Issue #237 – April 2017
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A Better Mousetrap?
Albert Einstein noted, “Mankind invented the atomic bomb, but no mouse would ever construct a mousetrap.”
We humans have created the equivalent of a mousetrap for ourselves. And we’ve constructed tens of thousands of them over the seven decades of the Nuclear Age.
In the mid-1980s, the world reached a high of 70,000 nuclear weapons, with more than 95 percent of them in the arsenals of the United States and Soviet Union. Since then, the number has fallen to under 15,000. While this downward trend is positive, the world’s nuclear countries possess enough nuclear weapons to destroy the human species many times over.
To read more, click here.
Testimony of a Hiroshima Survivor
I was 1 year and 4 months-old when the bomb was dropped. I was sick that day, so my mother was heading to the hospital with me on her back when the bomb was dropped. We were 2.3 km from the hypocenter. Fortunately, a two-story house between the hypocenter and us prevented us from directly being exposed to the heat. Yet, we were thrown all the way to the edge of the river bank. My mother, with me in her arms, managed to get to the nearby mountain called Ushitayama. Our family members were in different locations at the time of the bombing, but everyone escaped to the same mountain of Ushitayama, except for my fourth-elder sister. For many days that followed, my parents and my sisters kept going back to the area near the hypocenter to look for my fourth-eldest sister, who was missing. We never found her. We never found her body either.
In the meantime, I had my entire body covered with bandages, with only eyes, nose, and mouth uncovered. Everybody thought I would die over time. Yet, I survived. It is a miracle. I am here at the UN, asking for an abolition of nuclear weapons. I am convinced that this is a mission I am given as a survivor of the atomic-bomb.
To read more, click here.
Message to the UN Conference Negotiating a Nuclear Ban Treaty
If we take into consideration the principal threats to peace and security with their many dimensions in this multipolar world of the twenty-first century as, for example, terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, cybersecurity, environmental problems, poverty, not a few doubts arise regarding the inadequacy of nuclear deterrence as an effective response to such challenges. These concerns are even greater when we consider the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences that would follow from any use of nuclear weapons, with devastating, indiscriminate and uncontainable effects, over time and space. Similar cause for concern arises when examining the waste of resources spent on nuclear issues for military purposes, which could instead be used for worthy priorities like the promotion of peace and integral human development, as well as the fight against poverty, and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We need also to ask ourselves how sustainable is a stability based on fear, when it actually increases fear and undermines relationships of trust between peoples.
To read more, click here.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
U.S. Ambassador Leads Pro-Nuclear Protest Outside UN Ban Treaty Negotiations
On March 27, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley led a press conference in protest of the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Toward Their Total Elimination. Ambassador Haley spoke briefly at the press conference along with UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft and French Deputy Ambassador Alexis Lamek.
The United States strongly opposed the idea of negotiating a nuclear ban treaty when it was under discussion in 2016 during the Obama Administration. Staunch U.S. opposition to a ban treaty is now continuing under the Trump Administration.
Somini Sengupta and Rick Gladstone, “United States and Allies Protest UN Talks to Ban Nuclear Weapons,” The New York Times, March 27, 2017.
Head of U.S. Strategic Command Opposes Vision of a Nuclear Weapons-Free World
Gen. John Hyten, head of United States Strategic Command, told reporters at the annual meeting of the Military Reporters and Editors Association that nuclear weapons make the world safer. Gen. Hyten said, “Can I imagine a world without nuclear weapons? Yes, I can. That’s a world I didn’t like.”
He criticized the effort underway at the United Nations to achieve a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, saying that nuclear weapons act as a deterrent and keep the peace.
Tom O’Connor, “Top U.S. Military Commander Says Nuclear Weapons Make the World Safer,” Newsweek, March 31, 2017.
Watch Hundreds of U.S. Nuclear Tests on YouTube
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has released dozens of videos showing U.S. nuclear weapons tests. The footage was captured from tests conducted from 1945 to 1962 in the Marshall Islands and Nevada. LLNL restored and declassified the films, many of which were deteriorating.
Dr. Gregory Spriggs, a weapons physicist in charge of the project at Livermore, said, “I think that if we capture the history of this and show what the force of these weapons are and how much devastation they can wreak, then maybe people will be reluctant to use them.”
Christine Hauser, “U.S. Nuclear Weapons Tests Come to YouTube,” The New York Times, March 17, 2017.
Scientists Urge a Ban on Nuclear Weapons
Over 3,600 scientists have signed an open letter urging the United Nations to complete negotiations on a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. The open letter, which includes signatures of 28 Nobel laureates, states, “We scientists bear a special responsibility for nuclear weapons, since it was scientists who invented them and discovered that their effects are even more horrific than first thought.”
The open letter was organized by the Future of Life Institute, and was presented to Her Excellency Ms. Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica, President of the ban treaty negotiations at the United Nations.
Sarah Marquart, “The UN Is Currently Meeting to Negotiate a Complete, Global Ban on Nuclear Weapons,” Futurism, March 27, 2017.
U.S. Court Hears Oral Arguments in Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Disarmament Case
On March 15, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments from the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the United States in the Marshall Islands’ nuclear disarmament lawsuit. The RMI filed suit in 2014 against the United States for breaches of Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires good faith negotiations for an end to the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament.
Oral arguments before the three-judge panel centered around the United States’ preliminary objections, as opposed to the merits of the case. A ruling by the Ninth Circuit is expected in the coming months.
Helen Christophi, “Ninth Circuit Hesitant to Get Into Nuclear Disarmament,” Courthouse News Service, March 17, 2017.
War and Peace
Russia Plans Cuts to Military Budget
Russia appears to have planned a cut of over 25% to its military budget next year. Military news outlet IHS Jane’s calls this “the largest cut to military expenditure in the country since the early 1990s.” The cuts are likely due to a combination of the lower price of oil and Western sanctions against Russia.
After these cuts take effect, Russia’s total annual military budget will be roughly the same as the increase in the U.S. military budget proposed by President Trump ($54 billion).
Danielle Ryan, “So Much for the Russian Threat: Putin Slashes Defense Spending While Trump Plans Massive Buildup,” Salon, March 19, 2017.
U.S. to Reconsider Eventual Goal of Nuclear Disarmament
Christopher Ford, senior director on the National Security Council for weapons of mass destruction and counter-proliferation, told a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace conference that the Trump administration is reconsidering the long-standing U.S. goal of eventual global nuclear disarmament.
Ford implied that because of the U.S. plans to “modernize” its nuclear arsenal and production infrastructure, “It’s not totally obvious that we can continue to have it both ways in that respect for the foreseeable future.”
Rachel Oswald, “NSC Official: Trump May Abandon Goal of Nuclear Disarmament,” Roll Call, March 21, 2017.
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 threats that have taken place in the month of April, including the April 4, 1949 creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
Toward a Fundamental Change in Nuclear Weapons Policy
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is co-sponsoring a conference in Washington, DC on April 27 entitled “Toward a Fundamental Change in Nuclear Weapons Policy.” The conference will be convened by Soka Gakkai International-USA and will take place at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center.
Current realities call for a transformational change in nuclear weapons policy. This all-day conference will bring together scientists, policy experts, and religious leaders to discuss what must be done to pave the way for a nuclear weapons-free world.
The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For more information and to register, click here.
Intensive Summer Program: Hiroshima and Peace
Hiroshima City University will offer its intensive summer program “Hiroshima and Peace” to students from abroad and in Japan. The course aims to share recent advances of peace studies and to underline the importance of world peace in our age.
The Hiroshima and Peace program provides participants with an opportunity to think seriously about the importance of peacemaking in the world. The program consists of a series of lectures by specialists in different fields related to peace studies, discussions, and several featured programs, including testimony from a survivor of the atomic bombing, visits to the Atomic-bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Museum, and participation in the Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6th.
For more information about the course, click here.
Marshall Islands Student Association Project
The Marshall Islands Students Association (MISA) in Fiji is asking for members of the public to join them in solidarity as they urge Pacific leaders to prioritize Sustainable Development Goal 14.1 regarding land-based pollutants, which has been pushed to the chopping block by many technical agencies citing lack of data.
A dome located on Runit Island in Enewatak Atoll holds a portion of the most toxic and contaminated garbage generated by 67 nuclear and thermonuclear bomb tests conducted by the U.S. on Enewetak and Bikini Atoll. The rest of the fallout will remain spread across the islands for tens of thousands of years. This is not only a concern for the Marshall Islands, but one that concerns all in the region. Nuclear contamination does not respect any border or boundaries.
MISA is calling for submissions in solidarity through poetry, dance, art and photos. For more information, visit the MISA Facebook page.
Letter in The New York Times
The New York Times published a letter to the editor written by Rick Wayman, NAPF’s Director of Programs and Operations, on March 15. Wayman wrote the letter in response to a report about calls for Europe to develop its own nuclear arsenal.
He wrote in part, “Those in Europe arguing in favor of a continental nuclear arsenal are heavy on politics, but glaringly light on law and humanity.”
To read the full letter, click here.
Video Featuring Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 16th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future featured legendary Hollywood director Oliver Stone and Professor Peter Kuznick, co-authors of the internationally-acclaimed documentary The Untold History of the United States.
The event, entitled “Untold History, Uncertain Future,” took place on February 23 at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. A video of the event is now available to watch for free on YouTube. Click here for the video.
NAPF Participates in Ban Treaty Negotiations
Numerous representatives of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation participated in the first round of the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Toward Their Total Elimination, which took place from March 27-31 at UN headquarters in New York. NAPF Director of Programs Rick Wayman chaired a side event on March 28 entitled “U.S. Nuclear Modernization Under President Trump: Implications for the Ban Treaty Process.”
Wayman also wrote an article for the Nuclear Ban Daily, a publication by Reaching Critical Will that was distributed to NGOs and delegates on each day of the negotiations. His article was entitled “‘Modernization’ Violates Every Likely Prohibition in Ban Treaty.” To read the article, click here.
Peace Poetry Contest Now Accepting Entries
April marks National Poetry Month. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s annual Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry contest is accepting entries through July 1, 2017. The awards encourage poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit. The Poetry Awards include three age categories: Adult, Youth 13-18, and Youth 12 & Under.
The contest is open to people worldwide. Poems must be original, unpublished, and in English.
For more information on the contest, including instructions on how to enter, click here. To read the winning poems from past years, click here.
Peace Literacy in an Age of Anger
NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell recently visited Corvallis, Oregon, to deliver a workshop on Peace Literacy. The Corvallis Advocate published an article about Chappell’s Peace Literacy concept.
In her introduction of Paul K. Chappell at the Oregon State University (OSU) event, Allison Davis White-Eyes—OSU’s Assistant Vice Provost and Director of Diversity and Cultural Engagement—described how, “It has become more clear that we must find a way to speak to one another, to listen to one another [and] to reach across the great ideological divide of our country. The time is now.”
To read the full article, click here.
“Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread.”
— Pablo Neruda. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available for purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.
“There is no such thing as a limited nuclear war, and the United States should be seeking to raise the threshold for nuclear use, not blur that threshold by building additional so-called low-yield weapons.”
— Twelve U.S. Senators in a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
“We are going to be having an increase in the movements of weapons in coming years and we should be worried. We always have to assume the worst-case scenario when we are hauling nuclear weapons around the country.”
— Robert Alvarez, in a Los Angeles Times story about the troubled federal agency tasked with transporting U.S. nuclear weapons around the country.