Quotable

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cheerleading for nukes in the corporate press

If you read the glorious propaganda piece in the November 29th Los Angeles Times (New nuclear weapons needed, many experts say, pointing to aged arsenal) you might be tempted to think that the U.S. nuclear enterprise is "rusting" away and in dire need of replacement. Rest assured that this is not the case by any stretch of propagandists' imaginations; it is alive and well and being modernized at this very moment. Infrastructure - like the Y-12 facility, Kansas City bomb plant and more - are being rebuilt. Warheads - like the W-76 used on the Trident II D-5 deployed on Trident subs - are being "refurbished". And don't forget the new weapons delivery systems on the drawing boards and those currently in research and development such as the OHIO Class Replacement. All this is being done at phenomenal taxpayer expense.

Ve must build brand new warheads Mr. President
Robert Koehler has written an excellent response to this bit of journalistic tripe (and the two. It was first published on December 5th in Common Dreams, and I'm reprinting it here. Koehler sums up the real "rust" in the nuclear enterprise when he says that, "What is desperately outmoded and nearing collapse isn't our nuclear infrastructure but our thinking about national security." Bottom line - There is NO security in nuclear weapons, and it is high time for us to face that truth before we face the unspeakable horror of their actual use.

By the way, two previous LA Times articles on nuclear weapons preceeded this most recent one, and are just as creative. You can tell by their titles - As U.S. nuclear arsenal ages, other nations have modernized and Aging nuclear arsenal grows ever more costly. David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, wrote an appropriate response to these earlier bits of fiction.

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Originally published on Friday, December 05, 2014 by Common Dreams

Beyond M.A.D.: Reviving Nuclear War

by Robert C. Koehler

“Some of the key technocrats and scientists of the Cold War say the nation has become overly confident about its nuclear deterrence. The nuclear enterprise, they say, ‘is rusting its way to disarmament.’”

Let’s meditate on this irony — that disarmament, finally, means no more than growing old and weak and pathetic.

What brilliant Cold War Revival propaganda, masquerading, in the Los Angeles Times last week, as objective reporting. Let’s meditate on the dark chuckles of the Cold War technocrats, as they attempt to summon an extra trillion dollars or so from the national coffers to restore America’s nuclear weapons program to the glory of the 1960s and push on vigorously with the design and development of the next generation of nukes: our national strength, the foundation of our security. All that’s missing from the article — “New nuclear weapons needed, many experts say, pointing to aged arsenal” — is Slim Pickens screaming “Ya-hoo!” as he rides the bomb into human oblivion at the end of Dr. Strangelove.

The ostensible focus of the article, as well as a second article published two weeks earlier, both by Ralph Vartabedian and W.J. Hennigan, is the decrepitude of the American nuclear arsenal, with its myriad sites and delivery systems hampered with out-of-date technology and indifferent maintenance, e.g.: “Today, the signs of decay are pervasive at the Pantex facility in Texas, where nuclear weapons are disassembled and repaired. Rat infestation has become so bad that employees are afraid to bring their lunches to work.”

Oh, the horror. Rats and nukes. Next up, Godzilla? Any serious challenge to nuclear weapons as the ultimate manifestation and symbol of national strength is absent from these articles; so is any rational account of the danger their hair-trigger presence poses to humanity — not to mention the insanity of their ongoing development. For instance:

“John S. Foster Jr., former director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and chief of Pentagon research during the Cold War, said the labs should design, develop and build prototype weapons that may be needed by the military in the future, including a very low-yield nuclear weapon that could be used with precision delivery systems . . .” (emphasis added).

During the Cold War, the primary justification for our gargantuan nuclear arsenal was contained in the acronym M.A.D.: mutually assured destruction. No more world wars, boys and girls! With the Cold War superpowers in possession of the means to destroy the human race, the only wars we could wage were relatively small, proxy wars in Third and Fourth World countries.

“Those who like peace should love nuclear weapons,” said Kenneth Waltz, Cold War academic extraordinaire and founder of the school of neorealism (as quoted recently by Eric Schlosser in The Guardian). “They are the only weapons ever invented that work decisively against their own use.”

But seven decades into the nuclear era, mission creep is making its presence felt along with the rust and rats. Link low-yield nuclear weapons with a word like “precision” and their use in a real war starts to feel almost justifiable — and so much more satisfying, apparently, than simply maintaining a nuclear arsenal for the purpose of never using it. Threat is power in the abstract. But a mushroom cloud over Central Asia or the Middle East is power made manifest, especially if one lacks the mental and spiritual capacity to grasp the consequences.

The nuclear era, Noam Chomsky wrote this past August, reflecting on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, “opened on August 6, 1945, the first day of the countdown to what may be the inglorious end of this strange species, which attained the intelligence to discover the effective means to destroy itself, but — so the evidence suggests — not the moral and intellectual capacity to control its worst instincts.”

The mission that our mainstream media has claimed for itself is to continually reflect back to us our inability to control our worst instincts. Thus, write Vartabedian and Hennigan, “The incoming Republican-controlled Congress could be more open to exploring new (nuclear) weapons.”

They proceed to quote Texas Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman-elect of the House Armed Services Committee. Voicing his concern about our aging arsenal and his support for renewed nuclear testing, he said, “You don’t know how a car performs unless you turn the key over. Why would we accept anything less from a weapon that provides the foundation for which all our national security is based on?”

And that brings me back to the rust. What seems desperately outmoded and nearing collapse isn’t our nuclear infrastructure but our thinking about national security. The United States of America, nation of Manifest Destiny, was built on conquest and exploitation. This is the basis of its inability to believe that security could be based on anything except near-absolute power and the reason why, in the corridors of political power, disarmament is synonymous not with sanity but neglect.

Unless the paradigm shifts and we redefine ourselves as a nation — and we redefine our relationship to other nations, including our alleged enemies — our future is nuclear weapons we can use.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

Source URL for Koehler's article: http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/12/05/beyond-mad-reviving-nuclear-war

Source URL for LA Times article: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-new-nukes-20141130-story.html#page=1

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Don't modernize nukes, eliminate them"

Editor's Note: The following opinion by Patrick Hiller, a Professor in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University, Portland, OR, in The Cap Times is the perfect response to this week's announcement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about plans to pour yet more money into the government's already out-of-control nuclear weapons spending spree. Hagel once again parroted the indefensible party line (this is beginning to sound like a broken record): “Our nuclear deterrent plays a critical role in securing U.S. national security.”

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Patrick T. Hiller: Don't modernize nukes, eliminate them

Did you notice? Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel just announced plans to massively “upgrade” the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Should we numbly accept new plans by our government to revitalize systems which without doubt are the greatest threat to human survival? Did we forget that our president told the world in Prague in 2009 that America is committed to seeking peace and security by creating a world without nuclear weapons, and for that announced intention received a Nobel Peace Prize?

The concerns outlined by Hagel could have provided an excellent opportunity to significantly implement the needed steps away from nuclear weapons. Cheating scandals on qualification tests or misconduct by top officers overseeing key nuclear programs certainly are worrisome. Even more worrisome is the fact that nuclear weapons still exist and are not considered an abnormality. The more troubling aspect of Hagel’s announcement is the broader nuclear modernization program. Making sure the so-called triad of strategic deliver systems grows, the Pentagon can plan for plenty of new missile submarines, new bombers, and new and refurbished land-based missiles. The Monterey Institute of International Studies sums up their well-documented report: “Over the next 30 years, the United States plans to spend approximately $1 trillion maintaining the current arsenal, buying replacement systems, and upgrading existing nuclear bombs and warheads.”

Even the most doubtful among us will see the contradiction between the commitment of seeking a world without nuclear weapons and “revamping the nuclear enterprise” as Hagel noted in his keynote speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum last week.

It appears that the absence of the Cold War and the soothing rhetoric about a world without nuclear weapons keeps us complacent — can anyone imagine one million people demonstrating against nuclear weapons as they did in New York City in 1982? That same year was the largest exercise in direct democracy (voting on an issue rather than representatives to decide "our" view) when voters in referendums in about half the states decided overwhelmingly to call for a freeze on research, development, production and deployment of nuclear weapons. I think we the people should make ourselves heard again. We should say:

First, nuclear deterrence is a myth and ought to be rejected by all people and governments. In the Santa Barbara Declaration by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, the major problems outlined with nuclear deterrence are: 1) its power to protect is a dangerous fabrication; 2) the assumption of rational leaders; 3) the threatening of mass murder is illegal and criminal; 4) it is immoral; 5) it diverts badly needed human and economic resources; 6) its ineffectiveness against non-state extremists; 7) its vulnerability to cyber-attacks, sabotage and error; and 8) setting an example to pursue nuclear weapons as deterrence.

Second, diminish the role of nuclear weapons in security policies. Once the “unthinkable” nuclear option no longer plays a central role in security planning, and once the nuclear weapons are de-coupled from conventional military forces, the elimination of nuclear arsenals can be facilitated.

Third, don’t wait for conditions to be ripe. There is statistical certainty that a nuclear weapon will be used at some point. The only way to make sure it does not happen is to eliminate all.

Fourth, encourage compliance with all international treaties and create new ones that will ban and eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide.

Fifth, move our government toward unilateral disarmament. Without a nuclear arsenal we are not making anyone less secure. What if the United States would take the lead in a global “disarmament race”? After decades of international military interventionism the United States might become a loved and respected country again.

Sixth, recognize the role of nuclear weapons in the chain of global violence ranging from hand guns on the streets to catastrophic environmental and humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use. Violence and the threat of violence on all levels perpetuates violence.

No Russian takeover of the Ukraine, Chinese territorial claims, or even Pakistani expansion of nuclear arsenal makes it any more logical to revitalize our nuclear arsenals. We can reject the myth of nuclear deterrence and we can help the government shift the spending priorities to health care, education, infrastructure, the environment, renewable energy, low-income housing and many more important areas. Currently our public conscience is lacking urgency with regard to nuclear weapons. We owe it to ourselves and our children to activate this urgency and make the elimination of nuclear weapons a step toward a world beyond war.

Patrick. T. Hiller, Ph.D., Hood River, Oregon, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a conflict transformation scholar, professor, on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association, and director of the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation. This column was provided by PeaceVoice.

Source URL:  http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/patrick-t-hiller-don-t-modernize-nukes-eliminate-them/article_8168fbd0-4221-54e9-b48b-6120bb94f7b9.html

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nuclear Deterrence is a Myth

Editor's Note: I'm reprinting the following article by Rizwan Asghar on nuclear deterrence in light of the ongoing use of this archaic construct by the United States government to justify its ongoing nuclear modernization efforts. Just about every article I read on the Navy's plans to replace its ballistic missile submarine fleet quotes someone citing the need to maintain our "strategic nuclear deterrent." We never see anyone - least of all anyone in Congress - question what is obviously one of the greatest myths of our time. Is there any reasonable justification for building new nuclear weapon systems?
  
Beyond the deterrence myth, Asghar also raises the key issue affecting proliferation when he says that:  
The continued existence of nuclear weapons is also the reason for their gradual spread. So long as even one country has nuclear capability, others will also want to acquire that status.
Disarmament is the only answer, and it is time for the nuclear nations - led by the United States and Russia - to come to the table in good faith and get down to the real business of abolishing nuclear weapons. The 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is not that far off. It is time to bring pressure to bear on all parties in preparation for this critically important conference.

Rizwan Asghar is a columnist for Pakistan's The News International, and writes frequently on nuclear weapons issues.

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The deterrence myth

Rizwan Asghar
Friday, November 07, 2014
The News International

The concept of nuclear deterrence gained increased prominence during the cold-war period when a generation of national security scholars and practitioners, including Bernard Brodie, Kenneth Waltz, etc, advocated nuclear development as an effective deterrent.

However, most academic research on the subject is directed towards explaining the theoretical modalities of nuclear deterrence rather than a systematic analysis of the empirical evidence on the efficacy of nuclear weapons as a deterrent. In the 21st century, the growing efforts to stigmatise and ultimately ban nuclear weapons reflect a shift in the nuclear weapons debate – a shift that aims at challenging the long-held myth of nuclear deterrence.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the strategy of nuclear deterrence is always successful and prevented many cold war crises from erupting into full-scale nuclear war. The advocates of this theory are of the view that the overwhelming fear of mutually assured destruction provides a measure of stability in times of crisis.

In their opinion, nuclear deterrence provides full security against attacks with conventional forces or nuclear weapons, thus reducing the likelihood of war between two nuclear-armed countries to a minimum. This argument gained such widespread acceptance that it today emerges as a formidable obstacle in the way of efforts to promote nuclear disarmament.

These advocates of nuclear optimism are so assertive in their view that their influence in both academia and policy-making circles can easily be seen. More importantly, though, powerful lobbies in almost all nuclear weapon states have developed stakes in vast nuclear establishments, spending budgets of billions of dollars. These vested interests always resist efforts to cut down nuclear weapons.

In 2010, President Obama had to earmark $185 billion to modernise nuclear warheads and delivery systems over the next 10 years in the bargain for smooth passage of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia.

The trump argument in favour of retaining nuclear weapons capability is that the use of nuclear weapons brought an early end to World War II. New research by well-known Japanese historian, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, has proved it totally wrong that Japan surrendered because of the dropping of atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

In fact, the Japanese decided to surrender when the Soviet Union renounced the 1941 Neutrality Pact and joined the Allied Powers in war. By 1944, 66 Japanese cities had been completely destroyed by conventional weapons but the Japanese government continued military resistance – the destruction of two more cities could not make much difference.

History is witness to the fact that attacks aimed at ordinary civilians are rarely given any consideration when it comes to taking vital decisions in times of war. After the end of World War II, Japan’s leaders attributed their failure to the sudden use of nuclear weapons only because it was politically convenient for them on the domestic front to blame an ‘outside’ factor.

Historical records show that deterrence could work only in a few cases. Even a single case of failure has the potential to lead to a nuclear war. More alarmingly, deterrence threats, due to their inherently uncertain nature, sometimes lead enemy nations to behave in ways that are quite inimical to achieving the goal of deterring aggression.

During the early years of the cold war, nuclear proponents would claim that the presence of nuclear weapons had enormous potential to ensure success in political negotiations while preventing all sorts of conventional or nuclear attacks. However, an impartial analysis of political events during the cold war calls the fundamental soundness of these claims into question. It is part of the historical record that the possession of nuclear capability by the US could not intimidate the Russians during talks after World War II.

The Yom Kippur War of 1973 proved the second part of the argument wrong that nuclear weapons could prevent any sort of attack. Israeli nuclear capability could not prevent a number of Muslim states from starting an all-out war for regaining occupied territory and for Palestinian independence. The efficacy of the nuclear umbrella was also questioned when the UK and France developed their own nuclear capability despite concrete assurances of security from the US.

The Cuban missile crisis is another case often cited to support the idea of nuclear deterrence. It is generally believed that the nuclear deterrent was the main factor that brought back the US and Soviet Union from the brink of a nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis. When the information regarding the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles in Cuba became known, though US President Kennedy knew that by blockading Cuba he would touch off a crisis that could lead to nuclear war, he went ahead, undeterred.

The fact is that the Soviet Union’s decision to withdraw nuclear missiles may be regarded as supporting the nuclear deterrence theory but Kennedy’s reaction does not support the theory. In 2008, Michael Dobbs, a British politician, wrote an insightful book titled One Minute to Midnight, revealing that the Cuban missile crisis came very close to a nuclear war at least three separate times during those decisive days and nuclear war was averted not by the efficient functioning of nuclear deterrence, but just ‘by chance’.

In a nutshell, the idea of nuclear deterrence is too fragile to be relied upon and the fear of massive nuclear retaliation is not always able to prevent countries from taking the course of action they want. The emerging threat of nuclear terrorism is also a question mark on the efficacy of nuclear deterrence because terrorist groups hardly take well thought out rational decisions, as states are believed to take. The continued existence of nuclear weapons is also the reason for their gradual spread. So long as even one country has nuclear capability, others will also want to acquire that status.

Email: rizwanasghar5@unm.ed

Original source URL: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-282749-The-deterrence-myth

Friday, September 5, 2014

Nuclear Weapons Do Not Make Us Safer!!!

What crazy times these are? But then again, hasn't the entire nuclear age been pretty crazy? At a recent youth forum, Vladimir Putin made the most significant nuclear threat in decades. “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words.”

Earlier today a young engineer in his early 20s, who I have known for many years, engaged me in a conversation about radioactive decay and how to survive a nuclear war. It seems like the day's of duck and cover that many of us grew up with during the Cold War may be returning. One can't help but think of the insanity in all of this. The Cold War ended well over a couple decades ago, and yet we seem to be watching a new Cold War unfolding. 

He's no puppy dog!
If one watches too much of certain news channels, one could easily be led to believe that it's those evil Russians once again, with Vladimir Putin taking the place of Nikita ("We will bury you!") Khrushchev. So Putin may not be some choir boy, but hey - Obama (and the U.S.) isn't exactly blameless. We continue to pursue a nuclear weapons renaissance, and since the fall of the Berlin Wall have been pushing NATO (bad drug that it is) as if we were an out-of-control drug cartel.

It is time for Obama and Putin to sit down like two adults (who just happen to preside over what are evidently still the two superpowers) and come to grips with the conflicts they have created. And, it is certainly time for them to sit down and negotiate a serious reduction in the two nation's nuclear arsenals. Russia and the U.S. can and must lead the way to a nuclear weapons-free world.

Deterrence is a relic, and should we continue pretending that it is a valid doctrine into the rest of this century, humanity will be in grave peril. The risk of nuclear war (and its consequences) is simply unacceptable. David Krieger states it directly and succinctly in the following letter to the editor recently published in The Washington Post.

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Letter: Nuclear Weapons Do Not Make Us Safer

by David Krieger

This letter to the editor of the Washington Post was published on August 22, 2014.

Are NATO-based nuclear weapons really an advantage in a dangerous world, as Brent Scowcroft, Stephen J. Hadley and Franklin Miller suggested in their Aug. 18 op-ed, “A dangerous proposition”? They are not. They make the world a far more dangerous place.
David Krieger


Nuclear deterrence is not a guarantee of security. Rather, it is a hypothesis about human behavior, a hypothesis that has come close to failing on many occasions. Additionally, nuclear weapons are not “political weapons,” as the writers asserted. They are weapons of mass extermination.

The United States and the other nuclear-armed countries are obligated under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and/or customary international law to pursue negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race and complete nuclear disarmament. This is the substance of the Nuclear Zero lawsuits brought by the Marshall Islands against the nine nuclear-armed countries at the International Court of Justice and in U.S. federal court. The United States continues to evade its obligations.

Rather than continuing to posture with its nuclear weapons in Europe, the United States should be leading the way in convening negotiations to eliminate all nuclear weapons for its own security and that of all the world’s inhabitants.

David Krieger, Santa Barbara, Calif.

The writer is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bearing The Message of Abolition and Peace on Hiroshima Remembrance Day

Dear Friends,

Sixty-nine years ago today at appoximately 8:15am (Hiroshima time) the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima.

The blast and firestorm caused by detonation of the bomb over the city left upwards of 80,000 people dead and 70,000 injured. Of the injured, many died in the subsequent days, weeks, months and years due to radiation-related effects.  The multigenerational effects of the radiation continue to cause suffering.

 
The survivors of the atomic bombings came to be known as Hibakusha (literally translated as "explosion-affected people").

Today we remember the victims of the atomic bombings, and to properly honor their memory we must recommit ourselves to ridding the world of these horrific weapons of extraordinary devastation.

Remembrance requires experience and the knowledge that flows from it. In the case of the atomic bombings, we can learn from the experience of those who were there, those who survived, suffering, and in some cases continue to suffer today.
 
This blog post holds the testimony of a survivor, a Hibakusha of HIroshima.  Ms. Tokie MIZUNO put the words of the story of her personal experience in the bombing of Hiroshima to paper for the first time in 2010. Her act preserves (and shares) her story and makes a plea for us all to find our common humanity and work for peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.


Tokie MIZUNO giving her testimony in May 2010
It has taken great courage for these Hibakusha to pass on their difficult and painful stories. They make us see (and feel) the horrors of nuclear war and hopefully mobilize our hearts to action. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate expression of violence, capable of extinguishing life as we know it. Nuclear weapons are incompatible with life!

Ms. MIZUNO represents all Hibakusha in saying, “No more Hiroshimas, No more Nagasakis!” All who read her testimony become witnesses to it, and as witnesses it is my deepest hope that we will all share her story far and wide, spreading her message, and the message of the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (GENSUIKYO), a message of peace.

With great thanks to Tokie MIZUNO, Hibakusha of Hiroshima.

May we all rise up and say (and work for "No more Hiroshimas, No more Nagasakis!"

Peace,

Leonard

Testimony of Tokie MIZUNO,
 Hibakusha of Hiroshima


My name is Tokie MIZUNO and I am a survivor of Hiroshima. 65 years ago, when I was 5 years old, the atomic bomb was dropped on my city, Hiroshima. I was near my grandmother’s house, 1.2 kilo-meters from ground zero.

The City of Hiroshima was completely destroyed and was turned into rubble by the enormous destructive power of the atomic bomb. As other survivors, I was barely alive and the damage on my body and mind was unbearable.

I might have been lucky to survive but life hasn’t been easy on me financially, physically and mentally. This agony should not be repeated on anybody else on earth. That’s why I have become involved in anti-nuclear actions with other Hibakusha as well as many other Japanese people.

We have been collecting signatures for a nuclear-weapon-free world, and engaging in activities to defend the Japanese Constitution, especially the Preamble and Article 9, which pledges never to wage war again.

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution clearly states “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat of use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

And it adds “In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” Article 9 is our treasure.

This treasure for Japan was achieved with the sacrifice of precious lives of 20 to 30 million people in Asia and Pacific. This is one of the greatest achievements for the world, too, and we will hold on to it forever.

Let me talk about that day.......

On the morning of August 6th, 1945, just before Hiroshima was hit by the atomic bombing, one of the women in my neighbourhood came to my house and said “We have some sweets. Why don’t you come and have some?”

So my little 3-year-old brother and I happily followed her. In those days it was very difficult to have sweets. My neighbour’s son, a soldier, was back from the battlefront to treat his wounds. He brought some sweets with him for his family and the neighbour invited us in.

We were about to eat our sweets when the bomb exploded.

With a blinding flash, the whole house was flattened.

I found myself trapped under the rubble. I tried to look out from my little prison and saw my younger brother, rescued by a soldier, standing there with blood on his face and head.

I myself was pulled out of the rubble. My right arm was heavily injured and I had several cuts on my face. My neighbour tore her underwear into pieces and covered my arm to stop it bleeding. Later I was told that it was her treatment that saved my right arm.

I don’t remember how many hours had passed, but I saw my mother crawling to me over piles of rubble. She was desperately looking for me and my younger brother. She looked awful with only tattered patches of her clothing on her body and her hair standing on end.

My 12-month-old baby brother was still buried under the rubble. My mother and grandmother were desperate and were removing the debris saying they should get him back home, even if he was dead.

They also called out for help to people walking by but nobody stopped. They went on their way absentmindedly - they were like ghosts.

We saw flames in the distance coming towards us. Terrified, my younger brother and I were both crying. I don’t remember the pain of my injury, but many collapsed houses around us horrified me, although my father thought I was just stunned.

Fortunately, my baby brother was alive, and we managed to escape to a raft on the river. There were countless dead bodies floating and fire balls were falling all around. Red-hot galvanized plates darted towards us and made a huge noise when they dropped into the river. It was not a safe place to be.

At that time I was so young that I don’t remember exactly what happened. But my deceased parents and grandmother told me a lot about that day.

There was a woman on the raft who gave us food and water. She also gave my mother part of a Kimono to use as bandages and as a strap to carry me on her back.

In the evening, cooling our bodies with river water, we finally found a place to evacuate to. It was a shrine near a railway station called Koi.

Because my grandmother and I were seriously injured, we two were left at the shrine while my mother and brothers escaped to my aunt’s house in Itsukaichi City. My uncle who rushed to Hiroshima to search for us carried them on his handcart.

Grandmother thought we could have some treatment at the shrine but nothing was available. We were given only one rotten rice ball. We finally evacuated to my aunt’s house.

They were farmers and gave us good food. I had tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled shallots etc. to my heart’s content. It may be this diet that has kept me healthy.

My father had to spend several nights at shelters in Hiroshima. He died abruptly from TB in August 1956, which we believe was due to residual radiation. Later when I was working to collect survivors’ stories, I learned that there were many Hibakusha who suffered from TB during those difficult times.

My mother died in Oct. 1967. I believe that both of my parents were killed by the atomic bomb. At that time I thought that it was our fate and that because Japan was at war we couldn’t complain about it.

I also thought we were just unfortunate because we were in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped. Later I learned history, which completely changed my mind. I knew why the US had done it.

The US government has kept saying that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war and saved millions of people’s lives. That’s what they teach at schools.

However, in 1944 there was scarcely any food left for Japanese people. People were dying from hunger. Japan’s ground and air forces and navy were almost completely destroyed. It was obvious that Japan was finished.

Nonetheless, 210,000 people were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Why?

In 1945 the war ended, but another war, the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union had already started. The US wanted to have an advantage over the Soviet Union militarily and politically by showing the power of nuclear weapons. They also wanted to test their newly developed technology, atomic bombs.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen as testing grounds with real live people.

Let me share with you what the atomic bombing had done to us. The atomic bomb caused massive destruction and killed tens of thousands instantly and indiscriminately. It also emitted massive amounts of radiation which has afflicted us for decades.

Hibakusha describe the moment of the bombing as “The Sun dropped on us and burnt us”. When Bomb exploded, a huge fireball, 280 meters in diameter, was generated in the air.

Heat rays emitted from it raised the ground temperature, from 3000 to 4000 degrees Celsius (5500 to 7300 degrees Fahrenheit) near the hypocenter.

This was a boy, the charred remains. 700 meters from the hypocenter (Aug. 10. Nagasaki).


This is the shadow of a man (Shadow burnt into the granite steps.

Within 1.2 kilo-meters of ground zero, those who were directly affected by the heat rays suffered terrible burns and their internal tissues and organs severely damaged. Most of them died instantly or within a few days.

The explosion also created a powerful blast and destroyed most of the wooden houses in 2-kilometer radius of ground zero. People were blown through the air and many crushed to death under collapsed buildings.

Radiation left the human body with serious damage. It penetrated deeply into our bodies, damaged cells and diminished the blood generation function of bone marrow.

It also damaged inner organs. Even those who looked uninjured later became ill and died.

Residual radiation left on the ground affected many long after the explosion. Those who entered the city to search for their families/friends or for relief operations eventually developed similar symptoms and died.

Nuclear weapons are unspeakable weapons. They don’t allow us to live nor die as humans. They are weapons of absolute evil which can never co-exist with human beings.

3.2 million Japanese people lost their lives in the Asia-Pacific War. 20 to 30 million people were victimized by the Japanese military in Asia.

Learning from it, we have acquired the war-renouncing Japanese Constitution. However, military spending in the world is growing. Trillions of dollars are being spent for military purposes. If used for peaceful purposes, this money could solve many problems for human-kind.

20th century war is gone. Our responsibility is to hand over a peaceful and cultivated 21st century to the next generation. I strongly believe that we can hand over a nuclear-weapon-free world to future generations if we work together in solidarity with the people of the U.S. and with the people of the world.

Thank you.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Plowshares Speak from Prison: Transform Now!!!

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

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

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

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

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

July 28, 2014

Our Dear Sisters and Brothers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

Greg, Michael and Megan

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

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Declaring Our Independence From Nuclear Weapons

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Declaration of Independence from Nuclear Weapons at Y-12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 4, 2010

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Free Mordechai Vanunu, Israeli Nuclear Weapons Whistleblower

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

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

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

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

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


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Amnesty International USA, APRIL 16, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Facing an Even More Inconvenient Truth on Earth Day

Dear Friends (of the Earth),

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toward a sustainable world for all,

Leonard





Sunday, April 13, 2014

Los Alamos Study Group Announces Summer Intensive Action and Training Program

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

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

Dear friends and colleagues –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background on the Study Group is available on our website.

Sincerely,

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

Monday, March 17, 2014

No "BLUNDERING" allowed with NUCLEAR WEAPONS!!!

Friends,

I don't know about you, but I get rather nervous when I hear - and we've heard plenty over the years - about incidents and accidents dealing with nuclear weapons or the systems that deliver them. Submarines running aground, ladders puncturing nose cones, cheating on tests, drunkeness... and WHAT?!?!?! Oh yes, accidental firing of torpedoes around nuclear submarines.

That's correct; over in the UK someone "accidentally" fired an unarmed (phew!!!) torpedo from a ship at a nuclear dockyard.  The torpedo was stopped by a conveniently placed storage container.  I'll let you imagine the possibilities here. Thankfully, no one was injured, and it made for quite a show for those fortunate to witness the spectacle.

It wasn't a nuclear weapon, although the accident occurred in a "high security" area where nuclear submarines are docked for maintenance.

But back to the central question here - There is always a risk, no matter how small it may be, of error with every human activity. And with nuclear weapons we need to ask the question, "Based on the likely severity of the consequences of any accident involving a nuclear weapon (or weapons), do we wish to take even the most infinitesimal risk that it presents?"

This and other questions relating to the risks of continuing to rely on the false security of nuclear weapons are certainly not being brought into any conversations governments are having about building new nuclear weapons (and delivery systems) or improving existing weapons systems.  These are questions that we ignore at our (humanity's) peril.

Looking back on the instances in which humanity stood on the brink of nuclear holocaust due to incidents involving system-related errors, it was human intervention that saved the day (and humanity). Ironically, it is also human interaction that could bring about humanity's end.

So, as you read the somewhat the humorous title, really consider the underlying issues it conveys.

There is no room for "blundering" around nuclear weapons, and humans have proven, through the ages, to be great blunderers!!!

Peace,

Leonard

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Oops! Royal Navy warship accidentally fires TORPEDO at NUCLEAR dockyard

Originally published Fri, March 14, 2014, in the Daily Express

A BLUNDERING Royal Navy warship has accidentally fired a TORPEDO at a nuclear dockyard.

Luckily the torpedo was an unarmed version used for testing Luckily, the torpedo was an unarmed version used for testing [SWNS]

HMS Argyll was moored at Devonport Naval base in Plymouth when the 9ft missile suddenly shot out of its starboard side during a training drill.

Workers watched in disbelief as the tube-shaped projectile flew 200 yards through the air before blasting a hole in a security fence and slamming into a storage container.

The 650-acre site is the sole repair and refuelling facility for Britain's nuclear submarines.

Luckily, the torpedo was an unarmed version used for testing, so it merely thudded into the metal container and did not explode.

Nobody was hurt but red-faced naval chiefs have now ordered a major investigation into the terrifying incident, which took place inside the base's high security area.


A source said: "The torpedo came shooting out of the side of Argyll and flew through the air before going straight through a security fence.

"It's carried on going before hitting a storage container. If anyone was inside it they would have a had a nasty shock - the whole side of the container was stoved in.

"Had the thing been armed it would have let out a 200-metre blast. You could be talking about a major loss of life.

"The Navy guys and the civilian dock workers are understandably appalled by what has happened.

"Someone has obviously pushed the button, presumably by accident - the big question is who."

The 650-acre site is the sole repair and refuelling facility for Britain's nuclear submarines [SWNS]

Had the thing been armed it would have let out a 200-metre blast. You could be talking about a major loss of life.

HMS Argyll is currently the oldest serving Duke Type 23 frigate in the Royal Navy having been launched in 1989.

However, the 4,900 tonne vessel underwent a £20million refit in 2009 to ensure her weaponry was at the cutting edge of naval warfare.

Its armaments include sea wolf anti-aircraft missiles, harpoon launchers, a 4.5 inch mk8 cannon and two twin 12.75 inch sting ray torpedo tubes.

The self-propelled torpedoes are armed with 45kg warheads to take out enemy submarines that they lock onto with acoustic homing sensors.

Argyll's sting ray tubes are normally below the surface of the water but it's understood they were exposed by the tide when the accident took place on Wednesday afternoon.

A spokesman for the Royal Navy said: "We can confirm an incident occurred onboard HMS Argyll on Wednesday 12th. The ship was alongside at Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth.

"During a training exercise, an inert Test Variant Torpedo unexpectedly jettisoned onto the wharf. There was no explosion and no casualties.

"An investigation is now under way to determine the cause of the incident. The torpedo is not an explosive hazard.

"The specific details of the incident are subject to further investigation and it would be inappropriate to comment further.

"The result of the investigation will determine what actions will be necessary to avoid any repeat of this incident in the future.

"However, torpedo system test firing alongside in the naval base has been suspended subject to completion of the investigation."

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Original Source URL:  http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/464945/Oops-Royal-Navy-warship-accidentally-fires-TORPEDO-at-NUCLEAR-dockyard-in-Plymouth

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bringing Home Bikini: The Radioactive Legacy of Nuclear Weapons

At 6:45 AM (local time) on March 1, 1954 at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands the United States detonated its first dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb device in the test code named Castle Bravo. It was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the U.S. with an explosive yield of 15 megatons (scientists expected a yield of 4 to 6 megatons), roughly 1,200 times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Castle Bravo was supposed to be a secret test, but because its designers underestimated its yield, things went dreadfully wrong in a flash. Because of the fission products, huge yield and shifting winds, radioactive fallout from the cloud spread quickly and far, contaminating over seven thousand square miles of surrounding ocean and nearby inhabited islands including Rongerik and Rongelap. The flash could be clearly seen 250 miles away (some secret!).

Castle Bravo test

The nearby islands' inhabitants as well as U.S. soldiers stationed there for the test were exposed to the radioactive fallout, and subsequently evacuated. All were exposed to significant levels of radiation; although short term effects were mild, long term effects were significant for many.

Crewmembers of the Japanese tuna fishing boat, the Daigo Fukuryū Maru, or Lucky Dragon 5 were fishing outside of the declared exclusion zone when Castle Bravo detonated. The ship was covered in fine ash soon after the explosion. By the time the ship returned to Japan all 23 crew members were suffering from the effects of acute radiation syndrome - including nausea, headache, burns, pains in the eyes, and bleeding from the gums - and were admitted to hospitals.

One of the crew, chief radio operator Aikichi Kuboyama, died on September 23 from the effects of radiation exposure. His last words were:

"I pray that I am the last victim of an atomic or hydrogen bomb."

The Daigo Fukuryū Maru was one of several hundred fishing boats and their crews exposed to the fallout from Castle Bravo. The Daigo Fukuryū Maru incident helped bring about a strong anti-nuclear movement in Japan.

The U.S. continued its atmospheric nuclear testing, conducting 67 tests at Bikini and Enewetak atolls between 1946 and 1958 leaving a legacy of contamination and death. "840 Marshall islanders are believed to have died of health problems caused by the tests. As of the end of 2003, more than 1,000 islanders were suffering from symptoms believed related to radiation exposure." Today (54 years later) the Marshall Islands are still contaminated, and radioactive cesium is found in water and fruits.

Although the large scale environmental devastation and human suffering was limited to the Marshall Islands, this dark chapter of the Cold War has now come home to roost.  The Center for Investigative Reporting just released a comprehensive investigative report on the Navy's legacy of mishandling radioactive materials at it's Naval Station Treasure Island near San Francisco, California. Much of that contamination is due to the government's nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands.

For decades the Navy used the site to scrap ships laden with radiation from nuclear weapons testing and to train sailors in radioactive decontamination. As a result of routine operations, (documented) accidents and botched cleanup operations Treasure Island, which is supposed to become something of a mini extension of San Francisco, is a radioactive waste cleanup site (can you say "Superfund"???).

Quite ironically, just days before the anniversary of the Bravo test, we learn that through a combination of "ignorance, arrogance and secrecy" (to quote Jonathan Weisgall who wrote Operation Crossroads: The Atomic Tests at Bikini Atoll) our government brought the radioactive legacy of nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific home.  The following quote (from the CIR article) sums it up:

Baker test at Bikini Atoll. Note the naval ships positioned for the test. Some of these ships were brought to Treasure Island for decontamination and scrapping operations.
“What I saw at the birth of the Cold War and the testing program was this ignorance, arrogance, and secrecy, which combined into a hairy-chested attitude of, ‘If you can’t feel it, it doesn’t hurt you,’” Weisgall said. “As I’ve looked at the history ever since, that hairy-chested attitude continues to permeate the approach of government agencies that have dealt with the legacy of atomic weapons.”
Of course, people in the San Francisco Bay Area will demand answers as well as assurances that Treasure Island will be cleaned up and will not pose health risks to those who will ultimately live, work and play there. Beyond that, this could become an opportunity for people to look beyond Treasure Island and better understand how the Cold War legacy of "ignorance, arrogance and secrecy" continues to drive the National Security State.  And that is what continues to hold the world under the threat of nuclear war.

The government can no longer feign ignorance when it comes to the problems it has created throughout the Cold War (and beyond), and it must surely get over the arrogance and secrecy that continue to surround our nation's continuing pursuit of nuclear weapons supremacy.

Maybe now the people behind the Treasure Island development plans will add a museum to educate others about the history of Treasure Island in its relationship with the Cold War and nuclear weapons. Only through public awareness and education will people come to question what legacy they want to leave behind for future generations and to say NO to nuclear weapons. And only then will we begin to chip away at the horrific menace that continues to threaten humanity.  

Only then will we begin to build a world where there will be no more "victims". 

Read the CIR report below:

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Treasure Island cleanup exposes Navy’s mishandling of its nuclear past 

Matt Smith, Katharine Mieszkowski, The Center for Investigative Reporting

SAN FRANCISCO – Halfway across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, an abrupt exit leads to Treasure Island, a seven-sided plain with spectacular views that inspire grandiose dreams. The Army Corps of Engineers created the island for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, encircling 400 acres of bay shoals with rock walls, draining them, filling the void with sand and soil, and naming it after the famous adventure novel.

Today, the city of San Francisco has set its sights on erecting a second downtown there.

But Treasure Island’s fate in the intervening decades—and a long-secret legacy of radioactive waste left behind—has complicated those plans.

Click here to read the entire article at The Center for Investigative Reporting

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Memo to Transform Now Plowshares Judge on Nonviolent Direct Action

Editor's Note: The following "memo" to Judge Thapar, the Federal judge who sentenced the three members of Transform Now Plowshares earlier this week, was written by Ralph Hutchison. Ralph is the coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. He is intimately familiar with not only the Plowshares action undertaken by Greg, Megan and Michael, but also the reasons for the kind of extreme nonviolent direct action undertaken by the Transform Now Plowshares. Should Judge Thapar read Ralph's memo (with an open mind and heart) he just might come to a real understanding of why so many people engage in varying levels of nonviolent resistance to the critical issues of our time. We certainly have tried every other ("legal") means available to us!!!

More on Transform Now Plowshares at their website.

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Memo to Judge: Really??

by RALPH HUTCHISON, Feburary 19, 2014

We’ve heard it from the bench in Oak Ridge city courtrooms and from state judges in Clinton, Tennessee. And on February 18 we heard it from a federal judge—there are two variations. The first: There are plenty of ways for you to protest and deliver your message without breaking the law. The second: If you people would just put this time and energy into working for the change you want in the political system, you might get the change you seek.

Both sentiments are either disingenuous or naïve.

I. There are plenty of ways for you to protest and deliver your message without breaking the law.

As one who has spent hundreds of hours in nonviolent protests outside the gates of the Y12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where workers are, right now, making thermonuclear cores for W76 warheads, the judges who lecture us—and who have never so far as I know troubled themselves to protest in any way at all from the security of the bench—have no clue. Sure, you can go to Y12 and protest all day long to the wind. It’s the preferred option of everyone who wants to maintain the status quo, second only to “Why don’t you shut up and leave us alone to do our dirty business.”

There is no sign at all that it is effective. We don’t do it because we think President Obama will drive by one Sunday evening and notice us and say, “Wait a minute! Didn’t I say something in a speech in 2009 about how we are committed to a world without nuclear weapons? Then why am I spending nineteen billion dollars on a new bomb plant? And we promised the world in 1968 that we would disarm? Gosh, these protesters are right!”

Not gonna happen, judge, and I suspect you know that. But we do those legal protests anyway.

We do it because it is important not to be silent whether anyone is listening or not. We do it because a commitment to nonviolent social change includes being present to say “No” when the government is preparing for crimes against humanity and crimes against creation. There is an old story activists tell of an old man who day after day goes out to the sidewalk with a protest sign to hold a lonely vigil. One day a young man stops. “Man, I’ve seen you out here for months. What in the world are you doing? You’re never going to change the government this way.” The old man smiles. “I’m not out here to change them. I’m out here to keep them from changing me.”

I go out every Sunday to stand for peace because I have two daughters to answer to and “I was too busy to do anything,” is not an acceptable excuse.

There have been times, at demonstrations I have attended, where hundreds of people came out to protest and the media ignored it. No TV cameras , no newspapers. The next day, it was as if nothing happened. But I have also been at demonstrations where people got arrested for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. Guess what—front page of the paper. Lead story at 11:00. When the first goal is to raise awareness, to provide people with information the government would like to keep secret, media coverage is essential. And with only a few exceptions, most media require the drama of arrests before they will cover a story that includes criticisms of the regions largest economic powerhouse.

So to judges and prosecutors who say, “You can protest all you want as long as you keep it legal,” at least be honest enough with yourself and us to say, “even though—or especially though—it means no one will know you are there.”

Of course, that is one of the fundamental tenets of nonviolent direct action, a truth that was lost on the last judge who lectured us, in federal court. The judge said he was “obviously” a fan of Gandhi—but he’s like a fan that cheers for Derek Jeter but has no clue how hard it is to field a hard, low one-hop line drive just outside the baseline behind third base, turn, and deliver the ball on target to first base. The fan admires the pure beauty of it, knows it was hard as hell, knows he could never do it, but that’s as deep as the understanding goes.

Gandhi knew, and Martin Luther King, Jr. after him, that the point of nonviolent direct action is to confront injustice in a way that can not be ignored. When the powers and institutions that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo react by punishing good people for their audacity—breaking a little law to expose a greater crime, or ignoring an unjust injunction—it is a question posed to the rest of society who, seeing good people being punished, is awakened to ask, “Wait—dogs and firehoses? On children?” or “What is going on here that these good people are going to prison?”

II. Channel this energy into working to change policy—make democracy work.

The second suggestion, offered by Judge Amul Thapar from the bench in federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee, was even more tortured. He praised the defendants before him for their intellect and clarity of thought. He noted that they had legions of supporters because he had gotten hundreds of letters and thousands of signatures on a petition. “Channel this energy toward changing policy in Washington, DC,” he said, implying they could not help but be effective.

Only two problems with that, Judge. One: without the Transform Now Plowshares action, there wouldn’t be hundreds of letters and thousands of signatures. The action was the stimulus which created the response. That’s how nonviolence works—it’s a dynamic and unpredictable thing. “Extraordinary,” Gandhi said, “and then it becomes a miracle.”

Second problem: Really? Do you really think smart, articulate people have not written hundreds of letters to Congress, haven’t signed petitions, haven’t gone to the nation’s capital to press the case? I’ve met with three different Secretaries of Energy and dozens of other officials; I’ve done briefings on Capitol Hill with former Arms Control Ambassadors and the President of the Union of Concerned Scientists. I’ve served on state and federal advisory committees. I’ve spoken at scores of public hearings, written op-eds in the local newspaper, penned letters to the editor, been quoted in a dozen major national newspaper and magazines, been interviewed hundreds of times, done radio and TV for half a dozen international media outlets. And I’m here to tell you, judge, it doesn’t work that way.

Maybe you can ring up Mitch McConnell and get put through to the Senator, but I have to shame our local Senator into even sending a staff person to meet me outside—they refuse to allow more than three people to visit in their office at one time. I’ve gone to DC to meet with a Representative for an appointment and instead had a five minute meeting in the hallway with his aide who, for most of the time, found the woman down the hall behind me far more worthy of his attention. I’ve talked to dozens and dozens of Congressional staffers, most of whom have this issue in their portfolio, and the level of ignorance is stunning. I don’t blame them—they have a million things to keep track of. But when I take a Department of Energy document to them, open it and show them where it says the new bomb plant will cost 2,400 jobs, and they insist on denying it—well, it doesn’t encourage me to put a lot of faith in your way.

I tell you what might work, though, Judge. If you called up the prosecutor and said, “Let’s look into this business about the Nonproliferation Treaty and the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. It might be nothing, but we did take an oath to uphold the Constitution, and these people are intelligent. And Ramsey Clark says there’s something to it.”

Or, another thing I am pretty sure would work, because I’ve studied a little on how things get done in Washington: How about if we just give some major campaign donations to our Senators—it would only take half a million dollars, I bet, to outbid Babcock & Wilcox, Lockheed Martin and Bechtel. Then my eight page letter to Lamar Alexander would probably warrant more than a form letter with a paragraph inserted about nuclear energy (though I wrote about nuclear weapons) and a machine signature. I’d go in the “first name file.” They have those, you know. One summer, I helped a friend who was interning file the first name file letters for a Congressman from South Carolina. That’s how democracy works, Judge, in case you don’t know. The chance of Michael Walli getting an appointment with a Senator or Representative are zero or less (those DC people don’t actually have a real one of either, you know).

What I’m equally sure won’t work is 16,000 signatures on a petition. The White House requires 100,000 signatures before it will take a petition seriously enough to read it. Nuclear weapons are not a hot enough issue to inspire that many signatures—partly because they are so horrific people don’t want to think about them and partly because they sound so technical people don’t think they can do anything about them and partly because some people are afraid to say they might not be safe without them, but mostly because the fix is in—the money fix, the fear fix, and the politics fix. There is no conversation (without something like a Transform Now Plowshares action to create one) about nuclear weapons these days. About our nuclear weapons, I mean. Lots of talk about Iran’s.

Don’t take my word for it. Set aside this case you drew and ask yourself: how many times in the last year, two years, decade, have you given any serious thought or any thought at all to US nuclear weapons production? How many times have you wondered how many warheads and bombs we have? How many times has the nuclear nonproliferation treaty crossed your mind? Even when you heard a news story about North Korea or Iran’s nuclear ambitions, how many times have you questioned our own nuclear practices? See what I mean?

Martin Luther King, Jr. said nonviolent direct action seeks to create a kind of crisis in a community, to make a space for a creative tension that challenges the status quo or even makes it untenable, and opens a space for a new reality. That’s the point, Your Honors. The discomfort you feel, looking at these people in front of you who are among the best and brightest in your community, having to sentence them or fine them as though they are bad people or have done something wrong—that’s the tension. That’s one of the reasons we are there, in front of you.

Nonviolent direct action has as its fundamental goal shaking things up. It is an honorable tradition. In this country it goes back at least to the Boston Tea Party (though if you consider property sacred you might argue about the nonviolent part of that party). It’s not your normal kind of crime, not committed by your typical criminal. The law can’t take that into account very well, though. Because the law loves order and the beautiful clarity that it brings. The law doesn’t so much like dynamic things like nonviolence when it is loosed in the world or the courtroom.

But when things are really messed up, really—like a nation that preaches nonproliferation to others but is busy building bombs and bomb plants—and no one in power wants to do anything about it, and most people in power actually have disincentives to do anything about it—what is a responsible citizen to do? If the mess up is obvious enough, and distant enough, and done by someone else—trains full of Jews heading for Dachau, for instance—we know what a responsible citizen is to do, and judges and prosecutors, too. We wrote the Nuremberg Code, we the US. But God help the citizen in the United States who sees a terrible wrong being done by the government and tries to raise the alarm.

Some years ago, in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the country of Belarus voluntarily relinquished the nuclear weapons that ended up on its sovereign soil, the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, praised them and welcomed them into the community of nations. I remember thinking, “Really? That’s the entry card into the community of nations—renouncing nuclear weapons? So what is Clinton doing there? Is he the doorkeeper? Because if that’s the entry card, we sure aren’t in the community of nations.”

I could go on, but I think my point is clear. Nonviolent direct action is required of us because the government responds to nothing less. It is required of us because our consciences and our unborn grandchildren—and yours—insist we do all we can on behalf of the planet and the future. It is required of some because they feel a divine imperative; the God they follow requires them to beat swords to plowshares and blesses peacemakers. It doesn’t seek an end in itself—it seeks to open a conversation, to encourage jurists, prosecutors, defense attorneys, the public, to search themselves to see what they can do and what they should do.

Of course there is a price to be paid. That’s why Ramsey Clark said the main thing it took was courage—more than most of us have. But to those rare few who listen to voices; who don’t throw caution to the winds but carefully, thoughtfully, gently lay it down and then pick up a hammer; to those who find themselves surprised to be doing courageous things and go on and do them, we owe a debt of great gratitude. We may even owe them the future.

Originally published at http://orepa.org/memo-to-judge-really/