Thursday, November 8, 2012

Leave Him Alone?

Yesterday, I sent out an action alert asking our members to write to President Obama and ask him to cancel next week’s test of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. Thousands of people immediately took action, asking him not only to cancel next week’s test, but also to work quickly in his second term to decommission land-based ICBMs.

As always, I am deeply grateful to our thousands of dedicated members who take action to support the elimination of nuclear weapons. This wide support from around the United States gives us the public voice we need to be able to get our foot in the door in Washington, DC.

I got a couple of replies from people to the effect of, “Come on, give the guy [Obama] a break. He just won re-election. Let’s savor this victory for a while.”

Here’s why I disagree with that assessment:
  • The Air Force isn’t planning to give us, or the Marshall Islanders (the target of the November 14 test), a break by postponing the test. 
  • Conducting this test would be a terrible message to send to the world immediately after the President’s re-election. We’re talking about a missile that carries thermonuclear warheads at least eight times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
  • We are trying to hold President Obama to his 2008 campaign promise to “renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”

To read more about why the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation believes that the United States should decommission its land-based Minuteman III missiles, see this article in the Christian Science Monitor by NAPF President David Krieger and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What Does Your Political Party Say About Nuclear Weapons?

The 2012 U.S. Presidential election season is well underway, and among the most important political issues that America faces is determining a policy on nuclear weapons. The following passages are the official stances on nuclear weapons from the Democratic, Republican, and Green Party platform. Each party platform addresses the issue of nuclear weapons proliferation and disarmament, in regards to both the U.S.'s nuclear program and nuclear programs abroad.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Letter in the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal published a letter to the editor from me on Sunday, September 2. It appears as if the Journal is no longer archiving letters to the editor online, so the full text of the letter appears below.

The letters to the editor page is the second-most widely read page of a newspaper after the front page. It is a great way to get your message across to readers, especially in a publication known for coming down on the other side of your issue of interest.

I encourage everyone to write letters to the editor on issues they care about - both local papers and national ones. You can read my suggested guidelines for writing a letter to the editor here.

Here's the text of my letter, which refers to an op-ed that had been published by the Wall Street Journal earlier that week:

Mr. Kozak certainly places a lot of faith in the idea that "rational actors" with their finger on the nuclear trigger will act rationally at all times, even under extreme stress during times of war. This dangerous assumption overlooks the fact that one irrational decision with nuclear weapons could set off a chain of events that could kill hundreds of millions of people around the world through nuclear famine.
Furthering the gap between nuclear "haves" and "have-nots" through military action, as Mr. Kozak not so subtly infers, will only increase the incentive for other countries to develop nuclear weapons quickly. Negotiations for a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone, which would include both Iran and Israel, are supposed to take place in the coming months. This is a sensible way to halt real and possible nuclear proliferation in this volatile region of the world.
Rick Wayman
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Iran Call for Nuclear Abolition by 2025 is Unreported by New York Times

Logo of the Non-Aligned Movement
(photo: Wikipedia)
This guest blog was written by Alice Slater.

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), formed in 1961 during the Cold War, is a group of 120 states and 17 observer states not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.  The NAM held its opening 2012 session yesterday under the new chairmanship of Iran, which succeeded Egypt as the Chair.

Significantly, an Associated Press story in the Washington Post headlined, “Iran opens nonaligned summit with calls for nuclear arms ban”, reported that “Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi opened the gathering by noting commitment to a previous goal from the nonaligned group, known as NAM, to remove the world’s nuclear arsenals within 13 years. ‘We believe that the timetable for ultimate removal of nuclear weapons by 2025, which was proposed by NAM, will only be realized if we follow it up decisively,’ he told delegates.”

Friday, August 10, 2012

Prisoner's Dilemma Applied to International Treaty Interpretation

            Two prisoners are brought into a precinct.  Separately, the individuals are approached by an attorney to negotiate a ‘deal’ for prison length.  These prisoners are presented with options: defect or cooperate.  In defecting, prisoner A rats out prisoner B.  In cooperating, prisoner A does not rat out prisoner B, in assumption (or hope) that prisoner B will also cooperate.  Prisoner B is given mirrored options.  The payoffs depend on the option the prisoners choose.  If prisoner A betrays B while B cooperates, prisoner A comes out on top; if both prisoners cooperate, they both win- a mutual benefit; when both rat out each other, both lose; and, when prisoner A cooperates, but B betrays, prisoner A loses.  If this sounds familiar, it is because it is a popularized international relations (IR) theory coined as the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and stems from rational choice-Game Theory in political science academia.  In recent, however, this dilemma has found scholarship in explaining international law of treaties. 
            Because there is no domineering international legislature or centralized lawmakers, it remains very difficult to implement international law.  Thus, treaties become monumental in maintaining international harmony and cooperation.  They can be thought of as an international public service/good. 
            As mentioned, treaties are designed to encourage international relations among nations.  Therefore, when nations became signatory to a treaty (and upon ratification of a treaty), they make a public commitment to abide by its rules/articles. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Call for Peace from Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Nagasaki Peace Bell

At 8:15 am, on August 6, the Peace Bell at the Hiroshima Peace Park begins ringing, and people closing their eyes start praying for the victims of atomic bombings as well as for world peace without nuclear weapons. Another bell rings in Nagasaki at 11:02 am on August 9.

Last summer, I visited Nagasaki and attended the peace ceremony for the first time. Despite hot and humid weather of summer in Nagasaki, many people came to the Peace Memorial Park, including hibakusha (A-bomb survivors), politicians, students, children, and people from other countries. I was outside of the main place when I heard the peace bell ringing. With complete silence in the park, the deep sounds of the bell were only resonating as if it was carrying all the memories of the A-bomb victims and our prayers for world peace.  

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Unnecessary Bombing of Hiroshima: 67 Years Later

Today marks the 67th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. August 6th, 1945 is day in which violence, hate, and patriarchic posturing led to the unnecessary death of hundreds of thousands of people. While the actions of the American government are often described as regrettable, unfortunate, and horrific, we also celebrate these bombings either through claiming their necessity or in the indoctrination of false history for our children within their schools.

Are bombs really an answer to our problems? This blog will describe two scenarios, one fictional and one historical, which prove nuclear weapons are not a solution to international conflict.

Nuclear Weapons Were Not Needed in Japan

Growing up in school I was always taught the Japanese war effort was still strong going into the summer of 1945; that a full land invasion of Tokyo would be required for the allies to cause Japan to submit. It is this logic that is used to justify the intolerable use of nuclear weapons on the civilians of Japan. This could not be further from the truth. Admiral William D. Leahy, the President's Chief of Staff, wrote in his memoir that, “The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.”1

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

The Story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

August is a bittersweet month. It is the month in which we mournfully remember the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9 during the final stages of World War II. The nuclear weapons, developed and deployed by the United States, brought complete obliteration to the two cities and killed approximately 200,000 Japanese from both immediate and long-term effects. Most of the Japanese who fell victim to the nuclear weapons were innocent civilians. The laws of war and ethical standards were shattered, and the United States set a precedent of nuclear proliferation. Yet, although August is the month in which we reflect on the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is also the month in which worldwide peace efforts that stemmed from such tragedy are celebrated. The story of Sadako Sasaki is one story that has inspired generations to pursue a peaceful and just world.

Friday, July 27, 2012

International Law, the NPT, and The Nuclear Black Market

Unfortunately, nuclear existence has adapted seemingly well to the chaos of our society; with the break-up of the Soviet Union, nations witnessed the birth of the nuclear black market- selling nuclear capable materials, ranging from low enriched uranium to nuclear triggers. Now, amiss recent US- led Summit talks revolving around nuclear security, nuclear terrorism has surfaced as an absolute threat to all countries.  Where do these rogue rebels and militants acquire their materials?  The black market of course…where anything and everything can be found at cheap rates.  Due to the large stockpiles of nuclear materials in Russia, a lot of the smuggling and trading of nuclear-materials can be found in this country and in/around the Baltic region states. 
            Nuclear terrorism, “the illegal use or threat of use of radioactive materials” spawned like a contagion due to the easy access to the nuclear black market.  Small and moderate homemade bombs are going off daily at the hands of rebel insurgents across the globe: from bombings in the Middle East to large-scale attempts in Russia by the Chechen rebels from the volatile Russian Caucasus.  Hence the hasty attempt by leading countries, both nuclear and non, to strengthen securities against this growing enterprise through centers focusing on training country security forces to detect and take action against unwarranted attack arising from this illegal practice.  If we do not significantly curb the selling of nuclear materials in the black market, which then facilitates nuclear terrorism, the likelihood of large-scale nuclear-weaponry in rogue hands will transpire. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Is Islam Compatible with Nuclear Weapons?

As the history of Islam tells, in the year 610, the angel Gabriel descended upon an orphan merchant from Mecca named Muhammad. Gabriel revealed the words of God to Muhammad, and for the next 23 years, the revelations from God continued, completing the holy text of the Qur’an, or “the recitation.” The Qur’an and the actions of Muhammed, who became the messenger and Prophet of God, as recorded by the hadiths, have become the foundation of divine guidance and moral direction for Muslims and Islamic jurisprudence. 

Centuries have passed since the death of Prophet Muhammad; mankind has modernized, technology advanced, science developed and the world transformed into a fast-paced, inter-connected and globalized network. The moral issues that confront mankind today are thus of a different caliber than the issues from a thousand years ago.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Government Propaganda: Five Men under a Nuclear Explosion

Today, no one wants to take a risk by being closer to where nuclear weapon test would take place. Nevertheless, 55 years ago, there were five men who volunteered to be filmed while a nuclear weapon was detonated above their heads.  

The video was taken in Nevada on July 15, 1957, during a series of nuclear weapon tests (Operation Plumbbob). When the bomb lunched by a fighter jet was blown up 18,500 feet above the ground, five volunteering Air Force officers and one photographer were standing underneath the blast without any protective gears.

Friday, July 20, 2012

After Independence: Scotland's Accession Into NATO

The now-28-country alliance that makes up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization might grandfather in a 29th prospect that is Scotland: one contingent rests upon Scotland receiving its long waited independence from the United Kingdom.  Scheduled for a referendum in the fall of 2014 to vote on its legal separation from the UK, Scotland’s role in the international world has become a pivotal point of discussion among the Scots and the Scottish National Party (SNP- leading government party)-particularly, its status with various memberships and treaty organizations that the UK is currently a party to and as an inherited function, Scotland too.  Of the organizations, the debate on automatic entry into the European Union and NATO are the most controversial.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Satyagraha: Truth as a Force for Change

“Oppressed people can not remain oppressed forever.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

            A short hundred years ago much of the world was colonized. Great swaths of land and countless populations lived in servitude to foreign powers who utilized their positions of greater material wealth to obtain more riches for themselves and their homelands. The rapid toppling of empires over the last century speaks great volumes about the human will to self govern; the natural yearning for the ability to express one’s autonomy. Today there are relatively few remnants of the colonial system, and where there remain the people have been granted additional sovereignty and choice in the matter. 

Where Great Britain, France, and Portugal were once the most dominant forces in world affairs, they are now in a position which is much more even with other states. If these invincible empires could fall, just like the empires of the Romans and Greeks, then imagine what will happen to the empires of today? This is not a message that is meant to spread fear, calling for the fall of America or the rising of a new world order, but rather this is a message that change, even in the face of insufferable repression and against insurmountable odds, is possible

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Japan’s Ambition for Nuclear Weapons

The Peace Statue at Nagasaki Peace Park
Japan’s Nuclear Ambition Awaken.” This is the title of the article issued by the Asia Sentinel on June 28. The suspicion of Japan’s nuclear weapon acquirement, which the article talks about, responds to Japan’s amendment of the basic law on atomic energy after the decision to reactivate the high-speed reactor. The revisions include that nuclear power should contribute to “Japan’s national security,” which could imply that Japan has the intention to acquire nuclear weapons in the future.

Nuclear policy minister Goshi Hosono said, “The safeguards are in place to prevent nuclear proliferation. The word 'security' precisely means the prevention of nuclear proliferation.”1

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hunger Strikes: In History and in Los Alamos Today

King, Gandhi and Chavez: the three world icons of nonviolent resistance.
Hunger strikes are powerful, nonviolent weapons in the art of political resistance. The gravity of inflicting starvation on oneself until an injustice is amended is so profound, a hunger striker can potentially compel the perpetrator of the injustice to feel guilt and shame, and consequently, be forced to correct the wrongdoing. The power also lies with the hunger striker to raise attention on the issue and inspire others to join the cause. To fast requires a tremendous amount of willpower, sacrifice, strength and of course, a deep-rooted affirmation in the cause. One can not engage in a hunger strike without a purpose that one wholeheartedly believes in; how much more devotion to a cause can one show than to starve for it?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in ASEAN

The news, issued on Friday July 6, 2012, told that “After 12 years of negotiations, the five recognized nuclear-weapon states (P5) finally agreed to sign the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone treaty (SEANWFZ), Cambodian senior officials said Thursday.”1 Hearing this news, I thought that it was great because it could strengthen the non-proliferation regime and accelerate the nuclear disarmament.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Negative Impact of the Nuclear Weapons Industry on the Environment

In the past week more that 2,000 heat records have been matched or beaten in the United States.1 Rising heat averages have been regularly linked to environmental degradation. Could our continued proliferation and modernization of nuclear arsenals be feeding the destruction of our natural environment? I believe the answer is clearly yes. Here are a few reasons why:

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Iranian Conundrum In Nuclear Disarmament

In his usual blunt diplomacy, Russian President, Vladimir Putin warned Israel not to jump into immediate action against Iran, citing precedence to Iraq and Afghanistan; as he said, “to do something without knowing the final consequence is not that smart.”  This came during his visit to Israel last week, and after repeated threatening remarks by Israeli leadership to take military action if Iran does not halt its nuclear enrichment.
Would an attack on Iran delay a nuclear program?
Downsides of threatening Iran: Iran is rooted in nationalism, therefore, to threaten it would potentially take away from its own citizenry defying nuclear enrichment, and instead the country would come together to thwart off an outside attack.  Right now, it is imperative for Iranian citizens to initiate a collective stance against the enrichment program.  If the people of Iran gain an influential voice against this and if internal legitimacy is compromised in this aspect, Iran will be left with little options but to cooperate with both its people and the international community on its nuclear facilities.  Ofcourse, this isn’t a roadmap to what will happen, but it can remain a hopeful option. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Nuclear Iran Does Not Increase Stability: 8 Reasons

In the July issue of Foreign Affairs, international relations scholar and founder of neorealism, Kenneth Waltz, published a column not only defending nuclear deterrence theory, but also supporting the Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon (part of the column can be found on the website of USA Today). Waltz identifies three possible futures that could be had depending on the actions of Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. I find his analysis selective and the publishing of such opinions as legitimate in both the academic and mainstream press, without acknowledging the disastrous consequences that are possible in the case that his presumptions are false, to be reprehensible. I thus write this response.

One of the biggest issues with Waltz’s analysis is his complete dismissal of the incomprehensible dangers of nuclear weapons. He writes, “A palpable sense of crisis still looms,” and then dismisses it by saying, “It should not.”1 In the words of Nuclear Age Peace Foundation president David Krieger, “fear is a healthy mechanism when one is confronted by something fearful.”2 The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs killed 200,000 initially and many more in the months and years after. The current warheads are much larger than those two, plus new reports discuss how the nuclear famine that would follow a limited nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India could kill over 1 billion human beings.3 Luckily for us, Mr. Waltz is not worried. He thinks, “A nuclear-armed Iran would probably be the best possible result of the standoff and the one most likely to restore stability to the Middle East.” I beg to differ.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Symbol of the Sunflower

 One of the first things I noticed when I started working at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation was the prevailing theme of the sunflower. Pictures of these beautiful, radiant flowers adorned the walls throughout the office, and although I primarily thought that these sunflowers were just a reflection of the sunny and cheerful city the office is located in, Santa Barbara, a little research revealed to me that the flowers hold a much deeper, symbolic value.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ratifying CTBT Enhances US Security

The US President Obama, in a 2009 speech in Prague, said, “To achieve a global ban on nuclear testing, my administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. After more than five decades of talks, it is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned.” Three years have passed since his speech; however, the CTBT have not yet been ratified by the US.

The CTBT, adopted by the UN General Assembly, became open for signature in 1996, and the United States was the first nation to sign the treaty. According to the CTBTO, 183 nations have signed the CTBT, including all US allies in NATO. Among forty-four Annex 2 States, whose signature and ratification are required for the CTBT to enter into force, three states (North Korea, India, and Pakistan) have not signed, and five states (China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, the US) have signed but not ratified the treaty.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Distorted Prestige in the Nuclear World

Its stamina in global politics is uncanny.  It has sustained decades of assassination attempts through treaties and agreements- phasing in and out of the spotlight- discontentedly subdued for short periods, but relentlessly surfacing back as a domineering danger to stability even amid repeated policies of averting an international order based on its threats and counter threats. Nuclear weapons are an invulnerable emblem of prestige.  Consequently, they attract various states.  However, not all states have built their regimes on nuclear power.  Latin America, for instance, has consolidated to almost completion its non-proliferation agenda through the 1967 (and its amended parts) Tlatelolco Treaty- a quintessential legal example of the spirit and integrity of global denuclearization efforts, and although other regions should follow Latin America in directing more efforts toward the end of nuclear proliferation, this has yet to be taken seriously.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Economic Partnerships as a Tool for Peace Between Iran and the U.S.

Economic sanctions in Iran and around the world have not only been ineffective, but have lead to increased hostility, militarism, and distrust. What if there was another economic means to pacifying the interactions between the United States and Iran? What if this solution has already proven to be successful in the modern era?

The development of economic partnerships, rather than sanctions, is an alternative to the predominant strategies of the current global order; a strategy that would, “Make it plain that any war…becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible,”1 as stated by former French Prime Minister and first ever President of the European Assembly (the parliamentary institution of the European Union) Robert Schuman. Identifying the disastrous consequences of repeated conflict in Europe, Schuman paved the way for the creation of the European Union through his declaration and development of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). To this day there has not been an armed conflict between members of the European Union and ECSC partnership, a partnership formed only five years after World War II ravaged across Europe.*

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Case Against Iranian Economic Sanctions

"Please do not touch, very expensive," the signs reads.

As an Iranian-American, I’ve visited Iran numerous times in my life-time. Some of my fondest memories take place in the hubs of the country: the bazaars. It’s in these busy and lively marketplaces where gossip and news are exchanged and where one could buy everything from fruits and meat to gold and not-so-authentic Rolex watches. During my last visit, in December of 2011, the bazaars were bustling with crowds and activities as much as ever. However, what differed from my previous visits were the numbers on the price signs that at first glance I thought had 3 or so extra digits by mistake and the sense of panic and frustration that resonated with shoppers and shop keepers alike. This is just a small glimpse as to how the Iranian economic sanctions have negatively affected the average people of Iran.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fewer Nuclear Weapons, but Closer to Abolition?: SIPRI Yearbook 2012

The SIPRI Yearbook 2012, released on June 4, shows that at the beginning of 2012, the total number of deployed nuclear weapons possessed by eight states (US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel) is nearly 4,400. If all nuclear warheads are included, these states together possess a total of nearly 19,000 nuclear weapons, as compared with 20,530 at the start of 2011 (see table).1
The decrease, according to SIPRI, mainly results from the US and Russia reducing their inventories of strategic nuclear weapons under the terms of the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START) as well as retiring ageing and obsolescent weapons.1

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Legal Issues of Nuclear Weapons

          Rule one of Customary International Humanitarian Law (March 2005) quotes: “The parties to conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Attacks may only be directed against combatants.”  A few rules down, rule twelve, declares that indiscriminate attacks are intolerable: prohibited.  Because most international law is the product of treaties, naturally cavities remain.  These cavities create dangerous ambiguity in how entities engage one another during armed conflict.  To curb this, customary international humanitarian law is in place as a set of 161 rules, implied and accepted as law by all recognized nations-states.  The rules as demonstrated above, predominantly focus on the protection of civilians and combatants during international and non-international armed conflict.

As we all should recognize, nuclear weapons cannot distinguish between personnel; they cannot be controlled after firing. This was/is the primary reason for conventions against the use of chemical weapons and cluster munitions.  The importance of customary international law is its potential to deter and mitigate the catastrophic implications that nuclear weapons present. If they cannot be effective in nuclear disarmament, then customary international law has failed its purpose.  However, when we open up the newspaper and flip to a page that discusses nuclear contentions, there is hardly if any serious discourse on the legal ramifications that nuclear weapons present.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The American Spirit - A Culture of War or a Habitat of Peace?

In a new report published on Tuesday by the Institute of Economics and Peace, the United States is profiled at a paltry 88th in the annual global peace index rankings. The rankings are made through the combination of 23 indicators ranging from military expenditures, respect for human rights, and political stability. The most peaceful nations according to the report are Iceland, Denmark, and New Zealand.1

While the poor scores received in the United States for its large jailed populations, use of political terror, high levels of weapons exports, and world leading rankings in military capability and external death from conflict should be something you take note of, the fact that the United States is actively involved in either funding or participating in the fighting in at least seven of the ten least peaceful places on earth (Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Central African Republic, Israel, and Pakistan) is to me much more troublesome. Couple this with bipartisan support for American Exceptionalism and a budget in which 60% of discretionary spending is given to military measures and you have a recipe for something that is far from the intentions of the founding fathers.2

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Simulated Nuclear Weapon Tests

Computer technology has been so developed that it is indispensable to our lives. One of the features that often benefits humanity is the simulations. By means of simulations with existing data, we can estimate a possible outcome, for instance damage from an earthquake, and prepare for the outcome when it actually occurs. Today, however, the US government is spending money to improve computer simulation technology in order to conduct a most controversial experiment, a nuclear-weapon test.
By using a supercomputer, a nuclear weapon test can be done without exploding a bomb. Thus, it can be said that it is better than previous tests which required nuclear explosions, in terms of safety, security, and the environment. Moreover, because the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) forbids all detonations of nuclear test weapons in all environments, the simulations are one of the ways to operate a nuclear test in accordance with the treaty.1

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

After the Winter: Nuclear Famine

Ninety-nine percent of all species that have ever existed on Earth are now extinct. Extinction is the norm. What falls outside normalcy is a self-inflicted extinction, that is, the species being solely responsible for their wipe-out. How certain species met their demise might have several contending theories, but every paleontologist can agree that the dinosaurs, as an example, weren’t annihilated because a tyrannosaurs rex detonated a Jurassic bomb on the triceratops. Our species, humans, has scientific and technological achievements rivaled by no other life-form in the history of Earth. However, these great feats are also what make us so vulnerable; some of our inventions, though ingenious, also hold the grave capability of destroying our population.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Stuxnet...An Act of War Against Iran?

In 1935 102 cane toads were introduced in Eastern Australia as a tool to control the cane beetle, a local pest to sugar cane. Today there are over 200 million cane toads in Australia, which besides poisoning pets and humans as well as depleting native fauna has directly cost local governments hundreds of thousands of dollars to control, on top of the other economic losses caused by the introduced species. 1

This is not a story about toads though. This is a story about a virus the United States introduced to the internet which could have much greater consequences than some toads down under. This is a story about the United States authorizing acts of war against Iran over the enrichment of nuclear fuel.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Noble Pursuits

Normally, I spend the last day of the month putting together our monthly e-newsletter, The Sunflower. Today, though, I just had to take a few minutes to write this blog, because I can't stop thinking about this quote.

Earlier this month, just before ending his term as President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev spoke to a group of Russian elites. He said that good examples needed to be set for the next generation so they would be emboldened to pursue "success in literature, art, education..."

Great! Wow, Mr. Medvedev. Your dedication to the future of Russia's youth is laudable. Literature, art and education have been undervalued in the past, and are keys to a vibrant culture.

Unfortunately, Mr. Medvedev didn't turn off the microphone and leave the room at that point. He continued:

"...and nuclear weapons."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Are You Supporting the Continued Proliferation of Illegal Nuclear Weapons?

In March of this year the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, of which the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is a member, published a report called Don’t Bank on the Bomb. The report looks at the role of investment in the global nuclear infrastructure, both by the nations who are proliferating and modernizing the weapons and their delivery systems as well as the banks, finance, and investment management groups who not only make this obscene industry possible, but in many cases tie each and every one of us into a dirty business with world ending potential. I dare you to look at the report and find out how your money is financing nuclear weapons.

You didn’t look did you? Let me give you a brief sampling of some American financial institutions who are involved: AIG, American Express, Allstate, Bank of America, Citi, Farmers Insurance, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Knights of Columbus, Morgan Stanley, Northwestern Mutual, State Farm, and Wells Fargo. That is just a brief sample of the 322 institutions identified by the report1.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

For Nuclear Security Beyond Seoul, Eradicate Land-Based "Doomsday" Missiles

This article was originally published by the Christian Science Monitor. We think it is extremely important, though, which is why it is on our blog as well.

David KriegerPresident Obama and other world leaders gathered at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, this week to address threats posed by unsecured nuclear material. If Mr. Obama is truly concerned about nuclear safety, he should seriously consider doing away with the 450 inter-continental ballistic missiles deployed and ready to fire at Russia on a moment's notice.

Last month we were among 15 protesters who were arrested in the middle of the night at Vandenberg Air Force Base, some 70 miles north of Santa Barbara, Calif. We were protesting the imminent test flight of a Minuteman III inter-continental ballistic missile.

The Air Force rationale for doing these tests is to ensure the reliability of the US nuclear deterrent force; but launch-ready land-based nuclear-armed ballistic missiles are the opposite of a deterrent to attack. In fact, their very deployment has the potential to launch World War III and precipitate human extinction – as a result of a false alarm.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Nuclear Terrorism is in the Eye of the Beholder

This guest blog comes from NAPF Board member Robert Laney.

The “Seoul Communiqué,” issued by the United States and other governments attending the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit this week, begins with the following preamble:

We, the leaders, gathered in Seoul on March 26-27, 2012, renew the political commitments generated from the 2010 Washington Nuclear Security Summit to work toward strengthening nuclear security, reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism, and preventing terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorized actors from acquiring nuclear materials.  Nuclear terrorism continues to be one of the most challenging threats to international security.  Defeating this threat requires strong national measures and international cooperation given its potential global political, economic, social, and psychological consequences.

The purpose of this communiqué is to summarize and reaffirm these various  governments’ common understanding of the components of “nuclear security” and their commitment to make progress toward achieving them.  Key to their notion of “nuclear security” are the words, “preventing terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorized actors from acquiring nuclear materials.”   In other words, “nuclear security” means ensuring that non-state actors do not acquire nuclear weapons or the means to develop them.  What nation-states may do or not do with nuclear weapons is beside the point of this communiqué.

I am all for keeping nuclear weapons and the means to develop them out of the hands of non-state actors.  Indeed I believe that a robust international effort to secure weapons-grade materials from the hands of non-state actors is long overdue after years of relative inaction by the previous U. S. administration.  In any case, who can be against “preventing terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorized actors from acquiring nuclear materials?” 

But I find a peculiar irony in defining “nuclear security” in terms of non-state actors only, without regard for those nation-states which for decades, by maintaining vast nuclear arsenals on hair-trigger alert with a “first strike” option, have implicitly threatened millions upon millions of ordinary men, women, and children with indiscriminate annihilation.  Viewed objectively and from a disinterested standpoint, do not those nation-states which in the 21st Century continue to threaten mass, “omnicidal” annihilation also qualify as “terrorists,” “criminals,” and “unauthorized actors,” only more so than do non-state actors because of their potential to put an end to civilization?  And if that is so, does not one’s concept of “nuclear security” derive from his particular place, situation, and perspective on the world?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

UN Secretary-General: Launching Long-Range Missiles is Provocative

Thanks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for validating what I have been saying for a long time now: launching long-range missiles is provocative and destabilizes peace and security.

There's just a small difference between Mr. Ban's analysis and my own: I'm referring to all missile launches, including periodic Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile tests by the U.S. Air Force. Mr. Ban is referring only to the planned satellite launch by North Korea.

I don't know what North Korea's true intentions are with its planned launch - maybe they are indeed merely testing out some long-range missile technology. But how can it be so outrageous and destabilizing for North Korea to do their test, and harmless and routine when the United States conducts regular tests of its first-strike land-based nuclear warhead delivery vehicle?

History has shown over and over that "do as I say, not as I do" is a disastrous foreign policy. I fear that by criticizing and punishing North Korea while reserving the "right" to flaunt such weapons ourselves, we are encouraging North Korea to go ahead with exactly the program we claim to want to stop.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nuclear Testing at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

So I’ve been following Media Roots, a project devoted to citizen journalism and a socially responsible press, for about a year now. Abby Martin, the founder of the project, is an investigative journalist/ political scientist who became fed up with the mind-numbing news reports caused by corporate media ownership. The other day Media Roots released an interesting piece on the ‘non-existent’ nuclear testing at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. While the exposé was originally intended to explore the new computerized methods of nuclear testing, what was found was a bit more disheartening. According to the Media Roots report, the perceived ‘ban on nuclear testing’ is as much of a fallacy as the idea that war brings peace.

In accordance with the 1963 Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the United States along with the USSR and UK agreed to prohibit all tests of nuclear devices in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater. Despite the agreement, the Department of Energy has continued to test and develop nuclear weapons with the help of some fancy footwork and strategic wording. Let me give you an example: while watching the Media Roots report I was reminded of an Alliance for Nuclear Accountability publication about the ten most budget-busting Department of Energy projects for the upcoming decade. One of the projects, the National Ignition Facility, specifically stood out in my mind because it sounded like something out of Back to the Future.

The National Ignition Facility uses nuclear fusion science (aka lots and lots of laser beams) to essentially create a mini sun capable of solving many of the world’s energy problems. At least that’s how the project was initially sold to Congress and local representatives. According to a 2000 Government Accountability Office report only 15% of operations at the National Ignition Facility are devoted to non-weapons activities. The other 85%? You guessed it: nuclear weapons testing.

For a country committed to a world without nuclear weapons, we sure do put a lot of emphasis on warhead maintenance and development. Make sure you check out “Lawrence Livermore Lab & the Continued Nuclear Arms Race” at for more information on current nuclear tests.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Youth Debate on Nuclear Disarmament

This guest blog is written by Christian Ciobanu, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's Geneva representative and a key organizer of the debate.

On February 27, 2012, in partnership with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and Toastmasters International, an international public speaking organization, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation convened the Youth Debate on Nuclear Disarmament in which teams from the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Webster University, University of Geneva (UNIGE), and Women`s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) debated on whether or not nuclear weapon states should completely disarm all of their nuclear weapons. Dr. Pavel Podvig, Programme Lead on the Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme of UNIDIR, provided the introductory remarks. Moreover, participants had the honor of debating in the presence of distinguished diplomats and representatives to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), including: H.E. Mr. Hellmut Hoffmann, Ambassador of Germany to the CD, Mr. Guy Pollard, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the CD, Ms. María Antonieta Jáquez Huacuja, the First Secretary of Mexico to the CD, and Mr. Michiel J. Combrink, Counselor: Disarmament of South Africa to the CD. These honorable guests agreed to serve as judges for the debate, which contributed to generating substantial and professional discussions on nuclear disarmament issues.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Remembering the March 11th Disaster

This guest blog comes from former NAPF intern Olivia Wong, who is now living, working and studying in Japan.

On the bottom of the ocean floor, offshore from the Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture, a massive uninhibited force rippled through the depths of the ocean. Thousands of kilometers away, at that exact same moment, I was sitting in a classroom taking a final exam in Japanese at my university in Santa Barbara. The range of the seismic epicenter was colossal, measuring about 500 kilometers from north to south and spanning roughly 200 km from east to west. Immediately after the tectonic plates began to shift, waves began to form, and the tsunami was born.

The voices of different news stations overlapping each other echoed throughout the wing of the Japanese Language and Studies department. I stood in the doorway of my professor’s office and watched the numbers “9.0” flash violently across the screen. Nano-seconds later, images of a thrashing wave engulfing the coast of Northeast Japan replaced the reports of the earthquake. The creature took on a life of its own, indiscriminately consuming everything in its path into a deep malevolent abyss. Beset by the pandemonium erupting on the television, my teachers and I observed in silence, as we were too horrified to even make a gesture of disbelief.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Air Force Cancels Nuclear Missile Launch after Pressure from NAPF Action Alert Network

For the second time in less than six months, the US Air Force has scheduled a test launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile on a highly inappropriate date. Last year, they scheduled a test of the US' land-based thermonuclear warhead delivery vehicle on September 21. That's just any old day on the calendar, just like most of the other 364 days, right? Wrong. It's the International Day of Peace, recognized by the UN General Assembly as a day for "commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all
nations and peoples."

After thousands of NAPF Action Alert members pointed out the absurdity of testing a missile that delivers thermonuclear weapons on "a day of global ceasefire and nonviolence, [which is] an invitation to all nations and people to honor a cessation of hostilities for the duration of the Day," the Air Force canceled the test. For technical reasons, of course.

Then late last week, they announced that they would be testing a Minuteman on March 1. Just another day on the calendar, right? Wrong again. March 1 is the anniversary of the biggest thermonuclear weapon test ever conducted by the United States. The Castle Bravo test had an explosive yield of 15 megatons, which is 1,000 times the power of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The Bravo test caused widespread damage to numerous atolls in the Marshall Islands that is still felt to this day. The Marshall Islands also happened to be the target of this Minuteman missile test.

Last night, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation sent out a press release highlighting this fact. This morning, we sent an action alert to our members asking them to demand the cancellation of the test. Lo and behold, just before lunchtime today, the Air Force canceled the March 1 test. For technical reasons, of course.

Maybe they'll schedule the next launch for August 6 - there's no reason why that date would remind people of what nuclear weapons actually do.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sense of Urgency Leads to Civil Disobedience at Vandenberg

David Krieger, Fr. Louis Vitale and
Daniel Ellsberg. Photo by Jim Haber.
In the early hours of Saturday, February 25, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation President David Krieger was arrested with 14 others protesting the test launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. The Minuteman is the United States' land-based missile, 450 of which sit in silos around the Midwest on hair-trigger alert, ready to be fired at a moment's notice. Saturday's launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base targeted the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

I had the chance to ask David a few questions about his arrest now that he has had a couple of days to reflect on it.

RW: What made you decide after 30 years of working as President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation to get arrested protesting this missile launch?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why Can't We Say Sorry?

In Senate Resolution 330, the U.S. Senate has designated January 27, 2012 as "a national day of remembrance for Americans who, during the Cold War, worked and lived downwind from nuclear testing sites and were adversely affected by the radiation exposure generated by the above ground nuclear weapons testing."

The first nuclear test explosion at the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles from Las Vegas, was conducted on January 27, 1951. The United States proceeded to conduct over 1,000 nuclear explosions at the Nevada Test Site over the next 40 years.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nuclear Power? No Way!

It has been about five months since I left the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation team to return to Savannah, Georgia to finish my degree in political science. Since the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, I have been paying close attention to the post-disaster living conditions in the surrounding area; especially since one of NAPF’s former interns, Olivia, traveled to Japan for a study abroad. This past summer I specifically remember her researching the conditions in Japan and reassuring the NAPF staff that she would not be at risk for radiation exposure of any kind. We all felt a sigh of relief; if only it was that simple.

A recent article in the Economist revealed that living conditions following the Fukushima disaster were not as they seemed. A privately funded foundation, headed by Yoichi Funabashi, has been working on an investigation using the testimony of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) whistle-blowers. To make matters worse, sources note that the amount of radioactive materials released from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has actually increased since December. 48 out of the 54 nuclear reactors in Japan remain out of service due to safety concerns. If these facts do not make us question our own nuclear energy issues, I don’t know what will.

Within the United States, the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County, New York has been a major source of controversy, and for good reason. Not only has New York Governor Cuomo advocated closing the plant for years, but also the Huffington Post recently disclosed that the plant’s location on a fault line makes it extremely susceptible to an earthquake or natural disaster. In the words of philosopher and poet, George Santayana, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

For more information on the dangers of nuclear power, check out NAPF’s “Nuclear Energy Issues” segment on Nuclear

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

War Corrupts

This guest blog post was written by Robert Laney.

Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta may protest until they are blue in the face that the videotape showing four Marines desecrating Afghani corpses does not reflect the values of the American people or their Armed Forces.  Unfortunately this videotape is merely the latest addition to a body of evidence which shows that inhumane and barbaric attitudes persist in the U.S. Armed Forces.  In my opinion the important questions presented by this videotape are (1) how widespread and virulent are these tendencies today, (2) how many similar instances of inhumane conduct by the Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have never been videotaped and publicized, and (3) how may the life experiences of these four Marines, both prior to and during their military service, help explain their conduct in this instance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Accidents Happen?

"Accidents happen. That's what they say."
-- Grover

My two year-old daughter is in full potty training mode, and right now her favorite video is Sesame Street's "Elmo's Potty Time." Unfortunately this means that the soundtrack plays over and over in my head. One of the catchiest songs is "Accidents Happen" (quoted above). The conclusion of the song is that accidents happen, and that's ok.

The other world in which I reside, where I work every day for the abolition of nuclear weapons, is full of examples where accidents are not ok. One such example is the Palomares accident, which happened on this day in 1966.

On this day in the middle of the Cold War, a U.S. B-52 bomber carrying four nuclear weapons collided in mid-air with a KC-135 refueling tanker plane, causing both planes to crash. One of the B-52's nuclear weapons was recovered on the ground and another was found after a months-long search in the sea. The other two nuclear weapons have never been found.
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