Issue #209 – December 2014
We at NAPF work diligently because peace requires leadership, and because every man, woman and child deserves to live free from the threat of nuclear devastation. But we can’t do it alone. Please consider making a donation today to support this important work, including The Sunflower. Every dollar counts toward creating a safer, more secure world.
On Modernizing the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal
The Los Angeles Times ran front-page articles on November 9 and 10, 2014, on modernizing the US nuclear arsenal. Both were long articles and the authors made the case that there is no choice but for the United States to modernize its nuclear arsenal, delivery systems and infrastructure at great expense to taxpayers, estimated at $1 trillion over the next three decades.
The authors, reporters for the newspaper, write, “The Defense Department’s fleet of submarines, bombers and land-based missiles is also facing obsolescence and will have to be replaced over the next two decades, raising the prospect of further multibillion-dollar cost escalations.” This statement might be acceptable as a quote from a Defense Department official or in an opinion piece, but it hardly reflects the objectivity of professional reporters. It sounds more like an unattributed statement from a Defense Department official or from a “defense” corporation press release.
To read more, click here.
Wage Peace, End Racism
If anyone doubts that attitudes toward race have improved in America, they should follow what is going on with the Ku Klux Klan. Being part black and from Alabama, I have been following this for a while now. The Ku Klux Klan is so desperate for new members that many people in the KKK are trying to reach out to people who are not traditionally considered white. When my African American father was born in the South in 1925, the KKK had millions of members (back then the United States had a little over 100 million people). Today it only has between 5,000 to 8,000 members in a country of over 300 million.
To read more, click here.
Nuclear Weapons and the International Security Context
At the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, states parties reaffirmed their commitment to a “diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies to minimize the risk that these weapons ever be used and to facilitate the process of their total elimination.” Nearly five years have passed; another Review Conference is in the offing. Nuclear stockpiles of civilization-destroying size persist, and progress on disarmament has stalled.
The commitment to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in security policies assumed that de-coupling nuclear weapons from conventional military forces would help facilitate elimination of nuclear arsenals. Yet there has been little progress in reducing the role of nuclear weapons. All nuclear-armed states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals.
To read more, click here.
Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
Greenpeace Champions the Marshall Islands
Greenpeace, the most inclusive, people-powered collective movement in the world, is lending its strong support to the Marshall Islands and the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits. In doing so, they are sending a clear message to the world that it is long past time for the nuclear Goliaths to begin negotiations for nuclear disarmament.
Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, said, “We stand with the people of the Marshall Islands in their fight to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Having seen their land, sea and people poisoned by radiation, they are now taking to task the nine nuclear-armed nations for failing to eliminate this danger which threatens humanity at large. Greenpeace salutes their struggle and joins them in declaring that Zero is the only safe number of nuclear weapons on the planet.”
“Greenpeace Champions the Marshall Islands,” Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, November 19, 2014.
Vienna Forum Features the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
The International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation are co-sponsoring a public forum on Friday, December 5, at the Vienna University of Technology in Vienna, Austria. The forum will feature a wide array of speakers, including: Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands; Christopher Weeramantry, former Vice President of the International Court of Justice; Phon van den Biesen, co-agent of the Marshall Islands in the lawsuits before the ICJ; Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs; and David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
The forum will take place from 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
Click here to download a flyer for the event.
NuclearZero.Org Now Available in Spanish
The nuclearzero.org website (including the petition in support of the Marshall Islands) is now available in Spanish at www.nuclearzero.org/es. Please pass it on to your friends and colleagues in Spanish-speaking countries so that they can express their support for the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
More Firings in Air Force Nuclear Ranks
Continuing a long string of disciplinary actions, the U.S. Air Force fired two commanders from two of its nuclear missile bases in Wyoming and North Dakota. Col. Carl Jones was the No. 2 commander of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. He was in charge of 150 of the Air Force’s 450 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. He was dismissed “for a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership abilities.”
Last March, nine officers were fired at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, which is the third of the three nuclear missile bases, in response to an exam-cheating scandal there. Last year, Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, commander of the entire ICBM force, was fired after an investigation into a drinking binge and other misconduct while he was in Russia as head of a visiting U.S. government delegation.
Robert Burns, “2 Nuclear Commanders Fired, Another Disciplined,” Associated Press, November 3, 2014.
United States Will Attend Vienna Conference
The United States has announced that it will attend the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, to be held on December 8-9 in Vienna, Austria. The U.S. openly boycotted the first two conferences on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, held in Norway in 2013 and Mexico in 2014.
While the U.S. claims that it fully understands “the serious consequences of nuclear weapons use and gives the highest priority to avoiding their use,” it continues to possess thousands of nuclear weapons, many of which are on hair-trigger alert, ready to be fired at a moment’s notice.
“United States Will Attend the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons,” U.S. State Department, November 7, 2014.
Iran Nuclear Negotiations Miss Another Deadline
Negotiators have missed the deadline of November 24 to reach a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, giving themselves an additional seven months to strike a deal. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that “we would be fools to walk away” since temporary restrictions curbing Iran’s nuclear program would stay in place while negotiations continue.
Negotiations are scheduled to resume before the end of the year.
David Sanger and Michael Gordon, “U.S. and Allies Extend Iran Nuclear Talks by 7 Months,” The New York Times, November 25, 2014.
French Polynesia to Sue France Over Nuclear Tests
The French Polynesia Assembly is preparing to sue the French government for nearly $1 billion in compensation for damage caused to the islands by nuclear weapons tests.
The Tahoera’a Huiraatira party committee, acting independently of Polynesian President Edouard Fritch, seeks $930 million for environmental damage caused by 210 French nuclear tests conducted from 1966 to 1996 off secluded atolls in the South Pacific.
Rose Troup Buchanan, “South Pacific Islands Prepare to Sue French Government for $1 Billion Over Nuclear Tests,” The Independent, November 24, 2014.
North Korea Threatens Fourth Nuclear Test
Reacting to “political provocation” from the United Nations, North Korean officials said that the country had no option but to consider an additional nuclear test so that their “war deterrent will be strengthened infinitely in the face of the United States’ plot for armed interference and invasion.” North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests since 2006, all of which were factors in the UN committee vote urging the Security Council to refer North Korean leaders to the International Criminal Court.
Choe Sang-Hun, “North Korea Threatens to Conduct Nuclear Test,” The New York Times, Nov. 20, 2014.
Don’t Bank on the Bomb
Don’t Bank on the Bomb identifies financial institutions that invest heavily in companies involved in the US, British, French, Indian and Israeli nuclear weapon programs. The report is published by PAX, a partner of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
The nuclear-armed nations spend a combined total of more than USD 100 billion on their nuclear forces every year. This money goes towards assembling new warheads, modernizing old ones, and building missiles, launchers and the supporting technology to use them. While the majority of that comes from taxpayers in the nuclear-armed countries, this report shows that private sector investors from many non-nuclear-armed countries also provide financing that enables the production, maintenance and modernization of nuclear arsenals.
With this report, PAX, together with partners in ICAN, aims to increase transparency about the financing behind the bomb, and stimulate support for the stigmatization, outlawing and elimination of nuclear weapons.
Click here for more information and to read the report.
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 December, including U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s comments in 2008 that the U.S. President can order a nuclear attack at any moment without discussing it with anyone first.
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
Dream of a Nation
The Dream of a Nation Education Initiative is reaching hundreds of thousands of students across the United States. Based on the inspiring book Dream of a Nation, the classroom set is now being used in courses ranging from English Language, to American History, Economics and Environmental Studies.
NAPF President David Krieger wrote a chapter entitled “Creating a World Without Nuclear Weapons” for Dream of a Nation. The book includes contributions from many other top thinkers and activists dedicated to making the world a better place.
Copies of the book are now available for only the cost of shipping. Click here for more information and to order.
Peace Leadership in Minnesota
Despite unseasonable record cold and early snow, Paul K. Chappell, Peace Leadership Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, inspired a crowd of activists, students, veterans, and concerned citizens in a five-day tour though Minneapolis and St. Paul. Events included a one-day peace leadership workshop at the First Unitarian Church, a public forum at Plymouth Congregational Church, university talks at Augsburg College and the University of St. Thomas, and a keynote speech at the 19th annual celebration of the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers with about 300 people in attendance.
To read more about Paul Chappell’s recent trip to Minnesota, click here.
NAPF Activities in Vienna
In addition to participating in the ICAN Civil Society Forum in Vienna, Austria (see Resources, above), David Krieger, Rick Wayman and Alice Slater of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will be involved in many other activities in Vienna in early December.
On December 5, NAPF is co-sponsoring a public forum with the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) about the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits. The forum will feature Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum, NAPF President David Krieger, Judge Christopher Weeramantry, Phon van den Biesen of IALANA, and Marylia Kelley of Tri-Valley CAREs.
On December 8 and 9, the NAPF representatives will attend the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, hosted by the Foreign Ministry of Austria. Around 150 countries are expected to send representatives to the conference.
“I think any honest person with an ounce of common sense realizes that the only real path to higher morale in the nuclear weapons business lies in gradually shutting it down, starting with the most stupid parts first. The hope that the nuclear sword of Damocles can finally be lifted, reinforced by gradual progress, is what can bring higher morale — and only that.”
— Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group, commenting on U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s plan to increase the Pentagon’s investment in nuclear weapons by 10%.
“I believe that peace is a basic human right for every individual and all people. War is a negation and deprivation of all human rights, for life, property, liberty, and should be abolished.”
— Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate and NAPF Advisor, speaking at Fondazione Patrizio Paoletti and Commune of Assisi on November 23, 2014.
“One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.”
— Martin Luther King, Jr. This quote is featured in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, available from the NAPF Peace Store.