Sunflower Newsletter: November 2016

Paul K. Chappell at the Quantico Marine Corps Base Middle/High School
Peace Literacy Skills at Quantico Marine Corps Base Middle/High School
November 1, 2016
Let’s Reduce the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal
November 3, 2016
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Sunflower Newsletter: November 2016

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Issue #232 – November 2016

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  • Perspectives
    • 2016 Evening for Peace Introduction by David Krieger
    • Revolt by Ray Acheson
    • Nuclear Weapons – The Time for Abolition Is Now by Robert Dodge
  • Nuclear Disarmament
    • United Nations Committee Calls for Outlawing Nuclear Weapons
  • U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
    • U.S. Nuclear-Armed Submarine Visits Guam
    • Air Force Wins Golden Fleece Award for Refusing to Disclose Costs of New Nuclear Bomber
    • Watchdog Groups Call for New Environmental Impact Statement at Nuclear Weapons Facility
  • Nuclear Proliferation
    • Russia Suspends Nuclear Agreements with U.S.
  • Nuclear Modernization
    • Sequestration Could Threaten Nuclear Modernization Programs
  • Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
    • Marshall Islands Can’t Sue the World’s Nuclear Powers, International Court of Justice Rules
  • Resources
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
    • My Journey at the Nuclear Brink
    • Nuclear Disarmament: The Missing Link in Multilateralism
    • Science and Society
  • Foundation Activities
    • Noam Chomsky Receives NAPF Distinguished Peace Leadership Award
    • Symposium: The Fierce Urgency of Nuclear Zero
    • Peace Literacy Skills at Quantico Marine Corps Base Middle/High School
  • Quotes

 

Perspectives

2016 Evening for Peace Introduction

By training and profession, Noam Chomsky is one of the world’s leading linguists. By choice and commitment, he is one of the world’s leading advocates of peace with justice. His ongoing analysis of the global dangers confronting humanity is unsurpassed. He is a man who unreservedly speaks truth to power, as well as to the People. Like Socrates, he is a gentle gadfly who does not refrain from challenging authority and authoritarian mindsets.

He is a man who punctures hubris with wisdom. He confronts conformity with critical thinking. He is a dedicated peace educator and his classroom is the world. The Boston Globe calls him “America’s most useful citizen.”

It is an honor to have him with us, and it is my great pleasure, on behalf of the Directors and members of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, to present Noam Chomsky with the Foundation’s 2016 Distinguished Peace Leadership Award.

To read more, click here.

Revolt

The adoption of resolution L.41, establishing a conference in 2017 to negotiate a legally binding treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, represents a meaningful advancement towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. It also represents a revolt of the vast majority of states against the violence, intimidation, and injustice perpetuated by those supporting these weapons of mass destruction.

Revolt, wrote philosopher Albert Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus, is “one of the only coherent philosophical positions…. It challenges the world anew every second.” Camus explored the theme of revolt across many books and novels, finding that struggle not only “gives value to life” but also that it is an obligation, even in the face of adversity, power, and overwhelming odds.

The act of prohibiting nuclear weapons is an act of nonviolent, positive, courageous revolt.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Weapons – The Time for Abolition Is Now

Nuclear weapons present the greatest public health and existential threat to our survival every moment of every day. Yet the United States and world nuclear nations stand in breach of the 1968 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty which commits these nations to work in good faith to end the arms race and to achieve nuclear disarmament. The rest of the world is finally standing up to this threat to their survival and that of the planet. They are taking matters into their own hands and refusing to be held hostage by the nuclear nations. They will no longer be bullied into sitting back and waiting for the nuclear states to make good on empty promises.

At the United Nations on October 27, 123 nations voted to commence negotiations next year on a new treaty to prohibit the possession of nuclear weapons. Despite President Obama’s own words in his 2009 pledge to seek the security of a world free of nuclear weapons, the U.S. voted “no” and led the opposition to this treaty.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Disarmament

United Nations Committee Calls for Outlawing Nuclear Weapons

On October 27, the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for negotiations in 2017 on a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” The vote was 123 nations in favor, 38 opposed, and 16 abstaining.

The United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and Israel – all of which possess nuclear weapons – opposed the resolution. China, India and Pakistan – also nuclear-armed states – abstained. Most notable among the world’s nine nuclear-armed nations was North Korea, which voted in favor of the resolution.

The resolution was originally sponsored by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa, but had 55 co-sponsors when it came to a vote. The resolution will now go to a full UN General Assembly vote in December. According to the resolution, negotiations will take place in March, June and July of 2017.

United Nations Committee Calls for Outlawing Nuclear Weapons,” Associated Press, October 27, 2016.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

U.S. Nuclear-Armed Submarine Visits Guam

The USS Pennsylvania, one of the United States’ 14 nuclear-armed submarines, is visiting Guam. A U.S. Navy statement said, “This specific visit to Guam reflects the United States’ commitment to its allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific” region. Other countries in the region – most notably China and North Korea – will undoubtedly view this overt activity with nuclear weapons to be a direct threat.

The USS Pennsylvania carries 24 Trident II D-5 missiles, each of which can carry multiple independently targeted nuclear warheads. Each nuclear warhead on board is many times more powerful than the atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Barbara Starr and Brad Lendon, “U.S. Sends Message to Adversaries with Nuclear Sub Visit, Drills,” CNN, November 1, 2016.

Air Force Wins Golden Fleece Award for Refusing to Disclose Costs of New Nuclear Bomber

Taxpayers for Common Sense has awarded the U.S. Air Force the “Golden Fleece Award” for refusing to release the overall costs of the B-21 bomber program. The B-21 is intended to be a new delivery vehicle for the Air Force’s nuclear weapons.

Refusing to release the overall costs, the Air Force argues that doing so would give too much information about the proposed nuclear bomber to U.S. adversaries. Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said, “I am having a difficult time understanding how the public disclosure of a single contract award value funded from an unclassified budget request is going to give the enemy more information on the capabilities of a new bomber than what the Air Force has already disclosed. All I can see is that keeping it a secret deprives the American taxpayer of the transparency and accountability they deserve.”

Golden Fleece: The Air Force B-21 Raider Attack on Your Wallet,” Taxpayers for Common Sense, October 4, 2016.

Watchdog Groups Call for New Environmental Impact Statement at Nuclear Weapons Facility

The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance and Nuclear Watch New Mexico sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz calling for a new Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Y-12 is a manufacturing plant that produces the thermonuclear cores (secondaries) for U.S. nuclear warheads and bombs.

In August 2016, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) gave itself the green light to proceed with construction of the Uranium Processing Facility, a bomb plant originally intended to replace aging facilities. However, the letter notes, a new Environmental Impact Statement is required when “there are substantial changes to the proposal or significant new circumstances of information relevant to environmental concerns.”

“This is about safety — protection of workers, the public and the environment,” said OREPA coordinator Ralph Hutchison. “When it comes to nuclear weapons materials, there can be no shortcuts. They (NNSA) have changed their plan significantly, and the law requires them to re-do the environmental analysis. It’s as simple as that.”

Watchdogs Call for New Environmental Impact Study for Nuclear Bomb Plant,” Nuclear Watch New Mexico, October 28, 2016.

Nuclear Proliferation

Russia Suspends Nuclear Agreements with U.S.

Russia has backed out of three nuclear agreements with the United States in the latest indications of rising tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations. Russia and the United States together possess over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.

Perhaps the most significant agreement that the Russians have backed out of is the plan to “dispose of” 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium. Russia also backed out of an agreement to cooperate on nuclear- and energy-related scientific research, as well as an agreement to work together to convert six Russian research reactors to use low-enriched uranium.

In 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush unilaterally abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which has led to the development and deployment of U.S. missile defense systems in Europe.

Lidia Kelly, “Russia Suspends Nuclear Agreement, Ends Uranium Research Pact with United States,” Reuters, October 5, 2016.

Nuclear Modernization

Sequestration Could Threaten Nuclear Modernization Plans

Frank Klotz, head of the United States’ National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), stated that if Congress does not ease budget caps for the coming year, “all bets are off” for nuclear weapons modernization programs. Klotz was advocating for an exemption to budget restraints, similar to what NNSA has received in the past two budget cycles. NNSA has oversight of the development, maintenance and disposal of nuclear warheads.

The United States is in the midst of a planned 30-year, $1 trillion “modernization” effort to upgrade its nuclear arsenal, delivery systems and production infrastructure. Klotz said, “God forbid if sequestration rears its ugly head again, [all bets are] doubly off.”

Aaron Mehta, “NNSA Head: ‘All Bets Are Off’ for Warhead Modernization Under Sequestration,” Defense News, October 4, 2016.

Nuclear Zero Lawsuits

Marshall Islands Can’t Sue the World’s Nuclear Powers, International Court of Justice Rules

On October 5, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the world’s highest court, declared that the Court does not have jurisdiction in lawsuits filed by the Republic of the Marshall Islands against the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan. The decisions focused only on the question of jurisdiction and did not address the merits of the cases.

The judges voted 8-8 on the question of jurisdiction in the case of the Marshall Islands vs. the United Kingdom. Judge Ronny Abraham of France, President of the Court, issued the casting vote in favor of the United Kingdom’s position that the ICJ lacks jurisdiction.

Phon van den Biesen, Co-Agent of the Marshall Islands in the cases, said, ““We are extremely disappointed. The court is very divided and turned down the case on a microformality. It’s difficult to understand that it finds no jurisdiction even when the parties have ‘opposite views.’ The opposing views on nuclear weapons are obvious to anyone.”

Marlise Simons, “Marshall Islands Can’t Sue the World’s Nuclear Powers, UN Court Rules,” The New York Times, October 5, 2016.

 Resources

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 24, 1961 incident in which all communication links between Strategic Air Command and NORAD went dead, leading officials to assume a full-scale Soviet nuclear attack was underway.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

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

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink

On October 24, 2016, William Perry, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, delivered a lecture at All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City. The event, co-sponsored by Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, All Souls Nuclear Disarmament Task Force, and Peace Action New York State, was based on Secretary Perry’s recent book entitled My Journey at the Nuclear Brink.

Click here to access a video of the event.

Nuclear Disarmament: The Missing Link in Multilateralism

In a new paper for Chatham House, Patricia Lewis, Beyza Unal and Sasan Aghlani outline the connections between nuclear disarmament and some of the key issues facing humanity today. So far, enormous effort has been invested in tackling these challenges; for example, in climate change prevention and mitigation, socio-economic development, and establishing and implementing the rule of law. Furthermore, recent efforts over the protection of cultural heritage in conflict, stemming the rise of terrorism, developing cybersecurity, understanding gendered impacts and addressing urgent public health issues have all benefited from energized governmental and non-governmental diplomatic actions.

To download a copy of the paper, click here.

Science and Society

An updated and enlarged edition of the book Science and Society, by John Scales Avery, will be published this month by World Scientific. The book was developed by Avery as a text for a class he was teaching at the University of Copenhagen about the vast social consequences of scientific and technological progress. The sections of the course dealing with modern times addressed topics such as genetic engineering, nuclear weapons, sustainability and climate change.

For more information and a link to order the book at a discount, click here.

Foundation Activities

Noam Chomsky Receives NAPF Distinguished Peace Leadership Award

Noam Chomsky was honored with NAPF’s Distinguished Peace Leadership Award at this year’s Evening for Peace on October 23 in Santa Barbara, California.

A capacity crowd of over 300 people, including 100 students from local high schools and universities, attended the event. Video and photos of the event will be available here by mid-November.

Thanks to all of the generous sponsors, attendees and volunteers who made this memorable event possible.

Symposium: The Fierce Urgency of Nuclear Zero

On October 24-25, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation hosted a symposium with leading nuclear disarmament academics and activists. The symposium, entitled “The Fierce Urgency of Nuclear Zero: Changing the Discourse,” was an intimate brainstorming session designed to elicit new and innovative thinking on how to arrive at nuclear zero.

There was general agreement that a nuclear war poses an existential threat to humankind and that the warning sirens are now sounding.  There is hope that such a war can be avoided, but that hope, while necessary, is not sufficient to end the nuclear threat now facing humanity and other forms of complex life on the planet.  Hope must be joined with action to end the nuclear weapons era in order to abolish nuclear weapons before they abolish us.

Click here to view selected items from the symposium. In the coming weeks, we will be adding more photos, video and audio of symposium sessions.

Peace Literacy Skills at Quantico Marine Corps Base Middle/High School

At the Quantico Marine Corps Base Middle/High School in Quantico, VA, the Parent Educator Association (PEA) invited NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell to address their Model UN class and an assembly of 8th grade and high school students, teachers, and administrators.

Helene Brown, PEA chair and married to a Marine with two sons in the school, said, “Paul really impressed them with how different our world is today in terms of freedom and equality, providing us hope for our future. Many were also impressed by how different things can be even in different parts of the world.”

“As a child in school, I spent many years learning to read and write, but I did not learn peace literacy skills,” Chappell said. “The ideals and skills I use to wage peace I learned in the military.”

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

Quotes

 

“We must teach an elemental truth: that status and prestige belong not to those who possess nuclear weapons, but to those who reject them.”

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available for purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.

 

“As others prepare for war, we must prepare for peace. We must answer the mindless call to arms with a thoughtful, soulful call to resist the coming build up for war. A new, resolute peace movement must arise, become visible and challenge those who would make war inevitable.”

Dennis Kucinich, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

“I am deeply convinced that a nuclear weapon-free world is not a utopia, but an imperative necessity. We need to constantly remind world leaders of this goal and of their commitment. As long as nuclear weapons exist, there is a danger that someday they will be used: as a result either of accident or technical failure, or of evil intent of man – an insane person or terrorist. We must therefore reaffirm the goal of prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons.”

Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the Soviet Union, in a speech marking the 30th anniversary of the Reykjavik Summit.

Editorial Team

 

David Krieger
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman

 


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

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