Sunflower Newsletter: November 2015

Procession of Nations: Respect and Peace Leadership
November 2, 2015
Open Letter to President Obama
November 12, 2015
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Sunflower Newsletter: November 2015

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Issue #220 – November 2015

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  • Perspectives
    • 2015 Evening for Peace Introduction by David Krieger
    • Time for Nuclear Sharing to End by Xanthe Hall
    • Legal Gap or Compliance Gap? by John Burroughs and Peter Weiss
  • Nuclear Disarmament
    • Russia: Global Strike Concept Impedes Nuclear Disarmament
  • Nuclear Waste
    • Two Fires at Nuclear Waste Dumps
    • U.S. to Clean Up Site of 1966 Nuclear Accident in Spain
  • War and Peace
    • Doctors Without Borders Hospitals Bombed in Afghanistan and Yemen
  • Nuclear Modernization
    • U.S. Awards Huge Contract to Northrup Grumman for New Stealth Nuclear Bomber
    • UK Trident Replacement to Cost at Least $256 Billion
  • Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
    • U.S. Government Files Response Brief at Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
    • Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Interviewed on Russian Television
  • Resources
    • November’s Featured Blog
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
    • Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist
    • Project Censored
  • Foundation Activities
    • Open Letter to President Obama
    • The Path to a World Free of Nuclear Weapons
    • Evening for Peace Honoring Setsuko Thurlow
    • Respect and Peace Leadership in Maine
  • Quotes

 

Perspectives

2015 Evening for Peace Introduction

Tonight we shine a light on courageous Peace Leadership. This is the 32nd time we have presented our Distinguished Peace Leadership Award. It has gone to some of the great Peace Leaders of our time, including the XIVth Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Carl Sagan, Yehudi Menuhin, Jody Williams, Jacques Cousteau, Helen Caldicott and Medea Benjamin.

We are honored to be presenting our 2015 award to an exceptional woman, who is a hibakusha and child victim of war. She was just 13 years old when the US dropped an atomic bomb on her city of Hiroshima. She lost consciousness and awakened to find herself pinned beneath a collapsed building.

She thought she would die, but she survived and has made it her life’s work to end the nuclear weapons era and to assure that her past does not become someone else’s future. She is a global leader in the fight to prevent a Global Hiroshima and assure that Nagasaki remains the last city to suffer a nuclear attack. Our honoree is a Peace Ambassador of the United Nations University of Peace in Costa Rica, a Peace Ambassador of the city of Hiroshima, and was a nominee for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

To read more, click here.

Time for Nuclear Sharing to End

It is a little known fact: Germany (and four other European countries) host nuclear weapons as part of NATO “nuclear sharing.” This means that in a nuclear attack the US can load its bombs onto German (or Belgian, Italian, Turkish and Dutch) aircraft and the pilots of those countries will drop them on an enemy target. This arrangement pre-dates the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which explicitly disallows any transfer of nuclear weapons from a nuclear weapon state to a non-nuclear weapon state, thus undermining the spirit of the treaty.

This new nuclear bomb – the B61-12 – is intended to replace all its older versions and be able to destroy more targets than previous models. It is touted by the nuclear laboratories as an “all-in-one” bomb, a “smart” bomb, that does not simply get tossed out of an aircraft, but can be guided and hit its target with great precision using exactly the right amount of explosive strength to only destroy what needs to be destroyed.

To read more, click here.

Legal Gap or Compliance Gap?

If the use of nuclear weapons already is unlawful, how should the concept of a “legal gap” be understood? The deficiency should be seen as a compliance gap, the failure to eliminate nuclear weapons in accordance with Article VI of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). That article requires the pursuit of negotiations in good faith of “effective measures…relating to nuclear disarmament.”

The concept of a legal gap should not be understood as in any way signaling that the use of nuclear weapons is currently legally permissible. Nuclear weapons simply cannot be used in compliance with fundamental principles of international law protecting civilians from the effects of warfare, protecting combatants from unnecessary suffering, and protecting the natural environment.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Disarmament

Russia: Global Strike Concept Impedes Nuclear Disarmament

Speaking at the First Committee at the United Nations General Assembly, the Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for non-proliferation and arms control, Mikhail Ulyanov, said, “This policy [of Prompt Global Strike] can be an insurmountable obstacle on the way of implementing further steps for the reduction of nuclear arsenals.”

Prompt Global Strike is a program of the U.S. military to deliver a precision-guided conventional weapon anywhere in the world within one hour. Critics of Prompt Global Strike argue that it is impossible for a target country, such as Russia, to know for sure whether an incoming missile would contain a conventional or nuclear warhead. This would significantly increase the dangers of an accidental nuclear war.

Foreign Ministry: U.S. Prompt Global Strike Concept Impedes Nuclear Disarmament,” Russia Beyond the Headlines, October 12, 2015.

Nuclear Waste

Two Fires at Nuclear Waste Dumps

A state-owned radioactive waste dump caught fire in Nevada on October 18. The pit is thought to store low-level nuclear waste, such as contaminated laboratory gear. Fire Marshal Chief Peter Mulvihill said, “We don’t know exactly what caught fire. We’re not exactly sure what was burning in that pit.”

In St. Louis, an underground fire has been smoldering for five years beneath a landfill. The fire is now less than a quarter-mile from a large deposit of nuclear waste. The nuclear waste originated in 1942 when Mallinckrodt Chemical Works processed uranium for the Manhattan Project. The Environmental Protection Agency is trying to figure out exactly where all of the radioactive material is located and is considering ideas for how to place a barrier between the fire and the nuclear waste.

Keith Rogers, “Fire that Shut Down US 95 Called Hot, Powerful,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, October 20, 2015.

Matt Pearce, “Officials Squabble as Underground Fire Burns Near Radioactive Waste Dump in St. Louis Area,” Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2015.

U.S. to Clean Up Site of 1966 Nuclear Accident in Spain

After nearly 50 years, the United States has announced that it will clean up radioactive contamination caused by a plane crash in 1966. A U.S. B-52 bomber carrying four nuclear weapons collided with a KC-135 tanker plane over southeast Spain. Two of the hydrogen bombs were recovered intact from the sea, but the other two landed in the countryside, spewing 3 kilograms of plutonium 239 around the town of Palomares. At least 50,000 cubic meters of earth are still contaminated.

According to The Guardian, “The Palomares clean-up deal is seen by many as a sweetener in exchange for Spain agreeing to Washington ramping up its military presence in the country.”

Stephen Burgen, “US to Clean Up Spanish Radioactive Site 49 Years After Plane Crash,” The Guardian, October 19, 2015.

War and Peace

Doctors Without Borders Hospitals Bombed in Afghanistan and Yemen

Two hospitals operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), an international non-governmental organization dedicated to providing medical care and supplies to people in conflict and disaster zones, were bombed during the month of October. In the first incident, U.S. planes dropped bombs on a MSF hospital in Kunduz, killing 22 MSF staff and patients.

In Yemen, the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition bombed the MSF hospital multiple times over a two-hour period on October 26. The hospital’s roof was marked with the Doctors Without Borders logo, and the GPS coordinates had been shared multiple times with the Saudi-led coalition.

Click here to read a poem about the Afghanistan hospital bombing entitled “War Crime Blues.”

Sune Engel Rasmussen, “Kunduz Hospital Attack: How a US Military ‘Mistake’ Left 22 Dead,” The Guardian, October 21, 2015.

Yemen: US-Backed Coalition Bombs Doctors Without Borders Hospital,” Democracy Now, October 28, 2015.

Nuclear Modernization

U.S. Awards Huge Contract to Northrup Grumman for New Stealth Nuclear Bomber

The U.S. government has awarded a contract worth up to $80 billion to Northrup Grumman to develop a new stealth bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons. This massive program is just one part of the Pentagon’s plan to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to “modernize” U.S. nuclear weapons, delivery vehicles and production infrastructure.

Over the past five years, Northrup Grumman’s political action committees and its employees have contributed $4.6 million to the campaigns and PACs of 224 lawmakers on the House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees. Northrup Grumman also spent $85.4 million during that time to lobby Congress, the Department of Defense and other agencies.

Alexander Cohen, “New Strategic Bomber Contract Awarded After Millions of Dollars Worth of Lobbying,” Huffington Post, October 28, 2015.

Robert Burns, “Air Force Picks Northrup Grumman to Build Next Big Bomber,” Associated Press, October 27, 2015.

UK Trident Replacement to Cost at Least $256 Billion

The United Kingdom’s plan to replace its four nuclear-armed Trident submarines will cost at least $256 billion, according to new figures released by Crispin Blunt, a Conservative Member of Parliament. Blunt said, “The successor Trident program is going to consume more than double the proportion of the defense budget of its predecessor…. The price required, both from the UK taxpayer and our conventional forces, is now too high to be rational or sensible.”

Stewart Hosie, deputy leader of the Scottish National Party, said, “This is truly an unthinkable and indefensible sum of money to spend on the renewal of an unwanted and unusable nuclear weapons system.”

Elizabeth Piper, “Exclusive: UK Nuclear Deterrent to Cost 167 Billion Pounds, Far More than Expected,” Reuters, October 25, 2015.

Nuclear Zero Lawsuits

U.S. Government Files Response Brief at Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

On October 28, the United States government filed a Response Brief in the Nuclear Zero Lawsuit that is currently pending at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Laurie Ashton, Counsel for the Marshall Islands in the case, commented on the U.S. response: “Anyone studying the United States Response Brief can see the disconnect between the parties’ positions.  Under the United States’ position, the President is above the law.  But, while the United States claims a constitutional textual commitment of this case to the President, it cites no actual constitutional text, nor does it respond to the constitutional text cited by the Marshall Islands.  It also is disappointing to see the United States continue to rely on inapplicable case law concluding that when diplomacy fails in a treaty dispute, peaceful judicial resolution is not an option, but War is.  We look forward to filing our Reply Brief in early December.”

Click here to access all of the court documents from the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits, including the case in U.S. Federal Court and the cases in the International Court of Justice.

Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Interviewed on Russian Television

RT recently interviewed Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum about the legacy of U.S. nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the current efforts by the RMI to abolish nuclear weapons and stop climate change.

Minister de Brum was an eyewitness to many U.S. nuclear weapon tests in the RMI, including the 1954 Castle Bravo test, the largest nuclear test ever conducted by the United States. From 1946 to 1958, the U.S. conducted 67 nuclear weapon tests in the RMI, with the equivalent explosive yield of 1.6 Hiroshima-sized bombs daily over the 12-year period.

De Brum also discussed the RMI’s current efforts to hold nuclear-armed nations accountable for upholding international law relating to ending the nuclear arms race and negotiating for nuclear disarmament. De Brum will also be a key figure at the upcoming climate negotiations in Paris in early December.

Oksana Boyko, “Nuclear (a)toll? Ft. Tony de Brum, the Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands,” RT, October 18, 2015.

Resources

November’s Featured Blog

This month’s featured blog is the Nuclear Secrecy Blog by Alex Wellerstein. Wellerstein is a historian of science at the Stevens Institute of Technology and is well known for his interactive NUKEMAP software.

Recent titles on the blog include, “The Plot Against Leo Szilard,” “Neglected Niigata,” and “Did Lawrence Doubt the Bomb?

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 November, including the November 26, 1958 incident at Chennault Air Force Base in Louisiana, in which a nuclear-armed B-47 bomber caught fire. The nuclear weapon’s high explosive charges detonated, spreading radioactive materials over a large area.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

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

Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist

NAPF President David Krieger recently wrote a review of the book Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist by David Hartsough. An excerpt of the review is below:

“I recently read this impressive autobiography by nonviolent activist David Hartsough, which I recommend highly.  David was born in 1940 and has been a lifelong participant and leader in actions seeking a more decent world through nonviolent means.  His guiding stars have been peace, justice, nonviolence and human dignity.  He has been a foe of all U.S. wars during his lifetime, and a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War.  He has lived his nonviolence and made it an adventure in seeking truth, as Gandhi did.  I will not try to recount the many adventures that he writes about, but they include civil rights sit-ins, blockading weapons bound for Vietnam, accompanying at-risk individuals in the wars in Central America and creating, with a colleague, a Nonviolent Peaceforce.

“David Hartsough’s life is inspiring, and the lessons he draws from his experiences are valuable in paving the way to a world without war.  I encourage you to read his book on his lifelong efforts at Waging Peace.”

To read the full book review, click here.

Project Censored

Adam Horowitz, Director of the documentary Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1, has written a chapter in the 2016 edition of Project Censored, which is available to purchase online now. Project Censored highlights the top censored stories and media analysis from 2014-15. Adam’s chapter focuses on the efforts of PBS to prevent Nuclear Savage from being shown on the air in the United States.

The film tells the story of American Cold War nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands, and how U.S. government scientists deliberately exposed populations of local islanders to massive radiation fallout. It is a shocking tale of U.S. government-sanctioned human rights abuse.

To purchase a copy of the 2016 Project Censored publication, click here. To learn more about Nuclear Savage, click here.

Foundation Activities

Open Letter to President Obama

On April 5, 2009, President Obama declared in Prague the United States’ dedication to “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Recently, NAPF President David Krieger sent an open letter to President Obama, encouraging him to take decisive action in his last year in office to facilitate the achievement of this goal.

Click here to read David Krieger’s letter to President Obama. To take action by adding your name and comments in a letter to President Obama, click here.

The Path to a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

NAPF President David Krieger has been selected to guest-edit an upcoming issue of the journal Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice on the topic of “The Path to a World Free of Nuclear Weapons.”

Is a world without nuclear weapons attainable and, if so, what will be required to create such a world? What obstacles will need to be overcome? This theme can be explored from a variety of perspectives – legal, moral, organizational, political, economic, as well as from the perspectives of psychology, sociology, anthropology, and various forms of security (national, international, global, and human security).

Essays of 2,500 to 3,500 words (with no footnotes or endnotes) along with a 1-2 line biography must be received by April 1, 2016 no later than 5 p.m. PST for publication in mid-August. Please include a short recommended readings list. Details are available on the Submission Guidelines page. Eight to ten essays will be selected for publication.

Please direct content-based questions or concerns to NAPF at wagingpeace@napf.org.

Evening for Peace Honoring Setsuko Thurlow

On October 25, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation hosted its 32nd Annual Evening for Peace in Santa Barbara, California. The Foundation honored Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, with its Distinguished Peace Leadership Award for her lifetime of work to abolish nuclear weapons.

Over 75 local high school and college students were able to attend the event thanks to the sponsorship of the Santa Barbara Foundation and other generous donors. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the event’s lead sponsor, Sherry Melchiorre, and all of the sponsors for making such a memorable evening possible.

To read more about the event, view photos, and see the full list of sponsors, click here.

Respect and Peace Leadership in Maine

At Fryeburg Academy’s annual United Nations Flag Processional in October, each flag-bearer was introduced and asked to say one word in their native language: respect. This event, held in Fryeburg, Maine, was highlighted by NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell, who delivered a powerful message of how to avoid conflict through respect.

“Most human conflict,” said Chappell, “is a result of people feeling disrespected. Universally, every culture finds these three things respectful: Being able to listen, being able to recognize someone’s worth and potential, and leading by example.”

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

Quotes

 

“If the nuclear-armed states refuse to participate in the negotiating process, we must accept that. We cannot compel them to engage. But we must not feel powerless to act without their endorsement. It is time for the nuclear-free majority to assert itself more confidently.”

H.E. Dr. Caleb Otto, Permanent Representative of Palau to the United Nations, in a speech at the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly on October 21, 2015.

 

“I have not assumed that you or any other sane man would, in this nuclear age, deliberately plunge the world into war which it is crystal clear no country could win and which could only result in catastrophic consequences to the whole world, including the aggressor.”

John F. Kennedy, in a phone call to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev on October 22, 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

 

“Remember always…people are more important than countries.”

Mairead Maguire. This quote appears in Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, available for purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.

Editorial Team

 

David Krieger
Grant Stanton
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman


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