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ACTION ALERT: Nuclear Peace Action Appeal to Obama


August 31, 2016
Jon Rainwater / Peace Action & Yonhap News & Inside Defense & Phoebe Wynn-Pope /The Daily Telegraph

We are now in the final months of President Obama's Administration. This is the time presidents begin to look for actions to that will solidify their legacy. From our sources on the ground, we know that President Obama is deliberating his final actions in this regard on nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, a State Department nonproliferation official has recent dismissed UN panel's proposal to launch negotiations to ban nuclear weapons as "unrealistic." Action is needed.

Special to Environmentalist Against War

ACTION ALERT: Nuclear Peace Action Appeal to Obama
Jon Rainwater / Peace Action

(August 29, 2016) -- We are now in the final months of President Obama's Administration. This is the time presidents begin to look for actions to that will solidify their legacy. From our sources on the ground, we know that President Obama is deliberating his final actions in this regard on nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons remain one of the gravest threats to human security. The president recognized this as much when he stated in his Prague speech "In a strange turn of history the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of nuclear attack has gone up."

Over the last year, we've been building our momentum and pressure on the president to leave a bold and positive nuclear weapons legacy. There still remain some concrete actions the president can take that will dramatically increase our security, and we have a few suggestions to help him live up to that Nobel Peace Prize.

Over the course of the next several months, Peace Action is ramping up its pressure to push President Obama to end his 2nd term with the strongest possible nuclear weapons abolition agenda. It's going to take a tremendous effort, but I'm confident that with the help of thoughtful individuals like yourself, we can succeed.

I'm confident our campaign can succeed, because Peace Action has been a leader in significant successes over the past couple years. Our supporters mobilized around the country to put the pressure it took on the Senate to ratify the New START treaty, reducing nuclear weapons by 10% between the U.S and Russia.

Last summer, we capped off more than 8 years of work in securing the Iran Nuclear Deal, peacefully preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Just a few months ago, President Obama became the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima since it was devastated by a nuclear bomb. Peace Action, and our supporters nationwide, led the campaign to pressure the president to make that historic visit.

There are an array of options the president can take. One important step is to take the US nuclear arsenal off of hair-trigger alert. This is a Cold War holdover that allows for launching a rapid nuclear strike within just minutes. In today's world, it creates too much pressure on nuclear launch decisions, making the possibility of an accidental launch far too possible.

Another critical step would be to institute a no first-use policy. There are simply no scenarios in today's world that this policy wouldn't make safer. Former Commander of the US Nuclear Forces John E. Cartwright recently stated that "President Obama has an opportunity to further delegitimize nuclear weapons by adopting no first-use as a core principle of the United States security policy on the grounds that first-use is unnecessary and a threat to national survival and humanity itself."

Finally, we need to reduce our reliance on nuclear weapons. There are 3 things the president can do in that regard. First, end programs like the Long-Range Stand Off missile (LRSO), seen by much of the world as a new nuclear weapon being added to the US stockpile. Second, set in motion reductions for a planned $1 trillion modernization plan.

Our country can't afford to spend that much on nuclear weapons, nor do we need to. Third, make reductions to our strategic and reserve warheads. Experts in the Pentagon agree that we can easily reduce to 1,000 -- or less -- strategic warheads, which then allows for further reductions in reserves.

We only have a few months to ramp up the pressure. In the last year alone, we've generated tens of thousands of emails, phone calls and letters to the president calling for his leadership toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. You may even have participated in an action or two.

It's Peace Action's unique combination of grassroots pressure from supporters like you, combined with strategic media and close work with issue leaders throughout the country and abroad that can make the difference.

Jon Rainwater is the Executive Director of Peace Action



Forging Legally Binding UN Deal Banning
Nuclear Weapons 'Unrealistic': US Official

Yonhap News

WASHINGTON (August 29, 2016) -- A recent UN panel's proposal to launch negotiations to ban nuclear weapons is "unrealistic" as it fails to take the international security environment into consideration, a State Department nonproliferation official said Monday.

Earlier this month, the UN panel -- the Open Ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament -- voted to adopt its final report calling for the UN General Assembly to launch negotiations to forge a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons.

The US and other nuclear states have voted against the report.

"We know that nuclear disarmament can only be achieved through an approach that takes into account the views and the security interests of all states," Anita E. Friedt, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, said during a visit to Kazakhstan, according to a transcript provided by the department.

"That is why we reject the final report from the Open Ended Working Group on nuclear disarmament (OEWG), which recently completed its work. The United States calls on all states to reject unrealistic efforts to ban nuclear weapons," she said.

"The OEWG final report and efforts to institute a legal ban on nuclear weapons fail to take account of the international security environment and will neither lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons nor uphold the principle of undiminished security for all," she added.

Instead, the US is engaging members of the UN Security Council on a resolution that would emphasize the importance of maintaining a moratorium on nuclear explosive tests while at the same time trying to persuade Congress to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Friedt said.

"Today only one state, North Korea, continues nuclear testing, despite overwhelming international pressure and condemnation," she said.

Friedt also outlined a series of efforts the US has made under President Barack Obama's vision for a nuclear-free world, such as reducing its deployed stockpiles and launchers through the New START Treaty, diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in our security strategy and securing the nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama is also reportedly considering renouncing the preemptive nuclear strike option to bolster his legacy as champion of a world without nuclear weapons. The so-called "no first use" policy has unnerved allies depending on US nuclear weapons for their security.

A series of security experts have expressed strong concern about abandoning the nuclear preemptive strike option, saying it would send the wrong signal at a time when Russia is flexing its military muscle, China is building up its nuclear forces and North Korea is bent on developing nuclear missiles.

The no first use policy could erode the confidence allies have in the US nuclear umbrella, they said.

jschang@yna.co.kr


State Department Official: Banning Nuclear Weapons 'Unrealistic'
John Liang / Inside Defense

WASHINGTON, DC (August 30, 2016) -- An outright ban on nuclear weapons is "unrealistic," a State Department official said this week.

A United Nations "Open-ended Working Group on nuclear weapons" recently completed a report which "recommended with widespread support for the General Assembly to convene a conference in 2017, open to all States, with the participation and contribution of international organizations and civil society, to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination."
That report was rejected by the United States.

"The United States calls on all states to reject unrealistic efforts to ban nuclear weapons," Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Anita Friedt said in an Aug. 29 speech in Astana, Kazakhstan, adding: "The OEWG final report and efforts to institute a legal ban on nuclear weapons fail to take account of the international security environment and will neither lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons nor uphold the principle of undiminished security for all.

"So, together let us reject division and instead agree that we share a common goal and recommit to the roadmap we are on, one that has proven results," she continued, adding: "Together we can make true the hope expressed by President Obama in Hiroshima: to refocus 'the wonders of science on improving life, rather than destroying it.'"


The following is an op-ed that appeared in the conservative Sydney Daily Telegraph and was written by Australian Red Cross IHL Director Dr Phoebe Wynn-Pope.

If We Don't Ban Nukes, We're Nuts
Phoebe Wynn-Pope /The Daily Telegraph

SYDNEY August 31, 2016) -- A ban on nuclear weapons is within our reach. For the world's safety, we must make it happen now.

We're at a moment that's been 71 years in the making -- the turning point of a campaign that began as soon as the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were revealed.

At the UN an overwhelming majority of states have just voted to press ahead with trying to rid the world of more than 15,000 nuclear weapons. Most want negotiations for a ban treaty to start next year. We must back this turning point in history.

We have known for some time that nuclear weapons are far more than a threat to a single city or country. Their use would have catastrophic consequences for the whole world.

The "Little Boy" bomb dropped on Hiroshima exploded with the energy of 12,000-18,000 tons of TNT. Just one of today's weapons has the equivalent force of close to one million tons -- that's half the destructive power of all bombs dropped by western allies in Europe during World War II.

If a one-megaton nuclear weapon was dropped on a major city such as New York, at least 2.25 million people would die, one million of them within 11 seconds, according to Boston College Professor Charles Derber.

But a nuclear war would also set off a chain of disasters. The radiation would ravage the environment for decades and, like all other humanitarian agencies, the Red Cross would be powerless to help. Radiation would make areas around the blast site inaccessible and lead to debilitating long- term health problems. Hospitals would be destroyed and no infrastructure would remain.

There are more than 15,000 weapons capable of this kind of damage, of which 1800 are ready to be launched. Some of these are dozens of times bigger than the Hiroshima bomb. These bombs are also increasingly subject to risks, such as accidental or unauthorized detonation caused by cyber-attack, systems and radar or satellite errors.

A nuclear conflict could start with something as simple as one nation misinterpreting a training exercise, a weather phenomenon or technical error as a nuclear attack.

At the UN General Assembly in October we must seek a resolution recommending immediate negotiations to achieve a binding global nuclear weapon ban treaty.

Seventy-one years ago the world faced the terrible reality of nuclear war as two Japanese cities were destroyed.

Nuclear weapons are an unacceptable risk to humanity and belong in a bygone era. It's time to meet our global responsibility and ensure such atrocities never happen again.

Dr Phoebe-Wynn Pope is Director of International Humanitarian Law and Movement Relations at Australian Red Cross.


Comments
It's disappointing [that], while the states that do not yet understand that nuclear weapons should be abolished are not able of demonstrate the utility of these weapons of mass destruction to life and global human security.

We believe that we must continue the fight by approaching them for their show the risk of nuclear weapons that do not spare them. We need more efforts to have a legal instrument for banning these nuclear weapons.

-- Jacques Ntibarikure, Representant legal -- President Colonie des Pionniers de Developpement (CPD asbl) B.P. : 3562 Bujumbura, Burundi


At one conference I attended in April, a US representative (she shall remain unnamed) made it clear that there would be serious repercussions if the ban went ahead. She did not say what that meant but only "you wouldn't like it" in a very threatening tone. The gloves are coming off.

A French representative at the same gig was almost hysterical about the fact that we were challenging (not the NPT) but nuclear deterrence. That is the central problem. He thinks that without deterrence, the Russians will invade Eastern Europe.

Steinmeier gave an interesting interview on German TV last night in which he said that we need to keep talking to Russia -- particularly about arms control -- and not rely (only) on deterrence for peace. Obviously not going as far as we would like, but miles away from the US position.

-- Xanthe Hall, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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