Sunflower Newsletter: May 2019

By |2019-05-07T08:00:38-07:00May 7, 2019|

Issue #262

– May 2019

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Perspectives

  • Participation in the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference by David Krieger
  • The Madness of Nuclear Deterrence by Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Moving the Nuclear Football, from 1946 to 2019 by Ray Acheson

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

  • Trump Administration Wants Heavy Revision of New START Treaty
  • U.S. Launches Nuclear-Capable ICBM
  • U.S. Refuses to Declassify Size of Current Nuclear Arsenal

Nuclear Disarmament

  • Panama Ratifies the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear Insanity

  • UK Holds Thanksgiving Ceremony for Nuclear Weapons at Westminster Abbey

Resources

  • Which Companies Are Building Nuclear Weapons?
  • Toward a New Era of Peace and Disarmament: A People-Centered Approach
  • World Military Spending Tops $1.8 Trillion

 

Foundation Activities

  • 2019 Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future
  • Peace Literacy and Virtual Reality
  • 2019 Poetry Contest
  • 2019 Video Contest Winners Announced
  • The Truth-Teller: From the Pentagon Papers to the Doomsday Machine

Take Action

  • Tell Congress to Embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Quotes

Perspectives

Participation in the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was opened for signatures in 1968 and entered into force in 1970. Despite its name, the NPT sought not only to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation, but also, in Article VI, called for good faith negotiations for an end to the nuclear arms race at an early date, for nuclear disarmament, and for general and complete disarmament. The treaty also had provisions for review conferences to be held at five-year intervals and for an extension conference to be held 25 years after the treaty entered into force. The purpose of the extension conference was for the parties to the treaty to decide by a majority vote whether the treaty should be extended indefinitely, for a period or periods of time, or not at all.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, as well as dozens of other civil society groups working on nuclear disarmament, took note of the general lack of effort and progress by the nuclear-armed parties to the treaty in fulfilling their Article VI nuclear disarmament obligations for good faith negotiations for ending the nuclear arms race and for nuclear disarmament. Given this, these organizations favored some version of an extension for periods of time, and for the periodic extensions to be contingent upon clear progress toward nuclear disarmament made by the nuclear-armed parties to the treaty. We saw this as a unique opportunity to put pressure on the nuclear weapons states to fulfill their nuclear disarmament obligations under the treaty, rather than continuing indefinitely to ignore those obligations, as they had done for the first 25 years of the treaty’s existence.

To read more, click here.

The Madness of Nuclear Deterrence

“Deterrence cannot protect the world from a nuclear blunder or nuclear terrorism,” George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn recently wrote. “Both become more likely when there is no sustained, meaningful dialogue between Washington and Moscow.” I agree with them about the urgent need for strategic engagement between the U.S. and Russia. I am also convinced that nuclear deterrence, instead of protecting the world, is keeping it in constant jeopardy.

To read the full op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, click here (paywall).

Moving the Nuclear Football, from 1946 to 2019

What does it mean to make a commitment? As one of arguably the most basic of human interactions, to most of the world’s population it entails an agreement, an obligation, or a duty; a dedication to follow through on a promised activity. But apparently this definition does not hold for the nuclear-armed states—the governments of which continue, year after year, review cycle after review cycle, to change the goalposts or to move the football (the nuclear football, if you will), like Lucy does with Charlie Brown.

Cartoons aside, the “commitments” made by the nuclear-armed states for the past 50 years have seriously suffered from lack of implementation and impressive backtracking. On the eve of the 2020 [NPT] Review Conference, one of the nuclear-armed states (the United States) has asserted that all of these past commitments are out of date and out of step with today’s “international security environment”—this apparently being a specific, discrete artifact that is unconnected from this state’s own behavior and entirely related to the poor behavior of others.

To read more, click here.

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

Trump Administration Wants Heavy Revision of New START Treaty

The Trump Administration has stated that it is interested in renewing the New START Treaty with Russia, but only if there are significant revisions. Specifically, the administration has indicated that it wants a pact that China can join, and it also wants new types of weapons, such as Russia’s new nuclear-armed underwater drone, to be covered by the treaty.

Democrats have said that they are eager to preserve one of the last effective arms control treaties that exist, and are urging the Trump administration to do a straightforward five-year extension of the New START Treaty, which is currently set to expire in 2021.

“Those who are calling for bringing new kinds of weapons into the extension process or adding new parties like China are really talking about a new treaty,” said Joan Rohlfing, president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. “It’s disingenuous.”

Rachel Oswald, “Trump Wants to Renew and Revise a Key Russian Nuclear Weapons Treaty. It has Democrats Nervous,” Roll Call, May 6, 2019.

U.S. Launches Nuclear-Capable ICBM

On May 1, the United States conducted a test launch of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). On that day, Rick Wayman, Deputy Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, was in New York City taking part in the Non-Proliferation Treaty conference at the United Nations.

Wayman said, “Violating the Iran Deal. Withdrawing from the INF Treaty. The relative stability of the post-Cold War era is being systematically dismantled by the Trump administration. Testing an ICBM during the Non-Proliferation Treaty conference is a feather in the cap of those who despise international cooperation.”

Willis Jacobson, “Unarmed Minuteman III Missile Launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base,” Santa Ynez Valley News, May 1, 2019.

U.S. Refuses to Declassify Size of Current Nuclear Arsenal

In a marked reverse from Obama-era policy, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has denied a request to declassify the current size of its nuclear arsenal. While there was no formal reason given, the DOD has been looking for greater transparency from China recently, and such a denial may be a “leveling” of the playing field, though the value of such a move is dubious. Despite this jockeying, the number of nuclear weapons has never really been a secret in the United States. Declassification simply allows officials to openly discuss the stockpile. The DOD’s reasoning remains unclear in light of these factors. Whether this is simply a knee-jerk reaction to Obama-era policy, or a sign of renewed secrecy about nuclear weapons remains to be seen.

Steven Aftergood, “Pentagon Blocks Declassification of 2018 Nuclear Stockpile,” Federation of American Scientists, April 17, 2019.

Nuclear Disarmament

Panama Ratifies the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

On April 11, Panama ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, becoming the 23rd nation to ratify the treaty. The treaty will enter into force 90 days after the 50th nation ratifies it.

Click here for an updated list of which countries have signed and ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Nuclear Insanity

UK Holds Thanksgiving Ceremony for Nuclear Weapons at Westminster Abbey

On May 3, Westminster Abbey hosted a service of thanksgiving to mark 50 years of the UK possessing a continuous at-sea nuclear weapons system. Prince William was among the guests who gathered in the famous church to celebrate the possession of nuclear weapons.

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “It was truly sickening to hear Westminster Abbey’s bells played like wedding bells as guests left the nuclear weapons thanksgiving service. We hope government and church learn from today and that we never see a repeat of such an inappropriate event. Instead, every level of the church, government and society should be engaged in efforts to de-escalate nuclear tensions that are rising by the day. We must all work together towards a nuclear weapon-free world.”

“500 Protest Westminster Abbey Nuclear Weapons Thanksgiving,” Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, May 3, 2019.

Resources

Which Companies Are Building Nuclear Weapons?

A new report by PAX has found that nuclear-armed governments have at least $116 billion in contracts with private companies to build nuclear weapons. Large corporations like Honeywell International, General Dynamics, and Jacobs Engineering have all been directly involved in the nuclear weapons industry and have heightened the risk that weapons of mass destruction will be used again.

A majority of the 28 companies listed in the report have contracts with the U.S., and some companies have France, India, the UK, and China as clients. The report also contains information about the development of new hypersonic submarine-launched ballistic missiles in various countries. The new contracts, types of weapons, and allocations of resources in the report shows that a new nuclear arms race is happening.

To read a copy of the report, click here.

Toward a New Era of Peace and Disarmament: A People-Centered Approach

Daisaku Ikeda, President of Soka Gakkai International, has published his 37th annual peace proposal, entitled “Toward a New Era of Peace and Disarmament: A People-Centered Approach.”

This year’s main theme is the need to increase momentum toward disarmament. Mr. Ikeda urges more nations to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and calls for a fourth special session of the UN General Assembly devoted to disarmament to be held in 2021. He also proposes the establishment of a legally-binding instrument that prohibits all lethal autonomous weapon systems.

Mr. Ikeda wrote, “The darker the night, the closer the dawn: now is the time to accelerate momentum toward disarmament by taking the present crises as an opportunity to create a new history.”

To read the full proposal, click here.

World Military Spending Tops $1.8 Trillion

A new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) shows that in 2018, the nations of the world spent over $1.8 trillion on its militaries. The United States remained by far the top military spender, at 36% of the world’s total ($649 billion). China was the second-largest spender, at $250 billion.

To read the full report from SIPRI, click here.

Foundation Activities

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, 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.

Peace Literacy and Virtual Reality

NAPF Peace Literacy Director Paul K. Chappell’s recent community event at the Red Skelton Theater in Vincennes, Indiana led to an article in the Vincennes Sun-Commercial on his talk regarding our human needs and the coming Virtual Reality revolution.

For more info on Chappell’s insights into social media, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence, download Chappell’s pamphlet on “The World of Electric Light: Understanding the Seductive Glow of Screens.”

2019 Poetry Contest

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 2019 Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards is accepting submissions through July 1. The contest encourages poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit.
The Poetry Awards include three age categories: Adult, Youth 13-18, and Youth 12 & Under.

For more information on the contest, click here.

2019 Video Contest Winners Announced

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has announced the winners of the 2019 Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest. This year’s winning video is entitled “Hard to Imagine” by Noah Roth. To watch the winning video, as well as the other prize winners, click here.

The Truth-Teller: From the Pentagon Papers to the Doomsday Machine

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has republished an interview with NAPF Distinguished Fellow Daniel Ellsberg. The interview for the Great Transition Initiative gave Ellsberg an opportunity to talk about his motivations for releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, as well as his recent book about nuclear weapons, The Doomsday Machine.

To read the full interview, click here.

Take Action

Tell Congress to Embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Representatives Jim McGovern and Earl Blumenauer have introduced H. Res. 302, a resolution that embraces the goals and provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

This resolution in the House of Representatives follows on the heels of successful resolutions in the state of California, and the cities of Los Angeles, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and many others. This is the first resolution on the national level that calls on the United States to embrace this vital new treaty, and to make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of national security policy.

Click here to ask your representative to sign on to this resolution.

Quotes

 

“Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment…but as an endless succession of surprises, moving zigzag toward a more decent society. We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

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

 

“The prospect of the use of nuclear weapons is higher than it has been in generations.”

Izumi Nakamitsu, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, speaking at the United Nations Security Council in April.

 

“Nuclear deterrence is not a policy that guarantees the absence of war but rather the absence of trust.”

H.E. Mr. Vitavas Srivihok, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Thailand to the United Nations in New York, speaking on April 30 at the Non-Proliferation Treaty PrepCom.

Editorial Team

 

David Krieger
Louisa Kwon
Colin Scharff
Carol Warner
Rick Wayman