Sunflower Newsletter: October 2016

October: This Month in Nuclear Threat History
October 1, 2016
The Fierce Urgency of Nuclear Zero
October 4, 2016
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Sunflower Newsletter: October 2016

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Issue #231 – October 2016

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  • Perspectives
    • The Simple Act of Pushing a Button by David Krieger
    • Banning Nuclear Weapons Is Crucial for Global Health by Ira Helfand, Tilman Ruff, Michael Marmot, Frances Hughes and Michael Moore
    • Statement from the Holy See on Nuclear Abolition Day by Archbishop Bernadito Auza
  • Nuclear Disarmament
    • Non-Nuclear States Push for Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons
  • U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
    • UN Security Council Adopts U.S.-Drafted Resolution Against Nuclear Testing
    • Sen. Markey and Rep. Lieu Introduce Bills on No First Use
  • Nuclear Proliferation
    • North Korea Conducts Fifth Nuclear Test
    • New Poll Shows 58 Percent of South Koreans Favor Nuclear Armament
  • War and Peace
    • Women Encourage a Peace Treaty to End Korean War
  • Nuclear Insanity
    • U.S. Airmen Propose Names for New Nuclear-Armed Bomber
    • UK Nuclear Weapon Convoys Regularly Involved in Mishaps
  • Nuclear Modernization
    • U.S. Defense Secretary Goes On Whirlwind Nuclear Modernization Tour
  • Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
    • International Court of Justice to Deliver Judgments on October 5
  • Resources
    • October’s Featured Blog
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
  • Foundation Activities
    • Noam Chomsky to Receive NAPF Distinguished Peace Leadership Award
    • Fourth Graders and Peace Literacy
    • Poetry Contest Winners Announced
  • Quotes

 

Perspectives

The Simple Act of Pushing a Button

“Since the appearance of visible life on Earth, 380 million years had to elapse in order for a butterfly to learn how to fly, 180 million years to create a rose with no other commitment than to be beautiful, and four geological eras in order for us human beings to be able to sing better than birds, and to be able to die from love. It is not honorable for the human talent, in the golden age of science, to have conceived the way for such an ancient and colossal process to return to the nothingness from which it came through the simple act of pushing a button.”

I recently came across this quotation by the great Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and recipient of the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature. The quotation is from a 1986 speech by Garcia Marquez entitled “The Cataclysm of Damocles.” In the short quotation, he captures what needs to be said about nuclear weapons succinctly, poetically and beautifully. With a few deft literary brushstrokes, he shows that the journey of life from nothingness to now could be ended with no more than “the simple act of pushing a button.”

To read more, click here.

Banning Nuclear Weapons Is Crucial for Global Health

Before this year ends, the United Nations general assembly can take a decisive step toward ending one of the most urgent threats to public health and human survival in the world today. UN member states can and must mandate negotiations on a new treaty that prohibits nuclear weapons.

Banning and eliminating nuclear weapons is a high global health priority. The general assembly has the opportunity to move us towards this critical goal. It must not fail to act.

To read more, click here.

Statement from the Holy See on Nuclear Abolition Day

My delegation believes that nuclear arms offer a false sense of security, and that the uneasy peace promised by nuclear deterrence is a tragic illusion. Nuclear weapons cannot create for us a stable and secure world. Peace and international stability cannot be founded on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of total annihilation. The Holy See believes that peace cannot be solely the maintaining of a balance of power. On the contrary, as Pope Francis affirmed, “Peace must be built on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, respect for human rights, the participation of all in public affairs and the building of trust between peoples.”

Lasting peace thus requires that all must strive for progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament. For our own good and that of future generations, we have no reasonable or moral option other than the abolition of nuclear weapons.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Disarmament

Non-Nuclear States Push for Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons

On September 28, six countries introduced a resolution to the United Nations General Assembly urging the commencement of negotiations in 2017 for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The six countries – Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa – are urging countries “to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.”

The draft resolution “calls upon States participating in the conference to make their best endeavours to conclude as soon as possible a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”

Many nuclear-armed nations have expressed outright animosity toward this nuclear disarmament effort. Anita Friedt, a high-ranking official in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, said that the United States believes “pursuit of such a ban is unrealistic and simply impractical” and “could actually end up harming” broader, tangible efforts toward disarmament.

A vote is expected around the end of October.

Jamey Keaten, “Non-Nuclear States Advance Push for UN Treaty to Ban Nukes,” Associated Press, September 28, 2016.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

UN Security Council Adopts U.S.-Drafted Resolution Against Nuclear Testing

On September 23, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution introduced by the United States calling on all countries to end nuclear weapons testing. The resolution coincides with the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which the U.S. and a few other nuclear-capable countries have not ratified.

Republicans in the U.S. Senate expressed outrage over the move, saying that it aimed to sidestep the authority of the Senate to ratify international treaties. Many Republicans threatened to withhold the $32 million per year that the U.S. contributes to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization if the vote went ahead.

Kambiz Foroohar, “UN Adopts U.S.-Drafted Plea for Stalled Nuclear Test Treaty,” Bloomberg, September 23, 2016.

Sen. Markey and Rep. Lieu Introduce Bills on No First Use

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) have introduced bills into the Senate and House of Representatives that would eliminate the ability of the President to conduct a nuclear first strike without an explicit declaration of war from Congress.

Rep. Lieu said, “Our Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their graves if they knew the President could launch a massive, potentially civilization-ending military strike without authorization from Congress. Our Constitution created a government based on checks and balances and gave the power to declare war solely to the people’s representatives. A nuclear first strike, which can kill hundreds of millions of people and invite a retaliatory strike that can destroy America, is war. The current nuclear launch approval process, which gives the decision to potentially end civilization as we know it to a single individual, is flatly unconstitutional. I am proud to introduce the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2016 with Sen. Markey to realign our nation’s nuclear weapons launch policy with the Constitution.”

Congressman Lieu & Senator Markey Introduce the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act,” Office of Rep. Ted Lieu, September 27, 2016.

Nuclear Proliferation

North Korea Conducts Fifth Nuclear Test

On September 9, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear weapon test, thought to be its most powerful yet. The blast registered a 5.0 on the Richter scale, leading experts to believe that the explosive yield was around 10 kilotons. For comparison, the atomic bomb that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, had an explosive yield of approximately 15 kilotons.

Click here to read a statement from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation about North Korea’s most recent test.

Choe Sang-Hun and Jane Perlez, “North Korea Tests a Mightier Nuclear Bomb, Raising Tension,” The New York Times, September 8, 2016.

New Poll Shows 58 Percent of South Koreans Favor Nuclear Armament

A poll conducted by Gallup Korea of 1,010 South Koreans in September found that 58 percent support the idea of the country developing its own nuclear weapons in response to North Korea’s nuclear program. While only 39 percent of people in their 20s supported the idea, three quarters of those aged 60 and above were in support.

Nearly 60 pct of S. Koreans Support Nuclear Armament: Poll,” Yonhap News Agency, September 23, 2016.

War and Peace

Women Encourage a Peace Treaty to End Korean War

A group of 100 prominent women from 38 countries has sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urging him to fulfill his promise to seek a permanent end to the Korean War. The letter urges Ban to “initiate a peace process, together with the UN Security Council president, to replace the 1953 armistice agreement with a binding peace treaty to end the Korean War.”

The letter was organized by Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, along with Women Cross DMZ.

Leading Female Activists Petition UN Chief to Pursue Korea Peace Treaty,” The Japan Times, September 28, 2016.

Nuclear Insanity

U.S. Airmen Propose Names for New Nuclear-Armed Bomber

The U.S. Air Force recently held a contest among airmen to find a name for its proposed new B21 nuclear-armed bomber aircraft. With cost estimates already reaching $100 billion, many of the anonymously-submitted entries addressed the outrageous cost. Entries included: Money Pit; Waste of Money; Bombastic Boondoggle; Fundsucker; Hole In the Sky to Throw Money Into; and You Won’t Believe How Much This Cost You in Taxes.

Jacqueline Klimas, “From Trumpnator to Princess Sparklepony: Here Are the 4,600 Names Submitted for the Air Force Bomber Contest,” Washington Examiner, September 22, 2016.

UK Nuclear Weapon Convoys Regularly Involved in Mishaps

Military convoys that transport British nuclear weapons through UK cities and towns have been involved in 180 mishaps in 16 years, according to a new report by Rob Edwards.

Matt Hawkins, spokesman for ICAN-UK, said the report “painted a grim picture of the great risks posed by nuclear convoys,” and that nuclear weapons “only add danger to our lives, exposing us all to the risk of radiation leaks or an attack by terrorists on one of these convoys.”

Rob Evans, “UK Nuclear Weapons Convoys ‘Have Had 180 Mishaps in 16 Years,'” The Guardian, September 21, 2016.

Nuclear Modernization

U.S. Defense Secretary Goes On Whirlwind Nuclear Modernization Tour

In September, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visited numerous sites integral to the U.S. nuclear arsenal. On a visit to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, Secretary Carter said, “If we don’t replace these systems, quite simply they will age even more, and become unsafe, unreliable, and ineffective.” He continued, “So it’s not a choice between replacing these platforms or keeping them … it’s really a choice between replacing them or losing them.”

Carter also visited Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, where he spoke to members of the military as well as civilians involved in the design and production of nuclear weapons. Carter said, “The nuclear mission is the bedrock of American security….It is what everything else rests upon.”

Aaron Mehta, “Carter: Nuclear Triad ‘Bedrock of Our Security,'” Defense News, September 26, 2016.

Nuclear Zero Lawsuits

International Court of Justice to Deliver Judgments on October 5

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will deliver its judgments on preliminary issues in the three Marshall Islands’ nuclear disarmament cases against India, Pakistan and the United Kingdom on October 5 at 10:00 a.m. local time in The Hague. The judgments will be read in open court.

In all three cases the Court is to address and decide questions of jurisdiction and admissibility. If these questions are decided in favor of the Marshall Islands, the cases will go forward to the merits stage. If the Court decides against the Marshall Islands in any of the cases, the litigation in that case will be ended.

The judgments will be livestreamed on the ICJ website starting at 10:00 a.m. (4:00 a.m. Eastern, 1:00 a.m. Pacific). Click here for a link to the livestream.

International Court of Justice to Deliver Judgments on Preliminary Issues in Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Disarmament Cases on October 5 at 10:00 a.m.,” Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, September 28, 2016.

 Resources

October’s Featured Blog

This month’s featured blog is Groundswell, the new blog from Peace Action. The blog aims to inform, engage and mobilize readers concerned about a wide range of peace issues.

Recent titles include “Saudi Arms Deal Under Fire,” “Whose Finger? On What Button?” and “Grassroots Campaign Has Made Cluster Bombs Unprofitable.”

Click here to read the blog.

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 October, including the October 27, 1969 incident in which President Nixon ordered 18 B-52 bombers to fly with dozens of hydrogen bombs to the eastern border of the Soviet Union. Part of Nixon’s “Madman Strategy,” this was one of the most destabilizing instances of saber-rattling of the Cold War.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

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

Foundation Activities

Noam Chomsky to Receive NAPF Distinguished Peace Leadership Award

Noam Chomsky, one of the greatest minds of our time, will be honored with NAPF’s Distinguished Peace Leadership Award 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 highly memorable. Importantly, he offers a way forward to a more hopeful and just world. We are pleased to honor him with our award.

The annual Evening for Peace includes a festive reception, live entertainment, dinner and an award presentation. It is attended by many Santa Barbara leaders and includes a large contingent of sponsored students.

For more information and tickets, click here.

Fourth Graders and Peace Literacy

During the 2016 International Day of Peace (September 21), NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell shared Peace Literacy concepts with fourth graders at Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The goal for the new NAPF Peace Literacy initiative is to become part of the curriculum for elementary, secondary, and higher education. Chappell explains this urgent need: “As a child in school I spent many years learning to read and write, but I did not learn peace literacy skills. For example, I was never taught how to resolve conflict, calm myself down, calm others down, or deal with the root causes of problems.”

To read more about Paul’s trip to Hawaii, click here. To learn more about Peace Literacy, click here.

Poetry Contest Winners Announced

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has announced the winners of its 2016 Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards. This annual contest invites poets to “explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit.” Click here to read this year’s winning poems.

To find out more about the poetry contest, including the winning poems from all years of the contest and information on the 2017 contest, click here.

Quotes

 

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

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

 

“Let us pledge to work for the total elimination of nuclear weapons with urgency and a sense of collective purpose. Our very survival depends upon it.”

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaking on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (September 26).

 

“Recent Gallup polls show US public opinion of Russia is at a post–Cold War low, with 65–70 percent of Americans having an unfavorable opinion of the Kremlin. While much of this is certainly informed by real-world actions (Russia’s annexation of Crimea, its bombing of Syrian rebels), the corollary media panic perfectly captured by this 60 Minutes segment—portraying everything Russia does in the worst light possible, and everything the United States does as noble and justified—goes a long way to compounding these fears. And in doing so, making any type of future nuclear de-escalation that much less politically viable.”

Adam H. Johnson, in an article in The Nation criticizing 60 Minutes for its reporting on the threat of nuclear war.

Editorial Team

 

David Krieger
Mitchell McMahon
Kristian Rolland
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman

 


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