Sunflower Newsletter: April 2016

Strange Spectacle: Nuclear Security Summit 2016
April 4, 2016
The Pale Blue Dot – The Sagan Series
April 5, 2016
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Sunflower Newsletter: April 2016

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Issue #225 – April 2016

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  • Perspectives
    • NAPF: A Voice for Peace by David Krieger
    • The Trillion Dollar Question by Lawrence Wittner
    • Remarks on Bravo Day by Tony de Brum
  • Nuclear Proliferation
    • Nuclear Security Summit Fails to Address Existing Nuclear Weapons
    • UK Admits Frequent Transport of Nuclear Materials by Air
    • North Korea Claims Progress on Rocket Technology
  • U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
    • President Obama Outlines His Nuclear Legacy
    • Hiroshima Survivor Urges President Obama to Visit the City
  • Nuclear Insanity
    • More Problems with the U.S. Nuclear Missile Corps
    • Donald Trump Suggests Japan and South Korea Should Develop Nuclear Weapons
  • Nuclear Waste
    • South Carolina Governor Urges Diversion of Plutonium from Japan
  • Nuclear Modernization
    • Lawmakers Raise Concern Over Costly Nuclear Modernization Plans
    • U.S. Plans for Mobile ICBMs
  • Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
    • International Court of Justice Concludes Hearings in Preliminary Phase of Historic Nuclear Disarmament Cases
    • Summary of Press Articles for March 2016
  • Resources
    • April’s Featured Blog
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
    • U.S. Nuclear Arsenal: Costs and Constraints
    • Books and Articles on Peace by John Avery
  • Foundation Activities
    • NAPF Poetry Contest Ends on April 30
    • Peace Leadership for Teenagers
    • Video, Audio and Photos of the 2016 Frank K. Kelly Lecture Now Online
  • Quotes

 

Perspectives

NAPF: A Voice for Peace

When we created the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in 1982 we believed that peace is an imperative of the Nuclear Age.  That is, peace is no longer just desirable; in a nuclear-armed world, it is essential.  An important part of our work at the Foundation is to awaken people to the extraordinary dangers of living in the Nuclear Age.  We are always seeking new ways to break through the complacency of our time through education and advocacy.

I believe that complacency has four principal elements: apathy, conformity, ignorance and denial.  Together these four elements form the acronym ACID, and they are corrosive to a decent human future, or to any future at all.  We must transform apathy to empathy; conformity to critical thinking; ignorance to wisdom; and denial to recognition of the threats that nuclear weapons pose to our common future.

To read more, click here.

The Trillion Dollar Question

Isn’t it rather odd that America’s largest single public expenditure scheduled for the coming decades has received no attention in the 2015-2016 presidential debates?

The expenditure is for a thirty-year program to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal and production facilities.  Although President Obama began his administration with a dramatic public commitment to build a nuclear weapons-free world, that commitment has long ago dwindled and died.  It has been replaced by an administration plan to build a new generation of U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear production facilities to last the nation well into the second half of the twenty-first century.  This plan, which has received almost no attention by the mass media, includes redesigned nuclear warheads, as well as new nuclear bombers, submarines, land-based missiles, weapons labs, and production plants.  The estimated cost?  $1,000,000,000,000.00—or, for those readers unfamiliar with such lofty figures, $1 trillion.

To read more, click here.

Remarks on Bravo Day

While our experience with nuclear arms cannot even come close to matching that of our Japanese brothers and sisters, it has taught us lessons of everlasting value not just for ourselves but all of mankind. From the deliberate exposure of human beings to radiation to systematic cover up of critical health impacts, from human experimentation to premature resettlement of exposed populations, from denial of claims to withholding of information critical to basic understanding of the extent of damage, the nuclear history of the Marshall Islands has been nothing short of a testament to human beings being abused, mistreated and marginalized by more powerful, more ambitious neighbors.

The most important of these lessons can only be that nuclear weapons of any kind are immoral and illegal and cannot be allowed to exist amongst civilized human beings. Nuclear weapons cannot be justified for any reason whatsoever, including those we continue to hear from countries claiming that these arms are required to preserve peace and security for the world.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Proliferation

Nuclear Security Summit Fails to Address Existing Nuclear Weapons

The United States hosted the fourth, and possibly final, Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC on March 31 and April 1, 2016. The summit brought together high-level leaders from over 50 nations, including seven of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons. Russia and North Korea did not attend the Summit.

The Summit focused on securing highly-enriched uranium (HEU) in the civilian sector and similar steps to prevent terrorist groups from acquiring material to build nuclear weapons. John Burroughs, Executive Director of Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, criticized the narrow focus of the Summit. He said, “It was a strange spectacle indeed to have so much political capital invested in limited measures.”

Burroughs went on to point out that the Summit did not address “the estimated 15,000-plus nuclear weapons in the possession of states which say they are prepared to use them,” “the large stocks of HEU and plutonium in military programs, the large stocks of reactor-grade but weapons-usable plutonium, and ongoing production of HEU and plutonium and construction of new reprocessing plants to yield plutonium.”

John Burroughs, “Strange Spectacle: Nuclear Security Summit 2016,” Inter Press Service, April 4, 2016.

UK Admits Frequent Transport of Nuclear Materials by Air

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has admitted to 23 flights transporting materials used in nuclear weapons between the UK and the U.S. in the last five years. Experts say that the UK and the U.S. regularly exchange tritium, plutonium, and enriched uranium under a mutual defense agreement and that the MoD’s air shipments would not comply with U.S. or international safety regulations for civil nuclear transports.

These flights have what advocates call “disturbing” implications for the world’s attempt to reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons. These flights transporting high-risk nuclear materials fly over large urban areas such as Bristol, Cardiff and Swansea. While the MoD maintains that all the air transports were safe, the discrepancies surrounding the MoD’s compliance with international safety regulations suggest otherwise.

Rob Edwards, “MoD Admits Flying Nuclear Materials Between UK and U.S.,” The Guardian, March 1, 2016.

North Korea Claims Progress on Rocket Technology

According to North Korean state media, the country has successfully tested a solid-fuel engine that could boost the power of its ballistic rockets. Such a claim indicates that North Korea continues to develop its Intercontinental Ballistic Missile technology despite UN sanctions. The country also claimed that it will soon test ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye ordered the South Korean military on standby to “respond actively to reckless provocations by the North.”

Jack Kim, “North Korea Claims Rocket Engine Success; South on High Alert,” Reuters, March 24, 2016.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

President Obama Outlines His Nuclear Legacy

In a lengthy op-ed in the Washington Post published on the first day of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, President Obama summarized what he sees as his accomplishments in advancing his “Prague Agenda” over his two terms in office. He highlighted the New START treaty with Russia, which would reduce each country’s deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 each by 2018. He discussed the process of reaching an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program over the course of many years of sanctions and negotiations.

President Obama also claimed that the U.S. has reduced the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy. In addition, he said that he has ruled out building new nuclear warheads. In reality, the Obama administration has fully endorsed a plan to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize its nuclear arsenal, including the warheads, delivery vehicles and production infrastructure. Many of the “modernized” nuclear weapons will have new military capabilities, including the new B61-12 nuclear bomb, which is currently in final stages of modernization.

President Barack Obama, “How We Can Make Our Vision of a World Without Nuclear Weapons a Reality,” Washington Post, March 31 2016.

Hiroshima Survivor Urges President Obama to Visit the City

Keiko Oguro, who was an 8-year-old schoolgirl when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, is urging President Obama to visit Hiroshima when he is in Japan for the G7 summit in May 2016. No sitting U.S. president has visited Hiroshima since the U.S., under President Harry Truman, levelled the city with the world’s second nuclear weapon ever created.

Ms. Ogura said, “President Obama should come here and see for himself. He and other leaders would realize that nuclear weapons are not about making allies and enemies, but about joining hands and fighting this evil together. We don’t want to tell world leaders what to think, or make them apologize. They should just view it as an opportunity to lead the world in the right direction, because only they have the power to do that.”

Justin McCurry, “Hiroshima Survivor Urges Obama to Visit Site of World’s First Atomic Bombing,” The Guardian, March 23 2016.

Nuclear Insanity

More Problems with the U.S. Nuclear Missile Corps

Fourteen airmen responsible for guarding nuclear missiles in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska are under investigation for possible illegal drug activity, involving cases of cocaine use, according to defense officials. The nuclear missile corps is responsible for the entire fleet of 450 Minutemen-III nuclear missiles and in recent years has been under intense scrutiny for problems regarding personal conduct.

Officials report that the 14 airmen are members of the security group at F.E. Warren that is responsible for securing the missile fields and convoys that move nuclear weapons. The men are accused of off-duty drug activity, and officials report that the allegations are credible. In an effort to provide better security, those accused have been removed from duty while the Air Force Office of Special Investigations looks into the cases, and yet another “broad investigation” of problems inside the Air Force nuclear missile corps has been ordered.

This story follows other stories of exam cheating and drug use among missileers in the past couple of years. Click here to read a new poem by NAPF President David Krieger entitled “Missileers.”

Robert Burns, “Fourteen at Nuke Base Probed for Illegal Drug Activity,” Associated Press, March 18, 2016.

Donald Trump Suggests Japan and South Korea Should Develop Nuclear Weapons

Current U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump has suggested that Japan and South Korea should develop nuclear weapons. During a recent town hall televised on CNN, journalist Anderson Cooper said that it has been long-standing U.S. policy to prevent any other countries, including Japan and South Korea, from developing nuclear weapons. In response, Mr. Trump said, “Can I be honest with you? Maybe it’s going to have to be time to change [policy], because so many people, you have Pakistan has it, you have China has it. You have so many other countries are now having it.”

Nine countries in the world currently possess nuclear weapons: the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.

Zack Beauchamp, “Donald Trump: Make America Great Again by Letting More Countries Have Nukes,” Vox, March 30, 2016.

Nuclear Waste

South Carolina Governor Urges Diversion of Plutonium from Japan

On March 23, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley wrote to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz urging the U.S. to divert a shipment of weapons-grade plutonium en route to her state from Japan. The plutonium in question was originally supplied to Japan by the United States, Britain, and France for the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Fast Critical Assembly research project. The agreement to transfer the material to the United States was reached in March 2014 at a non-proliferation summit.

In her letter, Gov. Haley warned that the shipment “puts South Carolina at risk for becoming a permanent dumping ground for nuclear materials.” Environmental advocacy organization SRS Watch accused the government of doing a poor job explaining why this material is being brought to the United States.

Aaron Sheldrick and Megan Cassella, “South Carolina Governor Urges U.S. to Divert Plutonium from Japan,” Reuters, March 24, 2016.

Nuclear Modernization

Lawmakers Raise Concern Over Costly Nuclear Modernization Plans

Members of the House Armed Services Committee questioned leaders from the Air Force and Navy about the proposed overhaul of America’s nuclear triad—a three-pronged system consisting of strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The program to modernize the U.S. arsenal, for which the U.S. is predicted to spend one trillion dollars over the next 30 years, raised questions regarding both costs and the necessity of the plans. In response to these concerns, Air Force and Navy officials claimed that the nuclear triad has “kept the peace” since nuclear weapons were introduced and has “sustained the test of time.”

Matthew Cox, “Pentagon Leaders Defend Nuclear Triad Overhaul,” Military.com, March 16, 2016.

U.S. Plans for Mobile ICBMs

The U.S. Air Force is planning to design a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with mobile capability. According to Arms Control Today, such a function would require approximately $400 million in development funding and would cost around $80 billion more than silo-based missiles over their expected service life. More important than the cost, however, is that such a move would represent a serious step backward in U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

The U.S. explored mobile ICBM options twice during the Cold War, but both times the projects were halted before becoming operational.

Kingston Reif, “Air Force Seeks Mobile ICBM Option,” Arms Control Today, April 2016.

Nuclear Zero Lawsuits

International Court of Justice Concludes Hearings in Preliminary Phase of Historic Nuclear Disarmament Cases

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) heard oral arguments in the preliminary phase of the nuclear disarmament cases brought by the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) against India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. The hearings, which took place at the ICJ from March 7-16, were the first contentious cases on nuclear disarmament ever heard at the Court. This set of hearings addressed the respondent nations’ objections to the cases relating to questions of jurisdiction and admissibility.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Director of Programs, Rick Wayman, attended all seven days of the hearings and reported on them in a series of nine articles for the Pressenza international news agency. Click here to read Rick’s articles.

International Court of Justice Concludes Hearings in Preliminary Phase of Historic Nuclear Disarmament Cases,” Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, March 16, 2016.

Summary of Press Articles for March 2016

The Marshall Islands’ nuclear disarmament cases received a significant boost in media coverage in March 2016 as the International Court of Justice held its preliminary oral hearings in the cases against the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan. Major media outlets covered or commented on the hearings, including The New York Times, Associated Press, Reuters, BBC, NPR, the Guardian, and Al Jazeera.

Click here for a full summary of English-language press coverage of the ICJ hearings.

 Resources

April’s Featured Blog

This month’s featured blog is “Nuclear Reaction” by Greenpeace International. On March 18, the blog featured an article about the Marshall Islands’ nuclear disarmament cases at the International Court of Justice. In addition to nuclear disarmament, they frequently publish articles about nuclear waste and nuclear energy.

To read the blog, 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 10, 1963 sinking of the U.S.S. Thresher, a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

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

U.S. Nuclear Arsenal: Costs and Constraints

The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation has published a new fact sheet outlining the Obama administration’s extensive plans to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Plans to maintain and update the U.S. nuclear arsenal are expected to cost the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) $9.2 billion in 2017 alone. This money is specifically geared for weapons activities, including modifications and life extension programs for nuclear warheads. The Pentagon also requested more than $3 billion to strengthen the triad’s delivery systems, including warplanes and submarines.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work has asserted that it will cost about $18 billion a year between 2021 and 2035 to maintain and modernize the nuclear arsenal. Based on standard Pentagon estimates, these numbers do not account for cost overruns and are likely too low. Many analysts expect the full price of nuclear modernization and maintenance to near $700 billion by 2039 and total up to $1 trillion over 30 years.

To read the fact sheet, click here.

Books and Articles on Peace by John Avery

John Scales Avery, an Associate of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, has published many books and articles on peace. His latest book is The Need for a New Economic System. Avery has posted a list of numerous books and articles, with links, that he has written over the past few years. Topics include nuclear disarmament, peace, economics, history and human rights.

To see the full list of Avery’s articles and books, click here.

Foundation Activities

NAPF Poetry Contest Ends on April 30

April is National Poetry Month. Each year, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation holds the Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards to encourage poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit. For the 2016 contest, entries must be postmarked or emailed by April 30, 2016.

There are three age categories for the awards: adult; youth (13-18); and youth (12 and under).

More information, including submission instructions, for the contest is available online at www.peacecontests.org.

Peace Leadership for Teenagers

When NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell visits high schools, he broadens his talk about waging peace and ending war to often include growing up in a violent household, bullying problems, the three elements of universal respect, how positive change happens, and why we should have hope.

Paul directly reaches thousands of students each year through lectures and workshops delivered around the United States and throughout the world.

Click here to read some comments from students and teachers following Paul’s recent speaking tour in Maryland.

Video, Audio and Photos of the 2016 Frank K. Kelly Lecture Now Online

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 15th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future took place on February 18, 2016. Robert Scheer, a distinguished journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Truthdig.org, delivered a lecture on “War, Peace, Truth and the Media.”

A video of Mr. Scheer’s full lecture, along with a MP3 audio recording and still photos, are available for free download on the NAPF website.

Quotes

 

“Nuclear conflict is a declaration of war on the conditions that sustain human life.”

Norman Cousins (1915-1990), American author and peace activist. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available for purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.

 

“We believe that Australia should cease its reliance on weapons whose use would almost certainly violate international law, given the uncontrollability of their blast, heat and radiological effects.”

50 international law academics, in an open letter sent to Australian defense minister Marise Payne encouraging Australia to end its support for and reliance on U.S. nuclear weapons.

 

“As the resolution that we have adopted today underscores, virtually all of the DPRK’s resources are channeled into its reckless and relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. The North Korean government would rather grow its nuclear weapons program than grow its own children. That is the reality that we are facing.”

Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, speaking at the UN Security Council on March 2, 2016. The U.S. spends more money than nearly every other country in the world combined on its military.

Editorial Team

 

Lindsay Apperson
David Krieger
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman


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