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UN Negotiations to Ban Nuclear Weapons

In Environment, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace on March 30, 2017 at 8:29 am

Here is a ten page newsletter on what is going on at the UN nuclear negotiations for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons:
http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban/reports/NBD1.3.pdf

The format is large print, very informative and easy to read.

Hawking, Higgs and Over 3,000 Other Scientists Support UN Nuclear Ban Negotiations

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on March 29, 2017 at 10:20 pm

Future of Life Institute, By Ariel Conn, March 27, 2017

Delegates from most UN member states are gathering in New York to negotiate a nuclear weapons ban, where they will also receive a letter of support that has been signed by thousands of scientists from around over 80 countries – including 28 Nobel Laureates and a former US Secretary of Defense. “Scientists bear a special responsibility for nuclear weapons, since it was scientists who invented them and discovered that their effects are even more horrific than first thought”, the letter explains.

The letter was delivered at a ceremony at 1pm on Monday March 27 in the UN General Assembly Hall to Her Excellency Ms. Elayne Whyte Gómez from Costa Rica, who is presiding over the negotiations.

Despite all the attention to nuclear terrorism and nuclear rogue states, one of the greatest threats from nuclear weapons has always been mishaps and accidents among the established nuclear nations. With political tensions and instability increasing, this threat is growing to alarming levels: “The probability of a nuclear calamity is higher today, I believe, that it was during the cold war,” according to former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, who signed the letter.

“Nuclear weapons represent one of the biggest threats to our civilization. With the unpredictability of the current world situation, it is more important than ever to get negotiations about a ban on nuclear weapons on track, and to make these negotiations a truly global effort,” says neuroscience professor Edvard Moser from Norway, 2014 Nobel Laureate in Physiology/Medicine.

Professor Wolfgang Ketterle from MIT, 2001 Nobel Laureate in Physics, agrees: “I see nuclear weapons as a real threat to the human race and we need an international consensus to reduce this threat.”

Currently, the US and Russia have about 14,000 nuclear weapons combined, many on hair-trigger alert and ready to be launched on minutes notice, even though a Pentagon report argued that a few hundred would suffice for rock-solid deterrence. Yet rather than trim their excess arsenals, the superpowers plan massive investments to replace their nuclear weapons by new destabilizing ones that are more lethal for a first strike attack.

“Unlike many of the world’s leaders I care deeply about the future of my grandchildren. Even the remote possibility of a nuclear war presents an unconscionable threat to their welfare. We must find a way to eliminate nuclear weapons,” says Sir Richard J. Roberts, 1993 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine.

“Most governments are frustrated that a small group of countries with a small fraction of the world’s population insist on retaining the right to ruin life on Earth for everyone else with nuclear weapons, ignoring their disarmament promises in the non-proliferation treaty”, says physics professor Max Tegmark from MIT, who helped organize the letter. “In South Africa, the minority in control of the unethical Apartheid system didn’t give it up spontaneously on their own initiative, but because they were pressured into doing so by the majority. Similarly, the minority in control of unethical nuclear weapons won’t give them up spontaneously on their own initiative, but only if they’re pressured into doing so by the majority of the world’s nations and citizens.”

The idea behind the proposed ban is to provide such pressure by stigmatizing nuclear weapons.

Beatrice Fihn, who helped launch the ban movement as Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, explains that such stigmatization made the landmine and cluster munitions bans succeed and can succeed again: “The market for landmines is pretty much extinct—nobody wants to produce them anymore because countries have banned and stigmatized them. Just a few years ago, the United States—who never signed the landmines treaty—announced that it’s basically complying with the treaty. If the world comes together in support of a nuclear ban, then nuclear weapons countries will likely follow suit, even if it doesn’t happen right away.”

Susi Snyder from from the Dutch “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” project explains:

“If you prohibit the production, possession, and use of these weapons and the assistance with doing those things, we’re setting a stage to also prohibit the financing of the weapons. And that’s one way that I believe the ban treaty is going to have a direct and concrete impact on the ongoing upgrades of existing nuclear arsenals, which are largely being carried out by private contractors.”

“Nuclear arms are the only weapons of mass destruction not yet prohibited by an international convention, even though they are the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons ever created”, the letter states, motivating a ban.

“The horror that happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki should never be repeated. Nuclear weapons should be banned,” says Columbia University professor Martin Chalfie, 2008 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

Norwegian neuroscience professor May-Britt Moser, a 2014 Nobel Laureate in Physiology/Medicine, says, “In a world with increased aggression and decreasing diplomacy – the availability nuclear weapons is more dangerous than ever. Politicians are urged to ban nuclear weapons. The world today and future generations depend on that decision.”

The open letter: https://futureoflife.org/nuclear-open-letter/

Letter of Pope Francis on the UN Negotiations on a Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on March 29, 2017 at 9:59 am

To Her Excellency Elayne Whyte Gómez President of the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit NuclearWeapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination

I extend cordial greetings to you, Madam President, and to all the representatives of the various nations and international organizations, and of civil society participating in this Conference. I wish to encourage you to work with determination in order to promote the conditions necessary for a world without nuclear weapons.

On 25 September 2015, before the General Assembly of the United Nations, I emphasized what the Preamble and first Article of the United Nations Charter indicate as the foundations of the international juridical framework: peace, the pacific solution of disputes and the development of friendly relations between nations. An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are contradictory to the very spirit of the United Nations. We must therefore commit ourselves to a world without nuclear weapons, by fully implementing the Non-Proliferation Treaty, both in letter and spirit (cf. Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations, 25 September 2015).

But why give ourselves this demanding and forward-looking goal in the present international context characterized by an unstable climate of conflict, which is both cause and indication of the difficulties encountered in advancing and strengthening the process of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation?

If we take into consideration the principal threats to peace and security with their many dimensions in this multipolar world of the twenty-first century as, for example, terrorism, asymmetrical conflicts, cybersecurity, environmental problems, poverty, not a few doubts arise regarding the inadequacy of nuclear deterrence as an effective response to such challenges. These concerns are even greater when we consider the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences that would follow from any use of nuclear weapons, with devastating, indiscriminate and uncontainable effects, over time and space. Similar cause for concern arises when examining the waste of resources spent on nuclear issues for military purposes, which could instead be used for worthy priorities like the promotion of peace and integral human development, as well as the fight against poverty, and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We need also to ask ourselves how sustainable is a stability based on fear, when it actually increases fear and undermines relationships of trust between peoples.

International peace and stability cannot be based on a false sense of security, on the threat of mutual destruction or total annihilation, or on simply maintaining a balance of power. Peace must be built on justice, on integral human development, on respect for fundamental human rights, on the protection of creation, on the participation of all in public life, on trust between peoples, on the support of peaceful institutions, on access to education and health, on dialogue and solidarity. From this perspective, we need to go beyond nuclear deterrence: the international community is called upon to adopt forward-looking strategies to promote the goal of peace and stability and to avoid short-sighted approaches to the problems surrounding national and international security.

In this context, the ultimate goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons becomes both a challenge and a moral and humanitarian imperative. A concrete approach should promote a reflection on an ethics of peace and multilateral and cooperative security that goes beyond the fear and isolationism that prevail in many debates today. Achieving a world without nuclear weapons involves a long-term process, based on the awareness that “everything is connected” within the perspective of an integral ecology (cf. Laudato Si’, 117, 138). The common destiny of mankind demands the pragmatic strengthening of dialogue and the building and consolidating of mechanisms of trust and cooperation, capable of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.

Growing interdependence and globalization mean that any response to the threat of nuclear weapons should be collective and concerted, based on mutual trust. This trust can be built only through dialogue that is truly directed to the common good and not to the protection of veiled or particular interests; such dialogue, as far as possible, should include all: nuclear states, countries which do not possess nuclear weapons, the military and private sectors, religious communities, civil societies, and international organizations. And in this endeavour we must avoid those forms of mutual recrimination and polarization which hinder dialogue rather than encourage it. Humanity has the ability to work together in building up our common home; we have the freedom, intelligence and capacity to lead and direct technology, to place limits on our power, and to put all this at the service of another type of progress: one that is more human, social and integral (cf. ibid., 13, 78, 112; Message for the 22nd Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change (COP22), 10 November 2016).

This Conference intends to negotiate a Treaty inspired by ethical and moral arguments. It is an exercise in hope and it is my wish that it may also constitute a decisive step along the road towards a world without nuclear weapons. Although this is a significantly complex and long-term goal, it is not beyond our reach.
Madam President, I sincerely wish that the efforts of this Conference may be fruitful and provide an effective contribution to advancing an ethic of peace and of multilateral and cooperative security, which humanity very much needs today.

Upon all those gathered at this important meeting, and upon the citizens of the countries you represent, I invoke the blessings of the Almighty.

From the Vatican, 23 March 2017

FRANCIS

UNITED STATES AND ALLIES PROTEST U.N. TALKS TO BAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on March 29, 2017 at 8:33 am

New York Times — March 28, 2017
by Somini Sengupta and Rick Gladston

UNITED NATIONS — Saying the time was not right to outlaw nuclear arms, the United States led a group of dozens of United Nations members on Monday that boycotted talks at the global organization for a treaty that would ban the weapons.

“There is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons,” Ambassador Nikki R. Haley of the United States told reporters outside the General Assembly as the talks began. “But we have to be realistic. Is there anyone who thinks that North Korea would ban nuclear weapons?”

Ms. Haley and other ambassadors standing with her, including envoys from Albania, Britain, France and South Korea, declined to take questions.

The talks, supported by more than 120 countries, were first announced in October and are led by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa and Sweden. Disarmament groups strongly support the effort.

The United States and most other nuclear powers, including Russia, oppose the talks. The Obama administration voted against convening them.

The talks come against the backdrop of increasing worries over the intentions of a reclusive North Korea, which has tested nuclear weapons and missiles that could conceivably carry them. Defying international sanctions, the North Koreans have threatened to strike the United States and its allies with what North Korea’s state news media has called the “nuclear sword of justice.”

Ms. Haley and Ambassador Matthew Rycroft of Britain emphasized that their countries had vastly reduced the size of their nuclear arsenals since the height of the Cold War.

Mr. Rycroft said his country was not participating in the talks “because we do not believe that those negotiations will lead to effective progress on global nuclear disarmament.”

Ms. Haley questioned whether countries favoring a weapons ban understood the nature of global threats. Referring to nations participating in the talks, she said, “You have to ask yourself, are they looking out for their people?”

She cited North Korea and Iran in articulating her opposition to the talks. But those countries have taken divergent positions. North Korea, like the United States and its allies, is sitting out the talks. Iran, which does not have nuclear weapons and has promised not to acquire them, is participating.

“Is it any surprise that Iran is in support of this?” Ms. Haley said.

Her counterparts from Russia and China, both veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, did not join her protest group. But they are not participating in the talks.

Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia said in Moscow last week that his government did not support a global nuclear weapons ban, essentially agreeing with the American position.

“Efforts to coerce nuclear powers to abandon nuclear weapons have intensified significantly recently,” the Tass news agency quoted him as saying. “It is absolutely clear that the time has not yet come for that.”

Proponents of a nuclear weapons ban have acknowledged the challenges of reaching a treaty, but have been encouraged by efforts that led to landmark prohibitions on other weapons, including chemical weapons, land mines and cluster munitions.

If a sufficient number of countries were to ratify a nuclear weapons ban, supporters contend, it would create political and moral pressure on holdouts, including the big nuclear powers.

Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said in a statement that the opposition expressed by Ms. Haley and her allies “demonstrates how worried they are about the real impact of the nuclear ban treaty.”

Ms. Fihn, whose organization is a strong supporter of the negotiations, said a treaty would “make it clear that the world has moved beyond these morally unacceptable weapons of the past.”

Humanitarian aid groups not directly engaged in disarmament causes also endorsed the talks.

“Of course, adopting a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons will not make them immediately disappear,” Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said in a statement. “But it will reinforce the stigma against their use, support commitments to nuclear risk reduction and be a disincentive for proliferation.”

As the talks began inside the General Assembly hall, Toshiki Fujimori, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, made an emotional appeal to diplomats.

“I’m here at the U.N. asking for an abolition of nuclear weapons,” he said through an interpreter. “Nobody in any country deserves seeing the same hell again.”

More than 2,000 scientists signed an open letter endorsing the talks.

“We scientists bear a special responsibility for nuclear weapons, since it was scientists who invented them and discovered that their effects are even more horrific than first thought,” stated the letter, posted on the website of the Future of Life Institute, a charitable organization that promotes the peaceful use of technology.

Quoting President Ronald Reagan, the letter stated, “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

Israel’s Military-Industrial Complex

In Peace, Politics, War on March 29, 2017 at 2:19 am

By Tom Mayer, March 28, 2017

Few Americans understand the magnitude and importance of Israel’s military-industrial complex. Israel is a small country. Its population in 2016 was 8.6 million, 75% of whom were classified as Jews and 21% were classified as Arabs. Despite its diminutive size, Israel is a formidable military power with a massive (and politically essential) military-industrial complex. Even disregarding its nuclear capacity, Israel was ranked as the world’s 11th strongest military power in 2015. And for the last eight years the Global Military Index has rated Israel as the most militarized country on earth.

Israel has received well over $100 billion in military aid from the United States since 1949, not to mention privileged access to U.S. military technology, which is probably worth far more. In addition to such lavish military assistance (from Germany, France, and England as well as the USA), Israel devotes about 6% of GDP to its military establishment. The United States spends about 4.5%. The Israeli military consumes over 15% of the government’s annual budget.

Israel specializes in the production of high technology weapons, military software, and population control systems (also called homeland security methodologies). In 2013 Israel produced 18,000 military related commodities including missiles, guided bombs, anti-missile defense systems, satellites, satellite launchers, drones, smart munitions, battlefield armor, and naval engines. Israel is the world leader in training militarized police forces and population control specialists. Having been operationally tested in Israel’s numerous military encounters and long-standing efforts to control the Palestinian people, Israel’s military and security products have high credibility and strong appeal to elites with population control problems.

Israel exports 75% of the weapons it produces. It is currently the world’s the sixth largest weapons exporter. 28% of its weapons exports are missiles, drones, or missile defense systems. Israel has weapons marketing or security training protocols with over 130 countries. 20% of Israel’s military exports go to the United States; but China, India, Poland, South Korea, Australia, and Brazil are also important weapons customers.

Five companies manufacture over 95% of the arms produced in Israel: Elbit Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Israel Military Industries, and Israel Weapon Industries. Elbit Systems has mixed private/government ownership while the other four companies are state owned. Israel’s military industries are closely integrated with those of the United States. Indeed, one knowledgeable observer claims that Israel’s military-industrial complex “constitutes a bonanza for the US defense industries, advancing US national security, employment, research & development and exports” (Yoram Ettinger, 2011).

Israel’s military-industrial complex plays a vital role in the country’s foreign relations. Israel routinely attempts to sell military goods and security services to any country irrespective of its human rights record or attitude towards Zionism. It hopes to make the purchasing country dependent upon Israeli military equipment, training capacities, and/or technical know-how. Once such a relationship is established, the now dependent country is less likely to criticize Israeli aggression or human rights violations. Such relations have apparently moderated criticisms of Israel by China, India, and Brazil among others.

The Israeli human rights activist-scholar Jeff Halper writes that: “Israel is by far the most conflict-prone state in modern history. It has fought six or seven interstate wars, three major Palestinian uprisings …, [and] has been involved in over 166 dyadic militarized interstate disputes….[C]ultural militarism has become part of the natural order in Israel.” For further information about the Israel’s military-industrial complex, see Halper’s important book War Against the People (Pluto Press, 2015).

Message from Beatrice Fihn, ICAN info@icanw.org

In Democracy, Environment, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Public Health on March 29, 2017 at 1:56 am

Yesterday, negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons under international law began in New York. The treaty is being negotiated based on the recognition that the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapon use is morally unacceptable and that the weapons themselves represent a significant risk to human security.

The treaty will finally ban weapons designed to indiscriminately kill civilians, completing the prohibitions of weapons of mass destruction.

While the majority of the worlds governments gathered in the room, Trump’s UN envoy, Nikki Haley, held a protest together with the UK, France and a number of Eastern European allies outside the negotiations.

The very unusual protest by Ambassador Haley and others demonstrates how worried they are about the impact of the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. This treaty will also affect countries that fail to participate, by setting international norms of behaviour and removing the political prestige associated with nuclear weapons.

Over 115 governments, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the Pope and other faith-based leaders, over 3,000 scientists, and civil society agreed yesterday – this is the time to ban nuclear weapons.
There are many ways to follow the treaty negotiations:

Live stream from the proceedings in New York
ICAN’s blog
#nuclearban on Twitter
Daily video updates
This is a really exciting moment and negotiations of a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons would not have happened without the strong support from civil society around the world.

Over 3,000 Scientists Support UN Nuclear Ban Negotiations

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on March 29, 2017 at 12:31 am

New York Times, March 27, 2017

Delegates from most UN member states are gathering in New York to negotiate a nuclear weapons ban, where they will also receive a letter of support that has been signed by thousands of scientists from around over 80 countries – including 28 Nobel Laureates and a former US Secretary of Defense. “Scientists bear a special responsibility for nuclear weapons, since it was scientists who invented them and discovered that their effects are even more horrific than first thought”, the letter explains.

The letter will be delivered at a ceremony at 1pm on Monday March 27 in the UN General Assembly Hall to Her Excellency Ms. Elayne Whyte Gómez from Costa Rica, who will preside over the negotiations.

Despite all the attention to nuclear terrorism and nuclear rogue states, one of the greatest threats from nuclear weapons has always been mishaps and accidents among the established nuclear nations. With political tensions and instability increasing, this threat is growing to alarming levels: “The probability of a nuclear calamity is higher today, I believe, that it was during the cold war,” according to former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, who signed the letter.

“Nuclear weapons represent one of the biggest threats to our civilization. With the unpredictability of the current world situation, it is more important than ever to get negotiations about a ban on nuclear weapons on track, and to make these negotiations a truly global effort,” says neuroscience professor Edvard Moser from Norway, 2014 Nobel Laureate in Physiology/Medicine.

Professor Wolfgang Ketterle from MIT, 2001 Nobel Laureate in Physics, agrees: “I see nuclear weapons as a real threat to the human race and we need an international consensus to reduce this threat.”

Currently, the US and Russia have about 14,000 nuclear weapons combined, many on hair-trigger alert and ready to be launched on minutes notice, even though a Pentagon report argued that a few hundred would suffice for rock-solid deterrence. Yet rather than trim their excess arsenals, the superpowers plan massive investments to replace their nuclear weapons by new destabilizing ones that are more lethal for a first strike attack.

“Unlike many of the world’s leaders I care deeply about the future of my grandchildren. Even the remote possibility of a nuclear war presents an unconscionable threat to their welfare. We must find a way to eliminate nuclear weapons,” says Sir Richard J. Roberts, 1993 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine.

“Most governments are frustrated that a small group of countries with a small fraction of the world’s population insist on retaining the right to ruin life on Earth for everyone else with nuclear weapons, ignoring their disarmament promises in the non-proliferation treaty”, says physics professor Max Tegmark from MIT, who helped organize the letter. “In South Africa, the minority in control of the unethical Apartheid system didn’t give it up spontaneously on their own initiative, but because they were pressured into doing so by the majority. Similarly, the minority in control of unethical nuclear weapons won’t give them up spontaneously on their own initiative, but only if they’re pressured into doing so by the majority of the world’s nations and citizens.”

The idea behind the proposed ban is to provide such pressure by stigmatizing nuclear weapons.
Beatrice Fihn, who helped launch the ban movement as Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, explains that such stigmatization made the landmine and cluster munitions bans succeed and can succeed again: “The market for landmines is pretty much extinct—nobody wants to produce them anymore because countries have banned and stigmatized them. Just a few years ago, the United States—who never signed the landmines treaty—announced that it’s basically complying with the treaty. If the world comes together in support of a nuclear ban, then nuclear weapons countries will likely follow suit, even if it doesn’t happen right away.”

Susi Snyder from from the Dutch “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” project explains:
“If you prohibit the production, possession, and use of these weapons and the assistance with doing those things, we’re setting a stage to also prohibit the financing of the weapons. And that’s one way that I believe the ban treaty is going to have a direct and concrete impact on the ongoing upgrades of existing nuclear arsenals, which are largely being carried out by private contractors.”

“Nuclear arms are the only weapons of mass destruction not yet prohibited by an international convention, even though they are the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons ever created”, the letter states, motivating a ban.

“The horror that happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki should never be repeated. Nuclear weapons should be banned,” says Columbia University professor Martin Chalfie, 2008 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

Norwegian neuroscience professor May-Britt Moser, a 2014 Nobel Laureate in Physiology/Medicine, says, “In a world with increased aggression and decreasing diplomacy – the availability nuclear weapons is more dangerous than ever. Politicians are urged to ban nuclear weapons. The world today and future generations depend on that decision.”

Media inquiries:
• Ariel Conn, Director of Media at Future of Life Institute, ariel@futureoflife.org <mailto:ariel@futureoflife.org>, (415) 640-1780
• Max Tegmark, Professor of Physics at MIT, President of Future of Life Institute, tegmark@mit.edu <mailto:tegmark@mit.edu>,
• Contact information for all the letter signatories is available on request from Ariel Conn.

The open letter, under embargo: https://futureoflife.org/nuclear-open-letter/ <https://futureoflife.org/nuclear-open-letter/&gt;

An Open Letter from Scientists in Support of the UN Nuclear Weapons Negotiations
Nuclear arms are the only weapons of mass destruction not yet prohibited by an international convention, even though they are the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons ever created. We scientists bear a special responsibility for nuclear weapons, since it was scientists who invented them and discovered that their effects are even more horrific than first thought. Individual explosions can obliterate cities, radioactive fallout can contaminate regions, and a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse may cause mayhem by frying electrical grids and electronics across a continent. The most horrible hazard is a nuclear-induced winter, in which the fires and smoke from as few as a thousand detonations might darken the atmosphere enough to trigger a global mini ice age with year-round winter-like conditions. This could cause a complete collapse of the global food system and apocalyptic unrest, potentially killing most people on Earth – even if the nuclear war involved only a small fraction of the roughly 14,000 nuclear weapons that today’s nine nuclear powers control. As Ronald Reagan said: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

Unfortunately, such a war is more likely than one may hope, because it can start by mistake, miscalculation or terrorist provocation. There is a steady stream of accidents and false alarms that could trigger all-out war, and relying on never-ending luck is not a sustainable strategy. Many nuclear powers have larger nuclear arsenals than needed for deterrence, yet prioritize making them more lethal over reducing them and the risk that they get used.

But there is also cause for optimism. On March 27 2017, an unprecedented process begins at the United Nations: most of the world’s nations convene to negotiate a ban on nuclear arms, to stigmatize them like biological and chemical weapons, with the ultimate goal of a world free of these weapons of mass destruction. We support this, and urge our national governments to do the same, because nuclear weapons threaten not merely those who have them, but all people on Earth.

To date, this letter has been signed by 2211 scientists (this does not imply endorsement by their organizations):

Could Gov. Jerry Brown be the new face of an anti-nukes campaign? He’s thinking about it

In Democracy, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on March 28, 2017 at 9:58 pm

By John Myers, LA Times, March 23, 2017
For Gov. Jerry Brown, the question isn’t why he spent so much time in Washington this week talking about the growing threat of nuclear annihilation — it’s why everyone else isn’t doing the same.

“Most people are kind of blithely unaware,” Brown said of the issue. “It doesn’t show up in the press. That’s why I say, ‘The end of the world is not news.’ ”

Brown, though, may be ready to launch a visible new effort to change that. His busy schedule in the nation’s capital this week was filled with discussions of disaster relief, transportation and healthcare. But those meetings were scheduled to accommodate time he spent with leaders of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce the threat of nuclear war.

What the governor took from his Washington visit was an appetite for action, perhaps even a rebirth of his former evangelical fervor for nuclear disarmament.

“I’m looking for ways to generate more activism, to build the awareness and the momentum for more discussion between these hostile powers,” Brown said in an interview. “And I think that may involve more public activity.”

Brown was invited to join the group’s board of directors earlier this year, alongside some of the world’s most distinguished nuclear experts. His own views were shaped amid California protests over nuclear power and weapons research in the late 1970s, an era in which the young governor had tapped in to a broader national discussion.

That discussion, though, faded from the spotlight.

“It’s a hard subject and people don’t like to think about it,” said former Democratic Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, now chief executive of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Nunn said that he and Brown have talked about nuclear threats “on a number of occasions” over the years and that he was urged to enlist the governor’s help by former Defense Secretary William J. Perry and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, who served under President Clinton and President Reagan, respectively.

“Citizens have to be interested” in shrinking the risk of a nuclear incident, Nunn said.

The Washington-based organization prides itself on the network of connections its international experts can tap to take action. Its projects have included a “fuel bank” for countries interested in nuclear energy to receive low-enriched uranium without creating a program that could produce more weapons.

That proactive approach is one Brown supports.

“Nobody seems to be worried about the general trajectory toward disaster,” the governor said in lamenting the tepid reaction the topic inspires in the general public.

Gov. Jerry Brown heads to Capitol Hill and dives into Washington’s healthcare battle »

Should nuclear tensions spill over into conflict, there would be few politicians as justified as Brown in saying, “I told you so.” The issue was a staple of his platform during three failed races for president, though his earnest approach to the topic often produced ribbing among political writers.

“Vote for Jerry Brown or die,” wrote journalist Roger Simon in a 1980 column published by The Times after Brown railed against nuclear weapons in the run-up to the New Hampshire presidential primary.

Brown’s focus often shifted to other issues during the rebirth of his political career, when he was elected as Oakland mayor in 1998 and attorney general in 2006. Now in the home stretch of a final term as governor, he said he’s ready to again sound the nuclear alarm — a cause that he said has parallels to his efforts on climate change.

Trump to Roll Back Obama Climate Policies

In Climate change, Environment, Politics on March 28, 2017 at 9:33 pm

Foreign Policy, March 28, 2017
Top News: U.S. President Donald Trump will sign a wide-ranging executive order Tuesday to undo key parts of the Obama administration’s climate regulations.

The “Energy Independence” decree seeks to make good on Trump’s campaign pledges to unshackle the fossil fuel industry and boost domestic energy production. It will sweep aside the Clean Power Plan, which requires states to cut carbon emissions. The order will also cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, reverse a ban on coal leasing on federal lands, and cut rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas production.

It is not clear if the United States, the world’s second largest polluter, will continue to support the Paris Climate Accord. Environmental groups have promised to challenge the order in court.

Doomsday is approaching: Nuclear danger posed by Trump has only grown

In Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on March 28, 2017 at 7:58 am

Jefferson Morley, Alternet, Marcy 26, 2017

As if you didn’t have other things to worry about, add “think about the threat of nuclear war” to your to-do list.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists says we are, metaphorically speaking, only two and half minutes away from nuclear doomsday — the Bulletin’s closest Armageddon estimate since the early 1980s. Former Defense Secretary William Perry says he is “terrified.” Novelist Philip Roth says what is most frightening about President Donald Trump “is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course, the nuclear catastrophe.”

And the hell of our predicament, experts say, is that Trump’s emotional instability is only part of the problem. The 45th president sits atop a command and control system that is already aging, prone to accidents and vulnerable to hacking, according to Eric Schlosser, author of “Command and Control,” a gripping history of the U.S. nuclear complex.

And the American political economy offers vast incentives to those who want to expand and modernize America’s nuclear arsenal, instead of reducing and restraining it, as policymakers across the political spectrum recommend.

Before the 2016 election, Schlosser said the notion of Trump “with the launch codes, capable of devastating cities and countries, is extraordinary. It’s like the plot out of a science-fiction film.”

Now that film is reality, and the opening scenes are already scary.

Cold War to Gold War

The early hopes that Trump’s admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin might translate into a new nuclear arms agreement went a-glimmering on Feb. 24 when Trump told Reuters that he thought the existing U.S. Russia accord, known as New START, was “one-sided.”

In fact, the New START treaty limits both countries to the same number of deployed nuclear warheads — 1,550 — by Feb. 2018. And, in any case, Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that the United States could reduce its nuclear arsenal by a third without harm to U.S. security.

“Mr. Trump’s comments suggest, once again, that he is ill-informed about nuclear weapons and has a poor understanding of the unique dangers of nuclear weapons,” said Daryl Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association in Washington.

“Discarding New START would irresponsibly free Russia of any limits on its strategic nuclear arsenal and would terminate the inspections that provide the United States with significant additional transparency about Russian strategic nuclear forces,” Kimball wrote.

The United States is going from “Cold War to Gold War,” said Tom Collina, director of policy at Ploughshares Fund, a global security group in Washington, D.C. He noted that when Trump recently announced plans to seek an additional $54 billion in defense spending, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said that a key priority would be “restoring our nuclear capabilities,” meaning more money for nuclear weapons.