Quotable

Hope for the Earth lies not with leaders, but in your own heart and soul. If you decide to save the Earth, it will be saved. Each person can be as powerful as the most powerful person who ever lived--and that is you, if you love this planet. - Dr. Helen Caldicott. From the book Speaking of Peace: Quotations to Inspire Action, published by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation




Saturday, October 29, 2016

Speak Up, Speak Out! Interview on Current Nuclear Weapons Issues

Ginny Wolff, of Speak Up, Speak Out! on KSVR - FM, interviewed me last week about the work of Ground Zero Center for Non-Violent Action since 1977 to protest the Trident submarines based at the Bangor Naval Base in Silverdale, Washington. We discussed the history of Ground Zero, the bigger picture of U.S. foreign policy regarding the use of nuclear weapons, ongoing international tension, and the agreement between Congress and the Obama administration to spend a trillion dollars over 30 years to rebuild the entire U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons.

The interview ends with a simple message listeners can deliver to President Obama. After listening, you can click here to send your message to President Obama. You can find additional action alerts at the right hand column (top of the page).

Thanks to KSVR and Speak Up, Speak Out! for covering important issues you won't hear in the mainstream/corporate media.


Praying (and Working) for a Nuclear Weapon-Free World

Greetings Friends,

The monument "Stronger Than Death"
in Semey, Kazakhstan
Earlier this week the United Nations, in a truly historic vote, moved closer to establishing a legally binding instrument to prohibiting nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. The United States shamelessly lobbied and pressured other nations to vote against the measure. The General Assembly will take a final vote in December, and the UN will then take up deliberations in 2017 to negotiate the details and finalize this important work on a treaty to de-legitimize and legally ban nuclear weapons.

So many people from so many nations have been working tirelessly, and in so many different ways, to create a nuclear weapon-free world. With the nuclear-armed nations and their vassal states (living under the mythical "nuclear umbrella") pushing so hard against our efforts, the job has been anything but easy.

In August, many of us attended an international conference in Astana, Kazakhstan organized by Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) and the Kazakh Government to discuss and plan concrete actions to abolish nuclear weapons. Nearly 200 legislators, religious leaders, government officials, diplomats, veterans, representatives of international organizations, academics, scientists, medical professionals, lawyers, and nuclear disarmament campaigners gathered for this conference, which was held on the 25th anniversary of the closing of the Soviet nuclear test site in Kazakhstan.

URI's United Nations Representative,
Monica Willard, with the Nuclear Prayer
 at the monument "Stronger Than Death"
From 1949, the Semipalatinsk region in the (then) Soviet republic of Kazakhstan was the site of 456 test explosions of nuclear weapons. The multigenerational impacts on human health on the steppe of northeast Kazakhstan have been devastating, with over 1.5 million people suffering cancers, birth deformities, and other serious illness or death from the resulting radiation.

On August 31st, some of the Astana conference delegates travelled to learn and bear witness to the legacy of nuclear testing on the Kazakh people. Some travelled to the nuclear test site itself; and others visited the medical center that treats victims of the nuclear testing, the radiation effects research center, and the Peace Park commemorating the Kazakh nuclear testing legacy.

At both "Ground Zero" at the test site and at the base of the monument, "Stronger than Death", in the Semey Peace Park, the two groups circled and read the Prayer for a Nuclear Free World (The Nuclear Prayer). The prayer, written by The Right Rev William E. Swing, founder of United Religion Initiative (URI), to help strengthen interfaith movements against nuclear weapons, brought us together in a shared belief in our common humanity and the possibility of a nuclear weapon-free world.

Here is the video of the group at the Peace Park reading the Nuclear Prayer (and below it the full text):


Nuclear Prayer (unedited) from Leonard Eiger on Vimeo.

The Beginning and the End are in your hands, O Creator of the Universe. And in our hands you have placed the fate of this planet. We, who are tested by having both creative and destructive power in our free will, turn to you in sober fear and intoxicating hope. We ask for your guidance and to share in your imagination in our deliberations about the use of nuclear force. Help us to lift the fog of atomic darkness that hovers so pervasively over our Earth, Your Earth, so that soon all eyes may see life magnified by your pure light. 
Bless all of us who wait today for your Presence and who dedicate ourselves to achieve your intended peace and rightful equilibrium on Earth. In the Name of all that is holy and all that is hoped. Amen. 
   - Written by the Rt. Rev. William E. Swing,
      President and Founder
      United Religions Initiative (URI)
      December 4, 2014
At the end of our journey to Semey, I felt a renewed sense of hope (as I believe we all did), as well as renewed spiritual strength for the journey (and difficult work) ahead. These two small prayer circles were small, yet significant acts, and I hope that these circles can expand like ripples on the water by sharing The Nuclear Prayer with you, and you with others. As we continue to expand our circles of faith, hope and action, we can hasten the day when the leaders of the nuclear-armed nations will be forced to see the inhumanity of their actions - the crimes against humanity they commit through the possession and threat of use of nuclear weapons.

Toward a Nuclear Weapon-Free World,

Leonard

Click here to download the PDF version of the Nuclear Prayer in English and Spanish.

Friday, October 28, 2016

“Historic” U.N. Vote for Nuclear Weapons Ban

EDITOR'S NOTE: The United Nations General Assembly voted yesterday to move forward to negotiate a total ban on nuclear weapons. This is a historic vote, and is the beginning of a global effort to finally move past the archaic stonewalling of the nuclear-armed nations that has made a sham of treaty obligations (e.g., the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons). The following news release from the Institute for Public Accuracy contains an analysis of the vote by Ira Helfand, past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and current co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Time to move forward!!!
******************
AP reports: “United Nations member states voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to approve a resolution calling for negotiations on a treaty that would outlaw nuclear weapons, despite strong opposition from nuclear-armed nations and their allies.
“The vote in the U.N. disarmament and international security committee saw 123 nations voting in favor of the resolution, 38 opposing and 16 abstaining.
“The resolution was sponsored by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa.
“The United States, Russia, Israel, France and the United Kingdom were among the countries voting against the measure.
“The resolution now goes to a full General Assembly vote sometime in December.”
IRA HELFAND, MD, @IPPNW
    Helfand is past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and is currently co-president of that group’s global federation, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.
Helfand said today: “In an historic move the United Nations First Committee voted Thursday to convene a conference next March to negotiate a new treaty to ban the possession of nuclear weapons. The vote is a huge step forward in the campaign to rid the world of nuclear weapons launched several years ago by non-nuclear weapons states and civil society from across the globe.
“Dismayed by the failure of the nuclear weapons states to honor their obligation under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty which requires them to pursue good faith negotiations for the elimination of their nuclear arsenals, and moved by the growing danger of nuclear war, more than 120 nations gathered in Oslo in March of 2013 to review the latest scientific data about the catastrophic consequences that will result from the use of nuclear weapons. The conference shifted the focus of international discussion about nuclear war from abstract consideration of nuclear strategy to an evaluation of the medical data about what will actually happen if these weapons are used. It was boycotted by all of the major nuclear powers, the U.S., Russia, UK, China and France, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, or P5.
“Further meetings in Nayarit, Mexico and Vienna followed in 2014 and culminated in a pledge by the Austrian government to ‘close the gap’ in international law that does yet specifically outlaw the possession of these weapons. More than 140 countries ultimately associated themselves with the pledge which was fiercely opposed by the United States and the other nuclear weapons states, and in the fall of 2015 the U.N. General Assembly voted to establish an Open Ended Working Group which met in Geneva earlier this year and recommended the negotiations approved Thursday.
“The United States, which led the opposition, had hoped to limit the ‘Yes’ vote to less than one hundred, but failed badly. The final vote was 123 For, 38 Against and 16 Abstentions. The ‘No’ votes came from the nuclear weapons states, and U.S. allies in NATO, plus Japan, South Korea and Australia, which have treaty ties to the U.S., and consider themselves to be under the protection of the ‘U.S. nuclear umbrella.’
How the nations voted
“But four nuclear weapons states broke ranks, with China, India and Pakistan abstaining, and North Korea voting in favor of the treaty negotiations. In addition, the Netherlands defied intense pressure from the rest of NATO and abstained, as did Finland, which is not a member of NATO but has close ties with the alliance. Japan which voted with the U.S. against the treaty has indicated that it will, nonetheless, participate in the negotiations when they begin in March.
“The U.S, and the other nuclear weapons states will probably try to block final approval of the treaty conference by the General Assembly later this fall, but, following Thursday’s vote, it appears overwhelmingly likely that negotiations will begin in March, and that they will involve a significant majority of U.N. member states, even if the nuclear states continue their boycott.
“The successful completion of a new treaty will not of itself eliminate nuclear weapons. But it will put powerful new pressure on the nuclear weapons states who clearly do not want to uphold their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty even as they insist that the non-nuclear weapons states meet theirs.
“We have come perilously close to nuclear war on multiple occasions during the last 70 years, and we have been incredibly lucky. U.S. nuclear policy cannot continue to be the hope that we will remain lucky in the future. We need to join and lead the growing movement to abolish nuclear weapons and work to bring the other nuclear weapons states into a binding agreement that sets out the detailed time line for eliminating these weapons and the detailed verification and enforcement mechanisms to make sure they are eliminated.
“This will not be an easy task, but we really have no choice. If we don’t get rid of these weapons, someday, perhaps sooner rather than later, they will be used and they will destroy human civilization. The decision is ours.”

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Next president has a nuclear option: Scrap the program

NOTE: This Opinion was originally published in the Seattle Times on September 27, 2016.

The USS Ohio sailing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Trident nuclear submarine
has been converted to a guided missile submarine. It was first launched in 1979,
and was the original nuclear submarine in the U.S. Pacific Fleet...
(Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

By David Hall and Leonard Eiger
Special to The Times

HAVE you seen the Seattle bus ads? They read: “20 miles west of Seattle is the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.”

In light of recent media attention on who should have their finger on the nuclear button, this statement seems to beg the question: With so many nuclear weapons, what would happen should the president order their use?

“Mutual-assured destruction” is still central to U.S. nuclear deterrence policy. U.S. and Russian nuclear-armed missiles remain on hair-trigger alert 24/7, threatening to end civilization.

One hydrogen bomb deployed from Naval Base Kitsap on Hood Canal could wipe out a large city like Seattle and make the land uninhabitable for centuries. Look up the presentation “One city, one bomb” to understand the devastating potential of modern nuclear weapons.

The United States is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons against another, and we have led the nuclear arms race from its beginning in 1945. Now Congress and the Obama administration have adopted a trillion-dollar plan to rebuild the entire nuclear-weapons complex, including replacement of the Trident submarine fleet on Hood Canal, over the next 30 years. Trident submarines are considered the deadliest weapon ever built.

When our leaders warn that “all options are on the table,” they are threatening to use nuclear weapons. This has happened dozens of times since WW II, including during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

King County Metro bus ad reading, “20 miles west of Seattle
is the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons
in the U.S. (Courtesy of Leonard Eiger)

Once the current international prohibition against using nuclear weapons is breached, the door is open for every nuclear-capable nation to use nuclear weapons. Climate scientists have modeled a “small” nuclear war between India and Pakistan assuming 50 Hiroshima-sized bombs from each side targeting cities. Smoke and soot would be lofted by superheated air into the upper atmosphere, lowering temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere enough to reduce agricultural production for a decade. That’s how 2 billion food-insecure people in South Asia and China could starve to death.

This is our policy: to threaten these consequences. But decision-makers are not calculating the scale of devastation built into a single nuclear warhead, much less the thousands they plan to maintain throughout this century. Because the U.S. is building up its nuclear capability, other nuclear nations are building up theirs.

Think the Cuban missile crisis to understand Russian fears of the proximity of U.S. nuclear weapons. The Cuban missile crisis, often described as the closest humankind has come to incinerating itself, was caused by nuclear weapons in proximity to U.S. shores. And the recent coup in Turkey could have put 50 nuclear warheads in potentially unstable hands.

Washington state sits at the center of U.S. nuclear policy for our deployed nuclear weapons at Naval Base Kitsapand for the largest Superfund site in our hemisphere at the Hanford nuclear reservation. Plutonium production for U.S. nuclear weapons left millions of gallons of highly corrosive and radiologically lethal sludge that we may never be able to safely dispose.

We are looking for leaders who understand that nuclear weapons are immoral and must never be used. Nuclear weapons threaten genocide on a scale that decision-makers refuse to talk about. The use of nuclear weapons are illegal under the laws of war and humanitarian law — unusable because there is no secure way to limit escalation, exorbitantly expensive and are a massive diversion of human talent and resources away from diplomacy, foreign assistance, innovation and public health.

U.S. priorities in the world are clearly written into our national budget.For the sake of future generations, we ask, “What will be the priorities of the next administration?”

David Hall, of Lopez Island, and Leonard Eiger, of North Bend, are active members of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

URL for original publication: http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/next-president-has-a-nuclear-option-scrap-the-program/

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Chain Reaction 2016

From July to October 2016, civil society around the world is acting in a Chain Reaction of peace to highlight the immorality and insecurity of nuclear weapons, to oppose the institutions and policies perpetuating the nuclear arms race, and to support nuclear disarmament actions by governments and the United Nations.

 This action is engaging youth, environmentalists, parliamentarians, mayors, religious leaders, human rights activists and other representatives of civil society.

 Chain Reaction is facilitated by UNFOLD ZERO, and the Basel Peace Office, which created this video showcasing events related to the CHAIN REACTION 2016.

 My hope is that the energy of these past few months will grow into a sustained CHAIN REACTION, continuing until the day on which the last nuclear weapon is destroyed. Join us!

This video highlights the actions going on around the world that are part of the CHAIN REACTION!



URL for YouTube video:  https://youtu.be/wCZHY1JZS5s