Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Year, Old Conflicts

Nuclear crises in 2011 and their implications for US-China relations
As the New Year is upon us, it might be worth looking at what 2011 will bring in terms of potential international crises, especially those with a nuclear dimension to them. Two conflicts in particular seem as if they might escalate into military action: first, the sharply rising tensions between North and South Korea, and, second, the standoff between Iran and the US and its allies on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. A third conflict worth mentioning is the ongoing dispute between India and Pakistan which, ever since both countries achieved nuclear weapons capability, has taken an especially ominous turn.
No real surprises there. These three are among the usual suspects when it comes to threats to international peace and security. Nevertheless, these cases deserve to be mentioned as they involve nuclear security concerns and, interestingly, also shed some light on the increasingly strained relationship between the United States and China.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Can We Still Blow Up the World?

I was recently asked the following questions: How many times could we blow up the world with the number of nuclear missiles New START will take off the table? And with the number still on the table afterwards, how many times can we blow up the planet?  Here is my response:

I’ve actually never thought there was a good answer to the questions you pose.  First of all, you can’t really “blow up the world.”  What you can do, though, is destroy civilization and potentially annihilate the human species and most complex life.  We could do the worst we can to the planet and it will survive us, although not in a way we would necessarily recognize over the next few hundred thousand years.  And it is unlikely that members of our species would be here to observe the planet at all after an all-out nuclear war.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Act Now: Senate to Consider New START Today

Today the Senate is finally scheduled to begin discussion on the New START treaty. After months of obstruction and delay, the Senate has one last chance to ratify the treaty before the end of the year. The original START treaty expired over a year ago, during which time there have been no inspections or verification measures in place between the US and Russia.

Click here to contact your Senators TODAY and urge them to vote YES on ratification of New START. If the treaty is not ratified now, it will be much more difficult to get the required 67 votes when the 112th Congress begins in 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Missile Defense Test Canceled Due to Clouds

There was a test of a Ground-Based Interceptor, part of the US missile defense system, scheduled for this morning up the road at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Near the end of the four hour launch window, Vandenberg announced that the test would be delayed until tomorrow because of bad weather. The test can't happen because of fog? Memo to "rogue" states: if you want to launch missiles at the US, do it when it's cloudy on the California Coast.

This test, estimated to cost $120 million, is the latest in a long series of failed and questionable tests of the US missile defense system. While many tests have resulted in outright un-spinnable failure, others have seen "success" through rigging the incoming missile with a homing device. Regardless of the result of any individual test, the missile defense program is a failure for the United States and a massive waste of resources.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Guilty of Trying to Uphold International Law

Members of the Disarm Now
Plowshares with their legal team.
Five individuals have been found guilty of a number of charges related to their November 2009 protest at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base in Washington state. Anne Montgomery, Bill Bischel, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald and Steve Kelly were part of a Plowshares action to challenge the legality and morality of the US storage and use of thermonuclear missiles by Trident nuclear submarines.

On the first day of the trial, the prosecution objected to the defendants' reference to international law as a reason for their actions. In 1996, the International Court of Justice ruled that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is generally illegal. The military, it seems, sees nothing wrong with threatening the instant death of millions of people through the use of its nuclear weapons. Some might argue that the issue is more complex. But I would say that it is that simple - these five brave protestors were attempting to shed light on the thoroughly illegal and immoral possession of nuclear weapons by the United States.

Principle VII of the Nuremberg Principles states, "Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law."

To be silent in the face of the grave threat of nuclear weapons makes one complicit in the consequences of their use. These five courageous peace leaders in the Disarm Now Plowshares group are guilty of nothing more than trying to uphold international law. In my book, that's not a crime; it's an ideal to which we should all aspire.

For more in depth coverage of this issue, visit the Disarm Now Plowshares blog.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Re-thinking strategy

Choose domestic legislation over international treaties in nuclear disarmament efforts?

For anyone working on freeing the world of nuclear weapons, the standoff between the Obama Administration and Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona on the required Senate approval of New START has been an infuriating chapter in 2010’s already rich collection of thrilling nuclear arms control tales.

Speaking for myself, it is sometimes difficult to see any positive side to the ‘what if-scenario’. Put plainly, if Senator Jon Kyl and his loyal group of Senators keen on obstructing the White House any way they can, manage to thwart ratification of New START, then surely all headway made by President Obama with regard to nuclear disarmament will have evaporated.

It seems that for every step that is taken in the right direction, two are taken in the opposite direction, effectively getting us further and further away from the end goal of a nuclear weapon-free world. As a result, the cynics are rewarded while the idealists have to be resilient and “get back on the horse.”

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Answering Bolton and Yoo: New START Will Strengthen U.S. National Security

Two staunch ideologues who served in the George W. Bush administration, John Bolton and John Yoo, ask rhetorically in a New York Times opinion piece, “Why Rush to Cut Nukes?”  Bolton, a recess appointment as United Nations Ambassador under Bush II, never met an arms limitation agreement that he supported.  Yoo, the lawyer who wrote memos supporting the legality of water boarding under international law (not a very favorable prospect for captured U.S. soldiers), worked in Bush II’s Justice Department.  Bolton and Yoo can find no good reason to support the New START agreement with the Russians, arguing that without amendments it will weaken “our national defense.”

Let me answer the question posed in the title of their article.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Selling Arms in Asia

My impression of President Obama's trip to Asia is that he has unfortunately gone as chief arms salesman to new frontiers.  This says much more about the US than it does about Asia.  First, Congress allocates much of our discretionary income, more than half, to strengthening our military and bolstering our armaments, and then our President flies off to Asia to boost the sales of tanks, planes and missiles to client states.  We call it geopolitics, but at its heart it is about greed and gluttony.  Asian economies seem vibrant.  Ours seems stuck in the mud of militarism. 

America's needless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are reducing us to a second or third rate power, a helpless giant.  China is one beneficiary of our wasteful militaristic policies.  India and other Asian countries could be as well, if they resist the temptation to purchase our second-hand military hardware and follow our lead into unnecessary and illegal wars.  If the United States still wishes to be respected in the world it needs to return to the basics of democracy, human rights, the rule of law and international cooperation.  There are too many serious problems confronting the world for the US to be focused on pushing arms and building war coalitions in Asia or any other part of the world.  We need to think much more deeply about the example we are setting and how it is already returning to haunt us.

Monday, November 8, 2010

That Little Problem of Nuclear Energy

 I recently wrote this short piece for an online publication in the UK called The Fresh Outlook.

Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant makes the world a more dangerous place. There – I said it. On this point, I am in agreement with the hardliners in Israel, the United States and the West in general. Where our viewpoints diverge, though, is why it is dangerous and what we should do about it.

Article IV of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty gives “the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.” In this sense, Iran is well within its rights to develop and operate one or more nuclear power plants.

However, given the relative ease with which a country can employ dual-use technologies to clandestinely develop a nuclear weapons programme, perhaps it is time to reconsider spreading nuclear power plants across the globe. Apart from the astronomical expense, danger of operation and lack of a plan for highly toxic waste, a double standard of encouraging nuclear energy in “good” countries and trying to prevent it in “bad” countries simply cannot hold.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A silver lining?

Climate of austerity creates window of opportunity for nuclear disarmament
Last week, the United Kingdom was under the spell of the coalition government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, which unveiled the biggest cuts in public expenditure in decades. Announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in the House of Commons last Thursday, the Spending Review proposes a £81bn ($127bn) cut in public spending over four years. These measures have been both applauded as necessary to tackle Britain’s deficit and condemned as leading the country into a double-dip recession. Time will tell where the truth lies.

What is certain is that departments will undergo cuts averaging 25%. Although substantially less, the 8% cuts (or £4.7bn) that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) faces still translates into 42,000 service personnel and civil servants losing their jobs over the next five years and the cancellation of high-profile equipment.

A day ahead of the Spending Review, Prime Minister David Cameron presented in the House of Commons his government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review to clarify the strategy behind the MoD cuts. The first wide-ranging analysis of British defence spending since 1998, the strategy takes some steps toward recognizing Britain’s diminished standing in the current world order and associated security and military requirements. For example, it makes clear that the UK will not be able to mount large scale operations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan for at least a decade and emphasizes the importance of conflict prevention as opposed to military intervention. Unfortunately, however, it does not go far enough in shifting resources accordingly. It still envisions the UK as a global player and proudly portrays the country as “punching above its weight” in conventional military terms. Fortunately, it seems the review process has opened the door to allowing more realism in further assessments of Britain’s defence policy and force structures.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Need Some Cash? Saudia Arabia Now Buying Weapons

The United States just announced its biggest arms deal EVER: a $60 billion sale to Saudi Arabia. The biggest US arms sale ever - that's saying a lot. We export weapons to countries all over the globe; it's nothing new. Fighter jets here, helicopters there. What really blows me away about this deal is the US government's inability to understand that history tends to repeat itself.

The US Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, Andrew Shapiro, said that this deal with Saudi Arabia is intended in large part to counter the threat that Iran poses to the Saudis. 

OK. It's 2010. Saudi Arabia is a US ally. Iran is an enemy. But let's go back for a moment to the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Iran, under the autocratic rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was a major US ally. We encouraged Iran to develop a nuclear (energy) program and turned a blind eye to the repressive tactics of the Shah.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Critique of Nuclear Deterrence in The New York Times

On Saturday, October 9, my letter to the editor of The New York Times was printed. The letter was in response to an earlier editorial from the Times that essentially called on the UK to scale back its plans for replacing its Trident nuclear weapon system and rely on the United States for a full "nuclear deterrent."

Before joining the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, I worked for two years with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the UK. CND has worked tirelessly for over 50 years against nuclear weapons in the UK and around the world. Trident replacement was a huge issue when I worked there in 2006-07, as it continues to be now.

Typically I only write letters to the editor when an article or editorial gets me so fired up, I have no choice but to respond. This was one of those cases. Here at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, we are working hard to debunk the myth of nuclear deterrence, like in our new 5-minute animated video. Combine that with my history and passion for preventing the UK from replacing its nuclear weapon system and you have a perfect story for me to comment on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Iran Is Unphased by the Saber Rattling

Regarding nuclear weapons, the US message to Iran has been “do as we say, not as we do.” We tell Iran that they cannot have nuclear weapons, but we do so in the context of relying upon these weapons for our own security and being silent about Israel’s nuclear arsenal. This is clearly an irksome double standard for Iran, one that would be far easier to tolerate if the US showed it was serious about eliminating its own nuclear arsenal and pressuring the other nuclear weapons states, including Israel, to do the same.

Further, Iran was one of three countries, along with Iraq and North Korea, named by George W. Bush as belonging to an Axis of Evil. We invaded Iraq, which had no nuclear weapons, and negotiated with North Korea, which does have them. Our behavior, on its face, would seem to be an incentive to countries not on friendly terms with the US to develop nuclear arms and justify their actions in the name of national security.

US saber rattling must give pause to Iran and, for that reason, Iran will likely stop short of actually creating nuclear weapons. On the other hand, it seems that Iran is motivated to continue to push the envelope. Its leaders most likely believe that the strategic costs to the US of attacking Iran would be too great for the US to actually initiate an attack, particularly since it is still engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bigger danger to Iran is an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities, but it is doubtful that Israel would act without approval by the US. A preventive Israeli attack on Iran would be far more complicated and far less likely to succeed than its 1981 attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor. An attack by Israel could result in a more general war in the Middle East, which would be disastrous for the region and would almost certainly lead to restricting Middle East oil exports with consequent global economic chaos.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Heads held high?

Interview with a true nuclear believer

Among the many obstacles to achieving lasting nuclear disarmament is the persistent belief that a nuclear arsenal provides a nation not just with security—a flawed notion itself—but with national prestige. The “superpower” status that allegedly comes with possession of nuclear weapons means that the rest of the world, particularly your enemies, will have to reckon with you. Thus, apart from their supposed deterring effects, a nuclear arsenal would put a nation in a position of parity with the “big boys”. At least, that’s how the argument goes. As a result, nuclear weapons are regarded by some as a source of pride. This sentiment is twisted and dangerous and continues to frustrate disarmament efforts.

A recent NEWSWEEK interview[1] with Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, widely considered the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and often hailed as a hero by the Pakistani people, reveals how this narrative is ingrained in Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions and posture.

Leaving the strong anti-West rhetoric aside—including legitimate grievances about the Western nuclear power’s double standards regarding nuclear security matters—Dr. Khan’s answers provide some valuable insight into the psychology behind nuclear pride and prestige. Considerations of security, status and pride—all three closely interrelated—make up this sentiment. Excerpts.

Q: Most here take pride in the fact that Pakistan is a nuclear state and believe this has served as a deterrent to conventional war with India.

A: Yes, I fully agree. Our nuclear program has ensured our survival, our security, and our sovereignty ... I am proud to have contributed to it together with my patriotic and able colleagues.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New START is a Needed Re-Start

The New START agreement, signed by US President Obama and Russian President Medvedev, is not a major leap forward toward nuclear disarmament.  Its goals are far more modest than needed, but they are still crucial.  For the Senate to turn down ratification of the treaty would be a disaster for the country and the world, opening the door to new arms races and to new justifications for nuclear proliferation.

The treaty will reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads on each side to 1,550 and the number of deployed delivery vehicles to 700 for each country.  The treaty will also provide for verification procedures to assure compliance.  Since the expiration of the START I agreement in December 2009, there has been no agreement on verification procedures between the two countries.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Testing a Fragile Relationship

This is a big week for nuclear weapon issues in the United States. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to give its take on the New START agreement with Russia a mere five months after the agreement was signed. Also, the US military has scheduled a test launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands for Wednesday morning.

For months now Republican senators and pundits have flooded the op-ed pages with warnings of the "bad deal" that is the New START agreement. "We're giving up everything while Russia gives up nothing," they say.

Now let's imagine that on Wednesday morning, instead of the US shooting off one of its ICBMs, it's the Russians doing it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Update on Iran

It seems that U.S. voters are not the only party feeling disillusioned about Obama’s campaign promises of “Hope” and “Change.” The 2010 Arab Opinion Poll, taken by the University of Maryland and Zogby International, shows a downswing in Obama’s approval ratings and a sharp decline in overall optimism about the administration’s Middle East foreign policy. This shift in opinion is accompanied by a notable increase in support for a nuclear Iran.

The poll’s sample size is just under 4,000 individuals and includes nationals of Egypt (818), Saudi Arabia (812), Morocco (816), the United Arab Emirates (512), Lebanon (509), and Jordan (509). The participants were polled on a number of broad topics, including identity; world view; the Arab-Israeli conflict; the United States and the Middle East; and Iran.

The percentage of respondents who believe that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons rather than peaceful research hasn’t changed much (a 55% majority, compared to last year’s 59%). However, while a reassuring 40% felt that Iran should be pressured to curtail its nuclear program in last year’s poll, only 20% of all 2010 respondents favored curtailment. Similarly, attitudes about the regional impact of a nuclear armed Iran seem to have been reversed: in 2009, a mere 29% said that they thought the outcome for the Middle East would be “more positive” if Iran acquired nuclear weapons, while 46% said “more negative.” This year, 57% choose the “more positive” option, and only 21% “more negative.”

Shibley Telhami, Professor of Peace and Development at the University of Maryland and a nonresident senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, headed the poll. In an interview with Voice of America News, he stated that the 35% decrease in “hopeful” attitudes about U.S foreign policy was directly correlated to increased support for Iran. “When they’re optimistic about our American foreign policy,” said Telhami, “they’re much tougher on Iran.”

The truth is that it’s getting harder for anyone to be optimistic about U.S. foreign policy – particularly where Iran is concerned. On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the U.S. and EU’s most recent attempts to halt Iran’s nuclear program have been largely unsuccessful. After the U.N. adopted somewhat lax trade sanctions against Iran in June, the U.S. and EU hurried to add more stringent restrictions. The U.S. sanctions are aimed at preventing the sale of refined petroleum products and aid in refinement of petroleum to Iran, while the EU sanctions penalize foreign investment in banking, shipping, insurance, transportation as well as energy and nuclear-related industries.

The economic pressure exerted by the sanctions is intended to curb Iran’s nuclear development. Despite the U.S. Department of State’s assurances that they are, in fact, having an effect on the "thinking in Tehran” there seems to be a hiccup in the plan. China, Russia, India and Turkey have moved ahead on investments that violate the sanctions, taking advantage of the opportunity to expand their business. Indian daily The Hindu reports that Iran has also decided to dramatically reduce gasoline consumption and work towards self-sufficiency in its domestic refining sector. These steps, combined with foreign support from China, Russia, India and Turkey could very well take the sting out of the U.S. and EU sanctions.

Unsurprisingly, neoconservatives are endorsing a military “solution” to Iran. U.S. House of Representatives’ Resolution 1553 explicitly provides support for Israeli military strikes against Iran, backing Israel's use of “all means necessary” “including military force.” The resolution has garnered the support of nearly on third of House Republicans, yet supporters seem to be ignoring expert opinion Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, General David Petraeus, The Brookings Institution's Saban Center, and the Oxford Research Group all agree that another war in the Middle East would be disastrous, and do nothing to curb Iran’s nuclear aspirations.

Celebrated Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji adds to the chorus of protestors, noting that an attack on Iran would decimate Iran’s growing Green Movement. “The mere fact that Obama didn't make military threats made the Green Movement possible," Ganji stated. He refers to Iran's increasingly secular liberal democratic movement, which is comprised largely of the middle class and college educated youth from all social classes. The Green Movement was born in response to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory in the June 2009 elections. Protestors flocked to the streets to decry what they regarded as a fraudulent election. Although Ahmadinejad retained power, Green Movement continues to push for democracy and civil rights within the framework of the existing regime. Ganji is optimistic about the movement’s future, but says that it needs time to stabilize and develop leadership. “It's not to our benefit for this regime to collapse today,” Ganji explained, “You need an experienced democratic force that will be able to replace the regime.”

So where do we go from here? According to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, engagement is still an option. Iran has to “reassure the international community by words and actions as to what their nuclear program is intended for," Clinton told The New York Times. We can only hope that U.S. - Iran relations don’t take a turn for the worse; military action would be madness in light of plummeting Arab opinion, lack of support from other nations, and the warnings of intellectuals and military leaders alike.

Preventing Iran from developing of a nuclear arsenal is certainly important in the struggle for non-proliferation, but perhaps it is even more important to look closer to home. Reflecting once again on Obama’s campaign promises of “hope” and “change,” it seems high time for the administration to make good on their promise to work toward U.S. disarmament. A little more than two years ago, Obama told CNN, "It's time to send a clear message to the world: America seeks a world with no nuclear weapons." The then-candidate continued, “we'll make the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons a central element in our nuclear policy." With ratification of the START treaty stalled until after summer recess and no clear roadmap for fulfilling the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, however, the “clear message” sent by U.S. nuclear policy sounds a bit like double talk. A nuclearized Iran is certainly a terrifying prospect, but it is the U.S.’s massive arsenal that has helped create a world in which nuclear weapons are ubiquitous with political clout. We can hardly inspire other nations to rethink the role of these weapons in their foreign policy without taking measures to show that we are doing the same. Ultimately, while staying true to the goal of non-proliferation, the U.S. must tread carefully, speak softly, and be very careful about wielding any big sticks.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Far Larger DoD Cuts Are Needed

The US budget for 2008 shows over
50% is spent on the military.
 The US military budget is way out of proportion to our national budget, our needs as a country and the threats that confront us. In fact, the military budget may be the greatest single threat to the future of the United States. We now spend well over $700 billion a year on “defense,” more than the rest of the world (including our allies) combined, or nearly so. The US military budget dwarfs education, health care, and other social needs. In light of this, the DOD's plan to save $100 Billion over five years is paltry and largely insignificant.

US citizens need to be asking why it is that we take such good care of the military with our taxes and such minimal care of our citizens in need. We currently spend more than $50 billion a year on nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, weapons that cannot be used without destroying ourselves in the process. If we wanted to be serious about reducing the military budget, we could start with abandoning plans to modernize our nuclear arsenal for $80 billion over the next 10 years and improving delivery systems for nuclear weapons for $100 billion over 10 years. In fact, we should be asking ourselves in a serious way why we need nuclear weapons at all, and wouldn't we be far better off leading the way to a world without these weapons.

For roughly $50 billion annually we could assure that the United Nations meets its eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015 to reduce poverty, disease, childhood and maternal mortality, etc. We would have far less need for a bloated, oversized and largely ineffective military if we reached out to the world with anti-poverty measures rather than predator drones and wars of choice.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Myth of Nuclear Deterrence

I'm thrilled to announce the release of our newest video, "The Myth of Nuclear Deterrence." This five-minute animated video shows that relying on nuclear deterrence is extremely dangerous and that, in fact, the only way for us to be safe from a nuclear attack is to abolish all nuclear weapons around the world.

The video was directed by Erik Choquette, an 18 year-old from Santa Barbara, CA. Erik won our Swackhamer Disarmament Video Contest in 2008 and 2009, and we are happy that he is continuing his involvement with the Foundation in this way. I owe Erik and his team at Chipotle Pictures a huge thank you for their hard work and dedication in getting this video done over the summer.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Another Reason to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Links between nuclear security and climate change demonstrated by wildfires in Russia

by Rob van Riet*

From massive landslides caused by torrential rain in China, to unprecedented floods affecting over 14 million people (and counting) in Pakistan, to rampant wildfires spreading through parts of Russia; the Northern hemisphere has been experiencing some extreme weather conditions this summer. Although one should be careful in proving (or disproving) climate change by pointing to such incidents, these episodes give a taste of some of the expected effects of global warming.

A concern that has been growing in my mind for some time is how nuclear security fits into this increasingly unstable picture (all three abovementioned countries have nuclear arsenals).

The wildfires that have been besieging Russia for over two weeks now have deepened this worry. With western and central parts of Russia suffering the worst heat wave since records began 130 years ago, wildfires have been ravaging the countryside. They have destroyed more than a third of cultivable land, claimed over 50 lives, clouded Moscow in smoke and damaged several military sites. Another threat surfaced last week when blazes were on their way to engulfing key nuclear sites.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Real Price of Nuclear Weapons

By Adrianna Wolaver

If you ask an economist for a price, their answer will not only include the number where the supply and demand curves intersect, but the opportunity cost for those resources. The concept is simple; what else could have been done with that time and/or money? That’s the opportunity cost. Recently, Stephen Shwartz, author of Atomic Audit, has put the price tag of the entire pursuit of nuclear deterrence since 1940, including development, maintenance, and expansion, at $7.5 trillion.[1] Today we spend $55 billion annually on nuclear weapons and related programs.[2] To some people this may seem like a reasonable price for “nuclear security” and global military dominance, but I want to challenge you to think about what else that money could do.

There are eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set forth in 1990 by the United Nations designed to substantially improve the quality of life and safety of our planet. The eight goals are as follows:
  1. eradicating extreme poverty and hunger by halving the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day, 
  2. achieving universal primary education, 
  3. promoting gender equality and empowering women, 
  4. reducing child mortality by two-thirds, 
  5. improving maternal health by reducing maternal mortality ratios by two-thirds, 
  6. combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases, 
  7. ensuring environmental sustainability, and 
  8. creating a global partnership for development.[3] 
The MDGs' 2015 deadline is fast approaching and many of the goals are far from being reached. It is possible, however, to reach these goals with $40-60 billion per year in foreign aid. [4] In order to put our nuclear weapons budget into perspective, I am comparing the United States’ annual nuclear budget of $55 billion with the foreign aid that is needed annually in order to reach the MGDs. Let’s close our eyes and imagine that we could redirect $55 billion a year to the MDGs.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Upcoming Reminder for Sadako Peace Day

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will remember the 65th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing on August 6th with our annual Sadako Peace Day Memorial. The event will take place in the Sadako Peace Garden at the Casa de Maria Retreat Center.

Sadako Sasaki was just two years old when the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima. She survived the bombing, but was later diagnosed with leukemia. As her condition progressed, she began folding origami cranes, inspired by the Japanese saying that one who folds a thousand papers cranes was granted a wish. She finished her thousand paper cranes and continued folding more. Tragically, leukemia took Sadako’s life at the age of twelve. Japanese children fold cranes in her memory, and leave thousands at her memorial in the Hiroshima Peace Park every year on August 6th.

Sadako’s story can inspire all of us to believe in peace. If you are in the Santa Barbara area, we invite you to join us at Sadako Peace Day. If not, we encourage you to reflect on the subject of peace and how we can share peace in the future. For a fun activity, make you own paper crane and place it in a spot where it will remind you of peace. For instructions click here.

Message for Hiroshima Day

The Nuclear Age has entered its 65th year. The first test of a nuclear device took place on July 16, 1945 at the Alamogordo Test Range in New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto Desert. The Spanish name of this desert means “Journey of Death,” a fitting name for the beginning point of the Nuclear Age. Just three weeks after the test, the United States destroyed the city of Hiroshima with a nuclear weapon, followed by the destruction of Nagasaki three days later. By the end of 1945, the Journey of Death had claimed more than 200,000 human lives and left many other victims injured and suffering.

Over the past 65 years, the Journey of Death has continued to claim victims. Not from the use of nuclear weapons in war, but from the radiation released in testing nuclear weapons (posturing). We can be thankful that we have not had a nuclear war in the past 65 years, but we must not be complacent. Our relative good fortune in the past is not a guarantee that nuclear weapons will not be used in the future. Over the years, the power of nuclear weapons has increased dramatically. They have become capable of ending civilization and complex life on the planet. What could possibly justify this risk?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Countdown to Zero Follow-Up

Countdown to Zero was a great success here in the LA area.  To those of you who came out to see it, thank you!  If you haven't seen it yet, CtZ is still playing in theaters.  Everybody at NAPF loved it, and those who we talked to after the movie liked it as well; we were quite pleased how responsive people were after the film.  It is a well-made and beautifully photographed film--so go see it now!

Also, check out Valerie Plame's recent article in Newsweek, written as a corollary to the film.  She discusses the dangers of nuclear terrorism and the hope for a world without nuclear weapons.  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Red hot movie alert!

Countdown to Zero is opening this weekend at theatres across the nation. It’s already playing in some cities, and we are mobilizing the masses to go out and see it!

The film is a smart, well-crafted look at the present state of global affairs: nine nations possess nuclear weapon capabilities, and other nations are racing to join them. An act of terrorism, failed diplomacy, or a mere accident could devastate the earth and its people. Now is the time for change.

Your attendance (and that of your friends, relatives, spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, teachers, hairdressers, mechanics…well, you get the picture) will make a difference. We want to rock the box office, so that this film is distributed outside the major cities and word spreads like wildfire across the United States. Let’s put nonproliferation at the top of the national agenda. Let’s leave the past behind, and work towards a brighter, more human future. Let’s do this.

As you know, NAPF’s vision is a world at peace, free of the threat of war and free of weapons of mass destruction. This is one way to help make that vision a reality. 

If you are in the Los Angeles area, you can come and say hi with the NAPF staff at a screening this weekend! We will be attending the following screenings at Landmark 12 in West Los Angeles:
  • The 5:30 pmshowing on Friday, July 30
  • The 7:40 pm showing on Friday, July 30
  • The 9:50 pm showing on Friday, July 30 
  • The 7:40 pm showing on Sunday, August 1
If you won't be in the LA area, fear not!  Countdown to Zero may be playing at a theater near you, click here to check!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Unflinching Look At Afghanistan: What Do the WikiLeaks Afghan War Diaries Really Reveal?

By Jasmine Heiss

On July 26, WikiLeaks released a huge cache of more than 75,000 secret US military reports covering the war in Afghanistan. The full compendium of over 91,000 reports, known as the Afghan War Diary, is being hailed as the most significant archive about the reality of a war to have ever been released during the course of a conflict.

Despite their significance, the reports aren’t exactly polished journalistic writing. They are generally written by field units who are answering critical questions: Who, When, Where, What, With Whom, by What Means, and Why. To help make sense of this raw intelligence, Reader Supported News has published a comprehensive everyman’s reading guide (beginning about halfway down the page). One of the most valuable insights that the Reader Supported News offers is the deeply rooted origin of cover-ups: “When reporting their own activities US Units are inclined to classify civilian kills as insurgent kills, downplay the number of people killed or otherwise make excuses for themselves,” they observe. “Conversely, when reporting on the actions of non-US ISAF forces the reports tend to be frank or critical and when reporting on the Taliban or other rebel groups, bad behavior is described in comprehensive detail.”

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dear Mitt Romney, Please Learn How to Properly Structure an Argument

Three weeks ago, Mitt Romney penned a Washington Post op-ed entitled "Obama's Worst Foreign-Policy Mistake," chock full of misleading information and outright lies about New START.  His op-ed prompted a flurry of repudiation from across both aisles (Sen. Lugar, Sen. Kerry, Steven Pifer); even staunch anti-STARTer Senator Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) letter of response wasn't that supportive.  Kyl's article was more of an angry rant against Obama than a well-articulated claim that Romney's assertions were correct.

Scores of experts were called before various Congressional committees, and they all refuted every one of Romney's arguments: missile defense, rail-mobile missiles, ICBM-silo conversion, data sharing, and verification.

Anyway, that brings us to today.  Romney has responded to Senators, officials, and experts with a brand new op-ed in the National Review, in which he attempts to save face by re-iterating "Eight Problems with New START."  I say that Romney attempted to save face, because, well...when it comes down to it, he pretty much fails at any real argumentation skills.  Let me lay it out for you, Mitty.

Most academics go by Toumlin's Model of Argumentation, which stipulates that there are six--count 'em six--components of an argument: Claim, Qualifier, Grounds, Warrant, Backing, Rebuttal.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Check Out Steven Crandell's Latest Article at the Huffington Post!

 The fate of the planet does not usually hang on how we spend our leisure time.  But it will for the next few weeks.  So heed my words. Go to the movies. Take a friend. Watch the new film Countdown to Zero. Then invite more friends to see the movie.  Countdown to Zero will open your eyes to a nemesis that pretends to be a guard dog.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More Tickets Available for Additional CTZ Showings...Get Yours Now!

To those in the LA area: The NAPF has 114 tickets available for a free screening of COUNTDOWN TO ZERO on Sunday, August 1st at 7:40 PM. Please request your free ticket hereKeep checking back...we are working to get additional tickets for the 5:30pm and 9:40pm showings on Friday, July 30.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Come See "Countdown to Zero"

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has some exciting news: Countdown to Zero is coming to a theater near you! This movie presents an unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of nuclear weapons and a vital step to initiate positive change. You can play an active role! We are calling on you to help us by coming to see the movie and bringing a friend. You can find information about screenings in your city here. We would also like to ask you to invite your friends through facebook and other social media networking!
Thanks for your support,
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Friday, July 16, 2010

The 65th Anniversary of the Nuclear Age

July 16, 1945 marked the beginning of the Nuclear Age. On that day, the United States conducted the first explosive test of an atomic device. The test was code-named Trinity and took place at the Alamogordo Test Range in New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto Desert. The bomb itself was code-named “The Gadget.”

The Trinity test used a plutonium implosion device, the same type of weapon that would be used on the city of Nagasaki just three and a half weeks later. It had the explosive force of 20 kilotons of TNT.

The names associated with the test deserve reflection. “The Gadget,” something so simple and innocuous, was exploded in a desert whose name in Spanish means “Journey of Death.” Plutonium, the explosive force in the bomb, was named for Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld. The isotope of plutonium that was used in the bomb, plutonium-239, is one of the most deadly radioactive materials on the planet. It existed only in minute quantities on Earth before the US began creating it for use in its bombs by the fissioning of uranium-238.

There is no definitive explanation for why the test was named Trinity, but it generally seems most associated with a religious concept of God. The thoughts of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director of the project to create the bomb and the person who named the test, provide insights into the name:

“Why I chose the name is not clear, but I know what thoughts were in my mind. There is a poem of John Donne, written just before his death, which I know and love. From it a quotation: ‘As West and East / In all flatt Maps—and I am one—are one, / So death doth touch the Resurrection.’ That still does not make a Trinity, but in another, better known devotional poem Donne opens, ‘Batter my heart, three person'd God.’”

Monday, July 12, 2010

Officials Bust South African Nuclear Smugglers

Last Friday, officials arrested four South African men in the capital city of Pretoria for trying to sell an industrial machine containing nuclear material that could have been used to create a "dirty bomb."  The origin of the machine is unknown, although South Africa manufactures large amounts of medical equipment for cancer treatment. 

The nuclear material in question was cesium-137, the same kind of radioactive material used by Chechen terrorists in 1995.  The rebels buried the material in Moscow's Ismailovsky Park and told officials they would only reveal the burial sites if Russia withdrew its troops from Chechnya.  Russian military officials ultimately found the nuclear material with Geiger counters. 

While still in the machine, the cesium-137 remains relatively harmless.  If extracted, however, it can be used in a "dirty bomb."  South African police are on the hunt for the device in which the nuclear material was to be used.

This incident highlights the willingness of individuals to smuggle radioactive material for profit, as well as the reality of nuclear terrorism.  Thankfully, officials caught the smugglers before they could hand off the radioactive material, but will we be so lucky next time?

Friday, July 9, 2010

New START Op-Ed Roundup!

This week saw a slew of op-eds about New START. It began when The Washington Post published former MA governor Mitt Romney’s op-ed on Tuesday, June 6th. Not only did Romney toe the conservative line regarding the ratification of New START, but he also concocted some new gems most Republicans don’t even use, such as the issue of placing ICBMs on bombers. On Wednesday, John Kerry wrote his own op-ed slamming Romney; Kerry even got in a personal dig, claiming Romney blatantly ignored the facts because he was in a “footrace to the right against Sarah Palin.” The same day, Steven Pifer and Strobe Talbott, analysts from the Brookings Institution, also wrote op-eds for The Washington Post debunking Romney’s claims. Yesterday, Jon Kyl’s piece appeared in The Wall Street Journal. To nobody’s surprise, Kyl did not support New START, but his piece was considerably tamer than Romney’s.

Many bloggers have already written extensively about these op-eds, but here's a conciser version of what you need to know...links and highlights after the jump:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Animated Map of the 2,053 Nuclear Explosions Between 1945-1998

Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto created an animated map which shows the 2,053 nuclear tests which occurred between 1945 and 1998.  The final count (which does not include the two North Korean tests after 1998) is: US (1032), Russia (715), China (45), Great Britain (45), France (210), India (4), and Pakistan (2).  

Each test is represented by a metronomic blip, which, in the end, creates an eerie rhythm reminiscent of the exchange between humans and the alien spaceship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  The 14 minute long video begins slowly--illuminating the first test in New Mexico, followed by the devastating bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945.  The blips incrementally accelerate, and by the late 1950s the map lights up with numerous tests between the U.S. and Russia.

Friday, July 2, 2010

NPR Highlights 1962 Nuclear Explosion in Space

Check out NPR's Robert Krulwich piece about the U.S. nuclear tests in space.  In 1962, the U.S. launched a nuclear device, a bomb 1000 times larger than the one that destroyed Hiroshima, and detonated it 250 miles above the Earth over the Pacific Ocean.  (Krulwich erroneously reports that this is the only nuclear explosion in space.  Both the U.S. and Russia tested nuclear weapons above the earth's atmosphere, as he indeeds reports later in the article.)

Codenamed "Starfish Prime," the military formulated this operation just days after the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts, which surround Earth.  The plan was to send up several missiles in order to glean whether "a) If a bomb's radiation would make it harder to see what was up there (like incoming Russian missiles!); b) If an explosion would do any damage to objects nearby; c) If the Van Allen belts would move a blast down the bands to an earthly target (Moscow! for example); and — most peculiar — d) if a man-made explosion might "alter" the natural shape of the belts."

One hopes that this kind of testing never occurs again.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Does Deterrence Really Deter?

Today's post is from Martin Hellman, friend of the NAPF and author of the blog Defusing the Nuclear Risk.  Martin is a Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University.

Calling nuclear deterrence by that name was a stroke of marketing genius for selling it to the public. Unfortunately, that stroke of genius was also a potential death sentence for us all by hiding another, more ominous aspect of this strategy.

To deter someone is “to discourage him from doing something, typically by instilling doubt or fear of the consequences.” Hence deterrence implies that it will work, that it will deter adversaries from calling our nuclear bluff.

To date, it has worked somewhat as advertised, though far from perfectly. If nuclear deterrence really worked, would the US have risked Soviet ire by deploying nuclear armed missiles in Turkey in 1961? And would Khrushchev have risked American ire by placing similar missiles in Cuba the next year? More recently, would the US have planned an Eastern European missile defense system that raised Russian ire, including a threat to respond by basing nuclear-armed bombers in Cuba?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sadako Peace Day Reminder

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Director of Programs Rick Wayman will be the featured speaker at the 16th Annual Sadako Peace Day ceremony, Friday August 6, at the Sadako Peace Garden at La Casa de Maria, 800 El Bosque Road, between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

His theme will be “Persistence and Dedication.” He will discuss the importance of working for a world free of nuclear weapons in spite of opposition – and why the support of many people is required for progress to be made towards nuclear weapons abolition. Wayman guides all programs at the Foundation – including worldwide efforts to educate and motivate people to work for nuclear disarmament.

The August 6th Sadako Peace Day ceremony will also feature poetry from several local poets, including Santa Barbara’s Poets Laureate Emeriti, Perie Longo and Barry Spacks and Glenna Luschei, Poet Laureate Emerita of San Luis Obispo. Bob Sedivy will provide beautiful, evocative music on the shakuhachi or traditional bamboo flute. And Janice Freeman-Bell will sing accompanied by Chris O’Connell on Native American flute.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The New START Debate: Fact vs. Fiction

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held another hearing on the New START Treaty Thursday afternoon; it focused on the risks and benefits of the bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Russia. Presenting witnesses included former U.S. Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation Ambassador Robert G. Joseph, former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Eric S. Edelman, and Director of U.S. Advocacy for the Open Society Institute, Dr. Morton H. Halperin.

There were no real surprises at the hearing; Joseph and Edelman reiterated the same anti-START talking points, namely verification, missile defense, and counting measures. Halperin provided the only pro-START testimony during this particular hearing. Here’s what you need to know about the arguments surrounding ratification:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Partnership for a Secure America Publishes Statement on New START

The Partnership for a Secure America, an organization committed to restoring bipartisan dialogue and action on American national security and foreign policy, published a new statement on the ratification of the New START Treaty.  Thirty political figures from across the ideological spectrum, such as William Perry, George Shultz, and Madeline Albright, signed the statement, which urges the Senate to quickly ratify the new arms control agreement signed in April.  They acknowledge that the transparency measures provided by the treaty are key to national security, and that it:
  • Enhances stability, transparency and predictability between the world’s two largest nuclear powers, which together possess about 95 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons
  • Contains verification and inspection measures essential to U.S. national security and nuclear threat reduction as it relates to Russia's strategic nuclear weapons
  • Addresses our Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations and therefore assists in gaining cooperation from other countries on key nonproliferation priorities
  • Helps strengthen broader U.S.–Russia cooperation, which is important in responding to proliferation challenges from Iran and North Korea
  • Does not inhibit our ability to maintain an effective and reliable nuclear arsenal
  • Does not constrain our ability to develop and deploy missile defense systems.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New START vs. FY2011 Budget

In his Prague speech, President Obama proclaimed in order for the world to be free of nuclear weapons, the U.S. must spearhead a reduction of its nuclear arsenal. He won the hearts of many in the non-proliferation field when he stated that the U.S. would begin reducing its stockpile under his administration. How disheartening to us all, then, when we learned that his FY2011 budget reflected exactly the opposite. Far from committing funds for disarmament, he actually slashed the dismantlement program by 40%. By caving to conservative demands of modernization, Obama not only breaks his Prague promise, but acts against the spirit of New START.

New START is a follow-on to an agreement originally made between the U.S. and USSR to dismantle the relics of the Cold War, in order to build relations between the two adversaries, as well as reduce the risk of a nuclear accident. How strange then, that as the U.S. agrees to dismantle several hundred weapons with one hand, it funds the construction of weapons fuel facilities and Life Extension Programs (LEP) for aging arsenals with the other.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Scenarios For Nuclear Catastrophe

In a recent article that I wrote, “British Petroleum, Imagination and Nuclear Catastrophe,” I argued we should use the occasion of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to imagine scenarios in which a nuclear catastrophe could take place. The reason for imagining such scenarios should be obvious: to keep them from occurring.

Here is a proposition: Continued offshore oil drilling runs the risk of future offshore oil leak catastrophes that will destroy large aquatic and shoreline habitats. Applied to nuclear weapons, the proposition could be restated in this way: Continued reliance on nuclear weapons runs the risk of future nuclear catastrophes that will destroy cities, countries and civilization.

In my article, I proposed four of many possible scenarios that could be envisioned. These scenarios involved a terrorist bomb on a major city somewhere in the world; an Indo-Pakistan nuclear war; an accidental nuclear launch by Russia, leading to a nuclear exchange with the US; and a nuclear attack by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il on Japan and South Korea.

Testing 1,2,3 (4,5...)

What's up with all the nuclear missile testing lately by the US military? It's nothing new: they have been doing it for decades. But five tests in eight days? Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, and with a president who claims to (eventually) want a world free of nuclear weapons, this really is not what the world needs.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, the US Navy fired four Trident 2 D-5 nuclear-capable missiles from the USS Maryland. Then, early this morning, the US Air Force fired a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg - just up the road from me in California - to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The Navy really patted itself on the back about the "success" of the tests and the capabilities of their missiles that carry nuclear warheads around the world's oceans. In their press release, they lauded the Trident 2 D-5 missile for its "increased firepower [and] flexibility."

China-Pakistan Nuclear Deal Sparks U.S. Objection

The U.S. is still a global role model. It is important, therefore, that Washington pushes for compliance with international arms control agreements.  If the American government breaks the rules set out by these treaties, other nations will be emboldened to follow suit.  After the U.S. made a deal with India that violated the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), for example, China arranged to give two nuclear reactors to Pakistan, an agreement that also violated the treaty.  Given that the U.S. requires Beijing’s assistance in dealing with North Korea and Iran, many believed Washington would acquiesce to this deal. The Obama administration, however, now objects to China's nuclear commitment to Pakistan.

As a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), China is forbidden to export nuclear technology to non-members of the treaty, such as Pakistan. China argues that because work on two nuclear reactors for Pakistan occurred before it signed onto the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)—an organization responsible to monitoring nuclear trade—this action is “grandfathered.”

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Small Leak at Chinese Nuclear Plant Reported

According to the New York Times, China reported a small leak from one of their nuclear power plants. The Chinese government claims that sometime last month, trace amounts of radioactive iodine and noble gases leaked into cooling fluid. According to the utility company which reported the leak, international standards do not require the report of such small quantities.

Claims of a government cover-up abound. The nuclear plant, located on Daya Bay in Shenzhen—50km from Hong Kong, is a state-owned facility. The Chinese government was forced to admit to the leak following reports on Radio Free Asia—a month after the leak occurred on May 23, 2010.

Since the incident, the Hong Kong Observatory has tracked radiation levels at the plant, and has reported no abnormal readings.

Monday, June 14, 2010

David Krieger's Article for Common Dreams

Be sure to read David Krieger's latest article over at Common Dreams.  An excerpt is below:

Before the catastrophic British Petroleum oil gush in the Gulf of Mexico, there were environmentalists who warned that offshore drilling was fraught with risk - risk of exactly the type of environmental damage that is occurring. They were mocked by people who chanted slogans such as "Drill, baby, drill." Now it is clear that the "Drill, baby, drill" crowd was foolish and greedy. The economic wellbeing of people in and around the Gulf coast has been badly damaged and, for some, destroyed altogether. Aquatic and estuary life, in the Gulf and beyond, has fallen victim to an environmental disaster that was foreseeable with a modicum of vision and imagination.

Albert Einstein reached the conclusion that "Imagination is more important than knowledge." He said that "knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand." Let us try applying our imaginations to nuclear weapons and nuclear war. Here are some scenarios:

NAPF's Paul Chappell on C-Span's BookTV

West Point graduate and Iraq War veteran Chappell spoke to a classroom of students at American University in Washington, DC. In this portion, the author discusses how soldiers have been trained to kill throughout history. This is a portion of a longer program that will appear on Book TV. Check for schedule information.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Countdown to Zero LA Movie Premiere

NAPF will hold an event for the LA premiere of the Lucy Walker's documentary Countdown to Zero.  It will premiere on July 30th in Hollywood, CA at Pacific ArcLight Hollywood 15.  We don't have the start time yet, but save the date!  You can check to see if the documentary is playing in your neighborhood hereView the trailer after the jump. 


COUNTDOWN TO ZERO traces the history of the atomic bomb from its origins to the present state of global affairs: nine nations possessing nuclear weapons capabilities with others racing to join them, with the world held in a delicate balance that could be shattered by an act of terrorism, failed diplomacy, or a simple accident. Written and directed by acclaimed documentarian Lucy Walker (The Devil’s Playground, Blindsight), the film features an array of important international statesmen, including President Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pervez Musharraf and Tony Blair. It makes a compelling case for worldwide nuclear disarmament, an issue more topical than ever with the Obama administration working to revive this goal today. The film was produced by Academy Award® winner and current nominee Lawrence Bender (Inglourious Basterds, An Inconvenient Truth) and developed, financed and executive produced by Participant Media, together with World Security Institute. Participant collaborated with Magnolia on last year’s Food, Inc., recently nominated for an Academy Award®, and the upcoming CASINO JACK and the United States of Money. Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Bruce Blair and Matt Brown are the film’s executive producers.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Watch Former Senator Sam Nunn on the Colbert Report

Watch Sam Nunn speak about the Nuclear Threat Initiative's new film Nuclear Tipping Point on last night's Colbert Report.  You can order the movie for free at

On the Report, Nunn explained how he, William Perry, George Shultz, and Henry Kissinger all believe that all nations must commit to a real schedule of nuclear disarmament, and how nuclear abolition is not incongruous with national security.  The former Senator also commented on the increasing threat of nuclear terrorism, to which Colbert proposed an alternative strategy...see how Nunn responds below.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sam Nunn
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Irate Iran: How The Latest Round of Sanctions Will Not Curb The Iranian Nuclear Program

Earlier today, the United Nations passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran in a vote 12-2, with only Brazil and Turkey dissenting (and Lebanon abstaining).  The sanctions are an attempt to curb Tehran’s nuclear program, which many in the international community believe Iran will use to manufacture a useable nuclear weapon. Iran has repeatedly disregarded UN demands to cease nuclear enrichment, even moving plants to secret locations to evade officials.  In defiance of the UN, Iran announced earlier this year that it would enrich uranium to 20%, as well as construct new nuclear facilities. Tehran has also shown continual intransigence regarding IAEA inspections and protocol. 

This latest round of sanctions includes increased measures against select individuals of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, increased security measures of vehicles coming from/going to Iran, and banning all nations from investing in Iranian nuclear technology.  Given that the three previous rounds of sanctions failed to have any lasting effect on Iranian nuclear efforts, it is highly unlikely that the latest round will make a dent, either.   

Former Senator Sam Nunn to Appear on Tonight's Colbert Report

The nation's favorite faux-pundit, Stephen Colbert, will host former Senator Sam Nunn tonight on his show The Colbert Report, on the Comedy Central network.  Along with CNN founder Ted Turner, Nunn co-chairs and is CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)--"a place of common ground where people with different ideological views are working together to close the gap between the global threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and the global response."  One of the Senator's most important acts in Congress was the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program which gives aid to Russia and former Soviet Republics for the securement and destruction of nuclear, chemical, and biological materials.

Recently, Nunn--along with former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and former Secretary of Defense William Perry--appeared in the NTI documentary Nuclear Tipping Point.  In the film, the four men discuss why they co-authored two op-eds that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, which outlined a need for--and a plan on how to achieve--a world without nuclear weapons.

The Colbert Report airs at 11:30pm EST, and is re-aired the next day.

Mairead Maguire's "Tribute to the People of Gaza"

I never cease to be amazed at the power of the human spirit to survive. During my last visit to Gaza in October 2008 I was amazed and deeply moved by the power of the people I witnessed. In a triumph of hope over adversity and tremendous suffering, love still abides.

Gaza comprises a small strip of land 27 miles long and 6 miles wide. This coastal strip is bordered by Israel on the one side, the Mediterranean Sea on the other and to a lesser extent by Egypt at the southern end. With one and a half million inhabitants Gaza is the fifth most densely populated place on the planet, 50% of which are under the age of 18. Two thirds of the total population hold refugees status, and comprise the victims and their descendants of previous acts of Israeli aggression.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sadako Peace Day

Join us for music, reflection and poetry on August 6th, 2010 at 6pm at the Sadako Peace Garden, La Casa de Maria, 800 El Bosque Road, Montecito, CA.

The hour-long program will feature music from Janice Freeman-Bell and the haunting evocative sounds of the shakuhachi, or Japanese flute, played by Bob Sedivy.

The event is free and open to the public.

Positive Turnout at Saturday Vandenberg Air Force Base Protest

People from across California and Arizona gathered outside the front gate of Vandenberg Air Force Base on Saturday to observe Nuclear Abolition Day and to stand against ongoing tests of nuclear missiles and missile defense components.  At the corner of a busy highway, the demonstrators were visible to hundreds of passing cars.  Members of the NAPF were pleasantly surprised to witness the 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative gestures coming from drivers over the two hour period of the protest.

David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, spoke about the need for those working at the base to resist taking part in the Minuteman III missile tests because the tests are in violation of international law.  In 1996, the International Court of Justice ruled that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would be generally illegal.  Minuteman tests constitute a threat of use.  David also read three of his poems from his book Today Is Not a Good Day for War.  The poems focused on the theme of "silence."  He encouraged those in attendance at the protest to continue to speak out against the tests at Vandenberg, as well as militarism and nuclearism in general.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June 5, Nuclear Weapons Abolition Day: Protest Missile Launch!

The Vandenberg Air Force Base announced that it will hold a missile defense test launch on Saturday, June 5.  Originally, the base was set to test a Minuteman III ICBM test from the Space Command to Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands.

Participate in protesting the continuance of missile defense at one of two locations:
  • 3:00PM Saturday, June 5
    • Los Angeles Air Force Base Space and Missile Center: 200 N. Douglas Street, El Segundo, CA (Los Angeles AFB helps with the tracking and targeting of missile launches)
    • Speakers
      • Que Keju, "Where do the missiles land"
      • L. Stephen Coles, M.D. of Physicians for Social Responsibility LA
    •  For info call or text 831-206-5043, or check

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dept. of Energy Rules Out the Nuclear Option for the Oil Leak

William Broad of the New York Times wrote yesterday that the Department of Energy has ruled out using a nuclear device in order to stop the BP oil leak, calling the idea "crazy".  The leading proponent of the suggestion, Matt Simmons--a Houston energy expert and investment banker, noted that the Russians used nuclear weapons to end gas leaks five times from 1966-1981.  Only the last attempt by the Russians was unsuccessful, the Broad stated.

While several million gallons of oil continue to spill into the Gulf, harming all wildlife in its wake, a nuclear device to plug the leak would be a terrible option.  For one, the ecological and environmental consequences are completely unknown.  Second, there is no guarantee that a detonation would stop the leak.  To those who point to the successful Russian attempts, it should be noted that in each instance the leak occurred on gas land wells, NOT offshore oil rigs.  Broad also argues that using a nuclear weapon would violate arms treaties at a time when President Obama is promulgating nuclear disarmament.
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