Issue #235 – February 2017
In these turbulent times, Dorothie and Marty Hellman invite you to join them to discover how loving personal relationships provide the model for a peaceful, sustainable planet. For every gift of $25 or more, we will send you a copy of their innovative book, A New Map for Relationships: Creating True Love At Home & Peace on the Planet.
Martin Luther King and the Bomb
Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the world’s great peace leaders. Like Gandhi before him, he was a firm advocate of nonviolence. In 1955, at the age of 26, he became the leader of the Montgomery bus boycott and two years later he was elected the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Within a decade he would receive the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35. It came two years after he witnessed the terrifying prospects of nuclear war during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
King came to the following realization: “Somehow we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race which no one can win to a positive contest to harness man’s creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all of the nations of the world. In short, we must shift the arms race into a ‘peace race.’ If we have the will and determination to mount such a peace offensive, we will unlock hitherto tightly sealed doors and transform our imminent cosmic elegy into a psalm of creative fulfillment.”
To read more, click here.
It All Looks as if the World Is Preparing for War
The world today is overwhelmed with problems. Policymakers seem to be confused and at a loss.
But no problem is more urgent today than the militarization of politics and the new arms race. Stopping and reversing this ruinous race must be our top priority.
While state budgets are struggling to fund people’s essential social needs, military spending is growing.
To read more, click here.
Thanks to Trump, the Doomsday Clock Advances Toward Midnight
It is now two and one-half minutes to midnight.
Our organization, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, is marking the 70th anniversary of its Doomsday Clock on Thursday by moving it 30 seconds closer to midnight. In 2016, the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come to grips with humanity’s most pressing threats: nuclear weapons and climate change.
Making matters worse, the United States now has a president who has promised to impede progress on both of those fronts. Never before has the Bulletin decided to advance the clock largely because of the statements of a single person. But when that person is the new president of the United States, his words matter.
To read more, click here.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
Obama Administration Unilaterally Cuts Nuclear Weapons Stockpile
On January 11, Vice President Joe Biden announced that the United States has unilaterally cut the number of nuclear weapons in its stockpile to 4,018 warheads, a reduction of 553 warheads since September 2015. The Obama administration, during its eight years in office, reduced the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile by 1,255 weapons – a number greater than the estimated number of warheads in the arsenals of Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan combined.
Hans Kristensen, “Obama Administration Announces Unilateral Nuclear Weapon Cuts,” Federation of American Scientists, January 11, 2017.
Congressional Legislation Introduced to Restrict Nuclear Weapons First Use
Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA) have introduced legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives entitled the “Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017.” This legislation would prohibit the President of the United States from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress.
While the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation believes strongly that nuclear weapons should never be used under any circumstances, we do feel that this legislation is a move in the right direction to prevent what amounts to a thermonuclear monarchy.
To take action in support of this bill, click here.
U.S. and UK Cover Up Trident Nuclear Missile Test Failures
In 2016, the British Royal Navy conducted a test launch of a Trident II D5 missile off the East Coast of the United States. The missile veered off course and was apparently destroyed in mid-air. The test failure occurred prior to the UK Parliament’s vote in July 2016 to build a new generation of nuclear-armed submarines. A news blackout was imposed, and parliamentarians were not made aware of the failure prior to voting.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that the U.S. may also have covered up a failed test of a Trident II D5 missile in 2011. Since that time, the U.S. has spent $1.75 billion to repair faults and modernize the guidance system of the missiles.
The UK leases Trident missiles, which carry nuclear warheads, from the United States.
Danny Lawson, “Revealed: Trident’s Faulty Guidance,” The Sunday Times, January 29, 2017.
Israeli Nuclear Whistleblower Convicted Again
Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli whistleblower who exposed Israel’s nuclear weapons program in the mid-1980s, has been convicted of violating his parole. Under the terms of his release from prison, he is not allowed to leave Israel and is extremely restricted in meetings with foreigners. He was convicted of meeting with two U.S. citizens in east Jerusalem in 2013 without permission from Israeli authorities.
Vanunu spent 18 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement, after leaking details of Israel’s nuclear weapons program to the Sunday Times. The sentence for his most recent conviction has not yet been announced, but he could face additional prison time.
Raf Sanchez, “Israeli Nuclear Whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu Convicted Again Over Meeting with U.S. Citizens,” The Telegraph, January 23, 2017.
North Korea Appears to Restart Plutonium Reactor
Analysis of satellite imagery from the group 38 North indicates that North Korea has restarted its plutonium reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear facility. The majority of the river near the reactor is frozen, except for where water from the facility mixes with the river, indicating that it is operating.
This news came as U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis prepared to visit South Korea and Japan, key U.S. allies in the region.
Joshua Berlinger, “As Secretary Mattis Prepares for Asia Visit, North Korea Starts Reactor,” CNN, January 30, 2017.
Iran Conducts Medium-Range Ballistic Missile Test
On January 29, Iran conducted a test of a medium-range ballistic missile. According to a U.S. official, the missile exploded after flying 630 miles.
It remains unclear whether the test violates a UN Security Council resolution calling on Iran not to conduct activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Idrees Ali, “Iran Tested Medium-Range Ballistic Missile: U.S. Official,” Reuters, January 30, 2017.
Nuclear Energy and Waste
Will Rick Perry Privatize Nuclear Waste Storage?
Rick Perry, nominee to become U.S. Secretary of Energy, has deep ties to Waste Control Specialists, a Texas company that seeks to store high-level nuclear waste. Currently, high-level radioactive waste is stored on-site at nuclear power plants across the nation since there is no solution to safely, permanently store it.
Harold Simmons, the founder of Waste Control Specialists, donated over $1.3 million to Rick Perry’s political campaigns prior to his death in 2013.
In 2014, as Governor of Texas, Perry sent a letter to the Texas lieutenant governor and the speaker of the house, in which he declared that “it’s time for Texas to act” on interim nuclear waste storage because states holding onto high-level radioactive waste have “been betrayed by their federal government.”
Ashley Dejean, “Will Rick Perry Privatize America’s Nuclear Waste Storage?,” Mother Jones, January 24, 2017.
New Secretary of Defense Indicates Support for Nuclear Weapons Modernization
Gen. James Mattis, President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense, indicated broad support for continuing the Obama administration’s 30-year, $1 trillion plan to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In Congressional testimony, Mattis said, “We must continue with current nuclear modernization plans for all three legs of the Triad, and for associated command and control systems.”
The only element of the modernization plan that Mattis questioned related to the Long-Range Standoff weapon (LRSO), a new air-launched nuclear cruise missile. Responding to a question about his support for building the LRSO, Mattis said, “I need to look at that one. My going in position is that it makes sense, but I have to look at it in terms of its deterrence capability.”
Aaron Mehta, “Mattis Enthusiastic on ICBMs, Tepid on Nuclear Cruise Missile,” Defense News, January 12, 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 February, including the February 20, 2016 test launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
2017 Doomsday Clock Statement
Each year, the setting of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ (BAS) Doomsday Clock galvanizes a global debate about whether the planet is safer or more dangerous today than it was last year, and at key moments in recent history. On January 26, 2017, BAS announced that it has moved the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to midnight.
The final statement on the decision to move the Doomsday Clock to 2 1/2 minutes to midnight is available here.
A 20th Century Love Story in the Nuclear Age
A recently-published memoir by Dolores Tate, My Rock from Stoneman: A 20th Century Love Story in the Nuclear Age, is about enduring love in turbulent times. Dolores Tate is a social justice activist and a retired teacher of the arts. The story of Dolores and her husband, John, started in the 1950s, when John served in the military and participated in A-bomb testing in the Nevada desert. It continues on as they bring up their four daughters, fight racism in their community in the 1960s, and John pursues his passion for teaching. Family photos and copies of personal letters included in the book make this memoir an intimate story.
It can be purchased on Amazon.com. If you use Amazon Smile, please select the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation as your charity of choice.
Command and Control Now Available to Stream Online
Command and Control, the powerful documentary based on the book by Eric Schlosser, is now available to stream for free online.
The documentary recounts a chilling nuclear nightmare that played out at a Titan II missile complex in Arkansas in September, 1980. A worker accidentally dropped a socket, puncturing the fuel tank of an intercontinental ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead in the U.S. arsenal, an incident which ignited a series of feverish efforts to avoid a deadly disaster.
16th Annual Kelly Lecture Features Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 16th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future will feature legendary Hollywood director Oliver Stone and Professor Peter Kuznick, co-authors of the internationally-acclaimed documentary The Untold History of the United States.
The lecture, entitled “Untold History, Uncertain Future,” will take place on February 23, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. Tickets start at $10 and are available here.
For more information about the Kelly Lecture series, click here.
The Fierce Urgency of Nuclear Zero: Final Statement from NAPF Symposium
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has published a final document reflecting the discussions at the symposium “The Fierce Urgency of Nuclear Zero: Changing the Discourse,” held in Santa Barbara, California, on October 24-25, 2016. The statement also takes into account the changed political landscape in the U.S. following the election of Donald Trump, which occurred two weeks after the symposium.
The statement says in part, “Humanity and the planet face two existential threats: environmental catastrophe and nuclear annihilation. While climate change is the subject of increasing public awareness and concern, the same cannot be said about growing nuclear dangers arising from worsening international circumstances. It’s time again to sound the alarm and mobilize public opinion on a massive scale. Our lives may depend on it.”
To read the full statement and see the list of endorsers, click here.
Video Contest: The Most Dangerous Period in Human History
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 2017 Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest launched on February 1. This year’s contest invites people to submit videos about why this is the most dangerous period in human history, and what can be done to bring civilization back from the brink.
The contest is free to enter and is open to people of all ages from anywhere in the world. For more information about the contest, click here.
Peace Literacy, Trauma, and Hope
A survivor of extreme childhood trauma and subjected to bullying because of his tri-racial background, Paul K. Chappell, Director of NAPF’s Peace Leadership Program, has developed the seven forms of Peace Literacy. The second form of Peace Literacy is literacy in the art of living, a skill set that has helped Chappell overcome his childhood trauma, control the homicidal rage that resulted from that trauma, and help heal his psychological wounds. The most difficult art form is the art of living. Peace Literacy gives us the skills to reclaim a realistic hope, to shift our language from one driven and determined by trauma and rage to one of peace, compassion, and a sense of shared humanity.
In the next five weeks, Chappell will bring his presentation on Peace Literacy to schools in Wisconsin, Washington State, California, and Oregon.
To read more, click here.
“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 U.S. President. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available for purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.
“When they explain what it represents and the kind of destruction that you’re talking about, it is a very sobering moment, yes. It’s very, very scary, in a sense…. I have confidence that I’ll do the right thing, the right job.”
— President Donald Trump, in an interview with ABC News in which he was asked about the moment he received the U.S. nuclear codes following his inauguration.
“Nuclear weapons should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons.”
— Xi Jinping, President of China, in a speech to the United Nations in Geneva on January 19, 2017.
“This is dangerous in the extreme — a future in which our children and grandchildren cower under desks in new ‘duck-and-cover’ drills is not a future we should seek.”
— Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs, in a Las Vegas Review-Journal article about the possibility of President Trump resuming full-scale nuclear testing in Nevada.
“As Secretary-General, I am firmly resolved to actively pursue the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction and the strict regulation of conventional weapons. I am committed to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.”
— António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in a video message to the Conference on Disarmament on January 24, 2017.