Issue #212 – March 2015
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Bush-Appointed Judge Dismisses Nuclear Zero Lawsuit; Marshall Islands to Appeal
On April 24, 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), a Pacific Island country of 70,000 inhabitants, took bold action on nuclear disarmament. It brought lawsuits at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the world’s highest court, against the nine nuclear-armed countries, accusing them of violating their obligations under international law to negotiate in good faith to end the nuclear arms race and for total nuclear disarmament. Because of the importance of the US as a nuclear power and the fact that it does not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ, the Marshall Islands at the same time brought a similar lawsuit against the US in US federal district court in Northern California.
In the US case, rather than engaging in the case in good faith, the US government responded by filing a motion to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds. On February 3, 2015, George W. Bush appointee Judge Jeffrey White granted the US motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the RMI, although a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), lacked standing to bring the case and that the lawsuit is barred by the political question doctrine.
To read more, click here.
Nuclear Nations in the Dock
A little-known court case initiated by an inconspicuous Pacific Island state might not seem very newsworthy, but when there’s a David and Goliath element involving some of the world’s most powerful nations, with implications for Australia, we should take notice.
For Australia, this is anything but a quaint and esoteric legal exercise, and we are anything but an innocent bystander. Successive Australian governments pay lip service to the goal of a nuclear weapons free world, while simultaneously giving support to US nuclear weapons, under the extraordinarily foolish notion that they protect us. Goliath, with his genocidal weapons, has our unbridled loyalty and complicity. We are in fact part of the problem.
To read more, click here.
Remember Your Humanity
This year, 2015, marks the 60th anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, which contains the following words: “There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise. If you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.”[The elimination of nuclear weapons] is a life-or-death question. We can see this most clearly when we look far ahead. Suppose that each year there is a certain finite chance of a nuclear catastrophe, let us say 2 percent. Then in a century the chance of survival will be 13.5 percent, and in two centuries, 1.8 percent, in three centuries, 0.25 percent, in 4 centuries, there would only be a 0.034 percent chance of survival and so on. Over many centuries, the chance of survival would shrink almost to zero. Thus by looking at the long-term future, we can clearly see that if nuclear weapons are not entirely eliminated, civilization will not survive.
To read more, click here.
Nuclear Zero Lawsuits
Foreign Minister Tony de Brum Addresses Marshallese Parliament
On February 23, Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, delivered a speech to the Nitijela (parliament) about the Nuclear Zero Lawsuits. Mr. de Brum explained many of the key issues in the ruling granting the U.S. government’s Motion to Dismiss and responded to the recent statement by the U.S. embassy in the Marshall Islands.
Importantly, Foreign Minister de Brum made it clear that the Marshall Islands was disappointed in the ruling in U.S. Federal District Court and plans to appeal to a higher court. He stated, “Nuclear weapons are not our friend, nor the friend of the U.S. or any other country. Rather, these weapons are the enemy of all humankind. That is why we will stand up for what we believe in, and we will be appealing the Court’s dismissal of the lawsuit to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the next step in the American judicial process.”
“Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Speaks Out on Dismissal of Lawsuit and Plans to Appeal,” Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, February 24, 2015.
The Marshall Islands is “In to Win” Nuclear Disarmament Case
Laurie Ashton, Lead Counsel for the Marshall Islands in the Nuclear Zero Lawsuit against the United States in U.S. Federal District Court, has indicated that the Marshall Islands is willing to go as far as possible to win the case.
Ashton said, “I think the Marshall Islands are among the bravest people, certainly among the people I know, in terms of siding against nuclear weapons and some of that comes from their tragic and horrible experience with the United States testing there…. it takes a great deal of determination and courage to bring lawsuits against what some people believe are the biggest and strongest countries on the planet, the nuclear-armed countries.
Sally Round, “Marshalls ‘in to win’ nuclear disarmament case,” Radio New Zealand International, February 11, 2015.
Nuclear Zero Profiles
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has launched a series of profiles featuring people from the Marshall Islands who have been significantly impacted by U.S. nuclear weapon tests.
Profiles have already been published of John Anjain, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Lijon Eknilang, Jeban Riklon, Rokko Langinbelik and Tony de Brum.
We encourage you to share these profiles with your friends and colleagues through social media.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
More Bucks for the Bang
The United States is now paying 500% more per nuclear warhead, on average, than it did in 1985. While the total number of U.S. nuclear warheads has declined from 23,368 in 1985 to 7,300 in 2015, the large infrastructure and bureaucracy remain in place. The average annual cost per warhead in 1985 was $354,000, compared to $1.8 million annually per warhead today.
These costs will rise even further as the U.S. continues to design and build new nuclear warheads, delivery vehicles and production facilities that will allow it to retain nuclear weapons for many decades to come.
Robert Alvarez, “More Bucks for the Bang,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February 23, 2015.
Over 10 Percent Increase for Nuclear Weapons in Budget Request
The Obama administration has requested a 10.5% increase, to $8.85 billion, in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget request for the nuclear weapon programs of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The budget increase was requested to accommodate the United States’ 30-year nuclear weapon modernization plan. In contrast, funding for cleaning up radioactive contamination remains the same as previous years, even as the estimated cost for cleaning up this contamination rises. Similarly, the budget request contains only $48 million for dismantlement of retired nuclear warheads.
“DOE Nuclear Weapons Budget Up 10%, Equals Cold War Record,” Nuclear Watch New Mexico, February 11, 2015.
U.S. Missile Officer Ran Violent Street Gang
A U.S. Air Force nuclear missileer stationed at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, was tried for a plethora of crimes committed while leading a violent street gang. Capt. Leon Brown IV was eventually convicted of “two counts of sexual assault of a child younger than 16; distribution of marijuana and psilocybin; use of psilocybin; willful dereliction of duty; conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman; pandering; unlawful entry; and four specifications of communicating threats.” He was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison and dishonorably discharged.
Kristin Davis, “AF: Missileer Who Ran ‘Violent Street Gang’ Gets 25 Years,” Air Force Times, February 2, 2015.
Prescribed Burn Canceled at Rocky Flats Plutonium Site
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has canceled a prescribed burn at the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge due to public opposition. From 1952-89, the United States produced plutonium cores for nuclear weapons at Rocky Flats. The site was raided by the FBI in 1989 and was shut down due to extreme environmental contamination.
Activists argue that a prescribed burn would cause plutonium particles to be released into the air, carried by the wind and, ultimately, inhaled by people. Plutonium is extremely harmful to humans, even in minute quantities.
LeRoy Moore, “Burn Canceled; What’s Next?,” Boulder Daily Camera, February 20, 2015.
Iran Nuclear Negotiations Progress
Following another round of high-level negotiations, both sides are mulling over a proposal that would see Iran’s nuclear production severely limited for 10 years, with another 5 years of diminished restrictions. The United States has insisted that Iran’s breakout capacity be constrained for “double-digit years.” The speed at which Iran might make a nuclear bomb is a paramount U.S. interest, one that forms the crux of these negotiations. With the March 31 deadline approaching, both sides are keenly aware that a framework for the final June 30 deadline is essential for a permanent deal.
Michael Gordon and David Sanger, “Negotiators Weigh Plan to Phase Out Nuclear Limits on Iran,” The New York Times, February 23, 2015.
Latin American and Caribbean Countries Commit to Austrian Pledge
At the third annual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), all 33 heads of state restated their commitment to a world without nuclear weapons. They also gave their unanimous support to the Austrian Pledge to address the “legal gap” between the commitment to nuclear disarmament and its legal manifestations. According to Daniel Högsta of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, “The Austrian Pledge is a rallying call for states to demand action to fill an unacceptable legal gap. The momentum generated by the humanitarian initiative is paving the way for the commencement of a process to ban nuclear weapons. CELAC states have added their voices to the call. We expect other regions to do the same.”
“33 Latin American and Caribbean States Endorse Austrian Pledge and Call for Negotiations on a Ban Treaty,” International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, January 30, 2015.
Fiji Compensates Nuclear Test Victims as UK Stalls
The Fijian government recently compensated the remaining survivors of British nuclear tests done on Christmas Island in 1957-58. The payments came after decades of campaigning by veterans and their children for recognition of the serious health problems they suffered. After waiting for British compensation to no avail, the Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, said, “The Pacific nation could wait no longer.” The personnel known to have suffered from conditions such as cancer, leukemia and other blood disorders were each given the equivalent of $4,788 U.S. dollars in payment for their suffering.
“Fiji Compensates Its Veterans of British Nuclear Tests in the Pacific,” Agence France Presse, January 30, 2015.
Recommended Reading on the Dangerous Situation in Ukraine
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has compiled a short list of recommended reading about the current dangerous situation in Ukraine. The list includes articles by Andy Lichterman of Western States Legal Foundation, Martin Hellman of Stanford University and Robert Parry, an author and investigative journalist.
To see the list of recommended reading, 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 March, including the March 10, 1956 crash of a U.S. Air Force B-47 bomber, carrying two capsules of payload pits for nuclear warheads. The bomber was lost at sea while flying from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, to a NATO base in Morocco.
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
SGI Peace Proposal
Daisaku Ikeda, President of Soka Gakkai International, has published his 2015 Peace Proposal. Regarding the abolition of nuclear weapons, a consistent theme of Ikeda’s proposals, he applauds the fact that, in October 2014, a total of 155 countries and territories signed the Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons. Over 80% of UN member states have now clearly stated that nuclear weapons should be never used under any circumstances.
Ikeda asserts that, while the gulf between the nuclear-weapon states and those calling for nuclear abolition appears great, there is common ground in the desire to avoid the horrific outcome of any use of nuclear weapons. He urges heads of government to attend the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference and calls on them to voice there the pledges of their governments to eliminate the danger posed by nuclear weapons.
To read a full copy of the 2015 Peace Proposal, click here.
Nuclear Disarmament: The Road Ahead
The International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms has published a new paper entitled “Nuclear Disarmament: The Road Ahead.” The paper recommends that states seek agreement on commencement of negotiations on a comprehensive convention prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons at the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference and beyond. It explains the mandate for such negotiations arising out of General Assembly resolutions, the NPT, and the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, as well as the illegality of nuclear weapons under international humanitarian law.
To read a copy of the paper, click here.
14th Annual Kelly Lecture Features Dr. Helen Caldicott
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 14th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future will feature Dr. Helen Caldicott, an Australian physician and renowned anti-nuclear advocate. Her lecture, entitled “Preserving Humanity’s Future,” will take place on March 5, 2015 at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, California.
Tickets start at $10 and are on sale at the Lobero Theatre box office online or by phone at (805) 963-0761.
Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest Now Underway
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s annual Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest is now underway. The contest is open to people of all ages around the world. Contestants must make a video of 90 seconds or less on the topic “The Imperative of Reaching Nuclear Zero: The Marshall Islands Stands Up for All Humanity.”
Entries are due by April 1, and the top videos will receive cash prizes. For more information and a complete set of rules, click here. You can also “like” the contest’s Facebook page and see the videos as contestants post them.
New Book by NAPF President David Krieger
Wake Up! is the latest poetry book by David Krieger, in which he continues on his path of writing piercing and thought-provoking peace poetry. His poems are often poems of remembrance, as well as warnings about the dangers of the nuclear age. Wake Up! is divided into six sections: Truth Is Beauty; War; Remembering Bush II; Global Hiroshima; Peace; Portraits; and Imperfection.
The book has received much praise. Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote, “There is haunting beauty and truth in this poetry.” Doug Rawlings, poet and Vietnam War veteran, said of Wake Up! that “…it reads like a series of eloquent telegrams sent directly to the heart of a culture, ours…” Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and author of A Coney Island of the Mind, wrote: “Wake Up! is accessible and moving writing, setting itself against the dominant murderous culture of our time. Every poem hits home.”
Click here to order a copy of the book.
From Peace Leaders to Peace Heroes
When Paul K. Chappell, Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, visited the Dayton International Peace Museum in Dayton, Ohio, for a week’s worth of events, the museum made a request. Could Paul put down his thoughts about peace heroes that they could use in the spring campaign for their first annual peace heroes walk?
Paul wrote a 2,500 word essay entitled “The Little Book of Peace Heroes,” which is published on the museum’s website and will soon be available as a pamphlet to be distributed nationwide to schools and concerned organizations.
To read more about Paul’s recent trip to Ohio, click here.
“It is time for States, and all those of us in a position to influence them, to act with urgency and determination to bring the era of nuclear weapons to an end.”
— Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, in a speech to diplomats in Geneva.
“The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression. It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or a partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all.”
— Physicist Stephen Hawking.
“It is my firm belief that the infinite and uncontrollable fury of nuclear weapons should never be held in the hands of any mere mortal ever again, for any reason.”
— Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the USSR and 1990 Nobel Peace Laureate. This quote is featured in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, available from the NAPF Peace Store.
“The experience of the Bravo explosion on March 1st, 1954 was a jolt on my soul that never left me.”
— Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, describing his memory of the U.S. Castle Bravo nuclear test, the largest ever conducted by the United States.