Issue #216 – July 2015
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The Nuclear Age at Seventy
The first explosion of a nuclear device took place at Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945. Just three weeks later, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima and three days after that on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The new weapons had devastating power, killing approximately 100,000 people immediately in the two cities and another 100,000 people by the end of 1945.
Since these bombings brought the world into the Nuclear Age, the human future and that of other forms of life have been at risk. Never before did humankind have the power to destroy itself, but that completely changed in the Nuclear Age. By our own scientific and technological cleverness, we humans had created the means of our own demise. Our technological capacity for destruction had exceeded our spiritual capacity to work together and cooperate to end the threat that these weapons posed to our common future.
To read more, click here.
Not Just Apologies but Repentance
Frequently asking a single country to apologize tends to turn the gaze upon others, and the sight is hardly flattering: a roll-call of nations having admitted to or atoned for past wrong-doings falls pitifully short.
Most Western colonial powers have a stained record when it comes to apologizing for their colonial era plunders. Too many still make believe that their colonialism had less to do with greed and more with the spread of “civilization.” Quite a few still perpetuate the myth of “The White Man’s Burden.”
By any measure the leader of the no-apologies category, in a league all its own, must be the United States of America. Few countries have been as mired in as much warfare within as brief a period of history as the United States. Since WWII, the number of revolutions, coups d’état, invasions and wars it has directly or indirectly instigated has been staggering. The United States has yet to apologize for unleashing nuclear terror on civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not only has there been no apology, but past governments have gone to extraordinary lengths, to convince a gullible public that the two atomic bombs saved a million American lives (notwithstanding historical research proving this story was promoted by a PR team after the bombings.)
To read more, click here.
UK Trident Discredited by Whistleblower
On 17 May, the Scottish Sunday Herald revealed that a whistleblower, 25-year-old Able Seaman William McNeilly, had released online an 18-page report containing serious allegations surrounding the safety and security of the British Trident ballistic missile-equipped submarine force.
The Royal Navy is out of its depth operating the existing Trident system, starved of resources and trying to get by on the cheap. This dangerous situation – which the courageous actions of a patriotic young whistleblower have exposed – can only get worse if the UK Submarine Service has to take on whatever replacement the US is prepared to let the British have.
To read more, click here.
Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
The Marshall Islands Are Trying to Keep the World’s Nuclear Powers Honest
On paper, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is a strong treaty. The agreement among most nations aims to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, disarm existing weapons and encourage the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
In reality, many of the countries who signed it either weasel out of its obligations or simply ignore them. “For far too many years, these circular negotiations on nuclear non-proliferation have failed to listen closely to those voices who know better,” Tony deBrum, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Marshall Islands — a tiny republic in the Pacific Ocean — said.
The Marshall Islands brought litigation against the world’s nine nuclear-armed countries — including the U.S., UK and Russia —in 2014. The island republic filed nine separate cases in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, as well as one in U.S. Federal Court.
Matthew Gault, “The Marshall Islands Tried to Keep the World’s Nuclear Powers Honest,” War Is Boring, June 9, 2015.
Marshall Islands Take India to Court
The Marshall Islands feels strongly that the nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan could pose a huge danger to world peace since both are non-signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Last month, the International Court of Justice accepted India’s request for an extension to reply to the Marshall Islands’ application, giving it until September 16.
Dhananjay Mahapatra, “N-disarmament: Tiny Island of 70.000 People Takes India to Court,” Times of India, June 25, 2015.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
U.S. Spending Increases to Counter Russian Nuclear Modernization
To maintain nuclear “superiority” and counter increases in Russia’s defense budget, the United States must ramp up its own spending on defense and nuclear weapons, according to Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. According to Thornberry, U.S. defense spending has been cut 21% over the last four years, while Russia’s defense spending has increased by 10% and includes modernization of ICBMs and long-range cruise missiles. Thornberry warned, “We’ve let the infrastructure deteriorate.”
However, United States military spending is still approximately seven times greater than Russia’s. The United States also plans to completely rebuild its nuclear arsenal and infrastructure at a cost of at least $1 trillion over the next 30 years.
Alissa Tabirian, “HASC Chair: Increase U.S. Defense Spending to Counter Russian Nuke Modernization,” Defense Daily, June 23, 2015.
War and Peace
NATO to Review Nuclear Weapons Policy as Attitude to Russia Hardens
At a two-day ministerial meeting in Brussels, NATO officials discussed reevaluating their nuclear weapons policies in response to increasing tension with Russia over Ukraine. Some NATO leaders do not feel that current NATO nuclear policy is aggressive enough, and view Russia’s rhetoric on nuclear weapons, involvement of the weapons in military exercises, and announced acquisition of new missiles as signaling an increased nuclear threat. Approximately 180 U.S. nuclear bombs are currently stationed on the territories of five NATO member countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey).
In addition to NATO discussions on hardening its nuclear policy, diplomats and scientists have voiced concern over a “new nuclear arms race” between the U.S. and Russia. Both countries are engaging in nuclear weapon “modernization” programs in violation of their legal obligation under Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate for an end to the nuclear arms race at an early date.
Ewen MacAskill, “Nato to Review Nuclear Weapons Policy as Attitude to Russia Hardens,” The Guardian, June 24, 2015.
Seeking Peace in Ukraine
In a “long and constructive” phone call between US President Obama and Russian President Putin, the two leaders discussed a plethora of issues including the need to counter Islamic State fighters, negotiations to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and the situation in the Middle East. President Obama also called on President Putin to remove Russian troops and military equipment from Ukraine.
In an op-ed in TIME magazine, former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley outlines five features of a deal that could bring peace in Ukraine. The deal would include a promise from Ukraine never to join NATO, lifting of economic sanctions against Russia, and more.
Toluse Olorunnipa, “Obama Tells Putin Russia Needs to Remove Troops From Ukraine,” Bloomberg, June 25, 2015.
The Golden Rule Sails Again
On June 20, the ship Golden Rule was officially re-launched. Veterans for Peace took on the task of restoring the ship, famous for its attempt in 1958 to stop U.S. nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands. The ship will sail from its current home in northern California to San Diego in time for the Veterans for Peace national convention in early August, which has the theme of “peace and reconciliation in the Pacific.”
Mark Larson, “Re-Christening the Golden Rule,” North Coast Journal, June 21, 2015.
The Rainbow Warrior: 30 Years On
Henk Haazen provides a firsthand account of his experience as a crewmember of the Rainbow Warrior, a vessel that served the campaigns of the global environmental organization Greenpeace. The Rainbow Warrior and its crew were dispatched to relocate Marshall Islanders whose land and livelihood had been affected by U.S. nuclear testing. Upon witnessing the devastating effects of the testing on the islanders and their homeland, the crew of the Rainbow Warrior was compelled to launch their next big campaign: to bring an end to French nuclear testing in French Polynesia.
This plan was thrown off track in 1985 when the French Secret Service blew up the Rainbow Warrior in a New Zealand harbor. This act of terrorism, however, would not thwart the efforts of Greenpeace in the following decades. In the mid-1990s, Greenpeace boats formed a flotilla around the French Polynesian Islands: a chain of boats that served as a symbolic barrier to nuclear testing, pressuring the French to end their testing shortly afterwards.
Hank Haazen, “The Rainbow Warrior: 30 years on,” Stuff.co.nz, June 26, 2015.
Livermore Lab Plutonium Tests Challenged
A series of controversial experiments taking place at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in Livermore, California are being challenged by local and national environmental organizations. The tests consist of zapping tiny samples of the intensely radioactive element plutonium with powerful laser beams. The stated goal of the tests is to ensure that the thousands of nuclear weapons stockpiled in the U.S. nuclear arsenal are still in working condition.
Leaders of NIF insist that the tests are safe and that the program is essential to assure the “safety, security, and reliability” of the warheads in America’s nuclear stockpile. Critics of the plutonium tests, including Livermore-based group Tri-Valley CAREs, have raised concerns about the lack of a containment plan for airborne plutonium particles and the likely contamination of the facility.
David Perlman, “Safety of Warhead-Related Tests at Livermore Lab Challenged,” San Francisco Chronicle, June 28, 2015.
U.S. Mayors Call for “Effective Implementation” of NPT
At the close of its 83rd Annual Meeting, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), adopted a strong resolution in support of Mayors for Peace, calling for the “effective implementation” of the nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty obligations. Also, the USCM expressed its support for the successful conclusion of Iran Nuclear Deal negotiations. With the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki coming up, the USCM urged policymakers to visit the cities to see the reality of the consequences of atomic bombings with their own eyes.
The resolution “calls on the President and Congress to reduce nuclear weapons spending to the minimum necessary to assure the safety and security of the existing weapons as they await disablement and dismantlement, and to direct those funds to address the pressing needs of cities.”
To read the full resolution, click here.
July’s Featured Blog
This month’s featured blog is Strategic Security, written by Hans Kristensen of Federation of American Scientists. Kristensen is an expert on a vast array of nuclear weapons issues, and writes authoritatively on nuclear modernization programs around the world and the details of the nuclear-armed nations’ nuclear stockpiles.
Recent titles by Kristensen include “Pentagon Report: China Deploys MIRV Missile” and “Obama Administration Releases New Warhead Numbers.”
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 July 27, 1956 incident in which a U.S. B-47 bomber crashed into a storage bunker holding three Mark 6 nuclear bombs.
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
American University Exhibit Commemorating Hiroshima and Nagasaki
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a powerful exhibit at American University in Washington, DC will take place through August. The show will include 20 artifacts collected from the debris of the 1945 atomic bombings as well as six 24-foot folding screens that depict the horrors of the event.
The exhibition is intended to deepen understanding of the damage wrought by nuclear weapons, and to inspire peace in the 21st century. For more information, click here.
Sadako Peace Day is August 6
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will hold its 21st Annual Sadako Peace Day commemoration event on Thursday, August 6. This year’s event, which falls on the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, remembers the victims of the U.S. atomic bombings and all innocent victims of war. NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell will deliver this year’s keynote address.
The program also includes music, poetry and reflection. Click here to view the invitation.
The event will take place at 6:00 p.m. at the Sadako Peace Garden at La Casa de Maria – 800 El Bosque Road, Montecito, California. The event is free and open to the public.
Peace Leadership in Tijuana
Paul K. Chappell, Peace Leadership Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, gave a panel presentation on “Waging Peace Today” to 400 attendees at the Playas de Tijuana inaugural event for the international exhibit, “From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit,” on Thursday, June 18th, at the Casa de Cultura Playas as part of the Municipal Art and Culture Institute of Tijuana, Mexico. Other speakers included Dr. Jorge Astiazaran, the mayor of Tijuana, and Robert Rios, General Director of Soka Gakkai of Mexico.
“Paul’s powerful message, the seeds he planted, resonated strongly in many hearts and minds,” said exhibit coordinator Susan Smith.
To read more about this event, click here.
NAPF President David Krieger to Speak in Maui
David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, will be the featured speaker at an event commemorating the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The event will take place on August 6 at 5:30 pm at the University of Hawaii Maui College. It is organized by Maui Peace Action.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If forced into war by India, Pakistan will respond in a befitting manner; our [nuclear] arms are not meant for decoration.”
— Khwaja Asif, Defense Minister of Pakistan
“We must teach an elemental truth: that status and presige belong not to those who possess nuclear weapons, but to those who reject them.”
— Ban Ki-moon, South Korean diplomat and 8th United Nations Secretary-General. This quote is featured in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, available online in the NAPF Peace Store.
“Nuclear weapons are not ordinary munitions and the conditions for eliminating them do not exist in today’s world.”
— Ambassador Adam Scheinman, head of the United States delegation to the 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. Click here to read his full op-ed in The Hill.