Sunflower Newsletter: March 2017

Why Should Trump – Or Anyone – Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
March 1, 2017
An Open Letter to Trump and Putin: The World Needs Nuclear Zero
March 2, 2017
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Sunflower Newsletter: March 2017

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Issue #236 – March 2017

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Nuclear weapons threaten everything we’re all about! Now, more than ever, we need to mobilize and we need to stand together for peace and Nuclear Zero. This takes resources. Please consider a gift today.

  • Perspectives
    • The Nuclear Weapons Threat to Our Common Future by David Krieger
    • 63rd Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day Keynote Remarks by President Hilda Heine
    • Nuclear Weapons Don’t Belong in Anyone’s Hands by Tim Wright
  • U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
    • Pentagon Panel Urges Trump to Expand Nuclear Options
    • U.S. Tests Land-Based and Submarine-Launched Nuclear Missiles
    • Catholic Bishop Urges U.S. Secretary of State to Pursue Nuclear Weapons Cuts
  • Nuclear Insanity
    • President Trump Calls for U.S. to be “Top of the Pack” of Nuclear-Armed States
  • Nuclear Proliferation
    • New Russian ICBMs Can “Rip Apart” U.S. Missile Defense System
    • China Bans Coal Imports from North Korea
  • War and Peace
    • U.S. Confirms It Used Depleted Uranium in Syria
    • President Trump Proposes $54 Billion Increase in Military Budget
  • Nuclear Modernization
    • Government Estimates Nuclear Modernization Cost at $400 Billion Over 10 Years
  • Resources
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
    • Future of Life Institute Podcast on Nuclear Ban Treaty
    • Nuclear Notebook Now Online in One Location
  • Foundation Activities
    • Video Contest: The Most Dangerous Period in Human History
    • 16th Annual Kelly Lecture Features Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick
    • Peace Literacy at Oshkosh North High School
    • Take Action: Open Letter to Presidents Trump and Putin
  • Quotes

 

Perspectives

The Nuclear Weapons Threat to Our Common Future

Nuclear weapons are an existential threat to humans and other forms of complex life. The possibility of nuclear annihilation should concern us enough to take action to abolish these weapons. The failure of large numbers of people to take such action raises vitally important questions. Have we humans given up on our own future? Are we willing to act on our own behalf and that of future generations?

Nine countries possess nuclear weapons, and the predominant orientation toward them is that they provide protection to their citizens. They do not. Nuclear weapons provide no physical protection. While they may provide psychological “protection,” this is akin to erecting a Maginot Line in the mind – one that can be easily overcome under real world conditions, just as the French Maginot Line was circumvented in World War II, leading to the military defeat and occupation of France by German forces.

To read more, click here.

63rd Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day Keynote Remarks

Today is an emotional day for our national conscience as we face the reality that, after the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Testing Program first began with the moving of Bikinians from Bikini Atoll, 71 years of inconsolable grief, terror, and righteous anger followed, none of which have faded with time. This is exacerbated by the U.S. not being honest as to the extent of radiation, and the lingering effects the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Testing Program would have on our lives, ocean and land, and by the U.S. not willing to address the issue of adequate compensation as well as for the radiological cleanup of our islands.

My Administration will follow in the footsteps of the leaders of the past and continue in this collective quest for nuclear justice. As your President, I cannot and will not accept the position of the United States government. The merits of our Changed Circumstances Petition are indeed justified when taking into account certain declassified documents that were made available, albeit redacted, many years after the Compact.

To read more, click here.

Nuclear Weapons Don’t Belong in Anyone’s Hands

Many politicians and pundits, as well as retired missile-launch officers, have questioned whether Trump has the temperament and good judgment to wield such tremendous power. During last year’s election campaign, his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, stoked debate on this topic, once quipping: “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”

One cannot sensibly reject nuclear weapons for Trump—or North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, or any other pugnacious head of state—while accepting, even embracing, them for those with friendlier faces. Democracy doesn’t afford public servants the choice to keep nuclear codes from a president whom they deem too impulsive or ruthless or irrational to have them.

To read more, click here.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

Pentagon Panel Urges Trump to Expand Nuclear Options

A blue-ribbon Pentagon panel has urged the Trump administration to make the U.S. arsenal more capable of “limited” atomic war. The Defense Science Board, in a December report, urges President Trump to consider altering existing and planned U.S. nuclear weapons to achieve a greater number of lower-yield weapons that could provide a “tailored nuclear option for limited use.”

The Defense Science Board’s nuclear recommendation is buried inside a report titled “Seven Defense Priorities for the New Administration,” which also addresses homeland security, protecting information systems and more. It is similar to the recommendations given to previous administrations. However, the report adds volume to hawkish voices calling for a more usable nuclear arsenal.

John Donnelly, “Pentagon Panel Urges Trump Team to Expand Nuclear Options,” Roll Call, February 2, 2017.

U.S. Tests Land-Based and Submarine-Launched Nuclear Missiles

On February 8, the U.S. test-fired a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Commenting on the test, NAPF President David Krieger said, “Test-firing these missiles while expressing criticism when other countries conduct missile tests is a clear double standard. Such hypocrisy encourages nuclear proliferation and nuclear arms races, and makes the world a more dangerous place.”

On February 14, an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine launched two Trident II D5 missiles off the coast of California. The U.S. has 14 such submarines, which carry nuclear weapons around the world hidden beneath the ocean. February 14 was also the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which established a nuclear weapon-free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Janene Scully, “Minuteman Missile Test Blasts Off from Vandenberg Air Force Base,” Noozhawk, February 9, 2017.

Missile Test Lights Morning Sky,” Tracy Press, February 17, 2017.

Catholic Bishop Urges U.S. Secretary of State to Pursue Nuclear Weapons Cuts

Bishop Oscar Cantu, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to pursue additional reductions in the nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia.

The correspondence pressed Tillerson to build on the New START agreement, a pact negotiated in 2010 that calls for reducing U.S. and Russian deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 each by 2018.

Dennis Sadowski, “Bishop Cantu Urges Administration to Pursue Deeper Nuclear Arms Cuts,” Catholic News Service, February 15, 2017.

Nuclear Insanity

President Trump Calls for U.S. to Be “Top of the Pack” of Nuclear-Armed States

In an interview with Reuters, President Donald Trump said that the United States has fallen behind in its nuclear capabilities and will ensure that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is “top of the pack.”

Trump said, “I am the first one that would like to see … nobody have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power. It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”

In the same interview, President Trump called the New START treaty a “one-sided” and “bad” deal. New START limits the U.S. and Russia to equal numbers of deployed strategic nuclear weapons by 2018, and contains other important monitoring and verification measures.

Steve Holland, “Trump Wants to Make Sure U.S. Nuclear Arsenal at ‘Top of the Pack’,” Reuters, February 24, 2017.

Nuclear Proliferation

New Russian ICBMs Can “Rip Apart” U.S. Missile Defense System

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has announced the imminent deployment of technologically advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles that will “clear the United States’ missile defense both of today and of tomorrow – and even of the day after tomorrow.”

Rogozin did not explicitly name the weapon, but he was most likely describing the RS-28 Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, which is being introduced as part of Russia’s nuclear modernization. “We can rip their air defenses apart; at the moment [the US defense shield] poses no serious military threat to us, except for provocations,” Rogozin said.

Russia’s New ICBM Can ‘Rip Apart’ U.S. Anti-Missile Systems,” RT, February 20, 2017.

China Bans Coal Imports from North Korea

China has announced that it is suspending all imports of coal from North Korea through the end of 2017. Coal is North Korea’s biggest export, and China’s purchases have been a significant source of revenue for Kim Jong-un’s government. China says that the suspension is part of the sanctions related to last year’s UN Security Council resolution passed after North Korea’s fifth nuclear test.

The full suspension went into effect just one day after North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile on February 12.

Caroline Mortimer, “China Bans All Coal Imports from North Korea, Severing Major Financial Lifeline for Regime,” Independent, February 18, 2017.

War and Peace

U.S. Confirms It Used Depleted Uranium in Syria

U.S. Central Command said it destroyed Islamic State targets in Syria with depleted uranium rounds despite a promise not to use the ammunition. The United States used significant amounts of depleted uranium during its military operations in Iraq. A 2014 report by the United Nations said the Iraqi government considers use of depleted uranium weapons “a danger to human beings and the environment.”

The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons said the areas contaminated by the depleted uranium in Syria “pose a risk to civilian health and must be isolated and addressed as soon as conditions allow.”

Andrew Pestano, “U.S. Confirms Use of Depleted Uranium Munitions Against Islamic State,” UPI, February 15, 2017.

President Trump Proposes $54 Billion Increase in Military Budget

In February, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed a $54 billion increase in the military budget and a corresponding decrease to other programs, including the State Department and foreign aid. The U.S. already spends more on its military than the next eight nations combined. Some Democratic lawmakers have criticized this idea specifically because of the cost to education and environmental protection programs. President Trump has vowed to spare Social Security and Medicare from any cuts due to this military spending increase.

A letter from 120 retired generals and admirals urged Trump not to reduce the money available to diplomacy and aid. They quoted Defense Secretary James Mattis, who in 2013 said, “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.” The letter also said that while the military will “lead the fight against terrorism on the battlefield,” it needs strong partners to combat issues that drive extremism, including insecurity, injustice, hopelessness and lack of opportunity.

Dan Lamothe, “Retired Generals Cite Past Comments from Mattis While Opposing Trump’s Proposed Foreign Aid Cuts,” Washington Post, February 27, 2017.

Nuclear Modernization

Government Estimates Nuclear Modernization Cost at $400 Billion Over 10 Years

The current plan to modernize U.S. nuclear weapons will cost $400 billion from 2017 to 2026, according to a new government estimate. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates nuclear programs will subsume roughly 6 percent of the overall defense budget during this 10-year period.

The CBO report, however, does not touch on the question of what happens if the Trump administration moves to change the current plan, a legacy of the Obama administration. President Donald Trump has ordered a formal Nuclear Posture Review, to be headed by Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Aaron Mehta, “Nuclear Modernization Costs: $400B Over 10 Years,” Defense News, February 14, 2017.

 Resources

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 threats that have taken place in the month of March, including the March 28, 1979 partial meltdown of two nuclear reactors at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.

Future of Life Institute Podcast on Nuclear Ban Treaty

The Future of Life Institute has published a podcast featuring Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and Susi Snyder, Nuclear Disarmament Program Manager for PAX in the Netherlands.

In this podcast, Fihn and Snyder explain the process that has led to this month’s negotiations on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons and why it is needed urgently.

To download the podcast or the full transcript, click here.

Nuclear Notebook Now in One Location Online

Since 1987, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has published the Nuclear Notebook, an authoritative accounting of world nuclear arsenals compiled by top experts from the Federation of American Scientists.

All 30 years of Nuclear Notebook entries are now available from one webpage. The entries provide important details about the nuclear arsenals of each nuclear-armed nation. Click here to view the new page.

Foundation Activities

Video Contest: The Most Dangerous Period in Human History

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 2017 Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest launched on February 1. This year’s contest invites people to submit videos about why this is the most dangerous period in human history, and what can be done to bring civilization back from the brink.

The contest is free to enter and is open to people of all ages from anywhere in the world. For more information about the contest, click here.

16th Annual Kelly Lecture Features Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 16th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future featured legendary Hollywood director Oliver Stone and Professor Peter Kuznick, co-authors of the internationally-acclaimed documentary The Untold History of the United States.

The event, entitled “Untold History, Uncertain Future,” took place on February 23 at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. Photos, video and audio will be available by mid-March on wagingpeace.org.

For more information about the Kelly Lecture series, click here.

Peace Literacy at Oshkosh North High School

“Peace literacy should be taught in schools. The world would not be as messy,” said Rick Leib, teacher in the Communities program and junior varsity basketball coach at Oshkosh North High School in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, after a day in which NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell taught three workshops to 150 students from 9th through 12th grades. The students had spent the month of February studying the pilot program for the “waging peace” curriculum.

To read more about Paul’s recent work at this Wisconsin high school, click here.

Take Action: Open Letter to Presidents Trump and Putin

On February 16, The Hill published an open letter to Presidents Trump and Putin signed by NAPF President David Krieger, along with Richard Falk, Jody Williams, Noam Chomsky, Mairead Maguire, Medea Benjamin and Daniel Ellsberg. The letter calls on the two presidents to negotiate for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

To add your name to the open letter, click here.

Quotes

 

“All it takes for evil to rule a land is for good men to remain silent.”

Daniel Webster (1782-1852), American politician. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available for purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.

 

“There cannot be closure without full disclosure.”

Tony de Brum, former Foreign Minister of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, speaking about the need for the United States to come clean about the effects of the 67 nuclear weapons tests conducted in the Marshall Islands from 1946-58. His speech at the Marshall Islands’ 2017 Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day event begins at 43:00 at this link.

 

“The use of even a single nuclear weapon, anywhere in the world, would be a global humanitarian, environmental and economic disaster. A nuclear build-up in the U.S., which would be followed by similar build-ups in other countries, only makes that nightmare scenario more likely.”

Bruce Blair, former nuclear missile launch officer and co-founder of Global Zero, speaking out against Donald Trump’s apparent desire to engage in a nuclear arms buildup.

Editorial Team

 

Cedric af Geijersstam
David Krieger
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman

 


Rick Wayman
Rick Wayman
Rick Wayman is Director of Programs & Operations at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

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