ACTION ALERT: Legislation to Prevent Trump from Starting Nuclear War Introduced as 'Doomsday Clock' Nears Midnight
January 26, 2018
Basel Peace Office & Hon. Edward J. Markey / US Senate
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists today moved the hands of the symbolic Doomsday Clock to 2 Minutes to Midnight, indicating that the world is the closest to possible nuclear Armageddon since the height of the Cold War. Now 22 Senators say US commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons -- not the creation of new, more "usable" weapons -- should be core components of Nuclear Posture Review.
Special to Environmentalists Against War
ACTION ALERT: Legislation to Prevent Trump from Starting Nuclear War Introduced as "Doomsday Clock" Edges Closer to Midnight
"In the wake of the election, the American people are more concerned than ever about the terrible prospect of nuclear war -- and what the next commander-in-chief will do with the proverbial 'red button.' That such devastating power is concentrated in one person is an affront to our democracy's founding principles. The proposed legislation is an important first step to reining in this autocratic system and making the world safer from a nuclear catastrophe."
-- Derek Johnson, Global Zero
Doomsday Clock Moves Closer to Midnight
UN High-Level Conference becomes more important
Basel Peace Office
(January 25, 2018) -- The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists today moved the hands of the symbolic Doomsday Clock to 2 Minutes to Midnight, indicating that the world is the closest to possible nuclear Armageddon since the height of the Cold War in 1953.
The group of experts who made the adjustment to the clock pointed to rising nuclear tensions between the US and North Korea, specifically "hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions on both sides."
The group, which was founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists, specifically notes "the decline of US leadership and a related demise of diplomacy under the Trump administration" as a global concern and a reason for this year's leap closer to midnight.
Nuclear Risk Reduction Measures
Today's announcement highlights the need for nuclear risk reduction measures, such as those being advanced by US Senator Ed Markey, Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament.
Markey has introduced legislation into the Senate (with companion legislation in the House introduced by Ted Lieu) to restrict the authority of the US President to launch a nuclear attack without first consulting congress.
Markey has also organized joint congressional letters to the US Secretaries of State, Defense and Energy calling on the current Nuclear Posture Review to include measures to lower nuclear threat postures, reduce the risk of nuclear weapons use, and advance the goal of the global elimination of nuclear weapons.
See Joint letter to Trump administration on reducing role of nuclear weapons and Joint letter to the Trump administration opposing the production of new destabilizing nuclear weapons.
UN High-Level Conference
In May 2018, the United Nations General Assembly will hold the first ever High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament.
In light of the increased risks of nuclear war, this conference has become even more important than when it was first proposed to the UN five years ago. World leaders participating in this event should be encouraged -- and will be expected -- to take action to reduce these risks and advance nuclear disarmament.
Take Action: Call on your government to attend the UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament at the highest level (Prime Minister, President or Foreign Minister) and to do their best at the conference to reduce nuclear risks and advance the abolition of nuclear weapons.
ACTION: Click here for a sample letter and list of government contacts.
Yours in peace
The Basel Peace Office
Seminar fur Soziologie, Petersgraben 27
Basel 4051, Switzerland
Senators Markey and Feinstein Lead Call for Inclusive,
Transparent, and Comprehensive Review by Trump Administration
Of Role of Nuclear Weapons in US Security
Hon. Edward J. Markey / US Senate
WASHINGTON (July 19, 2017) -- Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today led 20 colleagues in a letter to the Trump administration to conduct an inclusive and transparent Nuclear Posture Review process.
In the letter to the State Department, Defense Department, and Energy Department, the senators emphasized the importance of transparency and thoroughness throughout the ongoing process to evaluate and define the missions and requirements for the US nuclear arsenal.
Specifically, the senators call for it to include broad interagency input, to produce a publicly available document, and to reaffirm the nation's longstanding commitment to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.
"We must continue moving toward a future free from the threat of nuclear war," said Senator Markey. "US nuclear policy should focus on reducing the role of nuclear weapons -- relying on them only to deter nuclear attack on the United States and our partners and allies -- and avoid any move that could lower the threshold for use of nuclear weapons or increase the risk of inadvertent nuclear war.
Incorporating the recommendations outlined in this letter into the Nuclear Posture Review will help us achieve this vital objective and will reaffirm the position of the United States as the global leader in nuclear arms control and nonproliferation."
"The United States has a moral obligation to reduce the threat of nuclear war," said Senator Feinstein. "The Obama administration's Nuclear Posture Review reduced the role of nuclear weapons and reaffirmed our commitment to eventually eliminating nuclear weapons. I urge the Trump administration to reject calls for new nuclear weapons and maintain the course set by the previous administration."
The full text of the letter to Secretary Rex Tillerson, Secretary James Mattis, and Secretary Rick Perry can be found HERE.
In the letter the senators also urge the heads of the Departments of State, Defense, and Energy to adhere to longstanding, bipartisan principles regarding nuclear weapons policy during the current review process.
For example, the senators call for maintaining US obligations under existing Senate-ratified arms control treaties such as the limits on deployed strategic warheads and launchers agreed under the 2010 New START Treaty with Russia and article VI of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which obliges all parties to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament."
The senators also stress the importance of continuing the US moratorium on nuclear weapons testing first put into place by President George H.W. Bush, instead continuing to rely on the Stockpile Stewardship Program to ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the US nuclear arsenal as the directors of US national labs have continuously certified that nuclear test explosions are not needed to maintain the reliability of US nuclear weapons.
Other senators signing the letter include:
Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.),
Al Franken (D-Minn.),
Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.),
Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),
Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.),
Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii),
Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.),
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.),
Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii),
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.),
Dick Durbin (D-Ill.),
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio),
Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.),
Chris Murphy (D-Conn.),
Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.),
Patty Murray (D-Wash.),
Cory Booker (D-N.J.),
Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.),
and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
Senator Markey and Rep. Lieu Introduce
The Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act
Hon. Edward Markey / US Senate
WASHINGTON (January 24, 2017) -- Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congressman Ted W. Lieu (CA-33) and introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. This legislation would prohibit the President from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress.
The crucial issue of nuclear "first use" is more urgent than ever now that President Donald Trump has the power to launch a nuclear war at a moment's notice.
"Nuclear war poses the gravest risk to human survival," said Senator Markey. "Yet, President Trump has suggested that he would consider launching nuclear attacks against terrorists. Unfortunately, by maintaining the option of using nuclear weapons first in a conflict, US policy provides him with that power. In a crisis with another nuclear-armed country, this policy drastically increases the risk of unintended nuclear escalation.
"Neither President Trump, nor any other president, should be allowed to use nuclear weapons except in response to a nuclear attack. By restricting the first use of nuclear weapons, this legislation enshrines that simple principle into law. I thank Rep. Lieu for his partnership on this common-sense bill during this critical time in our nation's history."
"It is a frightening reality that the US now has a Commander-in-Chief who has demonstrated ignorance of the nuclear triad, stated his desire to be 'unpredictable' with nuclear weapons, and as President-elect was making sweeping statements about US nuclear policy over Twitter," said Rep. Lieu. "Congress must act to preserve global stability by restricting the circumstances under which the US would be the first nation to use a nuclear weapon.
"Our Founders created a system of checks and balances, and it is essential for that standard to be applied to the potentially civilization-ending threat of nuclear war. I am proud to introduce the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 with Sen. Markey to realign our nation's nuclear weapons launch policy with the Constitution and work towards a safer world."
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
Support for the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017:
William J. Perry, Former Secretary of Defense -- "During my period as Secretary of Defense, I never confronted a situation, or could even imagine a situation, in which I would recommend that the President make a first strike with nuclear weapons -- understanding that such an action, whatever the provocation, would likely bring about the end of civilization.
I believe that the legislation proposed by Congressman Lieu and Senator Markey recognizes that terrible reality. Certainly a decision that momentous for all of civilization should have the kind of checks and balances on Executive powers called for by our Constitution."
Tom Z. Collina, Policy Director of Ploughshares Fund -- "President Trump now has the keys to the nuclear arsenal, the most deadly killing machine ever created. Within minutes, President Trump could unleash up to 1,000 nuclear weapons, each one many times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb.
Yet Congress has no voice in the most important decision the United States government can make. As it stands now, Congress has a larger role in deciding on the number of military bands than in preventing nuclear catastrophe."
Derek Johnson, Executive Director of Global Zero -- "One modern nuclear weapon is more destructive than all of the bombs detonated in World War II combined. Yet there is no check on a president's ability to launch the thousands of nuclear weapons at his command.
In the wake of the election, the American people are more concerned than ever about the terrible prospect of nuclear war -- and what the next commander-in-chief will do with the proverbial 'red button.'
That such devastating power is concentrated in one person is an affront to our democracy's founding principles. The proposed legislation is an important first step to reining in this autocratic system and making the world safer from a nuclear catastrophe."
Megan Amundson, Executive Director of Women's Action for New Directions (WAND) -- "Rep. Lieu and Sen. Markey have rightly called out the dangers of only one person having his or her finger on the nuclear button.
The potential misuse of this power in the current global climate has only magnified this concern. It is time to make real progress toward lowering the risk that nuclear weapons are ever used again, and this legislation is a good start."
Catherine Thomasson, MD, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility -- "We must understand that our own nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable risk to our national security. The "successful" use of our own nuclear arsenal would cause catastrophic climate disruption around the world including here in the United States.
These weapons are suicide bombs, and no one individual should have the power to introduce them into a conflict. The Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 is an important step to lessen the chance these weapons will be used."
Jeff Carter, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility -- "Nuclear weapons pose an unacceptable risk to our national security. Even a "limited" use of nuclear weapons would cause catastrophic climate disruption around the world, including here in the United States.
They are simply too profoundly dangerous for one person to be trusted with the power to introduce them into a conflict. Grounded in the fundamental constitutional provision that only Congress has the power to declare war, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017 is a wise and necessary step step to lessen the chance these weapons will ever be used."
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