Issue #198 – January 2014
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Missile Launching in the Dark
In the early morning hours of December 17, under cover of darkness, the Air Force launched a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base. It was a test of a nuclear-capable missile. Despite the claims of the Air Force, such tests do not make us safer or more secure- only more terrifying to others, and when it comes to nuclear weapons we should be terrifying ourselves. These are weapons that could destroy civilization, and yet we have the hubris to play Russian roulette with them and continue to do so more than 20 years after the end of the Cold War.
The Air Force seems excessively proud of its ability to have “successfully launched” the nuclear-capable Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. Is it pride in their ability to obey orders and carry out a mission fully capable of ending civilization should they be called upon to launch nuclear-armed Minuteman III missiles? The Air Force views its test launches as providing “data to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.” But neither the Air Force nor anyone in authority can assure that nuclear deterrence will be safe, secure or effective.
To read more, click here.
The Doublespeak of Nuclear Disarmament
It’s easy to say you want a world without nuclear weapons. Nearly everyone does: even David Cameron. It’s like saying there should be no global poverty: the hard part is taking action to do something about it.
Imagine if David Cameron returned from his recent trade-boosting visit to China and had to concede, shamefaced, that he hadn’t mentioned trade with the UK. Worse still: what if he returned and boasted of the fact that he hadn’t mentioned trade with the UK? Well this is precisely what the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has just done following a UN meeting on nuclear disarmament.
To read more, click here.
US Nuclear Weapons Policy
Nuclear Weapon Protestors Face Decades in Prison
On January 28, three nonviolent protesters against nuclear weapons, Sr. Megan Rice, 83, Michael Walli, 63, and Gregory Boertje-Obed, 57, are scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee, for the supposed crime of sabotage. They face decades in prison for their moral and courageous acts of protest..
Roots Action has launched a campaign to encourage the judge, Amul R. Thapar, to show leniency in the sentencing of the protestors. Roots Action’s message reads in part, “The action taken by Megan, Michael and Greg was done from a commitment to nonviolence and from an allegiance to the future for our children and our planet, trying to insure that life will not be terminated by a nuclear war.”
To send a letter to Judge Thapar, click here.
Budget Soars for U.S. Nuclear Weapons Modernization
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that just in the past year, the projected budget for modernizing existing nuclear programs has increased by roughly $19 billion. The GAO report compared National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) budgets from 2012 to the current projections to arrive at the $19 billion figure. This huge increase also leaves out several other areas of significant cost for which NNSA has not provided figures.
Notably missing are the figures for the construction of the Uranium Processing Facility in Tennessee and the Chemistry and the Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility in New Mexico. Its not clear how much additional funding will be needed for these projects, but theres no question that the existing budgets are underestimated significantly.
A report released December 20 by the Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of the Obama administration’s plans for the U.S. nuclear arsenal from 2014 to 2023 to total $355 billion.
Frank Munger, “GAO: NNSA’s Modernization Costs Jump $19B, but the Budget Numbers Don’t Mesh with Plans,” Atomic City Underground, December 13, 2013.
South Africa, the Nation that Gave Up Its Nuclear Weapons
Former South African President F.W. de Klerk wrote an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times detailing his thinking behind the decision to get rid of South Africa’s nuclear weapons in 1989.
De Klerk wrote, “Nuclear weapons had no value in the kind of border wars we were fighting, and the prospect of using them against neighboring countries was too appalling to be contemplated.”
He continued, “The international community must take concrete steps to control, and finally eliminate, nuclear weapons as a thinkable option. This will require greater support for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and more rapid movement by existing nuclear weapons states toward the reduction and dismantling of their stockpiles. The world should realize that real security does not lie in increasing our power to destroy others; it lies in our ability to live with others on the basis of peace and justice.”
F.W. de Klerk, “South Africa, the Nation that Gave Up Its Nukes,” Los Angeles Times, December 22, 2013.
Russia Plans to Revive Rail-Mobile Nuclear Missiles
Gen. Sergei Karakayev, commander of Russian strategic rocket forces, has indicated that Russia intends to revive its rail-based Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capability in response to U.S. plans to develop a conventional long-range strike capacity. Russia considers missiles that can be moved around by train to be easier to protect from elimination by an adversary than traditional silo-based missiles.
Russia has not had a rail-based ICBM capability since retiring its final Soviet-era system eight years ago.
“Russia May Revive Rail-Mobile ICBMs to Counter U.S. Prompt-Strike Arms,” Global Security Newswire, December 18, 2013.
Congressman Supports Use of Nuclear Weapons Against Iran
In a statement on C-Span, Republican congressman Duncan Hunter of California said that if the U.S. had to hit Iran, “you dont do it with boots on the ground, you do it with tactical nuclear devices.” This remark goes a step further than those made by GOP donor Sheldon Adelson in October, who said that a nuclear device should be detonated in the desert of Iran to send a warning. Hunter said that his opinion is formed by his own service spent in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hunters statement had no lack of opponents. Kingston Reif of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation responded, “The first use of nuclear weapons against Iran would guarantee a mad Iranian dash to acquire nuclear weapons to deter future such US attacks.”
Ben Armbruster, “Congressman Says U.S. Should Use Nuclear Weapons if it Attacks Iran,” ThinkProgress, December 4, 2013.
Israeli Nuclear Whistleblower Still Held in Israel
Mordechai Vanunu, an ex-technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant who leaked information about Israel’s nuclear weapons program in 1986, continues to have significant restrictions placed on his life after having served 18 years in prison. Vanunu is still restricted from talking to the media and foreigners, and is not allowed to leave Israel.
Vanunu recently asked the Israeli High Court to allow him to leave Israel. However, the Israeli government claims that expert reports and secret information, presented to the court in a closed-door hearing, prove that Vanunu’s information is still relevant and its revelation would endanger state security. The court is not expected to rule on the matter in the near future.
Yonah Jeremy Bob, “Vanunu Pleads with High Court to Allow Him to Leave Israel,” Jerusalem Post, December 25, 2013.
Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and its U.S. affiliate, Physicians for Social Responsibility, have released a new report concluding that more than two billion people – a quarter of the world’s population – would be at risk of starvation in the event of a limited nuclear exchange, such as one that could occur between India and Pakistan, or by the use of even a small number of the nuclear weapons held by the U.S. and Russia.
“A nuclear war using only a fraction of existing arsenals would produce massive casualties on a global scale – far more than we had previously believed,” said the report’s author, IPPNW co-president Ira Helfand.
To download a free copy of the report, click here.
The Morning of August 6
Tadashi Hasegawa was a Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor who spent his life speaking out against nuclear weapons. He recently wrote a book about his experiences and had it published in Japan. Before he died last year, his family promised him to translate his book into English. The book is entitled “The Morning of August 6, I Was 14 Years Old.”
Click here for a free download of the book and to see video of an interview with Tadashi.
NAPF to Welcome Noam Chomsky to Santa Barbara
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will welcome Professor Noam Chomsky to Santa Barbara to deliver the 13th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future on February 28, 2014.
Professor Chomsky, a long-time critic of nuclear weapons and U.S. nuclear policy, will speak at 7:30 p.m. at the Lobero Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara.
For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.
Peace Leadership in Canada
NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul Chappell spoke in December 2013 in New Brunswick, Canada on the principles of nonviolence at the workshop on Building Non-Violent Indigenous Rights Movements. Held at the Wabanaki Resource Center at St. Thomas University and sponsored by the Wabanaki Confederacy and The Land Peace Foundation, the first part of this workshop focused on how nonviolence training could be applied to the current struggle against fracking as Indigenous tribes resist the Government of New Brunswicks appropriation of tribal lands for shale gas exploration.
Chappell discussed both the philosophy of nonviolence and the actions of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. He also explored the history of different kinds of nonviolent protests.
I was inspired to learn how Gandhi stood up for himself, with strength and nonviolence and was able to move so many people to action, said Juisen Bartibogue, Mikmaq Nation, 19, of Burnt Church, New Brunswick. I saw how nonviolence is the only way for us to be able to achieve our goals and to make a lasting peace.
Attorney Sherri Mitchell, a graduate of the summer 2013 NAPF Peace Leadership training, spoke during the second half of the workshop on strategy building for unified movements. A member of the Penobscot Tribe and executive director of the Land Peace Foundation, Mitchell has been an advocate for indigenous rights for over two decades, working to protect the rights of her own tribe and those of Indigenous people across the Americas.
Mitchell said, The battle over dwindling resources has caused aggressive attacks on Indigenous rights and these workshops will provide the practical skills to create strong and effective opposition to these attacks.
To see a picture from this event, click here.
“We must ask the question, which might sound naïve to those who have elaborated sophisticated arguments to justify their refusal to eliminate these terrible and terrifying weapons of mass destruction — why do they need them anyway?”
— Nelson Mandela speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in 1998.
“We are obliged by our consciences to act when we know, and we are free to do so. … As long as one nuclear bomb or energy facility exists, all of life remains its potential victim.”
— Sister Megan Rice, in an email interview from prison with Global Security Newswire.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, edited by NAPF President David Krieger.
Scott Berzon David Krieger Carol Warner Rick Wayman