Connecting Globally, Acting Locally for a More Peaceful and Just Future – Peter Deccy in Nagasaki

August 8, 2013

Our longtime Development Director Peter Deccy (30 years with Sane, Sane/Freeze, Peace Action!) is in Nagasaki, as is our Field Director, Judith Le Blanc. Here is the text of the speech Peter will deliver today at the conference of our sister organization Gensuikin, in the beautiful city of Nagaski.

Connecting Globally, Acting Locally for a More Peaceful and Just Future

Peter Deccy, Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund

 

Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs (GENSUIKIN), Nagasaki, August 2013

 

First i would like to thank my hosts for your kindness and generosity and thank all of you as well for keeping alive the history of the terrible atrocity that happened here 68 years ago today.  Across the United States, peace activists take part annual commemorations of this day and we use this act of remembering as an opportunity to reach out to our communities, to educate our neighbors of the great danger we are still living with and invite them to take action for a more peaceful and just future.  In this way, we stand with you.

 

At Peace Action, we view your annual invitation to participate in these commemorations a high honor and part of my work here today is to let you know that Peace Action’s 250,000 members and supporters stand with you in opposition to the Rokkasho reprocessing plant.  We have written Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae at your request to share with him our belief that separating enough plutonium in a single year to build 1000 nuclear warheads would set a dangerous precedent and that the potential security and proliferation risks ought to be considered unacceptable.

 

It is worth noting the US has its own history with the commercial reprocessing of nuclear fuel.  The West Valley reprocessing plant in the state of New York opened in 1966 and closed in 1972, having accumulated over 600.000 gallons of high level radioactive waste in just 6 years.  It was not until 2002 – 30 years after the plant closed – that the process for decommissioning the plant could safely begin and US taxpayers are still paying to this day to clean up the mess.

 

Our vision is for a just and peaceful future.  It is a global vision and our movement is a global movement.  The communication revolution has given our movement the capacity for planning and coordination we could barely imagine 20 years ago.  The next generation of organizers to lead this global movement – and I see many of you in the audience today – will possess the skills and tools to take us forward and hopefully achieve the success we have long dreamed of.

 

In June, US President Barak Obama renewed his promise to lead the world to a future free of nuclear weapons. He proposed that a new agreement might be negotiated with Russia that would reduce our deployed nuclear arsenals by 30%. But within a couple weeks of his speech, US military planners had presented their ‘nuclear employment strategy’, a blueprint for how nuclear weapons will in fact remain a key element of US national security policy and it made clear the threat of nuclear war remains with us now and for the foreseeable future.

 

Instead of ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and completing a treaty to ban the production of fissile materials, the US government plans to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in a nuclear weapons forever program upgrading and expanding the US capacity for building and delivering nuclear annihilation.

 

In the US, peace activists have gained some leverage in the past two years by demanding money spent on nuclear overkill, robotic and cyber warfare – every conceivable form of weaponry – be spent instead on creating green jobs and meeting the needs of our communities.  We have built common cause with those activists who fight poverty and injustice and those working to protect the environment, educate our children, and care for the sick and dispossessed and with organized labor.  We are building the power to confront our nation’s addiction to militarism together.

Our movement has long made the connections between energy policy and resource war, between war and the destruction of the global environment and between militarism and the cost to our economic well being.  This past April we joined with you and peace activists on every continent in a Global Day of Action Against Military Spending.  Our message must go viral.

 

It is in this spirit that Peace Action and our allies are pressing for greater US leadership in multi-lateral nuclear disarmament initiatives.  The September 26 High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament is a good place for the US to begin.  We are asking President Obama to travel to New York on that day to address the General Assembly.  We also want greater US participation in the conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons to be held next year in Mexico and we want the US to vigorously advocate for the convening of the conference on a Middle East Zone free of Weapons of Mass Destruction.  The US should be taking part in UN’s open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament, with all of this leading up to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2015.  A true leader, committed to a world free of nuclear weapons does not watch these important initiatives from the sidelines.

 

In Berlin, President Obama said “so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe.” Our question is ‘what are you prepared to do about it?’  Greater participation in these important multi-lateral initiatives would be an appropriate answer.

 

For 68 years our movement has worked to insure nuclear weapons will never be used in war again.  We work for peace so war will have no place to take root.  So the wealth of nations is directed to creating a better world for its citizens and not spent on preparations for its destruction.

 

That’s why we are never idle in the face of reckless and dangerous preparations for war and we will not be idle as the Asia Pacific becomes the next theatre for war planners, the next venue for an arms race and fruitless confrontation.

 

The challenges we face – economic, environmental, the threat of war and mass destruction – have combined and grown in size and complexity.  We can no longer confront them issue by issue or country by country.  At the same time, we are growing closer to each other and our connection to one another can define the future.  We know we are stronger when we stand together.  As an organizer in the US, I have come to believe it will take a global wave to carry our demands forward.

 

Our movement must offer the world a vision of a time when the human race is no longer preparing to do battle over what is left of the world’s resources and when diplomacy, partnership and multi lateral cooperation are the foundation of a new, collective security that will allow us to work together to meet the urgent global human needs that challenge all of us.

 

As our ability to connect and join with one another in common cause grows, as information spreads instantly to every corner of the world I look forward to the day when the Hundredth Monkey moves from forgotten theory to legend.  Let us be the spark that lights that future.

 

We work together, as one, in organizing a global movement for peace and freedom from the threat of mass destruction.  In this way, we would all be as the honored Hibakusha, having survived the nuclear age, building a more just and peaceful future.


Statement on North Korea’s Nuclear Test

February 12, 2013

This statement, which I participated in the drafting/editing of, comes from the Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific, which Peace Action participates in, especially to lend solidarity to peoples’ peace struggles in the region and in opposing the U.S. military’s Asia-Pacific “pivot.” Feel free to distribute or use as you see fit.

Kevin Martin

Executive Director

Friends,
North Korea’s nuclear test takes us deeper into dangerous nuclear weapons proliferation and certainly adds to the dangerous tensions in Northeast Asia and between the U.S. and the DPRK.
That said, as the following statement by the Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization in Asia indicates, the contexts in which the test took place are complex, and there are actions that we and our governments can take to contribute to peace and denuclearization of Northeast Asia. including the need for the U.S. and other nuclear powers to cease their nuclear double standards and calling a halt to provocative war games, including those now under way.
The way forward is diplomacy, not still more threats and  sanctions.
Please read and circulate the statement to your lists.

For peace and nuclear weapons abolition,
Joseph Gerson

Convener, Working Group for Peace & Demilitarization
in Asia and the Pacific

U.S. Working Group for Peace & Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific
Statement in Response to Third DPRK Nuclear Explosive Test

1)      We come from diverse backgrounds and hold a range of analyses (or perspectives) approaching the North Korean nuclear weapons test and the further militarization of Asia and the Pacific.

2)      We oppose the development, possession of, and threats to use nuclear weapons by any nation. We are committed to creating a world free of nuclear weapons. We have deep concerns that North Korea’s third nuclear weapons test contributes to an increasingly dangerous region-wide nuclear arms race. We understand the North Korean test was part of a cycle of threat and response to previous U.S. nuclear threats, and to continued military provocations. We cannot ignore the double standards and hypocrisies of the members of the “nuclear club” who refuse to fulfill their Article VI disarmament commitments of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty commitments by “modernizing” their omnicidal arsenals while insisting that other nations refrain from becoming nuclear powers. North Korea has conducted three explosive nuclear tests, compared to the United States’ 1,054.

3)      We note that beginning with the Korean War, the United States has prepared and threatened to attack North Korea with nuclear weapons at least nine times, that it maintains the so-called U.S. “nuclear umbrella” over Northeast Asia, and that its current contingency plans for war with North Korea include a possible first-strike nuclear attack.[i]

4)      The Obama administration’s first-term policy of “strategic patience” with the DPRK, reinforced by crippling sanctions that contribute to widespread malnutrition, connected to the stunting of growth in children and starvation, has proven to be a grave failure. The policy has foreclosed crucial opportunities to explore diplomacy and engagement.  “Strategic patience”, combined with North and South Korea’s increasingly advanced missile programs, aggressive annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises – including preparations for the military overthrow of the DPRK government – and the Obama Administration’s militarized Asia-Pacific “pivot,”[ii] contributed to the DPRK’s decision to conduct a third nuclear “test.”

5)      Added to these factors was the January 22, 2013 UN Security Council resolutions condemning North Korea’s December rocket launch and the tightening of the existing punitive sanctions program against North Korea.  The double standard that permits all of North Korea’s neighbors and the United States to test and possess missiles, space launch, and military space technologies and to threaten the use of their missiles is extraordinary. It thus came as little surprise that the DPRK responded by announcing plans for new nuclear tests that provocatively “target” the United States. Numerous analysts  interpreted the announcement of a possible test as a means to break through the Obama Administration’s failed policy of “strategic patience” in order to bring the U.S. to the table for direct U.S.-DPRK negotiations.

6)      2013 marks the sixtieth year since the signing of the 1953 Armistice Agreement, which established a ceasefire but did not end the Korean War. We join Koreans around the world who call for Year One of Peace on the Korean Peninsula, as well as our partners across Asia and the Pacific who have designated 2013 as the Year of Asia-Pacific Peace and Demilitarization.   Peaceful relations between the United States and North Korea (DPRK) are possible and they are more urgent than ever.

Given that unending war remains the basis of U.S.-DPRK relations, which have destabilized the lives of ordinary Korean people and been used to help  justify the obscenely large Pentagon budget (equal to the spending of the next 13 largest military spenders – combined!)[iii] at the expense of U.S. citizens, we believe it is in the interests of the U.S. and North Korean peoples for our governments to begin negotiations to end the Korean War and leading to the eventual demilitarization and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  Peace is possible. We recall that, as recently as 2000, the Clinton Administration came within a hair’s breadth of completing a comprehensive agreement with North Korea, which was derailed by U.S. domestic political crisis over the outcome of the presidential election.

7)      In this moment of escalation, we call for proactive measures by the U.S. government as an active party to this crisis.  In order to stanch the dangerous nuclear, high-tech, and conventional arms races in Asia and the Pacific, we urge the following:

a.       Direct U.S.-DPRK negotiations

b.      Suspension of aggressive military exercises by all parties involved in tensions related to the Koreas

c.       An end to the UN-led punitive sanctions regime against the DPRK, which hurt the lives of the North Korean people.

d.      An end to the Korean War by replacing the 1953 Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty

e.      Negotiations leading to the creation of a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone

f.        An end to the U.S. first-strike nuclear weapons doctrine and a reversal of U.S. plans to spend an additional $185 billion over the next decade to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal and nuclear weapons delivery systems (missiles, bombers, etc.)

g.       Commence negotiations on a nuclear weapons abolition convention that requires the phased elimination of all nuclear weapons within a time bound framework, with provisions for effective verification and enforcement.

Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific*

Working Group Members:
Christine Ahn , Gretchen Alther, Rev. Levi Bautista, Jackie Cabasso, Herbert Docena, John Feffer, Bruce Gagnon, Gerson, Subrata Goshoroy, Mark Harrison, Christine Hong, Kyle Kajihiro, Aura Kanegis, Peter Kuznick, Hyun Lee, Ramsay Liem, Andrew Lichterman, John Lindsay-Poland, Ngo Vinh Long, Kevin Martin, Stephen McNeil, Nguyet Nguyen, Satoko Norimatsu, Koohan Paik, Mike Prokosh, Juyeon JC Rhee, Arnie Sakai, Tim Shorock, Alice Slater, David Vine, Sofia Wolman

The Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific is comprised of individuals and organizations concerned about and working for peace and demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific on a comprehensive basis. For more information see: http://www.asiapacificinitiative.org<;http://www.asiapacificinitiative.org/>.

________________________________

[i] Joseph Gerson. Empire and the Bomb: How the US Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World, London: Pluto Press, 2007; John Feffer. North Korea South Korea: U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003
[ii] In October, 2011, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signaled a major transformation of U.S. foreign and military policy, the “pivot” from Iraq and Afghanistan to Asia, the Pacific and the strategically important Indian Ocean. Shortly thereafter, the Pentagon’s strategic guidance named the Asia-Pacific region and the Persian Gulf as the nation’s two geostrategic priorities.  Elements of the pivot include “rebalancing” U.S. military forces, with 60% of the U.S. Navy and Air Force to be deployed to the Asia-Pacific region. Military alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines and Thailand are being deepened and revitalized, while military collaborations with Indonesia, Vietnam, India and other nations are reinforced. The “pivot” is also being reinforced with deeper U.S. involvement in multi-lateral forums across the region and by efforts to create the Trans Pacific Partnership, a supra-free trade agreement that would more deeply integrate the economies of allied nations and partners with that of the United States.
[iii]Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
The 15 countries with the highest military expenditure in 2011 (table)
http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/resultoutput/milex_15/the-15-countries-with-the-highest-military-expenditure-in-2011-table/view

; Defence budgets “Military ranking” Mar 9th 2011, 14:57 by The Economist online, http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/03/defence_budgets


Nuclear Nonsense (and Some Good News as Well)

December 10, 2012

So I admit that headline could cover a lot of ground, but I’ll just touch on a few ludicrous developments of the nuclear weapons enterprise in this post, and a few good news antidotes to the insanity.

First up, while this gets scant attention, the United States still “tests” nuclear weapons. Not with full scale explosions as in the past (we haven’t done that since 1992, thanks to the peace movement’s vigilance!), but with “subcritical” (better called “hypocritical”) experiments where nuclear weapons components, including plutonium from the warhead, are “tested” but they don’t “go critical” (there is no nuclear chain reaction and thus no full-scale explosion). Here’s a concise letter to President Obama from our colleagues Gensuikyo, a leading Japanese disarmament organization. This was sent on December 7 to protest the subcritical nuclear test conducted on December 5 at the Nevada test site.

Mr. Barack Obama
President
United States of America

December 7, 2012

Dear Mr. President,

We protest against your administration for the subcritical nuclear test conducted on December 5 at the Nevada test site.  Whether it involves an explosion or not, nuclear testing runs counter to the spirit of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the agreement of achieving the “peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” reached by the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

Your administration seeks non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.  But your position of urging most others to renounce nuclear weapons, while continuing your own nuclear tests, does not stand by reason nor is it supported by the world public.

In the name of the A-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and on behalf of the people of Japan, the only A-bombed country, we call on you to cancel all plans of nuclear testing and make a sincere effort to achieve a total ban on nuclear weapons and a world without nuclear weapons.

Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo)

The government of Iran also protested the “subcritical” test. Just sayin’.

On the good news front, in another part of our government’s nuclear weapons forever plans, as of now no ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) flight tests from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California are scheduled through next June, though that could certainly change.

Speaking of ICBMs, Reuters reported last week on a report prepared for Congress that Iran is nowhere close to having ICBMs capable of reaching the U.S. by 2015, as had been previously projected.

Talk about nonsense, or maybe insanity, the government is considering very harsh sentences, amounting to death sentences, for the nonviolent protesters, including an 82 year old nun, Megan Rice, who breeched security at the Y-12 nuclear weapons site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Learn more, and take action by signing this petition to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Last but not least, check out Cadmus Journal for some interesting perspectives on various issues relating to nuclear disarmament.

 

 


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