Issue #244 – November 2017
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Nobel Peace Prize for ICAN’s Nuclear Weapon Ban Is Spot On
The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize does not go to a politician or political leader. In fact, it does not single out any individual. Rather, it goes to a campaign, the International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), composed of more than 450 civil society organizations in some 100 countries around the globe. It goes to a broad base of civil society organizations working in coalition to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons.
In this sense, the award goes to the extraordinary people (“We, the People…”) throughout the world who have stepped up to end the threat to all humanity posed by the nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons still remaining on the planet.
To read the full article at The Hill, click here.
The Nuclear Dreams of President Donald Trump: Nightmares Past and Present
Preventing a nuclear war between the United States and North Korea may be the most pressing challenge facing the world right now.
Our childish, ignorant, and incompetent president is shoving all of us — especially the people of Asia — ever nearer to catastrophe. While North Korea probably hasn’t yet developed the missiles to deliver a nuclear warhead to the U.S. mainland, it certainly has the capacity to reach closer targets, including South Korea and Japan.
But what can ordinary people do about it? Our fingers are far removed from the levers of power, while the tiny digits of the man occupying the “adult day care center” we call the White House hover dangerously close to what people my age used to call “the Button.” Nevertheless, I think there may still be time to put our collective foot on the brakes, beginning with the promise of a bill currently languishing in Congress.
To read more, click here.
Rethinking the Three Rs
Until quite recently, ‘the 3 Rs’ simply meant reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmatic. One could very well get by with basic competencies in literacy and math.
The shift we see through acceptance of a total and legally binding ban on nuclear weapons is, at its core, an ideological and philosophical one. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a milestone in the ongoing reframing of global security concepts. While some may see the ban treaty as a stand against nuclear weapons states, we can also understand the action as taking a stand for peace by legally de-legitimizing weapons of mass destruction.
However, reframing is directly linked to access to knowledge. The less we know, the less we question what is acceptable. The more we know the more action we are likely to take when the human consequences of the nuclear cycle are recognized. Hence, the 3 Rs of Human Security embedded in the nuclear ban treaty: Recognition, Restitution, and Remediation.
To read more, click here.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
NATO Nuclear Weapons Exercises Take Place in Europe
On October 16, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) began its annual nuclear weapons exercises. The “Steadfast Noon” exercises took place at two bases where the United States deploys nuclear weapons: Kleine Brogel in Belgium and Büchel in Germany.
The U.S. currently deploys approximately 180 nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey.
Julian E. Barnes, “NATO Launches Its Main Nuclear Drill, Showcasing Its Defenses,” Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2017.
Vice President Visits Nuclear Weapons Base
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited the Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota on October 27, telling the airmen to “stay sharp” and “be ready” in the face of what he called an increasing threat from North Korea. Minot AFB hosts 26 B-52 nuclear-armed bomber aircraft and commands 150 Minuteman III nuclear-armed Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.
The U.S. nuclear weapons at Minot AFB alone are capable of indiscriminately killing hundreds of millions of people. Despite this, Pence said, “There’s no greater element of American strength, there’s no greater force for peace in the world than the United States nuclear arsenal.”
Julia Manchester, “Pence to Military on North Korea: ‘Be Ready’,” The Hill, October 28, 2017.
Setsuko Thurlow, Hiroshima Survivor and NAPF Advisor, to Jointly Accept Nobel Peace Prize
Setsuko Thurlow, who was 13 years old when she survived the United States’ atomic bombing of Hiroshima, will jointly accept the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on December 10 with Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Thurlow said, “Survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are living witnesses to the horror of nuclear war. They have played a central role in ICAN. World leaders must heed their call for a nuclear-weapon-free future.”
Setsuko Thurlow has dedicated her life to campaigning for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In 2015, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation gave her its Distinguished Peace Leadership Award, and she has continued her involvement with NAPF as a member of the Advisory Council.
“Atomic Bomb Survivor to Jointly Accept Nobel Peace Prize on ICAN’s Behalf,” International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, October 26, 2017.
Nobel Foundation Stops Investing in Nuclear Weapon Producers
Just weeks after awarding the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the Nobel Foundation has announced that it is implementing a policy to no longer invest in companies that are involved in the production of nuclear weapons.
“One can discuss that we should have done that earlier, but we sharpened our standards in March and we are now following through with it,” said Nobel Foundation director Lars Heikensten. “At the latest, by March next year we will have no investment in anything that is connected with any kind of production which is classified as connected with nuclear weapons,” he said.
“Nobel Prize Money Will No Longer be ‘Invested” in Nuclear Weapons,” Agence France Presse, October 27, 2017.
War and Peace
President Trump Refuses to Certify Iran’s Compliance with Nuclear Deal
U.S. President Donald Trump refused to certify that Iran is acting in compliance with its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly referred to as the Iran Nuclear Deal. Congress requires that the U.S. President certify Iran’s compliance every 90 days. By refusing to certify, Trump has set the stage for Congress to re-impose economic sanctions against Iran, which would put the U.S. in violation of the deal.
“President Trump’s rejection of the JCPOA is an incitement to proliferation, makes achieving further agreements to rein in the nuclear threat more difficult, and increases global risk of nuclear use,” the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) said in a statement.
“Nobel Peace Laureates Denounce Trump’s Iran Move,” Agence France Presse, October 13, 2017.
Trump to Visit Asia in Early November
U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit several Asian countries in early November. He is scheduled to visit China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, and South Korea over a one-week period. President Trump has chosen not to visit the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.
The U.S. has continued to prepare for war with North Korea. According to Christine Ahn, Executive Director of Women Cross DMZ, “The U.S. has sent three nuclear aircraft carriers to be docked on the Korean Peninsula. They have been conducting very provocative joint war exercises with South Korea, including Navy SEALs that took out Osama bin Laden. They do include the decapitation strikes. And so, it’s one thing to say, ‘We don’t want war with North Korea,’ and another to actually be laying the grounds for that.”
“Trump Admin Continues Threats and Provocations Against North Korea, Laying Groundwork for Nuclear War,” Democracy Now, October 30, 2017.
British Nuclear Submarine Crew Members Fired After Cocaine-Fueled Parties
Numerous sailors from the British Royal Navy’s nuclear-armed submarine HMS Vigilant have been fired after testing positive for cocaine. While the submarine was docked in Kings Bay, Georgia, to pick up nuclear weapons, sailors reportedly had out-of-control parties at a local hotel.
The incident occurred in September at a time of heightened nuclear tensions, when U.S. President Donald Trump threatened at the United Nations to “totally destroy” North Korea, and Kim Jong-un called Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” who will “pay dearly” for his UN speech.
Cleve R. Wootson Jr., “Nuclear Sub Sailors Fired After ‘Absolutely Disgraceful’ Parties with a Prostitute and Cocaine,” Washington Post, October 28, 2017.
Head of Nuclear Safety Agency Urges Trump to Abolish It
Sean Sullivan, chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB), told the director of the Office of Management and Budget in a private letter that closing or shrinking the panel he chairs is consistent with President Trump’s ambition to cut the size of the federal workforce. DNFSB, chartered by Congress, has helped persuade the federal government to impose tighter safety rules and regulations at most of the eight nuclear weapons sites — employing more than 40,000 workers — where nuclear weapons and their parts are produced or stored.
Patrick Malone, “GOP Chair of Nuclear Safety Agency Secretly Urges Trump to Abolish It,” Center for Public Integrity, October 19, 2017.
Congressional Budget Office Increases U.S. “Modernization” Cost Estimate
On October 31, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a report that increases the estimated 30-year cost of “modernizing” the U.S. nuclear arsenal and production facilities to $1.24 trillion. The CBO report examines some options to eliminate some of the costs or delay them.
This estimate is $242 billion higher than the already-outrageous $1 trillion figure that has been widely cited since the Obama administration began its plans for a 30-year nuclear weapons spending binge.
“Approaches for Managing the Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2017 to 2046,” Congressional Budget Office, October 31, 2017.
Video Shows Illegal Dumping of Toxic Liquid at Hanford
Video taken in August 2017 shows contractors at the Hanford Site in Washington State illegally dumping rainwater from large metal containers containing radioactive waste. Hanford, which is the most contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere, was used primarily to produce plutonium for U.S. nuclear weapons from the mid-1940s to the mid-1980s.
The workers dumping this liquid were employed by Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), a private contractor managing tens of millions of gallons of highly-radioactive waste at Hanford. WRPS officials have denied that they did anything wrong. However, state Representative Gerry Pollet said, “Of course it’s illegal to dump any liquid waste. This is the kind of thing that caused Hanford to be the most contaminated place in the Western Hemisphere in the first place. I am shocked to see something like this in 2017. It’s outrageous.”
Despite the United States’ inability to properly deal with the huge amount of radioactive waste it has created through decades of past nuclear weapons development, the Trump administration has indicated that it favors renewed production of nuclear weapons and components.
Susannah Frame, “Video Shows Illegal Dumping of Toxic Liquids at Hanford,” KING 5, October 27, 2017.
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 November, including the November 28, 1993 arrest of a group of Russians who attempted to sell 4.5 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium to undercover buyers.
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
The Doomsday Machine: New Book by NAPF Distinguished Fellow Daniel Ellsberg
The Doomsday Machine, a new book by NAPF Fellow Daniel Ellsberg, is now available for pre-order. It will be released on December 5. Ellsberg, the legendary whistleblower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, was a presidential advisor and nuclear strategist. The Doomsday Machine is Ellsberg’s hair-raising account of the most dangerous arms build-up in the history of civilization, whose legacy – and proposed renewal under the Trump administration – threatens the very survival of humanity.
To pre-order the book from Amazon, click here.
Study War No More
Join the Global Campaign for Peace Education and World Beyond War in this timely discussion on “Debunking the Myths of War” by participating in discussion 3 of the online study guide Study War No More. This discussion features an introductory video by Study and Action Partner Paul K. Chappell, the Peace Leadership Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
The goals and objectives of this discussion are to identify, reflect and analyze assumptions of war, violence and conflict.
Study War No More provides guided inquiries and suggests practical actions for students and citizens to understand the nature of “the war system” and the possibilities for its transformation to an authentic “global security system” pursued via peaceful means.
Click here to learn more and participate.
Sleepwalking to Armageddon
A new book edited by Dr. Helen Caldicott, Sleepwalking to Armageddon, is now available. For this book, Dr. Caldicott assembled some of the world’s leading nuclear scientists and thought leaders to assess the scientific and political dimensions of the threat of nuclear war today. NAPF President David Krieger wrote a chapter for the book. It also includes a chapter by NAPF Advisory Council member Noam Chomsky.
Click here to order a copy of the book.
NAPF Brings Message of Peace to Middle School
NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell has partnered with the Santa Barbara Middle School for a six-month peace education effort. The partnership is part of NAPF’s newly-launched Peace Literacy Initiative, in which Chappell worked with a team of educators around the United States and Canada to develop free curriculum for grades 4-12 and college.
Whitney Ingersoll, director of admission at Santa Barbara Middle School, said, “He speaks from the heart, and his message speaks to archetypal mindsets of what it means to be human. He clearly explained how we can better understand ourselves and others, in order to communicate and live more peacefully, inside and out.”
Over the next few months, Paul will conduct workshops with students, teachers, and parents at the school. The school’s intent is to foster a more peaceful and compassionate way to be in the world within oneself, at home, and as a school community.
To read more about this initiative, click here.
Evening for Peace: A Prescription for a Nuclear-Free World
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 34th Annual Evening for Peace took place on October 22, in Santa Barbara, California. The theme of this year’s event was “A Prescription for a Nuclear-Free World.” The Foundation honored Dr. Ira Helfand and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War with its Distinguished Peace Leadership Award.
Audio and video of Dr. Helfand’s chilling and inspiring acceptance speech are available here to download from our Evening for Peace page. A written transcript and photos will be available soon.
Rick Wayman to Participate in Vatican Nuclear Disarmament Conference
Rick Wayman, NAPF’s Director of Programs, will participate in a nuclear disarmament conference at the Vatican on November 10-11. The conference, entitled “Perspectives for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament,” will feature an audience with Pope Francis, as well as talks by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and many Nobel Peace Laureates.
Information on conference outcomes will be published in the December issue of The Sunflower.
New Peace Poetry Book Now Available
Portraits: Peacemakers, Warmongers and People Between is a new book of original peace poetry by NAPF President David Krieger. Commenting on the new book, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Poetry that awakens our deepest humanity. Each poem leaves me wanting another.”
To order a copy of this new book, click here.
Cards for Humanity
S.200, a bill currently before the senate, calls for restrictions on the President’s ability to use nuclear weapons first.
Buy a $1 postcard as part of our Cards for Humanity campaign and we will send it to the Senator of your choice. We’ll sign your name on the postcard, stamp it, and mail it to your Senator’s office in DC.
Click here to view the postcard and choose your Senators.
Sign the People’s Peace Treaty with North Korea
Alarmed by the threat of a nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea, concerned U.S. peace groups, including the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, have come together to send an open message to Washington and Pyongyang that we are strongly opposed to any resumption of the horrific Korean War. What we want is a peace treaty to finally end the lingering Korean War!
Inspired by the Vietnam-era People’s Peace Treaty, we have initiated a People’s Peace Treaty with North Korea, to raise awareness about the past U.S. policy toward North Korea, and to send a clear message that we, the people of the U.S., do not want another war with North Korea. This is not an actual treaty, but rather a declaration of peace from the people of the United States.
To read the full text and add your name, click here.
“Nuclear disarmament is not an option for governments to take up or ignore. It is a moral duty owed by them to their own citizens, and to humanity as a whole. We must not await another Hiroshima or Nagasaki before finally mustering the political will to banish these weapons from global arsenals.”
— Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action. The revised 4th edition of this book has just been published. Order copies today in the NAPF Peace Store at a 25% discount.
“I refuse to have an enemy.”
— Sister Ardeth Platte, a Dominican nun who, together with Sr. Carol Gilbert, returned to a Minuteman III ICBM silo, 15 years after their arrest there, to deliver a copy of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
“So maybe we make a drastic change. We go back to [nuclear] testing.”
— Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, suggesting that the United States resume full-scale nuclear weapons testing.
“Some issues are not about left and right, Republican and Democrat – they’re about our deepest moral values. And we believe that you have to have a campaign, a movement, that seeks to reshape the moral narrative.”
— Rev. Dr. William Barber, a leader of the new Poor People’s Campaign, a non-violent movement to end systemic racism, poverty, militarism, environmental destruction and related injustices, and to build a just, sustainable and participatory society.