Letter to Obama Administration on upcoming nukes conference

October 30, 2014
Peace Action Development Director Peter Deccy at the "A-Bomb Dome" in Hiroshima

Peace Action Development Director Peter Deccy at the “A-Bomb Dome” in Hiroshima

The following news release is part of an ongoing effort to press the Obama Administration to participate in multilateral nuclear disarmament fora. Peace Action has helped lead this push for a few years now. The first link is to the letter we signed onto. Scuttlebutt is the Administration may soon decide on whether to attend the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons in December.

Leading Nuclear Policy Experts and Organizations Call on the United States to Participate in International Conference on Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons

For Immediate Release: October 29, 2014

 

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, 202-463-8270 x107

(Washington, D.C.) –A group of more than two dozen leading nuclear policy experts, former U.S. government officials, and peace and security organizations are urging the Barack Obama administration “to authorize U.S. participation in the Dec. 8-9 Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna, Austria.”

In an October 29 letter to the White House, State Department, and Pentagon, the signatories write that U.S. participation in the Vienna conference “would enhance the United States’ credibility and influence at the 2015 NPT Review Conference. U.S. participation would also provide support to key U.S. allies and partners,” many of which are also urging the United States to send an official delegation.

The Vienna humanitarian impacts conference, which is the third such meeting since 2013, “is a useful and important venue for raising awareness about the risks of nuclear weapons,” the letter signers write, and it “contributes to the oft-repeated U.S. government call for ‘extending the nearly 70-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons forever.'”

The United States and the other five original nuclear weapon states–Russia, the U.K., France, and China–have not attended the two previous humanitarian impacts conferences, citing concerns that it could be used as a launching point for negotiations calling for a ban on nuclear weapons or a convention leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons.

“While some participating states and some nongovernmental organizations support such a ban … this conference is not a negotiating conference and is not intended to launch such an effort. Even if it were, there is no clear consensus among the participants about the direction of any such process,” the signers note in their letter, which was addressed to the president’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

“Nuclear-armed states may have reasons to argue that not all potential uses of nuclear weapons necessarily would lead to humanitarian disaster, and that nuclear weapons may deter other existential threats,” says George Perkovich, Vice-President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and one of the letter’s signatories.

“But given that the whole world would be affected if they are wrong, they should be willing to discuss these issues with others,” Perkovich says. “Unwillingness to do so suggests an arrogance that can only provoke international contempt and resistance.”

A decision on the part of the Obama administration not to attend the Vienna conference, the signatories write, “would be a major lost opportunity and a setback for President Obama’s own call for action toward a nuclear weapons free world.”

 

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons.


Constitution Schmonstitution! Let’s go ahead and have a (we won’t call it a war) on ISIS/ISIL

September 11, 2014

constitution

Quick trivia question – on what subject was Barack Obama a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School?

Birthers might say “Islam” but it was in fact Constitutional Law. So he knows full well, and at times has shown he understands, that the U.S. Constitution clearly assigns the power to declare war to Congress, not the president. The best example of this was just over a year ago when he surprisingly but wisely concluded he needed to come to Congress for authorization to bomb Syria, then even more wisely never even went to Congress when he realized he had scant public and Congressional support (and his pal Vladimir Putin also helped save his hash by convincing Syria to divest itself of chemical weapons).

So now the president wants to continue to bomb the radical forces of ISIS (or ISIL as the Administration calls them) in Iraq (and likely, ironically, Syria again) and says he’d “welcome” Congressional support but he does not need it. (When I heard that line in his speech last night I reacted the same as U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, who said it was “almost condescending” though I’d omit the “almost.”)

Earlier this week it appeared very unlikely Congress, eager to duck accountability for okaying what is a surefire quagmire-to-be, impatient to campaign for re-election in November’s midterm elections or wrapped up in other dysfunctional and/or partisan squabbles (take your pick, and for some Members of Congress it is “all of the above”) would schedule a vote on any type of war authorization bill before adjourning later this month.

However, now there are rising calls for Congress to do its job and vote on authorizing a new war from the Progressive Caucus, some Libertarians and others in the House and a growing gaggle of Senators from across the political spectrum. Anyone who would hazard a guess as to how such a vote would turn out would be someone not worth listening to at this point (especially since a war authorization might be subject to all manner of currently unknowable limitations or conditions that would affect the support it would draw). We may well learn more next week about a possible Congressional vote.

There’s no question such a vote is required. The president is just plain wrong on this point, and not just about Congress, but also he is ignoring international law requiring United Nations Security Council approval. Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic Policy and Research and Just Foreign Policy laid it out clearly in an article for The Hill.

Take the UN requirement first:

“Just as the U.S. Constitution provides a check on the president’s authority to wage war, at the international level there is the law of the United Nations, which is supposed to govern the use of force in international relations.  Article 2 of the U.N. charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory, prohibits the use of military force against other nations unless authorized by the Security Council.  There are exceptions, for threats of imminent attack, but the U.S. is not under imminent threat of attack and no one has claimed that it is.”

Then the Congressional one:

“…the United States is still a constitutional democracy, or is intended to be one; and under our Constitution (and the War Powers Resolution) it is still the Congress that has to decide if the country is going to war.”

Ah the War Powers Resolution, dating to 1973, an attempt by Congress during the Vietnam War to curtail presidential war making run amok. The Obama Administration has been until now complying with the WPR’s requirement to notify Congress of ongoing military action, even though the WPR does not grant the president authority to bomb in Iraq.

Says who? Former eleven term U.S. Representative from Illinois Paul Findlay (the federal building in Illinois’s state capital, Springfield, is named for the man), one of the main authors of the War Powers Resolution. Testify Brother Findlay (from a news release by our colleagues at the Institute for Public Accuracy):

“Our elected leaders are acting like jelly fish. Members of Congress must decide whether to bomb Iraq or Syria, or both. The president has no authority to bomb either country. He violates the Constitution with every bomb he sends to Iraq. Ordering acts of war is too serious a decision to leave to one man. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

“We just marked the 50th Anniversary of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which I voted for and which President Johnson used to dramatically escalate the Vietnam War. I never intended that Resolution to be a blank check for war against Vietnam. Yet that is exactly what Johnson used it for.

“As a consequence, in 1973, I helped draft the The War Powers Resolution and my vote helped override President Nixon’s veto.

“Enforcement of limits on presidential employment of war powers deserves the vigilance of each member of Congress. Each member should consider enforcement a grave personal responsibility. War measures that today seem inconsequential can lead to larger involvements tomorrow. Their ultimate size and duration are unpredictable, as we found in our costly war experiences in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Just recently, Congress stood by as the President ordered bombings in Iraq. Then two U.S. citizens were killed. Rather than using their deaths as a rallying cry for more war, they should be a warning of the negative consequences of war. It’s no accident that the framers deemed the decision of war-making too important to be made by one person.

“If the president orders acts of war in the absence of congressional approval, he risks impeachment by the House of Representatives for usurping a power the Constitution reserves exclusively to the Congress. If Obama wishes lawfully to order airstrikes in the territory of Iraq or Syria, he must first secure a resolution of approval from Congress.”

Would love to see this man debate his fellow Illinoisan/commander in chief, yes?

Returning to the matter at hand, exactly what does the president cite for his purportedly existing “I don’t need no stinkin’ Congressional vote” legal authority to bomb Iraq and soon Syria?

Until yesterday the Administration had not said, exactly, but I had a hunch it was the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force Congress granted President George W. Bush just after 9/11, which only U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee voted against. Sure enough, last night an unnamed “senior Administration official” confirmed this in response to a reporter’s question on a conference call. After stating Congress could specifically authorize military action against ISIS/ISIL, said official stated the following:

“But, to be clear, we do not believe the President needs that new authorization in order to take sustained action against ISIL.  We believe that he can rely on the 2001 AUMF as statutory authority for the military airstrike operations he is directing against ISIL, for instance.  And we believe that he has the authority to continue these operations beyond 60 days, consistent with the War Powers Resolution, because the operations are authorized by a statute.  So we welcome congressional support.”

This is, to be polite, garbage, especially from an administration which has previously advocated repeal of that law (and said it would not rely on that nor on the 2003 AUMF for the Iraq war for its legal authority). Here is what the 2001 AUMF authorized a different president to do:

“…the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized,committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

How a reasonable person would conclude this applies to the current situation in Iraq and Syria is anyone’s guess, especially since ISIS/ISIL and al Qaeda have split and are at each others’ throats, though many peace activists and Constitutional scholars have long feared broad presidential war-making powers would be claimed under this AUMF. At best, it is a highly dubious proposition that this AUMF applies because ISIS/ISIL is an offshoot of al Qaeda, which carried out the 9/11 attacks.

The salient point is the Obama Administration should be forced to make that case, if that’s what it believes to be its war-making authority now, to the public and Congress. Oh yeah and not just the legal authority question, it also needs to convince the Congress and the country that we absolutely need to get involved in another Middle East war. That’s what democracy looks like.


Action Alert and Press Release on U.S. Bombing in Iraq

August 8, 2014

ACTION: Call the White House at 202.456.1111 before 5:00 eastern time today. The message: “Yes to humanitarian aid, but no bombing, no new Iraq war!”

Just two weeks ago, you helped us send a strong message to policy-makers in Washington when the House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 105 stating clearly there is no legal authority for U.S. military involvement in Iraq without express Congressional approval. While a similar measure has not yet passed the Senate, this message from the American people couldn’t be more clear – NO NEW WAR IN IRAQ!

Unfortunately, the spreading, hideously violent civil war in Iraq (flowing from the civil war in Syria, which U.S. weapons and support for opposition forces helped fuel) has President Obama considering military strikes, along with air drops of food, water and medicine to beleaguered Yazidi and other persecuted minorities stranded on a mountain top in northern Iraq, besieged by the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Certainly this rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis – people are dying for lack of food and water — deserves U.S. and international action to deliver badly needed life-saving supplies to civilians fleeing the rampaging ISIS forces. But this gut-wrenching situation must not be used to justify U.S. escalation of the war, entailing certain if unknown disastrous unintended consequences, as we’ve seen before in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Please take action in support of humanitarian relief for people who desperately need it, but against escalating the killing. Call the White House today at 202.456.1111 before 5:00 pm eastern time.

Humbly for Peace,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

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For Immediate Release:  August 8, 2014

Contacts:    Kevin Martin, Executive Director, 301.537.8244 cell, kmartin@peace-action.org
Paul Kawika Martin, Political and Policy Director, Peace Action, 951-217-7285 cell, pmartin@peace-action.org (Note: Paul Kawika Martin is currently in Nagasaki participating in events around the 69th anniversary of the atomic bomb dropping and is 13 hours ahead of Washington, DC)

Iraq: Drop Humanitarian Aid not Bombs

Washington, DC — August 8, 2014 — In response to President Obama’s announcement that he approved the possibility of air strikes in Iraq, Peace Action, the largest peace group in the U.S. reaffirmed its continued opposition to military intervention in Iraq.

“This gut-wrenching situation in Iraq does not justify the U.S. escalation of the civil war, entailing certain if unknown disastrous unintended consequences, as we’ve seen before in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere,” stated Peace Action’s executive director, Kevin Martin.

The group reacted to Obama’s statement on the rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis where people in Iraq are dying from lack of food and water.  They agree the situation deserves U.S. and international action to deliver badly needed life-saving supplies to civilians fleeing the rampaging Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces.

The spread of the violent civil war in Iraq (flowing from the civil war in Syria, which U.S. weapons and support for opposition forces helped fuel) has President Obama considering military strikes, along with air drops of food, water and medicine to beleaguered Yazidi and other persecuted minorities stranded on a mountain top in northern Iraq, besieged by the ISIS fighters.

Last month, the House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 105 stating clearly there is no legal authority for U.S. military involvement in Iraq without express Congressional approval.  While a similar measure has not yet passed the Senate, polls still show Americans opposing a new war in Iraq.

Leading Paul Kawika Martin (no relation to Kevin Martin), the political and policy director of Peace Action to observe, “We applauded President Obama for doing what he said on his first presidential campaign trail, bringing the troops home from Iraq.  It’s time to remember how he got elected to the White House; his opposition to the Iraq War.  Americans want the Iraq War finished, not started anew.”

Opposing the Iraq War from the start, Peace Action participated in the February 2003 protest where tens of millions from around the world voiced their opposition.  Afterwards, Peace Action continued to help organize several large demonstrations and was a key group focusing opposition on Congress.

The group noted that the U.S. will continue to pay the costs of the war with debt and honoring our commitments to our veterans bringing the total cost of the Iraq War to over $3 trillion.

“Dropping humanitarian aid is a wise investment in humanity.  But we cannot afford the likely bad consequences of bombing Iraq again,” concluded Paul Kawika Martin.

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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 36 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 at http://www.Peace-Action.org. For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action’s political director on Twitter. http://twitter.com/PaulKawika

Editors Note:

H. Con. Res. 105 (https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-concurrent-resolution/105)


Third Time’s the Charm? Letter to President Obama on nuclear disarmament opportunities

April 18, 2014

Readers of the Peace Blog may recall  two similar group sign-on letters to the president on nuclear disarmament matters, last year around the UN High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament and earlier this year around the Mexico conference on humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. In addition to those letters, on the former we did a petition campaign that netted about 25,000 signers, and on the latter an email campaign that generated close to 10,00 emails to the White House. We never received a substantive response from the Administration on either occasion.

Not giving up of course, please see this newest, fairly comprehensive letter in advance of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee (NPT PrepCom), which convenes April 28-May 9 at the UN in New York. It is open for circulation, distribution, etc. and may be published as an Open Letter.

Thanks to our colleague Jackie Cabasso of Western States Legal Foundation for writing and circulating the letter. She is also seeking a group meeting with US officials around the PrepCom, we’ll report on any progress.

April 16, 2014

 

Dear President Obama,

 

During the closing session of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 25, 2014, you cited a number of concrete measures to secure highly-enriched uranium and plutonium and strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime that have been implemented as a result of the three Nuclear Security Summits, concluding: “So what’s been valuable about this summit is that it has not just been talk, it’s been action.”

 

Would that you would apply the same standard to nuclear disarmament! On April 5, 2009 in Prague, you gave millions of people around the world new hope when you declared: “So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Bolstered by that hope, over the past three years, there has been a new round of nuclear disarmament initiatives by governments not possessing nuclear weapons, both within and outside the United Nations. Yet the United States has been notably “missing in action” at best, and dismissive or obstructive at worst. This conflict may come to a head at the 2015 Review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

 

We write now, on the eve of the third Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting for the 2015 Review Conference of the NPT, which will take place at UN headquarters in New York April 28 – May 9, 2014, to underscore our plea that your administration shed its negative attitude and participate constructively in deliberations and negotiations regarding the creation of a multilateral process to achieve a nuclear weapons free world.  This will require reversal of the dismal U.S. record.

 

  • The 2010 NPT Review Conference unanimously agreed to hold a conference in 2012, to be attended by all states in the region, on a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear and other Weapons of Mass Destruction. The U.S. was a designated convener, and a date was set for December 2012 in Helsinki. The Finnish ambassador worked feverishly, meeting individually with all of the countries in the region to facilitate the conference. Suddenly, on November 23, 2012, the U.S. State Department announced that the Helsinki conference was postponed indefinitely.

 

  • In March 2013, Norway hosted an intergovernmental conference in Oslo on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, with 127 governments in attendance. Mexico hosted a follow-on conference in Nayarit, Mexico in February 2014, with 146 governments present. The U.S. boycotted Oslo and Nayarit. Austria has announced that it will host a third conference, in Vienna, late this year.

 

  • In November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) established an “Open-Ended” working group open to all member states “to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons,” and scheduled for September 26, 2013, the first-ever High-Level meeting of the UNGA devoted to nuclear disarmament. The U.S. voted against both resolutions and refused to participate in the Open-Ended working group, declaring in advance that it would disregard any outcomes.

 

  • The U.S. did send a representative to the UN “High-Level” meeting, but it was the Deputy Secretary for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, rather than the President, Vice-President or Secretary of State. Worse, the U.S. joined with France and the U.K. in a profoundly negative statement, delivered by a junior British diplomat: “While we are encouraged by the increased energy and enthusiasm around the nuclear disarmament debate, we regret that this energy is being directed toward initiatives such as this High-Level Meeting, the humanitarian consequences campaign, the Open-Ended Working Group and the push for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.”

 

  • In contrast, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, the new President of Iran, used the occasion of the High-Level Meeting to roll out a disarmament “roadmap” on behalf of the 120 member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The roadmap calls for: “early commencement of negotiations, in the Conference on Disarmament, on a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons for the prohibition of their possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use, and for their destruction; designation of 26 September every year as an international day to renew our resolve to completely eliminate nuclear weapons;” and “convening a High-level International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament in five years to review progress in this regard.” The NAM roadmap was subsequently adopted by the UNGA with 129 votes in favor. The U.S voted no.

 

Meanwhile, your Administration’s FY 2015 budget request seeks a 7% increase for nuclear weapons research and production programs under the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). NNSA’s “Total Weapons Activities” are slated to rise to $8.2 billion in FY 2015 and to $9.7 billion by 2019, 24% above fiscal year 2014. Your Administration is also proposing a $56 billion Opportunity Growth and Security Initiative (OGSI) to be funded through tax changes and spending reforms. OGSI is to be split evenly between defense and non-defense spending, out of which $504 million will go to NNSA nuclear weapons programs “to accelerate modernization and maintenance of nuclear facilities.” With that, your FY 2015 budget request for maintenance and modernization of nuclear bombs and warheads in constant dollars exceeds the amount spent in 1985 for comparable work at the height of President Reagan’s surge in nuclear weapons spending, which was also the highest point of Cold War spending.

 

We are particularly alarmed that your FY 2015 budget request includes $634 million (up 20%) for the B61 Life Extension Program, which, in contravention of your 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, as confirmed by former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton Schwartz, will have improved military capabilities to attack targets with greater accuracy and less radioactive fallout.[1]

 

This enormous commitment to modernizing nuclear bombs and warheads and the laboratories and factories to support those activities does not include even larger amounts of funding for planned replacements of delivery systems – the bombers, missiles and submarines that form the strategic triad, which are funded through the Department of Defense.  In total, according to the General Accounting Office, the U.S. will spend more than $700 billion over the next 30 years to maintain and modernize nuclear weapons systems. The James Martin Center places the number at an astounding one trillion dollars. This money is desperately needed to address basic human needs – housing, food security, education, healthcare, public safety, education and environmental protection – here and abroad.

 

The Good Faith Challenge

 

This our third letter to you calling on the U.S. government to participate constructively and in good faith in all international disarmament forums. On June 6, 2013, we wrote: “The Nuclear Security Summit process you initiated has been a success. However, securing nuclear materials, while significant, falls well short of what civil society expected following your Prague speech.”[2] In that letter, we urged you to you speak at the September 26, 2013 High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament at the United Nations; to endorse UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Five-Point Proposal on Nuclear Disarmament; to announce your convening of a series of Nuclear Disarmament Summits; to support extending the General Assembly’s Open-Ended Working Group to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons; and to announce that the U.S. would participate in the follow-on conference on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons in Mexico in early 2014.

 

In our second letter, dated January 29, 2014, we urged that you direct the State Department to send a delegation to the Mexico conference and to participate constructively; and that your administration shed its negative attitude and participate constructively in deliberations and negotiations regarding the creation of a multilateral process to achieve a nuclear weapons free world. And we called on the United States to engage in good faith in efforts to make the Conference on Disarmament productive in pursuing the objective for which it was established more than three decades ago: complete nuclear disarmament; and to work hard to convene soon the conference on a zone free of WMD in the Middle East promised by the 2010 NPT Review Conference.[3]

 

Since our last letter, the U.S. – Russian relationship has deteriorated precipitously, with the standoff over the Crimea opening the real possibility of a new era of confrontation between nuclear-armed powers. The current crisis will further complicate prospects for future arms reduction negotiations with Russia, already severely stressed by more than two decades of post-Cold War NATO expansion, deployment of U.S. missile defenses, U.S. nuclear weapons modernization and pursuit of prompt conventional global strike capability.

 

Keeping Our Side of the NPT Bargain

 

Article VI of the NPT, which entered into force in 1970, and is the supreme law of the land pursuant to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, states: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes 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, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

 

In 1996, the International Court of Justice, the judicial branch of the United Nations and the highest and most authoritative court in the world on questions of international law, unanimously concluded: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.”

 

Forty-four years after the NPT entered into force, more than 17,000 nuclear weapons, most held by the U.S. and Russia, pose an intolerable threat to humanity. The International Red Cross has stated that “incalculable human suffering” will result from any use of nuclear weapons, and that there can be no adequate humanitarian response capacity.[4]  Declaringthat “our nation’s deep economic crisis can only be addressed by adopting new priorities to create a sustainable economy for the 21st century,” the bi-partisan U.S. Conference of Mayors has called on the President and Congress to slash nuclear weapons spending and to redirect those funds to meet the urgent needs of cities.[5]

We reiterate the thrust of the demands set forth in our letters of June 13, 2013 and January 29, 2014, and urge you to look to them for guidance in U.S. conduct at the 2014 NPT PrepCom. We stress the urgent need to press the “reset” button with Russia again. Important measures in this regard are an end to NATO expansion and a halt to anti-missile system deployments in Europe.

 

  • We urge you to work hard to fully implement all commitments you made in the Nuclear Disarmament action plan agreed by the 2010 NPT Review Conference and to convene the promised conference on a zone free of WMD in the Middle East at the earliest possible date.

 

  • We urge you again to take this opportunity to endorse UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Five-Point Proposal on Nuclear Disarmament, to announce your convening of a series of Nuclear Disarmament Summits, and to engage in good faith in efforts to make the Conference on Disarmament productive in pursuing the objective for which it was established more than three decades ago: complete nuclear disarmament.

 

  • We call on you to declare that the U.S. will participate constructively and in good faith in the third intergovernmental conference on humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons to be held in Vienna late this year.

 

  • As an immediate signal of good faith, we call on your Administration to halt all programs to modernize nuclear weapons systems, and to reduce nuclear weapons spending to the minimum necessary to assure the safety and security of the existing weapons as they await disablement and dismantlement.

 

Mr. President: It’s time to move from talk to action on nuclear disarmament. There have never been more opportunities, and the need is as urgent as ever.

 

We look forward to your positive response.

 

Sincerely,

 

Initiating organizations:

 

Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation

 

[contact for this letter: wslf@earthlink.net; (510) 839-5877

655 – 13th Street, Suite 201, Oakland, CA 94612]

 

John Burroughs, Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy

 

Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action

 

David Krieger, President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

 

Joseph Gerson, Disarmament Coordinator, American Friends Service Committee(for identification only)

 

Alicia Godsberg, Executive Director, Peace Action New York

 

Endorsing organizations (national):

 

Robert Gould, MD, President, Physicians for Social Responsibility

 

Tim Judson, Executive Director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service

 

Michael Eisenscher, National Coordinator, U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)

 

Michael McPhearson, Interim Executive Director, Veterans for Peace

 

David Swanson, WarIsACrime.org

 

Jill Stein, President, Green Shadow Cabinet

 

Terry K. Rockefeller, National Co-Convener, United for Peace and Justice

Hendrik Voss, National Organizer, School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch)

 

Alfred L. Marder, President, US Peace Council

 

Robert Hanson, Treasurer, Democratic World Federalists

 

Alli McCracken, National Coordinator, CODEPINK

 

Margaret Flowers, MD and Kevin Zeese, JD, Popular Resistance

 

Endorsing organizations (by state):

 

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) Livermore, California

 

Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., Director, Office of the Americas, California

 

Linda Seeley, Spokesperson, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, California

 

Susan Lamont, Center Coordinator, Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County, California

 

Chizu Hamada, No Nukes Action, California

 

Lois Salo, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Peninsula Branch, California

 

Rev. Marilyn Chilcote, Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship, Oakland, California

 

Margli Auclair, Executive Director, Mount Diablo Pleace and Justice Center. California

 

Roger Eaton, Communications Chair, United Nations Association-USA, San Francisco Chapter, California

 

Dr. Susan Zipp, Vice President, Association of World Citizens, San Francisco, California

Michael Nagler, President, Metta Center for Nonviolence, California (for identification only)

 

Rev. Marilyn Chilcote McKenzie, Parish Associate, St. John’s Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, California (for identification only)

 

James E. Vann, Oakland Tenants Union, California (for identification only)

 

Vic and Barby Ulmer, Our Developing World, California (for identification only)

 

Judith Mohling, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Colorado

 

Bob Kinsey, Colorado Coalition for the Prevention of Nuclear War

 

Medard Gabel, Executive Director, Pacem in Terris, Delaware

 

Roger Mills, Coordinator, Georgia Peace & Justice Coalition, Henry County Chapter

 

Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine
Lisa Savage, CODEPINK, Maine

 

Natasha Mayers, Whitefield, Maine Union of Maine Visual Artists

 

Shirley “Lee” Davis, GlobalSolutions.org, Maine Chapter

 

Lynn Harwood, the Greens of Anson, Maine

 

Dagmar Fabian, Crabshell Alliance, Maryland

 

Judi Poulson, Chair, Fairmont Peace Group, Minnesota

 

Marcus Page-Collonge, Nevada Desert Experience, Nevada

 

Gregor Gable, Shundahai Network, Nevada

 

Jay Coghlan, Executive Director, Nuclear Watch New Mexico

 

Joni Arends, Executive Director, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, New Mexico

 

Lucy Law Webster, Executive Director, The CENTER FOR WAR/PEACE STUDIES, New York

 

Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, New York

 

Sheila Croke, Pax Christi Long Island, chapter of the international Catholic peace movement, New York

 

Richard Greve, Co Chair, Staten Island Peace Action, New York

 

Rosemarie Pace, Director, Pax Christi Metro New York

 

Carol De Angelo, Director of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation, Sisters of Charity of New York (for identification only)

 

Gerson Lesser, M.D., Clinical Professor, New York University School of Medicine (for identification only)

 

Ellen Thomas, Proposition One Campaign, North Carolina

 

Vina Colley, Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security, Ohio

 

Harvey Wasserman, Solartopia, Ohio

 

Ray Jubitz, Jubitz Family Foundation, Oregon

 

Cletus Stein, convenor, The Peace Farm, Texas

 

Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT, INND (Institute of Neurotoxicology & Neurological Disorders), Washington

 

Allen Johnson, Coordinator, Christians For The Mountains, West Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cc:

 

John Kerry, Secretary of State

 

Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security

 

Thomas M. Countryman, Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and

Nonproliferation

 

Susan Rice, National Security Advisor

 

Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor

 

Samantha Power, Permanent Representative to the United Nations

 

Christopher Buck, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Conference on Disarmament

 

Walter S. Reid, Deputy Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament

 

[1] http://blogs.fas.org/security/2014/01/b61capability/

 

[2] http://www.lcnp.org/files/060613_Obama.docx

 

[3] http://www.lcnp.org/pubs/Letter-to-Obama-Mexico-Conference-on-IHL.pdf

 

[4] http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/resolution/council-delegates-resolution-1-2011.htm

 

[5] http://www.usmayors.org/resolutions/81st_Conference/international02.asp

 

 

 


Update: U.S. Skips Mexico conference on humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons

February 13, 2014

Disappointing, as there evidently was consideration within the Administration about going to the Mexico conference, but not all that surprising they are skipping it. We aren’t though, Alicia Godsberg, e.d. of Peace Action of NY State, is there and we look forward to her reports.

The Hill, February 13, 2014, 02:08 pm

http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/un-treaties/198353-obama-knocked-for-skipping-nuke-conference
Obama knocked for skipping nuke conference

By Julian Pecquet

The Obama administration is skipping a nuclear arms conference for the second time in a row, irritating arms-control advocates.
The U.S. and the four other original nuclear states – Russia, China, France and Britain – are all boycotting this week’s meeting in Mexico because of concerns that it could be used as a forum to push for the elimination of their stockpiles. All five also declined to send a delegation to the inaugural Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, held last year in Oslo.

“The absence of the five original nuclear weapons states in Mexico will only deepen the frustration of the nonnuclear-weapon states about the slow pace of progress toward the fulfillment of the nuclear-weapon states disarmament commitments,” said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. “Rather than dismiss or boycott conferences on the topic, the United States should actively participate and join other nations in a statement on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use and the need to prevent any exchange of nuclear weapons.”

Kimball said the goal of the conference was never to launch negotiations on a nuclear weapons ban, since it would never go anywhere without the participation of nuclear-armed states anyway. Rather, the purpose is to highlight the devastating humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use and the need to prevent any exchange of nuclear weapons.
The decision to skip the conference comes as the Obama administration prepares to commemorate the fifth anniversary of his historic speech calling for a world free of nuclear weapons – rhetoric that helped get him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. The administration strongly denied Thursday that the president was backsliding on those goals.

“After careful consideration, the United States has decided not to attend Mexico’s February 13-14 conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Our decision does not indicate any lessening support for nuclear disarmament,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told The Hill in an email.

“We continue to take very seriously the consequences of nuclear weapons use,” Harf said. “It is in our interest, as well as the interest of all nations, to extend the nearly 70-year record of nuclear weapons non-use forever. We remain committed to practical step-by-step disarmament and will continue to take steps toward securing a world without nuclear weapons.”

Harf pointed to the elimination of 85 percent of the U.S. nuclear stockpile since its Cold War peak and and the recent New START Treaty with Russia as signs of progress. She added that Obama has “reaffirmed his desire to take additional steps along the path to achieving a world without nuclear weapons” and that this would be a topic of discussion during next month’s Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.

While the Obama administration’s decision to skip the conference has been discrete, in Britain by contrast it has set off a firestorm of criticism against Prime Minister David Cameron from lawmakers on all sides.

“We should be there. I cannot understand why we are not [going]”, The Guardian quoted former Defense minister and  chairman of the defense committee James Arbuthnot as saying.

Please send tips and comments to Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @TheHillGlobal and @JPecquetTheHill

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/un-treaties/198353-obama-knocked-for-skipping-nuke-conference#ixzz2tERFK6Zg
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____________________


Get Your Senators to Support Diplomacy with Iran

July 29, 2013

Our action alert is below, and here is a terrific op-ed by Peace Action West’s Rebecca Griffin on the prospects for successful U.S. – Iran diplomacy.

Last month, the Iranian people elected a new president, Dr. Hassan Rouhani.  Dr. Rouhani won on the first ballot as Iranian voters demanded change. They rejected the hardliners competing in the election because they want improved relations with the West, an improved economy and greater freedoms.

With your support, and working with our allies, Peace Action helped Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and David Price (D-NC) recruit signers for their letter to President Obama, calling on him to take advantage of this positive change.

Now we shift our focus to the Senate and I need your help to build support for a similar letter drafted by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA)

Your actions made a difference as 131 Members of the House of Representatives, including 17 Republicans and a majority of the Democrats — sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to “test whether Dr. Rouhani’s election represents a real opportunity for progress toward a verifiable, enforceable agreement on Iran’s nuclear program that ensures the country does not acquire a nuclear weapon.”

When Iran’s new President, Dr. Rouhani, called for a “policy of reconciliation and peace,” Iran’s people voted for positive change. Now it’s time for President Obama to renew diplomatic efforts toward an agreement that will satisfy the West that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon.

Please write your Senators now and make sure that they sign this important letter.

Thanks for taking action now.

Humbly for Peace,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

PS: The letter will be sent later this week, so be sure to take action now.  Urge your Senators to co-sign a letter to the President asking him to take advantage of a new moderate President in Iran to reach a diplomatic solution to our disagreements with Iran.

Please forward this message to your family, friends and co-workers!  Thank you.

Begin Senator Feinstein’s letter:

Dear President Obama:

We urge you to seize the opportunity presented by the upcoming inauguration of Iran’s new president, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, by reinvigorating diplomatic efforts to secure a verifiable agreement that ensures that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.

Since 2010 Congress has worked with your Administration to increase U.S. and international sanctions against Iran. The impact on Iran’s economy has been significant: the value of the Iranian rial against the U.S. dollar has declined more than 185 percent since 2011, unofficial estimates of inflation range as high as 70 percent, exports of oil have been halved, Iranian oil production has declined 35 percent to 2.6 million barrels per day, the Iranian economy declined by as much as 8 percent between March 2012 and March 2013 and is set to decline further in the next year, and unemployment estimates range as high as 20 percent.

With economic and political difficulties facing the Iranian people, the election of Dr. Rouhani is a clear demonstration of their desire to step away from the policies of his predecessor. Dr. Rouhani campaigned on the notion of repairing Iran’s relationship with the West, he criticized the Ahmadinejad government’s posture in nuclear negotiations, and he strongly and appropriately condemned Ahmadinejad’s abhorrent comments directed at Israel as hate rhetoric. Rouhani has also publicly warned that developing a nuclear arsenal would not provide Iran security dividends and has indicated Iran’s readiness to increase the transparency of its nuclear program. These events, taken together, provide an opening for negotiation.

As a result, we believe the U.S. should reinvigorate diplomatic efforts to determine whether Dr. Rouhani is truly willing to engage the international community. Doing so is the only way to reach a verifiable agreement, including limits on Iran’s enrichment and other sensitive nuclear activities and greater cooperation with the IAEA, that ensures that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons.

We believe that the United States should make it clear that existing bilateral and multilateral sanctions against Iran can only be lifted through progress at the negotiating table, and only if Iran takes proportionate steps that would sufficiently demonstrate its commitment to forgoing nuclear weapons. While a comprehensive resolution to the nuclear impasse may prove elusive in the near term, presenting Iran with intermediate measures to make progress could be the best approach for determining whether the Iranian government is serious.

Our nation’s security and the stability of the Middle East depend upon the resolution of this long standing dispute. As you examine America’s options on Iran over the next several months, we stand ready to work with your administration toward a peaceful settlement.

Sincerely,


Take Action: Get Congress to Support Diplomacy with Iran

July 12, 2013

Let me first thank you for the phone calls to cut the budget for the B-61 nuclear warhead.  We lost the amendment vote by a surprisingly small margin 196-227.  Click here to see how your Rep. voted and please contact them to “thank or spank.”

Now to nuclear issues in Iran.  A month ago, the world was surprised by the election of a moderate President in Iran:  Dr. Hassan Rouhani.  He will be inaugurated in September and will be choosing a new government then.  This provides a new opportunity for the world to work with Iran on an agreement that would keep the country from building a nuclear weapon — which they say they are not and don’t intend to — while allowing them their right to peaceful nuclear technology.

Write your Representative now and either thank them or urge them to sign the Dent/Price letter to the President asking the administration to take every advantage of the diplomacy opportunity with Iran.  The letter will be sent next week, so be sure to take action now.

Representatives Charles Dent (R) and David Price (D) have penned a letter to President Obama pushing for diplomacy and another 40 members have co-signed.  The full text of the letter is below my P.S.

There are some in Congress and elsewhere who seem eager for another war in the Middle East.  When Iran’s new President, Dr. Rouhani, has professed a “policy of reconciliation and peace,” it’s time to put the extra effort into diplomacy.  Please write your Representative now and make sure that they have signed this important letter.

Thanks for taking action now.

Humbly for Peace,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. – Take a moment to urge your Rep. to co-sign a letter to the President asking him to take advantage of a new moderate President in Iran to reach a diplomatic solution to our disagreements with Iran.

Then, forward this email to your friends, family and coworkers.

Dear President Obama:

As Members of Congress who share your unequivocal commitment to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, we  urge you to pursue the potential opportunity presented by Iran’s recent presidential election by reinvigorating U.S. efforts to secure a negotiated nuclear agreement.

As you know, on June 14 the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani president with over 50 percent of the vote in the first round, overcoming repression and intimidation by the Iranian government to cast their ballots in favor of reform.  Dr. Rouhani campaigned on the promise to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace” and has since promised “constructive interaction with the outside world.”  As Iran’s former lead nuclear negotiator, he has also publicly expressed the view that obtaining a nuclear weapon would run counter to Iran’s strategic interests and has been critical of the nuclear “extremism” of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

We are mindful of the limitations of the Iranian presidency within the country’s political system, of the fact that previous Iranian presidents elected on platforms of moderation have failed to deliver on promised reforms, and of the mixed signals that Dr. Rouhani himself has sent regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  It remains to be seen whether his election will indeed bring significant change with regard to Iran’s relations with the outside world.  His government’s actions will certainly speak louder than his words.

Even so, we believe it would be a mistake not to test whether Dr. Rouhani’s election represents a real opportunity for progress toward a verifiable, enforceable agreement on Iran’s nuclear program that ensures the country does not acquire a nuclear weapon.  In order to test this proposition, it will be prudent for the United States to utilize all diplomatic tools to reinvigorate ongoing nuclear talks.  In addition, bilateral and multilateral sanctions must be calibrated in such a way that they induce significant and verifiable concessions from Iran at the negotiating table in exchange for their potential relaxation.

We must also be careful not to preempt this potential opportunity by engaging in actions that delegitimize the newly elected president and weaken his standing relative to hardliners within the regime who oppose his professed “policy of reconciliation and peace.”  Likewise, it will be critical for the United States to continue its efforts to foster unprecedented international cooperation on this issue so that the international community remains united in its opposition to Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.

We look forward to working with your administration on this important issue in the months ahead.

Sincerely,
Current Cosigners: Dent, Price, Petri,Cohen, Bass, Blumenauer, Bordallo,Campbell, Capps, Coble, Connolly, Conyers, DeFazio, DelBene, Dingell, Doggett, John Duncan, Edwards, Ellison, Farr, Fitzpatrick,Garamendi, Grijalva, Hanna, Holt, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Jones, Kaptur, Lee, Lewis, McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, Meeks,Nugent, Pastor, Roybal-Allard, Runyan, Rush,Glenn Thompson, Welch, Yarmuth


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