Issue #264 – July 2019
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U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
New Modes of Thinking
“The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” ~Albert Einstein
This is a prescient warning to humanity from the greatest scientist of the 20th century, the individual who conceived of the enormous power that could be released from the atom.
What did Einstein mean?
To read more, click here.
Why We Brought Hammers to a Nuclear Fight
On April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s assassination, I joined six other Catholic pacifists in an attempt to symbolically enflesh the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.”
After cutting a lock, we entered Naval Station Kings Bay in St. Marys, GA with hammers, baby bottles of blood and crime scene tape to expose the horrific D-5 nuclear weapons aboard the Trident submarines that imperil life as we know it on Planet Earth.
We used high drama as a wake-up call to hopefully get people thinking about the fate of the earth and human survival. Never before has our world been more at risk of the prospect of nuclear war. The Doomsday Clock, maintained by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, stands at two minutes to midnight.
To read the full op-ed in the Raleigh News & Observer, click here.
U.S. Setting the Stage for War with Iran
Three episodes [Iran shooting down a U.S. drone, and two attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman], which left no casualties, set into motion powerful forces within the Trump administration that have the apparent intention to wage war against Iran whilst lacking the support of provable hard evidence.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident concerning the explosion of part of the two oil tankers, the U.S. put forward a narrative depicting Iranians as “evil-doers” – George Bush’s favorite exploited expression in the run-up to the war against Iraq in 2003. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has defined these alleged Iranian attacks as “a clear threat to international peace and security.” This harkens back to when U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, lied about evidence of the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the United Nations Security Council, and obtained the support the U.S. needed to pave the way to war.
To read more, click here.
Yes, the Trump-Kim DMZ Meeting Was a Breakthrough – Here’s What Should Come Next
President Donald Trump did what no sitting U.S. president has done: he crossed the demarcation line dividing the two Koreas at Panmunjom and set foot on North Korean soil. Not only that, he greeted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and together they traversed the cement border and met South Korean President Moon Jae In. Then, President Trump sat down with Kim for a 50-minute conversation in the Freedom House in South Korea.
It’s time to acknowledge that the root cause of the nuclear crisis is the continuing state of war between the United States and North Korea. The Korean War is not over: we have yet to replace the 1953 ceasefire with a formal peace agreement.
To read the full op-ed by NAPF Adviser Christine Ahn in Newsweek, click here.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
U.S. Drastically Understaffing Arms Control Office
The U.S. Office of Strategic Stability and Deterrence Affairs has become critically understaffed during the first two years of the Trump presidency, with its staff decreasing from 14 to 4. The arms control office is tasked with negotiating and implementing nuclear disarmament treaties, and its main mission is to implement the remaining nuclear arms control agreements with Russia, namely New START.
The current situation leaves the State Department unequipped to pursue nuclear arms control negotiations prior to New START’s expiration date of February 21, 2021. If it is allowed to expire, the U.S. and Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) would be without any type of formal arms control agreement for the first time since 1972.
Julian Borger, “U.S. Arms Control Office Critically Understaffed Under Trump, Experts Say,” The Guardian, July 1, 2019.
Plutonium Pit Plan Raises Questions
A proposal by the Department of Energy (DOE) to expand production of plutonium pits – the core of a nuclear weapon – at the Savannah River Site is drawing criticism from local watchdogs. Savannah River Site Watch claims that DOE’s pit production plan is “unfunded, unjustified, and unauthorized.”
SRS Watch spokesman Tom Clements said that pit production at the Savannah River Site would create more waste streams harmful to the area without doing anything to address the waste already stored at the site. The DOE is seeking public feedback for a federally mandated Environmental Impact Statement and said that they are following the guidelines laid out by the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.
Wes Cooper, “Proposed Plutonium Pit Expansion Raising Questions,” WJBF, June 27, 2019.
Nuclear-Armed Countries Upgrading Arsenals While Total Number of Weapons Decreases
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) announced that all nuclear weapons-possessing states are continuing to upgrade their arsenals, despite overall reductions in total nuclear weapons worldwide. At the beginning of this year, the nine nuclear weapons states were estimated to possess approximately 13,865 nuclear weapons, down from SIPRI’s 2018 estimate of 14,465. Of the new total, 3,750 are currently deployed. Nearly 2,000 of the deployed nuclear weapons are kept on high alert.
This decrease can be largely attributed to continuing quantitative reductions by the U.S. and Russia, whose arsenals still account for over 90 percent of all nuclear weapons. The U.S. and Russia, along with the other nuclear-armed nations, are all engaged in qualitative upgrades of their arsenals.
Kelsey Reichmann, “Here’s How Many Nuclear Warheads Exist, and Which Countries Own Them,” Defense News, June 16, 2019.
U.S. Conference of Mayors Highlights Nuclear Disarmament
On July 1, the U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously passed a resolution calling on all U.S. presidential candidates to make their positions on nuclear weapons known, and to pledge U.S. global leadership in preventing nuclear war, returning to diplomacy, and negotiating the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Kazumi Matsui, Mayor of Hiroshima, spoke at the conference. He said, “As mayors, you are working every day for the well-being of your citizens, but all your efforts could be for naught if nuclear weapons are used again. I would also like to point out that, while every one of the nuclear-armed states is spending billions of dollars to modernize and upgrade their arsenals, that money could be much more productively spent to meet the needs of cities and the people who live in them.”
The full text of the resolution is available here.
Multiple Cities and States Support Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
In addition to the U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution summarized in the previous article, many cities and states have declared their support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the Back from the Brink Campaign.
The Oregon State Legislature and the New Jersey General Assembly both passed resolutions. They were joined by numerous cities, including Santa Barbara (USA), Vancouver (Canada), and Edinburgh (Scotland).
Click the links for more information on the ICAN Cities Appeal and the Back from the Brink Campaign.
One-Third of US Supports Nuclear War on North Korea, Knowing It Would Kill One Million
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in collaboration with YouGov, published a survey showing that over one-third of the U.S. population would support a preemptive strike on North Korea, even knowing that the strike would be nuclear in nature and that over one million people would be killed.
One standout fact the survey noted was the difference between “preference” and “approval,” whereby respondents replaced their personal preferences with deference to the President. For example, while only 33 percent of respondents preferred a preemptive nuclear strike, 50 percent would approve of one if carried out.
Tom O’Connor, “One-Third of US Supports Nuclear War on North Korea, Knowing It Would Kill One Million, Report Shows,” Newsweek, June 24, 2019.
Nuclear Waste Storage Plan Draws Criticism
Plans by New Jersey-based Holtec International to store nuclear waste in New Mexico are running into opposition from state officials. Rep. Deb Haaland wrote to both the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to voice her concerns.
Criticisms leveled against Holtec’s plan include the lack of funding for infrastructure improvements needed to safely transport and store the waste, with Haaland’s main concern being that existing rail lines in the state aren’t built to withstand the weight of the specially-reinforced drums that hold the waste. Haaland is also worried that the government’s history of inaction around nuclear waste could lead to New Mexico becoming a de facto permanent storage site. Holtec International is currently seeking a 40-year license from regulators to build a storage complex near Carlsbad.
Susan Montoya Bryan, “Nuclear Waste Storage Plan Draws Criticism,” Albuquerque Journal, June 21, 2019.
This Summer 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 summer, including the September 18, 1980 incident in which a technician’s dropped wrench caused a massive explosion, leading to a nine-megaton W53 nuclear warhead being launched hundreds of feet out of its silo.
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
Is Your Bank Financing Nuclear Weapons?
Who is trying to profit from weapons of mass destruction? A new report from PAX entitled “Shorting Our Security – Financing the Companies that Make Nuclear Weapons” details which financial institutions are investing $748 billion in companies that produce nuclear weapons.
Is your bank on the list? If you don’t see your bank on the list, find out if it has a parent company that is. You can review the report and search for your bank’s name here.
Nuclear Weapons and the 2020 Presidential Candidates
The Union of Concerned Scientists has created a series of videos in which candidates running for U.S. President in 2020 discuss their views on nuclear weapons.
To see which candidates have commented, and to watch the videos, click here.
Peace Literacy in the Workplace: Summer Workshop in Corvallis, Oregon
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Phronesis Lab at Oregon State University invite you to a three-day workshop in August 2019 in Corvallis, Oregon.
The workshop is geared toward helping both employers and employees build the skills needed to develop more collaborative, empathy-driven workplaces. Our model combines West Point leadership training with the best practices in non-violence developed by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. We use this unique formulation to help you diminish work-place tensions, promote productive communication, and understand the structural and interpersonal dynamics that can lead to harassment and bullying. We help you to re-imagine a workplace where people value each other and find more enjoyment in what they do.
For more information and to register, click here.
Peace Literacy and Alternatives to Violence
On May 26, NAPF Peace Literacy Director Paul K. Chappell gave the keynote address to more than 140 Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) volunteers, including training facilitators, at Mills College in Oakland, California.
Steven Gelb, professor at the University of San Diego and AVP workshop facilitator, reported, “[Paul’s] compellingly original synthesis of the role of meaning and purpose as foundational to both peace work and conflict was immensely helpful to this audience of experienced peace educators.”
Chappell explained that the frameworks of Peace Literacy offer a new understanding of aggression, rage, and trauma and how Peace Literacy skills can be used at school, at work, and with family, friends, and those we do not yet know. Peace Literacy also offers radical empathy, vision, and realistic hope.
To read more about Paul’s Work with the Alternatives to Violence Project, click here.
Sadako Peace Day on August 6
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s annual Sadako Peace Day commemoration will take place on August 6 at Westmont College in Montecito, California.
There will be music, poetry, and reflection in remembrance of the victims of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and of all innocent victims of war.
Click here to download a flyer with more information.
Put a Formal End to the Korean War
The Korean War was paused in 1953 with an Armistice Agreement. Today, over 65 years later, there is still no peace treaty putting a formal end to this war.
A resolution authored by Rep. Ro Khanna aims to change this. The resolution, H.Res. 152, calls upon the United States to formally declare an end to the war and would affirm that the United States does not seek armed conflict with North Korea.
If you are in the United States, click here to encourage your Representative to co-sponsor the resolution.
“The destructive power of nuclear weapons cannot be contained in either space or time. They have the potential to destroy all civilization and the entire ecosystem of the planet.”
— The International Court of Justice, in its 1996 ruling on the illegality of nuclear weapons. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available to purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.
“If we are to bring together positive thinking that peace is a good thing that improves the quality of life, it will heal the division in the hearts of people who have been separated by different ideology and views.”
— South Korean President Moon Jae-in, speaking about his vision for building positive peace between North and South Korea.
“Let’s imagine a planet where we can all live in peace together and not be fretting about whether our rival has one more bomb – that can obliterate the world inside and out – than us.”
— Lila Woodard and Anne Arellano, teenage activists and performers with Le Petit Cirque, speaking at an event celebrating the city of Bergen, Norway passing a resolution supporting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.