Issue #249 – April 2018
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U.S. Nuclear Posturing Has Adversaries Gearing Up, Not Standing Down
The biggest problem with a nuclear deterrent force arises from any attempt to determine its effectiveness. How can possessors of nuclear weapons assure that their nuclear weapons are effective in being a deterrent to another nuclear-armed country? The answer is that they cannot do so in any physical sense.
The nuclear deterrent force of a country relies instead on creating psychological barriers. If a nuclear deterrent force is effective in protecting a country and its allies, an adversary would refrain from attacking due to fear of retaliation. Since nuclear deterrence operates at the psychological level, one can never be sure it is effective. Or, it may only appear to be effective until it fails, and failure could be catastrophic.
There can be little doubt that the U.S. nuclear posture will spur other nuclear-armed countries to do the same, thus assuring new arms races and increased nuclear dangers ahead. One has to wonder if the expensive and provocative technological modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and other nuclear policies set forth in the 2018 NPR will be what takes us from the Nuclear Age back to the dark ages.
To read David Krieger’s full article at The Hill, click here.
The Dirty Secret of American Nuclear Arms in Korea
As President Trump prepares for a possible meeting with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, many Americans are raising warnings that North Korea has walked away from previous arms agreements. But those skeptics should remember that it was the United States, in 1958, that broke the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement, when the Eisenhower administration sent the first atomic weapons into South Korea.
The presence of those American weapons probably motivated the North Koreans to accelerate development of their own nuclear weapons. Although all the tactical United States nuclear weapons were removed from South Korea in 1991, the Seoul government still remains under the American nuclear umbrella — and the impetus for Kim Jong-un to have his own remains, as it did for his father and grandfather.
To read more, click here.
Preventing War: Crisis and Opportunity with North Korea
In this moment of the Me Too Movement and the women’s marches, we must push for women’s voices in shaping foreign policy. We know that women’s peace movements must be involved in any peace process. In 40 of the cases that were studied, 39 led to a peace agreement when women were involved. When women are involved in helping to draft a peace treaty, it’s more durable.
We have to lead this country away from the militarized national security towards genuine security, genuine human security, ecological security. We must dare to be bold and audacious to demand what might seem impossible. Women’s peace movements have the power to transform fear, vulnerability and cynicism, I believe, into bold visions that advance a just, sustainable and peaceful world.
To access Christine Ahn’s full speech, which was the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 17th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future, click here.
The U.S. and Russia Must Stop Racing to Nuclear War
There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of people both in Russia and in the United States will agree that war cannot be a solution to problems. Can weapons solve the problems of the environment, terrorism or poverty? Can they solve domestic economic problems?
However dismal the current situation, however depressing and hopeless the atmosphere may seem, we must act to prevent the ultimate catastrophe. What we need is not the race to the abyss but a common victory over the demons of war.
To read more, click here.
U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy
U.S. Officials Call for Production of New Plutonium Pits
Gen. John Hyten, head of U.S. Strategic Command, told a Senate committee that U.S. nuclear weapons will be useless unless new plutonium pits are produced. Plutonium pits were produced at Rocky Flats in Colorado until the FBI raided the plant in 1989, shutting it down because of widespread environmental pollution.
The Pentagon has said that it requires 80 new plutonium pits to be produced each year, but it has not produced any evidence that the thousands of plutonium pits currently stockpiled are degrading. Los Alamos National Laboratory would likely be the site for new plutonium pit production, but their ability to handle plutonium was cast in doubt after several high-profile mishaps.
David Brennan, “U.S. Nukes Will Be Useless Without More Plutonium, Military Warns,” Newsweek, March 22, 2018.
Palestine and Venezuela Ratify Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Palestine and Venezuela have become the sixth and seventh nations to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. So far, 57 countries have signed the treaty, and many more have indicated that they will do so soon.
The treaty requires 50 ratifications before it can enter into force. Tim Wright, Treaty Coordinator at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, wrote, “With every new ratification of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, we move closer to the goal of total nuclear disarmament.”
“Ban Treaty Attracts New Adherents,” International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, March 26, 2018.
Maryland City Declares Compliance with Nuclear Ban Treaty
Takoma Park, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC, unanimously passed a resolution affirming the city’s support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The United States is not expected to sign the treaty in the near future. However, as with the Paris Climate Agreement, that does not stop cities, states, businesses, colleges and faith communities from complying with the treaty.
Tim Wallis, “Takoma Park Becomes First U.S. City to Declare Its Compliance with Nuclear Ban Treaty,” NuclearBan.US, March 15, 2018.
War and Peace
North and South Korean Leaders Will Meet on April 27
Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in have set April 27 as the date for their first face-to-face meeting. It will take place in Peace House, a South Korean building inside Panmunjom, on the border of North and South Korea. This will be the third-ever meeting between leaders of the two countries.
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said, “The South and North agreed on efforts to make the summit successful, sharing its historic significance in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, settling peace there and improving inter-Korean relations.”
Choe Sang-hun, “North and South Korea Set a Date for Summit Meeting at Border,” The New York Times, March 29, 2018.
Jimmy Carter Calls John Bolton “A Disaster for Our Country”
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter strongly criticized President Trump for naming John Bolton as National Security Advisor. Carter said, “Maybe one of the worst mistakes that President Trump has made since he’s been in office is his employment of John Bolton, who has been advocating a war with North Korea for a long time and even an attack on Iran, and who has been one of the leading figures on orchestrating the decision to invade Iraq.”
Susan Page, “Jimmy Carter: Trump’s Decision to Hire John Bolton Is ‘A Disaster for Our Country’,” USA Today, March 28, 2018.
U.S. to Begin Construction of New Nuclear Bomb Plant
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has authorized the start of construction of the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) in Tennessee. The UPF has been delayed for years because of budgetary concerns, contractor incompetence, and lack of clarity on why the facility is needed. While these issues have not been dealt with, NNSA has decided to proceed anyway.
Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, criticized the project for its implications for global nuclear proliferation. He said, “It undermines US efforts to discourage nuclear proliferation around the world. How can we oppose the nuclear ambitions of other countries when we are building a bomb plant here to manufacture 80 thermonuclear cores for warheads every year?”
“United States To Begin Construction Of New Nuclear Bomb Plant,” Nuclear Watch New Mexico, March 26, 2018.
Navy Secretary Calls Cost of New Nuclear Submarines “Eye Watering”
Richard Spencer, Secretary of the Navy, admitted that the cost for a new class of nuclear-armed submarines is extraordinary. Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Spencer said, “All of sudden you’re talking about the submarines and there is a number that will make your eyes water. Columbia will be a $100 billion program for its lifetime. We have to do it. I think we have to have big discussions about it.”
Travis J. Tritten, “Cost of New Nuclear Subs Is ‘Eye Watering,’ Navy Secretary Says,” Washington Examiner, March 12, 2018.
Saudi Crown Prince Threatens to Develop Nuclear Weapons
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told a reporter from CBS News that Saudi Arabia would develop nuclear weapons if Iran does. Despite these remarks, the Trump administration is eagerly seeking to gain permission for U.S. companies to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia, bringing them a step closer to a bomb.
The Crown Prince has also played a major role in the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians and led to a widespread cholera outbreak.
“Saudi Crown Prince Says Will Develop Nuclear Bomb if Iran Does: CBS TV,” Reuters, March 15, 2018.
Los Alamos Museum Refuses to Show Hiroshima Exhibit
The Los Alamos Historical Museum has refused to show an exhibit sponsored by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Heather McClenahan, Executive Director of the Los Alamos Historical Museum said, “It is the exhibit’s call for the abolition of nuclear weapons that raised concerns.”
Los Alamos, New Mexico is the location of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), where the first atomic bombs were developed, including those that devastated the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. LANL continues to this day to be deeply involved in the design, production, and maintenance of U.S. nuclear weapons.
“Los Alamos Museum Refuses to Host A-bomb Exhibit, Citing Stance on Nuclear Abolition,” Kyodo, March 31, 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 April, including the April 30, 1998 vote in the U.S. Senate to approve the eastward expansion of NATO.
To read Mason’s full article, click here.
For more information on the history of the Nuclear Age, visit NAPF’s Nuclear Files website.
U.S. Nuclear Forces in 2018
Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris have published a detailed report on the United States’ nuclear forces. The U.S. has approximately 6,550 nuclear warheads, of which over 2,500 are awaiting dismantlement.
The report examines implementation of the New START Treaty, the new Nuclear Posture Review, nuclear weapons exercises, and details of each leg of the U.S. nuclear triad.
To read the full report, click here.
Don’t Bank on the Bomb
PAX and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons have published an updated version of “Don’t Bank on the Bomb.” This report details the deep financial relationships that keep the nuclear weapons business alive. It also highlights financial institutions that have proactively divested from companies involved in nuclear weapons production.
Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN, said, “By divesting from nuclear weapon producers, we can make it harder for those that profit from weapons of mass destruction and encourage them to cut the production of nuclear weapons from their business strategies. Producing, possessing and modernizing nuclear weapons is not something to be proud of and ‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb’ names those that are still okay with trying to make a profit from producing nuclear weapons. Our job is to shame them.”
To read the full report, click here.
Summer Program: Hiroshima and Peace
Hiroshima City University is offering an intensive summer program called “Hiroshima and Peace” for students from abroad and in Japan. The course aims to share the recent findings of peace studies and to underline the importance of world peace in our age. The program provides participants with an opportunity to think seriously about the importance of peacemaking in the world. It consists of a series of lectures by specialists in different fields related to peace studies, discussions, and several featured programs.
For more information, click here.
Women Waging Peace
On March 7, the eve of International Women’s Day, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation hosted a free webinar featuring our 2018 Kelly Lecturer, Christine Ahn, and NAPF Advisor Medea Benjamin. These outstanding peace leaders joined us live to talk about the indispensable role of women in building peace in Korea and around the world.
Moderated by NAPF Director of Development Sarah Witmer, the webinar explored the two panelists’ vast experiences in building peace, and took questions from our worldwide audience.
To watch a video recording of the webinar, click here.
Pax Christi and Peace Literacy
Paul K. Chappell, NAPF’s Peace Literacy Director, brought the Peace Literacy Initiative to an interfaith group of more than 70 committed activists at the Pax Christi Texas 2018 State Conference in Houston on March 24. Chappell was invited by long-time Pax Christi member Catherine Foley, who is also a lifetime “affiliate member” of Veterans for Peace. Foley heard Chappell speak at the 2017 Veterans for Peace conference and was struck by the intersection of Pax Christi’s active nonviolence initiative and Chappell’s positive focus on promoting nonviolent practices and strategies.
To read more about Paul’s visit with Pax Christi in Texas, click here.
April Is National Poetry Month
In the United States, April is recognized as National Poetry Month. This is the perfect time to enter NAPF’s annual Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry contest. The contest has three age groups, and encourages poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit.
The deadline for entries is July 1, 2018. For more information on the contest and to read last year’s winning poems, click here.
Tell Your Senators to Oppose Trump’s War Cabinet
Two dangerous new appointments by President Trump have added even more urgency to the effort to take away the president’s ability to use nuclear weapons first.
John Bolton is an extreme hawk, and is set to become National Security Advisor on April 9. He has advocated military action against North Korea and Iran. Trump also nominated Mike Pompeo to become the new U.S. Secretary of State. Pompeo is a staunch opponent of the nuclear deal that was negotiated among the U.S., Iran, Russia, UK, France, China, and Germany. In July 2017, Pompeo spoke in favor of regime change in North Korea. He said, “I am hopeful we will find a way to separate the [North Korean] regime from this [nuclear weapons] system… The North Korean people, I’m sure, are lovely people and would love to see him go.” A regime change war in North Korea would put the lives of millions of people across Northeast Asia, including U.S. soldiers and civilians, at risk.
Please take a moment to contact your senators and urge them to vote “no” to Mike Pompeo as U.S. Secretary of State, and let them know that you support Sen. Ed Markey’s bill to restrict the president’s first use of nuclear weapons.
“Fear is not just unpleasant: It can be our greatest enemy; it is being deliberately used to keep us from our own common sense, our own deepest truths.”
— Frances Moore Lappé. This quote appears in the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, which is available to purchase in the NAPF Peace Store.
“That we were able to create this opportunity is not because of a coincidence but because this is the right path and the entire world wants peace, not war; a diplomatic solution, not a military one… I sincerely plead you to help unify the power of our nation by transcending ideologies and setting aside partisan differences..”
— Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea.
“Mr. Bolton’s position is dangerous nonsense. He would have us drive a final nail in the coffin of international law—and quite possibly in the coffin of civilization.”
— Andrew Lichterman and John Burroughs, in a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal. They were responding to an op-ed by John Bolton in which he attempted to make a legal case for attacking North Korea.
“The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review ends decades of bipartisan consensus around nuclear arms reductions and reignites a global arms race. Instead of bringing us closer to peace, it funnels billions to build new, unnecessary nuclear weapons. Congress must step in to protect the global progress towards disarmament before it’s too late. American families shouldn’t have to live under the threat of nuclear war.”
— Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), commenting after signing an open letter critical of Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review.