Nuclear Weapons Group Praises Historic Iran Agreement

April 2, 2015

Nuclear Weapons Group Praises Historic Iran Agreement

Washington, DC — April 2, 2015 — The United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany (P5 + 1) and Iran reached an historic framework agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program in Switzerland today.  The “Common Understanding On Principles” claims to take steps that will keep Iran from producing a nuclear weapon in exchange for lifting international sanctions against the country.

“This historic agreement between the international community and Iran on its nuclear program will ensure it will not produce a nuclear weapon making the U.S. and the world a safer place.  This agreement promises to keep Iran at least a year away from having the fissile material needed to make a crude nuclear weapon.  Without an agreement, that timeline shrinks to three months and the threat of war increases dramatically,” commented Paul Kawika Martin the political director of Peace Action (the largest peace group in the U.S. founded on abolishing nuclear weapons) who has been working on the Iran issue for over eight years and had the rare opportunity to spend time in Iran and enjoyed hospitality from its people and its vast culture.

Recent polls show that Americans oppose military intervention with Iran by 71% and support reaching an agreement.  The parties conducted marathon negotiations past their self-imposed deadline of March 31 to develop the solutions that will create the Comprehensive Joint Plan of Action (CJPOA).  The parties have until June 30th to agree to all the technical and implementation specifics and sign the CJPOA that will last ten years with parts lasting longer like inspections and monitoring set to occur indefinitely.

“The success of these talks, again proves that diplomacy works.  Instead of isolation, sanctions that don’t affect leaders or military intervention that costs vast amounts of blood and treasure and untold longterm costs and unintended consequences, the U.S. used dialogue, negotiations and the international community to solve conflict.  These notable negotiations may pave the way for more discussions on issues like human rights and regional security that will further reduce Middle East tensions,” added Kevin Martin, executive director, of Peace Action.

The agreement includes five major components.  Decreasing the stockpile of material that could possibly be made into fissile material.  Limiting the quantity and quality of centrifuges that could make highly enriched uranium needed for a nuclear bomb.  Reconfiguring the nuclear reactor (and securing its spent fuel) in the city of Arak so it produces an insignificant amount of weapons grade plutonium.  Implementing unprecedented inspections and comprehensive monitoring.  And lastly, scheduling and implementing the lifting of specific sanctions on Iran.

“An agreement with Iran on its nuclear program is better than any imaginable alternative.  Military strategists have said over and over again that a military intervention with Iran would at best slightly delay any nuclear program and at worst force Iran to engage in getting a nuclear weapon even if they had no such program.  Any letters or legislation that offers more sanctions or ties the hands of the negotiators are clearly meant to kill the talks.  Poison pill bills like Senator Bob Corker’s that could delay implementation of an agreement for months and puts certification hurdles nearly impossible to clear should be defeated.  Scuttling the accord would be very short sighted as an agreement with Iran on their nuclear program would likely lead to productive negotiations on other items of concern with the Iranian Government.  More sanctions on Iran are likely to only embolden Iranian hardliner rather than solving the problem,” 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 and Iran. 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


Sign the Peace and Planet Nuclear Weapons Abolition Petition!

March 27, 2015

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Over 2400 signatures in 24 hours!  Please add your name to the Peace and Planet petition and then pass it on to your friends!

For Peace and Planet,

Kevin

Dear Kevin,

This April, just before most of the world’s governments meet at the United Nations for the month-long Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, thousands of people from around the world will mobilize to demand the total elimination of nuclear weapons, and to connect and strengthen the movements for peace and environmental, economic, and racial justice.

Please sign our petition for nuclear weapons abolition!

On April 26, the Peace & Planet Mobilization for a Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just, & Sustainable World will culminate with a Peace Festival in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza across the street from the United Nations. There we will deliver your signature – along with millions of others from Japan and around the world – to NPT and UN officials, calling on all governments to enter immediate negotiations to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Survivors of nuclear blasts – from Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the Marshall Islands, Korea, and the Southwest United States – tell us that nuclear weapons inflict scenes of “hell on Earth,” and that “humanity cannot live alongside nuclear weapons.” And while most nations support the abolition of nuclear weapons, the nuclear-armed States Parties to the NPT (the U.S., Russia, UK, France and China) have utterly failed to implement the NPT’s Article VI obligation to negotiate in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Counting the nuclear-armed States outside the NPT (India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea), the nine nuclear-armed States are spending $300 million every day on their nuclear arsenals, and the dangers of nuclear war are growing.

Thank you for adding your name to the Peace & Planet petition as together we work for a world free from nuclear weapons.
For Peace and Planet,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. – For more information on our Peace and Planet activities in New York City April 24-26, please visit www.peaceandplanet.org


The Brain Trust, the Love Circle and the Seed Sowers

March 24, 2015

photo love circle

 

–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

Last week I had a very enjoyable, short work trip to New York City. On Wednesday night, the indefatigable Judy Lerner (90+ years young!), who has served on the Peace Action national board for at least two decades, hosted a wonderful wine and cheese reception at her Manhattan apartment. Close to 30 Peace Action supporters turned up for a relaxed, social soiree, but we also talked a lot of politics as you can imagine (the picture above, taken by my Uncle, Todd Whitmer, who was there along with my brother, Kris Martin, shows just some of the assembled good folk) and raised a bit of much needed dough, thanks to a strong pitch by Joanne Robinson, Peace Action of New York State’s fundraising chair.

A few days before the event, I saw an RSVP list compiled by Sylvia Rodriguez Case, Peace Action of New York State’s superb administrator, and thought, wow, the brain trust of Peace Action in New York will be at the event, that’s great! And I got to thinking about the term “brain trust.” In Peace Action’s case, leadership is a collective, decentralized “brain,” and we have a lot of trust in our leadership to make the right decisions about priorities, strategies and tactics in our work.

Then I recalled Jim Anderson, board chair of Peace Action of New York State, from Buffalo, calling our national organizers’ meeting in DC two months ago a “Love Circle.” This wasn’t some hippie thing, he was encouraging a younger colleague to feel comfortable that her concerns would be heard and respected, even if they made some folks at the meeting a bit uncomfortable. Peace Actionistas certainly do form a trusting love circle where disagreements can be respectfully aired so we might reach higher ground together. I felt honored to be a part of that love circle last week at Judy’s, and also the following night at a chapter meeting of Peace Action of Staten Island, where I spoke to a terrific bunch of local supporters about the state of Peace Action’s work to support diplomacy with Iran, cut the gargantuan Pentagon budget, abolish nuclear weapons and end our country’s endless wars.

We also focused quite a bit on the April 24-26 Peace and Planet mobilization in New York City, which will bring together these issues as well as social, economic and racial justice and climate concerns. Right there at the meeting, Staten Island organizing powerhouse and Peace Action Fund of New York State board chair Sally Jones got firm commitments from over 50 people to turn out for Peace and Planet! And kudos to Peace Action of Staten Island chair Eileen Bardel for running a great meeting, keeping the agenda moving while also allowing space for everyone to participate, no easy feat!

Lately, some scholars and a few journalists have raised questions about why the peace movement isn’t as strong or visible as it was in the Bush error, I mean era, or why the peace movement isn’t as strong as the labor or environmental or human rights movements. Sometimes I get analytical about it (I could go on and on with my analysis but won’t do so here), other times I get a bit defensive, and other times I think, well if you’ll let me get off the phone I’ll get back to my job, which is to help organize and strengthen the peace movement.

Taking a long view, there are many social, political, economic and cultural factors (most out of our control) at play in why a movement catches fire or doesn’t in a particular place and time. One thing we can always control is sowing seeds that will lead to future growth in our organization and movement, and Peace Action of New York State is a leader in its investment in student/campus organizing. PANYS now has ten student chapters around the state, which didn’t just spring up by themselves. PANYS has invested in building those student chapters, and has a wonderful Student Outreach Coordinator Natia Bueno hard at work to spread this student chapter network even further (Natia will help lead a training session on student organizing for Peace Action affiliates and chapters next month, details TBA soon). Another crackerjack young organizer, Drew King, is working as our coordinator for Peace and Planet (and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as his father, Jonathan King, is an MIT professor and Massachusetts Peace Action activist).

Peace and Planet will be an outstanding opportunity to build and support the Peace Action brain trust, embrace our love circle, and sow seeds that will blossom in myriad, wonderful ways we can’t fathom today. Please plan to join us!

 


For Peace and Prosperity, Support the People’s Budget

March 23, 2015

MOVE circle

On Tuesday, the Republicans introduced a draconian budget proposal that would gut Medicare, defund the Affordable Care Act, and make deep cuts to domestic programs such as food stamps, housing, education, and the environment.   They’ve made these proposals before — but since they now control both Houses of Congress, it might really pass. Their budget would increase the Pentagon’s slush fund that pays for the Afghanistan war and the war on ISIS.

But the Congressional Progressive Caucus has an alternative.  They call it the People’s Budget: A Raise For America, and it is the polar opposite of the Republicans’ budget proposal.

Congress will vote on budget proposals as early as next week – so contact your Representative TODAY and ask him or her to vote for the People’s Budget.

While working families face smaller paychecks, corporations and the super rich are amassing record wealth.  American families know the system is rigged in favor of the corporations. The People’s Budget makes the economy work for everyone. It creates high quality jobs and reduces family expenses, restoring the buying power of working Americans to drive a full economic recovery.

The People’s Budget creates 8.4 million good paying jobs by 2018; invests $1.9 trillion in America’s future; and puts $820 billion towards infrastructure and transportation improvements.   Ask your Representative to support the People’s Budget!

The People’s Budget cuts waste from the base military budget, eliminates the Pentagon’s “Overseas Contingency Operations” slush fund, ends the US military presence in Afghanistan after 2016, cuts unnecessary spending on destabilizing nuclear weapons, requires that the Pentagon be audited, and invests in diplomacy.  It also provides a new framework to transition workers in military industries to good jobs in the civilian sector.

The People’s Budget would bring in revenue and redress extreme inequality by closing corporate tax loopholes and by a progressive tax on incomes over $1 million a year.   It takes on the climate crisis by imposing a carbon tax as well as by funding transportation improvements.

The People’s Budget is a package that brings together the big issues – taxes, jobs, government services, and militarism – and asks our Members of Congress to take a stand for peace and justice and against austerity and war.  Support of the Progressive Caucus budget in Congress has grown over the years. Let’s keep up the momentum by adding more support this year!   Will your Representative vote for the People’s Budget?

Write Congress now to support the People’s Budget.

For Peace and Justice,

Cole Harrison
Executive Director, Massachusetts Peace Action
National Peace Action Move the Money Working Group Convener

P.S.  Please click now to ask your Representative to support the People’s Budget!


Our Bill to Slash Nuke Weapons Funding

March 12, 2015

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As you know, Peace Action formed over 60 years ago as The Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy to abolish nuclear weapons.  We have come a long way.  The world produced over 125,000 nuclear warheads and now around 17,000 remain.  And that number continues to decline.

Write Congress now to move closer to abolishing nuclear weapons.

Despite President Obama’s Prague speech a few years ago proclaiming a world free of nuclear weapons, he has committed to completely rebuilding all three legs of the U.S. nuclear triad – strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and nuclear-armed submarines (SLBMs) and calls for spending $350 billion over the next decade and up to $1 trillion over the next 30 years.  Military experts agree that we cannot afford these costs and we can be completely secure with far fewer nuclear weapons.

Next week, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) will introduce the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act of 2015 in the House and Senate that will save approximately $100 billion over 10 years from unneeded nuclear weapons programs.

We are honored that this legislation, named after our organization, will be introduced again.  Please take a quick moment to ask Congress to become an original cosponsor of the SANE Act.


Diane Nash, George W. Bush, Selma and Our Understanding of Nonviolence

March 11, 2015

–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

In case you missed it, civil rights heroine Diane Nash, one of the relatively few women in leadership positions in the civil rights movement in the ’50s and ’60s (she was a key aide to Martin Luther King, Jr. and a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or SNCC) boycotted the 50th anniversary commemorative march in Selma, Alabama last weekend, not wanting to march with George W. Bush. (She was at the event, but her conscience wouldn’t let her be seen marching with Bush).

Nash said, “”I think the Selma Movement was about nonviolence and peace and democracy and George Bush stands for just the opposite—for violence and war and stolen elections,” also noting that his administration conducted torture. “George Bush’s presence is an insult to me and to people who really do believe in nonviolence,” Nash continued, voicing concern that the nonviolent legacy of the Selma Movement would now be “confused.”

I love the following part of Nash’s interview the most:

“Back in the 1960’s we did not know if nonviolence would work,” Nash told NewsOne. “Now we know that it does.” Nash said that she thought the Selma March anniversary “should have been a celebration of nonviolence,” which she added, was “definitely one of the most significant social inventions of the 20th century.”

A longtime respected colleague of mine voiced some mixed emotions about Ms. Nash’s position, stating he understood her but also that we need to welcome former adversaries when they join us.

I agree, and that certainly is in the spirit of nonviolence, if the former adversary is in fact transforming into an ally and “joining” us. If I thought that were true in George W. Bush’s case, I’d welcome him to the side of peace, social and economic justice, civil rights and nonviolence, though I’d be highly skeptical and would demand some accountability or at least repentance from him for his egregious actions as president. I see no evidence Bush is anywhere close to such a transformation.

What Bush’s appearance at the Selma commemoration does show is hard-earned mainstream respect for the courageous civil rights heroines and heroes and the social progress they sweated, bled and died for. But that has nothing to do with war criminals like Bush. Sister Nash was right, but that’s not really the point. From her comments I think it’s pretty clear that on a gut level her conscience just wouldn’t let her be at the same event as Bush, so it was much more a personal than political statement.

And of course Barack Obama, aka President DroneStrike, is no advocate of nonviolence, Nobel Peace Prize notwithstanding. We need to push him not just to conclude a peace deal with Iran, but also to end drone strikes and give up the madness of a new war in Iraq and Syria.

Thanks to Common Dreams and NewsOne for their reporting on Diane Nash’s powerful statement of conscience.


Call Congress Now to Support Iran Diplomacy!

March 2, 2015

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The Boehner/Bibi circus is finally in town.

After weeks of media hype and legitimate debate Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress is tomorrow.
Simultaneously, another bad bill, by Sens. Graham and Corker, has been introduced that could block a deal. They plan to use the speech to build support for anti-deal bills.

Can you call today and make sure pro-diplomacy voices are not drowned out?

I know I’ve been writing to you a lot about Iran lately. But this is such a critical moment for diplomacy in this country – and that’s the best way to stop wars long before they start.

And isn’t that what the peace movement is all about: using diplomacy to solve conflicts. Wouldn’t a victory for peace like that be sweet?  That’s why we’re pushing so hard.

So even if you’ve already spoken out on Iran, can you call again today?

The Netanyahu speech is just one part of a well-oiled machine. Right now that machine includes Republican party leadership, neocon think tanks, Netanyahu himself, and the hawkish, right-wing lobbying group AIPAC which has its annual D.C. lobby push this week.

So let’s make the phones ring and gum up the works of that machine. Most Americans support diplomacy. We can’t let the right-wing noise machine drown out our voices.

Can you click here to use our special call-in tool today? The tool lets you know:

1) Who to call; 2) What to say and 3) If you want … it lets you jot down a couple notes on what you find out from the office. That information is invaluable for our lobbying work.

Thanks so much for all you do for peace,

 

Humbly for Peace,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. For background you can check out (and share) Peace Action West’s Jon Rainwater’s piece in the Hill on the anti-diplomacy legislation


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