Issue #204 – July 2014
|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.|
Accountability for the War in Iraq
The current level of violence in Iraq has a single root: the destabilizing act in 2003 of illegally invading and then occupying Iraq ordered by the George W. Bush administration, with their arrogant claims that US troops would be greeted as liberators. Rather than liberating Iraq, however, our country lost yet another war there, one which left thousands of American soldiers dead, tens of thousands wounded and still more traumatized. We also destabilized the region; slaughtered and displaced Iraqis; left Iraq in a mess; created the conditions for a civil war there; strengthened Iran; created many new advocates of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations; and demonstrated disdain for international law.
The Bush administration led and lied the US into an aggressive war, the kind of war held to be a crime against peace at Nuremberg. The lying was despicable, an impeachable offense, but it is too late for the impeachment of a president and vice-president who are now out of office. The initiation of an aggressive war was an act, however, for which there should always be accountability, as there was at Nuremberg. This, of course, would require having the courage and principle as a country to create policies to hold our own leaders to the same standards that we held those leaders whom we defeated in combat.
To read more, click here.
The Emotional and Psychological Trauma to Our People Can’t Be Measured In Real Terms
The Republic of the Marshall Islands in the northern Pacific Ocean is not only a breathtakingly beautiful island state, but has recently moved into the public eye by starting a bold initiative that is widely interpreted as a “David against Goliath” undertaking.
The Marshall islands were subjected to dozens of nuclear tests, carried out by the U.S. after 1945. According to the Associated Press, the island group filed suit in late April against each of the nine nuclear-armed powers in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. It also filed a federal lawsuit against the United States in San Francisco.
The Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, Tony de Brum, explains in an interview the impact the nuclear tests had and still have for the citizens of the Marshall Islands and what he hopes these lawsuits can achieve for the island state and the world community.
To read more, click here.
Stop Calling the Iraq War a Mistake
As Iraq descends into chaos again, more than a decade after “Mission Accomplished,” media commentators and politicians have mostly agreed upon calling the war a “mistake.” But the “mistake” rhetoric is the language of denial, not contrition: it minimizes the Iraq War’s disastrous consequences, removes blame, and deprives Americans of any chance to learn from our generation’s foreign policy disaster. The Iraq War was not a “mistake” – it resulted from calculated deception. The painful, unvarnished fact is that we were lied to. Now is the time to have the willingness to say that.
In fact, the truth about Iraq was widely available, but it was ignored. There were no WMD. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. The war wasn’t about liberating the Iraqi people. I said this in Congress in 2002. Millions of people who marched in America in protest of the war knew the truth, but were maligned by members of both parties for opposing the president in a time of war – and even leveled with the spurious charge of “not supporting the troops.”
I’ve written and spoken widely about this topic, so today I offer two ways we can begin to address our role.
To read more, click here.
Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
U.S. Conference of Mayors Pass Sweeping Resolution on Nuclear Disarmament
On June 23, 2014, the U.S Conference of Mayors (USCM) unanimously adopted a sweeping new resolution “Calling for Constructive Good Faith U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forums” at its 82nd annual meeting in Dallas.
The resolution also expresses support for the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits filed by the Marshall Islands. It says, “[USCM] commends the Republic of the Marshall Islands for calling to the world’s attention the failure of the nine nuclear-armed states to comply with their international obligations to pursue negotiations for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons, and calls on the U.S. to respond constructively and in good faith to the lawsuits brought by the RMI.”
Responding to the adoption of the resolution, Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum said, “This endorsement is acknowledged with deep gratitude on behalf of the Government and the People of the Marshall Islands, and most especially those who have lost loved ones in the mad race for nuclear superiority, and those who continue to suffer the scourge of nuclear weapons testing in our homeland.”
“U.S. Conference of Mayors Adopts Bold Resolution on Nuclear Disarmament,” Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, June 26, 2014.
NuclearZero.org Now in Japanese
NuclearZero.org, the campaign website for the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits, is now available in Japanese. Our friends in the youth division of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) will be launching a Nuclear Zero petition drive in Japan during the first week of July, and the Nuclear Zero website makes a perfect companion for this effort.
The Japanese version of the website is at www.nuclearzero.org/jp. For those of you who do not read Japanese, you can check out the English-language version of the website and sign the petition in support of the Marshall Islands at www.nuclearzero.org.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
Air Force Lobbies for New Nuclear Bombers
Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, the Air Force assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, defended plans to update the U.S. long-range bomber fleet. According to Harencak, the new long-range bombers would have “persistent, long-range strike capabilities that provide practical alternatives for global security.” The Air Force hopes to deploy 100 of the new bombers by 2025.
Amid questions about the necessity of the project and the relevancy of the nation’s bombers, Harencak argued that bombers are still needed to protect American interests and that the current fleet, which includes the 50 year-old B-52, is inadequate.
“Air Force General Presses Case for Future Nuclear Bomber,” Global Security Newswire, June 19, 2014.
Empowering Nuclear Missile Officers
Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, commander of the U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile force, said that nuclear missile officers have been suffering from low morale in part because they were being “micromanaged.”
“The best way to produce leaders of the future is to make sure that when they are junior you properly educate and train them and you let them make decisions,” he said.
However, Col. Robert Vercher, who stepped down in June as commander of the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, disagreed. Vercher said, “You might call it micromanagement, but I would call it oversight – proper oversight. When I hear the word ‘micromanagement,’ I go, ‘It depends.’ How much do you want your tax return micromanaged by your accountant? Exquisitely or just kind of haphazardly?”
Robert Burns, “AP Interview: AF Should Empower Young Nuke Leaders,” Associated Press, June 25, 2014.
U.S. and UK to Renew Nuclear Weapon Partnership
Britain is increasing its partnership with the United States to design new nuclear warheads, according to documents released in the UK under the freedom of information act. The Mutual Defense Agreement (MDA) was originally signed by the two countries in 1958. It is expected to be renewed within the next few weeks.
One document describes the MDA as an agreement that enables Britain and the U.S. “nuclear warhead communities to collaborate on all aspects of nuclear deterrence including nuclear warhead design and manufacture.”
Peter Burt of Nuclear Information Service, who obtained the papers, said, “The UK and U.S. are setting a dreadful example to the rest of the world by renewing the MDA, and are seriously undermining the credibility of international efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”
He added: “If Iran and North Korea had signed a similar agreement for the transfer of nuclear weapons technology, the UK and U.S. would be branding them pariah nations and screaming for the toughest of international sanctions to be imposed.”
Richard Norton-Taylor, “Exclusive: UK to Step Up Collaboration with US Over Nuclear Warheads,” The Guardian, June 12, 2014.
U.S. Jets Intercept Russian Nuclear Bombers
On June 9, U.S. military jets intercepted four Russian bombers as they flew close to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska as well as the coast of Northern California. The Russian Tu-95 Bear H bombers, which can be equipped with nuclear-armed cruise missiles, appear to have been participating in a training exercise.
While it is not unusual for such long-range practice runs to occur, the timing of the training exercise came during a particularly contentious time as Russia and the U.S. square off over the crisis in Ukraine. The U.S. has deployed nuclear-capable bombers to Europe to participate in training exercises with NATO.
“U.S. Jets Intercept Russian Bombers Near Alaska,” Global Security Newswire, June 12, 2014.
China Complains About Japanese Plutonium
China has complained that Japan failed to disclose 640 kilograms of plutonium in its possession to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that Japan has a duty to report its plutonium to the IAEA and questioned whether this failure to report was “an unintentional omission or a deliberate concealment.” The Japan Atomic Energy Commission acknowledged that the plutonium, stored in an offline reactor at Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture, was omitted from its report out of a belief that the material was “exempt from IAEA reporting requirements.”
Japan’s storage of nuclear material has often raised concerns in China, including the worry that Japan may eventually break away from its policy of refraining from nuclear weapon development. With a plutonium supply of more than 44 tons, Japan maintains the largest plutonium stockpile of any country without nuclear weapons. It takes approximately 4 kilograms of plutonium to make a nuclear weapon.
Austin Ramzy, “China Complains About Plutonium in Japan,” The New York Times, June 10, 2014.
New Method for Detecting Nuclear Warheads
Scientists from Princeton University and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory have invented a new method for inspectors to detect nuclear warheads without access to classified information. Inspectors would beam high-energy neutrons though a warhead and use a detector on the other side to measure the number of neutrons that pass through. They would then compare this result to the number that typically pass through a non-nuclear target.
Physicist Andrew Glaser, first author of the study, said that the method would allow inspectors to determine “true nuclear warheads” while “learning nothing about the materials and design of the warhead itself.” If this “zero-knowledge protocol” proves effective, it could help advance the inspections process as part of the New START treaty between the U.S. and Russia. Both countries have agreed to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear arsenals to 1,550 weapons each by 2018.
Mary-Ann Russon, “Scientists Invent New Way to Spot Nuclear Warheads Using Physics,” International Business Times, June 25, 2014.
War and Peace
U.S. Rejects Draft Treaty Banning Space Weapons
A new draft treaty designed to limit the weaponization of space was introduced by China and Russia into the United Nations and met with opposition from the United States. The proposal, an update of the 2008 draft, would place “legally binding curbs on weapons in space.” The U.S., citing the lack of an effective verification system to monitor compliance in the UN draft, instead favors a less formal “code of conduct” being pushed by the European Union.
Bill Gertz, “U.S. Opposes New Draft Treaty from China and Russia Banning Space Weapons,” The Washington Free Beacon, June 19, 2014.
Article 9 Protest in Japan
A man set himself on fire in protest of the Japanese government’s attempts to reinterpret Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution to allow the military to be used against other nations. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe believes that Article 9 unfairly restricts Japan from exercising its right to self-defense. Article 9 currently outlaws war as a means to settle international disputes.
The Article 9 decision is extremely controversial in Japan, with proponents of the pacifist constitution saying that reinterpreting the Constitution will more easily allow wars to take place. Japan is currently embroiled in a serious territorial dispute with China over the islands known to the Japanese as the Senkakus and to the Chinese as the Diaoyus.
“Japanese Man Self-Immolates in Pro-Pacifist Constitution Protest,” RT, June 29, 2014.
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 July, including the first U.S. atmospheric nuclear weapon test in the Marshall Islands (July 1, 1946) and U.S. Strategic Command’s “Waging [Nuclear] Deterrence in the 21st Century” conference (July 29-30, 2009).
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
Plan Your Action for Nuclear Abolition Day
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is coordinating a worldwide day of action against nuclear weapons on September 26, 2014. The United Nations General Assembly has declared September 26 the “International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.”
ICAN is asking people around the world to organize actions in their own countries to highlight the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and to call for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. For ideas and resources to help you plan your activity, visit the ICAN website.
Against the Tide
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has published a new report entitled “Against the Tide: Why the Trident Commission’s Views Are Outdated and Out of Touch.” In the report, CND argues that the Trident Commission should have listened to the majority of the British people who oppose Trident replacement and the overwhelming majority internationally who want to see a world free of these monstrous and outdated weapons. Instead the Commission has produced a rehash of Cold War thinking that fails to acknowledge that the world has moved on.
CND argues that cancelling the program to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system is a pragmatic and realistic alternative.
To download a copy of CND’s report, click here.
Paul Chappell Gives Keynote Address at Model UN in Germany
With the conference title “World Peace, Our Present Task, Our Future Aim,” the Oldenburg Model United Nations/OLMUN 2014 took place June 24-27, 2014 in Oldenburg, Germany. NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell was keynote speaker on the opening night of the conference. Chappell spoke to over 700 high school students from Germany and other European countries on “Why World Peace Is Possible.”
Paul argued that politicians manipulate soldiers by dehumanizing opponents in order to make them fight in war. He concludes that human beings are naturally peaceful and afraid of war and physical and psychological violence. This leads to his opinion that we can all have realistic hope for a peaceful future.
For more information on this event, click here.
Remembering the U.S. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
On August 6, 2014, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will participate in three events commemorating the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively.
NAPF’s 21st Annual Sadako Peace Day will be held at La Casa de Maria in Montecito, California, at 6:00 p.m. This year’s featured speaker is NAPF Board member Robert Laney. The event is free and open to the public.
NAPF Director of Programs Rick Wayman will attend a commemoration event at the gates of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), where many U.S. nuclear weapons have been designed and developed. A whopping 89% of LLNL’s budget request for 2015 is for nuclear weapon activities. The theme of this year’s Bay Area commemoration event is “Failure to Disarm.” Rick has been invited to speak about the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits, which directly address the failure of all nine nuclear-armed nations to disarm. For more information on the Bay Area event, click here.
Rick will also participate in a webinar hosted by Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) on August 6 at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. He will be discussing the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits, and will be joined by a woman from the Marshall Islands who has suffered the effects of the U.S. nuclear weapons tests. The webinar is free and open to the public. More information and a registration link will be provided in the August issue of The Sunflower.
Youth Video Contest Announced
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is working with Tri-Valley CAREs, a non-profit organization based in Livermore, California, on a new youth video contest. Contestants will address the topic: “Six Decades of Nuclear Bombs at Livermore Lab: Tell Us Why a Clean Environment Is Important to You.”
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is one of the two main nuclear weapons design and research laboratories in the United States. Every nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal was designed at either Livermore or Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico. Operating this lab in Livermore, California for six decades has taken a serious toll on the local environment. In fact, the lab has released over 1 million curies of radiation into the local environment.
The contest is open to people around the world. The deadline for submissions is October 31, 2014.
For more information about the contest, click here.
“Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?”
— The Russell-Einstein Manifesto, which was issued on July 9, 1955. This quote is featured in the NAPF book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action.
“This isn’t about your job. It’s about materials with the power to taint land, air and water — to poison and kill living things — for tens of thousands of years. PR baby-talk can’t alter that deadly serious fact.”
— Sasha Pyle and Joni Arends, in an op-ed opposing the proposed rushed re-opening of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico. A serious radiation leak at WIPP in February 2014 has shut down the facility. Investigators are still unsure as to the exact cause of the radiation leak, which exposed at least 21 workers to elevated radiation levels.
“Once again this year, the nuclear weapon-possessing states took little action to indicate a genuine willingness to work toward complete dismantlement of their nuclear arsenals.”
— Shannon Kile and Phillip Patton Schell, referencing the new annual nuclear forces data report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).