Issue #211 – February 2015
|The Nuclear Zero Lawsuits are proceeding at the International Court of Justice and U.S. Federal District Court. Sign the petition supporting the Marshall Islands’ courageous stand, and stay up to date on progress at www.nuclearzero.org.|
The 2015 State of the Union Address: A Major Omission
When President Obama first took office he was deeply concerned about nuclear disarmament. We might well ask not only what happened to “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” but what happened to President Obama’s commitment?
Mr. President, we live in an unpredictable world, but it is predictable based on history that nuclear weapons and human fallibility are a dangerous and highly flammable mix. Nuclear weapons, including our own, threaten all Americans and all humanity. Don’t give up on the essential quest for a Nuclear Zero world, which you seemed so eager to achieve upon assuming office.
To read more, click here.
Three Minutes to Midnight
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has just announced its latest nuclear Doomsday Clock moving ahead the minute hand to three minutes till midnight. The clock represents the count down to zero in minutes to nuclear apocalypse – midnight. This significant move of TWO minutes is the 22nd time since its inception in 1947 that the time has been changed.
In moving the hand to 3 minutes to midnight, Kennette Benedict the Executive Director of the Bulletin, identified in her comments: “the probability of global catastrophe is very high”… “the choice is ours and the clock is ticking”…”we feel the need to warn the world” …”the decision was based on a very strong feeling of urgency”. She spoke to the dangers of both nuclear weapons and climate change saying, “they are both very difficult and we are ignoring them” and emphasized “this is about doomsday, this is about the end of civilization as we know it”.
To read more, click here.
The Marshall Islands Versus the World’s Nuclear Weapons States
Last April, in an extraordinary and commendable act of chutzpah, RMI sued all nine states currently possessing nuclear weapons – the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – accusing them of violating their duty to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of those horrific weapons.
One effect of the RMI initiative is to throw a spotlight on the policies of the nuclear weapons states, which claim to be committed to a nuclear weapons-free world while showing not the slightest willingness to reach that goal. Reduction, which can go on forever, is fundamentally different from elimination, which reaches an end point. The legal obligation to conclude negotiations for complete nuclear disarmament is not met by shrinking a nation’s nuclear arsenal from 600 to 300 weapons, as France has done, nor by the agreement between the United States and Russia to reduce the stockpile of deployed long-range nuclear warheads each to 1,550 by 2018, as was done in the New START Treaty negotiated in 2010.
To read more, click here.
Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
Nuclear Zero Lawsuits Featured on Australian Morning News
A story about the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits aired on “Sunrise,” Australia’s largest morning TV show. Dr. Keith Suter, Foreign Editor for the program, discussed the lawsuits and the important issues that the Marshall Islands is raising.
To see many of the media stories published since the Marshall Islands filed the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits in April 2014, click here.
“Decades Since U.S. Nuclear Tests,” Sunrise, January 18, 2015.
Oral Arguments in U.S. Federal District Court Lawsuit
On January 16, Judge Jeffrey White heard oral arguments in the lawsuit filed by the Marshall Islands against the United States in U.S. Federal District Court. The hearing focused on the U.S. Motion to Dismiss.
Laurie Ashton, representing the Marshall Islands from the firm Keller Rohrback, said at the hearing that there is “an increased risk of nuclear detonation every time the U.S. refuses to negotiate disarmament.”
Prior to the hearing, Judge White issued a tentative ruling granting the Motion to Dismiss. However, he has taken the matter under advisement after the oral arguments and has not yet delivered a final ruling.
Katherine Proctor, “Marshall Islands, Feds Argue Disarmament,” Courthouse News Service, January 16, 2015.
Nuclear Zero Profiles
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has launched a series of profiles featuring people from the Marshall Islands who have been significantly impacted by U.S. nuclear weapon tests. A new profile will be published each Friday for the next few weeks on the NAPF Facebook page.
Profiles have already been published of John Anjain, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and Lijon Eknilang.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
Air Force Piles on Requests
The United States is preparing to develop and build a new generation of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) for the Air Force. ICBMs are the land-based leg of the “nuclear triad,” which many experts believe to be unnecessary and highly dangerous.
The Air Force’s ICBM force is largely designed to be a sponge to absorb part of a massive hypothetical Cold War-style Soviet nuclear attack. “An adversary would have to fire hundreds, if not thousands, of missiles to eliminate that leg of the triad,” said Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association. The only potential adversary capable of doing so is Russia.
Dave Majumdar, “$348 Billion in Nukes Ain’t Enough. The Air Force Wants New ICBMs Too,” The Daily Beast, January 28, 2015.
Doomsday Planes to Be Updated
The United States will update its four E-4B flying command posts that would be used by its leaders to manage military operations in a nuclear war. The planes will receive communications upgrades to enhance their ‘connectivity’ during a nuclear conflict.
Currently, at least one of the four “doomsday planes” is kept on alert at all times. The planes are capable of staying airborne as long as a week with aerial refueling. The on-board equipment is hardened against nuclear effects. In a nuclear crisis, the heavily modified Boeing 747s could each carry a crew of over 100 specialists attempting to manage the conflict.
Loren Thompson, “A Doomsday Plane Reminder: Nuclear Weapons Haven’t Gone Away,” Forbes, January 13, 2015.
Congressional Budget Office Estimates Nuclear Modernization Costs
The Congressional Budget Office has released a new report that estimates the U.S. will spend $348 billion on nuclear weapons over the next 10 years, and possibly $1 trillion over the next 30 years. Planned spending includes rebuilding all three legs of the nuclear “triad” and their associated warheads.
Although Congress mandated reductions in planned military spending and President Obama’s military advisors have determined that the U.S. has more nuclear weapons than it needs for national security, the current spending plans would allow the U.S. to deploy far more weapons than deemed “necessary.”
Kingston Reif, “CBO: Nuclear Weapons Still Expensive,” Arms Control Association, January 22, 2015.
U.S. Rejects North Korean Offer to Suspend Nuclear Tests
On January 10, North Korea offered to suspend its nuclear tests in exchange for the U.S. cancelling its annual military drills with South Korea. The U.S. almost immediately rejected the offer, calling it a veiled threat that inappropriately linked nuclear tests and the U.S.-South Korea military drills that have been carried out for decades.
“By refusing to accept our proposal…the United States has shown once again that they will continue to increase attack military capabilities in South Korea while requesting us not to have our own national defence capabilities. This is absolutely unacceptable and cannot be justified by anything,” said An Myong Hun, North Korea’s Deputy UN Ambassador.
Michelle Nichols, “North Korea Offers to Meet U.S. on Rejected Nuclear Test Proposal,” Reuters, January 13, 2015.
Russia Ends Cooperative Threat Reduction Program
Russian officials informed their U.S. counterparts that they will no longer be seeking the United States’ help in securing Russia’s massive weapons-grade uranium stockpile. In accordance with deals struck between the two powers following the Cold War, the Untied States was helping Russia protect its HEU stockpile from finding its way onto the black market.
Since the cooperative agreement began two decades ago, U.S. experts have helped destroy hundreds of weapons and nuclear-powered submarines, pay workers’ salaries, install security measures at myriad facilities containing weapons material across Russia and the former Soviet Union, and conduct training programs for their personnel.
Bryan Bender, “Russia Ends US Nuclear Security Alliance,” The Boston Globe, January 19, 2015.
President Obama Continues to Seek Iranian Nuclear Deal
In an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN, President Obama said that he continues to seek a good deal with Iran on its nuclear program. Referring to the desire of some members of Congress to implement additional sanctions against Iran at this time, Obama said, “For us to undermine diplomacy at this critical time for no good reason is a mistake and that what we need to do is to finish up this round of negotiations, put the pressure on Iran to say yes to what the international community is calling for.”
President Obama continued, “I’ve said before that we will take no deal over a bad deal….Why would we reject [a good] deal and prefer a potential military option that would be less effective in constraining Iran’s nuclear program and would have extraordinary ramifications at a time when we’ve already got too many conflicts in the Middle East?”
“Obama: Netanyahu’s Visit Too Close to Election for Meeting,” Fareed Zakaria GPS, January 28, 2015.
The Chaplain Who Blessed the Hiroshima Bombers
Sixty-nine years ago, as a Catholic Air Force chaplain, Father George Zabelka blessed the men who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Over the next twenty years, he gradually came to believe that he had been terribly wrong, that he had denied the very foundations of his faith by lending moral and religious support to the bombing. Zabelka, who died in 1992, gave a speech on the 40th anniversary of the bombings. He said:
“The destruction of civilians in war was always forbidden by the Church, and if a soldier came to me and asked if he could put a bullet through a child’s head, I would have told him, absolutely not. That would be mortally sinful. But in 1945 Tinian Island was the largest airfield in the world. Three planes a minute could take off from it around the clock. Many of these planes went to Japan with the express purpose of killing not one child or one civilian but of slaughtering hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of children and civilians – and I said nothing.”
To read Zabelka’s full speech, 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 February, including the February 13, 1950 crash of a U.S. bomber that was simulating a nuclear attack against San Francisco.
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
The World’s Nuclear Weapons in Graphic Form
The Nagasaki Council for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, (PCU-NC) in cooperation with the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA), Nagasaki University, have produced a poster about the number and type of nuclear warheads in the world.
To view and download a copy of the poster, click here.
Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest Now Underway
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s annual Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest is now underway. The contest is open to people of all ages around the world. Contestants must make a video of 90 seconds or less on the topic “The Imperative of Reaching Nuclear Zero: The Marshall Islands Stands Up for All Humanity.”
Entries are due by April 1, and the top videos will receive cash prizes. For more information and a complete set of rules, click here. You can also “like” the contest’s Facebook page and see the videos as contestants post them.
14th Annual Kelly Lecture Features Dr. Helen Caldicott
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 14th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future will feature Dr. Helen Caldicott, an Australian physician and renowned anti-nuclear advocate. Her lecture, entitled “Preserving Humanity’s Future,” will take place on March 5, 2015, at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, California.
Tickets start at $10 and are on sale at the Lobero Theatre box office online or by phone at (805) 963-0761.
The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction
The Helen Caldicott Foundation for a Nuclear Free Future will hold a two-day symposium at the New York Academy of Medicine on February 28 – March 1, 2015. The symposium will address the dynamics of possible nuclear extinction.
NAPF President David Krieger is among a distinguished group of panelists for this event. In last month’s edition of the Sunflower, we indicated that the symposium is free. This was an error; there is a modest cost associated with the event. For more information and to register, click here.
This event will be live-streamed. Check the link above for updates on the exact details of the live-streaming.
New Book by NAPF President David Krieger
Wake Up! is the latest poetry book by David Krieger, in which he continues on his path of writing piercing and thought-provoking peace poetry. His poems are often poems of remembrance, as well as warnings about the dangers of the nuclear age. Wake Up! is divided into six sections: Truth Is Beauty; War; Remembering Bush II; Global Hiroshima; Peace; Portraits; and Imperfection.
The book has received much praise. Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote, “There is haunting beauty and truth in this poetry.” Doug Rawlings, poet and Vietnam War veteran said of Wake Up! that “…it reads like a series of eloquent telegrams sent directly to the heart of a culture, ours…” Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and author of A Coney Island of the Mind, wrote: “Wake Up! is accessible and moving writing, setting itself against the dominant murderous culture of our time. Every poem hits home.”
Click here to order a copy of the book. NAPF is offering a 20% discount if you order by March 1.
“There are a lot of hard decisions we’ve got to make out there, but this isn’t one of them. We want them (our children and grandchildren) to win: 100 to nothing, not 51 to 49. We can afford this, and it’s desperately needed so the United States Air Force continues to be what it always has been – the force that allows alternatives and options for our president to defend America.”
— Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, Air Force assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, arguing for a massive budget to build new nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles.
“Many people feel powerless and suffer in cynicism, selfishness, and apathy. There is a cure: when individuals commit to caring for others with kindness and compassion, they change and they are able to make changes for peace in the world.”
— An excerpt from the statement “Living Peace,” issued at the conclusion of the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.
“In an all-out nuclear war, more destructive power than in all of World War II would be unleashed every second during the long afternoon it would take for all the missiles and bombs to fall. A World War II every second – more people killed in the first few hours than all the wars of history put together. The survivors, if any, would live in despair amid the poisoned ruins of a civilization that had committed suicide.”
— Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States. The U.S. observes Presidents Day on February 16, 2015. This quote is featured in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, available from the NAPF Peace Store.
“Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of…peaceful coexistence among peoples and states.”
— Pope Francis, in a message to the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.