Issue #250 – May 2018
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U.S. Should Accept Putin’s Offer to Negotiate on Nukes
The fuel for a new nuclear arms race was already on the fire, and a Russian strategic response was predictable, when the U.S. withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty [in 2002] and began developing and emplacing missile defense systems globally. The U.S. withdrawal and abrogation of the ABM Treaty may prove to be the greatest strategic blunder of the nuclear age.
As the two most powerful nuclear powers on the planet, with enough nuclear weapons to end civilization as we know it and possibly the human species, the two countries need to be engaged in productive and good-faith negotiations to end the nuclear weapons threat to each other and to all humanity.
To read more, click here.
A New Generation Against the Bomb
“I’m not old enough to vote but I’m old enough to get shot,” say the students agitating for gun control in the United States. The same, of course, can be said about nuclear weapons. We are old enough to be incinerated by an atomic bomb.
There are quite a few similarities between the struggle against guns and the struggle against the bomb. The violent, militarized masculinities associated with gun violence are the same associated with the acquisition, use, and threats of use of nuclear weapons. The privileging of “gun rights” above the rights of human beings to live in safety and security is similar to the privileging of the possession and modernization of nuclear weapons above the lived experience of those who have suffered from the use and testing of nuclear weapons and the reality of the impacts any future use of nuclear weapons will have on our bodies, our cities, our societies, and our planet.
To read more, click here.
Looking Reality in the Eye
In the introduction to the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review – and subsequently repeated in official statements the U.S. has made – the authors write, “We must look reality in the eye and see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.”
The glasses they are looking through are very, very dark. Because what they propose over and over in this document is a readiness and a willingness to use nuclear weapons, including to use nuclear weapons first. They unashamedly say that they are ready to resume nuclear testing in response to “geopolitical challenges.”
To this day, some of the people I admire most in the world are hibakusha from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who openly share the unimaginable suffering imposed upon them when nuclear weapons were used on their cities. One of my personal and professional role models was Mr. Tony de Brum, who passed away last August from cancer, a fate that has befallen so many of his fellow Marshall Islanders following 12 years of brutal atmospheric nuclear testing by the U.S. I’ve spoken with nuclear testing survivors from many countries around the world, and their stories are real.
That is reality. To see the world as it is, we must look into their eyes.
To read more, click here.
Peace in Korea? Hope and Uncertainty Mix in the Wake of Kim-Moon Summit
In a widely circulated image from the recent summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, the two men, with their backs to the camera, are seen holding hands. As they briefly stepped together into North Korea, across the infamous Demilitarized Zone, they seemed the antithesis of one of the planet’s most dangerous rivalries.
And so the waves of enthusiasm with which the encounter on April 27 has been met are hardly unexpected. The change in tone and rhetoric is palpable, especially from Kim. Perhaps not surprisingly, the general feeling seems to be at least cautiously optimistic.
To read more, click here.
The two leaders, sharing the firm commitment to bring a swift end to the Cold War relic of long-standing division and confrontation, to boldly approach a new era of national reconciliation, peace and prosperity, and to improve and cultivate inter-Korean relations in a more active manner, declared at this historic site of Panmunjom as follows:
1. South and North Korea will reconnect the blood relations of the people and bring forward the future of co-prosperity and unification led by Koreans by facilitating comprehensive and groundbreaking advancement in inter-Korean relations.
2. South and North Korea will make joint efforts to alleviate the acute military tension and practically eliminate the danger of war on the Korean Peninsula.
3. South and North Korea will actively cooperate to establish a permanent and solid peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. Bringing an end to the current unnatural state of armistice and establishing a robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula is a historical mission that must not be delayed any further.
To read the full declaration, click here.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
U.S. Continues Testing ICBMs
On April 25, the U.S. Air Force launched an unarmed Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The United States maintains 400 nuclear-armed Minuteman III missiles in silos spread around Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming.
The launch came just hours before Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un met in a high-profile summit. The United States has repeatedly called North Korean missile testing “provocative” and has demanded that an end to North Korea’s missile program be part of the negotiation process.
Rick Wayman, Director of Programs at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, said, “At such a sensitive time that we’re in right now in terms of peace negations with North Korea, I would have hoped for more sensitivity around this issue.”
Janene Scully, “Vandenberg AFB Officials Mum After Test of Minuteman III ICBM,” Noozhawk, April 25, 2018.
More Nations Set to Ratify Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Palau is the latest nation to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and more nations are set to ratify in the coming weeks. Austria and Costa Rica, two countries that were at the forefront of the effort to adopt the treaty, have completed their national processes and will soon officially deposit their instruments of ratification at the UN.
As of May 3, eight countries have ratified the treaty. The treaty will enter into force once 50 nations have ratified. The pace of ratification is similar to other key multilateral nuclear weapons-related treaties, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Click here to view the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ running tally of which countries have signed and ratified the treaty.
War and Peace
North Korean Leader Visits South Korea for First Time in History
On April 27, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in Panmunjeom, on the South Korean side of the De-Militarized Zone. The summit marked the first time in history that a North Korean leader stepped foot in the South.
In a signal to the United States and China, the two leaders “affirmed the principle of determining the destiny of the Korean nation on their own accord.”
The summit and the Panmunjeom Declaration mark a huge leap past the tensions of the previous year, when the United States and North Korea appeared to be lurching disastrously toward war, with South Korea caught in the crosshairs.
Tim Shorrock, “Historic Korean Summit Sets the Table for Peace – and U.S. Pundits React with Horror,” The Nation, May 2, 2018.
Israeli Prime Minister Claims to Have Proof of Iranian Nuclear Program
In a presentation styled after TED talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims to have secret evidence of an Iranian nuclear program. Using language similar to President Trump’s speaking style, Netanyahu said, “”Tonight, I’m here to tell you one thing: Iran lied — big time.”
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was negotiated among seven countries: Iran, the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, and Germany. Following Netanyahu’s presentation, a spokesperson for the United Kingdom said, “The IAEA inspection regime agreed as part of the Iran nuclear deal is one of the most extensive and robust in the history of international nuclear accords. It remains a vitally important way of independently verifying that Iran is adhering to the deal and that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.”
Following Netanyahu’s presentation, U.S. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement that said, “These facts are consistent with what the United States has long known: Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world and from its own people.” The U.S. later claimed that a “clerical error” led to them using the present tense instead of the past tense regarding an Iranian nuclear weapons program.
Eliot McLaughlin, “Netanyahu Says he has Proof of of Secret Iranian Nuclear Program,” CNN, May 1, 2018.
Four Barrels of Nuclear Waste Rupture in Idaho
Four barrels containing radioactive sludge ruptured at the Idaho National Laboratory. Firefighters had to extinguish one barrel that was smoldering. Officials were not sure exactly what was in the barrels, but said it was likely radioactive material produced in the 1960s at the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado.
The barrels were going to be shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. WIPP only recently reopened after a barrel of radioactive waste ruptured there in 2014.
Keith Ridler, “Officials Say Radioactive Sludge Barrel Ruptures Now Total 4,” Associated Press, April 25, 2018.
Lawsuit Filed Over Plan to Allow Public in Radioactive Zone
A number of Colorado groups have come together to file a lawsuit to prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from allowing the public on the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. The wildlife refuge is in the “buffer zone” of the former Rocky Flats Plant near Denver, which the U.S. used to produce plutonium pits for its nuclear weapons from 1952 to 1989, when the FBI raided the plant and shut it down for environmental crimes.
The lawsuit argues that the Fish and Wildlife Service did not complete a required analysis of environmental risks. Many local school boards, including Denver Public Schools, have announced that they will not permit students to visit the wildlife refuge because of health concerns. While Rocky Flats underwent a $7 billion cleanup, there are many reasons to believe that plutonium is still present in the environment.
“Suit Filed Over Ex-Nuclear Weapons Plant Converted to Refuge,” Associated Press, May 1, 2018.
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 May, including the May 11, 1969 fire at the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver involving five kilograms of plutonium.
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
Russian Nuclear Forces in 2018
Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris have published their assessment of Russia’s nuclear forces. As of early 2018, the authors estimate that Russia has a stockpile of roughly 4,350 nuclear warheads assigned for use by long-range strategic launchers and shorter-range tactical nuclear forces. Of these, roughly 1,600 strategic warheads are deployed on ballistic missiles and at heavy bomber bases, while another 920 strategic warheads are in storage along with about 1,830 non-strategic warheads. In addition to the military stockpile for operational forces, a large number – perhaps almost 2,500 – of retired but still largely intact warheads await dismantlement, for a total inventory of more than 6,850 warheads.
To read the full report, click here.
Podcast on the Nuclear Age
A new podcast entitled “Einstein’s Regret” features portraits of Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Harry Truman, and a grandmother who experienced Hiroshima. The stories are told through historical clips and the poetry of David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
You can listen or download a copy of the podcast here.
ICRC President Issues Appeal on Risk of Nuclear Weapons
Peter Mauer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, has issued a new statement appealing to all States, global leaders and citizens to act on the increasing risk of the use of nuclear weapons.
Mauer wrote, “If a nuclear conflict happened today, there is no international plan nor capacity to respond adequately to even a limited use of nuclear weapons. Therefore, the only sound course of action is prevention. We appeal for urgent efforts to ensure that nuclear weapons are never again used.” Suggested measures include quickly signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
To read Mauer’s full statement, click here.
NAPF Event at the United Nations in Geneva
On April 24, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation hosted an event at the United Nations in Geneva entitled “The Trump Nuclear Doctrine: The Nuclear Posture Review’s Threats to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Humanity.” The event took place during the 2018 Preparatory Committee meetings for the 2020 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.
Speakers included Jackie Cabasso of Western States Legal Foundation, Lisa Clark of International Peace Bureau, Kate Hudson of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Cesar Jaramillo of Project Ploughshares, Hans Kristensen of Federation of American Scientists, and Rick Wayman of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
To read Rick’s take on the Nuclear Posture Review and the event at the UN, click here.
Building Peace Literacy with the Corvallis School District
The first step to a peace literate world begins in the classroom. The average American spends twelve years honing literacy skills, moving from the basic alphabet to writing short paragraphs to deeper levels of reading, writing, composition, and critical thinking to allow for civic participation in our ever-growing and complex world.
Why not twelve years of Peace Literacy in the classroom? Through the curriculum, across social studies, history, language arts, math, science, health and many other subjects, classes would be grounded in peace literacy skills for getting along in complicated and fast-changing times. Study of peace literacy skills would continue for higher grades at deeper levels. This can begin to create a path to a new peace literate society.
Steps are being taken to build a new peace literate community in Corvallis, Oregon. On April 9-10, the local school district sent more than 30 teachers, administrators, behavioral support staff, and students from three high schools and two middle schools to a peace literacy workshop.
To read more about the Peace Literacy movement in Corvallis, click here.
Moms Against Bombs
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has published a new booklet entitled “Moms Against Bombs.” In honor of Mother’s Day and the women who have taught us important lessons in our lives, the women of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation speak about why they chose to work for peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.
To download a copy, click here.
30th Annual DC Days
Representatives of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will participate in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s 30th Annual DC Days lobbying event in Washington, DC from May 20-23. NAPF summer intern Kate Fahey will join Director of Programs Rick Wayman for a day of issue and lobbying training, followed by three days of meetings with members of Congress and key staffers on nuclear weapons and waste issues.
Around 60 experts and activists from around the U.S. will take part in this year’s DC Days. It’s not too late for you to register as well. Click here to learn more about DC Days and to register.
“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”
— Maya Angelou. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available to purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.
“We applaud the two Koreas’ pursuit of dialogue with the United States and China to achieve the formal end of the Korean War by replacing the temporary ceasefire agreement with a Peace Treaty and thus establishing a permanent peace regime. We are inspired by the decision to transform the DMZ, so long a symbol of separation and enmity, into a Peace Park, and the West Sea, the site of violent skirmishes, into a Maritime Peace Zone.”
— Women Cross DMZ, in a statement following the historic summit between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un.
“From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
— Julia Ward Howe, in the original Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870.