Sunflower Newsletter: March 2016

March: This Month in Nuclear Threat History
March 1, 2016
The Top 10 Reasons to Reduce the Risk of Accidental Nuclear War
March 1, 2016
Show all

Sunflower Newsletter: March 2016


Issue #224 – March 2016

Donate Now!

Click here or on the image above to make a donation to support the work of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

  • Perspectives
    • Message to Youth by David Krieger
    • On Balance and Choices by Mia Gandenberger and Ray Acheson
    • Comments on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park by Ralph Hutchison
  • Nuclear Proliferation
    • China Is Upgrading Nuclear Missiles with Multiple Warheads
  • Nuclear Disarmament
    • Open-Ended Working Group Begins in Geneva
  • Nuclear Insanity
    • U.S. Nuclear Workers Discarded Secret Documents in Unclassified Trash
  • Nuclear Testing
    • North Korea Launches Long-Range Rocket
    • U.S. Launches Two Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles
    • French President Recognizes Effects of Nuclear Tests
  • Nuclear Modernization
    • Obama Administration Blames Russia for $1 Trillion U.S. Nuclear Modernization Plan
    • Rep. Blumenauer Speaks Out Against Nuclear Modernization
  • Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
    • Oral Arguments at the International Court of Justice Begin March 7
    • International Peace Bureau Secretary General Comments on Nobel Prize Nomination
  • Resources
    • March’s Featured Blog
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
    • Why an Emergency Response to a Nuclear Attack Is Impossible
    • The Future of the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal
    • Declassified: U.S. Nuclear Weapons at Sea
  • Foundation Activities
    • Poetry and Video Contests Now Accepting Entries
    • Peace Literacy Curriculum
    • NAPF Welcomes Elena Nicklasson as Director of Development
    • Robert Scheer Delivers Lecture on War, Peace, Truth and the Media
  • Quotes

 

Perspectives

Message to Youth

You are not required
to kill on command, to wear
a uniform, to camouflage yourself,
to place medals on your chest, to check
your conscience at the door, to march
in unison, to bear the burden of the body count.

You are not required
to pledge allegiance to the flag, to sing
patriotic songs, to distort history,
to believe lies, to support leaders when
they are wrong, to turn a blind eye
to violence, or to be cheerleaders for war.

You are required
to love, to live with compassion, to be kinder
than necessary and to seek the truth
in the time allotted to you.

To read this poem on the NAPF website, click here.

On Balance and Choices

All NPT states parties are legally obligated to participate in activities to eliminate nuclear weapons. They cannot simply choose that a benefit of their possession or reliance on nuclear weapons is that they do not have to act with the same due diligence in accordance with the law as any other state. There is no balance between compliance and non-compliance. If this argument were to be made in another context, it would never be accepted by these states that claim it for themselves when it comes nuclear weapons.

The nuclear-armed states are not even here. They do not even want to have a conversation with the rest of us about what to do. There is only one choice at this point in time when the nuclear-armed states are refusing to even engage let alone comply with their legal obligation to pursue effective measures for nuclear disarmament. Our only choice is to pursue an effective measure without them—to negotiate a treaty that can impact our own engagement with and relationship to nuclear weapons—financially, politically, socially, legally, morally, and ethically.

To read more, click here.

Comments on the Manhattan Project National Historical Park

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park project presents complicated challenges to the interpreter. On the one hand, it commemorates a truly stunning achievement of human endeavor—scientific and technical, yes, but also engineering and building, social and cultural. It is rooted, at least in part, in a war effort that almost the entire culture embraced as noble. It’s a story of sacrifice and determination mostly by people who had no idea what they were engaged in.

But like most history that warrants preservation, it is also a story that transcends the time and place in which it took place. The Manhattan Project changed the world; the creation of the world’s first atomic weapon which was then used to create incomprehensible human suffering, and which led to the devotion of many trillions of dollars to an arms race which is still with us today, reverberating in headlines daily as other nations consider or embark on their own quest to do what we have done.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Proliferation

China Is Upgrading Nuclear Missiles with Multiple Warheads

On Jan. 22, 2016, Admiral Cecil D. Haney, head of U.S. Strategic Command, confirmed that China is “re-engineering its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple nuclear warheads.” According to U.S. intelligence, China has been replacing single-warhead intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with multiple, independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), for the past few months.

The former Chinese ICBMs had only one single warhead on top of each missile. The new MIRVs are armed with between three and eight warheads, according to intelligence sources, allowing single missiles to hit a multitude of targets at once. This makes the missiles increasingly difficult to knock out with anti-missile technology. According to Rick Fisher, a China military analyst, “This, combined with China’s aggressive development of missile defenses, space warfare capabilities, and possible non-nuclear prompt global strike missiles, will quickly undermine confidence by U.S. allies in the extended U.S. nuclear deterrent.”

Additionally, a new report by Gregory Kulacki of the Union of Concerned Scientists claims that China’s military wants to put its relatively small nuclear arsenal on hair-trigger alert for the first time. This would be a radical departure from China’s longtime nuclear policy. The U.S. and Russia continue to maintain hundreds of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert.

Franz-Stefan Gady, “Confirmed: China Is Upgrading ICBMs with Multiple Warheads,” The Diplomat, February 15, 2016.

Nuclear Disarmament

Open-Ended Working Group Begins in Geneva

The open-ended working group (OEWG) on taking forward multilateral disarmament negotiations, established by a UN General Assembly resolution in 2015, began in Geneva in February. The mandate of the OEWG is to substantively address concrete effective legal measures, legal provisions and norms that will need to be concluded to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.

All nine of the world’s nuclear-armed nations (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea) refused to participate in the OEWG.

The second session of the OEWG will take place in Geneva from May 2-13. For a summary of the OEWG and many source documents presented thus far, click here to visit Reaching Critical Will.

“Open-Ended Working Group Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations,” United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, February 23, 2016.

Nuclear Insanity

U.S. Nuclear Workers Discarded Nuclear Secrets in Unclassified Trash

In June 2014, workers at the Y-12 National Security Complex found documents containing classified U.S. nuclear secrets in dozens of bags meant to be tossed out as typical trash. Upon further investigation by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), officials determined that Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Y-12, LLC, the contractor responsible for running the site at the time, had been improperly disposing of nuclear secrets in a way that compromised national security for more than 20 years.

Almost two years later, the NNSA informed David J. Richardson, president of Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services, Y-12, LLC, that the NNSA would be citing his company for violations including failure to appropriately label classified information, failure to protect and control classified information, and insufficient assessment of its own performance. Despite actions that haphazardly left crucial national defense secrets vulnerable to theft for years, the NNSA decided not to fine the former Y-12 contractor nor impose any substantial civil penalty.

Patrick Malone, “Workers Threw Out U.S. Nuclear Secrets With Common Rubbish for 20 Years,” The Center for Public Integrity, February 3, 2016.

Nuclear Testing

North Korea Launches Long-Range Rocket

On February 7, North Korea (DPRK) launched a satellite into space, claiming that the launch was for scientific and peaceful purposes. Other nations, including South Korea and the United States, believe that the launch was actually a front for a ballistic missile test.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “This is the second time in just over a month that the DPRK has chosen to conduct a major provocation, threatening not only the security of the Korean peninsula, but that of the region and the United States as well.”

During the 1950s, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles were used by the United States and the Soviet Union both as delivery vehicles for nuclear warheads and for the development of space programs.

Ralph Ellis, K.J. Kwon and Tiffany Ap, “U.S., Other Nations Condemn North Korean Launch of Long-Range Rocket,” CNN, February 7, 2016.

U.S. Launches Two Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

The U.S. launched Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles from Vandenberg Air Force Base on February 20 and 25. The missiles flew over 4,200 miles to a target in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Col. Craig Ramsey, commander of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, said, “Perhaps most importantly, this visible message of national security serves to assure our partners and dissuade potential aggressors.” Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said, “We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable. And that is a signal…that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary.”

NAPF President David Krieger responded, “These comments have the quality of those of a character in Alice in Wonderland; that is, our nuclear-capable missiles have only the best of purposes, despite the fact that they are part of an illegal, immoral and insane weapon system that could result in the total destruction of the U.S. and civilization.”

Minot Tests Minuteman III with Launch from Vandenberg AFB,” Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs, February 22, 2016.

French President Recognizes Effects of Nuclear Tests

French President Francois Hollande has acknowledged that the 193 nuclear tests conducted by France in French Polynesia had serious consequences. Mr. Hollande said, “I recognize that the nuclear tests conducted between 1966 and 1996 in French Polynesia had an environmental impact, and caused health consequences.” In a cold change of tone, Hollande then said that without its overseas territories like French Polynesia, “France would not now have nuclear weapons and the power of [nuclear deterrence].”

President Hollande also announced a review of the application process for compensation of testing victims. Approximately 20 people have received compensation from France, out of over 1,000 applicants, for cancers caused by nuclear testing.

Hollande Acknowledges ‘Consequences’ of Nuclear Tests on Polynesia Trip,” France 24, February 23, 2016.

Nuclear Modernization

Obama Administration Blames Russia for $1 Trillion U.S. Nuclear Modernization Plan

There has recently been a noticeable change in the public justifications presented by the Obama administration for its plan to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal at a cost of $1 trillion over the next 30 years. Previously, the administration insisted that the plan did not represent a return to an arms race or rivalry with Russia. In fact, in 2015, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that “the Cold War playbook…is not suitable for the 21st century.”

However, in recent months, Russia has become the after-the-fact public justification for the massive nuclear modernization plan. In the Obama administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, the administration states, “We are countering Russia’s aggressive policies through investments in a broad range of capabilities…[including] our nuclear arsenal.” In testimony before Congress, Obama administration official Brian McKeon said, “We are investing in the technologies that are most relevant to Russia’s provocations…to both deter nuclear attacks and reassure our allies.”

Alex Emmons, “Obama’s Russian Rationale for $1 Trillion Nuke Plan Signals New Arms Race,” The Intercept, February 23, 2016.

Rep. Blumenauer Speaks Out Against Nuclear Modernization

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) delivered a floor speech in the House of Representatives on February 25 criticizing the Obama administration’s plans to spend billions of dollars on modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal in fiscal year 2017.

Blumenauer said, “There are billions of dollars for the controversial modernization of each leg of the nuclear triad—the land-based missiles, submarine-based missiles and bombers—which have not been used in 65 years, have been unable to help us with the military challenges that we face now in the Middle East, and are going to consume huge sums of money in this hopelessly redundant program.”

Rep. Blumenauer Floor Speech on Excessive Nuclear Modernization Spending,” C-SPAN, February 25, 2016.

Nuclear Zero Lawsuits

Oral Arguments at the International Court of Justice Begin March 7

Oral arguments in the Marshall Islands’ lawsuits against the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan will begin at the International Court of Justice in The Hague on March 7 and conclude on March 16. These hearings will be on preliminary objections raised by the respondent countries. Rick Wayman, NAPF’s Director of Programs, will attend the hearings. Click here to sign up to receive Rick’s daily email update and analysis of what is happening in The Hague.

International Peace Bureau Secretary General Comments on Nobel Prize Nomination

Colin Archer, Secretary General of the International Peace Bureau, recently did a radio interview with Australian Broadcasting Corporation about IPB’s nomination of Tony de Brum and the legal team representing the Marshall Islands in the lawsuits against the world’s nine nuclear-armed nations.

Mr. Archer said, “[The Marshall Islands] could have concentrated on their own situation. But I think they had a bigger vision, and it’s to their credit that they decided to take this case to the International Court of Justice and also to the U.S. Federal District Court. We think it’s the most promising international effort and it does put the spotlight on the legal aspect, because it’s not possible to use these weapons in any legal way.”

Richard Ewart, “Nobel Peace Prize Nomination for Former Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum,” Australian Broadcasting Corporation, February 7, 2016.

 Resources

March’s Featured Blog

This month’s featured blog is Watchblog from Nuclear Watch New Mexico. Blog topics primarily focus around nuclear weapons-related research and production taking place at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Some articles focus on broader issues of U.S. nuclear weapons modernization and the environmental impact of nuclear weapons production.

Recent titles include “Los Alamos Lab Would Get $2.1 Billion in Proposed Budget; Officials Discuss Plans for Making Plutonium Pits,” “Watchdogs Call for Renewed Investigation of Corruption at Los Alamos Lab,” and “Nuclear Watch NM Gives Notice of Intent to Sue Over Lack of Cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab.”

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 March, including the March 14, 1961 incident in which a U.S. B-52F-70 BW Stratofortress carrying two Mark-39 hydrogen bombs crashed near Yuba City, California, tearing the nuclear weapons from the plane on impact.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

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

Why an Emergency Response to a Nuclear Attack Is Impossible

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) has published a short presentation in video format about the emergency response to a nuclear attack. The four-minute video describes in simple, stark words and images the overwhelming obstacles that would confront doctors and first responders following a nuclear attack.

To watch the video, click here.

Dr. Ira Helfand of IPPNW recently gave a TEDx talk entitled “Can We Prevent Nuclear War?” Click here to watch this nine-minute video.

The Future of the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

The Center for American Progress has launched a new website that highlights the high cost of the Obama administration’s plans to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The Obama administration’s plan would replace nearly every missile, submarine, aircraft and warhead in the force, driving the cost of modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal to $1 trillion over 30 years.

This website allows visitors to explore the Obama administration’s plan and the alternative plan proposed by the Center for American Progress. It also has tools that allow visitors to create their own plan for modernization.

Click here to visit the site.

Declassified: U.S. Nuclear Weapons at Sea

Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris have published a new report analyzing newly declassified documents from the United States about the number of nuclear weapons it deployed at sea during the Cold War.

The declassified documents show that the United States during much of the 1970s and the 1980s deployed about a quarter of its entire nuclear weapons stockpile at sea. The all-time high was in 1975 when 6,191 weapons were afloat, but even in 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there were 5,716 weapons at sea. That’s more nuclear weapons than the size of the entire U.S. nuclear stockpile today.

To read the full report, click here.

Foundation Activities

Poetry and Video Contests Now Accepting Entries

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s annual poetry and video contests are currently accepting entries. The 2016 Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest invites contestants to submit videos of up to three minutes on nuclear weapons modernization – specifically, why we should “humanize, not modernize.” Entries must be submitted by April 1, 2016.

The 2016 Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards encourage poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit. Entries must be postmarked by April 30, 2016.

More information, including submission instructions, for both contests is available online at www.peacecontests.org.

Peace Literacy Curriculum

One month ago NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell published his essay on “Why Our World Needs Peace Literacy.” His next step is the development of the NAPF Peace Literacy curriculum.

Paul Chappell will introduce the new NAPF Peace Literacy curriculum at a one day workshop for educators on June 8, 2016, at the International Conference on Conflict Resolution Education (ICCRE) at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.  His co-presenter will be Dayton International Peace Museum Board Member Katherine Rowell, who is Professor of Sociology at Sinclair Community College, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, and received the 2005 Outstanding Community College Professor of the Year award from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

To read more about this exciting new development, click here.

NAPF Welcomes Elena Nicklasson as New Director of Development

Elena Nicklasson has joined the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation as the new Director of Development. Ms. Nicklasson comes to the Foundation with a background in International Policy Studies in Non-Proliferation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA. She has served as a consultant for the World Bank sponsored projects in Russia, and developed organizational policies for the International Institute for Promoting Innovative Development. Prior to coming to Santa Barbara, Elena was a development consultant at the Global Fund for Women in San Francisco and Development Manager at On Lok Lifeways, also in San Francisco.

Robert Scheer Delivers Lecture on War, Peace, Truth and the Media

On February 18, Robert Scheer delivered the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 15th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future. Mr. Scheer is 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.

Video of the lecture will be available in mid-March. Click here for more information on the Kelly Lecture series and to read about Robert Scheer’s 2016 lecture, including NAPF President David Krieger’s opening remarks.

Quotes

 

“The first day we pointed to our countries. The third day, we pointed to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth.”

Sultan bin Salman Al-Saud, Saudi Astronaut. This quote is featured in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, available for purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.

 

“Even the most hawkish among us must acknowledge that modernizing everything nuclear in sight does not really send the kind of international signals that will make America secure. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty regime is now foundering, in substantial part because of this policy. The U.S. and other nuclear weapon states have not kept their end of the bargain.”

Greg Mello, Executive Director of the Los Alamos Study Group, in a February 26 op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal.

 

“The UK boycott of the Geneva talks [the open-ended working group] begs fundamental questions. Since David Cameron’s government is hell bent on going ahead with Trident replacement and is also refusing to participate in multilateral UN talks on nuclear disarmament, what are we doing to comply with our non-proliferation and disarmament obligations? Why should anyone take Britain seriously when this government is wasting billions on an outdated weapon system that most countries are determined to prohibit?”

Rebecca Johnson, Executive Director of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, in a February 26 op-ed in Open Democracy.

Editorial Team

 

Lindsay Apperson
David Krieger
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman