Sunflower Newsletter: September 2016

At Chautauqua: Hope and Peace Literacy
August 29, 2016
September: This Month in Nuclear Threat History
September 1, 2016
Show all

Sunflower Newsletter: September 2016


Issue #230 – September 2016

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  • Perspectives
    • The Power of Imagination by David Krieger
    • Nuclear Testing Is Not a Path to Security and Peace by Bunny McDiarmid
    • 2016 Nagasaki Peace Declaration by Tomihisa Taue
    • From Hope to Action by Setsuko Thurlow
  • Nuclear Disarmament
    • Open Ended Working Group Calls for Negotiations on Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons
    • People’s Tribunal Rules on Illegality of Nuclear Weapons
  • U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
    • U.S. Nuclear Accident Among the Costliest in History
    • U.S. Sued Over Aid to Nuclear-Armed Israel
  • Nuclear Proliferation
    • North Korea Test-Fires Missile from Submarine
  • Nuclear Energy
    • Fukushima Ice Wall Coming Online
  • Nuclear Insanity
    • Solar Flare Almost Led to 1967 Nuclear War
  • Nuclear Modernization
    • New U.S. Ballistic Missile Stalled Over High Cost
  • Resources
    • September’s Featured Blog
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
    • The Human Cost of Nuclear Weapons
    • New YouGov Poll Examines U.S. Opinions on Nuclear Weapons
  • Foundation Activities
    • At Chautauqua: Hope and Peace Literacy
    • Noam Chomsky to Receive NAPF Distinguished Peace Leadership Award
    • Remembering Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and All Innocent Victims of War
    • Report of the UN Secretary-General on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education
  • Quotes

 

Perspectives

The Power of Imagination

Albert Einstein, the great 20th century scientist and humanitarian, wrote, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”  Let us exercise our imaginations.

Change is coming, if we will use our imaginations, raise our voices, stand firm and persist in demanding it.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Testing Is Not a Path to Security and Peace

August 29 marked the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Since 1945, more than 2,000 nuclear tests have been carried out at more than 60 locations around the globe. Nuclear weapons were designed and tested to be the ultimate doomsday weapon, setting a legacy of fear and destruction. No other human invention had as much impact on the story of humanity in recent decades.

I am inspired by the stories of those whose lives have been irreversibly impacted and have turned their tragedy into a struggle, for the sake of the greater good. The Republic of the Marshall Islands, where Rongelap is, has now taken legal action against the nine nuclear states for their failure to disarm. In Japan, the Hibakusha, surviving victims of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, lead a campaign against nuclear weapons. We must not let them stand alone.

To read more, click here.

2016 Nagasaki Peace Declaration

I appeal to the leaders of states which possess nuclear weapons and other countries, and to the people of the world: please come and visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Find out for yourselves what happened to human beings beneath the mushroom cloud. Knowing the facts becomes the starting point for thinking about a future free of nuclear weapons.

Now is the time for all of you to bring together as much of your collective wisdom as you possibly can, and act so that we do not destroy the future of mankind.

To read more, click here.

From Hope to Action

In the many years of my work for nuclear disarmament I have never felt as hopeful and as encouraged as I do now. I have witnessed how the Humanitarian Initiative movement has mobilized people around the world to overcome the resistance by the nuclear weapon states and to move towards prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. We are on the verge of a breakthrough for a path for this most significant chance in our lifetime for nuclear disarmament. We must seize this opportunity.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Disarmament

Open Ended Working Group Calls for Negotiations on Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons

A clear majority of countries participating in the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) in Geneva adopted a report recommending negotiations in 2017 on a legally-binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons. In its closing statement to the OEWG, Mexico called this development the “most significant contribution to nuclear disarmament in two decades.”

All African, Latin American, Caribbean, Southeast Asian, and Pacific states, along with some European countries, have united behind this proposal for the UN General Assembly to convene a negotiating conference in 2017. Numerous countries – most notably Australia – attempted to play a spoiler role at the OEWG, attempting in vain to prevent the ban treaty recommendation from being adopted. All nine nuclear-armed nations boycotted the OEWG.

Ray Acheson, “OEWG Recommends the General Assembly Ban Nuclear Weapons in 2017,” Reaching Critical Will, August 19, 2016.

People’s Tribunal Rules on Illegality of Nuclear Weapons

The International People’s Tribunal on Nuclear Weapons and the Destruction of Human Civilization took place in Sydney, Australia in July 2016. The Tribunal determined that any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is illegal and found the leaders of the nine nuclear-armed states guilty of crimes against humanity. The guilty verdict also included Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for complicity. Australia holds an extended nuclear deterrence relationship with the U.S., and the Tribunal found that Turnbull has contributed to the planning for use of nuclear weapons.

The judges, Hon. Matt Robson of New Zealand and Dr. Keith Suter of Australia, condemned any use of nuclear weapons as a violation of international humanitarian law since the weapons’ impact cannot be contained in either time or space. Furthermore, citing previous trials such as Nuremberg and Tokyo, this tribunal affirmed that leaders of the nuclear-armed states and allied states have personal responsibility for the illegal practices of the government.

People’s Tribunal on Nuclear Weapons Convicts Leaders – Tribute to Tribunal Visionary,” UNFOLD ZERO, August 17, 2016.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

Nuclear Accident Among the Costliest in History

The United States is currently dealing with challenges associated with a nuclear waste accident at New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. The accident occurred more than two years ago when a radioactive waste drum exploded, contaminating 35 percent of the underground site. Although early federal statements gave no mention that the site’s operational capacity would be diminished in the long term, current government projections are less optimistic. As of now officials are pushing to reopen the site by the end of 2016 with limited capacity, and to resume full operations by 2021. This significant delay has caused nuclear waste to be backed up in several states, creating a myriad of challenges and costs.

Some sources estimate that the costs associated with the cleanup could reach $2 billion, which would make it one of the most expensive nuclear accidents in history.

Ralph Vartabedian, “Nuclear Accident in New Mexico Ranks Among the Costliest in U.S. History,” Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2016.

U.S. Sued Over Aid to Nuclear-Armed Israel

A lawsuit filed in U.S. district court claims that U.S. aid to Israel is illegal under U.S. law, which prohibits aid to nuclear-armed nations that have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Since Congress passed the International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act in 1976, the U.S. has given Israel about $234 billion in aid. Israel is one of four countries that has not signed the NPT. While Israel has an official policy of neither confirming nor denying its possession of nuclear weapons, it is well known that it has had nuclear weapons for decades.

Lawsuit Claims U.S. Aid to Israel Violates Nuclear Pact,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, August 12, 2016.

Nuclear Proliferation

North Korea Test Fires Missile from Submarine

North Korea test fired a submarine-based ballistic missile from Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province on August 24. The missile landed in the Sea of Japan, about 300 miles off the North Korean coast.

The launch came as the U.S. and South Korea began their annual joint military exercise, which includes 25,000 U.S. troops stationed mostly in Korea. In response to this two-week drill, a North Korean military representative was quoted as threatening to retaliate with nuclear arms if the exercise “shows the slightest sign of aggression.”

Azadeh Ansari and K.J. Kwon, “North Korea Test Fires Ballistic Missile from Submarine,” CNN, August 24, 2016.

Nuclear Energy

Fukushima Ice Wall Coming Online

Officials working to try to contain the ongoing environmental catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan will soon begin operating a $320 million “ice wall” intended to stop the relentless flow of groundwater into the damaged reactor buildings. Nearly 40,000 gallons of water flood into the highly radioactive buildings daily, as the power plant was built in the path of groundwater flowing to the Pacific Ocean.

While some highly radioactive water has inevitably flowed into the Pacific, Tepco has built over 1,000 tanks that now hold over 800,000 tons of radioactive water. Critics argue that the ice wall is unlikely to work, and even proponents admit that it is only intended to work for a maximum of five years.

Martin Fackler, “Japan’s $320 Million Gamble at Fukushima: An Underground Ice Wall,” The New York Times, August 29, 2016.

Nuclear Insanity

Solar Flare Almost Led to 1967 Nuclear War

A new military history paper highlights just how close the U.S. came to instigating a nuclear catastrophe. On May 23, 1967, a series of abnormally powerful solar flares caused U.S. military radar systems to malfunction. As these particular systems were created to detect Soviet missiles, U.S. officials interpreted the technological fluke as an intentional act of war. Consequently, members of the U.S. Air Force hurriedly prepared for the deployment of a nuclear missile-laden aircraft. Military officials eventually attributed the cause of the radar malfunction to solar flares with just moments to spare, and the deployment was called off.

Maddie Stone, “A Solar Flare Almost Sparked a Nuclear War in 1967,” Gizmodo, August 9, 2016.

Nuclear Modernization

New U.S. Ballistic Missile Stalled Over High Cost

The U.S. Air Force’s proposal for the development of a new generation of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) has stalled over questions surrounding the program’s cost estimates. The Air Force has estimated that research, development and production of 400 new missiles would cost $62.3 billion. However, because ICBMs have not been produced by the U.S. for many years, some believe the cost would end up being much higher.

The Pentagon has mandated a separate cost assessment with the hopes that it can avoid a situation in which the project is started with insufficient funds, which then would require an additional appropriation later.

Anthony Capaccio, “Air Force Ballistic Missile Upgrade Said to Be Stalled Over Cost,” Bloomberg, August 16, 2016.

 Resources

September’s Featured Blog

This month’s featured blog is Nuclear Reaction by Greenpeace International. In addition to Greenpeace International Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid’s recent piece on nuclear testing (see Perspectives, above), titles include “Survivors of Nuclear Warfare in Japan Are Calling for an End to Nuclear Weapons” and “Chernobyl’s Children of Hope.”

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 September, including a September 25, 1959 incident in which a U.S. Navy P-5M antisubmarine aircraft crashed in Puget Sound. Its nuclear depth charge was lost and has never been recovered.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

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

The Human Cost of Nuclear Weapons

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has published a new periodical entitled “The Human Cost of Nuclear Weapons.” Issue No. 899 of the International Review of the Red Cross looks at nuclear weapons from the perspective of survivors, journalists, writers, lawyers, humanitarian practitioners and other experts to examine the human cost.

To read more and download the full issue, click here.

New YouGov Poll Examines U.S. Opinions on Nuclear Weapons

A new poll conducted by HuffPost and YouGov looks at the opinions of 1,000 people in the U.S. regarding nuclear weapons. The survey found that 45% support the U.S. cutting the number of nuclear weapons it has, while 40% oppose such cuts. The poll also shows that 67% believe that the U.S. should adopt a “No First Use” policy for its nuclear arsenal.

Respondents also stated whether they would trust Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump “to make the right decisions about nuclear weapons.” 38% of respondents said that they would trust Hillary Clinton, and 27% of respondents said that they would trust Donald Trump.

To see the full poll results, click here.

Foundation Activities

At Chautauqua: Hope and Peace Literacy

“Unexpected and so fundamentally hopeful.”

This is how Tom Casey of Pax Christi described NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell’s lecture on August 19, 2016 at the Chautauqua Institution. It was the final lecture of the week-long summer series on “The Ethical Realities of War.” Casey joined about 1,200 other attendees in the open-air Hall of Philosophy, built to resemble the Parthenon.

To read more about Paul’s visit to Chautauqua, click here.

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.

Remembering Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and All Innocent Victims of War

On August 9, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation hosted its 22nd Annual Sadako Peace Day commemoration at the Sadako Peace Garden on the grounds of La Casa de Maria in Montecito, California. Over 100 community members gathered for the event, which featured music, poetry and a keynote address by Bishop Edward Crowther.

Photos and audio of the event are available here.

Report of the UN Secretary-General on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon submitted a biennial report to the UN General Assembly on global disarmament and non-proliferation educational initiatives. A copy of the report is here, which includes a summary of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s activities on page 23.

To read NAPF’s full report on its disarmament and non-proliferation education activities over the last two years, click here.

Quotes

 

“We all have a stake in the security of the 21st century, and we must all work together to eliminate the dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction as we strive to free our world from the fear of the catastrophe of war.”

Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and candidate to be the next UN Secretary-General. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available for purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.

 

“Mr. Dion openly admits that Canada won’t support new [nuclear disarmament] efforts because of ‘obligations’ to NATO. Well, what about our obligations to the United Nations, to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to safeguard humanity from a nuclear catastrophe?”

Douglas Roche, a member of the Order of Canada and the NAPF Advisory Council, in an op-ed in The Hill Times.

 

“Instead of arguing which country’s politicians can be trusted to have their finger on the nuclear button, the people of the world should be demanding total nuclear abolition. No one should have the means or the power to unleash a destructive force which could end all life.”

— Former U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

“I call on all States to focus on one overriding truth: the only sure way to prevent the human, environmental and existential destruction these weapons can cause, is by eradicating them once and for all.”

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaking at the UN Security Council on August 23, 2016.

Editorial Team

 

Erika Ito
David Krieger
Kristian Rolland
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman

 


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