Sunflower Newsletter: February 2016

February: This Month in Nuclear Threat History
February 1, 2016
What Would a Nuclear Ban Mean in the U.S.?
February 1, 2016
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Sunflower Newsletter: February 2016

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Issue #223 – February 2016

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  • Perspectives
    • North Korea: How Many Wake-Up Calls Will it Take? by David Krieger
    • Political Responsibility in the Nuclear Age: An Open Letter to the American People by Richard Falk, David Krieger and Robert Laney
    • Why Our World Needs Peace Literacy by Paul K. Chappell
  • Nuclear Proliferation
    • Israel Receives Fifth Nuclear-Capable Submarine from Germany
    • Doomsday Clock Stays at Three Minutes to Midnight
  • Nuclear Disarmament
    • Setsuko Thurlow and Hibakusha Voted Arms Control Person of the Year
  • Nuclear Insanity
    • Air Force Withheld Nuclear Mishap from Pentagon Review Team
  • Nuclear Testing
    • North Korea Tests Nuclear Weapon, Calls for Peace Treaty
  • Nuclear Modernization
    • Former Officials Wary of Nuclear Modernization Plans
    • Stratcom Chief Calls for Full Nuclear Modernization
  • Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
    • International Peace Bureau Nominates Tony de Brum and Nuclear Zero Legal Team for Nobel Peace Prize
    • International Court of Justice Announces Dates for Oral Arguments
  • Resources
    • February’s Featured Blog
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
    • Engaging Youth in Nuclear Abolition Work
    • Essays on the World’s Problems and Solutions
  • Foundation Activities
    • Robert Scheer to Deliver the 15th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future
    • 2016 Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest Is Launched
    • Archbishop Desmond Tutu Endorses NAPF for 2016 Nobel Peace Prize
  • Quotes

 

Perspectives

North Korea: How Many Wake-Up Calls Will It Take?

North Korea has been sounding alarms since it withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003.  Its latest wake-up call in early 2016 was its fourth nuclear test.  This time it claimed to have tested a far more powerful thermonuclear weapon, although seismic reports do not seem to bear this out.

North Korea has been roundly condemned for its nuclear tests, including this one.  To put this in perspective, however, the U.S. has conducted more than 1,000 nuclear tests, continues to conduct subcritical nuclear tests, has not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, is in breach of its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, regularly tests nuclear-capable missiles, and plans to spend $1 trillion modernizing its nuclear arsenal.  The U.S. and the other nuclear-armed countries are quick to point fingers at North Korea, but slow to recognize their own role in fanning the flames of nuclear catastrophe.

If we are not awakened by North Korea’s latest test, what will it take?  What other, louder alarm is necessary for the world to come together and work toward achieving nuclear zero before nuclear weapons are used again and we all become victims of a war from which humanity will never awaken?

To read more, click here.

Political Responsibility in the Nuclear Age: An Open Letter to the American People

Dear fellow citizens:

By their purported test of a hydrogen bomb early in 2016, North Korea reminded the world that nuclear dangers are not an abstraction, but a continuing menace that the governments and peoples of the world ignore at their peril.  Even if the test were not of a hydrogen bomb but of a smaller atomic weapon, as many experts suggest, we are still reminded that we live in the Nuclear Age, an age in which accident, miscalculation, insanity or intention could lead to devastating nuclear catastrophe.

What is most notable about the Nuclear Age is that we humans, by our scientific and technological ingenuity, have created the means of our own demise.  The world currently is confronted by many threats to human wellbeing, and even civilizational survival, but we focus here on the particular grave dangers posed by nuclear weapons and nuclear war.

To read more, click here.

Why Our World Needs Peace Literacy

Imagine if there were a high school in America today with a zero percent literacy rate, a high school where none of the students or teachers know how to read. Would this high school get national media attention? Actually, it would probably get international media attention, because today we recognize that literacy is the foundation of education, and we have constructed our society around literacy.

What if all of us in the twenty-first century are living in a preliterate society and we don’t even realize it? We are not preliterate in reading, but in something else. What if we are living in a society that is preliterate in peace, and a major reason why we have so many national problems, global problems, and even personal and family problems is because our society is preliterate in peace. Just as literacy in reading gives us access to new kinds of information such as history, science, and complex math, literacy in peace also gives us access to new kinds of information such as solutions to our national and global problems, along with solutions to many of our personal and family problems.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Proliferation

Israel Receives Fifth Nuclear-Capable Submarine from Germany

Israel has received a fifth Dolphin-class submarine produced by Germany. According to a 2012 report in Der Spiegel, the German-made submarines are capable of carrying nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The submarine cost approximately $500 million to produce, with Germany providing 1/3 of the funding.

At a dedication ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is “capable of striking in very great strength at all those who would harm it.” While Israel officially does not confirm that it possesses nuclear weapons, it is well-known that it is the only nuclear-armed nation in the Middle East.

Israel Receives Fifth Submarine with German Help,” Associated Press, January 12, 2016.

Doomsday Clock Stays at Three Minutes to Midnight

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has announced that it is keeping its “Doomsday Clock” at three minutes to midnight, unchanged from last year. The clock is a metaphor for how close humanity is to destroying the planet.

“Three minutes (to midnight) is too close. Far too close,” the Bulletin said in a statement. “We, the members of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, want to be clear about our decision not to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock in 2016: That decision is not good news, but an expression of dismay that world leaders continue to fail to focus their efforts and the world’s attention on reducing the extreme danger posed by nuclear weapons and climate change.

“When we call these dangers existential, that is exactly what we mean: They threaten the very existence of civilization and therefore should be the first order of business for leaders who care about their constituents and their countries.”

Todd Leopold, “Doomsday Clock Stays at Three Minutes to Midnight,” CNN, January 26, 2016.

Nuclear Disarmament

Setsuko Thurlow and Hibakusha Voted Arms Control Person of the Year

Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and an active campaigner for the abolition of nuclear weapons, together with the hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, have been named the “Arms Control Person of the Year” by the Washington, DC-based Arms Control Association.

Setsuko Thurlow and the hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were nominated for their unyielding dedication to sharing first-hand accounts of the catastrophic and inhumane effects of nuclear weapons, which serves to reinforce the taboo against the further use of nuclear weapons and to maintain pressure for effective action to eliminate and outlaw nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons testing.

Ms. Thurlow also received the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Distinguished Peace Leadership Award in 2015 for her leadership in the movement to abolish nuclear weapons. Click here to watch a video of that event.

Setsuko Thurlow and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Voted the Arms Control Person of the Year,” Arms Control Association, January 7, 2016.

Nuclear Insanity

Air Force Withheld Nuclear Mishap from Pentagon Review Team

On May 17, 2014, three Air Force airmen were troubleshooting a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) in a silo in Colorado. A “mishap” occurred, causing $1.8 million in damage to the nuclear-armed missile. At the same time that the mishap occurred, a Pentagon team appointed by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was reviewing the many problems with the U.S. nuclear force.

The Air Force chose not to report this incident to the review team. The Air Force has denied an Associated Press Freedom of Information Act request for the incident report. Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists said, “By keeping the details of the accident secret and providing only vague responses, the Air Force behaves as if it has something to hide and undermines public confidence in the safety of the ICBM mission.”

Robert Burns, “Air Force Withheld Nuclear Mishap from Pentagon Review Team,” Associated Press, January 23, 2016.

Nuclear Testing

North Korea Tests Nuclear Weapon, Calls for Peace Treaty

On January 6, North Korea conducted its fourth test of a nuclear weapon. While North Korea claimed that it tested a hydrogen bomb, many experts around the world doubted that claim since the explosion was approximately the same size as its third nuclear test, which was an atomic bomb.

North Korea has stated that it would halt its nuclear weapon tests if South Korea and the United States stop conducting joint military exercises, and a peace treaty is signed to conclude the 1950-53 Korean War.

Tony Munroe, Hideyuki Sano and David Brunnstrom, “North Korea Says Peace Treaty, Halt to Exercises Would End Nuclear Tests,” Reuters, January 16, 2016.

Nuclear Modernization

Former Officials Wary of Nuclear Modernization Plans

Many former Obama Administration officials are among the critics of the administration’s plans to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal at a cost of $1 trillion over the next 30 years. Andy Weber, former assistant secretary of defense and director of the Nuclear Weapons Council, has been a vocal critic of the administration’s plans to build a new nuclear cruise missile. Weber said, “It’s unaffordable and unneeded. The president has an opportunity to set the stage for a global ban on nuclear cruise missiles. It’s a big deal in terms of reducing the risks of nuclear war.”

Ellen Tauscher, a former undersecretary of state for arms control in the Obama Administration, expressed disappointment in the lack of nuclear arms reduction. She said, “I think there’s a universal sense of frustration. Somebody has to get serious. We’re spending billions of dollars on a status quo that doesn’t make us any safer.”

William Broad and David Sanger, “As U.S. Modernizes Nuclear Weapons, ‘Smaller’ Leaves Some Uneasy,” The New York Times, January 11, 2016.

Stratcom Chief Calls for Full Nuclear Modernization

U.S. Strategic Commander Adm. Cecil Haney called for full modernization of the nation’s nuclear triad of submarines, bombers and land-based missiles during a visit to Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, which oversees 150 of the United States’ 450 land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. Haney said, “We must modernize the force, including the people, to ensure this force remains capable of delivering strategic stability and foundational deterrence well into the future.”

Adm. Haney also said, “All [three legs of the nuclear triad] remain essential to our national security and continue to provide a stabilizing force in the global geopolitical fabric of the world.” Haney’s comment is in stark contrast to the viewpoint of numerous high-ranking military officials, including former U.S. Strategic Commander Gen. Lee Butler. In an interview with Robert Kazel for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in 2015, Gen. Butler said, “Rather than being concerned about the moral implications of [nuclear weapons], we continue to pursue them as if they were our salvation—as opposed to the prospective engine of our utter destruction.”

Jenn Rowell, “Nuke Chief Visits Malmstrom to Outline Priorities,” Great Falls Tribune, January 14, 2016.

Nuclear Zero Lawsuits

International Peace Bureau Nominates Tony de Brum and Nuclear Zero Legal Team for Nobel Peace Prize

The International Peace Bureau (IPB) has nominated former Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum and the legal team working on the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. IPB highlighted the courageous step of bringing legal actions against the world’s nine nuclear-armed states at the International Court of Justice, and additionally against the United States in U.S. Federal Court.

In its nomination, IPB writes, “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 U.S. 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.”

Colin Archer, “International Peace Bureau Nominates de Brum and Nuclear Zero Legal Team for Nobel Peace Prize,” Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, January 28, 2016.

International Court of Justice Announces Dates for Oral Arguments

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has announced that initial oral arguments in the Marshall Islands’ lawsuits against the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan will take place from March 7-16, 2016. The ICJ was founded in 1945 to rule on legal disputes between nations.

In the cases against India and Pakistan, the court will examine whether the tribunal in The Hague is “competent” to hear the lawsuits. The hearing against the United Kingdom will examine preliminary objections raised by the UK.

Marshall Islands Sue Britain, India and Pakistan Over Nuclear Weapons,” Agence France-Presse, January 29, 2016.

 Resources

February’s Featured Blog

This month’s featured blog is the Nobel Women’s Initiative. This initiative was established in 2006 by Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Maguire.

The blog covers many different topics, including human rights, refugees, peace, women’s rights, and much more. 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 February, including the February 5, 1958 incident in which a B-47 bomber jettisoned a 7,600-pound Mark-15 hydrogen bomb into a Savannah River swamp off Tybee Island, Georgia after colliding with an F-86 fighter jet.  The weapon, which contained 400 pounds of conventional high explosives and highly enriched uranium, was never recovered despite an extensive two-month-long search by U.S. Navy personnel.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

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

Engaging Youth in Nuclear Abolition Work

The British American Security and Information Council (BASIC) has published a new report entitled “Reframing the Narrative on Nuclear Weapons.” The publication represents 14 months of investigation into how future nuclear weapons policy can become more relevant to the concerns and the security of the next generation. BASIC’s aim was to explore this by engaging new perspectives within the next generation of policy shapers, those with ideas unstructured by Cold War experiences, but nevertheless motivated to take action to move beyond the legacies from past generations, focused on future decisions over global policy challenges.

To read the full report, click here.

Essays on the World’s Problems and Solutions

John Scales Avery, a frequent contributor to NAPF’s wagingpeace.org website, has published a collection of essays on the urgent problems the world is facing and the solutions available to us. Avery said, “We must work together to save human civilization and the biosphere from the twin threats of nuclear war and climate change. Together we can do it.”

To access many of Avery’s essays, click here.

Foundation Activities

Robert Scheer to Deliver the 15th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is pleased to welcome Robert Scheer, one of the nation’s most outspoken and progressive journalists, Professor of Communications at the University of Southern California, and Editor-In-Chief of Truthdig.com, to deliver the 15th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future.

Scheer’s lecture, entitled “War, Peace, Truth and the Media,” will take place on Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at the Faulkner Gallery in the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 E. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, California. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, click here.

2016 Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest is Launched

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has announced the topic for its 2016 Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest. This year’s contest will address NAPF’s new program “Humanize Not Modernize,” which opposes the modernization of nuclear arsenals and supports funding the many unmet human needs in the world.

All nine of the world’s nuclear-armed nations are modernizing or planning to modernize their nuclear arsenals. This is not only extraordinarily expensive, but also very dangerous. The United States alone plans to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize its arsenal. Many of its proposed modernization programs will serve to make nuclear weapons more usable in conflict.

Contestants will make videos of no more than 3 minutes about why we need to #HumanizeNotModernize. The video can address issues around all nine nuclear-armed nations, or one nation in particular.

The contest is free to enter and is open to people of all ages around the world. For more information, visit www.peacecontests.org.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Endorses NAPF for 2016 Nobel Peace Prize

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1990 Nobel Peace Laureate and member of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Advisory Council, has endorsed NAPF for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. NAPF is one of three nominees that Archbishop Tutu has endorsed for this year’s prize. Click here to read an article about his endorsement.

To read the nomination letter by Bill Wickersham, Peace Studies professor at the University of Missouri, click here.

Quotes

 

“That’s what nuclear bombs do, whether they’re used or not. They violate everything that is human; they alter the meaning of life. Why do we tolerate them? Why do we tolerate the men who use nuclear weapons to blackmail the entire human race?”

Arundhati Roy. This quote is featured in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, available for purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.

 

“…weapons-modernization programs in the U.S. and Russia continue to violate the spirit—and, I believe, the letter—of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

Lawrence Krauss, chair of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Click here to read his op-ed in the New Yorker about the Doomsday Clock.

 

“War destroys. And we must cry out for peace. Peace sometimes gives the idea of stillness, but it is never stillness. It is always an active peace. I think that everyone must be committed in the matter of peace, to do everything that they can, what I can do from here. Peace is the language we must speak.”

Pope Francis

Editorial Team

 

David Krieger
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman


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