Issue #217 – August 2015
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Reflections on the 70th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombings
On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing some 90,000 people immediately and another 55,000 by the end of 1945. Three days later, the United States dropped another atomic bomb on Nagasaki, killing some 40,000 people immediately and another 35,000 by the end of 1945. In between these two bombings, on August 8, 1945, the U.S. signed the charter creating the Nuremberg Tribunal to hold Axis leaders to account for crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Under well-established international humanitarian law – the law of warfare – war crimes include using weapons that do not distinguish between civilians and combatants or that cause unnecessary suffering. Because nuclear weapons kill indiscriminately and cause unnecessary suffering by radiation poisoning (among other grotesque consequences), the U.S. was itself in the act of committing war crimes at Hiroshima and Nagasaki while agreeing to hold its defeated opponents in World War II to account for their war crimes. To read more, click here.
Hibakusha Thoughts on the 70th Anniversary
Shigeko Sasamori, 83, a survivor of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, said, “People cannot live forever. People die from natural causes such as illness and disease and from natural disasters such as floods, fires, and earthquakes, but war claims the most lives. People start wars. People should stop wars.” Setsuko Thurlow, also 83 and a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, said, “The first thought that comes to me is the image of my four-year-old nephew Eiji transformed to a charred, blackened child who died in agony. Had he not been a victim of the atomic bomb, he would have been 74 years old this year. This shocked me. Regardless of the passage of time, he remains in my memory as a four-year-old child, who came to represent all the innocent children of the world. This has been the driving, compelling force for me to continue my struggle against the ultimate evil of nuclear weapons. His image is burned into my retina.” To read more, click here.
Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
Marshall Islands Files Appeal in Ninth Circuit
On July 13, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed an Appeal Brief at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of its Nuclear Zero Lawsuit against the United States. Laurie Ashton, lead attorney for the Marshall Islands in this case, said, “While the United States has the world focused on nonproliferation measures across the globe, it is in flagrant breach of its obligation to negotiate complete nuclear disarmament. It refuses to discuss any timetable whatsoever to achieve nuclear disarmament, and is instead actually modernizing its nuclear arsenal with new capabilities to last decades into the future at a budget of approximately $1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion dollars). The lawsuit brings these breaches to Court, forcing the U.S. to respond in public.” “Marshall Islands Appeals U.S. Court’s Dismissal of Nuclear Zero Lawsuit,” Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, July 13, 2015.
Numerous Amicus Curiae Briefs in Support of the Marshall Islands
Six amicus curiae briefs have been filed at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Zero Lawsuit against the United States. Briefs were filed by parties representing a diverse group of interests, including human rights, the environment, religion, labor, medicine, nuclear non-proliferation, peace, science and international law. An amicus curiae letter was submitted by six U.S. mayors. The amicus curiae briefs and letter, along with all other court documents related to the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits, can be accessed online at www.nuclearzero.org/in-the-courts. “Strong Support for Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Zero Lawsuit,” Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, July 21, 2015.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
Misuse of Taxpayer Funds at Sandia National Laboratory
Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman’s November 2014 report has revealed that Sandia National Laboratories illegally lobbied senior Obama administration officials in an attempt to attain an extension on their federal contract to keep Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMC) in control at Sandia. The new contract would extend LMC’s position at Sandia for seven years (with an opportunity for a subsequent 5-year renewal) and grant total revenues in excess of $16 billion. LMC and Sandia’s use of federal funds to influence officials and prevent competition is a violation of federal law and of their contract. In his report, Friedman states this is not the first time that Sandia has engaged in these practices.
Patrick Malone, “Nuclear Weapons Lab Lobbied with Federal Funds to Block Competition for Lucrative Contract,” Center for Public Integrity, July 8, 2015.
Iran and P5+1 Reach Nuclear Deal
After years of negotiations beginning in 2006, the Iran Nuclear deal was signed on July 14, limiting Iranian nuclear activity in return for the lifting of international economic sanctions. The deal will oblige Iran to remove two-thirds of its installed centrifuges and store them under international supervision, get rid of 98% of its enriched uranium, accept that sanctions would be rapidly restored if the deal were violated, and permanently give the International Atomic Energy Agency access “where necessary when necessary.” In return, international economic sanctions will slowly be lifted, with an arms embargo remaining in place for five years and an embargo on missiles for eight years. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation recently issued an Action Alert in support of the Iran deal, calling on members of the U.S. Congress to approve the deal during its 60-day review period. Click here to take action. Jeremy Bowen, “Iran Nuclear Talks: ‘Historic’ Agreement Struck,” BBC News, July 14, 2015.
U.S. Conducts Flight Test of New B61-12 Nuclear Bomb
The U.S. Air Force and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have conducted their first development flight test of the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb. “Achieving the first complete B61-12 flight test provides clear evidence of the nation’s continued commitment to maintain the B61 and provides assurance to our allies,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Dr. Don Cook. The refurbishments are intended to extend the bomb’s lifespan while also improving its accuracy and efficiency. The B61 has been in use since its creation in the 1960s, and the Pentagon has requested additional funds for the B61’s next life-extension program to continue updates. At $11 billion, this future program would be the most expensive nuclear weapons refurbishment in history. Critics argue that the B61-12 Life Extension Program is unnecessary and provides new military capabilities, contrary to President Obama’s promise not to introduce nuclear weapons with new military capabilities. Mark Prigg, “Air Force Drops Dummy Nuclear Bomb in Nevada in First Controversial Test to Update Cold War Arsenal,” Daily Mail, July 8, 2015.
War and Peace
Japanese Government Seeks to Reinterpret Peace Article in Constitution
In a victory for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his party, the lower house of the Diet approved legislation that would allow Japanese military forces to engage in foreign conflicts for the first time since World War II. The largely unpopular vote, reached as demonstrators protested outside of Parliament, culminates months of debate over Japan’s departure from a 70-year tradition of pacifism. The Diet’s upper house, set to discuss the issue in coming weeks, is expected to vote in favor as well. Abe’s push for the legislation fits into his agenda of leading Japan beyond remorse for its past military actions, and towards a future as an integrated player on the world stage. He claims the bill’s passage will enable Japan to better provide for regional security, citing China’s expansionist aggression as a key concern. Critics argue that the legislation violates Japan’s postwar constitutional charter, which relinquishes the state’s right to “war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.” Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan states: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.” Jonathan Soble, “Japan Moves to Allow Military Combat for First Time in 70 Years,” The New York Times, July 16, 2015.
Companies Responsible for Contamination at Rocky Flats
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has ruled that Dow Chemical Co. and Rockwell International Corp. should be held liable for nuisance claims regarding the detrimental misconduct of the Rocky Flats nuclear plant in Colorado. The charges were brought against Dow and Rockwell by local landowners who suffered damages from contaminated soil and water as a result of the plant’s mishandling of highly radioactive waste. The plant was closed in 1989 when FBI raided Rocky Flats and found evidence of the contamination. For the last 25 years, the parties have been embroiled in litigation. Scott Flaherty, “Major Fallout in Rocky Flats Case,” The National Law Journal, June 29, 2015.
August’s Featured Blog
This month’s featured blog is the Peace and Health Blog of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). IPPNW, the 1985 Nobel Peace Laureate for its work for the abolition of nuclear weapons, is a leading voice in support of the Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Zero Lawsuits and the international effort to achieve a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Recent titles on the blog include, “What’s Good for Iran is Good for the Nuclear-Armed States,” and “2015 NPT Review Conference Outcome is the Humanitarian Pledge.” 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 August. To read Mason’s full article, click here. This month is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
Sadako Peace Day is August 6
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will hold its 21st Annual Sadako Peace Day commemoration event on Thursday, August 6. This year’s event, which falls on the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, remembers the victims of the U.S. atomic bombings and all innocent victims of war. NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell will deliver the keynote address. The program also includes music, poetry and reflection. Click here to view the invitation. The event will take place at 6:00 p.m. at the Sadako Peace Garden at La Casa de Maria – 800 El Bosque Road, Montecito, California. The event is free and open to the public.
Paul Chappell in Sojourners Magazine
Paul K. Chappell, Peace Leadership Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, is featured in the August edition of Sojourners Magazine. Paul was interviewed by Sojourners writer Catherine Woodiwiss on a recent peace leadership lecture tour in Washington, DC. Woodiwiss writes, “Chappell follows a great tradition of 20th century nonviolent thinkers, from Mahatma Gandhi to Dorothy Day to Martin Luther King Jr. For those asking what waging peace looks like in practice, Chappell’s language of active precision calls to mind King’s casting of nonviolence as a ‘powerful and just weapon’ that cuts without wounding.” To read the full Sojourners article, click here. The article was reprinted with permission from Sojourners, (800) 714-7474, www.sojo.net.
NAPF President David Krieger to Speak in Maui
David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, will be the featured speaker at an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The event will take place on August 6 at 6:30 pm at the University of Hawaii Maui College. It is organized by Maui Peace Action. Click here to download a flyer with more information.
International Youth Summit for Nuclear Abolition
Rick Wayman, NAPF’s Director of Programs, will co-chair the International Youth Summit for Nuclear Abolition in Hiroshima, Japan, on August 30. Organizers expect approximately 300 young people to gather in Hiroshima to learn more about the urgent need to abolish nuclear weapons and to collectively make a “youth pledge” to commit to working for nuclear abolition. Click here for more information about the summit, including registration details and livestream information.
Evening for Peace Honoring Setsuko Thurlow
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Annual Evening for Peace will take place on October 25, 2015 in Santa Barbara, California. The Foundation will present its Distinguished Peace Leadership Award to Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and an outspoken advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Click here for more information about the Evening for Peace, including sponsorship opportunities, ticket information and details about this year’s honoree.
“What is good for Iran—and for the other 185 nuclear-weapon-free NPT member states—is good for the nine nuclear-armed states and for the world as a whole. A treaty banning nuclear weapons, negotiated and adopted by non-nuclear states, would send an unmistakable signal to the US, Russia, China, the UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and the DPRK that continuing to possess nuclear weapons is the act of an international outlaw, and that eliminating those arsenals is an obligation that can no longer be deferred.” — International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, in response to the deal struck between Iran and the P5+1.
“What the Hiroshima survivors are telling us is that no one else should ever go through the experience they suffered. An atomic bombing creates a living hell on Earth where the living envy the dead.” — Tadatoshi Akiba, former mayor of Hiroshima. This quote is featured in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, available online in the NAPF Peace Store.
“The military capabilities of this weapon stem from a totally fictitious and bizarre idea that the United States can fight and win nuclear wars.” — Theodore Postol, Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology and National Security Policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, referring to the B61-12 nuclear bomb currently being modernized and tested by the United States.
Susanna Faulds Fiona Hayman McKenna Jacquemet David Krieger Carol Warner Rick Wayman