Issue #222 – January 2016
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We Are Living at the Edge of a Nuclear Precipice
With nuclear weapons, what could possibly go wrong? The short answer is: Everything.
We must recognize that we are living at the edge of a nuclear precipice with the ever-present dangers of nuclear proliferation, nuclear accidents and miscalculations, nuclear terrorism and nuclear war. Instead of relying on nuclear deterrence and pursuing the modernization of nuclear arsenals, we need to press our political leaders to fulfill our moral and legal obligations to negotiate in good faith for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. That is, we need to break free of our acidic complacency and commit ourselves to achieving a nuclear zero world.
To read more, click here.
Date from Hell: Can Nuclear War Be Fun and Games?
A scenario: You’re nearing the end of a blind date, waiting for the waiter to bring out the ice cream. Both of you are still trying to come up with fodder for conversation.
Just then, your date declares with a smile, “So how about nuclear weapons? Wouldn’t using them be…well, sort of fun? The collapse of modern society, or at least the end of the comforts we know? Imagine the thousands of immediate deaths, the damage to the Earth’s atmosphere and ecosystem. The famines. Oh, and I forgot the years of skyrocketing cancer cases!”
After you’ve finished staring, and blinking, after you’ve caught the waiter’s eye for the check, you might still be waiting for the punchline. No one could actually be so flip, so grotesquely cavalier about a grave danger to civilization — indeed, the gravest possible danger. Could they? Particularly with a new acquaintance they’re purportedly trying to woo? But I recently discovered this very discussion happening in reality, in the singularly strange world of “cyberdating.”
To read more, click here.
The New Nuclear Arms Race
The United States and Russia are acting with increasing belligerence toward each other while actively pursuing monstrous weapons. As Joe Cirincione described in the Huffington Post, the Pentagon plans to spend $1 trillion over 30 years on “an entire new generation of nuclear bombs, bombers, missiles and submarines,” including a dozen submarines carrying more than 1,000 warheads, capable of decimating any country anywhere. In the meantime, President Obama has ordered 200 new nuclear bombs deployed in Europe.
Russia has been at least as aggressive. As Cirincione described, Russian state media recently revealed plans for a new kind of a weapon — a hydrogen bomb torpedo — that can traverse 6,000 miles of ocean just as a missile would in the sky. On impact, the bomb would create a “radioactive tsunami,” designed to kill millions along a country’s coast.
This escalation has been a long time coming, and the U.S. owns much of the blame for the way it has accelerated.
To read this full op-ed in the Washington Post, click here.
How Our Naive Understanding of Violence Helps ISIS
At West Point I learned that technology forces warfare to evolve. The reason soldiers today no longer ride horses into battle, use bows and arrows, and wield spears, is because of the gun. The reason people no longer fight in trenches, as they did during World War I, is because the tank and airplane were greatly improved and mass-produced. But there is a technological innovation that has changed warfare more than the gun, tank, or airplane. That technological innovation is mass media.
Today most people’s understanding of violence is naive, because they do not realize how much the Internet and social media, the newest incarnations of mass media, have changed warfare. The most powerful weapon that ISIS has is the Internet with social media, which has allowed ISIS to recruit people from all over the world.
To read more, click here.
IAEA Closes Iran Nuclear Bomb Probe
The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has ended its decade-long investigation of allegations that Iran worked to develop nuclear weapons. The IAEA resolution stated that the investigation was “implemented in accordance with the agreed schedule” and that this “closes the board’s consideration of the matter.”
The IAEA investigation concluded that although Iran conducted “a range of activities relevant to the development” of nuclear weapons before the end of 2003, the activities “did not advance beyond feasibility and scientific studies.”
This move by the IAEA clears the way for the deal reached in July between Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China and Germany) to move forward toward full implementation.
“IAEA ‘Closes’ Iran Nuclear Bomb Probe,” Agence France-Presse, December 15, 2015.
Experts Say India Is Building a New City to Produce Thermonuclear Weapons
Local farmers and council members in the southern Indian state of Karnataka were alarmed in 2012 when changes began happening to limit their access to land, roads and trails. The secretive project began construction later that year. It now seems clear to some experts that India is building a massive military-run complex of nuclear centrifuges, nuclear research laboratories and weapons testing facilities. As a military facility, it would not be open to international inspection.
Such a development would likely spur proliferation among India’s chief nuclear-armed rivals, Pakistan and China.
Adrian Levy, “India Is Building a Top-Secret Nuclear City to Produce Thermonuclear Weapons, Experts Say,” Foreign Policy, December 16, 2015.
U.S. Declassifies Nuclear Target List from 1950s
The National Security Archive, a research group at George Washington University, has obtained a list of U.S. nuclear targets through the Mandatory Declassification Review process.
The list makes clear that Soviet airfields were the highest-priority target, followed by Soviet industrial infrastructure. However, many airfields and industrial areas were located around population centers, which would have led to massive civilian casualties. In addition, one entry in the target list is called “Population.”
Scott Shane, “1950s U.S. Nuclear Target List Offers Chilling Insight,” The New York Times, December 22, 2015.
War and Peace
India and Pakistan Restart Peace Talks
In December, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise visit to Pakistan to meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. This was the first visit to Pakistan by an Indian Prime Minister since 2004. The two leaders pledged to accelerate peace talks and decided to have their foreign secretaries meet soon in Islamabad.
Tensions between India and Pakistan, both of which are nuclear-armed countries, remain high over issues including the disputed territory of Kashmir.
Anindya Upadhyay and Faseeh Mangi, “India, Pakistan to Speed Up Talks After Modi’s Surprise Visit,” Bloomberg, December 25, 2015.
U.S. Senators Urge President Obama to Cancel New Nuclear Cruise Missile
Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) led a group of eight Senators in a letter urging President Obama to cancel the new nuclear air-launched cruise missile. Recent reports indicate that the administration plans to develop 1,000 to 1,100 new nuclear cruise missiles, which are projected to cost between $20 to $30 billion to build. In the letter, the Senators noted that this new nuclear weapon does not reflect our current national security needs, is redundant with existing nuclear and conventional options, and could lead to dramatic escalation and potential devastating miscalculations with other nuclear-armed states.
“Outdated and unnecessary nuclear weapons are relics of the past,” wrote the Senators in the letter to President Obama. “Your administration should instead focus on capabilities that keep our economy and defense strong while reducing the role of nuclear weapons.”
The other Senators who signed the letter are Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Al Franken (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
“Sen. Markey Leads Call to Cut Wasteful Nuclear Expenditures, Cancel New Nuclear Air-Launched Missile,” Office of Senator Edward Markey, December 15, 2015.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Production Has Sickened and Killed Thousands
Over the past year, journalists from McClatchy conducted over 100 interviews and examined 70 million records in a federal database relating to American workers who were exposed to radiation and other toxic substances while producing nuclear weapons. At least 107,394 Americans have been diagnosed with cancers and other diseases after building the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile over the last 70 years.
The massive number of illnesses and deaths revealed in this study has increased concerns that the United States’ current plan to spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize its nuclear arsenal will lead to yet another generation of workers being exposed.
Rob Hotakainen, Lindsay Wise, Frank Matt and Samantha Ehlinger, “Irradiated: The Hidden Legacy of 70 Years of Atomic Weaponry,” McClatchy DC, December 11, 2015.
Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
Marshall Islands Fights Back in Nuclear Lawsuit
On December 15, 2015, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) filed a Reply Brief in the Nuclear Zero Lawsuit now pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. In the Brief, the RMI says that U.S. government lawyers have broadly misstated the law surrounding treaty disputes. The RMI argues that U.S. courts do have the power to oversee disputes over international treaties, and that no law elevates the President’s authority above the judiciary’s power to decide disputes.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to appoint a three-judge panel to consider the briefs. All court documents are available at www.nuclearzero.org/in-the-courts.
“Marshall Islands Fights Back in Nuclear Lawsuit,” Radio New Zealand, December 21, 2015.
January’s Featured Blog
This month’s featured blog is Nukes of Hazard, a project of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Recent titles on the blog include “The 2016 Presidential Candidates on Nuclear Issues,” “Pentagon Profligacy: Five Egregious Examples of Wasteful Pentagon Programs,” and “GOP Candidates on the Pentagon Budget.”
To read these, and many other, articles, 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 January, including the January 17, 1966, incident in Palomares, Spain, in which a U.S. B-52 strategic bomber carrying four Mark-28 hydrogen bombs collided in mid-air with a KC-135 tanker aircraft. Plutonium was spread over a large area.
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
Vote for the Arms Control Person of the Year
The Arms Control Association is holding an online voting process for the Arms Control Person of the Year. Voting closes on January 5, 2016, at 11:59 pm. One nominee is Setsuko Thurlow and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nominated “for their unyielding dedication to sharing first hand accounts of the catastrophic and inhumane effects of nuclear weapons, which serves to reinforce the taboo against the further use of nuclear weapons and spur action toward a world without nuclear weapons.”
Setsuko Thurlow recently received the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Distinguished Peace Leadership Award, and is a committed and effective campaigner for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
To vote for the Arms Control Person of the Year, click here. When you vote, please enter the password ACPOY2015.
World Nuclear Victims Forum
The World Nuclear Victims Forum was held in Hiroshima on November 21-23, 2015, along with several related events in Osaka and Tokyo.
Participants from around the world gathered to understand the reality of the damages caused in all stages of the nuclear chain, the situations of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima, and the lessons to be learned from such situations. It was also an opportunity for people from affected communities in various countries to strengthen their cooperation and network, to work together to prevent such suffering from happening again.
The final declaration maps out draft elements for a charter of world nuclear victims’ rights and calls for the abolition of the entire nuclear chain and the urgent conclusion of a legally binding international instrument which prohibits and provides for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Robert Scheer to Deliver the 15th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is pleased to welcome Robert Scheer, one of the nation’s most outspoken and progressive journalists, Professor of Communications at the University of Southern California, and Editor-In-Chief of Truthdig.com, to deliver the 15th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future.
Scheer’s lecture, entitled “War, Peace, Truth and the Media,” will take place on Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at the Faulkner Gallery, 40 E. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, California. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information, click here.
NAPF is Hiring a Director of Development
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is hiring a Director of Development at its Santa Barbara, California, headquarters. As a non-profit organization, successful fundraising is vital to the ability of NAPF to plan and implement its programs to abolish nuclear weapons and empower peace leaders.
Click here to view the job description. Please share with your networks.
Join Us in Working for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons
2015 has been a strong and eventful year for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. We have:
With your help we can make 2016 an even stronger and more eventful year. We have a great team in place for 2016. Please be a part of that team, working for peace and a world free of nuclear weapons. Stand up! Speak out! Join in!
Together we can build a more peaceful world and end the nuclear weapons threat to all humanity.
Peace Leadership: A Year in Review
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Peace Leadership Program had a very successful year in 2015. Led by Paul K. Chappell, the program reached nearly 6,000 people in 11 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Mexico, Germany and the Netherlands. Over the year, Paul delivered 53 lectures and 13 workshops, introducing people to the concept of peace leadership and giving them the skills to implement these ideas in their daily lives.
To read more about the NAPF Peace Leadership Program’s accomplishments in 2015 and a preview of 2016 activities, click here.
Paul’s fifth book, The Cosmic Ocean, was also published in 2015. Click here to read more about the book and purchase a copy.
“We must encourage all people of good will to join the work of abolishing war and weapons — not out of fear of dying, but out of the joy of living.”
— Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate and member of the NAPF Advisory Council. This quote is featured in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, available for purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
— Nelson Mandela
“I want to believe that there is no madman on Earth who would decide to use nuclear weapons.”
— Russian President Vladimir Putin.