Sunflower Newsletter: April 2019

By |2019-04-03T15:04:21-07:00April 3, 2019|

Issue #261 – April 2019

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Perspectives

  • Humanity Is Flirting with Extinction by David Krieger
  • In Her Own Words by Judith Lipton
  • Making Nuclear Weapons Menacing Again by Michael Klare

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

  • U.S. Proposed 2020 Nuclear Weapons Budget Rises Yet Again
  • Top General Supports Continuing to Threaten to Use Nuclear Weapons First
  • U.S. Plans Tests of Previously Banned Intermediate-Range Missiles

Nuclear Disarmament

  • Setsuko Thurlow Visits Pope Francis to Discuss Nuclear Disarmament
  • City and State Resolutions Throughout the U.S.

Diplomacy

  • Trump Demanded North Korea Hand Over Nuclear Weapons to the U.S.
  • Space Peace Treaty Talks Fail

Resources

  • This Spring in Nuclear Threat History
  • Updated Edition of The Untold History of the United States

Foundation Activities

  • 2019 Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future
  • Accelerating Sustainable Development Goals Through Peace Literacy
  • 2019 Poetry Contest
  • Celebrate Earth Day with Seeds of Peace

Take Action

  • Stop a New “Low-Yield” Nuclear Weapon
  • Sacred Peace Walk in Nevada

Quotes

Perspectives

Humanity Is Flirting with Extinction

The most stunning and frightening truth about the nuclear age is this: Nuclear weapons are capable of destroying civilization and most complex life on the planet, yet next to nothing is being done about it. Humanity is flirting with extinction and is experiencing the “frog’s malaise.” It is as though the human species has been placed into a pot of tepid water — metaphorically with regard to nuclear dangers and literally with regard to climate change — and appears to be calmly treading water while the temperature rises toward the boiling point.

To read the full op-ed in The Hill, click here.

In Her Own Words

In the most recent installment of NAPF’s Women Waging Peace campaign, Dr. Judith Lipton talks about her decades of work on issues around war, sex, human nature, and nuclear weapons.

Look around you at this very moment. Where are you? What do you treasure? The scenery? The features of a building where you sit or stand or see? Creatures, great and small, near and far. Your friends, relatives, children, grandchildren, Your food. Your body, with its breaths and heartbeats? Your future? That of others?

Now try to imagine nothingness. Extinction. Everything totally gone forever. We are trying to save life on earth. There is nothing more important.

To read the full interview with Dr. Lipton, click here.

Making Nuclear Weapons Menacing Again

“Recapitalize,” “modernize,” “replace”: These are the anodyne terms being used by the Pentagon and the Trump administration to describe their exorbitant plans to overhaul America’s nuclear arsenal. With great-power conflict now the defining theme in US military strategy, the administration seeks weapons that can overawe Russia and China. At the same time, White House officials—led by National Security Adviser John Bolton—seek to extinguish any remaining arms-control agreements that might constrain U.S. arms-acquisition efforts.

To read the full op-ed in The Nation, click here.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

U.S. Proposed 2020 Nuclear Weapons Budget Rises Yet Again

After weeks of delay due to the extended U.S. government shutdown, the Trump administration released its draft 2020 budget, which included yet another significant rise in funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy that is responsible for development and maintenance of the nation’s nuclear warheads.

The requested 2020 budget figure of $12.4 billion for NNSA nuclear weapons activities represents an 8.3% rise over the 2019 budget. The U.S. also spends many of billions of dollars on nuclear weapons through other departments, most notably the Department of Defense, which is responsible for nuclear weapons delivery systems such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines, and aircraft.

Aaron Mehta, “Trump Budget Increases Funding for Nuclear Weapons Agency Amid New Production,” Defense News, March 11, 2019.

Top General Supports Continuing to Threaten to Use Nuclear Weapons First

Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that he supports the United States’ policy of threatening to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict. Dunford said, “I absolutely believe that the current policy is the right policy.” He continued, “I can also imagine a few situations where we wouldn’t want to remove that option from the president.”

Numerous candidates running for president in 2020, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, have supported the U.S. declaring a policy of “no first use,” and bills have been introduced in the House and Senate calling for such action.

Lauren Meier, “Top General Opposes Shift to ‘No First Use’ Nuclear Doctrine,” Washington Times, March 14, 2019.

U.S. Plans Tests of Previously Banned Intermediate-Range Missiles

Following President Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, the Pentagon announced plans to test missiles that were banned under the treaty for over 30 years. Officials said that two types of missiles would be developed: a cruise missile with a range of around 1,000 kilometers, and a ballistic missile with a range of 3,000-4,000 kilometers. The officials claimed that neither new missile would be nuclear-armed.

Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, said, “It is unwise for the U.S. and NATO to match an unhelpful action by Russia with another unhelpful action. If the United States tries to bully NATO into accepting deployment of such missiles, it is going to provoke a destabilizing action-reaction cycle and missile race.”

Robert Burns, “Pentagon Plans Tests of Long-Banned Types of Missiles,” Associated Press, March 13, 2019.

Nuclear Disarmament

Setsuko Thurlow Visits Pope Francis to Discuss Nuclear Disarmament

Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and a member of the NAPF Advisory Council, met with Pope Francis in March to discuss nuclear disarmament. Thurlow, 87, was 13 years old when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on her city in 1945. Her moving testimony about this incident is available here, in a video from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 2015 Evening for Peace, which honored her lifetime of work for nuclear abolition.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Japan, including the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in November.

A-bomb Survivor Urges Nuke Abolition in Audience with Pope,” Kyodo News, March 21, 2019.

City and State Resolutions Throughout the U.S.

Numerous cities and states have passed, or are in the process of passing, resolutions calling on the United States government to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and step back from the brink of nuclear war.

Washington, DC passed a resolution in March, and Salt Lake City, Utah unanimously passed a resolution on April 2. Resolutions are currently pending in the state legislatures of Oregon and Hawaii. This builds on the trend set in 2018 by Baltimore, Los Angeles, and the state of California.

If you are interested in getting your city or state to introduce a similar resolution, please contact NAPF Deputy Director Rick Wayman at rwayman@napf.org.

Diplomacy

Trump Demanded North Korea Hand Over Nuclear Weapons to the U.S.

At the Hanoi Summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in early 2019, Trump handed Kim a piece of paper containing a demand that North Korea hand over all its nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the United States. This idea was initially proposed by John Bolton in 2004, and he has revived it in his current position as National Security Adviser.

This new revelation about Bolton’s role in spoiling the Hanoi Summit is in addition to his demand that North Korea fully dismantle its chemical and biological weapons programs.

Lesley Wroughton and David Brunnstrom, “Exclusive: With a Piece of Paper, Trump Called on Kim to Hand Over Nuclear Weapons,” Reuters, March 29, 2019.

Space Peace Treaty Talks Fail

Diplomats at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) once again failed to achieve an outcome, as they could not agree on language that would ensure that space is used for peace. Russia and China have insisted on language that would prevent the deployment of certain types of military hardware in space. The United States disagrees, saying that it would be impossible to verify. The U.S. is also proceeding with President Trump’s plan for a new branch of the military called a “Space Force.”

While the negotiations were ongoing at the CD, India conducted a test of an anti-satellite weapon, and boasted that it had now joined the group of “space powers.”

UN Talks on Space Peace Treaty Fail to Reach Consensus,” Agence France Presse, March 29, 2019.

Resources

This Spring 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 spring, including U.S. President Donald Trump’s May 8, 2018 unilateral violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

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

Updated Edition of The Untold History of the United States

Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick have released an updated edition of their book, The Untold History of the United States, which now includes a chapter on the period 2012-19. In a new article in The Nation, Stone and Kuznick write, “It’s terrifying to contemplate how much more dangerous the world has become over the past six years. Things seemed precarious enough in late 2012, when we published our book, The Untold History of the United States, and began airing our 10-hour Showtime documentary. The situation seemed dire, but not desperate.” They continue, “The crises that seemed contained or containable in late 2012 have now
spiraled out of control, and the prospects for resolving them peacefully
look depressingly bleak.”

To read their article in The Nation, click here. For more information on the updated edition of their book, and to purchase a copy, click here.

Foundation Activities

2019 Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future

The 18th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future will take
place on Thursday, May 9, 2019, from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Karpeles
Manuscript Library in Santa Barbara, California.

This year’s speaker is Elaine Scarry. Scarry
teaches at Harvard University, where she is the Cabot Professor of
Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value. She lectures nationally and
internationally on nuclear war, law, literature, and medicine. The title
of her talk is “Thermonuclear Monarchy and a Sleeping Citizenry.”

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, click here.

Accelerating Sustainable Development Goals Through Peace Literacy

In 2015, all countries of the United Nations agreed to a set of 17 global sustainable development goals (SDGs) to be reached by 2030. This was a remarkable achievement as it represents the first time in history that all nations have agreed to a shared vision of the future for people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. Peace Literacy offers a new way of thinking about peace that can help bring this shared vision into clearer focus and accelerate progress toward all SDGs.

A new Concept Note, prepared by Dr. Sharyn Clough of Oregon State University, in collaboration with NAPF staff members and many others, outlines how Peace Literacy can help the world achieve these ambitious and essential goals

To read the Concept Note, click here.

2019 Poetry Contest

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 2019 Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards is accepting submissions through July 1. The contest encourages 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.

For more information on the contest, click here.

Celebrate Earth Day with Seeds of Peace

The newest item in the NAPF Peace Store is here just in time for Earth Day. Our “Seeds of Peace” are packets of sunflower seeds that you can plant, nurture, and share.

Sunflowers were used near Chernobyl to extract radionuclides cesium 137 and strontium 90 from contaminated ponds following the catastrophic nuclear reactor accident there. Now sunflowers 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 weapons free state. On June 1, 1996, Ukraine transferred the last of the 1,900 nuclear warheads it had inherited from the former Soviet Union to Russia for dismantlement. Celebrating the occasion a few days later, the Defense Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, and the United States planted sunflower seeds at a former nuclear missile base in Ukraine that once housed 80 SS-19 missiles aimed at the United States.

The seeds are available to be shipped within the United States. Each packet is $2.00 including shipping. To order, click here.

Take Action

Stop a New “Low-Yield” Nuclear Weapon

Bills in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, S.401 and H.R. 1086, seek to stop the U.S. from developing a dangerous and destabilizing new low-yield nuclear warhead to be carried on U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

The “Hold the Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive (Hold the LYNE) Act” was introduced by Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Ted Lieu. A new “low-yield” nuclear weapon risks dangerously
lowering the threshold for nuclear use by adding emphasis on low-yield options and increases the risk of miscalculation in a crisis.

Click here to take action.

Sacred Peace Walk in Nevada

Nevada Desert Experience is organizing a peace walk from April 13-19 to declare that Nevada is not a wasteland, and to discourage the government from desecrating Yucca Mountain with nuclear waste. Marchers will walk from Las Vegas to the Nevada National Security Site (formerly known as the Nevada Test Site).

You are invited to join the walk. For more information, visit the Nevada Desert Experience website. A short video about the walk is here.

Quotes

“Why is war such an easy option? Why does peace remain such an elusive goal? We know statesmen skilled at waging war, but where are those dedicated enough to humanity to find a way to avoid war?”

Elie Wiesel. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available to purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.

“The human species’ survival is dependent on our collective courage to eliminate nuclear weapons once and for all.”

H.E. Retno L.P. Marsudi, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, speaking at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on April 2, 2019.

“When we went over to Nagasaki, it was total devastation. It was like a landscape in hell…. It was acres of mud, with bones and hair sticking up out of it. And as I’ve said before, it really made me an instant pacifist. Up to that time, I’d been a good American boy, in the boy scouts, etc…Nagasaki really woke me up.”

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a legendary American poet who turned 100 on March 31, in an interview with NAPF Advisory Council member Robert Scheer.

Editorial Team

David Krieger
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman