Sunflower Newsletter: March 2018

By |2018-02-28T15:07:49-07:00March 1, 2018|

Issue #248 – March 2018

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  • Perspectives
    • Miyoko Matsubara by David Krieger
    • We Call BS by Emma Gonzalez
    • How the Pentagon Devours the Budget by William Hartung
    • Duck and Cover by Winslow Myers
  • U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
    • Trump Claims U.S. Will Stop Building Nuclear Arsenal if Others Stop First
    • U.S. Cancels ICBM Test During Olympic Truce
  • Nuclear Disarmament
    • UN Secretary-General Calls for New Push for Nuclear Disarmament
    • New Zealand Reinstates Position for Minister of Disarmament
  • War and Peace
    • NAPF Advisors to Suu Kyi: “End Rohingya Genocide”
    • Top U.S. Diplomat on North Korea Abruptly Resigns
  • Nuclear “Modernization”
    • Trump Administration Reveals Nuclear Weapons Budget Request
    • Lockheed Martin Receives More U.S. Government Money than Many Federal Agencies
  • Nuclear Insanity
    • U.S. and Chinese Officials Fight Over Nuclear Football
    • Trump Administration Pursues Deal to Build Nuclear Reactors in Saudi Arabia
  • Missile Defense
    • Failed Missile Defense Test Cost $130 Million
  • Nuclear Waste
    • The Poison and the Tomb
  • Resources
    • This Month in Nuclear Threat History
    • Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons
    • Atomic Homefront Streaming Free
    • TEDx Talk by Atmospheric Scientist Brian Toon
    • Don’t Bank on the Bomb Coming March 7
  • Foundation Activities
    • March 7 Webinar: Women Waging Peace
    • 2018 Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest
    • Preventing War: Crisis and Opportunity with North Korea
  • Quotes

 

Perspectives

Miyoko Matsubara

I heard from friends in Hiroshima that Miyoko Matsubara left this world on February 9th. She was a very gentle and dedicated hibakusha, who came several times for extended periods to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in Santa Barbara to practice her English and polish the presentation of her experience as an atomic bomb survivor. She was 13 years old when the atomic bomb destroyed her city. Like so many other survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, she was traumatized by the experience and wanted to assure that no other people or cities suffered the trauma and tragedy that she and her city had.

To read more, click here.

We Call BS

We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because we are going to be the last mass shooting.

The people in the government who were voted into power are lying to us. And us kids seem to be the only ones who notice and our parents to call BS. Companies trying to make caricatures of the teenagers these days, saying that we are all self-involved and trend-obsessed and they hush us into submission when our message doesn’t reach the ears of the nation, we are prepared to call BS. Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this, we call BS. They say tougher guns laws do not decrease gun violence. We call BS. They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun. We call BS. They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars. We call BS. They say no laws could have prevented the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred. We call BS. That us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS.

To read more, click here.

How the Pentagon Devours the Budget

Imagine for a moment a scheme in which American taxpayers were taken to the cleaners to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars and there was barely a hint of criticism or outrage. Imagine as well that the White House and a majority of the politicians in Washington, no matter the party, acquiesced in the arrangement. In fact, the annual quest to boost Pentagon spending into the stratosphere regularly follows that very scenario, assisted by predictions of imminent doom from industry-funded hawks with a vested interest in increased military outlays.

Most Americans are probably aware that the Pentagon spends a lot of money, but it’s unlikely they grasp just how huge those sums really are. All too often, astonishingly lavish military budgets are treated as if they were part of the natural order, like death or taxes.

To read more, click here.

Duck and Cover

Once those articulate Florida high school students, God love them, are finished exposing the craven emptiness of politicians like Marco Rubio and others subverted by the NRA, they might want to turn to nuclear weapons as another sacred cow ripe for the “we call B.S.” treatment.

The acute dangers of gun violence and nuclear weapons offer ominous parallels. Both are deadly serious issues that provoke absurd levels of avoidance and paralysis.

To read more, click here.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

Trump Claims U.S. Will Stop Building Nuclear Arsenal if Others Stop First

U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking to a gathering of governors and mayors, outlined his administration’s approach to the nuclear arms race. “We’re increasing arsenals of virtually every weapon. We’re modernizing and creating a brand-new nuclear force. And, frankly, we have to do because others are doing it. If they stop, we’ll stop.”

Trump continued, “I hope they stop, and if they do, we’ll stop in two minutes.” He added, “We won’t lead the way, we’ll go along with them.”

Just days earlier, Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review called for four new types of nuclear weapons: an air-launched cruise missile, a new warhead for land-based ICBMs, a “low-yield” warhead for submarines, and a submarine-launched cruise missile.

Rebecca Morin, “Trump: U.S. Will Cease Building Nuclear Arsenal if Other Countries Stop First,” Politico, February 12, 2018.

U.S. Cancels ICBM Test During Olympic Truce

The United States quietly canceled a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test scheduled for February 6 or 7. The test, which would have sent a nuclear-capable missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, would have violated the spirit of the Olympic Truce, which began on February 2.

On February 2, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation sent a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, encouraging him to postpone any ICBM tests during the Olympic Truce period. The letter stated, “If North Korea were to test an ICBM during the Olympics, many nations, including the United States, would view the act as provocative and threatening. One does not have to stretch the imagination too far to guess how North Korea might react to our testing of ICBMs during the same period.”

Janene Scully, “Vandenberg AFB Minuteman III Test Launch Delayed Ahead of Olympics,” Noozhawk, February 6, 2018.

Nuclear Disarmament

UN Secretary-General Calls for New Push for Nuclear Disarmament

Speaking at the Conference on Disarmament, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a new global effort to get rid of nuclear weapons. He said, “Countries persist in clinging to the fallacious idea that nuclear arms make the world safer … At the global level, we must work towards forging a new momentum on eliminating nuclear weapons.”

U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood was quick to undermine the Secretary-General’s call, saying that instead of pursuing nuclear disarmament, negotiators must “look reality in the eye.” Wood insisted that now is not the time for bold disarmament initiatives. The French and Chinese ambassadors also sought to downplay Guterres’ strong call for action.

Tom Miles, “UN Chief Calls for New Push to Rid the World of Nuclear Weapons,” Reuters, February 26, 2018.

New Zealand Reinstates Position of Minister for Disarmament

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reinstated the country’s Cabinet-level position of Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control. The previous government had discontinued the position in 2011.

Prime Minister Ardern said that the position “is an acknowledgement of the emphasis this government places on our long held anti-nuclear stance, and the role we must play now and in the future.”

Winston Peters Given Newly-Revived Ministerial Role of Nuclear Disarmament,” TVNZ, February 26, 2018.

War and Peace

NAPF Advisors to Suu Kyi: “End Rohingya Genocide”

Three Nobel Peace Laureates – Mairead Maguire, Shirin Ebadi, and Tawakkol Karman – have demanded that fellow Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi take decisive action to end the genocide of Rohingya in Myanmar. Maguire and Ebadi are members of the NAPF Advisory Council.

Speaking after visiting a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, Mairead Maguire said, “The torture, rape and killing of any one member of our human family must be challenged, as in the case of the Rohingya genocide. This is genocide. We can’t remain silent. Silence is complicity.”

Shirin Ebadi said, “With over a million Rohingya displaced, countless dead or missing, and rape and sexual violence being used as a weapon of war, it is well past the time for the international community to act.”

Ruma Paul, “Nobel Peace Laureates to Suu Kyi: ‘End Rohingya Genocide or Face Prosecution’,” Reuters, February 28, 2018.

Top U.S. Diplomat on North Korea Abruptly Resigns

Joseph Yun, a U.S. diplomat with over 30 years of experience, unexpectedly announced that he will retire effective March 2. Yun consistently encouraged dialogue with North Korea, and his absence will likely elevate the dangerous voices within the Trump administration calling for military action against North Korea.

President Trump recently stated, “If the sanctions don’t work, we’ll have to go to phase two, and phase two may be a very rough thing. It may be very, very unfortunate for the world.”

Ellana Lee and Joshua Berlinger, “U.S.’s Top North Korea Diplomat Announces Surprise Retirement,” CNN, February 27, 2018.

Nuclear “Modernization”

Trump Administration Reveals Nuclear Weapons Budget Request

On February 23, the Trump administration released the detailed budget request for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The NNSA is responsible for the nation’s nuclear weapons laboratories, as well as nuclear warhead maintenance, design, and production. This budget request of $15.1 billion is a 17% increase over FY2018 enacted levels, while many other government-funded programs providing benefits to society are being slashed.

The NNSA budget is not the entire U.S. nuclear weapons program. The Department of Defense is responsible for all of the systems to deliver nuclear weapons, such as submarines, aircraft, and land-based missiles.

Detailed NNSA Budget Accelerates Nuclear Arms Race,” Nuclear Watch New Mexico, February 26, 2018.

Lockheed Martin Receives More U.S. Government Money than Many Federal Agencies

In 2017, the weapons and aerospace company Lockheed Martin made $51 billion in sales. Of this, $35.2 billion was from the U.S. government. This is nearly as much money as the Trump administration proposed for the entire State Department in Fiscal Year 2019.

Lockheed Martin is one of the world’s biggest producers of nuclear weapons components for both the United States’ and United Kingdom’s nuclear arsenals. The company regularly tops the list of corporations that receive the most money from the U.S. government.

Christian Davenport and Aaron Gregg, “Lockheed Martin Got $35.2 Billion from Taxpayers Last Year. That’s More than Many Federal Agencies,” Washington Post, February 16, 2018.

Nuclear Insanity

U.S. and Chinese Officials Fight Over Nuclear Football

During President Trump’s trip to China in November 2017, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and a Secret Service agent tussled with Chinese Security officials over the U.S Nuclear weapons briefcase, often called the “nuclear football.” The scuffle took place during Trump’s visit to the Beijing Great Hall of the People. When the U.S. aid carrying the briefcase was denied entrance to the hall, Kelly intervened. A Chinese security guard pushed Kelly, causing a secret service agent to tackle the Chinese security personnel.

In response to the story, the U.S. Secret Service tweeted, “FACT CHECK: Reports about Secret Service agents tackling a host nation official during the President’s trip to China in Nov 2017 are false.”

Jonathan Swan, “Scoop: Skirmish in Beijing Over the Nuclear Football,” Axios, February 18, 2018.

Trump Administration Pursues Deal to Build Nuclear Reactors in Saudi Arabia

On March 1, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry will meet with Saudi officials in London to discuss a deal to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia. The Trump administration is considering permitting Saudi Arabia to enrich and reprocess uranium as part of a deal that would allow Westinghouse Electric Co. and other U.S. companies to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East kingdom.

Any agreement must be approved by Congress. Senator Ed Markey, in a letter to Rick Perry and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, wrote, “Congress remains in the dark about what exactly is being considered, why we may be re-evaluating our nonproliferation objectives and standards, and how and when this information is being conveyed to Saudi Arabia and other countries around the world.”

Ari Natter, Jennifer Jacobs, and Jennifer Dlouhy, “Perry Plans Nuclear-Energy Talks with Saudis, Sources Say,” Bloomberg, February 26, 2018.

Missile Defense

Failed Missile Defense Test Cost $130 Million

On January 31, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency conducted a test of the Raytheon SM-3 Block IIA interceptor missile system. The test, which cost taxpayers $130 million, resulted in failure.

A similar test missile also failed to reach its target in June off Kauai when a sailor on the USS John Paul Jones accidentally pushed a button that caused the missile to self-destruct.

Failed Missile Test Off of Kauai Costs the U.S. $130m,” Associated Press, February 21, 2018.

Nuclear Waste

The Poison and the Tomb

From 1946-58, the United States conducted 67 nuclear weapon tests in the Marshall Islands. These tests included many of the biggest thermonuclear weapons ever exploded on Earth. The human and environmental consequences of U.S. nuclear testing is immeasurable, and continues to wreak havoc on this Pacific Island nation.

On Enewetak Atoll, the U.S. bulldozed tons of contaminated soil and material into a large bomb crater. They encased it in an 18-inch thick concrete dome, and left it to the elements. The “tomb,” as the locals call it, is cracking and leaking, with no solution in sight.

Kim Wall, Coleen Jose, and Jan Hendrik Hinzel, “The Poison and the Tomb: One Family’s Journey to Their Contaminated Home,” Mashable, February 25, 2018.

 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 1, 1954 Castle Bravo nuclear test, the largest nuclear test ever conducted by the United States. At 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, the Castle Bravo test caused untold devastation to the people and the environment of the Marshall Islands.

To read Mason’s full article, click here.

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

Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons

On November 4, 2017, Harvard University hosted a symposium entitled “Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons: Is It Legal? Is It Constitutional? Is It Just?” A short introductory video along with transcripts of the speeches are now available online.

Click here to watch the six-minute introductory video.

Click here to read the contributions from speakers, including Congressman Jim McGovern, Kenette Benedict, John Burroughs, and Zia Mian.

Atomic Homefront Streaming Free

The powerful documentary film “Atomic Homefront” is about the oldest nuclear weapons wastes of the Atomic Age, from the Manhattan Project in the early 1940s, and the St. Louis, Missouri community’s response to living amidst such risks. The radioactive wastes were illegally dumped at West Lake Landfill in the early 1970s. Located in the Missouri River floodplain, radioactive contaminants have leaked out of West Lake Landfill for decades, flowing with wind and water into surrounding neighborhoods. An underground fire, smoldering for years in an immediately adjacent municipal garbage dump, is now burning within hundreds of feet of the radioactive waste, and has dramatically exacerbated concerns.

Atomic Homefront is streaming free on HBO through March 18. Click here to watch it.

TEDx Talk by Atmospheric Scientist Brian Toon

Brian Toon, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder, has been studying the effects of nuclear war for 35 years. In this TEDx talk, he explains how even a small nuclear war could destroy all life on Earth, and what we can do to prevent it.

Click here to watch the video.

Don’t Bank on the Bomb Coming March 7

The 2018 edition of the “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” report will be released on March 7. The report details the many companies around the world involved in the production of nuclear weapons, as well as the institutions that finance the nuclear weapon producers.

The report also highlights financial institutions that have decided to implement explicit policies not to finance companies that produce nuclear weapons.

For more information on the report, click here.

Foundation Activities

March 7 Webinar: Women Waging Peace

On March 7, the eve of International Women’s Day, please join us for a free webinar featuring our 2018 Kelly Lecturer, Christine Ahn, and NAPF Advisor Medea Benjamin. These outstanding peace leaders will join us live to talk about the indispensable role of women in building peace in Korea and around the world.

The webinar will take place from 12:30 – 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time. It is free to participate. To register, click here.

2018 Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest

The 2018 Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest is accepting entries through April 1. The contest is free to enter and is open to people of all ages around the world. The topic of this year’s contest is “Creating a Nuclear-Free Future: The Role of Young People.”

Contestants will make videos of 2 minutes or less about the role that young people have in abolishing nuclear weapons. It can be what they or other young people are doing now, or an idea of what they think can be done.

For more information and complete instructions on how to enter, go to www.peacecontests.org.

Preventing War: Crisis and Opportunity with North Korea

On March 7, 2018, Christine Ahn will deliver the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 17th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future. Ahn’s lecture is entitled “Preventing War: Crisis and Opportunity with North Korea.”

Christine Ahn is the Founder and International Coordinator of Women Cross DMZ, a global movement of women mobilizing to end the Korean War, reunite families, and ensure women’s leadership in peace building. She is co-founder of the Korea Peace Network, Korea Policy Institute and Global Campaign to Save Jeju Island.

The event is free and open to the public. The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Karpeles Manuscript Library, 21 W. Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. For more information, click here.

Quotes

 

“When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?”

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

 

“In our hearts we know that we can never use these bombs, and therefore to own them and to perpetuate the myth of deterrence is a moral failure.”

The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford, speaking at a debate on nuclear weapons in the House of Lords (UK).

 

“They will find out in about 30 minutes.”

Gen. John Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, when asked whether Russia could distinguish a low-yield from a high-yield nuclear weapon before it explodes.

 

“The only role the UC really plays is to provide a fig leaf of academic cover to the creation of weapons of mass murder.”

Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of Western States Legal Foundation, talking about the University of California’s management of the United States’ nuclear weapons laboratories.

Editorial Team

 

Natalie Aldrich
Joy Ferguson
David Krieger
Lauren Lankenau
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman