integration of conventional and nuclear forces in current war planning. Potential adversaries of the United States see its advantage in long-range conventional forces as a rationale for retaining and modernizing their nuclear arsenals.
The decoupling of nuclear from conventional military forces is further impeded by arms-racing in non-nuclear weapons of strategic significance. These include missile defenses, more accurate and powerful stand-off weapons, and concepts such as “prompt global strike” that aim to hit targets anywhere on earth with a non-nuclear payload in an hour or less. The United States has taken the lead, but many others are participating in this accelerating new arms race which is not constrained to a bi-polar confrontation.
Nuclear war will not come as a bolt from the blue. It will come when national elites misjudge one another’s interests in a conflict on the borderlands of some nuclear-armed country, and “conventional” warfare escalates out of control. This is all the more likely in the 21st century strategic context where stealthy, precision stand-off weapons and delivery platforms face sophisticated and increasingly capable air and missile defenses, while electronic warfare measures target sensors and data-dependent systems. These elements can interact at levels of speed and complexity that defy human comprehension, much less rational decision-making.
For more than two decades, the political and military elites of the leading nuclear-armed states have engaged in perilous double-think about their arsenals. They have assured their publics that the continued existence of nuclear weapons in civilization-destroying numbers no longer presented a real danger because the risk of war among nuclear-armed states was a feature of the Cold War, now safely past. At the same time, they have done everything necessary to keep catastrophe-capable nuclear arsenals long into the future, as a hedge against the day when the most powerful states again might make war with one another.
Today we see a new round of confrontations among nuclear-armed states, in economic and political circumstances that bear worrisome resemblances to those that brought about the devastating wars of the 20th century. Amidst one crisis after another from Ukraine to the Western Pacific, the world’s most powerful militaries brandish their nuclear arms, while claiming that “routine” exercises with weapons of mass destruction pose no danger, could never be misconstrued or get out of hand.
To those who view the world from the heights of power and privilege in nuclear-armed states, all this only gives further reason to hold on to the weapons they have, and to develop more. For the vast majority of humanity, struggling just to get by in a world of immensely stratified wealth and power, it means a return to madness, to a world where at any moment the people can be annihilated to preserve the state. The lack of urgency on disarmament in the ruling circles of the most powerful states should shock the conscience of every person who still has one.
The growing risks of great power war and use of nuclear weapons make the abolition of nuclear weapons all the more imperative. It is far more likely to succeed if linked to economic equity, democracy, climate and environmental protection, and dismantlement of highly militarized security postures. For our part, Abolition 2000 members and partner groups are organizing a large-scale civil society conference, march and rally on these themes on the eve of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the presentation of millions of signatures calling for the total ban and elimination of nuclear weapons, and local actions around the world.
-- Statement coordinated by Western States Legal Foundation, Oakland, California, USA, a member of the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons. Endorsed by 100 international, national, regional and local civil society organizations in 11 countries (plus 8 individuals for organizational identification only).
Statement endorsed by:
Action AWE, London, United Kingdom
Arab Human Security Network, Damascus, Syria
Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, USA
Ban All Nukes generation(BANg, international)
Basel Peace Office, Basel, Switzerland
Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship, Oakland, California, USA
Beyond Nuclear, Takoma Park, Maryland, USA
Brooklyn for Peace, New York City, New York, USA
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, United Kingdom
Christians For The Mountains, Dunmore, West Virginia, USA
Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP), India
Code Pink Golden Gate Chapter(Bay Area Code Pink), California, USA
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Crabshell Alliance, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Democratic World Federalists (international)
Ecumenical Peace Institute/CALC(Clergy and Laity Concerned), Berkeley, California, USA
Fairmont, MN Peace Group, Fairmont, Minnesota, USA
Fellowship of Reconciliation, USA
Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation,Washington, USA
Friends Committee on National Legislation, USA
Fukushima Response Bay Area, northern California, USA
German chapter, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, Berlin, Germany
Green Shadow Cabinet, USA
International Network of Engineers and Scientists(INES)
INND(Institute of Neurotoxicology & Neurological Disorders), Seattle, Washington, USA
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War(IPPNW)
International Peace Bureau
Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo),Japan
Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, Missoula, Montana, USA
Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, New York City, New York, USA
Le Mouvement de la Paix, France
LEPOCO Peace Center, Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA
Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, Garden City, New York, USA
Los Altos Voices for Peace, Los Altos, California, USA
Metta Center for Nonviolence, Petaluma, California, USA
MLK (Martin Luther King) Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA
Montrose Peace Vigil, Montrose, California, USA
Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center, Walnut Creek, California, USA
Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice, Palo Alto, California, USA
Nafsi Ya Jamii community center, Oakland, California, USA
Nevada Desert Experience, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
No Nukes Action Committee, northern California, USA/Japan
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Santa Barbara, California, USA
Silicon Valley Chapter, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Menlo Park, California, USA
Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Takoma Park, Maryland, USA
Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Nukewatch, Luck, Wisconsin, USA
Oakland CAN(Community Action Network), Oakland, California, USA
Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA
Office of the Americas, Santa Monica, California, USA
Oregon PeaceWorks, Salem, Oregon, USA
Our Developing World, Saratoga, California, USA
Pacem in Terris, Wilmington, Delaware, USA
Pax Christi International
Pax Christi USA
Pax Christi Long Island, New York, USA
Pax Christi Metro New York, New York City, USA
Peace Action, USA
Peace Action West, California, USA
Peace Action Staten Island, Staten Island, New York, USA
Peace Boat, Japan/international
Peace Foundation, New Zealand
Peaceworkers, San Francisco, California, USA
People for Nuclear Disarmament, Australia
Physicians for Social Responsibility, USA
Physicians for Social Responsibility– Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
San Francisco Bay Area Chapter Physicians for Social Responsibility, California, USA
Popular Resistance, USA
Prague Vision Institute for Sustainable Security, Prague, Czech Republic
Proposition One Campaign, Tryon, North Carolina, USA
Rachel Carson Council, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Reach and Teach, San Mateo, California, USA
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Boulder, Colorado, USA
Scientists for Peace, Germany
Sisters of Charity Federation, North America
Sisters of Charity of New York, New York City, New York, USA
Soka Gakkai International(SGI)
Swedish Peace Council. Sweden
The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy,
The Colorado Coalition for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Denver, Colorado, USA
The Ecological Options Network, EON, Bolinas, California, USA
The Human Survival Project, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
The Nuclear Resister, USA
The Peace Farm, Amarillo, Texas, USA
The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society(international)
Topanga Peace Alliance. California, USA
Tri-Valley CAREs(Communities Against a Radioactive Environment), Livermore, California, USA
2020 Action, USA
United for Peace and Justice, USA
United Nations Association, San Francisco, California, USA
US Peace Council, USA
Veterans for Peace, USA
War Prevention Initiative, Portland, Oregon, USA
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – US Section(WILPF US)
World Future Council(international)
World Peace Now, Point Arena, California, USA
Dr. Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee, USA*
Stephen McNeil, American Friends Service Committee, Wage Peace program, San Francisco, California, USA*
Aaron Tovish, International Campaign Director, Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision Campaign*
David McReynolds, former Chair, War Resisters International*
Rev. Marilyn Chilcote, Parish AssociateSt. John's Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, California, USA*
Sarah H. Lorya, MA, School Outreach Coordinator,
Don Eichelberger, Abalone Alliance Safe Energy Clearinghouse, San Francisco, California, USA*
Libbe HaLevy, Nuclear Hotseat Podcast, USA*
*for purposes of identification only
 2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Final Document, Volume I, NPT/CONF.2000/28 (Parts I and II), p.15; reaffirmed by 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Final Document, Volume I, p.19.
 See Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons, 2014,”Bulletin of Atomic Scientists online, 2014.
 Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Slowing Nuclear Weapon Reductions and Endless Nuclear Weapon Modernizations: A Challenge to the NPT,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 2014 No.70 p.94.
 Nuclear weapons continue to be a core element of NATO’s strategic concept, with the nuclear arsenals of the United States, France, and the United Kingdom considered to be the “supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies.” Active Engagement, Modern Defence : “Strategic Concept For the Defence and Security of The Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation,” Adopted by Heads of State and Government in Lisbon, 19th November 2010. The 2014 Master Plan of the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, responsible for the missile and bomber elements of U.S. nuclear forces, states that “AFGSC [Air Force Global Strike Command] will maintain and improve its ability to employ nuclear weapons in a range of scenarios, to include integration with conventional operations….” U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, Strategic Master Plan 2014, p.9. Russia’s most recent publicly available military doctrine document states that “ [t]he Russian Federation reserves the right to utilize nuclear weapons in response to the utilization of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, and also in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation involving the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is under threat.” http://carnegieendowment.org/files/2010russia_military_doctrine.pdf
 Call to Action: Spring 2015 Mobilization for a nuclear free, fair, democratic, ecologically sustainable and peaceful futurewas released on 26 September, 2014, the first International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. http://www.abolition2000.org/?p=3546
By John LaForge
In 2008, the Obama Administration made eye-popping headlines by announcing a 10-year, $80 billion nuclear weapons development program. In 2009, Mr. Obama promised to pursue a “world without nuclear weapons,” but that was then.
By 2010, new warhead plans had grown to an estimated $355 billion, decade-long cash cow that amounts to a cool $1 trillion over 30 years. The colossal expense has already been generally adopted by the House and Senate in military authorization bills -- according to the Sept. 22 New York Times.
One of three new production sites just opened -- a $700 million non-nuclear parts plant run by Honeywell in Kansas City, Missouri. The other factories include a uranium fabrication complex at the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and a plutonium processing works at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico. The latter two programs have run up such enormous cost increases that even the White House has blinked.
Plans for LANL’s plutonium production -- originally expected to cost $660 million -- expanded into a $5.8 billon golden goose. The project was suspended in 2012, and engineers went to work at cost cutting. At Oak Ridge, the uranium processing “canyon” rocketed from a $6.5 billion proposal to a $19 billion war contractor’s wet dream. The White House halted the scheme this year, and the lab is reworking plans for fixing its 60-year long nuclear meth habit.
New H-bomb production is advertised as “revitalization”, “modernization”, “refurbishment” and “improvements”. The buzz words are used by corporate weapons contractors and their congressional lapdogs who speak of the “40-year-old submarine warhead” (known as the W-76), or who feign concern over “fires, explosions and workplace injuries” that are “deplorable” because the equipment “breaks down on a daily basis”, the Times reported.
The War System always neglects to mention that 15,000 plutonium warheads are currently maintained at Pantex, Texas and are good for 50 years, according to The Guardian, Sept. 29. The trillion dollar nuclear bomb building plan is to produce up to 80 new warheads every year by 2030.
The military currently deploys almost 5,000 nuclear warheads -- on submarines, land-based missiles, and heavy bombers. This, even though Pentagon Chief Chuck Hagel signed a report (before he was appointed to his current job) that found that only 900 nuclear warheads were “necessary.” Hagel’s report recommended abolishing 3,500 warheads now in ready reserve, saying warhead numbers are much larger than required.
Independent observers, watch dogs and think tanks have argued for decades that the arsenal can be drastically reduced and made less dangerous: a) by not replacing retired warheads; b) by taking deployed warheads off “alert”; and c) by separating warheads from missiles and bombs. This separation would lengthen warning-to-launch times, thus easing international tensions and ending the terrifying likelihood of accidental or unauthorized launches.
Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group, which bird dogs the Cold War lab, says the reason new H-bomb production is being considered at all is simply private greed. For-profit corporations now run all the government’s nuclear weapons labs, ever since they were privatized in 2006. Mello says, “The nuclear weapons labs are sized for the Cold War, and they need a Cold War to keep that size.”
Further, in a report leaked last year, the Navy itself questioned the need for producing any new warheads. (The Navy controls at least 1,152 warheads spread across its 14 Trident submarines.) And James Doyle, a 17-year veteran scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (who was fired this past July 8 for independently publishing a scholarly article defending nuclear disarmament), told The Guardian, “I’ve never seen the justification articulated for the 50-to-80- pits per year by 2030.”
Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, was shocked by the President’s double talk, telling the Guardian, “Obama’s proposed 2015 budget is the highest ever for nuclear weapons research and production. And at the same time, they’re cutting non-proliferation budgets to pay for it.”
The $1 trillion doesn’t include a few hundred billion more for new nuclear war-fighting systems like:
· The $80 billion cost of building 12 new ballistic missile submarines to replace the Navy’s Trident fleet. Sen. Richard Blumenthall, D-CT, told the New London Day Sept. 23, “The essence here is this boat will be the strongest, stealthiest, most sustainable of any in the history of the word.” “Sustainable”? Well yes; like bankruptcy or suicide.
- The Air Force’s $44 billionplans for a new nuclear bombercalled the Long-Range Strike Bomber Program (LRS-B). The Air Force reportedly wants 80-100 of them at roughly $550 apiece. The chilling rationale for these billions was provided by Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, Chief of Global Strike Command, who said Sept. 16 at in Washington, DC, “It will be essential as we move forward to have a bomber force that can penetrate any place on the globe and hold any target on the planet at risk.”
- The planned replacement of 450 Minuteman 3 ICBMs known as the “Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent” -- set to be deployed in existing silos after 2030 -- that a RAND study said would cost between $84 and $219 billion.
John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice,is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group—andlives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.
By Dave Lindorff
The US corporate media are awash in fevered articles and news stories about a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine, as though it was 1938, with German troops marching into Sedetenland and Austria. But let’s step back and look at what’s going on, calmly and rationally.
IPB to award MacBride Peace Prize to the people and government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands
The International Peace Bureau announced today that it will award its annual Sean MacBride Peace Prizefor 2014 to the people and government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, RMI, for courageously taking the nine nuclear weapons-possessing countries to the International Court of Justice to enforce compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and international customary law.
The tiny Pacific nation has launched a parallel court case against the USA at the Federal District Court. RMI argues that the nuclear weapons-possessing countries have breached their obligations under Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) by continuing to modernize their arsenals and by failing to pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament.
The Marshall Islands were used by the USA as testing ground for nearly 70 nuclear tests from 1946 to 1958. These tests gave rise to lasting health and environmental problems for the Marshall Islanders. Their first-hand experience of nuclear devastation and personal suffering gives legitimacy to their action and makes it especially difficult to dismiss.
The Marshall Islands are presently working hard on both court cases, whose final hearings are expected in 2016. Peace and anti-nuclear activists, lawyers, politicians and all people seeking a world without nuclear weapons are called upon to bring their knowledge, energy and political skills to build a powerful constituency to support this court case and related actions to ensure a successful outcome.
It is certainly not the case that the RMI, with its some 53,000 inhabitants, a large proportion of whom are young people, have no need of compensation or assistance. Nowhere are the costs of a militarized Pacific better illustrated than there. The country is burdened with some of the highest cancer rates in the region following the 12 years of US nuclear tests. Yet it is admirable that the Marshall Islanders in fact seek no compensation for themselves, but rather are determined to end the nuclear weapons threat for all humanity.
The world still has some 17,000 nuclear weapons, the majority in the USA and Russia, many of them on high alert. The knowhow to build atomic bombs is spreading, largely due to the continued promotion of nuclear power technology. Presently there are 9 nuclear weapon states, and 28 nuclear alliance states; and on the other hand 115 nuclear weapons-free zone states plus 40 non-nuclear weapons states.Only 37 states (out of 192) are still committed to nuclear weapons, clinging to outdated, questionable and extremely dangerous ‘deterrence’ policies.
IPB has a long history of campaigning for disarmament and for the banning of nuclear weapons (http://www.ipb.org). The organisation was, for instance, actively involved in bringing the nuclear issue before the International Court of Justice in 1996. The International Peace Bureau hopes to help draw attention to the aim of the various court cases on this issue by awarding the Sean MacBride Peace Prize to the people and government of the Marshall Islands. IPB sincerely hopes that the Marshall Islands initiative will be a significant and decisive step in ending the nuclear arms race and in achieving a world without nuclear weapons.
The prize ceremony will take place in Vienna in early December at the time of the international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, and in the presence of the RMI’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tony de Brum and other dignitaries. Since its inception in 1992, many eminent peace promoters have received the Sean MacBride Prize, although it is not accompanied by any financial remuneration.
To learn more about the lawsuits and the campaign go to www.nuclearzero.org
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Greenpeace USA has released a major new report on an under-discussed part of President Barack Obama's Climate Action Plan and his U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carbon rule: it serves as a major endorsement of continued coal production and export to overseas markets.
Ever since the horrors of submarine warfare became a key issue during World War I, submarines have had a sinister reputation. And the building of new, immensely costly, nuclear-armed submarines by the U.S. government and others may soon raise the level of earlier anxiety to a nuclear nightmare.
U.S. Conference of Mayors Adopts Bold New Resolution Calling for Constructive Good Faith
U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forums; Commends Marshall Islands for
bringing lawsuits against U.S. and 8 other Nuclear-Armed States
The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), the non-partisan association of America’s big cities, on June 23, 2014 unanimously adopted a sweeping new resolution Calling for Constructive Good Faith U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forums at its 82nd annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. According to USCM President Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, California, “These resolutions, once adopted, become official USCM policy.”
Recalling that “August 6and 9, 2015 will mark the 70th anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed more that 210,000 people by the end of 1945,” the resolution notes that “the people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) continue to suffer from the health and environmental impacts of 67 above-ground nuclear weapons test explosions conducted by the U.S. in their islands between 1946 and 1958, the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima-sized bombs detonated daily for 12 years.”
On April 24, 2014, the RMI filed “landmark” cases in the International Court of Justice against the U.S. and the eight other nuclear-armed nations, claiming that they have failed to comply with their obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law to pursue negotiations for the global elimination of nuclear weapons, and filed a companion case in U.S. Federal District Court. In its resolution, the USCM “commends the Republic of the Marshall Islands for calling to the world’s attention the failure of the nine nuclear-armed states to comply with their international obligations to pursue negotiations for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons, and calls on the U.S. to respond constructively and in good faith to the lawsuits brought by the RMI.”
Over the past three years there has been a new round of nuclear disarmament initiatives by governments not possessing nuclear weapons, both within and outside the United Nations. Yet the U.S. has been notably “missing in action” at best, and dismissive or obstructive at worst. The USCM resolution documents the dismal U.S. record and calls on the administration to participate constructively in deliberations and negotiations regarding the creation of a multilateral process to achieve a nuclear weapons free world in forums including the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons to be held in Vienna, Austria in December 2014, the UN Conference on Disarmament, and the May 2015 NPT Review Conference.
The USCM also “calls on the President and Congress to reduce nuclear weapons spending to the minimum necessary to assure the safety and security of the existing weapons as they await disablement and dismantlement, and to redirect those funds to meet the urgent needs of cities.”
Recalling the U.S. commitment under the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to pursue negotiations in good faith on the elimination of nuclear weapons, the resolution notes that “forty-four years after the NPT entered into force, an estimated 16,400 nuclear weapons, most held by the U.S. and Russia, pose an intolerable threat to humanity, and there are no disarmament negotiations on the horizon” and that “the U.S. and the eight other nuclear weapon possessing states are investing an estimated $100 billion annually to maintain and modernize their nuclear arsenals while actively planning to deploy nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future.”
The resolution states that “according to the General Accounting Office, the U.S. will spend more than $700 billion over the next 30 years to maintain and modernize nuclear weapons systems,” and that “this money is desperately needed to address basic human needs such as housing, food security, education, healthcare, public safety, education and environmental protection.”
Reflecting current international tensions, the resolution warns that “the U.S.- Russian conflict over the Ukraine may lead to a new era of confrontation between nuclear-armed powers, and nuclear tensions in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and on the Korean peninsula remind us that the potential for nuclear war is ever present.” The resolution “urges President Obama to engage in intensive diplomatic efforts to reverse the deteriorating U.S. relationship with Russia.”
Expressing its “deep concern” about the U.S. failure to engage in recent intergovernmental and United Nations nuclear disarmament initiatives, the USCM “calls on the U.S. to participate constructively and in good faith in the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons to be hosted by Austria in Vienna, December 8 – 9, 2014” and “in urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament for the early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons,” and “to press the other nuclear weapon states to do likewise.”
The USCM “calls on the U.S. to demonstrate a good faith commitment to its disarmament obligation under Article VI of the NPT by commencing a process to negotiate the global elimination of nuclear weapons within a timebound framework, under strict and effective international control, at the May 2015 NPT Review Conference, and to press the other nuclear weapon states to do likewise.”
The USCM also “calls on its membership to Proclaim September 26 in their cities as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and to support activities to enhance public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination.”
The resolution notes that Mayors for Peace, with over 6,000 members in 158 countries, representing one seventh of the world’s population, continues to advocate for the immediate commencement of negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons by 2020, and that “Mayors for Peace, with members in the U.S. and Russia; India and Pakistan, and Israel, Palestine and Iran can be a real force for peace.” The USCM “expresses its continuing support for and cooperation with Mayors for Peace,” and “encourages all U.S. mayors for join Mayors for Peace.”
The resolution was sponsored by Mayor Donald Plusquellic of Akron, Ohio, past President of the USCM and a Vice-President of Mayors for Peace, and 26 co-sponsoring mayors from cities in Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Florida, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Maine, California, Minnesota, and New Mexico.
Mayors for Peace is an international association, founded in 1982 by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The United States Conference of Mayors is the national non-partisan association of cities with populations over 30,000.
Full text of the resolution, with the complete list of co-sponsors: http://wslfweb.org/docs/
More information about the U.S. Conference of Mayors: www.usmayors.org
# # #
(APN) ATLANTA -- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is close to finalizing plans to accept highly radioactive commercial spent nuclear fuel from Germany to be deposited at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina, according to news reports that were buried deeper than the plutonium itself.
However, it is not only Germany that is sending, or has sent, nuclear waste to SRS, but also Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Canada, and perhaps other countries not yet known, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.
Atlanta Progressive News can report that South Carolina’s Savannah River Site is quietly becoming the world’s nuclear dumping ground, and de facto nuclear waste storage site, despite the facts that frequent rain and an overlapping earthquake zone make the site extremely dangerous, especially to our water supply.
There is no long-term storage plan for the waste in the U.S., with the Yucca Mountain proposal on the rocks, as it were, and with a temporary nuclear waste storage site in New Mexico having been closed to new shipments indefinitely.
SRS is already quietly storing plutonium brought in from other countries, and is now also planning to import 23,000 liters of liquid high-level waste from the Chalk River Laboratories in Canada, which would end up in the already stressed high-level waste tank system, according to an SRS Watch news release.
Shipments of foreign plutonium appear to have been secretly brought in via Charleston, South Carolina, in February and March 2014 of this year, according to an article by the Ottawa Citizen, dated March 29, 2014.
The article has a photo of PNTL transport ship Pacific Egret, noting that the ship carried guns and cannons, and that the ship--which originated in Italy with sensitive nuclear material-- disappeared from an online marine tracking system after entering Canadian waters:
Italy and Belgium have announced the transfer of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) to the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site. The Italy and Belgium imports are admitted to in two respective statements posted to the White House’s website, just days before the Ottawa Citizen report:
Meanwhile, according to Reuters and other reports, Japan will transfer HEU and plutonium to the U.S., but that the destination is not known. However, based on the closure of the New Mexico facility, it is highly reasonable to suspect that the Japanese shipment will also be dumped at SRS.
At the National Security Summit at the Hague on March 24 and 25, 2014, a priority item on the agenda was to reduce the amount of dangerous nuclear material in the world. They issued a statement that countries should repatriate highly enriched uranium (HEU) to its country of origin, thereby reducing the number of locations that terrorist groups could target to obtain it.
With the U.S. being the country of origin for much of the world’s nuclear material, this means all our nuclear chickens are coming home to roost.
After the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, the U.S. and Sweden announced the successful removal of plutonium (PU) from Sweden to the U.S.
According to the White House fact sheets, this is the first shipment of plutonium to the U.S. under the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), and can be a model for other countries seeking to permanently dispose of nuclear material. This was probably the model at the 2014 NSS that Italy and Belgium used to ship their nuclear waste to SRS.
A powerful agency inside the DOE, called the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is responsible for getting nuclear material out of the other nations’ inventories and transporting it to the U.S.
However, SRS is not acknowledging that other countries’ nuclear waste is coming to them for public relations reasons, Clements said.
"They are claiming it’s for nonproliferation but the Germans don't know what to do with this unusual kind of spent fuel. On the German side, it is nuclear dumping and on the U.S. side the primary motivation is to make money for the SRS to continue operating the so-called H Canyon reprocessing plant,” Tom Clements, Director of SRS Watch, told APN.
"The SRS already has more nuclear waste than it knows how to deal with… We should not be putting more nuclear waste into the waste system at SRS,” Clements said.
The German nuclear waste will come in canisters containing graphite pebble fuel elements from a closed facility that operated from 1967 to 1988. The U.S. provided the HEU to Germany between 1965 and 1988.
Construction on SRS began in 1951 and H Canyon began operations in 1955. The 310 acre site is over sixty years old and holds millions of gallons of high level nuclear waste already from reactors that produced plutonium for nuclear weapons from 1953 to 1989.
Clements’s group claims that while it is unclear if such unusual high-level nuclear waste can even be processed at SRS, there is no disposition plan for the waste. Though DOE claimed that the material would be disposed of safely, there is no disposal plan for such high-level nuclear waste, so it is essentially being sent to SRS for long-term storage or dumping.
"My fear is we are turning South Carolina and Georgia into a long term nuclear waste dump for other people's problems… What do you do when it leaks off site? Historically, every one of these sites have leaked. You can't call Germany up and say, 'Come and get your waste, it’s now half way down the Savannah River.' Once we take this stuff, it’s ours forever and some of these isotopes stay in the environment for more than a thousand years… and plutonium hangs around for 240,000 thousand years," Arnold Gundersen, Chief Nuclear Engineer of Fairewinds Energy Education, told APN.
"It does not belong in Georgia or South Carolina because it rains here and the best place for plutonium is in a place where it does not rain much like the New Mexican desert," Gundersen said.
SRS sits on an earthquake fault and the largest aquifers in the South. They have had problems with old storage tanks leaking and contamination at the facility. The soil is sandy with rainy, swampy conditions that are vulnerable to waste seepage.
Until this year, the Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico was the nation's only permanent repository for the U.S. government's stockpile of nuclear waste.
But then on Valentine's Day this year, one of the canisters blew up and contaminated the entire underground cave system. It is uncertain, at this time, when or if it will reopen to receive thousands of drums of waste from around the country waiting to come to WIPP.
The explosion is blamed on the wrong kind of cat litter being used to absorb radioactive material. They switched from clay to organic cat litter, which caused the explosion.
"We are wasting money and increasing the risk of a terrorist accident if we build that MOX plant at SRS. Plutonium fuel cost more than uranium fuel and there's plenty of uranium on the planet. So we are taking other people's plutonium to keep a MOX plant running and no one wants to buy the output from it," Gundersen told APN.
Plutonium is a man made element derived from the transformation of uranium through fission. Plutonium, Pu-239, has a half life of 24,100 hundred years; that's the time it will take for half of the plutonium to radioactively decay. Radioactive contaminants are dangerous for ten to twenty times the length of their half-lives, meaning that if plutonium gets into the environment, it will be dangerous essentially forever. If ingested into the body, it causes DNA damage in tissue, and cancer.
The use of MOX fuel does not get rid of plutonium; instead it becomes part of the lethal soup of ingredients termed "high level nuclear waste." There are no safe long-term storage for nuclear waste, only interim storage solutions for waste that will remain hazardous for thousands of years.
"When I hear plutonium in the environment, it becomes a problem not only for the next generation - we were not even a [human] species a quarter of a million years ago - we might be a new species before this stuff completely disintegrates from the environment,” Gundersen said.
Citizens living downstream from the site have complained for years of high levels of cancer and death in their community, which they attribute to the SRS and Plant Vogtle's nuclear reactors across the river on the Georgia side.
“The DOE is more interested in jobs this year and totally forgetting about the environmental costs for the next 300 or a thousand years. It’s unfair to the people of Georgia and South Carolina to make some money now and pollute the Savannah River for a thousand years,” Gundersen said.
"Why we have to take it [nuclear waste] from Germany, Belgium, or Italy makes no sense. They can put it underground just as easily as we can, but their populations are more environmentally sensitive than we are. We are becoming the dumping ground for nuclear waste," Gundersen said.
According to SRS Watch, the import may be a violation of the International Convention on Nuclear Safety, as well as the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.
A public meeting on the the issue, “Environmental Assessment for the Acceptance and Disposition of Used Nuclear Fuel Containing U.S.-Origin Highly Enriched Uranium From the Federal Republic of Germany,” is scheduled for Tuesday, June 24, 2014, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the North Augusta Community Center, 495 Brookside Drive, North Augusta, South Carolina 29841.
To submit written comments: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-06-04/pdf/2014-12933.pdf
The public is encouraged to attend the June 24 meeting and make comments on both the proposed import of the German waste and also the trend of SRS to accept foreign nuclear waste and plutonium.
For more information on this subject visit www.srswatch.org
By Alice Slater
The Marshall Islands have sued nine nuclear nations to compel compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty, which requires the elimination of nuclear weapons. We speak with Rick Wayman, director of programs and operations at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Rick is a graduate of Marquette University’s College of Business Administration and has a Master’s Degree in Non-Profit Management and Political Advocacy from the School for International Training. Rick began working full-time on nuclear weapons issues with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK before moving to California in 2007 to join NAPF. Learn more at http://nuclearzero.org
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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By John LaForge
“No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.” — Lily Tomlin
Ontario Power Generation (OPG) — which owns or leases 20 nuclear reactors across Ontario — would save loads of cash by not having to contain, monitor and repackage leaky above-ground radioactive waste storage casks. Last Sept., I testified in Ontario against the company’s plan to deeply bury some of this waste next to Lake Huron.
OPG officially plans to let its waste canisters leak their contents, 680 meters underground, risking long-term contamination of the Great Lakes — a source of drinking water for 40 million people, including 24 million US residents.
The Bruce reactor complex — the world’s biggest with 8 reactors —is on Huron’s Bruce Peninsula and is the storage site for radioactive waste (other than fuel rods) from all of OPG’s 20 reactors. Digging its dump right next door would save the firm money — and put the hazard out of sight, out of mind.
OPG’s public statements make clear that it intends to poison the public’s water. First, the near-lake dump would be dug into deep caverns of porous limestone. The underground holes are to “become the container” OPG testified last fall, because its canisters are projected to be rotted-through by the waste in 5 years. (On April 13 the Canadian government was shocked to learn that OPG grossly understated the severe radioactivity of its waste material, some of which, like cesium, is 1,000 times more radioactive than OPG had officially claimed. (See http://www.freep.com/article/
Second, OPG’s callous poisoning plan was broadcast in a December 2008 handout. Radioactive contamination of the drinking water would not be a problem, OPG says, because, “The dose is predicted to be negligible initially and will continue to decay over time.”
The ‘expert’ group’s report says it’s possible that as much as 1,000 cubic meters a year of water contaminated with radiation might leach from the dump, but calls such pollution “highly improbable.” (Emphasis on “predicted” and “improbably” here: The US government’s 650-meter-deep Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico was predicted to contain radiation for 10,000 years. It failed badly on Feb. 14, after only 15.)
OPG’s pamphlet goes further in answer to its own question, “Will the [dump] contaminate the water?” The company claims, “…even if the entire waste volume were to be dissolved into Lake Huron, the corresponding drinking water dose would be a factor of 100 below the regulatory criteria initially, and decreasing with time.”
This fatuous assertion made me ask in my testimony: “Why would the government spend $1 billion on a dump when it is safe to throw all the radioactive waste in the water?” Now, what I thought of then as a rhetorical outburst has become “expert” opinion.
‘Experts’ unworried about drinking industrial radiation
On March 25, the “Report of the Independent Expert Group” was issued to the waste review panel. The experts are Maurice Dusseault, Tom Isaacs, William Leiss and Greg Paoli. They concluded that the “immense” waters of the Great Lakes would dilute any radiation-bearing plumes leaching from the site.
Dusseault advises governments and teaches short courses at the Univ. of Waterloo on oil production, petroleum geomechanics, waste disposal and sand control.
Paoli founded Risk Sciences International and the company’s web site notes his position on Expert and Advisory Committees of Canada’s National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy.
Isaacs, with degrees in engineering and applied physics, works at the plutonium-spewing Lawrence Livermore National Lab, studying “challenges to the effective management of the worldwide expansion of nuclear energy.” Of course, hiding the effects of radioactive waste from public scrutiny is one of his industry’s biggest challenges.
Leisshas degrees in history, accounting and philosophy, and has taught sociology, eco-research, risk communications and health risk assessment at several Canadian universities.
So what level of expertise do the experts bring? None of them have any background in water quality, limnology, radio-biology, medicine, health physics or even radiology, hazardous nuclides, health physics, or radiation risk.
As plumes of Fukushima radiation spreading into the Pacific continue to show, the poisons spread from the source and can contaminate entire oceans. (See: http://www.ibtimes.com/
Canada’s expert group’s opinion on how radioactive waste might spread and be diluted in Great Lakes drinking water is inane and meaningless; its cubic meter estimates and risk assessments nothing but fairy tales. You could call the report a rhetorical outburst. – John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice,is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group—andlives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.
Canada’s expert group’s opinion on how radioactive waste might spread and be diluted in Great Lakes drinking water is inane and meaningless; its cubic meter estimates and risk assessments nothing but fairy tales. You could call the report a rhetorical outburst.
– John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice,is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group—andlives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.
Just a few hours ago, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed lawsuits against all nine nuclear-armed nations. All nine were named in applications to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, while an additional lawsuit was filed against the United States in U.S. Federal District Court in San Francisco.
The courage of the Marshall Islands in filing these lawsuits is admirable. The people of the Marshall Islands were subjected to 67 nuclear weapon tests by the United States from 1946-1958. The tests caused untold suffering that continues to this day through cancers, displacement and death.
Dear President Obama,
During the closing session of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 25, 2014, you cited a number of concrete measures to secure highly-enriched uranium and plutonium and strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime that have been implemented as a result of the three Nuclear Security Summits, concluding: “So what’s been valuable about this summit is that it has not just been talk, it’s been action.”
A Special Report today on the issue of ending Marijuana Prohibition and the massively destructive War on Drugs, by TCBH! collective journalist Linn Washington, Jr. and three students in his Temple University journalism class:
Marijuana: Facts and Falacies, by Linn Washington
By John LaForge
The corporate media is focused on the question of how or if Iran could ever break out of its promise under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to eschew nuclear weapons, to use reactors only for civilian purposes. So many headlines refer to sanctions imposed against Iran that millions of people mistakenly think Iran has a nuclear arsenal. It doesn’t.
Meanwhile the Congress in January fully funded production of a new B61 thermonuclear gravity bomb, a program dubbed “Life Extension.” This year’s $537 million is the down payment on the 12th version of the B61 that the millionaires in DC agreed should get $11 billion over the next few years.
Dubbed the “solid gold nuke” by critics, the 700-lb. H-bomb is running $28 million apiece at the moment. That much gold bullion is only worth $16 million.
The program to replace today’s B61s with a new “mod12,” is being condemned by our allies in NATO, by Congressional budget hawks and of course by the entire arms control community. Even former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright has said the bombs are “practically nil” in military value. (Gen. Cartwright only is partly right: Since it seems the Department of Defense is in the business of producing suicides by the thousands, among veterans and active duty soldiers, the suicidal mission of deploying B61s across Europe — for detonation there — seems a perfectly ghastly fit.)
“This decision represents the triumph of entrenched nuclear interests over good government. The B-61 is no longer relevant for U.S. national security, but continues to rob billions of dollars from programs that would make America safer,” President Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund told Hans M. Kristensen for the Federation of American Scientists.
Kristensen reported March 12 that the Pentagon has decided that the new B61 will begin its deployment in Europe next year.
This 300-to-500 kiloton “variable yield” thermonuclear device has 24 to 40 times the destructive power of the US bomb that killed 170,000 people at Hiroshima in 1945. Still, this machine’s threat of meaningless, genocidal, radioactive violence is called “tactical.”
Rush to Deploy New H-bomb Before It’s Killed by Public Opposition
The Air Force budget makes it appear that the older B61s will all be replaced — in Turkey, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany — by 2020. This rush job is being hustled through the military-industrial-complex in a very big hurry because the broad international condemnation of the program is gaining depth and breadth.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., along with Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Rep Jared Polis, D-Colo., tried to curtail the program last year. Five NATO partners — Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Norway — asked four years ago that all B61s be removed permanently from Europe. In Germany, every major political party has formally resolved to pursue final withdrawal of the 20 remaining B61s at Buchel AFB.
Major US allies in Europe informed Gen. Cartwright’s critical opinion. High-level European politicians have been saying the B61s are “militarily useless” since the end of the Cold War. In a widely published op/ed in 2010, former NATO secretary-general Willy Claes and three senior Belgian politicians said, “The US tactical nuclear weapons in Europe have lost all military importance.”
Still, Kristensen reports, “integration” of the new B61 is supposed to take place on Belgian, Dutch, and Turkish F-16 jets and on German and Italian Tornado fighter-bombers soon.
Another reason for the rush to deploy this perfect candidate for dumb bomb retirement is that Germany is considering replacing its Tornado jets in short order. All the expense of refitting its current Tornadoes to carry the “more accurate” and “more usable” B61-mod 12 would be wasted. New B61 production could also be made expensively moot by progress in arms control.
The “nuclear sharing” arrangement with the five technically non-nuclear NATO partners glaringly contradicts, in Kristensen’s words, “the non-proliferation standards that member countries are trying to promote in the post-Cold War world.” In its 2012 posture review, even NATO’s ministers pledged to work for a world without nuclear weapons.
So as the White House and its Secretary of State wag fingers at Iran, we and our NATO friends openly violate the binding promise made in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty “not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly.”
Maybe Iran can arrange for some sanctions to be imposed on us.
– John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice,is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group—andlives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.
Your doctors are worried about your health―in fact, about your very survival.
No, they’re not necessarily your own personal physicians, but, rather, medical doctors around the world, represented by groups like International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). As you might recall, that organization, composed of many thousands of medical professionals from all across the globe, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for exposing the catastrophic effects of nuclear weapons.
Well, what seems to be the problem today?
Obama's A-bomb Budget:
At The Hague, Obama Decries the Nuclear Threat;
At Home His New Budget Stokes the Atomic Furnace
By Dave Lindorff
Let us pause to honor Charles Fury.
Susi Snyder, PAX
Some news from the Netherlands, which is gearing up (and shutting down!) to host 53 heads of State and Government next week for the Nuclear Security Summit.
To draw attention to a significant lack of nuclear security in our little country, this week, four Dutch activists entered the secured zone of Volkel Airbase and managed to take a picture of one of the SW3 bunkers in which American B61 nuclear bombs are kept. The activists were arrested and remain detained.
The note says: In this bunker are two nuclear weapons. Back to the USA.
The activists of “Disarm” in a statementexplain they want to raise attention for the fact that the Netherlands continues to store nuclear weapons and that these weapons should be given back to US president Obama when he visits the Netherlands next week for the Nuclear Security Summit(NSS).
The breaking into the secure area of Volkel Airbase is remarkable and a repetition of similar actions by Belgian activistsin the past years. The actions have raised questions about the security of the bases and the nuclear bombs that are stored in these locations.
The timing, so short before the NSS is no coincidence. The activists want to raise awareness for the fact that the NSS will talk about security of nuclear materials but not those nuclear materials that are used for military purposes.
The timing is interesting for another reason as well. Only last week, the US announced it expects the costs for securing the deployment of its nuclear weapons in Europe will doublein the coming year. Perhaps without even realising it, the activists seem to prove that indeed, security of the base is not enough to prevent unauthorised people approaching the bunkers in which bombs are stored that can detonate with a force 28 stronger than the one that devastated Hiroshima.
The action feeds a growing debate in the Netherlands on the rationale for the continued deployment of nuclear weapons on Dutch soil, against the long term majority opinion in the population and in Parliament.
The activists are currently still detained. It is not yet clear if they will be indicted.
PAX has also been active, and trying to raise concerns about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in a series of events, media appearances and more-
We issued a press statement, and have a bunch of events planned (and already ongoing) these weeks:
The forgotten topic of the NSS
Delegations from all over the world are gathering on 24 and 25 March at the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in The Hague to talk about nuclear security. They will hold discussions on how to prevent nuclear terrorism and how to secure nuclear materials. However, what they won’t do is talk about nuclear weapons. Dutch peace organisation PAX thinks this is inconceivable. ‘If we are talking about terrorism, if we are talking about (in)security, we cannot leave out nuclear weapons.
PAX recently published the report ‘The Rotterdam blast’, in which PAX outlines a realistic scenario on what would happen if a nuclear bomb would explode it in Europe’s largest logistic and industrial hub: the port of Rotterdam. The Rotterdam scenario is a good example of nuclear insecurity and fits into the NSSagenda. In a promotion videofor the NSS Rotterdam is mentioned as a transit point for smuggling of nuclear materials, but no one talks about the risks associated with nuclear weapons.
PAX thinks the absence of nuclear weapons on the NSS agenda is a missed opportunity. Susi Snyder from PAX: ‘We will participate in several events during the NSS to put this topic on the agenda. For example, on 23 March I will speak at the Border Sessionsin The Hague. I am going to talk about the dangers and consequences of nuclear weapons and the urgent need to outlaw nuclear weapons.
Another speaker at the Border Sessions is research journalist Eric Schlosser, author of the book ‘Command and Control’. Schlosser researched aground-breaking account of accidents, near-missesand near-accidents with nuclear weapons. ‘All the more reason to talk about nuclear weapons during the NSS’, according to Snyder.
Snyder continues: ‘People often think that no rational person would ever use a nuclear weapon. However, recent history shows that political developments are unpredictable and many governments are unstable. In addition, there are real terrorist threats. If there are no nuclear weapons, they can not be used. That is why PAX is calling for a nuclear weapons free world.‘
Here are some more links on what we’ve been up to and are planning:
The Nuclear Knowledge Summit (see more here: http://www.knowledgesummit.
Border Sessions (see more here: http://nss.bordersessions.org/
Bike Around the Bomb: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ Symposium : Engineers for nuclear security: https://afdelingen.kiviniria. Movies that Matter: Countdown to Zero (23 March): http://www.moviesthatmatter.
Bike Around the Bomb: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/
Symposium : Engineers for nuclear security: https://afdelingen.kiviniria.
Movies that Matter: Countdown to Zero (23 March): http://www.moviesthatmatter.
Fasting can be a way of mourning, of cleansing, of meditation, of focus.
On Tuesday, March 11, the third anniversary of the beginning of the disaster at Fukushima, we will abstain from food from dawn to dusk. Our purpose is tied to the atomic disaster that continues to threaten life on Earth.
The three melt-downs, four explosions, scattered fuel rods and continual gusher of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean at Fukushima have torn a deadly hole in the fabric of our ability to survive on this planet.
Its corporate perpetrators were repeatedly warned by tens of thousands of citizen activists not to build these reactors in an earthquake zone that has been washed by tsunamis. Not only did they build them, they took down a natural 85-foot-high sea wall in the process that might have greatly lessened the damage of the tsunami that did come.
The disaster that has struck Fukushima has much about it that’s unique. But it’s just the tip of the radioactive iceberg that is the global atomic reactor industry.
There are other reactor sites threatened by earthquakes and tsunamis. Among them is Diablo Canyon, whose two reactors could be turned to rubble by the multiple fault lines that surround it, spewing radiation that would irradiate California’s Central Valley and send a lethal cloud across the U.S.
There are other reactors threatened by suicidal siting, such as the triple reactor complex at South Carolina’s Oconee, downriver from a dam whose failure could send also send a wall of water into multiple cores.
Throughout the world more than 400 rust bucket reactors are aging dangerously, riddled with operator error, shoddy construction, leaky cooling systems, least-cost corner cutting and official lies.
In all cases, the revolution in renewables has made them economically obsolete. The long-dead hype of a failed “too cheap to meter” technology has been buried by a Solartopian vision, a green-powered Earth in the process of being born.
What would speed that process most is the rapid shutdown of a these old-tech dinosaurs that do nothing but cost us money and harm our planet and our health.
For decades we were told commercial reactors could not explode. But five have done just that.
The industry said that radiation releases could do no harm at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, during the atmospheric bomb tests, with medical x-rays, with atomic waste storage, at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima, and of course at the next major melt-down and the one after that and the one after that.
The automatic industry response is always the same: “not enough radiation has escaped to harm anyone.” Push a button, no matter what the disaster, no matter where the radiation goes and how little anybody knows about it, that’s what they say now, and will say yet again each time another nuke bites the radioactive dust.
So today we live in fear not only of what’s happening at Fukushima, but of what is all-too-certain to come next.
This must finally stop. If we are to have an economic, ecological or biological future on this planet, all atomic reactor construction must halt, and all operating reactors must be phased out as fast as possible.
To honor this vision, we won’t eat from dawn to dusk on March 11.
It’s a small, symbolic step. But one we feel is worth taking. Feel free to join us!
Visit EcoWatch’s FUKUSHIMA page for more related news on this topic.
Jill Stein was the Green Party’s 2012 Presidential candidate. She is now organizing for Earth Day to May Day, a wave of action for People, Planet and Peace over Profit, at GlobalClimateConvergence.org.
David Swanson is working to organize a movement to end war at WorldBeyondWar.org. His books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at davidswanson.org and warisacrime.org and works for rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and Facebook.
Elaine Scarry, who teaches at Harvard University, is the author of The Body in Pain and On Beauty and Being Just. Her writings following 9/11 include Who Defended the Country? and Rule of Law, Misrule of Men. We discuss her new book, Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom.
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So now we (or at least the 0.03% of us who care to hunt for it) discover that U.S. military spending is not actually being cut at all, but increasing. Also going up: U.S. nuclear weapons spending. Some of the new nukes will violate treaties, but the entire program violates the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which requires disarmament, not increased armament. The U.S. policy of first-strike and the U.S. practice of informing other nations that "all options are on the table" also violate the U.N. Charter's ban on threatening force.
But do nuclear weapons, by the nature of their technology, violate the U.S. Constitution? Do they violate the basic social contract and all possibility of self-governance? Thus argues a new book called Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom by Elaine Scarry. It's not unheard of for people to see out-of-control nuclear spending as a symptom of out-of-control military spending, itself a symptom of government corruption, legalized bribery, and a militaristic culture. Scarry's argument suggests a reversal: the root of all this evil is not the almighty dollar but the almighty bomb.
The argument runs something like this. The primary purpose of the social contract is to create peace and prevent war and other injury. The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8, clause 11) bans the making of war without the approval of both houses of Congress. This approval was to be required not just for an existing military to attack another country, but for a military to be raised at all -- standing armies not being anticipated. And it was understood that an army would not be raised and deployed into war unless the citizen-soldiers went willingly, their ability to dissent by desertion not needing to be spelled out (or, let us say, their ability to dissent by mass-desertion, as desertion in the war that led to the Constitution was punished by death).
And yet, because this point was so crucial to the entire governmental project, Scarry argues, it was in fact spelled out -- in the Second Amendment. Arms -- that is 18th century muskets -- were to be freely distributed among the people, not concentrated in the hands of a king. "Civilian" control over the military meant popular control, not presidential. The decision to go to war would have to pass through the people's representatives in Congress, and through the people as a whole in the form of soldiers who might refuse to fight. By this thinking, had the Ludlow Amendment, to create a public referendum before any war, passed in the 1930s, it would have been redundant.
Before the 1940s were over, in Scarry's view, a Ludlow Amendment wouldn't have been worth the paper it was written on, as the existence of nuclear weapons erases Constitutional checks on war. With nuclear weapons, a tiny number of people in a government -- be it 1 or 3 or 20 or 500 -- hold the power to very quickly and easily kill millions or billions of human beings, and other species, and very likely themselves in the process. "We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both," said Louis Brandeis. We may have democracy, or we may have thermonuclear bombs, but we can't have both, says Elaine Scarry.
Each of the series of presidents beginning with Truman and running up through Nixon is known to have repeatedly come close to choosing to use nuclear bombs, something the public has learned of, each time, only decades after the fact. No more recent president has said he didn't come close; we may very well learn their secrets on the usual schedule. When you add to that insanity, the long string of accidents, mistakes, and misunderstandings, the damage of the testing and the waste, and the repeated ability of ploughshares activists (and therefore anybody else) to walk right up to U.S. nuclear weapons to protest them, it's amazing that life exists on earth. But Scarry's focus is on what the new ability to kill off a continent at the push of a button has done to presidential power.
While wars since World War II have been non-nuclear, apart from depleted uranium weapons, they have also been endless and undeclared. Because presidents can nuke nations, they and Congress and the public have assumed that a president on his or her own authority can attack nations with non-nuclear weapons too. Now, I suspect that the military industrial complex, corrupt elections, and nuclear thinking all feed off each other. I don't want a single person who's trying to clean up election spending or halt fighter-jet production to stop what they're doing. But the possible influence of nuclear thinking on U.S. foreign policy is intriguing. Once a president has been given more power than any king has ever had, one might expect some people to do exactly what they've done and treat him like a king in all but name.
Scarry believes that we're suffering from the false idea that we're in a permanent emergency, and that in an emergency there's no time to think. In fact, the Constitutional constraints on war were intended precisely for emergencies, Scarry argues, and are needed precisely then. But an emergency that can be dealt with by raising an army is perhaps different from an emergency that will leave everyone on earth dead by tomorrow either with or without the U.S. government having the opportunity to contribute its measure of mass-killing to the general apocalypse. The latter is, of course, not an emergency at all, but an insistence on glorified ignorance to the bitter end. An emergency that allows time to raise an army is also different from an emergency involving 21st century "conventional" weapons, but not nearly as different as we suppose. Remember the desperate urgency to hit Syria with missiles last September that vanished the moment Congress refused to do it? The mad rush to start a war before anyone can look too closely at its justifications does, I think, benefit from nuclear thinking -- from the idea that there is not time to stop and think.
So, what can we do? Scarry believes that if nukes were eliminated, Congress could take charge of debates over wars again. Perhaps it could. But would it approve wars? Would it approve public financing, free air time, and open elections? Would it ban its members from profiting from war? Would people killed in a Congressionally declared war be any less dead?
What if the Second Amendment as Scarry understands it were fulfilled to some slight degree, that is if weapons were slightly more equitably distributed as a result of the elimination of nukes? The government would still have all the aircraft carriers and missiles and bombs and predator drones, but it would have the same number of nukes as the rest of us. Wouldn't compliance with the Second Amendment require either the madness of giving everybody a missile launcher or the sanity of eliminating non-nuclear weapons of modern war-making along with the nuclear ones?
I think the historical argument that Scarry lays out against the concentration of military power in the hands of a monarch is equally a case either for distributing that power or for eliminating it. If large standing armies are the greatest danger to liberty, as James Madison supposed on his slave plantation, isn't that an argument against permanently stationing troops in 175 nations with or without nukes, as well as against militarizing local police forces at home? If unjustified war and imprisonment are the greatest violations of the social contract, must we not end for-profit mass incarceration by plea bargain along with for-profit mass-murder?
I think Scarry's argument carries us further in a good direction than she spells out in the book. It's a thick book full of extremely lengthy background information, not to say tangents. There's a wonderful account of the history of military desertion. There's a beautiful account of Thomas Hobbes as peace advocate. Much of this is valuable for its own sake. My favorite tangent is a comparison between Switzerland and the United States. Switzerland decided that air-raid shelters would help people survive in a nuclear war. While opposing and not possessing nuclear weapons, Switzerland has created shelters for more than the total number of people in the country. The United States claimed to have concluded that shelters would not work, and then spent more on building them exclusively for the government than it spent on all variety of needs and services for the rest of us. The nuclear nation has behaved as a monarchy, while the non-nuclear nation may preserve a remnant of humanity to tell the tale.
Scarry ends her book by stating that Article I and the Second Amendment are the best tools she's found for dismantling nuclear weapons, but that she'd like to hear of any others. Of course, mass nonviolent action, education, and organizing are tools that will carry any campaign beyond the confines of legal argumentation, but as long as we're within those confines, I'll throw out a proposal: Comply with the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It is far newer, clearer, and less ambiguous than the Constitution. It is, under the Constitution, unambiguously the Supreme Law of the Land as a treaty of the U.S. government. It applies in other nations as well, including a number of other nuclear weapons nations. It clarifies our thinking on the worst practice our species has developed, one that will destroy us all, directly or indirectly, if not ended, with or without nuclear: the practice of war.
The treaty that I recommend remembering bans war. When we begin to think in those terms, we won't see torture as the worst war crime, as Scarry suggests, but war itself as the worst crime of war. We won't suggest that killing is wrong because it's "nonbattlefield," as Scarry does at one point. We might question, as Scarry seems not to, that Hawaii was really part of the United States in 1941, or that U.S. torture really ended when Obama was elected. I'm quibbling with tiny bits in a large book, but only because I want to suggest that the arguments that best reject nuclear weaponry reject all modern war weaponry, its possession, and its use.