Quotable

"The moral cost of nuclear armament is that it makes of all of us underwriters of the slaughter of hundreds of millions of people and of the cancellation of future generations." -Jonathan Schell


Monday, July 28, 2014

Plowshares Speak from Prison: Transform Now!!!

Editor's Note: Sr. Megan Rice, along with Gregory Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, engaged in a Plowshares action on July 28, 2012. Known as the Transform Now Plowshares, these three dedicated peacemakers attempted direct engagement towards the abolition of nuclear weapons and our transformation to peaceful, sustainable, life-giving alternatives to these horrific weapons that could end life (as we know it) on our small planet.

Sr. Megan, Greg and Michael are all in Federal prison for their selfless actions on behalf of humankind and the planet that sustains us. What follows is a reflection (on the second anniversary of their Plowshares action) from Sr. Megan on behalf of behalf of her Plowshares partners.

Sr. Megan reminds us that although few will ever engage in a Plowshares action, each of us needs to be engaged at some level in order to help move humanity closer to the dream of a nuclear weapons free world. There is something that each of us can do. Read on to learn more.

(l to r) Greg, Megan and Michael
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OPEN LETTER FROM THE BROOKLYN METROPOLITAN DETENTION CENTER

from Sr. Megan Rice, on behalf of the Transform Now Plowshares

July 28, 2014

Our Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We send warm greetings and many thanks to all who actively engage in the transformation of weapons of mass destruction to sustainable life-giving alternatives. Gregory Boertje-Obed (U.S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas) Michael Walli (Federal Correctional Institution McKean, Bradford, Pennsylvania) and I are sending you some of our observations and concerns on the 2nd anniversary of our Transform Now Plowshares action.

On July 28, 2012, after thorough study of nuclear issues, and because of our deepening commitment to nonviolence, we engaged in direct action by cutting through four fences at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the U.S. continues to overhaul and upgrade thermonuclear warheads.

On that day, two years ago, when we reached the building where all U.S. highly-enriched (bomb-grade) uranium is stored, we prayed and also wrote messages on the wall, such as “The Fruit of Justice is Peace”. (Realistically, the higher and stronger fences built as a result of our nonviolent incursion can never keep humans safe from inherently dangerous materials and weapons.) We acted humbly as “creative extremists for love”, to cite one of our most important and revered leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are a number of reasons for what we did. We three were acutely mindful of the widespread loss to humanity that nuclear systems have already caused, and we realize that all life on Earth could be exterminated through intentional, accidental, or technical error.

Our action at the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge exposed the storage of weapons-making materials deliberately hidden from the general public. The production, refurbishment, threat, or use of these weapons of mass destruction violate the fundamental rules and principles by which we all try to live amicably as human beings. The United States Constitution and the Laws of War are intended to ensure the survival of humanity with dignity. However, it is abundantly clear that harmony and cooperation among nations can never be achieved with nuclear weapons. (These arguments, we assume, will be made on our behalf during the eventual appeal of our convictions that accused us of sabotage, though it was never our intention to harm our country.)

Our “crime” was to draw attention to the criminality of the 70-year-old nuclear industry itself and to the unconscionable fact that the United States spends more on nuclear weapons than on education, health, transportation, and disaster relief combined.

We three Transform Now Plowshares consider it our duty, right, and privilege to heighten tension in the ongoing debate of Disarmament vs. Deterrence because history has repeatedly taught us that the policy of deterrence doesn’t lead to security, but rather to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. During our trial, the U.S. prosecutors and the U.S. courts accused the wrong people when they claimed that we violated the law, because what we did was to make America’s citizens aware of egregious preparations for mass murder.

We took action because we were acutely aware that our government has failed to keep its long-standing promise to pursue nuclear disarmament. (As Ramsey Clark testified during one of our pre-trial hearings, the U.S. entered into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the 1960’s because our country was finally facing up to the severe human and environmental consequences of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as to the hideous results of countless nuclear tests conducted by the U.S. government within and beyond our own borders.)

One of our pressing concerns is that U.S. prosecutors and the courts adhere to an obsolete view of security with no cognizance – or consciousness – of the horrific effects caused by nuclear weapons. Greg, Mike, and I believe that, undeniably, the U.S. is in a state of denial. It’s what Hannah Arendt called not evil, but the banality of evil. “There’s nothing deep about it. It’s nothing demonic! There’s simply the reluctance ever to imagine what the other person is experiencing, right?” (Hannah Arendt, "Eichmann was Outrageously Stupid" in The Last Interview and Other Conversations, Melville House, Brooklyn 2013, p. 48).

We citizens cannot permit ourselves to be rendered passive and mute by the banality of evil! Only complete nuclear disarmament can save humanity. At stake is the honor and dignity of the Hibakusha, along with the physical, environmental, emotional, and psychological trauma long suffered by victims of the nuclear system, from uranium miners to down-winders. (From 1946 to 1958, Marshall Islanders were bombarded with 67 atomic and thermonuclear tests that were carried out by the United States.)

Michael Walli, Greg Boertje-Obed and I are in U.S. prisons because, ironically, our action at Oak Ridge was based on the common sense reality that we human beings have endured more than enough destruction and exploitation. We believe that we citizens can exercise our collective power to consciously transform our nation’s priorities. We all need to actively insist on more humane uses for the billions of dollars now budgeted for the nuclear weapons/industrial complex.

Two years ago, as we neared the building in Oak Ridge, we were extremely surprised by the ineffectiveness of the system that supposedly guarded our nation’s most important National Security Complex. We believed that we were about to expose the source of unfettered violence that has led to the chronic spiritual and economic decline in the U.S. As it turned out, it was the laxity of the security system at Y-12 that caught the attention of the courts and the mainstream media. Security weakness became the big story. There was no mainstream acknowledgement that the national security complex is rotting from its own irrelevance.

Most surprisingly, our July 2012 action and our court cases have revealed that it is not the U.S. government that is in control of the nuclear weapons complex, but in reality it is the corporations that are in control through their solicitation and manipulation of endless funding for the refurbishment of unlawful thermonuclear warheads. We three are incarcerated because we stood up to a nuclear weapons industry that is kept thriving by the interlocking and obsolete institutions that subscribe to the long-discredited notion that law and security can be enforced by ever-greater force.

Regarding the 22.8 billion dollar contract recently awarded for the operation of the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge and the Pantex site in Texas for the refurbishment of thermonuclear warheads and a new Uranium Processing Facility (UPF), the relevant corporations don’t actually operate under the long-discredited myth of “nuclear deterrence”. Rather, corporations such as Babcock and Wilcox, Lockheed, and Bechtel operate under limited liability subsidiaries, joint ventures, consortiums, and partnerships for the main purpose of making profits by engaging in huge nuclear weapons production/refurbishment contracts. By this time, Congress certainly is aware that valid contracts can be issued only for the dismantlement of all nuclear weapons and for the environmentally-sound treatment and disposition of all nuclear materials.

In order for the U.S. to negotiate for nuclear disarmament in good faith, we say it is essential to peaceably transform these very corporations so that they are no longer able to violate the most basic moral and legal principles of civilized society by deliberately precipitating planetary self-destruction.

We thank you for your letters and your concerns. We ask you to support the Republic of the Marshall Islands in their current legal actions against the United States in U.S. federal court and against the U.S. and all the other nuclear weapons states in the International Court of Justice, for failure to eliminate their respective nuclear arsenals. You can learn more and add your support by signing the petition at www.nuclearzero.org.

Blessings,

Greg, Michael and Megan

[You can learn more about the July 28, 2012 Transform Now Plowshares action, and find prison addresses to write a note of support to Sr. Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, at http://transformnowplowshares.wordpress.com/]

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Declaring Our Independence From Nuclear Weapons

FOR A NATION TO BE, in the truest sense, patriotic, its citizens must love their land with a knowing, intelligent, sustaining, and protective love. They must not, for any price, destroy its health, its beauty, or its productivity. And they must not allow their patriotism to be degraded to a mere loyalty to symbols or any present set of officials. (Wendell Berry: from A Citizen's Response to the National Security Strategy of the United States of America).

At the end of that same essay Berry says that "If we are serious about peace, then we must work for it as ardently, seriously, continuously, carefully, and bravely as we now prepare for war."

When it comes to nuclear weapons, Berry's words ring particularly true. We have seen time and time again that our government has no real intention of honoring its commitments to work toward global disarmament under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The lofty rhetoric of President Obama's famous 2009 Prague speech has long since faded away.

It is clear that the only thing that will convince our elected officials to fulfill their legal (and moral) obligations to abolish nuclear weapons is a massive citizen-led movement bringing pressure to bear on every member of Congress and the President.

This movement will require every method of conventional and unconventional (nonviolent) strategies and tactics, including nonviolent civil resistance.


On July 5, 2010, during a large gathering of anti-nuclear activists outside the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 13 resisters walked onto the facility, each one carrying a document declaring independence for nuclear weapons at Y-12.

Here is the final version of the document carried into the Y-12 Complex by the 13 nuclear resisters on this day in 2010. May we all declare our independence from nuclear weapons, and may we do the hard work to abolish these horrific and omnicidal weapons.

Declaration of Independence from Nuclear Weapons at Y-12

The Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 indicted a government that engaged in barbaric conduct contrary to the laws of Humanity that included "works of death, destruction and tyranny unparalleled in the most barbaric ages" until the Age of Now!

Current Law requires an end to all planning, preparation, production, threat, or use of nuclear weapons and adherence to the fundamental rules and principles of Humanitarian Law.

The cardinal rules and principles of humanitarian law require that civilians never be the object of attack and prohibit weapons that are incapable of distinguishing between civilians and military targets.

The International Court of Justice found that the destructive power of nuclear weapons cannot be contained in either space or time, and nuclear weapons have the potential to destroy all civilization and the entire ecosystem of the planet.

All W-76 and W-76-1 thermonuclear secondaries produced at Y-12 are designed and intended to unleash 100 KT of uncontrollable and indiscriminate heat, blast and radiation, six times more than the Hiroshima Bomb. Because any threat or use of these weapons is a crime against peace, war crime or crime against humanity any complicity in planning or preparation for threat or use is similarly unlawful.

Under principals of democracy we exercise the right of every citizen of this republic and this planet to peacefully resist the nuclear threat; attacking as it does every core concept of human rights.

We act to exercise our basic rights to life and freedom from violence and we exercise our duty to protect children and future generations.

We act to ensure that our government fulfills its promise and responsibilities to unequivocally pursue and achieve nuclear disarmament in good faith.

We call on this government to end the use of our tax dollars to wage permanent war and demand clean up all chemical and radioactive contamination.

July 4, 2010

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Free Mordechai Vanunu, Israeli Nuclear Weapons Whistleblower

Mordechai Vanunu was a technician in Israel's Negev Nuclear Research Center, south of Dimona, where Israel manufactures its nuclear weapons. Israel neither acknowledges nor denies that it posesses nuclear weapons. Vanunu was laid off in 1985, and in 1986 went to London where, as an act of conscience, revealed his knowledge (with photographs) of Israel's nuclear weapons activities to The Sunday Times of London. He was not paid for the information he provided to The Times.
Mordechai Vanunu

After being lured to Italy - the Israelis had an agreement not to conduct operations in Britain - by an American Mossad agent who had begun an affair with him, Vanunu was drugged, abducted and taken back to Israel by Mossad agents. Shortly after his abduction The Times ran the article based on the information provided by Vanunu, and in it estimated Israel's nuclear arsenal to contain at least 100 warheads (and as many as 200). In a secret trial Vanunu was charged with treason and espionage, and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Even after his release in 2004, Vanunu has been hounded by the Israeli government, has had severe restrictions placed on his travel and contacts, and has been arrested multiple times. To this very day, years after his release and parole, the Israeli government continues to place extreme restrictions on his personal freedom. The government of Israel is, as it does in so many other aspects of its existence, flaunting its obligations under international law and as a "democratic" state.

Amnesty International recognized Vanunu in 2010 as a Prisoner of Conscience, and just this April - 10 years after completing his full sentence - Amnesty issued a statement (which you can read below) calling on the Israeli government to lift the "ludicrous" restrictions on Vanunu.

Click here to learn more about and participate in the campaign to free Mordechai Vanunu!!!


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Amnesty International USA, APRIL 16, 2014

Israel: Lift ‘ludicrous’ restrictions on whistleblower Vanunu decade after release

Ten years after serving a full sentence for his revelations to the press about Israel’s nuclear weapons programme, Mordechai Vanunu still faces severe restrictions that arbitrarily infringe on his freedom of movement, expression and association, said Amnesty International.

The former nuclear technician served an 18-year-prison sentence, the first 11 years of which were in solitary confinement, for disclosing information to journalists about Israel’s nuclear arsenal during the 1980s.

Since his release in 2004, renewable military orders, have placed Mordechai Vanunu under police supervision. Among other things, he is banned from leaving the country and participating in internet chats. He must also seek permission to communicate with any foreign nationals, including journalists.

“The authorities’ continued punishment of Mordechai Vanunu appears to be purely vindictive. The government’s arguments that these severe restrictions are necessary for national security are ludicrous,” said Avner Gidron, Senior Policy Adviser at Amnesty International.

Israeli officials claim that restricting Mordechai Vanunu’s freedom is necessary to prevent him from divulging further secrets about Israel’s nuclear programme. He has, however, repeatedly stated that he revealed all he knew about Israel’s nuclear arsenal in 1986 and that he has no further information. He and his lawyers have also pointed out that the information he had at the time of his imprisonment has now long been in the public domain and is about 30 years out of date.

“The restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu are arbitrary, unnecessary and have no grounds in international law. The continuing restrictions on his liberty have placed a severe strain on his mental and physical health and should immediately be lifted,” said Avner Gidron.

Amnesty International is calling on the Israeli authorities to allow Mordechai Vanunu to leave the country if he wishes, and to allow him to exercise his rights to freedom of movement, association and expression while in Israel.

Last December, following an appeal by his lawyer, the High Court of Justice upheld the restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Interior on Mordechai Vanunu, which prevent him from leaving Israel, and ban him from entering a consulate or embassy or coming with 500 meters of international borders, border passages, harbours or airports. And they upheld the requirement that he seek permission before contacting foreign nationals. The current restrictions, which are due for renewal in May 2014, should be lifted immediately.

Mordechai Vanunu is a former technician at Israel's nuclear plant near the southern town of Dimona. He revealed details of the country's nuclear arsenal to the British newspaper, The Sunday Times, in 1986. He was abducted by Israeli secret service (Mossad) agents in Italy on 30 September 1986 and secretly taken to Israel. He was tried and sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment.

In May 2010 he was imprisoned for a second time following his release, for three months, after being convicted of breaching his restrictions by speaking to foreigners and attempting to attend Christmas Mass in Bethlehem. Amnesty International adopted him as a prisoner of conscience. He was held for 11 weeks under harsh conditions in solitary confinement in Ayalon Prison near Ramle in central Israel, in a special unit for dangerous prisoners and was able to leave his cell for only one hour every day. The prison authorities said they decided to place him there in order to protect him from attacks from other inmates.

The restrictions he has been subjected to since 2004 are not parole restrictions since Mordechai Vanunu served his full sentence. They are arbitrary and contrary to Israel’s obligations under international law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits arbitrary interference in the rights to freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of association and protects individuals from being punished again for the same offence.

Mordechai Vanunu had been previously held by Israel in solitary confinement for 11 years from 1986 in conditions that Amnesty International at the time called cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Facing an Even More Inconvenient Truth on Earth Day

Dear Friends (of the Earth),

Today, on Earth Day, people around the world are recognizing the planet that supports us. More than ever before, there is a recognition that the Earth and its life-giving systems are at (or very close to) a tipping point. There is a louder voice speaking for change... before it is too late to turn back.

And yet, there is an even more inconvenient truth that humanity ignores at its peril - the risk of nuclear war, either accidental or intentional. The question of turning back from the nuclear brink is barely uttered.

Even the most limited use of nuclear weapons in war - as has been documented in studies of limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan - would cause extraordinary environmental devastation and residual effects far beyond anything we would see from any other cause, and the probable collapse of civilization as we know it.

And yet, for all the talk of nuclear terrorism, the greatest risk posed by nuclear weapons is the continued deployment of nuclear weapons by the the United States and Russia on alert status, ready to launch on warning on the command of the president of either nation.

The world still bristles with nuclear weapons. Although we tend to focus on the reductions of global nuclear weapons from their peak (approximately 70,000 during the Cold War) to their current numbers (a little over 17,000), those that remain have extraordinary destructive potential.

For perspective, the warheads carried on Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles deployed on one U.S. OHIO Class (Trident) ballistic missile submarine (currently approximately half the full payload) are enough to destroy an entire continent and leave nothing but a radioactive wasteland.

These horrific weapons, which the U.S., Russia, and other nuclear-armed nations continue to hold up as tools of foreign policy, and for which these countries spend billions of dollars annually, can never be used. The results are unspeakable. Humanity and the Earth that sustains us are held hostage by this nuclear Sword of Damocles.

It is time for people everywhere, and particularly those who work so hard to protect the environment that sustains the balance of life, to call for concrete efforts by the governments of all nations to abolish nuclear weapons.

We have seen all too clearly that our governments, if left to their own devices, do not have the will to tackle these most pressing of problems facing humanity. 

It is up to us as citizens of this small planet to work together using every creative nonviolent method possible to convince our nations' leaders to begin the serious task of disarming and channeling the money wasted on nuclear weapons, and war making in general, to the challenges of building a sustainable world for future generations.

And that is my pledge this Earth Day. Join me.

Toward a sustainable world for all,

Leonard





Sunday, April 13, 2014

Los Alamos Study Group Announces Summer Intensive Action and Training Program

Please read the following important announcement from the Los Alamos Study Group!!!

Study Group summer intensive action and training program announced: “Humanity at the Crossroads: Disarmament, Human Security, and Environmental Sustainability”

Dear friends and colleagues –

In response to multiple and mounting threats to our civilization and the world’s ecosystems, the Study Group is announcing a summer intensive action and training program, which will run from May 26 through August 9 of 2014, our 25th year.

Our primary focus will be on nuclear disarmament, but this summer we will approach this struggle in the wider context of humanity’s converging crises rather than the usual nuclear security, arms control, and narrow “national security” context. While nuclear weapons discourse has largely stalled in the U.S. for a variety of reasons, it is nonetheless clear to us that progress in nuclear disarmament is an essential part of the transformation in national security urgently needed for survival. The “survival” part of the equation is poorly understood.

Over an 11-week period, participants will receive group training and individual mentoring while conducting specific projects for the Los Alamos Study Group and allied organizations in New Mexico and elsewhere.

Each project will make a significant difference and advance prospects for success in nuclear disarmament, climate protection, energy transition, and closely-related issues.

Some projects will have a research and communication focus; others an outreach, networking, and capacity-building focus. We have a suite of projects in mind but will not describe them here. Which projects we tackle will depend on the skills, interests, and experience of the participants. Most but not all projects will have a New Mexico component or emphasis.

This will be a total immersion experience, addressing serious issues. While it won’t be a holiday, there will be an emphasis on teamwork, camaraderie, and on building and deepening connections with allied organizations and the Los Alamos Study Group community. There will be plenty of time to discuss and reflect individually on the issues we are addressing, and our personal responses to them. Evenings, and an average of one weekend day each week, will be free. Work time, not including the mutual work we will do to support the summer’s community of activist-scholars, will average about 50 hours per week.

After the program, most participants will no doubt return to academic studies or to their careers and other responsibilities, enriched we hope by their experience with us. Some may remain, with us or with allied organizations.

The program is open to all adult ages (18 or older). We are aiming for a diversity of ages, skills, and backgrounds. Prior detailed issue knowledge is helpful but not required.

Participants will receive room, board, and (for U.S. citizens or work visa holders) a $500 stipend. Most work will take place at the offices of the Study Group. Housing will be at Greg and Trish’s home as well as at the homes of Study Group members in Albuquerque. You will need a laptop or tablet computer.

To apply, the first step is to send your resume or curriculum vitae to Trish.

If we don’t get enough qualified applicants in April we will cancel this program and try another approach! To proceed, we need a minimum of at least four (preferably six) participants with a workable mix of skills. Our upper limit is about ten.

Long-time members in New Mexico may enjoy joining with the group on social occasions and could make a significant volunteer contribution on specific projects, especially those involving outreach.

Participants can expect a very interesting, engaging, educational, challenging, and fruitful experience. This program is not a chance at that long-awaited vacation, but is a chance to enhance your knowledge, work with others in a cross-disciplinary, community-based setting, and make a real contribution.

Background on the Study Group is available on our website.

Sincerely,

Greg Mello and Trish Williams-Mello, for the Study Group