June 1, 2006 – Hans Blix, the Chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s WMD Commission, which included 13 other prominent global experts such as former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry and Dr. Alexei Arbatov, a member of the Soviet delegation to the START I Treaty negotiations and a long-time Russian parliamentarian, released its final report titled, “Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Arms.” Its 231 pages presented sixty concrete proposals to the world’s nation-states to rein in destabilizing spending on WMD, stop the proliferation of these weapons, and create a future climate for continued reductions and the eventual elimination of these threats to global peace. Blix’s concluding remarks stated that, “It seems to me that not only successes in the vital work to prevent proliferation and terrorism, but also progress in the additional areas could transform the current gloom into hope. Bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force would significantly impede the development of new nuclear weapons. The weapons that exist today are bad enough. Negotiating a global treaty to stop the production of fissile material for weapons would close the tap for new such material and help hinder possible arms races notably in Asia. In both these areas, the U.S. has the decisive leverage. If it takes the lead, the world is likely to follow. If it does not take the lead, there could be more nuclear tests and new nuclear arms races.” Comments: Twelve years later, Blix’s prediction proved to be very accurate. Despite some limited efforts by the Bush Administration and even more push and rhetoric by President Barack Obama, the CTBT and a worldwide fissile materials ban never became U.S. priorities and today under the Trump Administration and a neo-con dominated Republican Congress, the “current gloom” is not only back but grower darker every day. However, a growing global public consensus on reducing and eliminating WMDs may yet prevail as protests, marches, and specific action by global municipalities and even legislatures continues the uphill fight to reorient planetary priorities away from nuclear war, the use of chemical or biological weapons, and wars in general toward a New Paradigm of Peace. One shining example of this movement is the tremendous support by global citizenry for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. (Sources: Press Conference by Hans Blix Upon the Release of “Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Arms.” IranWatch.org. June 1, 2006, https://www.iranwatch.org/library/international-organization/other-international-organization/press-conference-hans-blix-upon-release-weapons-terror-freeing-world-nuclear and “Weapons of Terror.” International Atomic Energy Agency’s WMD Commission. https://ycsg.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/weapons_of_terror.pdf, both accessed May 7, 2018.)
June 4, 2009 – In his first few months in office as the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama gave a historic speech at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt that primarily focused on a more pragmatic, internationalist perspective in U.S. relations with the whole of the Muslim world, repairing the damage caused during the previous Bush Administration. Critically, the President also stated that, “I strongly reaffirm America’s commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons.” This continued the President’s early rhetoric to push for the end of the nuclear arms race, which was stated much more forcefully two months earlier in his speech on April 5, 2009 in Prague, The Czech Republic, “The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War…Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of nuclear attack has gone up…The technology to build a bomb has spread…Now, understand, this matters to people everywhere. One nuclear weapon exploded in one city – be it New York or Moscow, Islamabad or Mumbai, Tokyo or Tel Aviv, Paris or Prague – could kill hundreds of thousands of people. And no matter where it happens, there is no end to what the consequences might be – for our global safety, our security, our society, our economy, to our ultimate survival…the United States has a moral responsibility to act…So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to see the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Later that year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee on October 9th surprised the commander-in-chief by announcing he had won the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” They also cited “his outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation,” as well as “the President’s efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons.” Nevertheless despite the fact that Barack Obama’s anti-nuclear rhetoric remained strong, the Pentagon did convince him to begin spending a trillion dollars over the next 30 years to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In a March 30, 2016 editorial in The Washington Post, the President noted that, “I said in Prague that…As the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons, the United States has a moral obligation to continue to lead the way in eliminating them.” Comments: Unfortunately President Obama’s attempt to work towards the elimination of these doomsday weapons was primarily circumvented, although his administration did negotiate and follow-through with Russia in agreeing to the 2010 New START agreement. The fact that a well-meaning Barack Obama was derailed not only by opposition from a Republican-dominated Congress but also by the military-industrial-news media-corporate complex was not so surprising. It has happened to other U.S. presidents including Eisenhower, who first warned Americans of the threat in his 1961 Farewell Address; Kennedy, who just barely avoided having to act on a unanimous Joint Chiefs of Staff recommendation to invade Cuba in October 1962, most probably triggering a nuclear war, but overcoming that near-miss with the assistance and advice of similar-minded peace advocates, both in government and through private channels (one example is Mary Pinchot Meyers), to push Congress to accept then ratify the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963; Carter, who first proposed denuclearizing and demilitarizing the Korean Peninsula despite being roundly criticized as an appeaser to the Communists; Reagan, who at the Reykjavik Summit in 1986 almost agreed to Gorbachev’s proposal to eliminate all nuclear weapons; and Clinton, who signed the CTBT but ultimately failed to convince Congress to ratify the agreement even though the Russian Duma accomplished this historic task. (Sources: “Obama’s Prague Speech on Nuclear Weapons: Full Text.” HuffingtonPost.com. May 5, 2009, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/05/obama-prague-speech-on-nu_n_183219.html, “Obama’s Speech in Cairo.” New York Times. June 4, 2009, https://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/us/politics/04obama.text.html, “President Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize.” CBSNews.com. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/president-obama-wins-nobel-peace-prize/ all accessed May 7, 2018.)
June 11, 1945 – Several scientists, including Leo Szilard, in the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago, who were working on the Manhattan Project and had formed a committee chaired by Jerome Franck, formulated and distributed the draft of a petition for submittal to President Truman written by Eugene Rabinowitch titled, “The Franck Report” that argued against dropping an atomic bomb on Japan. The report concluded that using the atomic weapon on a Japanese target without warning and without direct Soviet participation in the testing of the weapon would make international control of nuclear weapons very unlikely while also inflicting on the world a never-ending arms race that would put U.S. and other world cities in “continuous danger of sudden annihilation.” The petition argued that even if the bomb might shorten the war and save the lives of U.S. troops, its use was still not justified on not only moral grounds but also for the sake of the long-term survival of civilization itself. Comments: The awful and seemingly inevitable momentum of the Manhattan Project and the alleged need to intimidate the Soviets is evident from the fact that General Lesley Groves, the military director of the A-bomb project, had the petition classified “Secret” and purposely kept it from getting to President Truman and Secretary of War Henry Stimson until after the bomb was dropped. The petition was also withheld from the American people for reasons of national security. The war crime committed against the Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, particularly because military experts before and after August 6 and 9 said there was no military necessity requiring the use of nuclear weapons, must never be repeated again. Its use against another human population must be strictly and for all time forbidden. The best way to ensure this is to redouble global efforts to dramatically reduce and eliminate these doomsday weapons at the earliest possible opportunity or it is likely that Omnicide will be the result. (Sources: “Atomic Bomb Decision – The Franck Report.” Dannen.com. http://www.dannen.com/decision/franck.html, and Daniel Ellsberg. “Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.” New York: Bloomsbury, 2017, p. 287.)
June 22, 1987 – On this date, The Washington Post published a brief article titled, “MIT Nuclear Study Figures Aftermath If Soviets Attack,” quoting an Associated Press story that reported that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had conducted a study that was directed by Dr. Kostas Tsipis of MIT’s Program in Science and Technology for International Security. The study called “Nuclear Crash” was based on four years of computer-simulated attacks and the results indicated that even a “limited” nuclear attack on the United States, involving only one percent of the Soviet nuclear arsenal, that targeted only liquid fuels such as petroleum, and other nationwide energy production, transportation, and distribution points as well as other related U.S. industries, would cause the collapse of the American economy for decades which would precipitate the mass starvation of most of the U.S. population in a very short period of time. Comments: While overall levels of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons have declined significantly in the last generation since this study was completed, it is still true that so-called limited or tactical nuclear strikes could not only destroy a nation but also trigger nuclear winter scenarios that can impact huge regions of the globe if not the entire planet – destroying civilization and possibly the vast majority of humanity. Therefore, ridding the world of the main stocks of U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons is not sufficient to ensure the long-term survival of our species. Thousands of other tactical nuclear weapons and other warheads held in reserve or storage as well as those awaiting decommission must also be eliminated from the arsenals of all nine nuclear weapons states.
June 26, 2017 – On the fourth and final day of the 85th Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, held in Miami Beach, Florida, a set of resolutions were adopted and released for distribution to the press and public. Relevant to the nuclear threat was a series of resolutions titled, “Calling on President Trump to Lower Tensions, Prioritize Diplomacy, and Redirect Nuclear Weapons Spending to Meet Human Needs and Address Environmental Challenges.” One of the resolutions pointed to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock being advanced earlier that year to 2.5 minutes to midnight, the closest it has been since 1953 and the language emphasized that, “Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink.” Another related resolution discussed the May 5, 2017 creation of a Nuclear Crisis Group composed of retired diplomats, generals, and national security experts from key nations such as the U.S., Russia, China, South Korea, India, Japan, Pakistan, and Poland to “engage in high-level efforts to prevent these flashpoints from escalating to the use of nuclear weapons.” Another entreaty by the Conference was stated as, “Mindful that no national or international response capacity exists that could adequately respond to the human suffering and humanitarian harm that would result from a nuclear explosion in a populated area, and that such capacity most likely will never exist, 127 countries have endorsed the Humanitarian Pledge to stigmatize, prohibit, and eliminate nuclear weapons.” Yet another resolution remarked that, “Whereas, Mayors for Peace, which calls for the global elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020, has grown to 7,295 cities in 162 nations and regions, with 210 U.S. members, representing in total over one billion people.” Comments: Despite tremendous concern and fear about the actions of the governments, militaries, and politicians of the nine nuclear weapons states and their allies, it seems clear that more and more global citizenry are taking matters into their own hands and directing municipalities, local, state, provincial, and regional governmental entities to say “enough is enough.” Increasingly it seems apparent that growing numbers of denizens of this Pale Blue Dot are remembering the words of Frederick Douglass, “Power concedes nothing without a demand,” and Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” (Source: “85th Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.” Miami Beach, Florida, June 23-26, 2017, http://legacy.usmayors.org/resolutions/85th_Conference/proposedcommittee.asp?committee-InternationalAffairs accessed May 8, 2018.)
June 28, 1958 – As part of the Operation Hardtack I series of 35 nuclear test blasts, 32 of which occurred at either Bikini or Enewetak, a test designated Oak was conducted on a barge in the Enewetak Lagoon in this Marshall Islands chain of the Pacific Ocean – one of the most powerful U.S. nuclear tests with a magnitude of 8.9 megatons, almost six hundred times as powerful as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. This tremendous blast, one of a total of 67 tests conducted in the late 1950s which resulted in a total yield of around 30 megatons exploded in and around that atoll by the U.S. contaminating a huge inhabited region with cesium-137 and strontium-90 for generations, produced a crater 4,400 feet in diameter and 183 feet deep. It is believed that the B/W53 nuclear device used in this test blast was eventually incorporated into the Titan II ICBM system. Comments: The testing of over 2,050 nuclear explosives over the last seven decades by nine nuclear weapons states has inflicted extremely harmful short- and long-term health impacts to global populations, especially native peoples and veterans who participated in observing tests at relatively close range. Increased cancer rates, groundwater contamination, destruction of land and ocean ecosystems, and other detrimental health and environmental impacts still plague large numbers of people due to nuclear testing. (Sources: Thomas B. Cochran, William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, and Milton M. Hoenig. “Nuclear Weapons Databook: Volume II, Appendix B.” Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Co., 1987, pp. 157-58 and Michael B. Gerrard. “A Pacific Isle, Radioactive and Forgotten.” New York Times. Dec. 3, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/opinion/a-pacific-isle-radioactive-and-forgotten.html, accessed May 8, 2018.)