Sunflower Newsletter: June 2019

By |2019-06-03T15:38:43-07:00June 3, 2019|
 

Issue #263 – June 2019

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Perspectives

  • Imagination and Nuclear Weapons by David Krieger
  • There Is No Check on Trump’s Rage Going Nuclear by Anne Harrington and Cheryl Rofer
  • I Oversaw the U.S. Nuclear Power Industry. Now I Think it Should Be Banned by Gregory Jaczko

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

  • U.S. Boycotts Conference on Disarmament

Nuclear Proliferation

  • China Rules Out Joining U.S.-Russia Arms Control Deal

Nuclear Disarmament

  • Poll: Most Americans Want to Stay in Arms Control Agreements
  • More Cities and States Support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear Insanity

  • U.S. and North Korea Test Missiles Minutes Apart
  • Ohio Middle School Closed Indefinitely After Enriched Uranium Found Inside

Nuclear Testing

  • U.S. Radioactive Waste Dump in Marshall Islands Is Leaking
  • France Acknowledges Polynesian Islands “Strong-Armed” into Nuclear Tests

Resources

  • World Nuclear Stockpile
  • Halt a March to War with Iran

Foundation Activities

  • Peace Literacy in the Workplace: Summer Workshop in Corvallis, Oregon
  • 2019 Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future
  • 2019 Poetry Contest
  • Sadako Peace Day

Take Action

  • Sign the Petition to Dismiss Charges Against Nuclear Disarmament Activists

Quotes

Perspectives

Imagination and Nuclear Weapons

Einstein believed that knowledge is limited, but imagination is infinite.

Imagine the soul-crushing reality of a nuclear war, with billions of humans dead; in essence, a global Hiroshima, with soot from the destruction of cities blocking warming sunlight. There would be darkness everywhere, temperatures falling into a new ice age, with crop failures and mass starvation.

With nuclear weapons poised on hair-trigger alert and justified by the ever-shaky hypothesis that nuclear deterrence will be effective indefinitely, this should not be difficult to imagine.

In this sense, our imaginations can be great engines for change.

To read more, click here.

There Is No Check on Trump’s Rage Going Nuclear

As president of the United States, Trump has absolute authority to launch nuclear weapons—without anyone else’s consent. In the past, it was taken for granted that the president would follow an established protocol that included consultation with the military, his cabinet, and others before taking such a grave step, but Trump is not legally bound to these procedures. Presidential launch authority is a matter of directive and precedent rather than specific law.

To read the full piece in Foreign Policy, click here.

I Oversaw the U.S. Nuclear Power Industry. Now I Think it Should Be Banned

Two years into my term [as Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission], an earthquake and tsunami destroyed four nuclear reactors in Japan. I spent months reassuring the American public that nuclear energy, and the U.S. nuclear industry in particular, was safe. But by then, I was starting to doubt those claims myself.

Before the accident, it was easier to accept the industry’s potential risks, because nuclear power plants had kept many coal and gas plants from spewing air pollutants and greenhouse gases into the air. Afterward, the falling cost of renewable power changed the calculus. Despite working in the industry for more than a decade, I now believe that nuclear power’s benefits are no longer enough to risk the welfare of people living near these plants.

To read the full op-ed in the Washington Post, click here.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

U.S. Boycotts Conference on Disarmament

The United States walked out of the UN Conference on Disarmament on May 28 in protest of Venezuela assuming the rotating presidency of the forum. As Venezuela took up the one-month presidency, U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood left the session and announced a boycott while Venezuela’s ambassador Jorge Valero chairs it. Wood said that a representative of Venezuela’s “interim leader,” Juan Guaido, should assume the seat.

U.S. Boycotts U.N. Arms Forum as Venezuela Takes Chair,” Reuters, May 28, 2019.

Nuclear Proliferation

China Rules Out Joining U.S.-Russia Arms Control Deal

China dismissed the possibility of entering into negotiations for a trilateral arms control deal alongside the United States and Russia, highlighting that the U.S. has failed to uphold its international commitments. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang warns of “growing instabilities and uncertainties in the field of international strategic security.”

In February, the White House withdrew from the 1987 intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) treaty. Washington argued that Moscow’s Novator 9M729 missile violated the agreement’s restrictions, while Russian officials counterclaimed that the Pentagon’s own Aegis Ashore defense system in Eastern Europe violated the treaty. Though not a party to the agreement, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang claimed the move could “trigger a series of adverse consequences.”

Tom O’Connor, “China ‘Will Never’ Join Arms Control Deal with U.S. and Russia, Says Donald Trump has Not Even Followed Past Agreements,” Newsweek, May 20, 2019.

Nuclear Disarmament

Poll: Most Americans Want to Stay in Arms Control Agreements

A new poll suggests that the public favors a more constrained nuclear posture and is growing more skeptical of weapons that are in the U.S. arsenal already. A majority of respondents also favored restraining the President from launching a nuclear strike before seeking congressional approval.

Eighty percent of respondents – including 77 percent of Republicans – favor extending the New START Treaty beyond its 2021 expiration. Two-thirds of respondents, including most Republicans, said the U.S. should stay in the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. About 60 percent of respondents favored phasing out U.S. ICBMs. Seventy-five percent of respondents overall (including six in ten Republicans) supported legislation requiring that the President obtain permission from Congress before launching an attack.

Patrick Tucker, “Poll: Americans Want to Stay in Nuclear Arms Control Agreements,” Defense One, May 20, 2019.

More Cities and States Support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

In May, more progress was made with cities and states declaring their opposition to nuclear weapons and their support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Paris signed on to the ICAN Cities Appeal, joining other major world cities including Toronto, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Berlin, Geneva, and Washington, DC.

In the U.S., resolutions in support of the TPNW and supporting the five-point platform of the Back from the Brink campaign passed the Oregon Senate and the New Jersey Assembly.

To see the full list of cities that have signed the ICAN Cities Appeal, click here.

Nuclear Insanity

U.S. and North Korea Test Missiles Minutes Apart

On May 9, the U.S. and North Korea tested missiles within minutes of one another. The U.S. tested a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile and, on the same day, a Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile. North Korea tested short-range missiles.

Rick Wayman, Deputy Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, said, “By testing ballistic missiles this month, both the U.S. and North Korea risk blowing up the delicate progress that has been achieved to date through diplomacy.” He continued, “Neither party is right in this chest-thumping exercise, particularly while there remains a possibility of diplomatically eliminating all nuclear threats on the Korean Peninsula and actually achieving peace in a conflict that has gone on for nearly seven decades.”

Tom O’Connor, “U.S. and North Korea Launch Missiles at Same Time: What They Have and Why They Should Stop,” Newsweek, May 9, 2019.

Ohio Middle School Closed Indefinitely After Enriched Uranium Found Inside

An Ohio middle school has closed for the remainder of the academic year after tests discovered traces of enriched uranium and neptunium-237 inside. While the source has not yet been identified, some locals have been quick to blame the nearby Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which previously produced enriched uranium, including weapons-grade uranium, for the U.S. government until 2001. Nearby homes and bodies of water have also tested positive for both enriched uranium and neptunium.

Anne White, Assistant Secretary for the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management division, which is in charge of cleaning up the Portsmouth site, resigned due to the scandal.

David Brennan, “Ohio School Closed After Enriched Uranium Discovered Inside,” Newsweek, May 14, 2019.

Nuclear Testing

U.S. Radioactive Waste Dump in the Marshall Islands Is Leaking

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that a concrete dome built to contain highly-radioactive waste from U.S. atomic bomb tests in the 1940s and 50s is leaking radioactive material into the Pacific Ocean. Guterres described the structure on Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands as “a kind of coffin.”

The dome is cracking from years of exposure to the elements, and concerns abound that the dome could break apart if hit by a tropical cyclone. The U.S. has thus far refused any responsibility for the situation.

“The consequences of these [tests] have been quite dramatic, in relation to health, in relation to the poisoning of waters in some areas,” Guterres said.

Nuclear ‘Coffin’ May Be Leaking Radioactive Material into Pacific Ocean, U.N. Chief Says,” CBS News, May 16, 2019.

France Acknowledges Polynesian Islands “Strong-Armed” into Nuclear Tests

France has officially acknowledged for the first time that French Polynesians did not willingly enter into an agreement to accept 193 nuclear tests over a 30-year period. France also admitted that it is responsible for compensating islanders for the illnesses caused by the fallout.

Henry Samuel, “France Acknowledges Polynesian Islands ‘Strong-Armed’ into Dangerous Nuclear Tests,” The Telegraph, May 24, 2019.

Resources

World Nuclear Stockpile

Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris of the Federation of American Scientists are the leading experts in estimating the size of global nuclear weapons inventories. Matt Korda is a new co-author of these reports, which are published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Nuclear Notebook. The authors estimate that there are currently 13,850 nuclear weapons in the world, with 92% in the arsenals of the U.S. and Russia.

To read more, click here.

Halt a March to War with Iran

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation joined 60 other U.S. organizations in signing a letter asking members of Congress to take decisive action to halt a march to war with Iran. The letter reads in part, “Congress cannot be complicit as the playbook for the 2003 invasion of Iraq is repeated before our eyes. The administration has increasingly politicized intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program, and falsely asserts ties between Iran and al-Qaeda….The American people do not want another disastrous war of choice in the Middle East. Congress has the chance to stop a war before it starts. Please take action before it is too late.”

To read the full letter, click here.

Foundation Activities

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 re-imagine a workplace where people value each other and find more enjoyment in what they do.

Early-bird registration ends June 15, so register soon. More information is available here.

 

2019 Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future

On May 9, Elaine Scarry delivered the 18th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future. Scarry teaches at Harvard University, where she is the Cabot Professor of
Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value. She lectures nationally and internationally on nuclear war, law, literature, and medicine. The title of her talk was “Thermonuclear Monarchy and a Sleeping Citizenry.”

A video of Scarry’s important lecture is available at this link.

2019 Poetry Contest

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 2019 Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards is accepting submissions through July 1. The contest encourages poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit.

The Poetry Awards include three age categories: Adult, Youth 13-18, and Youth 12 & Under.

For more information on the contest, 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.

Take Action

Sign the Petition to Dismiss Charges Against Nuclear Disarmament Activists

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7, a group of seven nuclear disarmament activists, engaged in a symbolic and nonviolent action at the Trident nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The activists now face 25 years in prison, and their trial is expected to begin soon.

Click here to add your name to the petition.

Quotes

 

“Only one individual is necessary to spread the leavening influence of ahimsa [nonviolence] in an office, a business, a school, or even a large institution.”

Mohandas K. Gandhi. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available to purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.

 

“The real question is: How the hell do we get rid of these nuclear weapons that are threatening the entire planet? And I would be aggressive in doing that. Right now, we have a president who wants to spend more and more money on the military and more money on nuclear weapons. I want to see us not abrogate treaties with Iran or anyplace else, which have controlled the growth of nuclear weapons. I want to see us be aggressive in bringing the world together again to figure out how we can substantially not only reduce military spending worldwide, but how we can reduce the ongoing and long-term threat of nuclear weapons.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders, responding to a question about whether he would be willing to use nuclear weapons if elected President.

 

“Most people assume that if something hasn’t happened, it won’t happen. But that is psychology, not reality. Some of those who have spent their careers managing U.S. nuclear weapons believe that we have been extraordinarily lucky that nuclear weapons have not been used since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Zia Mian, Alan Robock, and Sharon Weiner, in an op-ed about the importance of the New Jersey Assembly passing a resolution against nuclear weapons.

Editorial Team

 

Alex Baldwin
David Krieger
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman