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Time to Ban the Bomb

In Nuclear Guardianship, Human rights, Peace, Nuclear Policy, Justice, Nuclear abolition, War, Politics on May 25, 2017 at 9:56 pm

By Alice Slater

This week, the Chair of an exciting UN initiative formally named the “United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination” released a draft treaty to ban and prohibit nuclear weapons just as the world has done for biological and chemical weapons. The Ban Treaty is to be negotiated at the UN from June 15 to July 7 as a follow up to the one week of negotiations that took place this past March, attended by more than 130 governments interacting with civil society. Their input and suggestions were used by the Chair, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the UN, Elayne Whyte Gómez to prepare the draft treaty. It is expected that the world will finally come out of this meeting with a treaty to ban the bomb!

This negotiating conference was established after a series of meetings in Norway, Mexico, and Austria with governments and civil society to examine the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. The meetings were inspired by the leadership and urging of the International Red Cross to look at the horror of nuclear weapons, not just through the frame of strategy and “deterrence”, but to grasp and examine the disastrous humanitarian consequences that would occur in a nuclear war. This activity led to a series of meetings culminating in a resolution in the UN General Assembly this fall to negotiate a treaty to ban and prohibit nuclear weapons. The new draft treaty based on the proposals put forth in the March negotiations requires the states to “never under any circumstances … develop, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess, or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices … use nuclear weapons … carry out any nuclear weapon test”. States are also required to destroy any nuclear weapons they possess and are prohibited from transferring nuclear weapons to any other recipient.

None of the nine nuclear weapons states, US, UK, Russia, France, China, Indian, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea came to the March meeting, although during the vote last fall on whether to go forward with the negotiating resolution in the UN’s First Committee for Disarmament, where the resolution was formally introduced, while the five western nuclear states voted against it, China, India and Pakistan abstained. And North Korea voted for the resolution to negotiate to ban the bomb! (I bet you didn’t read that in the New York Times!)

By the time the resolution got to the General Assembly, Donald Trump had been elected and those promising votes disappeared. And at the March negotiations, the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, flanked by the Ambassadors from England and France, stood outside the closed conference room and held a press conference with a number of “umbrella states” which rely on the US nuclear ‘deterrent” to annihilate their enemies (includes NATO states as well as Australia, Japan, and South Korea) and announced that “as a mother” who couldn’t want more for her family “than a world without nuclear weapons” she had to “be realistic” and would boycott the meeting and oppose efforts to ban the bomb adding, “Is there anyone that believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?”

The last 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) five year review conference broke up without consensus on the shoals of a deal the US was unable to deliver to Egypt to hold a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone Conference in the Middle East. This promise was made in 1995 to get the required consensus vote from all the states to extend the NPT indefinitely when it was due to expire, 25 years after the five nuclear weapons states in the treaty, US, UK, Russia, China, and France, promised in 1970 to make “good faith efforts” for nuclear disarmament. In that agreement all the other countries of the world promised not to get nuclear weapons, except for India, Pakistan, and Israel who never signed and went on to get their own bombs. North Korea had signed the treaty, but took advantage of the NPT’s Faustian bargain to sweeten the pot with a promise to the non-nuclear weapons states for an “inalienable right” to “peaceful” nuclear power, thus giving them the keys to the bomb factory. North Korea got its peaceful nuclear power, and walked out of the treaty to make a bomb. At the 2015 NPT review, South Africa gave an eloquent speech expressing the state of nuclear apartheid that exists between the nuclear haves, holding the whole world hostage to their security needs and their failure to comply with their obligation to eliminate their nuclear bombs, while working overtime to prevent nuclear proliferation in other countries.

The Ban Treaty draft provides that the Treaty will enter into effect when 40 nations sign and ratify it. Even if none of the nuclear weapons states join, the ban can be used to stigmatize and shame the “umbrella” states to withdraw from the nuclear “protection” services they are now receiving. Japan should be an easy case. The five NATO states in Europe who keep US nuclear weapons based on their soil–Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and Turkey– are good prospects for breaking with the nuclear alliance. A legal ban on nuclear weapons can be used to convince banks and pension funds in a divestment campaign, once it is known the weapons are illegal. See http://www.dontbankonthebomb.org

Right now people are organizing all over the world for a Women’s March to Ban the Bomb on June 17, during the ban treaty negotiations, with a big march and rally planned in New York. See https://www.womenbanthebomb.org/

We need to get as many countries to the UN as possible this June, and pressure our parliaments and capitals to vote to join the treaty to ban the bomb. And we need to talk it up and let people know that something great is happening now! To get involved, check out http://www.icanw.org

Alice Slater serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War

Reviving the nuclear arms consciousness

In Nonviolence, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on May 25, 2017 at 9:50 pm

By Dana Greene, National Catholic Reporter, May. 24, 2017

ALMIGHTY: COURAGE, RESISTANCE, AND EXISTENTIAL PERIL IN THE NUCLEAR AGE
By Dan Zak
Published by Penguin Random House, 416 pages, $16.95

Almighty is the story of America’s love/hate relationship with nuclear weapons. The title is apt, capturing both the awe of this “pinnacle of human ingenuity” and the terror of the prospect of their use. Nuclear weapons claimed the public’s imagination in the 1940s through the 1960s, but almost disappeared from consciousness after the end of the Cold War.

In the last 70-plus years, the United States has spent $10 trillion developing and maintaining its arsenal and shrouding these acquisitions in secrecy. Today, nine nations possess these weapons, and the United States’ concern is how Iran and North Korea, especially, might use their capabilities. The election of President Donald Trump has escalated the stakes of nuclear engagement.

Almighty begins with the Manhattan Project in 1939 and traces the use and maintenance of these weapons through the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The origin of the book began in microcosm, when a young feature reporter for The Washington Post, Dan Zak, was assigned to cover the 2012 break-in of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The incident was touted as a huge security breach in America’s atomic complex and was covered by many newspapers, including The New York Times and NCR.
But the story came to haunt Zak. He confesses that he, like others in their 30s, grew up knowing nothing of the history of these deadly weapons. He had to write this book, for himself and his contemporaries. The incident of the break-in became the lens through which he saw the history of America’s preoccupation with these weapons. The result was Almighty.

The story is one of complexity, suspense, courage, secrecy, fear and pride. While the narrative of the lives of the three resisters in the 2012 break-in is central, the players are many. Scientists and politicians, bureaucrats and judges, jurists and attorneys, diplomats and ordinary people — each has an important role and a decided opinion.

One of the strengths of the book are the extensive interviews Zak did in local communities where nuclear weapons are an economic powerhouse and a cause of illness.

What holds this epic story together is the interspersed accounts of the three resisters, who are members of the Transform Now Plowshares. Each was profoundly influenced by a prophetic understanding of the Catholic faith. Michael Walli, a Vietnam veteran, was influenced by Jesuit Fr. Richard McSorley of Georgetown and by the Catholic Worker Movement. Greg Boertje-Obed, another veteran, became a conscientious objector, having been influenced by Jesuit Fr. Dan Berrigan and fellow Plowshares activists Phil Berrigan and Liz McAlister. And Megan Rice, a Sister of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, as a young girl was inspired by Dorothy Day and went on to be a missionary teacher in Nigeria for 40 years.

This seemingly motley group, armed with hammers, box cutters and blood, entered undetected the Y-12 facility where uranium is enriched. They wrote graffiti, poured blood, hung up a banner and waited. This breach of security at Oak Ridge, the “Fort Knox of Uranium,” was considered a “miracle” by the resisters and their supporters but “catastrophic” for those who guarded this supposedly most secure of national facilities.

One of the book’s most gripping scenes is the courtroom trial, where the arguments for and against the defendants were laid out. The resisters’ claim was that nuclear weapons were immensely destructive, incapable of discriminating between military and civilian populations and hence needed to be destroyed. They accepted the charges against them.

The author’s sympathies are with the resisters, but he shows them as they are, with their quirks, limitations and sometimes-prophetic self-righteousness. It is by weaving their life histories into the larger chronicle of nuclear weapons that the account is saved from abstraction. Its rich detail gives it depth, its lucid prose makes it accessible, and its extensive documentation does not intrude on the flow of the narrative.

After I read Almighty, what remains in the imagination is the personal witness of the three protagonists, very ordinary Christians, who protested this most perilous of human creations and gave witness with their lives to Isaiah’s hope that swords would be beat into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.

[Dana Greene is dean emerita of Oxford College of Emory University and serves on the board of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation.]

U.S. Prepares To Confront Nuclear Ban Treaty With Smart Bombs

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics on May 25, 2017 at 2:48 am

Analysis by Rick Wayman*

WASHINGTON, D.C: (IDN) – On May 23, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a press release celebrating President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget. DOE specifically lauded the proposed “$10.2 billion for Weapons Activities to maintain and enhance the safety, security, and effectiveness of our nuclear weapons enterprise.”

Less than 24 hours earlier, Ambassador Elayne Whyte of Costa Rica released a draft of a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Ambassador Whyte is President of the United Nations Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. Over 130 nations have participated in the ban treaty negotiations thus far. A final treaty text is expected by early July.

The draft treaty would prohibit state parties from – among other things – developing, producing, manufacturing, possessing or stockpiling nuclear weapons. The United States has aggressively boycotted the treaty negotiations, and has actively sought to undermine the good faith efforts of the majority of the world’s nations to prohibit these indiscriminate and catastrophically destructive weapons.

No one is surprised at President Trump’s proposed funding for nuclear weapons activities; in fact, it is largely a continuation of the U.S. nuclear “modernization” program that began under President Obama. What is alarming, however, is the tacit admission by the Department of Energy that it is not simply maintaining current U.S. nuclear warheads until such time as they are eliminated. Rather, it is enhancing the “effectiveness” of nuclear weapons by incorporating new military capabilities into new weapons expected to be active through the final decades of the 21st century.

The draft ban treaty makes clear “that the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons transcend national borders, pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security and for the health of future generations.”

Whether or not the United States plans to join the majority of the world’s nations in a treaty banning nuclear weapons, its policies and programs must reflect the indisputable evidence of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons use. There is simply no excuse for investing in new nuclear weapons instead of an all-out diplomatic push for true security in a world without nuclear weapons.

A Good Faith Obligation

Article VI of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) obligates all parties to negotiate in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race at an early date. That treaty entered into force over 47 years ago.

The draft ban treaty repeats the unanimous 1996 declaration of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which said, “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.”

Judge Christopher Weeramantry was Vice President of the ICJ when it issued its 1996 Advisory Opinion. In a paper that he wrote for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in 2013, he examined in detail the concept of good faith in the context of nuclear disarmament.

He wrote, “There is no half-way house in the duty of compliance with good faith in international law.” He continued, “Disrespect for and breach of good faith grows exponentially if, far from even partial compliance, there is total non-compliance with the obligations it imposes.”

The U.S. and numerous other nuclear-armed countries argue that they are in compliance with their obligations because the total number of nuclear weapons in their arsenals has decreased. Quantitative reductions are important, and the progress on this front has been significant over the past couple of decades. However, a nuclear arms race need not simply be quantitative. Rather, what we see now among many of the nuclear-armed nations is a qualitative nuclear arms race, with enhancements of weapons’ “effectiveness” being a key component.

This qualitative nuclear arms race is a blatant breach of the good faith obligation and, according to Judge Weeramantry’s interpretation, likely even constitutes bad faith.

A Ban Is Coming

Regardless of how much money the United States and other nuclear-armed nations commit to their nuclear arsenals, the vast majority of the world’s nations plan to conclude a treaty banning nuclear weapons in July.

Even though such a treaty will not immediately halt nuclear weapons development or diminish the threat that current nuclear weapon arsenals pose to all humanity, it is an important step in the right direction.

The NPT and customary international law require all nations – not just those that possess nuclear weapons – to negotiate for nuclear disarmament. The ban treaty is the first of many steps needed to fulfill this obligation, and will lay a solid foundation for future multilateral action.

Non-nuclear-armed countries must continue to enhance the effectiveness of their diplomatic arsenals to ensure the successful entry into force of a ban treaty and subsequent measures to finally achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

Author’s note: Generally speaking, the U.S. Department of Energy is in charge of the design, production and maintenance of nuclear warheads and bombs, while the Department of Defense deals with the delivery systems (ICBMs, submarines, and bomber aircraft) and deployment in additional multi-billion dollar budget lines not addressed in this article. For more information on the Department of Energy’s nuclear “modernization” plans, see the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s new report “Accountability Audit.”

*Rick Wayman is Director of Programs & Operations at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability and is Co-Chair of the “Amplify: Generation of Change” network for nuclear abolition.

THE RISK OF NUCLEAR CATASTROPHE UNDER TRUMP

In Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on May 24, 2017 at 11:33 pm

By REBECCA FRIEDMAN LISSNER, War on the Rocks, May 23, 2017

Growing tension on the Korean Peninsula has returned the unimaginable terror of nuclear war to the American public consciousness. The danger is a global one: Nine states possess nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons and the detonation of even one of these weapons could cause humanitarian and economic catastrophe. Although the use of a nuclear weapon by a state or non-state actor is unlikely, it is not impossible, and the risk may be growing. Indeed, such a rare event can be evaluated in terms of a simple risk-assessment formula: probability multiplied by consequences.

Given the enormous consequences of nuclear use, even small fluctuations in probability warrant attention. Some variation will arise from changes in the international environment, such as technological advances that make nuclear command and control systems more or less vulnerable to cyber-attack, or fluctuation in the level of tension between nuclear-armed rivals like India and Pakistan. But as the world’s most powerful state, with its own vast nuclear arsenal as well as a record of leadership in nonproliferation and nuclear security efforts, the United States plays an important role in moderating —– or enhancing —– the likelihood of nuclear use.

President Donald Trump’s comments during the campaign and transition prompted widespread concern about his cavalier attitude toward, and lack of knowledge about, the world’s deadliest weapons. Since taking office, he has tempered his rhetoric somewhat —– but more than 100 days into the Trump administration, there are early warning signs indicating the president’s policies could increase the risk of nuclear catastrophe.

Setting aside accidental launch or detonation, the most likely scenarios for the intentional or miscalculated use of a nuclear weapon are nuclear detonation by a state during crisis or wartime, and nuclear use by a non-state actor, such as a terrorist group. While this president is nothing if not unpredictable, it is both important and possible to sketch out how such a nuclear use might play out. The five risks described below are meant as a starting point for that discussion.

Risk #1: Nuclear First-Use by the United States

First, the president has the sole authority to launch nuclear weapons through the “nuclear triad” of land, sea, and air-launched systems. The horrific consequences, fear of retaliation, and extraordinary capabilities of U.S. conventional forces militate against nuclear use in all but the most extreme circumstances. Nonetheless, Trump’s impulsive temperament, obsession with projecting strength, and aversion to normative constraints may make him more prone to nuclear use than other recent presidents. Beyond these already-perceptible presidential proclivities, the Nuclear Posture Review —– which recently began under Pentagon leadership —– will elucidate the administration’s declaratory nuclear doctrine, providing the first concrete indication of scenarios in which the Trump administration would consider nuclear use.

Risk #2: Inadvertent Nuclear Escalation

Second, the Trump administration’s penchant for sending mixed signals increases the risk of misperception in the event of a crisis or war involving another nuclear state. Trump is famously mercurial, abruptly changing positions on issues ranging from NATO’s obsolescence to the desirability of nuclear proliferation. Rather than allowing the White House communications staff to clarify his positions, Trump often contradicts them. In December, for example, when aides sought to soften Trump’s call for the United States to “strengthen and expand” its nuclear arsenal, Trump went on the record a second time to threaten an arms race. Moreover, senior national security aides frequently stake out divergent policy positions – with the president’s apparent encouragement — as exhibited by the slew of incompatible explanations for Trump’s April decision to launch cruise missiles into Syria. The result is confusion surrounding whose statements represent administration policy —– a whiplash effect most recently on display in the back-and-forth on North Korea. Though the president seems to believe unpredictability creates bargaining leverage, it also prevents the administration from credibly telegraphing its intentions. This dynamic makes diplomacy difficult and privileges potentially escalatory military displays to demonstrate seriousness. If a crisis were to reach boiling point, the Trump administration would struggle to turn down the heat by credibly signaling restraint or limited aims. Moreover, amidst rising tensions, a weaker adversary would have little choice but to engage in worst-case-scenario planning, and a threatening tweet impulsively dispatched by the president could provoke a foreign leader to gamble on a first strike rather than risk U.S. preemption. Beyond contingencies that directly implicate the United States, Trump’s slippery reputation could also hinder his ability to arbitrate international disputes involving nuclear powers —– for example, if war were to break out between India and Pakistan.

Risk #3: A Lower Global Nuclear Threshold

Third, Trump has tempered his most incendiary campaign rhetoric on the subject of nuclear weapons —– but serious consequences would accompany a return to positions that promote nuclear proliferation and lower the normative threshold for nuclear use. Encouraging U.S. allies and partners like South Korea, Japan, and Saudi Arabia to go nuclear —– whether explicitly or by stoking fears of abandonment —– could spark atomic arms races in already-unstable regions. In addition, the administration’s recent extension of sanction waivers suggests its intent to abide by the terms of the Iran nuclear deal —– but a presidential decision to abrogate the “worst deal ever,” whether through outright withdrawal or accumulated acts of subtle sabotage, would likely spark an acute crisis. Proliferation risks would be further compounded by threats to use nuclear weapons first in unnecessary contingencies, such as against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, eroding the non-use norm that has contributed to nuclear restraint since 1945.

How might the Trump administration’s policies affect the likelihood of nuclear use by non-state actors? Terrorist groups are liable to use whatever lethal material they can get their hands on —– as demonstrated by the Islamic State’s employment of rudimentary chemical weapons in Iraq and Syria —– so the critical limiting factors are access to nuclear weapons, material, and expertise, and the ability to move it across international borders. Two additional factors will impact the U.S. government’s ability, in concert with international partners, to thwart such threats.

Risk #4: Diminished Domestic Capacity to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

The United States’ capacity to counter nuclear terrorism will depend on the Trump administration’s resource decisions. Within the U.S. government, responsibility for the prevention of WMD terrorism is spread across numerous agencies with interlocking functions: From Department of Energy labs developing nuclear detection technology, to the Department of Homeland Security conducting radiological monitoring at U.S. ports, to intelligence and law enforcement agencies tracking threats, to the State Department coordinating with other countries to limit the spread of nuclear weapons globally, to Department of Defense training special operations forces to render safe nuclear weapons or material. Sustaining such capacity requires personnel and funding. The administration’s slow pace of political appointments creates risk by hobbling agency leadership, hindering inter-agency collaboration at the senior level, and creating a vacuum when it comes to defining affirmative policy priorities. The extent to which the Trump administration seeks funding for nuclear security-related programs in their proposed fiscal year 2018 budget —– expected to be released on May 23 —– will indicate the level of priority the administration assigns to mitigating WMD terrorism risk. (The Trump administration’s budget blueprint does not specifically address this issue.)

Risk #5: Weakened International Nuclear Security Cooperation

Finally, a withdrawal from international nonproliferation and nuclear material security cooperation could increase the risk of nuclear use by a non-state actor. If the Trump administration follows through on its avowed skepticism of multilateral institutions —– most notably the U.N. system —– critical cooperative mechanisms could be placed in jeopardy. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), for example, is a U.N. agency that advances best practices in safeguarding nuclear material around the world. It maintains a global database for tracking lost or stolen nuclear materials, among other vital functions. The IAEA relies on U.S. contributions for roughly a quarter of its budget and withholding those funds would severely hinder its effectiveness. Similarly, an administration disdainful of U.N. bodies is unlikely to break the diplomatic logjam over restrictions on the production of nuclear material through the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, and may not insist upon stringent IAEA safeguards as a precondition for future agreements on civil nuclear cooperation. Beyond formal institutions, the Obama administration initiated a Nuclear Security Summit process, which convened global leaders to take concrete steps toward reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism. Whether the Trump administration maintains this focus and pushes for implementation of commitments made at past summits will further impact risk going forward.

Nuclear detonation, whether by a state or non-state actor, remains an extremely remote possibility, and the risk of such a rare event is difficult to quantify. Nonetheless, the catastrophic consequences of nuclear use demand attention —– not only from the White House, but also from Congress and the American people. Fortunately, the Trump administration is still in its early days and has ample opportunity for progress. “I hate nuclear more than any,” the president said during the 2016 campaign when asked about nuclear weapons. Action to address the five risks described above —– as part of a comprehensive nonproliferation and nuclear security agenda —– will signal the seriousness of the administration’s effort to reduce nuclear dangers.

Dr. Rebecca Friedman Lissner is a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Previously, she served as a Special Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Energy.

U.N. Panel Releases Draft of Treaty to Ban Nuclear Arms

In Environment, Human rights, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Peace, Politics on May 23, 2017 at 9:47 pm

by Rick Gladstone, New York Times, May 22, 2017

A United Nations disarmament panel presented the first draft on Monday of a proposed global treaty to ban nuclear weapons, which advocates called an important step that could hasten completion of a final text by early July.

Nuclear powers including the United States have boycotted the negotiations for such a treaty, calling its goals naïve and unattainable — especially at a time when North Korea has threatened to launch nuclear-armed missiles at its enemies.

But those nations’ longstanding argument for deterrence — that the best way to keep nuclear arms from being used is to hold the ability to retaliate in kind — has failed to halt the momentum in the negotiations. The first round was held in March, and the effort is supported by more than 120 countries.

Treaty supporters have argued that if enough countries ratified an international agreement outlawing nuclear weapons, the political and moral coercive pressure would eventually persuade holdouts to reconsider.

Similar strategies were pursued in negotiations that led to global treaties banning other indiscriminate weapons, including chemical arms, cluster bombs and land mines. As more countries have joined those treaties, the shaming effect has grown on those that decline.
The nuclear draft text would commit treaty signers to “never use nuclear weapons” and never “develop, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

Signers would also promise to never “carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.”

Less clear from the draft text is precisely how nuclear-armed countries that renounce those weapons could join the treaty, and under what conditions.

But language in the draft specifies that the treaty is intended to strengthen — and not replace — the existing treaties meant to stop the spread and testing of nuclear weapons.

The draft’s preamble specifies that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the landmark agreement that entered into force in 1970, would remain “an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.”

The draft is now subject to revision at a three-week round of negotiations at the United Nations scheduled for mid-June.

Supporters of the negotiations said the draft’s existence by itself was significant.

“The draft language is strong and categorically prohibits nuclear weapons,” Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said in a statement.

The disarmament group called the draft “an essential milestone in the yearslong effort to ban these indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction and an important step toward their eventual elimination.”

Elayne G. Whyte Gómez, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and chairwoman of the conference that is overseeing the negotiations, said in a telephone interview that she expected revisions to the draft.

Ms. Gómez, who was responsible for writing the draft, said she had sought to “synthesize the many areas where the views of states converged.”

There was no comment from the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, who led a group of envoys from member states who had publicly rejected the negotiations when they began two months ago.

Aides to Ms. Haley said that she was traveling but that the American position had not changed.

Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a disarmament research and advocacy group in Washington, said he regarded the minimum number of ratifications to put the treaty into effect — 40 — to be relatively low, possibly limiting its coercive impact. Mr. Kimball also noted that the text of the treaty draft did not explicitly prohibit the financing of nuclear weapons or the issuing of nuclear threats. Nonetheless, he said he supported the negotiations and objective.

“The vast majority of world states say nuclear weapons are not essential for security, and that we want to reduce their salience by banning them,” he said. “That is a contribution to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Besides the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia — four countries are known to possess nuclear weapons: India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. None support the negotiations.

United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination

In Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace on May 23, 2017 at 7:12 am

 

New York, 27-31 March 2017 and 15 June-7 July 2017

22 May 2017 Original: English

Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Submitted by the President of the Conference

The States Parties to this Convention,

Deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons and the consequent need to make every effort to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again under any circumstances,

Cognizant that the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons transcend national borders, pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security and for the health of future generations, and of the disproportionate impact of ionizing radiation on maternal health and on girls,

Mindful of the suffering of the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (Hibakusha) as well as of those affected by the testing of nuclear weapons,

Basing themselves on the principles and rules of international humanitarian law, in particular the principle that the right of parties to an armed conflict to choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited and the rule that care shall be taken in warfare to protect the natural environment against widespread, long term and severe damage, including a prohibition of the use of methods or means of warfare which are intended or may be expected to cause such damage to the natural environment and thereby to prejudice the health or survival of the population,

Declaring that any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law,

Reaffirming that in cases not covered by this convention, civilians and combatants remain under the protection and authority of the principles of international law derived from established custom, from the principles of humanity and from the dictates of public conscience,

Determined to contribute to the realization of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

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Bearing in mind that the prohibition of nuclear weapons would be an important contribution towards comprehensive nuclear disarmament,

Stressing the urgent need to achieve further effective measures of nuclear disarmament in order to facilitate the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery,

Determined to act towards that end,
Determined also to act with a view to achieving effective progress towards general

and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control,

Affirming that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control,

Reaffirming the crucial importance of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament, the vital importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as a core element of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and the contribution of the treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones toward strengthening the nuclear non- proliferation regime and to realizing the objective of nuclear disarmament,

Stressing the role of public conscience in the furthering of the principles of humanity as evidenced by the call for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and recognizing the efforts to that end undertaken by the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, numerous non-governmental organizations and the Hibakusha,

Have agreed as follows: Article 1

General obligations

1. Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to:

(a) Develop, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;

(b) Transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly;

(c) Receive the transfer or control over nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices directly, or indirectly;

(d) Use nuclear weapons;
(e) Carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion;

(f) Assist, encourage, or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention;

(g) Seek or receive any assistance, in any way, from anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.

2. Each State Party undertakes to prohibit and prevent in its territory or at any place under its jurisdiction or control:

(a) Any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;

(b) Any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.

Article 2 Declarations

1. Each State Party shall submit to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, not later than 30 days after this Convention enters into force for it a declaration in which it shall declare whether it has manufactured, possessed or otherwise acquired nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices after 5 December 2001.

2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit all such declarations received to the States Parties.

Article 3 Safeguards

Each State Party undertakes to accept safeguards, with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as provided in the Annex to this Convention.

Article 4
Measures for States that have eliminated their nuclear weapons

1. Each State Party that has manufactured, possessed or otherwise acquired nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices after 5 December 2001, and eliminated all such weapons or explosive devices prior to the entry into force of the Convention for it, undertakes to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency for the purpose of verification of the completeness of its inventory of nuclear material and nuclear installations.

2. Unless otherwise agreed by the States Parties, arrangements necessary for the verification required by this Article shall be concluded in an agreement between the State Party and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Negotiation of such an agreement shall commence within 180 days of the submission of the declaration provided for in Article 2. Such agreements shall enter into force not later than eighteen months after the date of the initiation of negotiations.

3. For the purpose of performing the verification required by this Article, the International Atomic Energy Agency shall be provided with full access to any location or facility associated with a nuclear weapon programme and shall have the right to request access on a case-by-case basis to other locations or facilities that the Agency may wish to visit.

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Article 5
Measures for situations not covered by Article 4

Proposals for further effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament, including provisions for the verified and irreversible elimination of any remaining nuclear weapon programmes under strict and effective international control, which may take the form of additional protocols to this Convention, may be considered at the Meetings of States Parties or Review Conferences. All States represented at the meeting or review conference may participate fully in such consideration. The meeting or review conference may agree upon additional protocols which shall be adopted and annexed to the Convention in accordance with its provisions.

Article 6 Assistance

1. Each State Party in a position to do so shall with respect to individuals affected by the use or testing of nuclear weapons in areas under its jurisdiction or control, in accordance with applicable international humanitarian and human rights law, adequately provide age- and gender-sensitive assistance, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, as well as provide for their social and economic inclusion.

2. Each State Party with respect to areas under its jurisdiction or control contaminated as a result of activities related to the testing or use of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, shall have the right to request and to receive assistance toward the environmental remediation of areas so contaminated.

3. Such assistance may be provided, inter alia, through the United Nations system, international, regional or national organizations or institutions, non-governmental organizations or institutions, or on a bilateral basis.

Article 7
National implementation

1. Each State Party shall, in accordance with its constitutional processes, adopt the necessary measures to implement its obligations under this Convention.

2. Each State Party shall take all appropriate legal, administrative and other measures, including the imposition of penal sanctions, to prevent and suppress any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention undertaken by persons or on territory under its jurisdiction or control.

Article 8
International cooperation

1. Each State Party shall cooperate with other States Parties to facilitate the implementation of the obligations of this Convention.

2. In fulfilling its obligations under this Convention each State Party has the right to seek and receive assistance.

Article 9
Meeting of States Parties

1. The States Parties shall meet regularly in order to consider and, where necessary, take decisions in respect of any matter with regard to the application or implementation of this Convention and on the further elaboration of effective measures for nuclear disarmament, including:

(a) The operation and status of this Convention;

(b) Reports by States Parties on the implementation of their obligations under this Convention;

(c) Matters arising from the declarations submitted under Article 2 of this Convention;

(d) Proposals for effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament, including provisions for the verified and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapon programmes, including additional protocols to this Convention.

2. The first Meeting of States Parties shall be convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations within one year of the entry into force of this Convention. Further Meetings of States Parties shall be convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on a biennial basis, unless otherwise agreed by the States Parties.

3. After a period of five years following the entry into force of this Convention, the Meetings of States Parties may decide to convene a conference to review the operation of this Convention with a view to assuring that the purposes of the preamble and the provisions of the Convention, including the provisions concerning negotiations on effective measures for nuclear disarmament, are being realized.

4. States not party to this Convention, as well as the United Nations, other relevant international organizations or institutions, regional organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and relevant non-governmental organizations may be invited to attend the Meetings of States Parties and the Review Conferences as observers.

Article 10 Costs

1. The costs of the Meetings of the States Parties and the Review Conferences shall be borne by the States Parties and States not parties to this Convention participating therein, in accordance with the United Nations scale of assessment adjusted appropriately.

2. The costs incurred by the Secretary-General of the United Nations under Article 2 of this Convention shall be borne by the States Parties in accordance with the United Nations scale of assessment adjusted appropriately.Article 11 Amendments

1. At the Meetings of States Parties or Review Conferences consideration may be given to any proposal for amendments of this Convention. The meeting or review conference may agree upon amendments which shall be adopted by a majority of two- thirds of the States Parties present and voting at the meeting or review conference.

2. The amendment shall enter into force for each State Party that deposits its instrument of ratification of the amendment upon the deposit of such instruments of ratification by a majority of the States Parties. Thereafter, it shall enter into force for any other State Party upon the deposit of its instrument of ratification of the amendment.

Article 12
Settlement of disputes

1. When a dispute arises between two or more States Parties relating to the interpretation or application of this Convention, the parties concerned shall consult together with a view to the expeditious settlement of the dispute by negotiation or by other peaceful means of the parties’ choice, including recourse to the Meetings of States Parties and, by mutual consent, referral to the International Court of Justice in conformity with the Statute of the Court.

2. The Meeting of States Parties may contribute to the settlement of the dispute by whatever means it deems appropriate, including offering its good offices, calling upon the States Parties concerned to start the settlement procedure of their choice and recommending a time limit for any agreed procedure.

Article 13 Universality

Each State Party shall encourage States not party to this Convention to ratify, accept, approve or accede to this Convention, with the goal of attracting the adherence of all States to this Convention.

Article 14 Signature

This Convention shall be open for signature to all States before its entry into force.

Article 15 Ratification

This Convention shall be subject to ratification by signatory States.

Article 16 Entry into force

1. This Convention shall enter into force 90 days after the fortieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession has been deposited.

2. For any State that deposits its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession after the date of the deposit of the fortieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, this Convention shall enter into force 90 days after the date on which that State has deposited its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

Article 17 Reservations

The Articles of this Convention shall not be subject to reservations.

Article 18 Duration

1. This Convention shall be of unlimited duration.

2. Each State Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Convention if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Convention, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Convention and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.

3. Such withdrawal shall only take effect three months after the receipt of the instrument of withdrawal by the Depositary. If, however, on the expiry of that three- month period, the withdrawing State Party is engaged in the situations referred to in Article 2 common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the Protection of War Victims, including any situation described in paragraph 4 of Article 1 of Additional Protocol I to these Conventions, the Party shall continue to be bound by the obligations of this Convention and of any annexed Protocols until the end of the armed conflict or occupation.

Article 19
Relations with other agreements

This Convention does not affect the rights and obligations of the States Parties under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Article 20 Depositary

The Secretary-General of the United Nations is hereby designated as the Depositary of this Convention.

Article 21 Authentic texts

The Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts of this Convention shall be equally authentic.

I wrote ‘The Art of the Deal’ with Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past. The president’s behavior, explained.

In Democracy, Nuclear Guardianship, Peace, Politics, War on May 18, 2017 at 8:57 am

By Tony Schwartz, May 16

Tony Schwartz is the chief executive officer of the Energy Project, which helps companies tap more of people’s capacity by better meeting their core needs so they can perform more sustainably. He is the author, most recently, of “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working.”

President Trump’s behavior hasn’t changed in decades. It probably never will. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Why does President Trump behave in the dangerous and seemingly self-destructive ways he does?

Three decades ago, I spent nearly a year hanging around Trump to write his first book, “The Art of the Deal,” and got to know him very well. I spent hundreds of hours listening to him, watching him in action and interviewing him about his life. To me, none of what he has said or done over the past four months as president comes as a surprise. The way he has behaved over the past week — firing FBI Director James B. Comey, undercutting his own aides as they tried to explain the decision and disclosing sensitive information to Russian officials — is also entirely predictable.

Early on, I recognized that Trump’s sense of self-worth is forever at risk. When he feels aggrieved, he reacts impulsively and defensively, constructing a self-justifying story that doesn’t depend on facts and always directs the blame to others.

The Trump I first met in 1985 had lived nearly all his life in survival mode. By his own description, his father, Fred, was relentlessly demanding, difficult and driven. Here’s how I phrased it in “The Art of the Deal”: “My father is a wonderful man, but he is also very much a business guy and strong and tough as hell.” As Trump saw it, his older brother, Fred Jr., who became an alcoholic and died at age 42, was overwhelmed by his father. Or as I euphemized it in the book: “There were inevitably confrontations between the two of them. In most cases, Freddy came out on the short end.”

Trump’s worldview was profoundly and self-protectively shaped by his father. “I was drawn to business very early, and I was never intimidated by my father, the way most people were,” is the way I wrote it in the book. “I stood up to him, and he respected that. We had a relationship that was almost businesslike.”

To survive, I concluded from our conversations, Trump felt compelled to go to war with the world. It was a binary, zero-sum choice for him: You either dominated or you submitted. You either created and exploited fear, or you succumbed to it — as he thought his older brother had. This narrow, defensive outlook took hold at a very early age, and it never evolved. “When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now,” he told a recent biographer, “I’m basically the same.” His development essentially ended in early childhood.
Instead, Trump grew up fighting for his life and taking no prisoners. In countless conversations, he made clear to me that he treated every encounter as a contest he had to win, because the only other option from his perspective was to lose, and that was the equivalent of obliteration. Many of the deals in “The Art of the Deal” were massive failures — among them the casinos he owned and the launch of a league to rival the National Football League — but Trump had me describe each of them as a huge success.
With evident pride, Trump explained to me that he was “an assertive, aggressive” kid from an early age, and that he had once punched a music teacher in the eye and was nearly expelled from elementary school for his behavior.

Like so much about Trump, who knows whether that story is true? What’s clear is that he has spent his life seeking to dominate others, whatever that requires and whatever collateral damage it creates along the way. In “The Art of the Deal,” he speaks with street-fighting relish about competing in the world of New York real estate: They are “some of the sharpest, toughest, and most vicious people in the world. I happen to love to go up against these guys, and I love to beat them.” I never sensed from Trump any guilt or contrition about anything he’d done, and he certainly never shared any misgivings publicly. From his perspective, he operated in a jungle full of predators who were forever out to get him, and he did what he must to survive.
Trump was equally clear with me that he didn’t value — nor even necessarily recognize — the qualities that tend to emerge as people grow more secure, such as empathy, generosity, reflectiveness, the capacity to delay gratification or, above all, a conscience, an inner sense of right and wrong. Trump simply didn’t traffic in emotions or interest in others. The life he lived was all transactional, all the time. Having never expanded his emotional, intellectual or moral universe, he has his story down, and he’s sticking to it.

A key part of that story is that facts are whatever Trump deems them to be on any given day. When he is challenged, he instinctively doubles down — even when what he has just said is demonstrably false. I saw that countless times, whether it was as trivial as exaggerating the number of floors at Trump Tower or as consequential as telling me that his casinos were performing well when they were actually going bankrupt. In the same way, Trump sees no contradiction at all in changing his story about why he fired Comey and thereby undermining the statements of his aides, or in any other lie he tells. His aim is never accuracy; it’s domination.
The Trump I got to know had no deep ideological beliefs, nor any passionate feeling about anything but his immediate self-interest. He derives his sense of significance from conquests and accomplishments. “Can you believe it, Tony?” he would often say at the start of late-night conversations with me, going on to describe some new example of his brilliance. But the reassurance he got from even his biggest achievements was always ephemeral and unreliable — and that appears to include being elected president. Any addiction has a predictable pattern: The addict keeps chasing the high by upping the ante in an increasingly futile attempt to re-create the desired state. On the face of it, Trump has more opportunities now to feel significant and accomplished than almost any other human being on the planet. But that’s like saying a heroin addict has his problem licked once he has free and continuous access to the drug. Trump also now has a far bigger and more public stage on which to fail and to feel unworthy.

[I sold Donald Trump $100,000 worth of pianos. Then he stiffed me.]

From the very first time I interviewed him in his office in Trump Tower in 1985, the image I had of Trump was that of a black hole. Whatever goes in quickly disappears without a trace. Nothing sustains. It’s forever uncertain when someone or something will throw Trump off his precarious perch — when his sense of equilibrium will be threatened and he’ll feel an overwhelming compulsion to restore it. Beneath his bluff exterior, I always sensed a hurt, incredibly vulnerable little boy who just wanted to be loved.

What Trump craves most deeply is the adulation he has found so fleeting. This goes a long way toward explaining his need for control and why he simply couldn’t abide Comey, who reportedly refused to accede to Trump’s demand for loyalty and whose continuing investigation into Russian interference in the election campaign last year threatens to bring down his presidency. Trump’s need for unquestioning praise and flattery also helps to explain his hostility to democracy and to a free press — both of which thrive on open dissent.
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As we have seen countless times during the campaign and since the election, Trump can devolve into survival mode on a moment’s notice. Look no further than the thousands of tweets he has written attacking his perceived enemies over the past year. In neurochemical terms, when he feels threatened or thwarted, Trump moves into a fight-or-flight state. His amygdala is triggered, his hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activates, and his prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain that makes us capable of rationality and reflection — shuts down. He reacts rather than reflects, and damn the consequences. This is what makes his access to the nuclear codes so dangerous and frightening.

Over the past week, in the face of criticism from nearly every quarter, Trump’s distrust has almost palpably mushroomed. No importuning by his advisers stands a chance of constraining him when he is this deeply triggered. The more he feels at the mercy of forces he cannot control — and he is surely feeling that now — the more resentful, desperate and impulsive he becomes.

Even 30 years later, I vividly remember the ominous feeling when Trump got angry about some perceived slight. Everyone around him knew that you were best off keeping your distance at those times, or, if that wasn’t possible, that you should resist disagreeing with him in any way.

In the hundreds of Trump’s phone calls I listened in on with his consent, and the dozens of meetings I attended with him, I can never remember anyone disagreeing with him about anything. The same climate of fear and paranoia appears to have taken root in his White House.

The most recent time I spoke to Trump — and the first such occasion in nearly three decades — was July 14, 2016, shortly before the New Yorker published an article by Jane Mayer about my experience writing “The Art of the Deal.” Trump was just about to win the Republican nomination for president. I was driving in my car when my cellphone rang. It was Trump. He had just gotten off a call with a fact-checker for the New Yorker, and he didn’t mince words.
“I just want to tell you that I think you’re very disloyal,” he started in. Then he berated and threatened me for a few minutes. I pushed back, gently but firmly. And then suddenly, as abruptly as he began the call, he ended it. “Have a nice life,” he said, and hung up.

A predictable nuclear accident at Hanford

In Environment, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy on May 18, 2017 at 7:56 am

By Hugh Gusterson is a professor of anthropology and international affairs at George Washington University. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists online

Last week’s accident at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation should have come as no surprise.

On May 9, workers discovered a 20-foot-diameter hole where the roof had collapsed on a makeshift nuclear waste site: a tunnel, sealed in 1965, encasing old railroad cars and equipment contaminated with radiation through years of plutonium processing. Potential radiation levels were high enough that some workers were told to shelter in place while others donned respirators and protective suits as they repaired the hole.

The Hanford complex, which dates back to 1943, produced the plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Half the size of Rhode Island, it is often described as the most contaminated place in the United States. Until its last reactor closed in 1987, it churned out plutonium for the roughly 70,000 nuclear weapons the United States built during the Cold War. As the historian Kate Brown documents in her book Plutopia, which explores the uncanny similarities between Hanford and its Soviet counterpart Ozersk, Hanford has been a slow-motion environmental disaster since its opening, constantly excreting radioactive contaminants into the air and water. More dangerous than the tunnels are the giant tanks of liquid nuclear waste: 177 of them containing 56 million gallons of radioactive soup whose composition is only approximately known. The contents of some have to be stirred periodically to prevent the formation of hydrogen bubbles that would cause the tanks to explode. One million gallons of this witches’ brew have already leaked into the groundwater from tanks that were built to last only 20 years. The US government projects that it will cost more than $107 billion to clean up the site, with remediation finished by 2060. Few knowledgeable people put much credence in either number.

It would be nice to say that Hanford is a unique canker on the US nuclear landscape, but it is not. It may be the most contaminated, but it is far from alone. At the Rocky Flats facility outside Denver, where workers fashioned Hanford’s plutonium into cores (or “pits”) for nuclear weapons, there were major fires in 1957 and 1969; each sent plutonium-laced plumes of smoke over nearby communities. Enough plutonium dust gathered in the facility’s ductwork that some worried about a spontaneous criticality event—that is, an accidental and uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction. Eventually President George H.W. Bush closed Rocky Flats in 1992 after an FBI investigation found that the facility was secretly (and illegally) burning nuclear waste in the middle of the night.

At Ohio’s Fernald plant, which processed uranium for the weapons complex, operators dumped radioactive waste into makeshift pits where it contaminated local groundwater, and blew uranium dust particles out of the smokestacks when the filters failed, as they did with some regularity. Similar stories could be told for the nuclear weapons facilities at Savannah River in North Carolina and Oak Ridge in Tennessee, which hushed up criticality accidents while contaminating nearby air and water.

There are three reasons these Cold War nuclear facilities turned into such environmental catastrophes. First, the Cold War American state, fixated on winning the arms race, put a premium on beating the Soviets at all costs. Producing uranium, plutonium, and weapons components was a higher priority than protecting the health of nearby residents or the workers at the plants, a disproportionate number of whom died of cancer. Ironically, since 1945, American nuclear weapons, intended to keep the country safe, have mainly killed Americans.

A second factor was state secrecy. As leading Cold War public intellectuals such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Edward Shils argued, abuse thrives in the dark, and Cold War secrecy provided much cover of darkness to places like Hanford. For decades, government officials and the contractors that ran the plants were able to deflect civilian regulators, nosy journalists, local citizens, even congressmen, by hiding behind the skirts of national security. Officials defined vital nuclear secrets expansively, to include not just the design and deployment details of weapons, but also the secret harms inflicted on Americans through their production. Anyone who revealed the extent of contamination risked losing his clearance or being incarcerated. The harms concealed at production facilities were mostly caused by accidents and bureaucratically ingrained negligence, but they were sometimes deliberate—as in the now infamous 1949 “Green Run,” when Hanford deliberately released a substantial invisible cloud of radioactive iodine and xenon to see how it would disperse.

Finally, we should not underestimate how novel and complex nuclear technology was in the early decades of the Cold War. Physicists, engineers, and technicians were still learning how the technology worked, how esoteric radioactive materials behaved in a range of conditions, and how toxic waste products were absorbed into the environment. As in any endeavor, you learn by making mistakes. Unfortunately, those mistakes left a legacy of contaminated Cold War production sites around the country that are beginning to look like a permanent archipelago of national sacrifice zones. “Will Hanford ever be cleaned up?” was the title of a 2013 Seattle Times article noting how little progress had been made after spending $36 billion on cleaning the site.

If the pathology of the Cold War was secrecy and an atmosphere of emergency, we have the opposite pathology now. Department of Energy websites catalogue the contamination in great detail—after all, the more contaminated the site, the more money Congress should provide to clean it—and official timelines for cleanup stretch interminably beyond the lifetimes of many living Americans. In a perverse way, radioactive contamination has gone from a shameful secret to be concealed to an asset to be milked. The cleanup campaign is becoming like the counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan, America’s longest war. It takes place on the periphery of American public vision; it greatly enriches contractors; and there is always light at the end of the tunnel, but the only way we get near the light is when the tunnel collapses.

Harry S. Truman’s grandson speaks out against nuclear weapons

In Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on May 16, 2017 at 10:29 pm

By Christopher Woolf, PRI’s The World, May 15, 2017

Harry S. Truman was perhaps one of the most influential presidents of the 20th century. He oversaw the end of World War I and rose to the challenge of the Cold War. He was crucial to the creation of international organizations like the United Nations and NATO.
But for many people, Truman is remembered for one thing: his decision to drop nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, in August 1945.

His eldest grandson, Clifton Truman Daniel, is now an advocate against nuclear weapons.

He says his grandfather was consistent when it came to explaining the decision to use the bomb. “He made the decision [in order] to shorten the war, and save American lives, primarily, as well as Japanese lives had the war gone on, had there been a full-scale invasion.”

“The scholarship on that goes back and forth,” cautions Daniel. “But grandpa, having made the decision, nonetheless felt horrible about the destruction, about the loss of life.”

Daniel recounts the story of a US military photographer, Joe O’Donnell, who documented the aftermath of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. O’Donnell had an opportunity to meet Truman alone in 1950. According to Daniel, “O’Donnell just took a chance and asked my grandfather, ‘Did you ever have any regrets using those weapons?’ and my grandfather said ‘Hell yes.’ He didn’t want to have to do that.”

Truman never spoke with Daniel about the atomic bombings. “I learned about them like everybody else, in history class and from my books. And the books didn’t tell me much — you get casualty figures but it doesn’t really tell you what happened on the ground.”

Daniel’s big insight into the horrors of nuclear war didn’t come until he was in his 40s, when his son was 10. “He was in school here in Chicago, in fifth grade,” says Daniel, “and he came home with a book called ‘Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.’ A fictionalized account of a true story.”

The true story belonged to Sadako Sasaki, who developed leukemia ten years after being exposed to radiation at Hiroshima. “In an effort to save her own life, she followed a Japanese tradition that says if you fold 1,000 origami paper cranes, you are granted a wish, or long life or health,” Daniel says.

Sadako folded 1,300 cranes, but unfortunately it did not save her life.

“That was the first human story I had ever seen of Hiroshima or Nagasaki,” says Daniel. A Japanese reporter picked up on the fact that Daniel had read it, and out of blue he got a call from Sadako Sasaki’s brother, Masahiro, himself a survivor.

They finally met, in New York, at the 9/11 Tribute Center. “Masahiro and his son Yuji were donating one of Sadako’s original cranes as a gesture of healing,” explains Daniel.

“At the end of our meeting, Yuji Sasaki took out a small plastic box and dropped a tiny paper crane into my palm and said, ‘That’s the last one Sadako folded before she died. Would you come to the ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?’ And I said yes.”

Daniel took his family and met with more than two dozen survivors.

“It’s hard to explain. It’s hard to describe,” Daniel says when asked to explain how that felt, particularly as the grandson of the man who ordered the attacks.

“It’s heart-wrenching. It’s hard. It’s horrible to hear these stories,” he says. “But as hard as it is for the listener, it’s harder still for the survivor who relives that day over and over and over again, solely in an effort to let the listener know what it was like, so that we don’t do it again.”

Daniel says he did not feel any residual guilt, but he did feel responsibility. “Not responsibility for the bombings, but responsibility to do what I could to help ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

“All [that] the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki asked me, were to please help them tell their stories,” says Daniel. “So I’ve tried to do that.”

Nuclear Weapons: Who Pays, Who Profits?

In Cost, Democracy, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on May 15, 2017 at 3:02 am

Introduction: Trump and Nuclear Weapons — Rhetoric Versus Reality
In an interview with Reuters conducted a month after he took office, Donald Trump asserted that the U.S. had “fallen behind on nuclear capability” and that he wanted the United States to be at the “top of the pack” on nuclear weapons once again.
As usual, Trump had not done his homework before speaking out on a crucial, life-and-death question. The United States is already at the “top of the pack” in nuclear capacity, with nearly 6,800 nuclear warheads, including 4,000 in the active stockpile. That’s a huge number when you consider that independent experts have determined that 300 or so nuclear weapons are a sufficient number to deter any nation from attacking the United States with a nuclear weapon. We have thirteen times that in our active stockpile, and more than five times that amount deployed and ready to fire at any given moment.
So the United States is already at the “top of the pack” in nuclear weapons — so high, in fact, that our huge arsenal is more likely to spur a nuclear arms race than it is to protect us from a nuclear war.
In the same Reuters interview, Trump described the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty as “just another bad deal the country made,” comparing it to the multilateral agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program, which Trump has repeatedly disparaged despite the fact that he has shown no indication that he knows what the agreement entails.
This knee-jerk opposition to any agreement that Trump himself has not negotiated is dangerously short-sighted. New START cuts deployed U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads by one-third, and it includes a detailed monitoring and inspections regime to make sure both sides keep their word.
The Iran nuclear deal has already resulted in a 98% reduction in Iran’s stockpile of highly enriched uranium, the disabling of a plutonium factory that could have produced bomb-making materials, and a regime of regular international inspections.
Solid agreements like New START and the Iran nuclear deal take a great deal of time and effort to negotiate. Throwing them away on a whim would be the height of recklessness.
Trump’s Twisted Budget Priorities
The issue of whether to buy a whole new generation of nuclear warheads and nuclear delivery vehicles will be debated against the backdrop of the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal, which calls for a $54 billion increase in Pentagon spending and comparable reductions in spending on diplomacy and domestic needs.
Even before Trump’s proposed increase, Pentagon spending is at historically high levels. At roughly $600 billion per year now, Pentagon and related spending is higher than the peak of the Reagan military buildup, and larger than the combined military budgets of the next eight largest spenders in the world combined, most of them U.S. allies. So the Pentagon may have problems, but a lack of funds isn’t one of them.
Trump’s proposed increase alone is a huge sum by global standards. At $54 billion, the Trump increase is almost as large as the entire military budget of France, and larger than the total military budgets of the United Kingdom, Germany, or Japan. And it’s only $12 billion less than Russia’s whole military budget.
The Trump increase is also a huge sum compared to the domestic programs that are on the chopping block to pay for the $54 billion in increased Pentagon funding. When Trump’s budget blueprint was first taking form, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney announced a “hit list” of eight programs or agencies that would be zeroed out in the fiscal year 2018 budget proposal. The list included the National Endowment for the Humanities; the National Endowment for the Arts; Legal Services; Americorps; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the U.S. Institute for Peace; and Planned Parenthood. Gutting all of these agencies and programs combined would save $3 billion per year — that’s one-half of one percent of the Pentagon’s annual budget, before the proposed Trump add-ons. The $3 billion for all of those programs is also less than one-eighth of the $25 billion the Pentagon wastes on bureaucratic overhead every year.
And of course the budget director’s hit list is just a small part of the larger assault on spending for diplomacy and domestic needs that is part of the Trump budget blueprint. The Environmental Protection Agency is slated for a 31% cut; the State Department budget is proposed to be cut by 29%; and support for humanitarian aid through the United Nations — mostly refugee and food assistance at a time of massive refugee flows and near famine in parts of Africa and the Middle East — could be cut by up to 50%.
Three block grant programs that provide services like heating aid to low income households, homeless housing and services, ands support for Meals on Wheels programs are scheduled to be eliminated altogether, at a cost of $8 billion. The $8 billion cost of those programs is less than the cost of one new ballistic missile firing submarine — and the Pentagon wants us to pay for twelve of them.
The Pentagon’s $1 Trillion Nuclear Buildup: What Are We Buying?
The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies has done a report on the “trillion dollar triad” — the plan to build a new generation of nuclear-armed bombers, submarines, and missiles, complete with new warheads to go with them, at a cost of roughly $1 trillion over three decades.
Here are the major components of that proposed $1 trillion nuclear weapons buildup:
— New nuclear warhead facilities, and new nuclear warheads, $350 billion, spent through the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA);
— 12 new ballistic missile submarines at over $8 billion each, or roughly $100 billion in total
— 100 B-21 bombers for up to $1 billion each, or $100 billion total
— Hundreds of new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), at a cost of up to $120 billion
— A new nuclear-armed cruise missile, at a cost of up to $20 billion for the whole program
Things could change — fewer systems could be bought, and the $1 trillion price tag could go down. Or, as usually happens, the original estimates could go up as a result of the cost overruns that are almost inevitable in any major weapons program.
Who Profits from Spending on Nuclear Weapons?
A handful of companies will be the main beneficiaries of the Pentagon’s nuclear weapons spending binge.
B-21 Bomber: Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor; the Pratt and Whitney division of United Technologies will build the engines; and BAE Systems, a global defense firm based primarily in the UK and the United States, is a major subcontractor.
Ballistic Missile Submarine: General Dynamics will be the prime contractor, with major assistance from Virginia-based Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding.
ICBM and nuclear-armed cruise missile: Contracts have not been awarded yet for these systems, but bidders will include Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, and Raytheon.
Nuclear warheads: The biggest beneficiaries of spending on nuclear warheads are the contractors that run major facilities for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), including Honeywell, which runs the Sandia nuclear weapons engineering laboratory in New Mexico, and a consortium that includes the University of California and Becthel, which run the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons laboratories.
The best list of major nuclear weapons producers is maintained by Don’t Bank on the Bomb, a campaign that presses banks to withdraw support for companies involved in developing or producing nuclear weapons. Their web site profiles over two dozen major nuclear weapons supplying companies.
Opportunity Costs: What Can We Buy With $1 Trillion?
Not only is it unnecessary to embark on a three decade, $1 trillion effort to build a new generation of nuclear weapons, but it’s dangerous. As noted above, a tiny fraction of the existing U.S. stockpile is enough to dissuade any nation from attacking the United States with a nuclear weapon. Anything beyond that just encourages other countries to modernize and expand their own arsenals. And the more nuclear weapons there are the more likely one will be used. In fact, the only guaranteed protection against nuclear weapons is to get rid of them all. That’s a daunting challenge, but as a first step we have to stop building new nuclear weapons at a time when the United States and the other nuclear weapons states possess vast nuclear overkill.
The ultimate cost of the trillion dollar buildup is the risk it poses to the future of life on earth.
There are also huge opportunity costs associated with spending vast sums on nuclear weapons we don’t need. The Future of Life Institute has created an online tool that lets you choose alternative ways to spend that trillion dollars. I tried it, and I found out we could buy the following things instead of wasting a trillion dollars on a new generation of nuclear weapons:
— 100 Million School Lunches: $235 million
— 10,000 High School Science Teachers for one year: $553 million
— Salvage and Protect All Superfund Toxic Waste Sites for one year: $681 million
— Provide Federal Funding for Planned Parenthood for one year: $528 million
— Health Insurance for 1 Million Families for one year: $16.8 billion
— End Homelessness for one year: $20 billion
— Fix All Deficient Bridges in the U.S.: $71 billion
All of the above investments represent only about 10 percent of the $1 trillion the Pentagon wants to spend on nuclear weapons over the next three decades.
There is one option offered by the Future of Life Institute tool that would put a serious dent in the $1 trillion spending total:
— Burn a $1 Million Pile of Cash Every Hour for Thirty Years: $262 Billion
Burning piles of cash would be a waste of money, to be sure, but it would be a far better, and far safer, use of the funds than spending them on extending a nuclear arms race that puts us all at risk.
This article is adapted from a presentation made by William D. Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, at a conference on “Reducing the Threat of Nuclear War” that was held at MIT on May 6th, 2017.