Sunflower Newsletter: June 2016

Courage in Words, But Not in Action
June 1, 2016
Report to the UN Secretary-General on NAPF Disarmament Education Activities
June 2, 2016
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Sunflower Newsletter: June 2016

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Issue #227 – June 2016

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  • Perspectives
    • Message to the Wall by David Krieger
    • Obama on Nukes: All Talk, No Action by Setsuko Thurlow
    • Speech in Hiroshima by President Barack Obama
  • Nuclear Disarmament
    • Non-Nuclear Nations Discuss Nuclear Arms Ban
  • Nuclear Proliferation
    • U.S. Missile Shield Stirs Up Tensions
    • China Plans Nuclear Submarines
    • Pakistan Seeks Nuclear Suppliers Group Membership
  • Nuclear Waste
    • Complaints of Vapor Exposure Resurface at Hanford Site
    • Settlement Reached in Rocky Flats Homeowners Lawsuit
  • Nuclear Insanity
    • Would the U.S. Drop the Bomb Again?
  • Nuclear Modernization
    • U.S. Modernization Plans Are “Very, Very, Very Expensive”
    • Universities Seek to Manage Sandia Nuclear Weapons Labs
  • Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
    • Update on the Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Disarmament Lawsuits
  • Resources
    • June’s Featured Blog
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
    • Lee Butler’s Memoirs
    • Russian Nuclear Forces
  • Foundation Activities
    • Letters to the Editor in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times
    • Refugees and Peace Literacy
    • Noam Chomsky to Receive NAPF Distinguished Peace Leadership Award
    • Report to the UN Secretary-General
  • Quotes

 

Perspectives

Message to the Wall

Dear Wall,
Your polished surface deceives.
You appear serene, yet you are bursting with anguish and lost potential.
You are a wall of great sadness.
You remember the young, whose lives were engulfed in the flames of war.
They wanted to live and love, but the cruel war stopped them.
They had lives before the lies of their leaders took them to war.

To read more, click here.

Obama on Nukes: All Talk, No Action

As a 13-year-old schoolgirl, I witnessed my hometown flattened by a hurricane-like blast, burned in 7,000-degree Fahrenheit heat and contaminated by the radiation of one atomic bomb.

Miraculously, I was rescued from the rubble of a building, a little more than a mile from ground zero. Most of my classmates in the same room were burned to death. I can still hear their faint voices, calling their mothers for help, and praying to God.

As I escaped with two other girls, we watched a procession of ghostly figures: grotesquely wounded people whose clothes were tattered or gone. Parts of their bodies were missing. Some were carrying their eyeballs in their hands. Some had their stomachs burst open, their intestines hanging out.

To read the full op-ed in the New York Daily News, click here.

Speech in Hiroshima

Seventy-one years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself.

Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not so distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children; thousands of Koreans; a dozen Americans held prisoner. Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become.

To read the full speech, click here.

Nuclear Disarmament

Non-Nuclear Nations Discuss Nuclear Arms Ban

In May, representatives from more than 60 countries and many civil society organizations met at the United Nations in Geneva to discuss effective legal measures to eliminate all nuclear weapons. Toshiki Fujimori, representative of a Japanese organization of atomic bomb survivors, was one of many speakers at the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG). Fujimori called on member states to conclude a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, referring to the weapons as “the devil that could eradicate all life on Earth and destroy the planet.”

Because all nine nuclear-armed nations refused to join the talks, the states that were present at the OEWG decided they have to move forward towards negotiating a legal ban without the participation of the nuclear nine.  Mexico, Brazil and other countries say they want to start negotiations in the next year on legally banning the weapons, while Japan, Germany and Canada (states under the U.S. nuclear umbrella) favor an approach that aims to promote step-by-step reductions in nuclear arsenals with cooperation from nuclear-armed nations.

For full coverage of the Open Ended Working Group, visit the Reaching Critical Will website.

UN Working Group Discusses Nuclear Arms Ban,” NHK World, May 10, 2016.

Nuclear Proliferation

U.S. Missile Shield Stirs Up Tensions

The United States’ European missile defense shield went live on May 12, almost a decade after Washington’s initial proposal to protect NATO states from Iran’s alleged increasing nuclear capacity. Russia is strongly opposed to the missile defense system, asserting that Iran’s missile program poses no threat to NATO states in Europe. Russia calls the U.S. program a violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that directly threatens its national security.

The U.S. stresses that the missile defense shield’s stated aim is not to advance strategic positioning in the case of a Russia-U.S. war, but rather to protect North America and Europe from “rogue states,” such as Iran and North Korea. Russia claims that the real motive behind the missile shield is to neutralize Moscow’s nuclear arsenal long enough for the U.S. to make a first strike on Russia in the event of war. The U.S. dismisses Russia’s view as “strategic paranoia” and blames Moscow for breaking off talks with NATO in 2013.

Robin Emmott, “U.S. to Switch on European Missile Shield Despite Russian Alarm,” Reuters, May 11, 2016.

China Plans Nuclear Submarines

The Chinese military plans to send submarines armed with nuclear missiles into the South China Sea in response to the U.S. military’s expanding presence in the Pacific region. Specifically, the Chinese military worries about the U.S. THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, as well as the U.S. Prompt Global Strike Program, programmed with a hypersonic glide missile capable of hitting targets anywhere in the world within an hour.

Until now, China has been cautious with its nuclear strategy, stating that it would never be the first to use nuclear weapons, and storing warheads and missiles separately. While China has been developing nuclear submarine technology for decades, this is the first time it will deploy nuclear missiles at sea.

Julian Borger, “China to Send Nuclear-Armed Submarines Into Pacific Amid Tensions with U.S.,” The Guardian, May 26, 2016.

Pakistan Seeks Nuclear Suppliers Group Membership

Pakistan formally applied for entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), after China blocked India’s entry into the 48-member elite group. Pakistan reported that its decision to seek participation reflects Pakistan’s support for international efforts to prevent the proliferation weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

Pakistan’s request for entry comes about only weeks after China contested India’s NSG membership for India’s refusal to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Pakistan, which has also refused to sign the NPT, stresses the need for NSG to adopt a non-discriminatory criteria-based approach for NSG membership. Pakistan claims that it will act in accordance with NSG guidelines to transfer nuclear material, equipment and related technology despite not having signed the NPT.

Pakistan Applies for NSG Membership,” The Times of India, May 20, 2016.

Nuclear Waste

Complaints of Vapor Exposure Resurface at Hanford Site

The Department of Energy (DOE) claims it has been laboring to reduce vapor risks at Hanford site, but Hanford workers suggest otherwise. Over the past month, over 40 workers at the decommissioned nuclear production complex have complained of exposure to noxious chemical vapors. The complaints have emerged amidst the completion of a project at Hanford, focused on emptying a leaking 740,000-gallon underground tank. Some estimates suggest that hundreds of Hanford workers have been affected over time, their symptoms ranging from headaches to cancer.

In September, a Seattle-based environmental and worker advocacy group, Hanford Challenge, united with Local Union 598 to sue the heavily-contaminated nuclear complex. Despite the legal resurgence of vapor exposure complaints—grievances that date back to the 1990s—DOE continues to dispute all charges.

The workers list the following demands: the timely fulfillment of recommendations made in a recent tank-farm contractor report, continued medical oversight of both past and present workers, and complete public release of all information relevant to vapor exposure. A non-jury trial seeking improved protection of Hanford workers is scheduled to convene on May 22, 2017.

John Emshwiller, “New Complaints of Exposures Emerge at Hanford Site,” The Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2016.

Settlement Reached in Rocky Flats Homeowners Lawsuit

A $375 million settlement was finally reached in May between Denver-area residents and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Residents near Rocky Flats claimed that a local nuclear weapons production plant released harmful plutonium, devaluing property and damaging health. The settlement, if approved by a federal judge, will end a 26-year lawsuit between homeowners and Dow Chemical Co. and Rockwell International Corp., two corporations responsible for operating the plant for the DOE.

The lawsuit was filed in 1990, a year after the plant closed due to concerns of safety and environmental impacts, and took years to go to trial. In 2006, a judge ordered the companies to pay $925 million to homeowners for damages to health and property, but the verdict was overturned. The $375 million settlement will address property values, but not health monitoring for affected residents.

LeRoy Moore of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center said, “I’m glad that the people in the affected area being finally compensated for loss, but neither of the corporations, Dow or Rockwell, will pay a cent. DOE will pay the bill, which really means we the taxpayers will pay for the careless and harmful operation of the Rocky Flats plant. The corporations were well-paid for the harm they did.”

John Aguilar, “$375M Settlement Reached in Homeowner Lawsuit Against Rocky Flats,” Denver Post, May 19, 2016.

Nuclear Insanity

Would the U.S. Drop the Bomb Again?

Studies of public opinion polling in the U.S. show that approximately the same percentage of people today would support using nuclear weapons in a hypothetical conflict with Iran as supported President Truman’s use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

In the hypothetical situation posed in a poll by YouGov, 59% of respondents backed using a nuclear bomb on an Iranian city, even if the expected number of Iranian civilian fatalities was two million. The authors, Scott Sagan and Benjamin Valentino, said, “Today, as in 1945, the U.S. public is unlikely to hold back a president who might consider using nuclear weapons in the crucible of war.”

Scott Sagan and Benjamin Valentino, “Would the U.S. Drop the Bomb Again?The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2016.

Nuclear Modernization

U.S. Modernization Plans Are “Very, Very, Very Expensive”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioned the continued need for the United States to maintain a nuclear triad given the extraordinary costs of upgrading all of the systems. In a speech at the Brookings Institution, Sen. McCain said, “We’re sort of behind, if you look at some of the estimates as to what it would take to update the triad would it be long range bomber, or missiles, or new submarines, it’s very, very, very expensive. I mean, you look at the cost of this new submarine they want, it’s extremely high. You look at the long-range bomber, we’re looking at tens of billions of dollars, and so we’re going to have to grapple with this. Do we really need the entire triad, given the situation? How do we dispose of this nuclear material in a way that’s not costing us 20 or 30 billion dollars?”

New Demands on the Military and the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act,” Brookings Institution, May 19, 2016.

Universities Seek to Manage Sandia Nuclear Weapons Labs

As the United States embarks on the beginning phases of its planned $1 trillion, 30-year program to upgrade its nuclear weapons, delivery systems and production facilities, Sandia National Laboratories is accepting bids for new management. Sandia has been managed by Lockheed Martin since 1993, but the contract expires in April 2017.

Multiple entities are bidding for the management contract, including a consortium called Together Sandia, which includes the Texas A&M University System, the University of Texas System, and the University of New Mexico.

The University of California has managed Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) since their inception in 1943 and 1952, respectively. Over the past decade, the University of California has been part of for-profit private limited liability companies that manage LANL and LLNL.

Mark Rockwell, “Sandia Labs Management Contract Officially Up for Grabs,” FCW, May 27, 2016.

Nuclear Zero Lawsuits

Update on the Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Zero Lawsuits

Rick Wayman, Director of Programs at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, recently spoke with Libbe HaLevy, host of the podcast Nuclear Hotseat, about the Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Zero Lawsuits at the International Court of Justice and U.S. Federal Court. He updated listeners on the content of the cases against the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan that are currently before the International Court of Justice, as well as the case against the United States that is pending at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

They also discussed President Obama’s recent trip to Hiroshima and the image vs. reality of U.S. nuclear weapons policy, and the Don’t Bank on the Bomb report that details the companies and financial institutions involved in the production of nuclear weapons.

Libbe HaLevy, “Nuclear Hotseat #258,” Nuclear Hotseat Podcast, May 31, 2016.

 Resources

June’s Featured Blog

This month’s featured blog is Defusing the Nuclear Threat by Martin Hellman. Dr. Hellman is Professor Emeritus at Stanford University and a NAPF Associate. The blog addresses numerous current nuclear threats with ideas of how to reduce or eliminate the risk. Recent entries include the first nine chapters of a book written by Martin and Dorothie Hellman entitled “A New Map for Relationships: Creating True Love at Home and Peace on the Planet.”

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 June, including the first known nuclear weapons-related accident on June 23, 1942 in Leipzig, Germany.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

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

Lee Butler Publishes Memoirs

General Lee Butler, a four-star U.S. Air Force General and the commander of U.S. nuclear forces from 1991-94, has published a two-volume memoir entitled “Uncommon Cause: A Life at Odds with Convention.” After leaving the Air Force, Butler became an outspoken advocate for nuclear disarmament.

Gen. Butler has generously provided an e-book version of his memoirs as a free download for readers of NAPF’s Sunflower Newsletter. Click here to access the memoirs.

Russian Nuclear Forces

Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris have published an updated analysis of Russia’s nuclear forces in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The authors state, “Russia is in the middle of a broad modernization of its strategic and nonstrategic nuclear forces…. The modernization program reflects the government’s conviction that strategic nuclear forces are indispensable for Russia’s security and status as a great power.”

To read the full report, click here.

Foundation Activities

Letters to the Editor in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times

On May 31, NAPF President David Krieger had a letter to the editor published in The New York Times. Dr. Krieger wrote about the differences in how Americans and Japanese view nuclear weapons. He wrote in part, “The view from above the bomb leads to reliance on nuclear weapons and ultimately to an evolutionary dead-end for our species, while the view from beneath the bomb engages our moral decency and leads to abolishing these devices of mass annihilation and preserving the planet for future generations.”

On May 13, NAPF Director of Programs Rick Wayman had a letter to the editor published in the Los Angeles Times. He wrote in part, “There exists an international legal obligation to pursue — and bring to a conclusion — negotiations on nuclear disarmament. President Obama should dedicate the final months of his presidency to fulfilling this long-delayed obligation. That would be a legacy worth creating.”

To read both letters, click here.

Refugees and Peace Literacy

When Paul K. Chappell, NAPF Peace Leadership Director, spoke about Peace Literacy in mid-May to over 400 students at the International Youth Conference for the Christian Community in Hamburg, Germany, he also addressed a number of young refugees from the Greater Middle East. Some of them spoke English, had been in Germany for a number of months, and they said they were hopeful for the future. They had survived traumatic experiences and while they were hopeful, they knew their future was not guaranteed.

Chappell has often talked about the “muscle” of hope, and how realistic hope can survive enormous suffering even when trust has been betrayed. Unlike naïve hope which is the result of helplessness, realistic hope grows from the trust we have in ourselves, others, and our ideals. Participation in creating progress is a higher expression of hope.

To read more, click here.

Noam Chomsky to Receive NAPF Distinguished Peace Leadership Award

Noam Chomsky, one of the greatest minds of our time, will be our Distinguished Peace Leader at this year’s Evening for Peace on Sunday, October 23, in Santa Barbara, California.

We’re calling the evening NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH because that’s what Chomsky is about– truth. He believes humanity faces two major challenges: the continued threat of nuclear war and the crisis of ecological catastrophe. To hear him on these issues will be more than memorable. Importantly, he offers a way forward to a more hopeful and just world. We are very proud to honor him with our award.

The annual Evening for Peace includes a festive reception, live entertainment, dinner and an awards ceremony. It is attended by many residents of Santa Barbara, peace activists, those interested in our work, local businesses and philanthropists.

For more information and tickets, click here.

Report to the UN Secretary-General

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation submitted a report to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It will make up a portion of the “Report of the Secretary-General to the 71st Session of the General Assembly on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the 2002 UN Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education.”

NAPF’s report outlines its numerous disarmament education activities that have taken place from July 2014 to June 2016. To read the report, click here.

Quotes

 

“We must learn the lessons of history, that we may learn to identify and avoid the paths that lead to war.”

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available for purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.

 

“If you sow a mango seed, you get a mango tree. If you sow maize, you get maize. No exception to this simple law has ever occurred or ever will. By the same token, if you sow the seed of contention, violence and hatred, the harvest will be more violence and more hatred. Society can only change by first changing the attitude of people who live in it and the world can only change by changing the attitude of the nations who constitute it.”

Sir James R. Mancham, KBE, former President of Seychelles.

 

“I have lost my island, my ocean, my culture. I have lost everything about me. Can Obama come and see me? I am like a coconut floating adrift in the ocean with no set course.”

Nerje Joseph, a survivor of the March 1, 1954 Castle Bravo nuclear test. That test, at 1,000 times the power of the Hiroshima bomb, was the largest ever exploded by the United States and displaced many people in the Marshall Islands.

 

“The world has moved on since nuclear subs were first designed and procured — politically, economically and technologically — and it’s time for our politicians to catch up.”

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, commenting on a new report showing that the cost of replacing Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system, has risen to 205 billion GBP ($295 billion USD).

Editorial Team

 

Lindsay Apperson
Ricky Frawley
Alexis Hill
Erika Ito
David Krieger
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman

 


Rick Wayman
Rick Wayman
Rick Wayman is Director of Programs & Operations at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.