Issue #260 – March 2019
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U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
Ten Lessons You Should Learn About Nuclear Weapons
Here are 10 lessons that I learned about nuclear weapons in the process of working for their abolition for the past four decades. I wish I could share these lessons with every citizen of the planet, all of whom are endangered by these weapons.
The effects of nuclear weapons cannot be contained in space or time. Radiation from a nuclear detonation is carried by the wind and cannot be stopped at national borders, with or without border checkpoints. Radioactive materials also have long lives. Plutonium-239, for example, has a half-life of 24,000 years and will remain deadly if inhaled for the next 240,000 years.
To read more, click here.
Women Marched for Korean Reconciliation. Washington Is In Our Way.
In 2015, we were among 30 women from around the world who came together to cross the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ), the infamous strip of land that has separated North and South Korea since a “temporary” cease-fire halted the Korean War 65 years ago.
We never could have predicted that only three years later, the leaders of South and North Korea would meet in the DMZ and declare that “there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula.” This put in motion the kind of steps toward peace that we had marched for — soldiers from both sides shaking hands and removing guard posts, the beginning of land-mine removal from the DMZ. The new reality is a tribute to Korean leaders and their determination to end the standoff that has separated their people for three generations.
To read the full op-ed in the Washington Post, click here.
2018 Nagasaki Appeal
The rate of reduction of nuclear arsenals has slowed in recent years. An estimated 14,450 nuclear warheads remain, most held by the U.S. and Russia, most an order of magnitude more powerful than the U.S. atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Mirroring the U.S. nuclear posture, Russia has announced plans to develop new “invincible” nuclear weapons. In addition, China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan and the UK are engaged in nuclear weapons “modernization” programs intended to sustain their nuclear forces for the foreseeable future. And all of them are involved in war games and conflicts that could escalate catastrophically at any time.
We pledge to continue our determined efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons, and appeal to the people and governments of the world: “Nagasaki must be the last A-bombed city.”
To read more, click here.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
U.S. Announces Completion of New Nuclear Warhead
The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration announced that it completed the first unit of what it calls a “modified” nuclear warhead. The W76-2 is a “low-yield” version of the immensely powerful nuclear warhead that is deployed on nuclear-armed submarines. In its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, the Trump Administration requested a “low-yield” version of the warhead. If deployed, U.S. submarines will carry a mix of “high-yield” and “low-yield” warheads mounted on the exact same missiles.
The Trump administration claims this move is needed to strengthen nuclear deterrence, but the decision actually significantly lowers the threshold for nuclear weapons to be used.
“NNSA Completes First Production Unit of Modified Warhead,” National Nuclear Security Administration, February 25, 2019.
India and Pakistan Conflict Again Raises Possibility of Nuclear War
In late February, the Indian Air Force made what is believed to be the first incursion into Pakistani airspace in decades. India claims that it bombed the training camp of an extremist group that claimed responsibility for an earlier attack that killed at least 40 Indian troops in Kashmir. Pakistan then claimed to have shot down two Indian military planes, capturing at least one pilot.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, said, ““I ask India: With the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford a miscalculation?” he said. “If this escalates, it will no longer be in my control.” Khan concluded, “Let’s sit together and settle this with talks.”
“Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan Warns of Nuclear War With India,” Tribune News Service, February 28, 2019.
Russia Threatens to Cut Time for Nuclear Strike on the U.S.
In response to President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that Russia will develop weapons that dramatically shorten the time between an order and an attack. Putin said, ““These weapons, by their tactical and technical specifications, including their flight time to the command centers I’m talking about, will fully correspond to the threats that will be directed against Russia.”
A U.S. State Department spokesperson said, “President Putin’s remarks are a continuation of Russia’s propaganda effort to avoid responsibility for Russia’s actions in violation of the INF Treaty.”
Andrew Osborn and Katya Golubkova, “Moscow Ready to Cut Time for Nuclear Strike on U.S. if Necessary: Putin,” Reuters, February 20, 2019.
Trump Administration Scandal Erupts Over Nuclear Energy in Saudi Arabia
The House Oversight Committee has issued a report highlighting corruption in the Trump Administration’s efforts to bring nuclear energy to Saudi Arabia. IP3 International, a private company dedicated to building nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia, employed Michael Flynn as an “advisor” while Flynn was simultaneously serving as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor. Flynn used his position as Trump’s advisor to push the interests of IP3 in spite of the costs and dangers of importing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.
Derek Harvey, the National Security Council’s Senior Director for Middle East and North African Affairs, was also a strong supporter of IP3. Harvey ignored the Atomic Energy Act and decided to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia illegally.
Paul Waldman, “There’s Yet Another Trump Administration Scandal Brewing. And It’s a Doozy,” Washington Post, February 20, 2019.
South Africa Ratifies Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
South Africa has ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the 21st state to join the new treaty. South Africa is the first nation to join the treaty that at one time possessed nuclear weapons. South Africa officially dismantled its small nuclear weapons arsenal in 1989.
Click here to see the full list of countries that have signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Second Trump-Kim Summit Ends With No Agreement
The second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without the two sides signing any agreements. The summit, which took place at the end of February in Hanoi, Vietnam, fell apart for reasons that are not yet entirely clear.
President Trump claimed that North Korea asked for full sanctions relief, but North Korea disputed that claim. Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, made a surprise appearance at the summit and apparently demanded that any agreement also cover North Korea’s chemical and biological weapons, which neither side was prepared to negotiate.
Dawn Stover, “Hot Takes on the Hanoi Summit,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, February 28, 2019.
Russian Nuclear Forces
Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda have published an updated estimate of Russia’s nuclear forces. This report examines Russia’s nuclear arsenal, which includes 4,490 warheads that can be delivered via long-range strategic launchers and shorter-range tactical nuclear forces.
Russia also possesses approximately 2,000 retired nuclear warheads that are still largely in tact awaiting dismantlement, for a total of nearly 6,500 nuclear warheads.
To read the full report, click here.
Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk?
The recent renewed conflict between India and Pakistan has brought new attention to a report prepared by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. The report, Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk?, explains how even the relatively small nuclear arsenals of countries such as India and Pakistan could cause long lasting, global damage to the Earth’s ecosystems.
To read the full report, click here.
Sole Authority: 2019 Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has launched its 2019 Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest. This year’s contest asks entrants to grapple with a very timely issue. In the United States, the President currently has the sole authority to initiate a nuclear attack at any time for any reason, or no reason at all.
Contestants will make videos of three minutes or less about whether or not they think this policy is a good idea. If not, why not? Should it be changed? What should U.S. policy be instead?
The contest has three cash prizes and is open to people of all ages around the world. Videos must be submitted by April 1. For more information, click here.
Peace Literacy and Teacher Leadership
“Teachers have enormous power to shape a student’s life, which I experienced firsthand,” says NAPF Peace Literacy Director Paul K. Chappell. “A teacher may be the only person who is a positive influence on a student suffering from trauma, the only example the student has of someone who models skillful listening, deep empathy, genuine respectfulness and high integrity. Peace Literacy helps teachers, students, and people from all walks of life model the healthy behaviors that bring increased respect, empathy, happiness, and self-worth into our homes, schools, workplaces, communities and world.”
Now Chappell will be able to share his story and bring the concepts and skillsets of Peace Literacy to a select group of teachers at the 2019 National Teacher Leadership Conference to be held in Orlando, Florida on July 12, 2019. Hosted by the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY), this year’s conference embraces the theme “A Radical Imagination for the Future.”
To read more, click here.
2019 Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future
The 18th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future will take place on Thursday, May 9, 2019, from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Karpeles Manuscript Library in Santa Barbara, California.
This year’s speaker is Elaine Scarry. 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 is “Thermonuclear Monarchy and a Sleeping Citizenry.”
The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, click here.
Plant Seeds of Peace
The newest item in the NAPF Peace Store is here just in time for spring. Our “Seeds of Peace” are packets of sunflower seeds that you can plant, nurture, and share.
Sunflowers were used near Chernobyl to extract radionuclides cesium 137 and strontium 90 from contaminated ponds following the catastrophic nuclear reactor accident there. Now sunflowers have become the symbol of a world free of nuclear weapons. This came about after an extraordinary celebration of Ukraine achieving the status of a nuclear weapons free state. On June 1, 1996, Ukraine transferred the last of the 1,900 nuclear warheads it had inherited from the former Soviet Union to Russia for dismantlement. Celebrating the occasion a few days later, the Defense Ministers of Ukraine, Russia, and the United States met at a former nuclear missile base in Ukraine that once housed 80 SS-19 missiles aimed at the United States.
The seeds are available to be shipped within the United States. Each packet is $2.00 including shipping. To order, click here.
Support a Formal End of 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 new 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.
This would go a long way toward creating the conditions for a nuclear weapons-free Korean Peninsula. President Moon Jae-in committed jointly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “to declare the end of war” on the Korean Peninsula and to promote meetings involving the United States “with a view to replacing the Armistice Agreement with a peace agreement.” Ending the conflict is a symbolic measure that represents an important security guarantee towards realizing North Korea’s denuclearization, and achieving a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons.
Click here to take action.
“We must understand that in the final analysis the mounting cost of preparation for war is in many ways as materially destructive as war itself.”
— General Douglas MacArthur. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available to purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.
“Recent acts of terror and military incursions in the long-disputed territory have exacerbated a conflict that threatens to plunge these two countries into a fifth and, conceivably, final major war since partition. Both countries have traded threats of nuclear retaliation. This is how nuclear war begins.”
— International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, in a press release about the conflict between India and Pakistan.
“There are no winners in nuclear war. The critical missing ingredient is diplomacy, with engagement of all nuclear states to build trust toward verifiable reductions, ultimately joining the nonnuclear countries as they work to bring into force the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”
— Dr. Robert Dodge, a former member of the NAPF Board of Directors, in a letter to the editor of The New York Times.