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Sunflower Newsletter: January 2016

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Issue #222 – January 2016

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  • Perspectives
    • We Are Living at the Edge of a Nuclear Precipice by David Krieger
    • Date from Hell: Can Nuclear War Be Fun and Games? by Robert Kazel
    • The New Nuclear Arms Race by Katrina van den Heuvel
    • How Our Naive Understanding of Violence Helps ISIS by Paul K. Chappell
  • Nuclear Proliferation
    • IAEA Closes Iran Nuclear Bomb Probe
    • Experts Say India Is Building New City to Produce Thermonuclear Weapons
  • Nuclear Insanity
    • U.S. Declassifies Nuclear Target List from 1950s
  • War and Peace
    • India and Pakistan Restart Peace Talks
  • Nuclear Modernization
    • U.S. Senators Urge President Obama to Cancel New Nuclear Cruise Missile
    • U.S. Nuclear Weapons Production Has Sickened and Killed Thousands
  • Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
    • Marshall Islands Fights Back in Nuclear Lawsuit
  • Resources
    • January’s Featured Blog
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
    • Vote for the Arms Control Person of the Year
    • World Nuclear Victims Forum
  • Foundation Activities
    • Robert Scheer to Deliver the 15th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future
    • NAPF is Hiring a Director of Development
    • Join Us in Working for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons
    • Peace Leadership: A Year in Review
  • Quotes

 

Perspectives

We Are Living at the Edge of a Nuclear Precipice

With nuclear weapons, what could possibly go wrong? The short answer is: Everything.

We must recognize that we are living at the edge of a nuclear precipice with the ever-present dangers of nuclear proliferation, nuclear accidents and miscalculations, nuclear terrorism and nuclear war. Instead of relying on nuclear deterrence and pursuing the modernization of nuclear arsenals, we need to press our political leaders to fulfill our moral and legal obligations to negotiate in good faith for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. That is, we need to break free of our acidic complacency and commit ourselves to achieving a nuclear zero world.

To read more, click here.

Date from Hell: Can Nuclear War Be Fun and Games?

A scenario: You’re nearing the end of a blind date, waiting for the waiter to bring out the ice cream. Both of you are still trying to come up with fodder for conversation.

Just then, your date declares with a smile, “So how about nuclear weapons? Wouldn’t using them be…well, sort of fun?  The collapse of modern society, or at least the end of the comforts we know? Imagine the thousands of immediate deaths, the damage to the Earth’s atmosphere and ecosystem. The famines. Oh, and I forgot the years of skyrocketing cancer cases!”

After you’ve finished staring, and blinking, after you’ve caught the waiter’s eye for the check, you might still be waiting for the punchline. No one could actually be so flip, so grotesquely cavalier about a grave danger to civilization — indeed, the gravest possible danger. Could they? Particularly with a new acquaintance they’re purportedly trying to woo? But I recently discovered this very discussion happening in reality, in the singularly strange world of “cyberdating.”

To read more, click here.

The New Nuclear Arms Race

The United States and Russia are acting with increasing belligerence toward each other while actively pursuing monstrous weapons. As Joe Cirincione described in the Huffington Post, the Pentagon plans to spend $1 trillion over 30 years on “an entire new generation of nuclear bombs, bombers, missiles and submarines,” including a dozen submarines carrying more than 1,000 warheads, capable of decimating any country anywhere. In the meantime, President Obama has ordered 200 new nuclear bombs deployed in Europe.

Russia has been at least as aggressive. As Cirincione described, Russian state media recently revealed plans for a new kind of a weapon — a hydrogen bomb torpedo — that can traverse 6,000 miles of ocean just as a missile would in the sky. On impact, the bomb would create a “radioactive tsunami,” designed to kill millions along a country’s coast.

This escalation has been a long time coming, and the U.S. owns much of the blame for the way it has accelerated.

To read this full op-ed in the Washington Post, click here.

How Our Naive Understanding of Violence Helps ISIS

At West Point I learned that technology forces warfare to evolve. The reason soldiers today no longer ride horses into battle, use bows and arrows, and wield spears, is because of the gun. The reason people no longer fight in trenches, as they did during World War I, is because the tank and airplane were greatly improved and mass-produced. But there is a technological innovation that has changed warfare more than the gun, tank, or airplane. That technological innovation is mass media.

Today most people’s understanding of violence is naive, because they do not realize how much the Internet and social media, the newest incarnations of mass media, have changed warfare. The most powerful weapon that ISIS has is the Internet with social media, which has allowed ISIS to recruit people from all over the world.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Proliferation

IAEA Closes Iran Nuclear Bomb Probe

The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has ended its decade-long investigation of allegations that Iran worked to develop nuclear weapons. The IAEA resolution stated that the investigation was “implemented in accordance with the agreed schedule” and that this “closes the board’s consideration of the matter.”

The IAEA investigation concluded that although Iran conducted “a range of activities relevant to the development” of nuclear weapons before the end of 2003, the activities “did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies.”

This move by the IAEA clears the way for the deal reached in July between Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China and Germany) to move forward toward full implementation.

IAEA ‘Closes’ Iran Nuclear Bomb Probe,” Agence France-Presse, December 15, 2015.

Experts Say India Is Building a New City to Produce Thermonuclear Weapons

Local farmers and council members in the southern Indian state of Karnataka were alarmed in 2012 when changes began happening to limit their access to land, roads and trails. The secretive project began construction later that year. It now seems clear to some experts that India is building a massive military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, nuclear research laboratories and weapons testing facilities. As a military facility, it would not be open to international inspection.

Such a development would likely spur proliferation among India’s chief nuclear-armed rivals, Pakistan and China.

Adrian Levy, “India Is Building a Top-Secret Nuclear City to Produce Thermonuclear Weapons, Experts Say,” Foreign Policy, December 16, 2015.

Nuclear Insanity

U.S. Declassifies Nuclear Target List from 1950s

The National Security Archive, a research group at George Washington University, has obtained a list of U.S. nuclear targets through the Mandatory Declassification Review process.

The list makes clear that Soviet airfields were the highest-priority target, followed by Soviet industrial infrastructure. However, many airfields and industrial areas were located around population centers, which would have led to massive civilian casualties. In addition, one entry in the target list is called “Population.”

Scott Shane, “1950s U.S. Nuclear Target List Offers Chilling Insight,” The New York Times, December 22, 2015.

War and Peace

India and Pakistan Restart Peace Talks

In December, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Pakistan to meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. This was the first visit to Pakistan by an Indian Prime Minister since 2004. The two leaders pledged to accelerate peace talks and decided to have their foreign secretaries meet soon in Islamabad.

Tensions between India and Pakistan, both of which are nuclear-armed countries, remain high over issues including the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Anindya Upadhyay and Faseeh Mangi, “India, Pakistan to Speed Up Talks After Modi’s Surprise Visit,” Bloomberg, December 25, 2015.

Nuclear Modernization

U.S. Senators Urge President Obama to Cancel New Nuclear Cruise Missile

Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) led a group of eight Senators in a letter urging President Obama to cancel the new nuclear air-launched cruise missile. Recent reports indicate that the administration plans to develop 1,000 to 1,100 new nuclear cruise missiles, which are projected to cost between $20 to $30 billion to build. In the letter, the Senators noted that this new nuclear weapon does not reflect our current national security needs, is redundant with existing nuclear and conventional options, and could lead to dramatic escalation and potential devastating miscalculations with other nuclear-armed states.

“Outdated and unnecessary nuclear weapons are relics of the past,” wrote the Senators in the letter to President Obama. “Your administration should instead focus on capabilities that keep our economy and defense strong while reducing the role of nuclear weapons.”

The other Senators who signed the letter are Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Al Franken (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

Sen. Markey Leads Call to Cut Wasteful Nuclear Expenditures, Cancel New Nuclear Air-Launched Missile,” Office of Senator Edward Markey, December 15, 2015.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Production Has Sickened and Killed Thousands

Over the past year, journalists from McClatchy conducted over 100 interviews and examined 70 million records in a federal database relating to American workers who were exposed to radiation and other toxic substances while producing nuclear weapons. At least 107,394 Americans have been diagnosed with cancers and other diseases after building the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile over the last 70 years.

The massive number of illnesses and deaths revealed in this study has increased concerns that the United States’ current plan to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize its nuclear arsenal will lead to yet another generation of workers being exposed.

Rob Hotakainen, Lindsay Wise, Frank Matt and Samantha Ehlinger, “Irradiated: The Hidden Legacy of 70 Years of Atomic Weaponry,” McClatchy DC, December 11, 2015.

Nuclear Zero Lawsuits

Marshall Islands Fights Back in Nuclear Lawsuit

On December 15, 2015, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) filed a Reply Brief in the Nuclear Zero Lawsuit now pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. In the Brief, the RMI says that U.S. government lawyers have broadly misstated the law surrounding treaty disputes. The RMI argues that U.S. courts do have the power to oversee disputes over international treaties, and that no law elevates the President’s authority above the judiciary’s power to decide disputes.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to appoint a three-judge panel to consider the briefs. All court documents are available at www.nuclearzero.org/in-the-courts.

Marshall Islands Fights Back in Nuclear Lawsuit,” Radio New Zealand, December 21, 2015.

 Resources

January’s Featured Blog

This month’s featured blog is Nukes of Hazard, a project of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Recent titles on the blog include “The 2016 Presidential Candidates on Nuclear Issues,” “Pentagon Profligacy: Five Egregious Examples of Wasteful Pentagon Programs,” and “GOP Candidates on the Pentagon Budget.”

To read these, and many other, articles, 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 January, including the January 17, 1966, incident in Palomares, Spain, in which a U.S. B-52 strategic bomber carrying four Mark-28 hydrogen bombs collided in mid-air with a KC-135 tanker aircraft. Plutonium was spread 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.

Vote for the Arms Control Person of the Year

The Arms Control Association is holding an online voting process for the Arms Control Person of the Year. Voting closes on January 5, 2016, at 11:59 pm. One nominee is Setsuko Thurlow and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nominated “for their unyielding dedication to sharing first hand accounts of the catastrophic and inhumane effects of nuclear weapons, which serves to reinforce the taboo against the further use of nuclear weapons and spur action toward a world without nuclear weapons.”

Setsuko Thurlow recently received the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Distinguished Peace Leadership Award, and is a committed and effective campaigner for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

To vote for the Arms Control Person of the Year, click here. When you vote, please enter the password ACPOY2015.

World Nuclear Victims Forum

The World Nuclear Victims Forum was held in Hiroshima on November 21-23, 2015, along with several related events in Osaka and Tokyo.

Participants from around the world gathered to understand the reality of the damages caused in all stages of the nuclear chain, the situations of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima, and the lessons to be learned from such situations. It was also an opportunity for people from affected communities in various countries to strengthen their cooperation and network, to work together to prevent such suffering from happening again.

The final declaration maps out draft elements for a charter of world nuclear victims’ rights and calls for the abolition of the entire nuclear chain and the urgent conclusion of a legally binding international instrument which prohibits and provides for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Foundation Activities

Robert Scheer to Deliver the 15th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is pleased to welcome Robert Scheer, one of the nation’s most outspoken and progressive journalists, Professor of Communications at the University of Southern California, and Editor-In-Chief of Truthdig.com, to deliver the 15th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future.

Scheer’s lecture, entitled “War, Peace, Truth and the Media,” will take place on Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at the Faulkner Gallery, 40 E. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, California. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, click here.

NAPF is Hiring a Director of Development

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is hiring a Director of Development at its Santa Barbara, California, headquarters. As a non-profit organization, successful fundraising is vital to the ability of NAPF to plan and implement its programs to abolish nuclear weapons and empower peace leaders.

Click here to view the job description. Please share with your networks.

Join Us in Working for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

2015 has been a strong and eventful year for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. We have:

  • Supported the Marshall Islands (and their legal team) in their courageous lawsuits against the nine nuclear-armed countries;
  • Supported the nuclear agreement with Iran;
  • Encouraged President Obama to fulfill the Prague Promise for a world free of nuclear weapons that he initiated in 2009;
  • Opposed the planned $1 trillion expenditure on the “modernization” of the U.S. nuclear arsenal;
  • Reached more than 5,000 people through our Peace Leadership Program;
  • Expanded our membership to 75,000 people;
  • Reached more than 1,000,000 people through our social media outreach (find us on Facebook and Twitter);
  • And much more (read the whole list here).

With your help we can make 2016 an even stronger and more eventful year. We have a great team in place for 2016. Please be a part of that team, working for peace and a world free of nuclear weapons. Stand up! Speak out! Join in!

Together we can build a more peaceful world and end the nuclear weapons threat to all humanity.

Peace Leadership: A Year in Review

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Peace Leadership Program had a very successful year in 2015. Led by Paul K. Chappell, the program reached nearly 6,000 people in 11 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Mexico, Germany and the Netherlands. Over the year, Paul delivered 53 lectures and 13 workshops, introducing people to the concept of peace leadership and giving them the skills to implement these ideas in their daily lives.

To read more about the NAPF Peace Leadership Program’s accomplishments in 2015 and a preview of 2016 activities, click here.

Paul’s fifth book, The Cosmic Ocean, was also published in 2015. Click here to read more about the book and purchase a copy.

Quotes

 

“We must encourage all people of good will to join the work of abolishing war and weapons — not out of fear of dying, but out of the joy of living.”

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate and member of the NAPF Advisory Council. This quote is featured in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, available for purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.

 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Nelson Mandela

 

“I want to believe that there is no madman on Earth who would decide to use nuclear weapons.”

— Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Editorial Team

 

David Krieger
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman

Sunflowers: The Symbol of a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

Sunflowers are a simple miracle. They grow from a seed. They rise from the earth. They are natural. They are bright and beautiful. They bring a smile to one’s face. They produce seeds that are nutritious, and from these seeds oil is produced. Native Americans once used parts of the sunflower plant to treat rattlesnake bites, and sunflower meal to make bread. Sunflowers were even used near Chernobyl to extract radionuclides cesium 137 and strontium 90 from contaminated ponds following the catastrophic nuclear reactor accident there.

Now sunflowers carry new meaning. They have become the symbol of a world free of nuclear weapons. This came about after an extraordinary celebration of Ukraine achieving the status of a nuclear free state. On June 1, 1996, Ukraine transferred to Russia for dismantlement the last of the 1,900 nuclear warheads it had inherited from the former Soviet Union. Celebrating the occasion a few days later, the Defense Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, and the United States met at a former nuclear missile base in the Ukraine that once housed 80 SS-19 missiles aimed at the United States.

The three Defense Ministers planted sunflowers and scattered sunflower seeds. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said, “With the completion of our task, Ukraine has demonstrated its support of a nuclear weapons free world.” He called on other nations to follow in Ukraine’s path and “to do everything to wipe nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth as soon as possible.” U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry said, “Sunflowers instead of missiles in the soil would ensure peace for future generations.”

This dramatic sunflower ceremony at Pervomaisk military base showed the world the possibility of a nation giving up nuclear weapons as a means of achieving security. It is an important example, featuring the sunflower as a symbol of hope. The comparison between sunflowers and nuclear missiles is stark—sunflowers representing life, growth, beauty and nature, and nuclear armed missiles representing death and destruction on a massive, unspeakable scale. Sunflowers represent light instead of darkness, transparency instead of secrecy, security instead of threat, and joy instead of fear.

The Defense Ministers were not the first to use sunflowers. In the 1980s a group of brave and committed resisters known as “The Missouri Peace Planters” entered onto nuclear silos in Missouri and planted sunflowers as a symbol of nuclear disarmament. On August 15, 1988, fourteen peace activists simultaneously entered ten of Missouri’s 150 nuclear missile silos, and planted sunflowers. They issued a statement that said, “We reclaim this land for ourselves, the beasts of the land upon which we depend, and our children. We interpose our bodies, if just for a moment, between these weapons and their intended victims.”

Which shall we choose for our Earth? Shall we choose life or shall we choose death? Shall we choose sunflowers, or shall we choose nuclear armed missiles? All but a small number of nations would choose life. But the handful of nations that choose to base their security on these weapons of omnicide threaten us all with massive uncontrollable slaughter.

In the aftermath of the Cold War, many people believe that the nuclear threat has ended, but this is not the case. In fact, there are still more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nine nuclear-armed countries. These countries have given their solemn promise in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which entered into force in 1970, to negotiate in good faith to achieve nuclear disarmament, but they have not acted in good faith. It is likely that until the people of the world demand the total elimination of nuclear weapons, the nuclear weapons states will find ways to retain their special status as nuclear “haves.” Only one power on Earth is greater than the power of nuclear weapons, and that is the power of the People once engaged.

This article was originally published on March 12, 1998. This version was revised on August 21, 2015.

A Break in the Clouds

It is a great joy for my wife and I to return to Nagasaki. It has been more then 30 years since we last visited your beautiful city.

I have often thought of the irony that Nagasaki should have entered the Nuclear Age as the second city to be bombed by an atomic weapon. When the U.S. B-29, Bock’s Car, left Tinian Island carrying its deadly cargo in the early morning hours of August 9, 1945, it was headed to another target, the city of Kokura. Were it not for the weather conditions that day — specifically, the cloud cover over Kokura — it would have been that city and not Nagasaki on which the bomb would have been dropped.

Not being able to bomb Kokura, the pilot of the B-29 headed toward his secondary target, Nagasaki. Even here, there was cloud cover, and only a small opening in the clouds allowed the pilot to release that second atomic bomb, causing such destruction to your city and its people. Were it not for the clouds over Kokura and the small opening in the clouds over Nagasaki, your city would have been spared, at least for that day. I can’t help thinking that even gentle, ephemeral clouds could prevent an atomic bombing from occurring. We humans are not so powerful as we might think — when we compare ourselves with the power of nature. Yet, we are capable of doing great harm to each other — as we have witnessed at Nagasaki and on occasions too numerous to mention.

The bombings of both Nagasaki and Hiroshima have taught us a simple lesson, perhaps the most basic lesson of the Nuclear Age: This must never happen again. Cloud cover must never again be the sole factor to save a city, or a break in the clouds provide an opening for nuclear devastation. Today’s missile technology, in fact, makes cloud cover irrelevant. Our task must be to make nuclear weapons — and all weapons of mass destruction — irrelevant. The only way to do this is to ban these weapons and abolish them forever.

The evil that occurred at Nagasaki and Hiroshima must never be repeated. No city and its people must ever again be subjected to attack with a nuclear weapon. Such an attack would exceed all bounds of morality. It would undermine every precept of human decency and human dignity.

Nuclear weapons, in the words of a former president of the International Court of Justice, are “the ultimate evil.” The description echoes Josai Toda’s reference to them more than forty years ago as “an absolute evil.”

In the past few years there has been a growing chorus of voices to abolish nuclear weapons. When a former commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, General Lee Butler, can join the call for abolition, we are making progress. General Butler, who retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1994, has stated, “I think that the vast majority of people on the face of this earth will endorse the proposition that such weapons have no place among us. There is no security to be found in nuclear weapons. It’s a fool’s game.”

General Butler is not alone among military leaders calling for nuclear weapons abolition. Many generals and admirals from around the world have done so as well. In 1996 some 60 retired generals and admirals from 17 countries joined General Butler in stating:

“We have been presented with a challenge of the highest possible historic importance: the creation of a nuclear-weapons-free world. The end of the Cold War makes it possible.

“The dangers of proliferation, terrorism, and new nuclear arms races render it necessary. We must not fail to seize our opportunity. There is no alternative.”

The Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, composed of a distinguished group of experts, including General Butler, Joseph Rotblat and the late Jacques Cousteau, issued a report in 1996 that said: “The proposition that nuclear weapons can be retained in perpetuity and never used — accidentally or by decision — defies credibility. The only complete defence is the elimination of nuclear weapons and assurance that they will never be produced again.”

The International Court of Justice has also spoken on the issue of eliminating nuclear weapons. In issuing an opinion on the illegality of these weapons in 1996, the Court made clear that there is an obligation under international law to proceed with good faith negotiations for their elimination.

At the end of 1996 and again at the end of 1997 the United Nations General Assembly called upon all states to commence negotiations on a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons.

In February 1998 a statement calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons was released at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The statement was signed by 117 leaders from 46 countries, including 47 past or present presidents or prime ministers. Among the signers were former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and five former prime ministers of Japan. The Statement concluded: “The world is not condemned to live forever with threats of nuclear conflict, or anxious fragile peace imposed by nuclear deterrence. Such threats are intolerable and such a peace unworthy. The sheer destructiveness of nuclear weapons invokes a moral imperative for their elimination. That is our mandate. Let us begin.”

The governments of some nuclear weapons states have been moving slowly in the direction of reducing the nuclear threat, but they have not yet demonstrated that they are committed to eliminating their nuclear arsenals. They treat their nuclear arsenals like security blankets when, in fact, they provide no security — only threat.

There is no security in threatening the mass annihilation of civilians. In truth, it is not only cowardly, but foolish beyond words. It places the population of the country possessing nuclear weapons in danger of retaliation.

It is important to keep in mind, that nuclear holocaust could occur not only by intention, but by accident or miscalculation as well. As recently as 1995 the Russians were poised to launch a nuclear response when they mistakenly believed that a missile launched from Norway was a nuclear attack aimed at Russia.

Nuclear holocaust could also occur if terrorists came into possession of a nuclear weapon, and we know that some nuclear weapons are small enough to be carried by a single individual in a large backpack.

We will be free of the threat of nuclear holocaust only when we are free of nuclear weapons. No group of people knows this better than the people of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It is the hibakusha, the survivors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, that remind us that the pain of nuclear weapons lingers. Radiation causes pain and suffering that continues to kill for decades, and genetically affects new generations.

I am convinced that if we want a world at peace, we must create it. There is no other choice. Governments will not succeed on their own in creating such a world. The power of the people must push governments — or, more accurately, the power of the people must lead governments. We will have a peaceful and just world when enough people are willing to commit themselves to creating such a world, and will make their voices heard.

The same is true of a world free of the threat of nuclear holocaust. We will have such a world when the people demand it. This process has begun. Here in Japan you have raised your voices, and the chorus of your voices will be heard around the world. I am overwhelmed that more than 13 million signatures for nuclear weapons abolition have been gathered in Japan in only a few months time. These signatures represent the power of an idea whose time is now. They also demonstrate the power of the people when they join together in common cause.

These signatures represent 13 million voices of hope for a world free of the threat of nuclear annihilation. These voices of hope have unleashed a power that will not be stopped until the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons is achieved.

I congratulate you on what you have accomplished. These signatures are enough to inspire, enough to move people everywhere to greater commitment. President Ikeda must be very proud of you, and I can only imagine how proud Josai Toda would be to know that you are working to carry out his vision of a nuclear weapons free world.

The more than 13 million signatures you have gathered are an important step on the road to abolition. But we must not rest. We must commit ourselves to continuing our activities to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons until the goal is accomplished and the last nuclear weapon in the world is destroyed. Will you join me in making this commitment?

The Abolition 2000 International Petition calls for three outcomes. First, ending the threat. Second, signing a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons. Third, reallocating resources from military purposes to assuring a sustainable future.

Isn’t it crazy that the Cold War ended many years ago, and yet the nuclear weapons states continue to keep their nuclear arsenals on hair-trigger alert? There is no reason to continue this threat. These weapons must be taken off alert status immediately! There must be time to sort through all the facts, to consider the full consequences of what is being contemplated, and to avoid acting in a moment of passion.

Warheads can be separated from delivery vehicles. A no-first-use agreement can be achieved, in which each nuclear weapons state agrees that it will never under any circumstance be the first to use nuclear weapons. These steps will make the world far safer. They can be taken immediately, and will have a profound effect on the way nuclear weapons are viewed by their possessors.

The petition calls for signing a treaty by the year 2000 to eliminate all nuclear weapons within a fixed time period. This is the treaty called for by Abolition 2000, by the World Court, and by most nations in the world. It is absolutely reasonable that we should enter the 21st century with such a commitment in place.

The petition calls for reallocating resources from military purposes to meeting human needs. It says a great deal about our priorities that we are spending more for military forces in our world than we do for healthcare and education of our youth. We live in a world in which many thousands of children under the age of five die daily from starvation and preventable diseases. This totals to millions of children a year. It is outrageous, unacceptable, and must be ended. We must change our priorities.

What is at stake is no less than the future of humanity. Each of you who has signed the petition has taken a first step, but you must not stop with this step. You must continue to speak out and demand greater action from your own government, and from other governments of the world.

You can also help by asking the council of the municipality where you live or the student government where you go to school to support an Abolition 2000 Resolution. There are currently over 185 municipalities that have gone on record in support of Abolition 2000, but we need to increase this number to thousands around the world.

I urge you to continue to press the Japanese government to take a more responsible position on eliminating nuclear weapons. The Japanese government has not kept faith with the people of Japan on this issue. The government has placed Japan under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and reached secret nuclear agreements with the U.S. The Japanese government has also imported many tons of reprocessed plutonium 239, material suitable for making nuclear weapons. In fact, Japan could become a major nuclear weapons state in only a matter of days or weeks if it chose to do so.

The future of humanity demands that we succeed in ridding the world of nuclear weapons. If these weapons remain in the arsenals of the nuclear weapons states, there will be a time in the future when they will be used again. The retention of these horrible weapons provides an example that other states will look to and that will eventually lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. This, too, will make the world more dangerous.

Because we must succeed, we will succeed. But it will not be easy. There are still many obstacles to overcome. We must be strong in our dedication, unwavering in our commitment. I am heartened to know of your dedication and commitment. I will let others throughout the world know of your great accomplishment, and your continuing efforts.

I plan to inform the top leadership of the United Nations of your achievement. The United Nations Charter begins, “We, the Peoples….” We must put the people back into the United Nations. The elimination of nuclear weapons is too important to be left only to politicians and diplomats. They must hear the voices of the people — your voices.

In April, I will share with the delegates to the Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference in Geneva your achievement in gathering more than 13 million signatures for nuclear weapons abolition. I will also do everything I can to bring your message to President Clinton, who has the power — but thus far has lacked the vision — to lead the way to fulfilling the goals of the petition. I will also work with other citizens groups in Abolition 2000 to see that your message is brought to the leaders of all nuclear weapons states.

Let me conclude with a story about the sunflower. When Ukraine gave up the last of the nuclear weapons that it had inherited when the former Soviet Union split apart, there was an unusual celebration. The defense ministers of the U.S., Russia and Ukraine met at a former Ukrainian missile base that once housed 80 SS-19 nuclear armed missiles aimed at the United States. The defense ministers celebrated the occasion by planting sunflowers and scattering sunflower seeds. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry said, “Sunflowers instead of missiles in the soil will ensure peace for future generations.”

Later I learned that protesters in the United States many years before had illegally entered missile sites in the U.S. and planted sunflowers above the missile silos. These protesters had been imprisoned for their courage.

Sunflowers have become the symbol of a nuclear weapons free world. They are bright, beautiful, natural, and even nutritious. They stand in stark contrast to nuclear armed missiles, which are costly, manmade instruments of genocide. Let us choose what is natural and healthy. Let us restore our Earth, our decency, our humanity.

We need to control our darker impulses. Nothing could be more representative of this than replacing missiles with sunflowers. If Ukraine can accomplish this, so can the rest of the world.

Please make the sunflower your symbol of a world free of nuclear weapons. In doing so, you will also make it a symbol of a better humanity, of bringing forth a greater humanness in each of us. Let the sunflower also symbolize your own deeper humanity as you continue to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Thank you for caring. Thank you for what you have done. Thank you for all you will do in the future to create a safer and more decent world. I look forward to sharing the day with you when we have succeeded in creating a world without nuclear weapons. Please never lose hope that such a world is possible, and never stop working and speaking out to create such a world.