I am currently focusing on my work supporting Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (, so you find me posting here (except on rare occasion). I am, however, keeping my extensive listing of links related to (almost) all things nuclear up to date. Drop me an email at if you find a broken or out-of-date link. Thanks and Peace, Leonard

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another 70 years of Trident?!

Have you heard the news??? The U.S. Navy has been working on plans (since 2007) to replace those aging Trident submarines with a new fleet of ballistic missile submarines. The Navy plans to replace the 14 Ohio class submarines currently in service with 12 new subs, each with 16 missile tubes (the current subs have 24), and they will initially deploy the current Trident D-5 missile. Based on construction plans coupled with the new sub's projected lifespan the last one built will be on duty until 2082!!! Government auditors have estimated the total construction cost at nearly $100 billion!

Assuming the politicians, top brass and weapons contractors behind this project get their way – and this project has substantial backing - we are destined to be stuck with Trident for decades to come, assuming we don't destroy ourselves before 2082 (70 years from now!!!). Even with only 16 missile tubes those subs will still carry a whole mess of those 100 or 475 kiloton nuclear warheads, which are good for only one thing – incinerating millions of human beings and rendering the land uninhabitable for generations.

Before we spend hundreds of billions (if not trillions) of dollars building and operating a first strike weapons system designed during the Cold War – while we cannot even afford to fund necessary social programs at home - we must consider the destabilizing effects this will have on nonproliferation and disarmament efforts. We must challenge the government’s plan on both moral and legal grounds, and Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action will be launching such an effort. Help us scuttle the Navy’s dangerous plans in 2012.

Postscript: More information on Ground Zero's plans to challenge the next generation of Trident will be shared will be shared at the January 14th Martin Luther King day of action against Trident.  This article originally appeared in the January 2012 Ground Zero Newsletter.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

STOP Pushing Iran Toward the Brink!


If people took the headlines in the corporate press seriously - and far too many do - we would all be building bomb shelters and hoarding supplies in advance of the coming Armageddon.  Two major factors are involved in pushing (what appears to be) the U.S. government's (and Israel's) agenda of a violent conflict - can you say "WAR" - with Iran.

First - The U.S. has never conducted serious, open discussions and negotiations with Iran.  The political baggage from a long history of U.S. meddling (installing and supporting the Shah) followed by the 1979 overthrow of the Shah and the hostage crisis of the same year are too deeply embedded in our exceptionalist conscience to allow us to act objectively.  Instead, the U.S. continues to pursue an endless succession of sanctions, which only serve to strengthen Iran's resolve.

Second - The media's misreading of the IAEA's report on Iran's nuclear weapons activities along with its parroting of inflammatory statements coming from The White House only serve to fan the flames of what could become nuclear flames should Israel go nuclear at some point should war break out (if Israel were to attack alleged nuclear sites in Iran). 

I strongly suggest reading the following article by Greg Thielmann and Benjamin Loehrke in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that provides an objective perspective on the IAEA's report on Iran's nuclear program.  You can also read it below.  Chain reaction: How the media has misread the IAEA's report on Iran, published November 23, 2011 in The Bulletin's online edition.

When you are done reading the article, please forward it to the editor of your local newspaper, and then go to the Just Foreign Policy action page and tell President Obama to conduct real negotiations with Iran.  Let's try nonviolent conflict resolution for a change (and for our future).




Chain reaction: How the media has misread the IAEA's report on Iran

By Greg Thielmann and Benjamin Loehrke | 23 November 2011

When, earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report on Iran's nuclear program, several media agencies and politicians walked away with two messages: that the Vienna-based agency now refutes past estimates of the US intelligence community, and that Iran is now making a break for the bomb. Both representations are false. Yet these assertions have been repeated often enough to give them traction with the public and Congress.

Most analysts familiar with the report agree that there "is nothing in the report that was not previously known by the governments of the major powers" -- a nuclear Iran is "neither imminent nor inevitable." While it is clear that Iran's continuing research on nuclear weapons is a serious concern for international security, there "has been no smoking gun when it comes to Iran's nuclear weapons intentions."

So why the conflicting analyses over a highly bureaucratic and technocratic paper?

Washington talks a lot, but does not read very much. That is the simplest way to explain why commentators overlook the consistency between the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran and the latest IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program.

The 2007 NIE on Iran made the headline-grabbing, high-confidence assessment that, in fall 2003, Iran halted its nuclear weapons program (as distinct from its uranium enrichment and ballistic missile programs). Additionally, the NIE said:

We also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. ...

We judge with high confidence that the halt lasted at least several years. (Because of intelligence gaps discussed elsewhere in this Estimate, however, [the Energy Department and the National Intelligence Council] assess with only moderate confidence that the halt to those activities represents a halt to Iran's entire nuclear weapons program.)

We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.

That is remarkably consistent with the IAEA's latest report, which noted:

[Iran's nuclear weapons effort] … was stopped rather abruptly pursuant to a "halt order" instruction issued in late 2003 by senior Iranian officials. According to that information, however, staff remained in place to record and document the achievements of their respective projects. … The agency is concerned because some of the activities undertaken after 2003 would be highly relevant to a nuclear weapon programme.

The NIE left open the possibility that Iran could continue its weapons-relevant activities. With four years of additional perspective, the latest IAEA report gives greater detail on the weapons work that Iran did prior to 2003, then updates the available information on what lesser work occurred after 2003. The new activities included:

•Engaging in experimental research, after 2003, on hemispherical initiation of high explosives.
•Further validation, after 2006, of a neutron initiator design.
•Conducting modeling studies, in 2008 and 2009, that could determine the yield of a nuclear explosion.

Carrying on scattered research activities does not amount to a full-fledged restart of an integrated weapons program. That type of activity still appears to have halted in 2003. The activities since seem more like Iran is refining its previous understanding of nuclear weapons design -- not breaking for a bomb.

Hence, in explaining the latest classified NIE on Iran released in March of this year, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee:

We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons, should it choose to do so. We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.

Clapper's testimony was in keeping with the recent IAEA report, which added considerable detail to the sanitized summary of the 2007 NIE.

The IAEA's comprehensive report is a strong indication that US intelligence in 2007 on Iran's nuclear program was based on solid evidence that has not been upended by the latest information. Iran's situation is not static; continuing reevaluation and updated analyses are necessary for any dynamic and professional intelligence process.

Moreover, sharing the information with the public on the conclusions reached is vital to informing ongoing debate. The IAEA deserves credit both for the quality of its analysis and for sharing its expert opinions with the wider public on these critical issues -- particularly since no summary of the latest NIE update has been released.

Pundits and politicians who use the latest IAEA report to attack the 2007 NIE are distorting the information, at best -- and, at worst, are playing politics with national security.

Copyright © 2011 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. All Rights Reserved.
source URL (retrieved on 12/01/2011 - 09:49):

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Hibakusha asks, "Who will continue the struggle..."


Ai Satoh of the Japan Council against A & H Bombs (Gensuikyo) shared the following speech given by Ms. Setsuko Thurlow, a Hibakusha of Hiroshima, to the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly just the other day.  Like so many other Hibakusha, Setsuko has dedicated herself to sharing the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and preventing future nuclear war. 

It is right that Setsuko spoke at the United Nations, an organization brought forth "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war."  Of course, nuclear war would be a scourge unlike anything humankind has ever known, and the nations that have "united" to "live together in peace" must work with a will to abolish nuclear weapons.

Setsuko Thurlow, Hibakusha of Hiroshima
It is unconsionable that one nation would withold its financial debt to this family of nations to which it belongs, no matter how imperfect the U.N. might be.  Rather than trying to tear it down the United States should be working to build it up, and updholding all its obligations both those of a financial nature as well as legal ones.

The duty, under international humanitarian law, to bring an end to the threat of nuclear weapons is clear.  Of all the voices that speak, only those of the Hibakusha speak from the direct experience of nuclear horror, a horror that if ever unleashed again will make the horrific experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki pale in comparison. 

For the 18th consecutive year, the General Assembly's First Committee passed a resolution on October 26th calling for the eradication of nuclear arms.  Japan submitted the resolution, which had broad support.  A plenary session of the General Assembly is expected to vote on the resolution this December.

May we hear the message of the Hibakusha, and may we support the efforts of the United Nations to abolish nuclear weapons once and for all.  May we stimulate younger generations to (in Setsuko's words) "continue the struggle to outlaw and eliminate the last remaining weapon of mass destruction: nuclear weapons."




United Nations General Assembly First Committee
October 26, 2011
Ms. Setsuko Thurlow

Dear Members of the First Committee and guests,

I am privileged to have this opportunity to share with you a small part of my experience of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

On August 6, 1945, as a 13 year-old grade 8 student in the Student Mobilization Program I was with about 30 other girls working at the Army headquarters as a decoding assistant. The building was 1.8 km from the hypo-centre. At 8:15 a.m., the moment I saw a brilliant bluish-white flash outside the window, I remember having the sensation of floating in the air. As I regained consciousness in the silence and the darkness, I found myself pinned by the ruins of the collapsed building. I could not move, and I knew I was faced with death. I began to hear my classmates’ faint cries, “Mother, help me” “God, help me”. Then, suddenly, I felt hands touching my left shoulder, and heard a man’s voice saying, “Don’t give up! Keep moving! I am trying to free you. See the light coming through that opening. Crawl towards it and get out as quickly as possible.” As I came out, the ruins were already on fire. Most of my classmates who were with me in the same room were burned alive. A soldier ordered me and two other surviving girls to escape to the nearby hills.

I looked around. Although it was morning, it was dark as twilight, with dust and smoke rising in the air. I saw streams of ghostly figures, slowly shuffling from the centre of the city towards the nearby hills. They were naked and tattered, bleeding, burned, blackened and swollen. Parts of their bodies were missing, flesh and skin hanging from their bones, some with their eyeballs hanging in their hands, and some with their stomachs burst open, with intestines hanging out. We girls joined the ghostly procession, carefully stepping over the dead and dying. There was a deathly silence broken only by the moans of the injured and their pleas for water. The foul stench of burned skin filled the air.

At the foot of the hill was an army training ground, about the size of two football fields. It was covered with the dead and injured, who were desperately begging, often in faint whispers, “Water, water, please give me water.” But we had no containers to carry any water. We went to a nearby stream to wash off the blood and dirt from our bodies. Then we tore off our blouses, soaked them with water, and hurried back to hold them to the mouths of the injured, who desperately sucked in the moisture. We kept busy at this task all day. We did not see any doctors or nurses. When darkness fell, we sat on the hillside and all night watched the entire city burn, numbed by the massive and grotesque scale of death and suffering we had witnessed.

Thus, my beloved city of Hiroshima suddenly became desolation, with heaps of ash and rubble, skeletons and blackened corpses. Its population of 360,000, most of whom were non-combatant women, children, and elderly, became victims of the indiscriminate massacre of the atomic bombing. By the end of 1945 approximately 140,000 had perished. As of the present day, at least 260,000 have perished because of the effects of the blast, heat, and radiation. My own age group of over 8,000 grade 7 and 8 students from all the high schools in the city were engaged in clearing fire lanes in the centre of the city. Many of them were killed instantly by the heat of 4,000 degrees Celsius. Radiation, the unique characteristic of the atomic bombing, affected people in mysterious and random ways, with some dying immediately, and others weeks, months, or years later by the delayed effects, and radiation is still killing survivors today, 66 years later.

I am incapable of describing fully the extent of human suffering caused by this unprecedented catastrophe, from the loss of human lives, shelter, food and medical care to the rapidly spreading rumours and discrimination against the “exposed ones” and “contaminated ones”. In addition people suffered from psycho-social trauma caused by the sudden collapse of their belief system, with Japan’s surrender in the war, and by the oppressive control imposed on them by the Occupation Forces, in the form of censorship and the confiscation of evidential materials of human suffering to be kept secret from public view.

With the end of the occupation the flood of information suddenly became available, enabling the survivors to contemplate the meaning of our survival in historical perspective and global context. We became convinced that no human being should ever have to repeat our experience of inhumanity, illegality, immorality and cruelty of an atomic bombing, and that our mission was to warn the world about the threat of this ultimate evil. We believe that humanity and nuclear weapons cannot coexist, and for the past several decades we have been speaking out around the world for the total abolition of nuclear weapons, as the only path to security and the preservation of the human community and civilization for future generations.

But has the world heard our plea? Has it listened to the cries of billions from around the world who desire peace not war, life not death? Is it justifiable for nuclear weapon states to possess and keep modernizing their nuclear weapons while keeping the world hostage in fear, not making efforts to fulfill in good faith their obligation under Article 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and promoting the trade in nuclear materials with the state who refuses membership in the NPT? It was empowering to hear President Obama’s acknowledgement in Prague in 2009 of the US moral responsibility to work for nuclear disarmament, as the only nation that actually used nuclear weapons. Japanese Prime Ministers have repeatedly stated that Japan, as the only nation victimized by nuclear weapons, should be at the forefront of the global campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons. I urge Japan and the United States to provide the initiative and enlightened leadership for the world’s most urgent and needed movement. Is this a fool’s dream? Still, I respectfully offer this proposal on behalf of all the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima, and elsewhere.

With the horrific earthquake, tsunami, and the nuclear power facility accident in Japan earlier this year there was an incredible outpouring of sympathy and support from around the world. It was a painful reminder to the world that within our life times we were witnessing once again people being exposed to radiation, this time through the force of nature combined with the fallibility of human ingenuity. Japanese people have gained a heightened awareness of the risk involved in nuclear power generation, and of how their government rushed to build 54 nuclear power facilities in the past several decades while avoiding public debate on this issue.

As Douglas Roche, Canada’s former Ambassador for Disarmament to the UN and the former international chairman of the Middle Power Initiative, has warned, use of the fissile materials in nuclear reactions – enriched uranium and plutonium – is spreading. “The same reactors that produce energy for peaceful purposes can also be used to turn out nuclear bombs. Will the expansion of nuclear energy in the world lead to the spread of nuclear weapons and increased dangers of nuclear terrorism?”

The NPT guarantees the so-called “inalienable right” of states to access nuclear energy in exchange for agreeing never to acquire nuclear weapons. Thus hibakusha, survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who witnessed the atrocity of the first two uses of nuclear weapons 66 years ago, now confront the horror that sufficient nuclear fuel exists in dozens of countries to make another 120,000 nuclear bombs. Has not the time come to consider replacing the pillar of the NPT guaranteeing access to nuclear energy technology with a guarantee for access and technological assistance for renewable energy from the sun, wind, and tides?

At a quickening pace the Hiroshima and Nagasaki hibakusha are dying, filled with foreboding alarm and horror that their dream of a nuclear free world has not yet been achieved. The world community has outlawed biological and chemical warfare. Who will continue the struggle to outlaw and eliminate the last remaining weapon of mass destruction: nuclear weapons? You and I, together, we can. We must.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Power of Direct Action: Lessons to be learned.


As we watch events unfolding on Wall Street (which could easily be renamed War Street), that financial heartland of companies that make up the vast military-nuclear-industrial complex, we see the power of direct action - of people taking to the streets and speaking truth to power.  Of course, it doesn't get much more visible than on Wall Street.  Even then, the corporate news media does its best to tone down events such as these.

Even less visible are the decades of countless direct actions undertaken by generations of peace activists attempting to shine a light on the massive waste of human and financial capital by military planners, politicians and the corporations with whom they dance and whose stocks are traded on Wall Street.

One of those recent direct actions that registered a blip or two on the national (corporate) news scene was last May's gathering at the new Kansas City bomb plant.  This was a wonderful example of citizens speaking truth to power when those who claim to represent them sell out to the Military-Industrial Complex.

The struggle to stop the Kansas City bomb plant has received at least more national attention from the press than other local struggles against nuclear weapons-related activities.  It's definitely one for us to study and learn from.

Here's some related reading on Kansas City:

52 arrested protesting nuclear weapons plant, by Joshua McElwee, in National Catholic Reporter

Kansas City Here it Comes: A New Nuclear Weapons Plant! by Lawrence Wittner, in the Huffington Post

Up Against the War Machine, by John LaForge, in Common Dreams

Together in the struggle,


Friday, September 9, 2011

U.S. Desecrating the very idea of Peace

Update (9/16/2011): The US Air Force has just announced that this test [referred to in this post] will not take place on the International Day of Peace. They have not yet announced a new date for the test. In the meantime, please consider sending a message opposing continued reliance on the theory of nuclear deterrence.


In an incredibly blatant act of hubris the US Air Force (NOT IN MY NAME) is planning to test-launch a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile on September 21, the International Day of Peace.

That day is officially recognized each year by the United Nations General Assembly as a day for “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.”  In 2005, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for the worldwide observance of a 24-hour cease-fire and day of nonviolence to mark the Day. 

It is hard to imagine that scheduling a missile test launch - the armed Minutemen in their silos carry 170 kiloton nuclear warheads and can be launched within one minute of receipt of the launch order - on September 21st is by pure chance.

Should that be the case (or in any case for that matter) President Obama should order the launch  cancelled!  Scheduling a test launch of weapon that is expressly designed to incinerate tens of thousands or even millions of people and cause massive long-term suffering of survivors, and if ever used would very likely result in an omnicidal nuclear exchange, is unconscionable and sends a dangerous message to the rest of the world.

We must send a clear message to President Obama and urge him to cancel the launch and (I would add) call on the President to re-dedicate himself to his original call for nuclear abolition stated in his now famous Prague speech on April 5, 2009.

Please visit the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's action page and send your own personalized message to the President today!

And please - Spread the word! 



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Thermonuclear Fable for Our Time


You probably never thought you'd see rock videos at The Nuclear Abolitionist.  Well, check out this brilliant rock video by The Decemberists, called "Calamity Song," written for their recent album "The King is Dead." 

As a New York Times music review describes it,
The video, which made its online debut on Monday, depicts the playing of Eschaton, a game invented by [David Foster] Wallace that he describes about 325 pages into [his novel] “Infinite Jest.”    

Adolescents from a New England tennis academy are seen ritualistically serving balls on a court onto which a map of the world has been superimposed. The balls, which represent five-megaton nuclear warheads, are aimed at objects labeled as military targets — power plants, missile installations — while a lone child oversees the game from a nearby computer terminal.       
Powerful music, visual imagery and message!  As Stephen Kobasa said, it's "a visual fable for our time," and we had certainly better give it serious consideration.



Friday, August 19, 2011

Former submarine commander now anti-nuclear weapons activist


The Central Kitsap Reporter ran the following article today about Captain Tom Rogers, US Navy, Retired, who served on nuclear submarines and was also the commander of one during the Cold War.

Years later Tom is now an active member of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, an organization of peace activists who study nonviolence and work for the abolition of all nuclear weapons with an emphasis on Trident, which is quite literally in its back yard.  Less than two weeks ago Tom, along with four other activists, was arrested while trying to block traffic into the Bangor Trident sub base in a symbolic act of closing the base.

This interview provides a perspective rarely found among anti-nuclear activists, yet one that is extremely important.  Tom is intelligent, articulate and passionate in his calm way.  His is a voice that needs to be heard.

You can also see a video of the August 7th action, photos, and more at the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Blog.




Sub commander is now an anti-nuke activist — Tom Rogers was arrested while blocking Bangor gates

Central Kitsap Reporter Staff Writer

Aug 19 2011
Tom Rogers, a former submarine commander turned antinuclear protester, was arrested Aug. 8 while blocking the gate at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor, home to a large nuclear weapons stockpile.

The date of his protest was chosen to commemorate the Aug. 6 and Aug. 9 bombings of Heroshima and Nagasak, Japan in 1945.

What led you to protest at the gate at Bangor?

In the years following the end of the Cold War I became less and less comfortable with the concept of nuclear deterrents when there really wasn’t anybody out there that we were deterring. What we were doing was spending a whole lot of money not to be any safer. It made me mad as a former naval officer who dedicated my life to the Cold War – that’s what I did – and as a taxpayer, and as a resident of Kitsap County, because the continuing presence of the weapons at Bangor is a danger to people and the environment, even though the folks out there do as good a job as they can.

You knew what was going to happen?

It was the culmination of a process of discernment and deciding if it was the right time for me to do that. Getting arrested was a step I hadn’t taken. I’d been at ground zero for eight years and I’d been very active, I’d testified at trials, I’ve written things, I’ve done a lot of work. But I was always dubious about the value of getting arrested. Four of us decided we would symbolically close the base by dragging that big inflatable missile into the road, and closing the base. And that’s what we did.

Was it hard to step over those barricades?

No. Not at all. Once I had gone through the process of discernment, and decided that it was time for me to do that and we made a plan and we rehearsed it, and had three other people with me that were going to cross the line with me there was no looking back, there was no recrimination.

You excelled in the military, and you say you're still promilitary?

I was a child of the ‘60s. I lived in Haight-Ashbury for a little while in the mid-’60s, the summer of love, I was a hippie. Then I got drafted – the Vietnam War was raging – it was 1966, so the first thing I did was I went home, to Connecticut, and I went to the local Navy recruiter and I said, ‘I’m not into this Army thing, what can you do for me?’ … and I said thank you very much, let’s do it. And that’s how I stayed out of the Vietnam War.

So I was an unlikely candidate for my subsequent career, but I kind of fit. I was technically proficient, smart, knew how to work. Then they just kept making me offers I couldn’t refuse. I never was really committed to making the Navy a career, it just sort of happened. They kept promoting me. I was surprised at every promotion board.

What is it about nuclear weapons that makes it OK to break the law protesting them?

Because I’ve testified for people who’ve broken the law – felonies – and here’s the deal. In 1996 the international court of justice, which is the judicial arm of the United Nations, was asked for a judgment on whether nuclear weapons were illegal. And after a year of hearings and deliberations, they came back and said unequivocally, that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is illegal under international law. That came out of … the Geneva Accords. If you look at those, its obvious that the use of nuclear weapons is illegal under those accords.

Now here’s the leap. I believe that deployment of nuclear weapons on board Trident submarines who are on alert patrol and can shoot those weapons within 30 minutes at anybody in the world constitutes a continuing threat of use. So we believe that the United States is doing something illegal.

Is it hard to go on base now that you've taken part in the continuing protest?

Absolutely not. I exercise my rights and obligations as a citizen of being an activist off the base. When I’m on the base I’m a Navy veteran, I use the facilities, and I feel very justified in doing so. I really have no relationships with anybody who is actively working on the base now, but if I did I would not compromise those relationships. I can live these two lives very happily within myself.

Central Kitsap Reporter Staff Writer Tom James can be reached at or (360) 308-9161 ext. 5062.  The URL for the article is

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kucinich Calls for Freedom from Fear, Nuclear Weapons and War!


Congressman Dennis Kucinich spoke at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action on Sunday, August 7, 2011 during the organizations annual gathering to commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  His speech was timely and powerful, calling on the United States to take concrete steps to work toward a nuclear weapon's free world.  He also called on the US to forge a new doctrine of Strength through Peace.  Kucinich wrapped up his speech by reminding us that it is up to we the people to "resolve that we shall become as architects of a new world free of fear, free of nuclear weapons, and free of war."

The following is the entire, unabridged transcript of Kucinich's speech.  You can also watch the entire speech as well as the question and answer period by clicking here.


(Note: audio starts here)… last night, and I see one of my brothers here. Some of you might have been there for Hiroshima to Hope, and that was a very important occasion. Given the importance of this organization and your dedication to nuclear abolition, I’ve decided to prepare some remarks especially for this occasion that would reflect the potential that we have to take a new direction

The human heart is Ground Zero. It’s in the human heart where blind fear hides in dark chambers. It’s there where murderous intensity is unleashed against our brothers and sisters and the world. It is there where nuclear explosions first take place. It’s there where the world ends.

The world also begins in the human heart. It’s where courage creates new possibilities. It’s where nuclear weapons can be abolished, and where war itself can be no more. The human heart is where the impulse for life resounds with such a powerful pulsation that one person, indeed all of humanity, experiences love through the energy of the heart, the rhythms of the heart, the luminosity of the heart. We draw from our hearts our own transformational potential and the ability to re-create the world. 

Here we are free of the death wish. Here we summon the strength to wrest the nuclear Sword of Damocles from the hands of fates we ourselves have fashioned from the projection of our fears. Three score and six years ago that nuclear Sword of Damocles was dropped not once but twice upon the people of Japan. Today we require ourselves to lay our ears on the heart of the world and to listen to the cries of the souls of our Japanese brothers and sisters who perished in two flashes or who were poisoned by radiation, and to be mindful of the suffering of the Hibakusha who live to testify to the nullification of our own humanity through the use of the ultimate weapon.

We gather here not only to assert that doctrines of unilateralism, pre-emption and first strike must be set aside as profoundly dangerous relics. But we come together in recognition that nuclear weapons represent the ultimate escalation of war, and that it is our responsibility to make war itself obsolete through direct actions and through concrete steps that can take is in the direction of peace. For we cannot hope to abolish nuclear weapons unless we change the thinking that created those weapons and unless we change dramatically the U.S. role in the World.

We need a new doctrine of strength through peace, which relies on diplomacy the size of human relations addressing the needs of people everywhere for sustainability, for housing, for education, clean water, clean air and freedom from fear. A new doctrine of strength through peace will provide for a strong defense with a powerful basic fighting force of Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard that will re-establish America’s role in the world mindful of the cost and consequences of the US’ current global presence and the benefits of international cooperation for security through the United Nations. 

The doctrine of strength through peace rejects counterinsurgency through recognition that every insurgency is precipitated and fueled by occupation. Provisions of a doctrine of strength through peace will call for the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq by the end of 2011. Call upon the US to participate in a negotiated settlement to end the war in Libya. Call upon the US to stop the use of drone missile strikes. Call upon the US to lead a negotiated settlement in the Middle East which protects Israel’s survival and the Palestinians’ absolute right to self-determination while working to strengthen democratic principles, nonviolence, human rights and non-sectarianism in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia.

A doctrine of strength through peace calls upon the United States to renounce all policies of assassination. It forbids the Central Intelligence Agency from having any command and control over weapons systems. It calls upon the Air Force to drop its pursuit of Vision 20/20, which is a plan for the US to try to achieve superiority over space through putting weapons in outer space.

The doctrine of strength through peace sees that the US will fully comply with all international treaties and insist that our allies and partners do the same, including full compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Small Arms Treaty, the Land Mine Treaty, and it calls on the United States to join the International Criminal Court, and that US officials would have to be accountable to that criminal court.

A doctrine of strength of strength through peace sees the US in support of the Ground Zero movement, and that will lead us to nuclear abolition by taking the following steps:

1. to revise and repeal the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which calls for sustaining nuclear forces,
2. to cancel the order for 12 new ICBM-capable subs,
3. to cancel the $29.4 billion in R&D in connection with that program,
4. to cancel the Air Force’s R&D for ICBM follow-ons,
5. to eliminate $600 million in funding under the National Nuclear Security Administration fiscal year 2012,
6. to eliminate $4.1 billion in funding for nuclear weapons modernization over the next five years,
7. to eliminate plans to spend an additional $85 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s weapons activities over the next decade,
8. to focus the CIA on identifying and if necessary interdicting and seizing nuclear materials from non-state actors.

Now consistent with that, the most valuable provision in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review calls for, and I quote, “enhancing national and international capabilities to disrupt illicit proliferation networks and interdict smuggled nuclear materials and continue to expand our nuclear forensics efforts to improve the capabilities to identify the source of nuclear material used or intended for use in a terrorist nuclear explosive device.

The 2010 NPR declares, quote, “The US will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapons state that are in compliance with this nation’s non-proliferation obligations.” This is a telling loophole though in the NPT, which opens the door to the threat of a nuclear attack upon Iran or North Korea, and as such this provision must be changed to forego the use of nuclear weapons against any nation.

The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review declares the US is not prepared to adopt a universal policy deterring a nuclear attack, declaring that a nuclear attack is the sole purpose of nuclear weapons, and would “only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the US, its allies or partners.” Here again the door is left open to interpreting circumstances, which would allow for the use of nuclear weapons. This provision must be deleted from future Nuclear Posture Reviews and deleted from the policy of the United States today.

It is time for us to challenge the doctrine of deterrence, and reveal it for what it is – a corollary to mutually assured destruction, which is the opposite of survival. The US must ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty once and for all, and we must stop subsidizing the nuclear power industry and its concomitant use of uranium where the byproduct creates material, which can be used for nuclear terrorism.

We can prevent nuclear terrorism by not ourselves threatening it against other nations. We can prevent nuclear proliferation by not participating in it, and thereby become a model for all nations. It’s time for us to deepen our partnership with Russia, and to expedite the arms reduction promise in the Moscow Treaty and START II. It’s time for a new partnership with China, for nuclear abolition and a new defense partnership with China to stop a new arms race from occurring and to stop the disagreements of the present from becoming the conflicts of the future.

Today as we gather in this beautiful setting we have to remember that our destiny and the fate of the planet is not outside our reach. It is within our grasp if it is within our hearts to abolish all weapons and to abolish war itself. On this great day when we reflect upon the great human tragedy of war and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki let us resolve that we shall become as architects of a new world free of fear, free of nuclear weapons, and free of war.

Thank you very much. [sustained applause] Thank you. Great to be here with you.


Notes: This transcript from the audio recording of Congressman Kucinich’s speech was made by Leonard Eiger, Media & Outreach Coordinator, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. Congressman Kucinich’s speech was videotaped by Todd Boyle, and is posted at YouTube at

Founded in 1977, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action offers the opportunity to explore the meaning and practice of nonviolence from a perspective of deep spiritual reflection, providing a means for witnessing to and resisting all nuclear weapons, especially Trident. We seek to go to the root of violence and injustice in our world and experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action. Learn more at

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dealing with the Nuclear Genie


July 16th marked the day 66 years ago when the United States let the nuclear genie out of the lamp. 

On July 16, 1945, at 5:29:45 AM at the Alamogordo Test Range, on the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of Death) desert, in the test named Trinity, the experimental device known as the "Gadget" was detonated, creating a light "brighter than a thousand suns." A mere 6 kilogram (13.2 pound) sphere of plutonium, compressed to supercriticality by the surrounding high explosives, created an explosion equivalent to 20,000 tons of TNT (20 Kilotons).

Was this, as thought nuclear physicist Robert Oppenheimer, the beginning of the end? These scientists had "become death", and they had created what could become (quite literally) "the destroyer of worlds."  Oppenheimer quoted a verse from the Bhagavad Gita which read "I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."  The nuclear genie was out of the lamp and now, 66 years later, we have one final wish left. Will it be for the genie to return to the lamp?
Less than one month after the Trinity test, the United States dropped two atomic bombs - on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - that killed over 100,000 people in less time than it took me to type a few of these words. As many as 220,000 were dead from the effects of radiation by the end of 1945. Even today, 66 years later, survivors and subsequent generations suffer the effects of radiation.

So began a journey (with the test known as Trinity) that has led humanity down the perilous road of preparation for its own destruction. Scientists have continued to seek the power of gods, creating ever more destructive nuclear devices over the years, and many in our government and others continue asking for more of these awful weapons in every shape and form (and method of delivery).

Today the U.S. government is building new bomb-making facilities at Kansas City and Oak Ridge, while it develops new nuclear capable bombers and ballistic missile submarines (just to name a few key projects).  What message do you think this sends to other nations contemplating developing or building more nuclear weapons???

Our leaders, including President Obama, are forging ahead towards nuclear darkness, and it is up to the people to call for an end to this madness that consumes vast quantities of economic capital while preparing for the end of life as we know it.  We can participate on many levels, from advocacy to nonviolent direct action, from our hands to our feet - there is something everyone can do to help put the genie back in the bottle.

It is no simple task, and many people would say that we are naive to think such a thing is possible.  We will never know if we don't try.  Even the U.S. Conference of Mayors, at its recent meeting, called for the abolition of nuclear weapons. 

Get involved in an upcoming event commemorating the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Many cities have ceremonies commemorating these events.  Click here for events occurring around Puget Sound.  Take one of many advocacy actions, including cutting the 2012 nuclear weapons budget, at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation or any number of other organizations (see the list of "Hot Links" in the right hand column of this blog).

After 66 years it is high time we put the nuclear genie back in the lamp.



Saturday, July 16, 2011

The High Price of US Nukes

By William Hartung - July 13, 2011Originally published by TalkingPointsMemo

As President Obama and Republicans in Congress go down to the wire in negotiations over a package of budget cuts that would clear the way for raising the debt ceiling, we shouldn't lose sight of one key source of reductions: military spending. Although it was not mentioned in the President's press conference earlier this week, there has been a press report suggesting that the budget negotiators may have considered cuts of up to $700 billion over ten years -- a healthy sum if it represents real reductions, not funny money projections based on misleading estimating techniques.

As Joseph Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund has demonstrated in a piece that ran today on the web site of the Atlantic magazine, one area ripe for cuts is the nuclear weapons budget. Current projections call for the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade on maintaining and upgrading the U.S. nuclear arsenal, including everything from new nuclear weapons factories to new bombers and ballistic missile submarines.

Here are just a few examples of nuclear weapons-related projects that could be done without at a time when nuclear arsenals are on the decline:

--One hundred new bombers, at a currently estimated price of $55 billion;

--A dozen new ballistic missile launching submarines, at a cost estimated by the Congressional Budget Office at $8.3 billion each, for a total of nearly $100 billion;

-- A Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) facility at Los Alamos National Laboratories that would produce plutonium "pits" or triggers, an essential component for building a nuclear weapon, at an estimated price of up to $6 billion;

--A Uranium Processing Facillity at the NNSA's Oak Ridge, Tennessee site, at a cost estimated by the Army Corps of Engineers of up to $7.5 billion.

At this stage in history, U.S. nuclear weapons serve no useful purpose other than preventing another nation from using nuclear weapons against the United States. And a study by two professors of military strategy at U.S. military colleges has suggested that that mission could be accomplished with roughly 300 warheads, compared with the 1,550 deployed warheads permitted under the New START treaty, and the roughly 5,000 currently in the U.S. stockpile if one counts all categories of non-deployed weapons. Going down to these levels would save additional billions in reduced operating and maintenance costs for the arsenal as a whole.

Not only have a growing list of former secretaries of state and defense, presidents and prime ministers, scientists and retired military officials called for the elimination of nuclear weapons, but if pushed by budgetary realities so would many current U.S. military leaders. While they won't say so publicly, if forced to choose between nukes and major conventional systems it is my bet that nukes would lose out in that particular budget battle.

So as the president and the Congress continue to look for places to reduce spending, the nuclear weapons budget should be high on the list.

William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Nuclear Generation Palindrome


In a time of endless war and nuclear weapons it is easy to become despondent about the future, yet there is always hope.  That hope lies in people who can see inside the madness, understand it and refuse to accept the darkness.  It also requires a different way of seeing.  Jonathan Reed, in his palindrome "Lost Generation," did just that.

Lawyer, international humanitarian law expert and creative spirit Anabel Dwyer was inspired by Jonathan's palindrome to write one of her own that speaks to us with a message of hope about nuclear weapons.  After all that is what we are - people of hope.




A Nuclear Generation Palindrome

by Anabel Dwyer 6/28/11 with thanks to Jonathan Reed's "Lost Generation."

Read this from the top down and you’ll get the problem.
Read from the bottom up and you’ll get the reality.

We need nuclear weapons
I refuse to believe that
disarmament is possible
I realize that this may be a shock but
“We live by the rule of law, nonviolently”
is a lie and
"Security comes from greater force"
So we can tell our children
they are not important in our lives
Our military corps will know
We have our priorities straight because
is more important than
I will tell you this
Once upon a time
The judiciary was considered independent
but this will not be possible
This is a quick buck society
Experts tell me
30 years from now B&W will still make nuclear weapons
I do not concede that
I will live in a country where citizen whistleblowers will be honored
In the future
chemical and radioactive contamination will be the norm
No longer can it be said that
We can stop the destruction of life
It will be evident that
Our times are only violent and fruitless
It is foolish to presume that
There is hope

"All this will be true unless we choose to reverse it..."

Friday, July 1, 2011


By Desmond Tutu

Eliminating nuclear weapons is the democratic wish of the world’s people. Yet no nuclear-armed country currently appears to be preparing for a future without these terrifying devices. In fact, all are squandering billions of dollars on modernization of their nuclear forces, making a mockery of United Nations disarmament pledges. If we allow this madness to continue, the eventual use of these instruments of terror seems all but inevitable.

The nuclear power crisis at Japan’s Fukushima power plant has served as a dreadful reminder that events thought unlikely can and do happen. It has taken a tragedy of great proportions to prompt some leaders to act to avoid similar calamities at nuclear reactors elsewhere in the world. But it must not take another Hiroshima or Nagasaki – or an even greater disaster – before they finally wake up and recognize the urgent necessity of nuclear disarmament.

This week, the foreign ministers of five nuclear-armed countries – the United States, Russia, Britain, France, and China – will meet in Paris to discuss progress in implementing the nuclear-disarmament commitments that they made at last year’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference. It will be a test of their resolve to transform the vision of a future free of nuclear arms into reality.

If they are serious about preventing the spread of these monstrous weapons – and averting their use – they will work energetically and expeditiously to eliminate them completely. One standard must apply to all countries: zero. Nuclear arms are wicked, regardless of who possesses them. The unspeakable human suffering that they inflict is the same whatever flag they may bear. So long as these weapons exist, the threat of their use – either by accident or through an act of sheer madness – will remain.

We must not tolerate a system of nuclear apartheid, in which it is considered legitimate for some states to possess nuclear arms but patently unacceptable for others to seek to acquire them. Such a double standard is no basis for peace and security in the world. The NPT is not a license for the five original nuclear powers to cling to these weapons indefinitely. The International Court of Justice has affirmed that they are legally obliged to negotiate in good faith for the complete elimination of their nuclear forces.

The New START agreement between the US and Russia, while a step in the right direction, will only skim the surface off the former Cold War foes’ bloated nuclear arsenals – which account for 95% of the global total. Furthermore, these and other countries’ modernization activities cannot be reconciled with their professed support for a world free of nuclear weapons.

It is deeply troubling that the US has allocated $185 billion to augment its nuclear stockpile over the next decade, on top of the ordinary annual nuclear-weapons budget of more than $50 billion. Just as unsettling is the Pentagon’s push for the development of nuclear-armed drones – H-bombs deliverable by remote control.

Russia, too, has unveiled a massive nuclear-weapons modernization plan, which includes the deployment of various new delivery systems. British politicians, meanwhile, are seeking to renew their navy’s aging fleet of Trident submarines – at an estimated cost of £76 billion ($121 billion). In doing so, they are passing up an historic opportunity to take the lead on nuclear disarmament.

Every dollar invested in bolstering a country’s nuclear arsenal is a diversion of resources from its schools, hospitals, and other social services, and a theft from the millions around the globe who go hungry or are denied access to basic medicines. Instead of investing in weapons of mass annihilation, governments must allocate resources towards meeting human needs.

The only obstacle we face in abolishing nuclear weapons is a lack of political will, which can – and must – be overcome. Two-thirds of UN member states have called for a nuclear-weapons convention similar to existing treaties banning other categories of particularly inhumane and indiscriminate weapons, from biological and chemical arms to anti-personnel land mines and cluster munitions. Such a treaty is feasible and must be urgently pursued.

It is true that nuclear weapons cannot be uninvented, but that does not mean that nuclear disarmament is an impossible dream. My own country, South Africa, gave up its nuclear arsenal in the 1990’s, realizing it was better off without these weapons. Around the same time, the newly independent states of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine voluntarily relinquished their nuclear arms, and then joined the NPT. Other countries have abandoned nuclear-weapons programs, recognizing that nothing good could possibly come from them. Global stockpiles have dropped from 68,000 warheads at the height of the Cold War to 20,000 today.

In time, every government will come to accept the basic inhumanity of threatening to obliterate entire cities with nuclear weapons. They will work to achieve a world in which such weapons are no more – where the rule of law, not the rule of force, reigns supreme, and cooperation is seen as the best guarantor of international peace. But such a world will be possible only if people everywhere rise up and challenge the nuclear madness.


Editor's Note:  The original article can be found at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).  Desmond Tutu is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and long-time advocate for abolishing nuclear weapons.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Test is a Test is a Test...


There has been lots of buzz lately about whether the United States has conducted nuclear tests over the past year.  Yes Virginia, the US did, in fact, conduct tests intended to make sure that those thousands of nasty nukes in its arsenal will perform as they are designed should someone actually be crazy enough to launch one.

Of course, there was no mushroom cloud like the bad old days of atmospheric testing, or seismographic mayhem that was a telltale sign of underground tests of yore.  Over the decades since the beginning of the nuclear age the U.S. conducted 1030 tests involving the detonation of a nuclear device (215 atmospherice and 815 underground) up until 1992.

The two tests (in November 2010 and March 2011) were conducted at Sandia National Laboratories Pulsed Power and Z Facility, and involved bombarding relatively small plutonium samples with extremely high energy X-rays to determine how it functions under extreme temperature and pressure. 

This type of testing isn't anything like the detonation of a full scale nuclear weapon, but is still a "nuclear" test.  Don't take my word for it however.  The Sandia Labs press release for the March 2011 test said (in describing the test) that the:
"controlled radiation or magnetic pressure creates conditions on a small scale similar to those caused by the detonation of nuclear weapons, which is why from its earliest days pulsed power has been used to study weapons effects."
Of course, this testing at Sandia is just one of many aspects of continuing efforts by the U.S. government to not only maintain, but to upgrade the nuclear weapons stockpiled and deployed in its arsenal.  In addition to the work at the weapons laboratories - Sandia, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore - the entire manufacturing infrastructure is being completely rebuilt in order to continue modernizing the nation's nuclear arsenal.

Design, manufacturing, refurbishment, testing, upgrading...  It all boils down to perpetuating a reliance on nuclear weapons, which have no purpose except to incinerate huge numbers of people and leave a radioactive wasteland in their wake.  Testing is testing no matter how you cut it, and it is time to STOP. 

The program of reliability testing and maintenance of U.S. nuclear weapons is referred to as "Stockpile Stewardship."  The term stewardship is defined (by Merriam Webster) as "the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care."

If we are to be good stewards of the Earth and the life that inhabits it (including human life), how do people reconcile being stewards of weapons that by their very nature, if used in even a limited exchange, would contaminate the planet and create conditions that might extinguish life as we know it???



Note: The Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo) sent a protest note to President Barack Obama on May 23, regarding a news report that it had conducted a new form of nuclear tests in November 2010 and in March 2011. Following is the note.
May 23, 2011

Mr. Barack OBAMA
United States of America

We protest against your conducting a new form of nuclear tests and urge you to make efforts in good faith to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.

The U.S. Department of Energy (the National Nuclear Security Administration) made public by May 21 that it had conducted the new form of nuclear tests twice in November 2010 and in March 2011.

Your Government claimed that these tests were meant to maintain the reliability and efficacy of the nuclear weapons the U.S. already have in its possession. However, any nuclear-weapon test, irrespective of it may involve explosion or not, is aimed at ensuring the use or/and continued deployment of these weapons. This act obviously runs counter to both the objective of achieving “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” agreed upon by the NPT Review Conference in May 2010 and the promise you yourself made in Prague in April 2009.

We strongly urge you to abandon any plan of nuclear testing and nuclear development, and immediately undertake efforts for the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the conclusion of a treaty totally banning nuclear weapons.

YASUI Masakazu
Secretary General

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Navy Plans Rebuild of Trident Nuclear Weapons System

by David C. Hall, MD

The Pentagon and US Navy are planning to rebuild the Trident submarine nuclear weapons fleet over the next fifteen years at a cost likely to exceed $1 trillion over the life of the program. Currently eight of the fourteen Trident warships allowed under the START treaty homeport on Hood Canal at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington State. The other six homeport at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia.

In what may well be an opening salvo announcing the rebuild of the Trident fleet, the Navy plans to build a new and expanded Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor next to the one currently servicing these warships. Price tag: $783 million. The Navy claims to need 400 operational days a year to load and unload missiles from the warships over the next 30-plus years, and they can only get 300 operational days from the current Explosives Handling Wharf. (Editor's Note: Public comment on the Second Wharf Environmental Impact Statement was solicited through May 17, 2011 at

What goes unsaid is the impact of current treaty negotiations to reduce the number of warheads and launch vehicles. While Trident warships are patrolling the world's oceans at Cold War levels, the number of warheads on the Trident subs has probably been reduced by half according to what data is available in the public record. The Navy, however, wants to upgrade the missiles and warheads, so presumably will want more handling days available.

This at a time when across the country we are cutting back basic medical care for indigent children, more people are out of work than at any time since the Depression, and people continue to lose their homes.

And then there is the unimaginable devastation these weapons are designed to create. Hiroshima was leveled in 1945 by a 12 kiloton atomic bomb. Trident warships can carry W-76 warheads rated at 100 kilotons and W-88 warheads rated at 450 kilotons, up to 192 warheads on a single warship. A single Trident submarine warship has the capacity according to recent climatalogical calculations to black out the sun in an entire hemisphere for weeks to months, an event named “nuclear winter” by Carl Sagan and colleagues in the 1980's. What sane motives continue to compel us to rebuild this doomsday system? How can human freedom hope to survive once such a weapon is used?

A single Trident-launched warhead could create a fireball with the heat of the sun over an area that would incinerate the heart of any city, and then the blast, firestorms, and radiation would expand that zone in waves of destruction over five miles and several generations.

On whose country would we deliver such wholesale killing, suffering, and environmental devastation? China would seem to be the principal target of the Pacific Trident warship fleet. We remember World War II, the Nazi holocaust, Stalinist Russia, and Mao Tse Tung's China – political and military catastrophes in themselves for people with any will to freedom and human rights. Yet there will be no democracy under nuclear fire. And if the United States is held responsible for the crime against humanity that a modern nuclear weapon would perpetrate, then what of the international backlash against us?

Imagine if the earthquake and tsunami assault on Japan had instead been caused by one or two nuclear weapons. The destruction could have been comparable with many more deaths, but what then would be the world's reaction against the perpetrator of such a crime? And where does it end?

This is not the world I want to leave for my grandchildren or their grandchildren.

Our world is much too interdependent and vulnerable to have its multifarious problems and injustices solved by military force, much less by weapons of mass destruction. We need national, international, and non-governmental institutions to broker negotiations across the panoply of threats to life on Earth.

It is time to outlaw and abolish nuclear weapons, not rebuild them. What is hopeful about abolishing nuclear weapons is that it is doable within a relatively short time frame, and it would propel other efforts at cooperative security and cooperative development to the benefit of all.

Our safety resides in our capacities to get along with each other. What sense does it make to threaten China daily with incineration by a Trident-launched hydrogen bomb when China now manufactures half of our consumer goods and holds nearly a trillion dollars of our debt? How about instead of spending another $783 million for a redundant and outmoded facility to service (illegal) weapons of mass destruction we instead invest in securing fissile materials worldwide, pass a nuclear weapons convention to abolish them, and develop cultural and educational exchanges with China, Russia, Iran and even North Korea to empower mutual understanding. That was a huge part of what helped to end the Soviet era of domination in Eurasia and bring an end to the Cold War.

David C. Hall, MD
Past President, Physicians for Social Responsibility and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility ( and
Member, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (
Seattle, WA
206-235-8245 cell
206-957-4702 office voicemail

Editor's Note: You can read other posts on the Second Explosives Handling Wharf and watch video of public testimony at the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Truth: Nuclear Weapons are Illegal AND Immoral


The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oakridge, Tennessee is one of the major cogs in our nations nuclear weapons machinery.  The facility has been rebuilding and gearing up to the tune of $$$$$$ Billions, and although its Website would lead us to believe that it is simply "a premier manufacturing facility dedicated to making our nation and the world a safer place," the fact is that Y-12 is engaged in the production of nuclear weapons, weapons that, under the laws of this land as well as international law, are illegal (and immoral to boot).  How nuclear weapons make "the world a safer place" is a mystery to me.

The trial of thirteen nuclear resisters who were arrested at Y-12 protesting the government's continued disregard for national and international law will begin May 9th in Federal Court in Knoxville, Tennessee.  At the heart of this trial is the defendant's right to present a full defense.  In this case, as in so many previous Federal trials, the judge has chosen to preclude a just trial.  Read about it in the following news release.

Fr. Bix Bichsel, SJ, going through the gate at Y-12 last July
 May the truth prevail, and may the members of the jury allow conscience to move them to a just decision on behalf of the defendants.





Magistrate Judge Bruce Guyton issued a ruling on April 29, 2011, gagging thirteen defendants who will appear in federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee on Monday, May 9 to face charges of trespass at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee during a Celebration of Resistance on July 5, 2010.

The Judge's ruling sweeps away the defendants’ right to tell the jury why they committed their act: “The fact that the Defendants felt compelled to enter onto the Y-12 National Security Complex by their own moral, political, and religious beliefs; their desire to exercise their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech or religion; their desire to comply with international law; or their desire to prevent future death and destruction from the use of nuclear weapons does not constitute a legal defense to the charge in the Information and is not relevant at trial. Testimony to this effect is not admissible at trial.”

“With this sweeping ruling, Judge Guyton clearly intends to deny the defendants the right to tell ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,’” said Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. “These defendants did not trespass on private property; they didn’t cross a line at WalMart. Their action was an act of conscience, an act of nonviolent civil resistance, at a facility that produces nuclear weapons. The judge doesn’t want the jury to hear anything about that.”

The judge's ruling came in response to a hearing held March 4, 2011 on motions presented by the defense and the prosecution. At the March 4 hearing, Professor Charles Moxley of Fordham University testified that nuclear weapons not only violate international law, but also contravene US law and the military code of conduct of US armed forces. Defendants Mary Dennis Lentsch and Beth Rosdatter also testified on March 4 about their reasons for trespassing at the Y12 complex, where the United States continued to manufacture thermonuclear components for nuclear weapons.

“This ruling actually underscores the government’s fear that a jury, if it were told the whole truth, might turn the indictment on its head and hold the government accountable for its violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty—a treaty which becomes the law of the land under the US Constitution,” Hutchison noted. “Despite the judge’s ruling, it is likely the defendants will insist on telling the whole truth to the jury.”

Jury selection for the trial of the thirteen Y12 Resisters is scheduled for Monday, May 9 in federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee.

more information: Ralph Hutchison 865 776 5050 (contact for news release)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Nuclear Weapons: Building an Informed Public


Not too long ago Steven Starr summarized our challenges in communicating the issues surrounding nuclear weapons to the public, and how we need to communicate in order to get people's attention and get them engaged with this most important of issues.  Essentially, we need to engage people both emotionally and intellectually regarding the potential effects of nuclear weapons as well as the huge economic costs.  It's serious food for thought.


P.S. - Be sure to check out Steven's Website, Nuclear Darkness.


"Although most people, if asked directly, will say that they favor the abolition of nuclear weapons, very few have any real idea of the threat which existing nuclear arsenals pose to humans and other complex forms of life. In fact, here in the U.S., most people do not even know that immense nuclear arsenals still exist, that their own nation (and Russia) have 95% of the 22,000 nuclear weapons in the world, and that they keep 2,000 strategic nuclear weapons ready to launch with only a few minutes warning. They have no idea that just one of these weapons can instantly ignite tens or hundreds of square miles of the Earth's surface into a gigantic nuclear firestorm, and that a hundred such firestorms could produce enough smoke to cause deadly climate change, leading to global nuclear famine.

"An uniformed public cannot make informed decisions. We are still conducting our political discussions about nuclear weapons in Cold War terms, focusing upon how we are "behind" if we don't "modernize" our nuclear arsenal, that we are "locked into a position of permanent inferiority" by agreements with the Russians to limit our nuclear weapons. There is absolutely no discussion of the consequences of the use of existing arsenals, particularly those maintained by the US and Russia, the dialogue is dangerously out of touch with the peer-reviewed scientific predictions that *any* nuclear conflict which detonates as little as 1% of existing nuclear arsenals in cities will likely kill at least 1 billion people through nuclear famine. We must bring current scientific understandings of what nuclear war would do to the biosphere, agriculture, ecosystems and global climate into the active debate about the need for nuclear weaponry.

"Furthermore, In a time when we cannot find enough money to maintain our schools, highways, hospitals and basic infrastructure, do we need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild our nuclear weapons manufacturing complex and "upgrade" nuclear weapons systems? No, just the opposite, we need stop or prevent funding for such projects, which guarantee that there will be no "world without nuclear weapons." I am going to start ending my presentations with a chart which shows what we could do with the endless billions we spend on nuclear weaponry, something like what Eisenhower did with his "Cross of Iron" speech. We have to give concrete examples of what could be immediately gained through the elimination of insane spending for nuclear doomsday machines. We can combat the idea that nuclear spending creates jobs by giving examples of what could be done to construct, for example, needed alternative energy systems (wind, solar, tidal, etc.) that can begin rebuilding our own industrial infrastructure, which has been dismantled and shipped overseas.

"If we are going to get into a race with other nations, let it be a race towards a better human future. Building nuclear weapons does just the opposite, it paves the way for mass extinction of complex forms of life, including human life."

-- Steven Starr, senior scientist with Physicians for Social Responsibility

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Confronting the Bomb - A Message of Hope


The more I immerse myself in the movement to abolish nuclear weapons, the more I am humbled by the dedication of so many others engaged in the movement now, and since even just before the dawn of the nuclear age.

These are the people who make up what H.G. Wells called an "open conspiracy" of people who have come to their right minds, and who are deeply engaged in the struggle to move humanity beyond the state-of-war to build a world community based on genuine justice and peace.

Historian, Lawrence Wittner, begins his book "Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Disarmament Movement" with a prophecy that relates to this "open conspiracy":
This notion of a society of the righteous, committed to saving the world from its own folly, had deep roots in world history. It can be traced back at least to the fourth century, to the Babylonian Talmudic teacher Abbayah. According to this Jewish savant, in each generation there existed at least thirty-six righteous people (lamed-vav-tzaddikim, in Hebrew) upon whom the survival of the world depended. Jewish fiction and folklore took up the idea of these hidden saints, who played a prominent role in kabbalistic folk legend of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and in Hassidic lore after the eighteenth century.
This paragraph (and prophecy) sets the stage for Wittner's well-documented and dramatic history of the movement to abolish nuclear weapons and for the central premise of his book - that it is not the conventional explanation of "deterrence" that has saved the world from nuclear annihilation over the past 65 years, but a "massive nuclear disarmament movement."  This is the true story of how real, grassroots citizen activism brought very real pressure to bear, not only only on the U.S. government, but many other governments as well, to control the arms race and prevent nuclear war.

Wittner peels away layers to describe the early critics of "The Bomb" even when it was only a concept in the minds of physicists.  We get a sense of the tension that existed between the scientists of the Manhattan Project and government officials.  A number of those scientists attempted to warn President Roosevelt of the dangers of the use of atomic weapons, not the least of which was that it would "precipitate a race in the production of these devices between the United States and Russia..."

Alas, the bombs were dropped, and Wittner takes us chapter by chapter, through the entire history of nuclear weapons and the tension between governments and abolitionists. We see the ups and downs of the movement, along with governments' (sometimes drastic) responses.  We see that presidents, politicians and diplomats really were influenced by the pressure brought to bear by what was at times a huge movement to ban the bomb.

Toward the end of the book Wittner shows us how and why the nuclear disarmament movement faded after the end of the Cold War.  However, he also describes positive steps that occurred during this time, such as the variety of treaties created, signed and ratified that effectively banned "nuclear weapons from most of the southern hemisphere."

Lawrence Wittner  (Photo by L. Eiger)
As Wittner reflects on the past and ponders the future he states that "most government officials - particularly those of the major powers - had no intention of adopting nuclear arms control and disarmament policies."  His conclusion is that it was the "vast wave of popular resistance" that forced them to compromise and exercise restraint.

Wittner's book is a tribute to what he refers to as possibly "the highest form of democracy" - "citizen activism."  For all the "pathology of the nation state" Wittner has hope, but he is also clear that "if nations continue to follow the traditional 'national security' paradigm, then - sooner of later - their leaders will resort to nuclear war..."  So he asks us if we are up to the task of meeting this challenge, of changing the status quo.

He ends on a note of hope.
But an examination of the history of the nuclear disarmament movement inspires a greater respect for human potential.  Indeed, defying the national barriers and the murderous traditions of the past, millions of people have joined hands to build a safer, saner world.  Perhaps, after all, they will reach it.  
Wittner, with his academic discipline coupled with an engaging style, has given the nuclear abolition movement a great gift - a book that provides us with not just a linear history of the movement, but a holistic understanding of how the movement has succeeded and how we can (and must) re-vitalize the movement to continue the struggle for a nuclear weapons-free world.



Saturday, March 5, 2011

Help Mayors for Peace Grow!


As the only cities to have suffered the horrific effects of nuclear weapons, Hiroshima and Nagasaki have consistently sought to persuade the world that nuclear weapons are inhumane, continually calling for their total abolition. In 1982, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki established Mayors for Peace to promote the total elimination of nuclear weapons as a vital step toward genuine and lasting world peace. The Conference was registered as a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council in May 1991.

Since its inception Mayors for Peace has gradually built up its membership of mayors of cities around the world acting in solidarity towards a world without nuclear weapons.  By 2003 when they launched their 2020 Vision Campaign, Mayors for Peace had 500 member cities.  As of March 2011 there are 4540 members in 150 countries and regions around the world.

The 2020 Vision Campaign aims for the global abolition of nuclear weapons by the year 2020, the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Working with many other organizations the 2020 Vision Campaign has built momentum with "The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol", a road map to its goal of nuclear abolition by 2020, and "Cities Are Not Targets (CANT)", that sends a clear message to nuclear weapon states that cities are no longer willing to be held hostage to the threat of use of nuclear weapons.

There are currently 150 mayors for peace members in the U.S.  As one of the world's two largest nuclear powers, we can do better.  Washington State, and particularly Puget Sound, is home to the single largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons, and that makes it even more important for mayors in our region to join Mayors for Peace in solidarity with other mayors working toward a nuclear weapons-free world.

Washington State has two current mayors who are members; Mayor Marilyn Strickland of Tacoma and Mayor Mary Verner of Spokane.  Other participating cities - where previous mayors were members - include Seattle and Olympia.

Maren Clifton and Kyle Jorgensen have started a Washington Mayors for Peace Campaign.  Their goal is to contact every mayor in Washington State and invite them all to join and support the goals of Mayors for Peace.  They can't do it alone!  Here is their request:
As we send information to mayors (which we have organized by county), we would like to coordinate with local individuals and groups to follow up, write letters, or visit mayors in person to express the need for nuclear disarmament. If you are interested in getting involved or would like to know more, please contact us via telephone at (253) 219-6409, or email
Best Regards,
Maren Clifton and Kyle Jorgensen
This is going to be a tough one; we live in a state with not only Hanford and Bangor (two major nuclear installations), but also one with a very large overall military presence.  It will take a great deal of work to break down the old thinking that nuclear weapons create security and are a credible "deterrent".

Please support Maren's and Kyle's efforts.  Contact them and find out how your city can join Mayors for Peace.  A nuclear weapons-free world is possible - with our efforts.



P.S. - If you live outside Washington State click here and then click here to download materials to present to your mayor.