Three Days That Could Change the World – This Weekend in New York City!

April 29, 2010
Published on Thursday, April 29, 2010 by CommonDreams.org 

by Judith LeBlanc and Kevin Martin

Barack Obama is undoubtedly the U.S. president most committed to nuclear disarmament since Kennedy. People all over the world have cheered President Obama’s commitment to move toward nuclear disarmament.

Yet the stark reality is U.S. and Russia maintain over 20,000 nuclear weapons, many of them on hair-trigger alert, ready to launch on a few minutes’ notice. Many are tens or hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, which leveled that city and killed over 140,000 people.

The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement, while welcome, is a modest reduction, leaving the U.S. and Russia with over 1,500 deployed, long-range “strategic”, nukes, and thousands more “tactical”, short-range weapons and “reserve” nukes in storage. U.S. Senate ratification of New START, where 67 votes are required by the Constitution to approve treaties, may prove difficult, especially without conditions supporting modernization of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex that would undercut the treaty’s thrust and appear hypocritical to the rest of the world.

Criticism by some analysts that this treaty and other recent initiatives (the Congressionally-mandated Nuclear Posture Review and Nuclear Security Summit) are too modest or narrow does not diminish the president’s stature as a leader on nuclear weapons issues. It reflects the reality that he is a politician, pressured by many constituencies, many of whom do not share his vision of a world made more secure by scrapping nuclear weapons. The Dr. Strangeloves in the nuclear weapons establishment certainly have the president’s ear. Their influence needs to be countered by an engaged public in the U.S. and around the world.

We have the opportunity to do just that at the upcoming Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon), held every five years at the United Nations in New York.

The NPT is the cornerstone of the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. It has three main tenets – disarmament, non-proliferation, and the development nuclear energy. Because of the dangers of catastrophic accidents like Chernobyl, the unsolved problem of storing and safeguarding nuclear waste and the potential that “peaceful” nuclear programs or materials can morph into weapons programs, nuclear energy should be replaced with safe, renewable, “green” energy sources.

Regarding nuclear weapons, the NPT review is a unique opportunity, yet one that comes at a moment of potential crisis. Concern over Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal and the possibility that Iran may seek a nuclear weapons capacity has spurred a renewed call for a Middle East Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone by countries in the region. If this is blocked at the NPT Review, there is  concern that countries in the region such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and others might seek  nuclear weapons.

This is only one crucial non-proliferation issue requiring progress at the review conference. In the realm of disarmament, many non-nuclear countries are impatient with progress toward fulfilling the NPT’s Article VI, which calls for the original nuclear states (the Unites States, Russia, China, France and Great Britain) to disarm in exchange for the non-nuclear states forgoing nuclear weapons. The NPT became international law in 1970, so the impatience is understandable and warranted.

The NPT is the world’s most widely adhered-to treaty, with 186 signatory countries, but U.S. leadership is crucial. President Obama has a golden opportunity, and an obligation really, to make bold progress toward the global elimination of the world’s most deadly weapons.

He won’t do it alone, and he won’t be alone. In addition to the delegates from the member states, tens of thousands of people from around the world will gather in New York this weekend, just before the NPT RevCon opens. Events will include an international conference, rally, march and festival to demonstrate international civil society’s support for peace, disarmament and prioritizing human and environmental needs over nuclear weapons and war.

Three days that can change the world!

This weekend New York City, Peace Action, and international coalition organizing under the banner “Disarm Now! For Peace and Human Needs” and thousands of activists from around the world will take a stand against nuclear weapons with a groundbreaking conference on disarmament and a mass demonstration of global importance. The events are the culmination of an international petition campaign involving over 4 million people.

We call on you to stand with the Hibakusha, the survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Yoko Ono, LUSH Cosmetics, President Obama, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and peace and disarmament activists from countries around the globe to take action for a world free of nuclear weapons.

This week, international artist Yoko Ono urged participation in the three days of action on her website.

LUSH, the international organic cosmetics company, is supporting Peace Action and the international petition campaign calling upon President Obama to engage in “multilateral negotiations on an international agreement to abolish nuclear weapons, within our lifetimes.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will keynote the International Conference for Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World. Last fall, he said, “nuclear disarmament is the only sane path to a safer world.”

Last year, President Obama reminded the world that taking steps towards a world without nuclear weapons is a moral responsibility. Without action, organizing and protest, that moral responsibility will never be realized.

There is still time to help change history.

 1) Be in Times Square at 1:30 PM on Sunday, May 2!  Rally in Times Square (South of 41th Street on 7th Avenue) to call for No Nukes, No Wars, Fund Human Needs, Protect the Planet!

March to Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza at the UN with Hibakusha,  people from the US who have been harmed by uranium mining and nuclear weapons testing, as well as peace activists and nuclear abolitionists from across the US and countries around the world.. Close the afternoon by participating in a dynamic International Peace & Music Festival from 4-6:00 PM.

 2) Watch Live Web Streaming of  International Conference for Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World, April 30 -May 1.

On the eve of the U.N. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will join over 800 participants at historic Riverside Church in Manhattan to discuss the urgency of nuclear abolition and the new opportunities for disarmament.

The abolition of nuclear weapons and shifting the world’s resources from war planning to feeding, healing and housing the peoples of the world is what is needed in the 21st century. We must make it happen, in our lifetime.

Live Web Streaming

The conference is now at full capacity. We are working on the logistics for live web streaming of Ban Ki-moon’s address, and all the plenary speakers on Friday night and Saturday. Check www.peaceandjusticenow.org on Friday, April 30 for details.

Organize viewing parties in your area! Timing and list of plenary speakers are up on the peaceandjusticenow.org website.

Whether or not you can join us in New York this weekend, all people of conscience need to seize on (in the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) “the fierce urgency of now” in demanding peace, disarmament, social justice and environmental restoration.

Judith LeBlanc is the National Field Organizer and Kevin Martin is the Executive Director of Peace Action, the country’s largest peace and disarmament organization with 100,000 members. www.peace-action.org Peace Action is collaborating with U.S. and international allies on events surrounding the NPT Review Conference, more information is available at www.peaceandjusticenow.org


Historian Lawrence Wittner: “The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Past and Present

April 27, 2010

Peace Action historian Lawrence Wittner’s article “The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Past and Present” written for the History News Network:

“The opening this May of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference at the United Nations seems likely to feature a conflict that has simmered for decades between nuclear nations and non-nuclear nations.

By the mid-1960s, five nations had developed a nuclear weapons capability:  the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, France, and, most recently, China.  But numerous other nations were giving serious consideration to joining the nuclear club.  They included Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Israel, Pakistan, South Africa, and West Germany.  Millions of people and many governments feared that the nuclear arms race — already dangerous enough — was on the verge of spiraling totally out of control.”

Dr. Wittner is Professor of History at the State University of New York/Albany. His latest book is Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement (Stanford University Press).

Check out the whole article at the History News Network.


Peace Action’s Judith LeBlanc in Truthout article on NPT RevCon

April 23, 2010

It’s a good article on the terrific events we are helping organize starting next weekend around the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

Check it out on Truthout

Also, for more information on our conference at historic Riverside Church in Manhattan, keynoted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, April 30 – May 1 and May 2 rally, peace march and festival in Manhattan (from Times Square to the United Nations), please see http://peaceandjusticenow.org/wordpress/


Raed Jarrar talks with Dr. James Zogby of Viewpoint

April 12, 2010

Raed Jarrar, Iraq consultant to the American Friends Service Committee and Senior fellow at Peace Action in Washington, DC, spoke about the recent Iraqi elections. Jarrar, a native of Iraq, was present for the elections. Overall, Jarrar explained the election process was free of “massive fraud”, and went fairly well. Jarrar was asked to comment about the implications the elections will have on the country going forward and whether or not the elections indicate a reconciliation of factional differences.

Watch the interview at Viewpoint.


“Iraq: Seven Years of Occupation”

April 9, 2010

Please read Peace Action senior fellow Raed Jarrar’s new article in TruthOut.

An Iraqi man waits in line outside a government headquarters building for food supplies from a humanitarian-aid delivery in northern Iraq. (Photo: DVIDSHUB / Flickr)

On April 9, 2003, exactly seven years ago, Baghdad fell under the US-led occupation. Baghdad did not fall in 21 days, though; it fell after 13 years of wars, bombings and economic sanctions. Millions of Iraqis, including myself, watched our country die slowly before our eyes in those 13 years. So, when the invasion started in March of 2003, everyone knew it was the straw that would break the camel’s back.

I still remember the day of the fall of Baghdad very clearly, as if it happened yesterday. My family and I had fled to my uncle’s home in southern Baghdad because our neighborhood, located near Baghdad’s airport, was bombarded by US airplanes in the days before. I remember the first US tank rolling down the street with a US soldier, wearing black gloves, waving his hand and some people waving back. That was one of the sadist day of my life, not only because Baghdad fell under a foreign occupation, but also because I knew it would be the beginning of another disastrous chapter in Iraq’s history. Now, when I look back at all that happened under the occupation, I find that I was, unfortunately, right.

Read the full article at TruthOut.


Kevin Martin talks about the New START Treaty in an hour-long interview with KPFT, Pacifica radio in Houston

April 8, 2010

Listen to Kevin Martin give the low-down on the New START Treaty in an hour-long interview with KPFT Pacifica Radio in Houston, Texas.

Check back later for highlights from the interview.


Laura Flanders sits down with Raed Jarrar to talk about the recent WikiLeaks video

April 8, 2010

Senior Fellow Raed Jarrar talks to Laura Flanders’ GRITtv below. Watch the whole video also featuring an interview with David Corn about the Nuclear Posture Review or skip ahead to 8:00 minutes and listen to Raed Jarrar and Rick Rowley.

Monday’s revelation of a videotape of U.S. soldiers shooting unarmed Iraqi civilians is still reverberating around the country. The Wikileaks video is raising questions about procedure, the rules of engagement, and even freedom of speech and of the press.

Most importantly, though, people seem to be asking whether this is an aberration in behavior, a few soldiers overreacting or misbehaving, or the normal procedure for action in Iraq. Joining us to discuss are Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films, who was in Iraq and visited the scene of the shootings just the day after they happened, and senior fellow at Peace Action, Raed Jarrar.

Check out Laura Flanders’ GRITtv for more videos and the complete post.


Largest Peace Group: Signing New START Treaty is Good; More Needed to Finish

April 7, 2010

For Immediate Release:  April 7, 2010

Contact:   Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action, 951-217-7285, pmartin@peace-action.org

Kevin Martin, Peace Action, 301-565-4050 x307, kmartin@peace-action.org

Largest Peace Group:  Signing New START Treaty is Good; More Needed to Finish

Washington, DC — In response to the signing in Prague (ceremony to occur at approximately 5:50 am Eastern Daylight Time, Thursday, April 8th) of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the U.S. and Russia, which would cut deployed, strategic nuclear weapons, Kevin Martin, the executive director of Peace Action — a group founded in 1957 to abolish nuclear weapons and the largest grassroots peace organization — stated:

“The New START treaty is a modest, but good step toward reducing the threat from nuclear weapons. The Senate should quickly and deliberately advise and consent to its ratification.  Fewer nuclear weapons makes Americans safer and sends the right message to the rest of the world.  President Obama should continue his push for a nuclear weapons-free world not by beginning another round of negotiations for a further incremental cut to 1,000 nuclear weapons on each side, as has been reported, but by taking executive actions to reduce the U.S. nuclear stockpile.”

Under the new treaty, which may face some opposition in the Senate where a two-thirds majority vote is necessary for ratification, both countries would maintain 1,550 such weapons, most of which are tens or hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, which leveled the city and killed 140,000 people.

Martin argued that the President, who is concentrating on nuclear disarmament issues this month and next with Tuesday’s release of the Nuclear Posture Review and next week’s Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, could announce a reduction to about 300 nuclear weapons (as recently advocated by Air Force strategists and scholars) without harming U.S. security, and he could challenge Russia to do the same.  Martin proposed speeding up the dismantlement of retired U.S. weapons, taking U.S. nuclear forces off “hair-trigger alert,” removing tactical (short-range) nukes from Europe, and cancelling plans to upgrade the nuclear weapons production complex. These steps, he urged, would send a strong leadership message to the rest of the world before the crucial Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations next month.  The group is helping organize tens of thousands of people from around the world to attend events surrounding the conference in order to demonstrate global civil society support for eliminating nuclear weapons.

Martin concluded, “the President should initiate multi-lateral talks for the verifiable, global abolition of nuclear weapons.  Why wait to initiate this process until further rounds of incremental reductions are negotiated and ratified, which could take years?  The President’s bold vision of a nuclear weapons-free world demands bold action.”

###

Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 34 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts with Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. The public may learn more and take action athttp://www.Peace-Action.org. For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action’s political director on Twitter. http://twitter.com/PaulKawika

Notes to Editors:

The NPR can be found at:

http://www.defense.gov/npr/docs/2010%20Nuclear%20Posture%20Review%20Report.pdf

More information on the upcoming NPT activities at:

http://peaceandjusticenow.org


Kevin Martin on the Nuclear Posture Review today on Democracy NOW!

April 7, 2010

From Democracy NOW!

The Obama administration has formally unveiled its new policy on nuclear weapons that maintains the right to use nukes in launching attacks on other nations. Anti-nuclear activists and some Democratic lawmakers were hoping Obama would issue a blanket statement that the US would never again be the first to use nuclear weapons. Announcing the policy in Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US would only pledge to not use the weapons against non-nuclear states that comply with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “We are enforcing our commitment to the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) by stating clearly, for the first time, that the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nonproliferation obligations.”

The policy also maintains the US can attack nations for violating the NPT. Defense Secretary Robert Gates singled out Iran and North Korea in asserting that “all options are on the table.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “If there is a message for Iran and North Korea here, it is that if you’re going to play by the rules, if you’re going to join the international community, then we will undertake certain obligations to you. And that’s covered in the NPR. But if you’re not going to play by the rules, if you’re going to be a proliferator, then all options are on the table in terms of how we deal with you.”

Critics say the new strategy doesn’t go far enough in meeting President Obama’s stated pledge to reduce nuclear proliferation. In a statement, Kevin Martin of Peace Action said, “The new policy] appears to be too beholden to outdated Cold War thinking, and it doesn’t measure up to [President Obama’s] vision of a nuclear-free world.”

Watch yesterday’s headlines at Democracy NOW! or skip to the story on the Nuclear Posture Review which starts at 3:59.


John Nichols asks: “On Disarmament: Will Obama Make His Rhetoric Real?”

April 4, 2010

Check out John Nichols latest blog post in The Nation about nuclear disarmament and the Obama presidency.

Peace Action, the nation’s largest grassroots peace and disarmament network, is asking Americans to email the president with a plea that he act on the promise made in Prague. It reads:

Dear President Obama,We wholeheartedly applaud you for declaring in Prague, “I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” We commend you for your courageous and historic recognition that “as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act.” We call on you to make good on that commitment and fulfill that responsibility by announcing at the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference your initiation of good faith multilateral negotiations on an international agreement to abolish nuclear weapons, within our lifetimes! Yes we can!

In addition to sending the email, Peace Action is asking activists to download paper petitions and gather signatures as part of a push to add 100,000 signatures to an international petition seeking abolition of nuclear weapons.

The president talked the talk in April of last year.

Now, he needs to walk the walk in April of this year.

Check out John Nichols’ full blog post at The Nation.


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