Sunflower Newsletter: September 2014

September: This Month in Nuclear Threat History
August 29, 2014
Should NATO Welcome Ukraine?
September 2, 2014
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Sunflower Newsletter: September 2014

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Issue #206 – September 2014

The Nuclear Zero Lawsuits are proceeding at the International Court of Justice and U.S. Federal District Court. Sign the petition supporting the Marshall Islands’ courageous stand, and stay up to date on progress at www.nuclearzero.org.
  • Perspectives
    • Nuclear Weapons Do Not Make Us Safer by David Krieger
    • Hiroshima Peace Declaration by Mayor Kazumi Matsui
    • Nagasaki Peace Declaration by Mayor Tomihisa Taue
  • Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
    • The Marshall Islands Will Not Give Up
    • Amicus Curiae Briefs Support Marshall Islands Lawsuit
    • Marshall Islands to Receive Prestigious Peace Prize
  • U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
    • Senators Call for Greater Nuclear Security and Nonproliferation Efforts
  • War and Peace
    • NATO / Russia Conflict Over Ukraine Intensifies
  • Nuclear Insanity
    • More Cheating in the Ranks
    • Texas County Seeks Nuclear Waste
  • Nuclear Proliferation
    • Worldwide Deployments of Nuclear Weapons
    • Israeli Nuclear Submarines Near Completion
  • Resources
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
    • George Takei Visits Hiroshima
    • ICAN Civil Society Forum
    • Don’t Ever Whisper
  • Foundation Activities
    • Paul K. Chappell Speaks to Citizens’ Action for Peace
    • People’s Climate March
    • NAPF Distinguished Peace Leadership Award
  • Quotes

Perspectives

Nuclear Weapons Do Not Make Us Safer

This letter to the editor of the Washington Post was published on August 22, 2014.

Are NATO-based nuclear weapons really an advantage in a dangerous world, as Brent Scowcroft, Stephen J. Hadley and Franklin Miller suggested in their Aug. 18 op-ed, “A dangerous proposition”? They are not. They make the world a far more dangerous place.

Nuclear deterrence is not a guarantee of security. Rather, it is a hypothesis about human behavior, a hypothesis that has come close to failing on many occasions. Additionally, nuclear weapons are not “political weapons,” as the writers asserted. They are weapons of mass extermination.

The United States and the other nuclear-armed countries are obligated under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and/or customary international law to pursue negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race and complete nuclear disarmament. This is the substance of the Nuclear Zero lawsuits brought by the Marshall Islands against the nine nuclear-armed countries at the International Court of Justice and in U.S. federal court. The United States continues to evade its obligations.

Rather than continuing to posture with its nuclear weapons in Europe, the United States should be leading the way in convening negotiations to eliminate all nuclear weapons for its own security and that of all the world’s inhabitants.

A link to the letter is here.

Hiroshima Peace Declaration

Summer, 69 years later. The burning sun takes us back to “that day.” August 6, 1945. A single atomic bomb renders Hiroshima a burnt plain. From infants to the elderly, tens of thousands of innocent civilians lose their lives in a single day. By the end of the year, 140,000 have died. To avoid forgetting that sacred sacrifice and to prevent a repetition of that tragedy, please listen to the voices of the survivors.

To read more, click here.

Nagasaki Peace Declaration

At this precise moment, 69 years ago, the sky over this hill was covered with a pitch black nuclear cloud. The single atomic bomb, dropped by a United States bomber, blew away houses and engulfed the city in flames. Many fled for their lives through streets littered with charred bodies. 74,000 precious lives were lost to the terrible blast, heat rays and radiation. A further 75,000 people were wounded. Those who narrowly survived were inflicted with deep mental and physical wounds that will never heal, even though 69 years have now passed.

Nuclear weapons are a continuing danger that threatens the present and future of our entire world. The terror that they bring is not confined to Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s past.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Zero Lawsuits

The Marshall Islands Will Not Give Up

 

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) continued its efforts to compel the United States government to comply with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, asking a Federal Court judge to reject the U.S. government’s claim that the treaty cannot be enforced.

On August 21, the RMI filed an Opposition to the U.S. motion to dismiss, explaining why the Court cannot and should not look the other way.

“If the United States’ position is that in treaty disputes ‘might makes right,’ then I ask you, what does it mean – really – when a nation enters into a treaty with the United States?” said Laurie Ashton, attorney with the law firm Keller Rohrback LLP who serves as lead council for the Marshall Islands. “And what does the United States’ position say about its attempts to enforce other treaties, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention (recently against Syria), or, even more recently, the United States’ allegation that Russia is in breach of certain cruise missile test bans?”

The Marshall Islands Will Not Give Up,” Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, August 22, 2014.

Amicus Curiae Briefs Support Marshall Islands Lawsuit

On the same day that RMI submitted its Opposition to the motion to dismiss, three amicus curiae briefs were filed in support of RMI’s position. All of these organizations are part of the Nuclear Zero campaign to support the lawsuits filed by the Marshall Islands against all nine nuclear-armed nations.

Tri-Valley CAREs argues in its amicus brief that the venue of Northern California is appropriate because the district contains Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, one of the United States’ two major sites for nuclear weapons research, design, development and modernization.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico (NWNM) argues in its amicus brief that future funding levels for nuclear weapon modernization programs indicate that the U.S. is not committed to its NPT Article VI obligation. NWNM further argues that the United States is creating new military capabilities for U.S. nuclear weapons.

Pax Christi International, Physicians for Social Responsibility and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War submitted a joint amicus brief. In it, they argue that the risk of nuclear catastrophe is substantial and that even a small regional nuclear war would put two billion people at risk of famine.

Rick Wayman, “Amicus Curiae Briefs Support Marshall Islands Lawsuit,” Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, August 28, 2014.

Marshall Islands to Receive Prestigious Peace Prize

The International Peace Bureau (IPB), winner of the 1910 Nobel Peace Prize, has been working diligently for peace since its founding in 1891. Every year IPB awards the Sean MacBride Peace Prize to a person or organization that has done outstanding work for peace, disarmament and/or human rights. The 2014 prize will be awarded to the people and government of the Marshall Islands for their courageous lawsuits filed against the world’s nine nuclear-armed nations.

IPB believes that the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits could be a “significant and decisive step in ending the nuclear arms race and in achieving a world without nuclear weapons.”

IPB to Award MacBride Peace Prize to the People and Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands for their Courageous Initiative to Rid the World of Nuclear Arms,” International Peace Bureau, August 6, 2014.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

Senators Call for Greater Nuclear Security and Nonproliferation Efforts

 

A bipartisan group of 26 senators sent a letter to Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, calling on President Obama to “support increased funding in the FY2016 budget to more rapidly secure and permanently dispose of nuclear and radiological materials.” They cite the dangers posed to US National Security by “terrorists and rogue states seeking nuclear weapons” as motivation for their proposal.

The letter comes in response to the President’s proposals over the years to decrease funding for nuclear material security and nonproliferation programs. The senators argue that unsecured nuclear material poses high risks to Americans and thus programs to secure and prevent the spread of nuclear material must be accelerated.

Merkley, Feinstein Lead Senators in Calling for Greater Nuclear Security and Nonproliferation Efforts,” Office of Senator Jeff Merkley, August 18, 2014.

War and Peace

NATO / Russia Conflict Over Ukraine Intensifies

 

As the Ukrainian Prime Minister submitted a resolution to his Parliament seeking membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Russian President Vladimir Putin used his country’s nuclear arsenal to make an overt threat to Ukraine’s leaders and people. Speaking at a pro-Kremlin youth camp, Putin said, “It’s best not to mess with us… I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers.”

As NAPF Associate Martin Hellman writes in a recent article, “While NATO membership for Ukraine would almost surely make Russia more caugious in its treatment of that nation, the immediate risk of NATO membership is likely to make Russia much more aggressive in an attempt to prevent that from ever happening.” The risk of conflict between a nuclear-armed NATO and a nuclear-armed Russia is too great for all sides to continue with threatening behavior.

In a recent op-ed, NAPF New York Representative Alice Slater wrote, “Why do we still have NATO anyway? This Cold War relic is being used to fire up new hostilities and divisions between Russia and the rest of Europe.”

Alexei Anishchuk, “Don’t Mess with Nuclear Russia, Putin Says,” Reuters, August 29, 2014.

Nuclear Insanity

More Cheating in the Ranks

 

The U.S. Navy has announced that it is kicking out at least 34 sailors for their involvement in a test cheating ring. The sailors operated undetected for at least seven years as they cheated on qualification exams to become certified instructors at the nuclear training unit in Charleston, South Carolina. The unit trains students in nuclear reactor operations in order to serve on the Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

Although there was “never any question that the reactors were being operated safely,” according to Adm. John M. Richardson, the cheating was nevertheless “a stunning violation of Navy ethics.” The students and instructors implicated in the cheating ring were not involved in handling nuclear weapons, unlike those caught in a cheating scandal in January at an Air Force base that operates land-based nuclear-armed missiles.

Robert Burns, “Navy Kicks Out 34 For Nuke Cheating,” Associated Press, August 20, 2014.

Texas County Seeks Nuclear Waste

Loving County in Texas, the second least-populous county in the United States (population 95), is seeking to store all of the high-level radioactive waste in the United States. The federal government, with $28 billion to spend after the cancellation of its plan to store the radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, is seeking a new place to store the spent fuel from about 70 reactor sites across the country.

Local officials believe that the money generated from the storage process would benefit the local economy. The county judge, Skeet Jones, said, “We could build some roads. We could bring in some more water. We could have a town that’s incorporated, have a city council, maybe even start a school… Maybe even have a Walmart.”

Matthew Wald, “County of 95 Sees Opportunity in Toxic Waste,” The New York Times, August 7, 2014.

Nuclear Proliferation

Worldwide Deployments of Nuclear Weapons

According to a new report by Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris, there are approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons in the world, located at 98 sites in 14 countries. Approximately 10,000 of these weapons are in military arsenals; the remaining weapons are said to be awaiting dismantlement. The United States and Russia together possess 93% of the nuclear weapons in the world. Approximately 1,800 nuclear weapons are on high alert and ready for use on short notice.

Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Worldwide Deployments of Nuclear Weapons, 2014,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, August 26, 2014.

Israeli Nuclear Submarines Near Completion

Three Dolphin II-class submarines ordered by the Israeli Navy are nearly complete as construction continues at Germany’s ThyssenKrup Marine Systems shipyard. Although the Israeli government will not admit it, German defense ministry officials and others believe that Israel intends for the new submarines to be nuclear-armed. The submarine’s maximum distance before refueling puts it in range of Iran, further bolstering Israel’s nuclear deterrence capabilities.

Robert Beckhusen, “Israel’s Quiet Doomsday Submarines Are Almost Ready,” War is Boring, August 17, 2014.

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 September, including the “Damascus Incident” profiled in Eric Schlosser’s recent book Command and Control.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

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

George Takei Visits Hiroshima

 

Activist and actor George Takei, best known for his role in Star Trek, has made a four-minute video of a recent visit to Hiroshima. Takei, who has strong family ties to Hiroshima, visits the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park and the Peace Museum, documenting some of the tragedy of the U.S. atomic bombing.

Click here to watch the video.

ICAN Civil Society Forum

 

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has announced a Civil Society Forum to take place in Vienna, Austria on December 6-7. The forum takes place in advance of a government conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, also in Vienna.

Representatives of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, along with many other campaigners, activists, experts, public figures and survivors, will gather to learn and to teach, to energize and be energized, to demonstrate our unity and to demand the end of the era of nuclear weapons. Over a packed but fun-filled two days, we will engage in discussions with the best and brightest voices in the humanitarian disarmament field, hear testimonies from inspirational individuals who know the meaning of courage, develop our campaigning and advocacy skills and, of course, get up to speed on the ins and outs of the humanitarian imperative to ban nuclear weapons.

To learn more about the Civil Society Forum and to register, click here.

Don’t Ever Whisper

 

Don’t Ever Whisper is an inspiring story about the life and tragic early death of a Marshallese woman, Darlene Keju, a Pacific health pioneer and champion for nuclear survivors. Darlene is well-known for a moving speech that she gave at the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1983 about the suffering caused by U.S. nuclear and thermonuclear testing.

David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, said, “This inspiring book will help the reader understand not only the life of an extraordinary woman, but also the ongoing struggles of Marshall Islanders in coping with the consequences of U.S. nuclear weapon testing.”

To purchase a copy of the book, click here.

Foundation Activities

Paul K. Chappell Speaks to Citizens’ Action for Peace

 

On August 15, NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell spoke to Citizens’ Action for Peace in Redlands, California on “The Art of Waging Peace.” Held at the Redlands United Church of Christ, Chappell’s lecture discussed the military, historical, and scientific evidence on whether humanity is naturally violent or naturally peaceful, how American citizens have created positive change in the past, and how we can do so again. He also addressed the rise of fundamentalism and what this tells us about human nature.

Despite these uncertain political times, Chappell’s talk was viewed as uplifting and motivating. Emmilienne Wallick Colunga, an 18-year-old student at the University of California Riverside, said, “It’s incredibly easy to become discouraged with the state of affairs in today’s world, the injustice and the violence can be overwhelming at times. Paul Chappell brings hope and inspiration back to those that are discouraged with his knowledge of positive change over the decades and confidence that there is a way to change the world that is not through war and hurt – rather through the art of waging peace.”

For more information on the NAPF Peace Leadership Program, click here. For a full list of Paul’s upcoming lectures and workshops, click here.

People’s Climate March

 

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is supporting the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21. Nuclear weapons and climate change are the two existential threats that face humanity. Both are the result of human activity and both can be eliminated by human ingenuity. Also, even “limited” use of nuclear weapons would create catastrophic climatic consequences that would dwarf the environmental impact of carbon emissions.

For more information on the People’s Climate March and the September 19-20 Global Climate Convergence for Peace, People and the Planet, click here.

Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1

 

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will host a free screening of the powerful documentary Nuclear Savage: The Islands of Secret Project 4.1 in Santa Barbara on September 25 to mark Nuclear Abolition Day. The documentary by Adam Horowitz exposes the ugly truth behind U.S. atomic testing in the Marshall Islands.

Commissioned by PBS and winner of multiple film festival awards, Nuclear Savage was abruptly pulled each time it was scheduled to air. It has never been shown on U.S. television.

For more information on the September 25 screening, click here. To learn more about this documentary, click here. If you are interested in hosting a screening of the documentary in your area, please email NAPF Director of Programs Rick Wayman at rwayman@napf.org.

NAPF Distinguished Peace Leadership Award

 

On November 16, 2014, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will host its 31st Annual Evening for Peace. This year’s Distinguished Peace Leader is Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the social justice organization CODEPINK and the international human rights organization Global Exchange.

Medea Benjamin has been on the front lines for thirty years, shining light on the struggles of the world’s innocent and poor.

For more information about the Evening for Peace, contact the Foundation at (805) 965-3443.

Quotes

 

“On this International Day against Nuclear Tests, let us all take a fresh look at [the] survivors’ stories. Listen to their words and imagine the effects of these detonations as if they were experienced by each of us. Only then can we can better understand the imperative to renew our commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons and nuclear tests.”

Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, commenting on the International Day Against Nuclear Tests (August 29).

 

“If you want to make peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.”

General Moshe Dyan (1915-1981), Israeli military leader. This quote is featured in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, available in the NAPF Peace Store.

 

“The world can little afford the trillions of dollars in military spending and trillions and trillions of brain cells wasted on war when our very Earth is under stress and needs the critical attention of our best minds and thinking, and the abundance of resources mindlessly diverted to war to be made available for the challenges confronting us to create a livable future for life on earth.”

— NAPF Representative Alice Slater. This text also appears in a petition for an independent inquiry into the airplane crash in Ukraine and its catastrophic aftermath.

 

“We need to find ways of avoiding standing still.”

Alexander Kmentt, director for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation of the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, commenting on the need to pursue real action for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Editorial Team

 

David Krieger
Elliot Serbin
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman

 


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