» Nuclear Weapons are 65 Years Old: It’s Time to Retire Them! «

21 07 2010

On July 16, 1945, the first nuclear test, code-named “Trinity,” took place in the desert north of Alamogordo, New Mexico. According to the Washington Nuclear Museum and Educational Center, the test released the equivalent of 19 kilotons of TNT, far mightier than any weapon ever used before. The plutonium used in this bomb was produced in the B Reactor at Hanford, Washington.

July 16, 2010 marked the 65th anniversary of the first atomic bomb explosion. While certainly not everyone is ready to retire at age 65, NJ Peace Action firmly believes that it is well past the time for the U.S. government (and all governments, for that matter) to retire nuclear weapons – all of them. NJ Peace Action, formerly known as NJ SANE, has had nuclear disarmament as its primary mission since its founding in 1957.

NJ Peace Action continues that work today, together with our parent organization, Peace Action, and other affiliates across the country. To that end, we are working on the following issues. We are pushing for U.S. Senate ratification of the new START Treaty. We support allocating additional money for nuclear disarmament work, but oppose allocating more money for nuclear weapons development. We are continuing to educate the public about the dangers of nuclear weapons, relying on the stories of Hibakusha, Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 65 years ago.  Lastly, we support efforts to divert funding from nuclear weapons development to programs that address community needs such as hunger and poverty, as we believe that the eradication of hunger and poverty would go a long way toward establishing genuine security throughout the world.

Here’s how you can get involved.

1.  The New START Treaty: Join us in calling on all U.S. Senators, Republican and Democrat alike, to vote to ratify the new START Treaty, an agreement between the United States and Russia to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in both countries.

Another idea from nuclear disarmament expert and president of the Ploughshares Fund, Joseph Cirincione, comes from his blog.

…social media can also play a role. For instance, Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—the Senate committee through which the New START must pass before it can be ratified. You can write on Senator Corker’s Facebook wall here to let him know why he should vote yes on the New START treaty. Also, become a fan of New START on Facebook to get ideas and updates about how you can get involved.

Joseph Cirincione continues, “Whatever security nuclear weapons may have provided during the Cold War is now outweighed by the real risks they pose to our nation. Nuclear weapons are a liability, not an asset. By working together with other nations, verifying the mutual drawdown of outdated arsenals, and guarding all nuclear weapon materials as securely as we guard the gold in Fort Knox, we make the world safer. The New START treaty is a crucial first step in creating a more secure future for our children, our country, and the world.”

2.  Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Disarmament Funding: The House Energy and Water Committee voted recently to fully fund a host of nuclear nonproliferation initiatives, something we support completely. At the same time, the Committee also voted to fully fund a series of initiatives that undercuts nuclear disarmament measures.  We ask that you call your Representative in Congress and let him or her know that while you support the levels of funding for nuclear disarmament initiatives, the increased funding for nuclear weapons laboratories undermines efforts at nuclear disarmament. The toll free number for the Congressional switchboard is 866-220-0044.

For background information on U.S. spending on nuclear weapons, check out the Peace Action Military Spending Primer located at http://peace-action.org/Peace%20Action%20Military%20Spending%20Primer.pdf . The Primer provides excellent background information on how much the United States has spent on nuclear weapons in the past few years.

For example, according to a Carnegie Endowment report published January 2009, total appropriations for nuclear weapons and weapons related programs for fiscal year 2008, was at least $52.4 billion. The report reveals a nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons related budget that is far larger than what is typically thought of as US expenses on nuclear weapons programs. The majority of the spending goes towards “nuclear forces and operational support” which includes the maintenance, operation and upgrading of the nuclear weapons arsenal, delivery systems, and infrastructure while only 10% goes towards limiting the spread of nuclear weapons.

Some of the Primer’s key findings include:

* Nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs account for at least 67 percent of Department of Energy’s budget, 8.5 percent of the FBI’s budget, 7.1 percent of the Department of Defense budget, and 1.7 percent of the Department of Homeland Security’s budget.

* Only 1.3 percent ($700 million) of the nuclear security budget was devoted to preparing for the consequences of a nuclear or radiological attack.

* Another 56 percent of the total went toward operating, sustaining, and upgrading the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

* Nuclear security consumes $13 billion more than international diplomacy and foreign assistance; nearly double what the United States allots for general science, space, and technology; and 14 times what the Department of Energy (DOE) budgets for all energy-related research and development.

3. Countdown to Zero: Attending showings of the movie Countdown to Zero when it opens near you. The movie’s producers hope that if movie houses are packed in its initial limited distribution that this important movie will then be picked up by movie houses all over the country!

NJ Peace Action is working with Peace Action New York State (PANYS) and national Peace Action to bring a contingent of pro-nuclear disarmament activists to the premiere showing of Countdown to Zero on July 23rd in New York City. At the time of writing, all tickets reserved for NJ Peace Action have been taken!

According to the website http://www.takepart.com/countdowntozero Countdown to Zero traces the history of the atomic bomb from its origins to the present state of global affairs: nine nations possess nuclear weapons capabilities with others racing to join them, with the world held in a delicate balance that could be shattered by an act of terrorism, failed diplomacy, or a simple accident. Written and directed by acclaimed documentarian Lucy Walker (Devil’s Playground, Blindsight), the film features an array of important international statesmen, including Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pervez Musharraf and Tony Blair.

Countdown to Zero makes a compelling case for worldwide nuclear disarmament, an issue more topical than ever. The film was produced by Academy Award® winner and 2009 nominee Lawrence Bender (Inglourious Basterds, An Inconvenient Truth) and developed, financed and executive produced by Participant Media, together with World Security Institute.

4. Listen to Hibakusha, Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: In conjunction with the August 9th Saving Lives Task Force, NJ Peace Action is also planning a Retirement Party for Nuclear Weapons on Monday, August 9th, the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Our featured guests will be Ms. Yasuko Ohta, a survivor of the bombing, and her son, Mr. Kohichi Ohta. The event will take place at 7:30pm at the Islamic Center of Morris County, located at 1 Mannino Drive in Rockaway, New Jersey.

Ms.Yasuko Ohta was born on September 25, 1929. She is the vice-president of the Toyama Association of A-bomb Victims. Ms. Ohta was A-bombed in Nagasaki when she was working as a student laborer at an ammunitions factory, 1.3 kilometers away from the epicenter. She has traveled several times overseas to talk about her experience and has visited Washington DC in summer of 2008.

The Task Force takes its name from that fateful day and from the Task Force’s commitment to prevent any future Hiroshimas or Nagasakis. The Task Force is a partnership of faith-based, interfaith and secular organizations that has adopted the following goals:

a. To make the public more aware of the growing dangers of nuclear weapons,             their proliferation, their impact on the environment (particularly depleted             uranium) and the urgent need to avoid any more close calls; to promote multi-            lateral steps toward reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons with             mutually verifiable inspection.

b. To save lives by redirecting nuclear weapons funding and other military             spending to humanitarian needs such as hunger and poverty.

5. House Resolution 278 “Global Securities Priority Resolution”: H. Resolution 278 was introduced on March 24, 2009. It has a total of 34 co-sponsors, including 3 from New Jersey, up from 13 a year ago. The bill seeks to reduce spending on nuclear weapons by $13 billion annually. These funds would instead be used to dismantle nuclear weapons while $6.5 billion would be appropriated for the next 5 years to combat global child mortality.

6. Lobby visits with your Representative and U.S. Senators: NJ Peace Action can help you set up a lobby visit with your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators so that all these legislative initiatives can be discussed. Our elected officials will be home on recess from the beginning of August until their return to Washington, D.C. on September 13, 2010.

The next six weeks will be very important to the history of nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament. We all have a big part to play in moving the world closer to being nuclear weapons free. Let’s all work together to build a powerful movement that demands zero nuclear weapons!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: