Issue #243 – October 2017
Rick Wayman, our Director of Programs, has been invited to take part in a conference at the Vatican in November. This important gathering will include Pope Francis, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and Nobel Peace Laureates. This is an exciting opportunity for the Foundation, but it’s not in our 2017 budget.
Will you help us raise $2,000 to get Rick to the Vatican?
Please donate here. Thank you!
P.S.: All contributors will receive exclusive email updates directly from Rick about the conference and potential actions arising from the gathering.
The Reality of the Nuclear Age
Anyone with a modicum of sense does not want to see the U.S. teeter at the brink of war with North Korea and certainly not inadvertently stumble over that brink, or intentionally jump. The first Korean War in the 1950s was costly in terms of lives and treasure. A second Korean War, with the possibility of nuclear weapons use, would be far more costly to both sides, and could lead to global nuclear conflagration.
Neither North Korea nor South Korea want a new war, but U.S. leadership in Washington is threatening war, with remarks such as “talking is not the answer”; North Korean threats “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”; “military solutions are now in place, locked and loaded”; and “all options are on the table.” Such posturing has only elicited more nuclear and missile tests from North Korea.
To read more, click here.
Letter to UN Secretary-General
In his first General Assembly address, President Trump threatened “to totally destroy North Korea” if the United States or its allies were attacked. As the world’s greatest military power, the United States is the only nation ever to use atomic bombs against a civilian population that annihilated a quarter million people in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. We call on you, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, to counsel in the strongest of terms, the President of the United States and its Ambassador to the UN, that threats to destroy another country are unacceptable and will not be tolerated by the community of nations.
We must work to abolish nuclear weapons worldwide, including in India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and among all Permanent Members of the Security Council. We oppose North Korea’s increased militarization, including testing missiles and nuclear weapons, and threats to retaliate against the United States, its allies, and its territories where significant U.S. military bases are located. However, we understand North Korea’s fears of a U.S. pre-emptive strike. There is still no Peace Treaty ending the Korean War, during which the United States carpet-bombed 85 percent of North Korea. From 1950-53, four million people were killed, including a quarter of the North Korean population.
To read more, click here.
The North Korea Standoff Is Now as Bad as the Cuban Missile Crisis
The nuclear danger posed by North Korea is not new. For more than a decade, the Kim regime has possessed nuclear weapons and has been steadily pursuing the capability to develop compact warheads and longer-range missile systems.
But since the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House, a bad situation has become far worse. North Korea has accelerated its missile testing and Trump has vowed a military attack against North Korea if it threatens the U.S. or its allies.
The risk of conflict through miscalculation by either side is now as severe as the tense days of October 1962, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union nearly went to war over the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Just as was the case in 1962, even a small action or wrong word could lead to war.
To read more, click here.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
New Nuclear Posture Review Faces Delays
A self-imposed deadline of December 2017 is likely to be missed as staffing shortages at the State Department and Pentagon slow down work on the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).
Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza said that the NPR “will guide modernization efforts and establish U.S. nuclear deterrence policy, strategy, and posture for the next 5-10 years.” As part of the review, the Trump administration is also considering smaller, more tactical nuclear weapons that would cause less destruction than the current U.S. stockpile.
Paul McLeary, “With Pentagon, State Positions Vacant, Trump Nuclear Review Slows Down,” Foreign Policy, September 15, 2017.
Trump Threatens to Totally Destroy North Korea
On September 19 in a speech at the United Nations, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, a UN member state with a population of 25 million. He said, “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
Article 2(4) of the UN Charter states, “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”
Jon Schwarz, “Donald Trump Used the United Nations to Threaten a Massive Violation of International Law,” The Intercept, September 20, 2017.
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Opens for Signature
On September 20, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opened for signature at the United Nations in New York. Fifty nations signed the treaty on the first day. Many more are expected to sign in the coming weeks.
The treaty prohibits nations from “undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use or threat of use of these weapons,” according to a U.N. press release.
James Dearie, “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Opens for Signature,” National Catholic Reporter, September 26, 2017.
First U.S. Bank Announces Policy Against Funding Nuclear Weapons
On September 20, New York-based Amalgamated Bank made an official statement against investing in nuclear weapons production. It is the first U.S. bank to do so, and the statement was the bank’s first public announcement on investment policy regarding weapons of any kind. The announcement coincided with the signing ceremony at the UN for the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
“First U.S. Bank Announces Public Position Against Nuclear Weapons,” ICAN, September 21, 2017.
War and Peace
How Many People Would Die in a War with North Korea?
House Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) have asked Defense Secretary James Mattis for estimated casualty totals in the event of war with North Korea. In the wake of the North Korean foreign minister’s statement that President Trump has made a “declaration of war,” the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees want to check the President’s unilateral dealings with North Korea, and have these casualty counts included in their briefings on the situation.
Congressman Lieu writes, “To be clear, we believe it is wrong to use military force without first exhausting all other options, including diplomacy. We also believe it would be unconstitutional for the administration to start a war with North Korea without congressional authorization.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis has said that war with North Korea would be “catastrophic” and that he has looked at military options that he claims would not put Seoul at risk.
Rebecca Kheel, “Dems Ask Mattis: How Many People Would Die in War with North Korea?” The Hill, September 26, 2017.
“The Man Who Saved the World” Dies at 77
On May 19, Stanislav Petrov, a Soviet lieutenant colonel for the Air Defense Forces during the Cold War, died at age 77 at his home in a suburb of Moscow. Petrov was the key actor in preventing the outbreak of an all-out nuclear war between the U.S. and USSR in 1983, when a Soviet system incorrectly signaled that the U.S. had launched 5 nuclear-armed ICBMs towards the Soviet Union.
Petrov’s job was to monitor this system and send the message up the chain of command if an attack was impending. However, when the system alarms went off on September 26, 1983, he correctly suspected it was a system malfunction and did not relay the message up the command chain. Had Petrov not had the composure and intuition to check for malfunctioning software, it is likely that this false alarm would have led to a Soviet counter-attack on the U.S., and ultimately to nuclear war.
Greg Myre, “Stanislav Petrov, ‘The Man Who Saved The World,’ Dies At 77,” NPR, September 18, 2017.
U.S. Navy Awards $5.1 Billion Contract for New Nuclear-Armed Submarine Development
The U.S. Navy has awarded a $5.1 billion contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat. The contract is for the design, completion, component and technology development and prototyping efforts for the Columbia Class Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBNs). The work will also include United Kingdom unique efforts related to the Common Missile Compartment.
The U.S. plans to build 12 new Columbia-Class Submarines, each with 16 missile tubes, and the UK plans to build four nuclear-armed ballistic submarines, each with 12 missile tubes.
The nuclear-armed submarines are expected to remain in service through at least the 2070s.
“Navy $5 Billion Deal Builds New Nuclear-Armed Columbia-Class Sub,” Scout, September 21, 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 October, including the October 6, 1986 sinking of the Soviet K-219 nuclear-armed submarine in the Atlantic Ocean.
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
SIPRI Yearbook Published
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a leading independent research institute on conflict, arms control and disarmament, has published its 2017 yearbook.
According to SIPRI, global inventories of nuclear weapons continue to decline in number due to reductions made by the U.S. and Russia. However, “both the USA and Russia have extensive and expensive programs under way to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities,” and China, India, North Korea and Pakistan are thought to be expanding the size of their nuclear arsenals. In addition, SIPRI reports that there is inadequate transparency in the reporting of nuclear arsenal size and capability from most nuclear states, particularly Russia, China, North Korea, India, and Pakistan.
For more information on this year’s SIPRI report, click here.
Britain’s H-Bomb Tests in the Pacific
Grappling with the Bomb is a history of Britain’s 1950s program to test the hydrogen bomb, code name Operation Grapple. In 1957–58, nine atmospheric nuclear tests were held at Malden Island and Christmas Island in the British Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony — today, part of the Pacific nation of Kiribati.
Nearly 14,000 British troops travelled to the central Pacific for Operation Grapple. They were joined by hundreds of New Zealand sailors, Gilbertese laborers and Fijian troops. Today, decades later, survivors suffer from serious illnesses they attribute to exposure to hazardous levels of ionizing radiation.
On the 60th anniversary of the tests, Nic Maclellan’s book details regional opposition to Britain’s testing program in the 1950s, with protests from Fiji, Cook Islands, Western Samoa, Japan and other nations.
You can purchase a copy or download a free e-book from the ANU Press website.
A Teacher’s Guide to Peace Literacy
Peace literacy is an idea created by NAPF Peace Leadership Director Paul K. Chappell, a West Point graduate, former Army captain, and Iraq war veteran who grew up in a violent household and struggled with trauma throughout his school years. Realizing that humanity is facing new challenges that require us to become as well-trained in waging peace as soldiers are in waging war, he created peace literacy to help students and adults from various backgrounds work toward their full potential and a more peaceful world.
Peace literacy frames peace not merely as a goal, but as a practical skill-set that allows us to increase realistic peace in our lives, communities, nations, and the world. Peace literacy also helps us fully develop our human capacity for empathy, conscience, and reason.
To read more about this movement, click here.
Evening for Peace: A Prescription for a Nuclear-Free World
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 34th Annual Evening for Peace will take place on Sunday, October 22, in Santa Barbara, California. The theme of this year’s event is “A Prescription for a Nuclear-Free World.” The Foundation will honor Dr. Ira Helfand and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War with its Distinguished Peace Leadership Award.
For more information, including sponsorship opportunities and tickets, click here.
NAPF Invited 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.
More information will be published in the December issue of The Sunflower. This trip would not be possible without the generous support of our worldwide NAPF family. To support the costs of this important opportunity, click here.
Poetry Contest Winners Announced
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has announced the winners of its 2017 Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards. Nearly 200 people entered the contest, submitting original poems illuminating their positive visions of peace.
The winning poem in the adult category is entitled “Manchester,” by Nicole Melanson. To read all of the winning poems, click here. For more information about the contest, click here.
No Money for New Nuclear Weapons or Testing
The United States detonated 1,032 nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere, under the ocean, and underground between 1945 and 1992 that devastated local communities. Though the U.S. has not conducted a full-scale underground nuclear test in 25 years, resurgent nuclear threats are gaining intensity in the Trump administration. Neocons, nuclear lab managers, and others are urging Trump to hit the accelerator on new nuclear warheads and the underground explosions needed to test them.
Public pressure from ordinary Americans was essential in halting explosive U.S. nuclear testing in the atmosphere and underground 25 years ago. We must act now to halt funding for a new arms race.
Join us as we urge White House Budget Office Director, Mick Mulvaney, and the Armed Services and Appropriations Committees of the U.S. Congress not to fund programs that may lead to resumption of nuclear test explosions or new nuclear weapons. Click here to take action.
Prevent the First Use of Nuclear Weapons
At the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, we are working tirelessly not only for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons, but also in the meantime to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used. The humanitarian consequences of any nuclear weapons use would be unacceptable. The conflict between the United States and North Korea gives new urgency to bills currently in the House and Senate.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) have introduced bills in the House and Senate to reduce the likelihood of the United States using nuclear weapons first in a conflict. The bills would prohibit the President of the United States from launching a nuclear first strike without an explicit declaration by Congress.
Of course, we believe strongly that nuclear weapons should never be used under any circumstances. This bill would not legislate that, but it would make it much more difficult for the President to use nuclear weapons, which we believe is a move in the right direction.
Please write your Representative and Senators today and ask them to sign on to H.R. 669 in the House or S.200 in the Senate. Click here to take action.
“There is no time left for anything but to make peacework a dimension of our every waking activity.”
— Elise Boulding. 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.
“Together with China we’ll continue to strive for a reasonable approach and not an emotional one like when children in a kindergarten start fighting and no one can stop them.”
— Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister of Russia. Lavrov was referring to a proposal supported by Russia and China that would involve North Korea freezing its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for a halt to joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
“Let us commit ourselves to a world without nuclear weapons by implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty to abolish these weapons of death.”
— A tweet by Pope Francis on September 26, the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
“Our federations, representing millions of doctors, nurses, and public health professionals around the world, welcome this treaty as a significant forward step toward eliminating the most destructive weapons ever created, and the existential threat nuclear war poses to humanity and to the survival of all life on Earth.”
— Joint statement by the World Medical Association, International Council of Nurses, World Federation of Public Health Associations, and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. The statement urges all countries to quickly sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.