Sunflower Newsletter: April 2015

The Marshall Islands Will Not Back Down
April 2, 2015
Mediation Questionnaire
April 8, 2015
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Sunflower Newsletter: April 2015

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Issue #213 – April 2015

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  • Perspectives
    • Nuclear Weapons and Possible Human Extinction: The Heroic Marshall Islanders by David Krieger
    • Why We Need Peace Heroes by Paul K. Chappell
  • Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
    • Marshall Islands Appeals to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
    • Marshallese Can Rightfully Claim a Victory
  • U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
    • U.S. Pressures Allies to Reject Austrian Pledge
  • Nuclear Insanity
    • U.S. Finally Admits that Israel Has Nuclear Weapons
    • GOP Senators Send Letter to Iran in Attempt to Undermine Nuclear Negotiations
  • Nuclear Proliferation
    • Iran Nuclear Negotiations Continue
    • Why Is China Modernizing Its Nuclear Arsenal?
  • Nuclear Disarmament
    • Russia Calls on U.S. to Remove Nuclear Weapons from Europe
  • Nuclear Testing
    • Russia and U.S. Test ICBMs
  • Resources
    • NPT Action Plan Monitoring Report
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
    • Consequences of Limited and Large-Scale Nuclear War
    • Nuclear Weapons in Your Backyard
    • Global Wave on April 26
  • Foundation Activities
    • NAPF at Peace and Planet Mobilization
    • Event on Nuclear Zero Lawsuits at the United Nations
    • New Booklets Now Available
    • Peace Leadership and Civil Rights
    • Upcoming NAPF Lectures
    • NAPF Peace Poetry Contest
  • Quotes

Perspectives

Nuclear Weapons and Possible Human Extinction: The Heroic Marshall Islanders

Extinction is a harsh and unforgiving word, a word that should make us shiver. Time moves inexorably in one direction only and, when extinction is complete, there are no further chances for revival. Extinction is a void, a black hole, from which return is forever foreclosed. If we can imagine the terrible void of extinction, then perhaps we can mobilize to forestall its occurrence, even its possibility.

The brilliant American author Jonathan Schell, who wrote The Fate of the Earth and was an ardent nuclear abolitionist, had this insight into the Nuclear Age: “We prepare for our extinction in order to assure our survival.” He refers to the irony and idiocy of reliance upon nuclear weapons to avert nuclear war.

To read more, click here.

Why We Need Peace Heroes

The art of living requires us to understand what it means to be human, because the art of living works with the medium of our shared humanity, just as painting works with color and music works with sound. The art of living also requires us to learn the art of waging peace, because peace is the process and product of living well. Instead of saying our society is illiterate in peace, a more accurate phrase is “preliterate in peace.” Three thousand years ago, there were many brilliant Greeks and Trojans who did not understand the importance of becoming literate in reading. And today, there are many brilliant people in our society who do not yet understand the importance of becoming literate in living well, waging peace, and our shared humanity.

Because environmental destruction, nuclear weapons, and war can drive humanity extinct, this new kind of literacy I am describing is necessary for human survival. Just as people today recognize that illiteracy in reading is a serious problem, we must create a future where people recognize that illiteracy in the art of living and the art of waging peace is also a serious problem. To take their society to the next level, a civilization such as the ancient Greeks had to prioritize literacy. To take our global society to the next level, we must prioritize literacy in living well, waging peace, and our shared humanity.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Zero Lawsuits

Marshall Islands to Appeal to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

The lawsuit brought by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) against the United States is not going away anytime soon. While the case was dismissed on February 3, 2015 by the U.S. Federal District Court for the Northern District of California, on April 2, 2015, this small island nation took the important step of formally filing its Notice of Appeal.

Earlier this year, U.S. Federal District Court dismissed the case on the jurisdictional grounds of standing and political question doctrine without getting to the merits of the case. Laurie Ashton, lead attorney for the RMI, expressed strong disagreement with the court’s ruling, saying, “We believe the District Court erred in dismissing the case. The Marshall Islands, like every party to the NPT, is entitled to the United States’ fulfillment of its NPT promise – negotiations for nuclear disarmament. Further, the U.S. President does not enjoy exclusive purview to determine the U.S. breach of its treaty obligations. Instead, the judiciary has an obligation to rule in this treaty dispute.”

The Marshall Islands Will Not Back Down,” Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, April 2, 2015.

Marshallese Can Rightfully Claim a Victory

 

In Embassy, one of Canada’s top publications on foreign affairs issues, Cesar Jaramillo and Debbie Grisdale describe the main details of the Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Zero Lawsuits.

Speaking particularly to their Canadian audience, they write, “However the court rules, the effort by the RMI to hold nuclear armed states accountable is worthy of support in Canada and beyond. Canada recognizes the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction and has historically aligned with the rule of law.”

Cesar Jaramillo and Debbie Grisdale, “Marshallese Can Rightfully Claim a Victory,” Embassy, March 25, 2015.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

U.S. Pressures Allies to Reject Austrian Pledge

 

The United States has pressured Japan, Norway and likely many other allied countries to reject the Austrian Pledge, which calls for efforts to “stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.” While Japan sponsors a resolution annually at the United Nations General Assembly calling for states to take action towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, the Japanese government felt pressured by the United States to reject the Austrian Pledge.

According to a Japanese government official, Japan’s reliance on the U.S. nuclear “umbrella” is more important than supporting an effort to negotiate a treaty banning and eliminating nuclear weapons.

Because of U.S. Nuclear Umbrella, Japan Not to Support Austrian Document Seeking Atomic Weapons Ban,” Kyodo, March 13, 2015.

Nuclear Insanity

U.S. Finally Admits that Israel Has Nuclear Weapons

 

A report prepared for the Pentagon in the late 1980s has been released under the Freedom of Information Act. The report describes Israel as having nuclear weapon development and production facilities “equivalent to our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories.”

While it has been widely known for years that Israel possesses nuclear weapons, the United States government has played along with Israel’s position of “strategic ambiguity” for decades. This document’s release marks the first time that the U.S. government has officially disclosed its knowledge of Israeli nuclear weapons programs.

William Greider, “It’s Official: The Pentagon Finally Admitted that Israel Has Nuclear Weapons, Too,” The Nation, March 20, 2015.

GOP Senators Send Letter to Iran in Attempt to Undermine Nuclear Negotiations

 

Forty-seven Republican Senators have sent a letter to Iran’s leadership in an attempt to undermine negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. The letter, written by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, states that the signers view any negotiated agreement as an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. It goes on to state that future U.S. Presidents could “revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfill the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.”

Part II: Iran Responds to GOP Letter,” United States Institute of Peace, March 9, 2015.

Nuclear Proliferation

Iran Nuclear Negotiations Continue

 

The latest self-imposed deadline of March 31 has passed in the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1. Negotiations have mostly been portrayed as positive, but important points of disagreement remain.

The Americans want to establish quantitative limits: how many centrifuges can spin, how much nuclear fuel can be produced, etc. The Iranians, on the other hand, are focused on maintaining sovereignty and reassuring Iranian citizens that they are standing their ground. Additionally, the pace of sanctions relief is an unresolved issue.

Joe Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund, recently published an article entitled “How to Know if the Iran Deal Is a Good Deal.” Click here to read it.

Michael Gordon, “Iran Nuclear Talks Are Extended for Another Day,” The New York Times, April 1, 2015.

Why Is China Modernizing Its Nuclear Arsenal?

 

China’s nuclear modernization program often receives more attention than the programs of other nuclear-armed nations, even though its nuclear arsenal is far inferior to that of Russia or the United States. Chinese analysts often point to concerns about the United States’ first strike capability as a reason for modernizing. The analysts also say that China believes it must modernize its nuclear arsenal to remain viable against massive U.S. nuclear and conventional weapon modernization.

Chinese analysts also point to the disparity in numbers of nuclear weapons. Despite the New START Treaty between the United States and Russia, which has reduced the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons those two countries can have, the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States are still nearly 20 times larger than China’s. Interestingly, under the definition of “deployed” in the New START Treaty, China would be considered to have zero nuclear weapons.

Gregory Kulacki, “Why Is China Modernizing Its Nuclear Arsenal?All Things Nuclear, April 1, 2015.

Nuclear Disarmament

Russia Calls on U.S. to Remove Nuclear Weapons from Europe

 

Russia has called on the United States to remove its tactical nuclear weapons from Europe. Currently, the United States has approximately 180 nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey under a NATO nuclear sharing agreement. Russia claims that this arrangement is “in direct contradiction to the letter and spirit of the Non-Proliferation Treaty” because it involves the use of military equipment and personnel of non-nuclear weapon states.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons on the territories of NATO allies “is consistent with the NPT” because the NATO nuclear sharing agreement was in place before the NPT entered into force in 1970.

Tony Halpin, “Russia Calls on U.S. to Remove Its Nuclear Weapons from Europe,” Bloomberg Business, March 24, 2015.

Nuclear Testing

Russia and U.S. Test ICBMs

 

In March, both Russia and the United States conducted tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles – land-based missiles that carry nuclear warheads. Russia tested its SS-26 Rubezh missile on March 18, while the U.S. conducted tests of its Minuteman III missile on March 23 and 27.

Speaking about the March 27 Minuteman III launch, Lt. Col. Daniel Hays, commander of the 341st Missile Wing Task Force, said, “These launches are a visible reminder to both our adversaries and our allies of the readiness and capability of the Minuteman III weapon system.”

To read NAPF President David Krieger’s response to the U.S. tests from Vandenberg Air Force Base, click here.

Brian Everstine, “Missile Crews Complete Two Successful Test Launches in One Week,” Air Force Times, March 27, 2015.

Resources

NPT Action Plan Monitoring Report

 

In advance of this month’s Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, Reaching Critical Will has published a new report that examines progress that countries have made toward implementing the 2010 Action Plan agreed to at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The 64-point action plan was intended to further the implementation of the NPT.

Reaching Critical Will’s monitoring report provides a straightforward review and assessment of the Plan’s implementation. In addition to actions on nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the report covers the initiatives related to the Middle East weapons of mass destruction free zone and the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.

Many of the 64 action points, particularly those relating to nuclear disarmament, continue to receive a failing mark.

To read the report, click here.

This Month in Nuclear Threat History

 

History chronicles many instances when humans have been threatened by nuclear weapons. In this article, Jeffrey Mason outlines some of the most serious threats that have taken place in the month of April, including the April 11, 1950 crash of a B-29 Superfortress strategic bomber in New Mexico, in which 13 crew members died. The plane was carrying a nuclear weapon on board, but the nuclear warhead did not detonate.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.

Consequences of Limited and Large-Scale Nuclear War

 

Dr. Ira Helfand, co-President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, delivered an important overview of the consequences of limited and large-scale nuclear war at a planning meeting for the upcoming World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Atlanta.

Dr. Helfand explained that even in a limited regional nuclear war, the consequences would be global. Soot from burning cities would block sunlight and prevent crops from growing in many parts of the planet, leading to widespread famine that could kill up to two billion people.

To watch the 10-minute video of Ira Helfand’s presentation, click here.

Nuclear Weapons in Your Backyard

 

Physicians for Social Responsibility has created an interactive map showing U.S. nuclear facilities and the locations of many mishaps involving nuclear weapons throughout history. Many readers of The Sunflower may be surprised to discover that a nuclear weapon accident has taken place near their home.

To see the map and read more information about the project, click here.

Global Wave on April 26

 

The Global Wave will involve a simple public action in cities around the world in a timed fashion over 24 hours just before the 2015 NPT Review Conference in New York City. Starting at a major peace rally in New York City on April 26, and then proceeding westward through each time zone every hour, humanity will “Wave Goodbye to Nuclear Weapons” through symbolic Wave events.

The action will engage parliamentarians, mayors, religious leaders, youth, environmentalists, human rights activists, sports clubs, celebrities and other representatives of civil society. The action in some places will be small and symbolic – in other places it will be larger and more celebratory.

Global Wave 2015 is part of Peace and Planet: Mobilization for a Nuclear Free, Just and Sustainable World. To get involved in this exciting global action, click here.

Foundation Activities

NAPF at Peace and Planet Mobilization

 

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is involved in many activities around the upcoming Peace and Planet Mobilization in New York City on April 24-26. NAPF is co-sponsoring a workshop at the Peace and Planet conference entitled “Small Islands, Big Threats: The Marshall Islands Tackle Nuclear Weapons and Climate Change.” The Foundation will also have a booth at the Peace Festival from 3-6 p.m. on Sunday, April 26 in Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza.

If you are in the New York area, please join us for these important events. For more information on the Peace and Planet Mobilization and to register, click here.

Event on Nuclear Zero Lawsuits at the United Nations

 

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms is co-sponsoring a lunchtime event on the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits at the United Nations on April 27, the first day of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. Speakers at the event include: Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands; Laurie Ashton, lead counsel for the Marshall Islands in the lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court; and David Krieger, NAPF President and member of the legal team working on the lawsuits at the International Court of Justice.

The event is inside United Nations headquarters and is only open to government and NGO representatives with building passes.

New Booklets Now Available

 

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has just published two new booklets to raise awareness around the urgent need for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The first booklet is based on NAPF President David Krieger’s list of 15 moral reasons to abolish nuclear weapons. The second booklet, entitled “Nuclear Zero: Believe,” contains quotes from leaders of many different faith traditions that support the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Click here to view the 15 moral reasons booklet. Click here for the “Nuclear Zero: Believe” booklet. To order hard copies of these booklets for distribution in your area, please email rwayman@napf.org.

Peace Leadership and Civil Rights

 

NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell touched a part of civil rights history on March 29 as keynote speaker for the Durr Lecture Series at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama. Chappell, who grew up in Huntsville, helped to bring closure to a time period of remembering. Only several days earlier, at the reenactment of the conclusion of the civil rights march from Selma to the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Peggy Wallace Kennedy, daughter of Governor George Wallace, hugged and held hands in prayer.

Among many topics, Chappell discussed how, from a military perspective, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. were strategic geniuses, more brilliant and innovative than any general in history. They were courageous warriors who advanced a more effective method than waging war for providing national and global security. “Gandhi said, ‘I am a soldier, but a solider of peace.’ Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘In the nonviolent army, there is room for everyone who wants to join.’”

To read more about Paul’s recent trip to Alabama, click here.

Upcoming NAPF Lectures

 

In the coming weeks, NAPF representatives will be giving public lectures around the United States. If you are in the area of any of these lectures, we would be pleased to see you there. For more information on these events, please call NAPF at (805) 965-3443.

On April 27 at 7:30 p.m., NAPF President David Krieger will deliver a lecture in New York City as part of the SGI Culture of Peace Lecture Series.

On May 3-4, NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell will speak at Kent State University to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the killing of four students by National Guard troops during a protest against the Vietnam War. Paul will be joined by Dick Gregory and many others.

NAPF Peace Poetry Contest

 

The deadline for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s annual Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards is July 1. The contest encourages poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit. The Poetry Awards include three age categories: Adult, Youth 13-18, and Youth 12 & Under. Cash prizes of up to $1,000 will be awarded to the winners.

April is National Poetry Month, so it is a great time to submit your poems. For full details on the poetry contest, click here.

Quotes

 

“There’s an increasing urgency on the part of those countries that do not have nuclear weapons to say to the nuclear weapons powers: ‘You need to disarm, you need to fulfill your side of the bargain.’”

Angela Kane, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Ms. Kane recently announced her decision to step down from her position after serving for three years.

 

“We are robbing America’s future to pay for unneeded weapons of the past.”

Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), introducing the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act on March 23, 2015.

 

“The hope of humankind is that compassion and compromise may replace the cruel and senseless violence of armed conflicts.”

Benjamin B. Ferencz, American attorney and prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal. This quote is featured in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, available from the NAPF Peace Store.

Editorial Team

 

Keanna Cohen
David Krieger
Grant Stanton
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman