After the Iran Nuclear Agreement: Will the Nuclear Powers Also Play by the Rules

September 29, 2015

Peace Action board member Larry Wittner on History News Network

By L

Dr. Lawrence Wittner ( is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, What’s Going On at UAardvark?

Тягач МЗКТ-79221 (комплекс Тополь-М)” by ru:Участник:Goodvint – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

When all is said and done, what the recently-approved Iran nuclear agreement is all about is ensuring that Iran honors its commitment under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) not to develop nuclear weapons.

But the NPT—which was ratified in 1968 and which went into force in 1970—has two kinds of provisions. The first is that non-nuclear powers forswear developing a nuclear weapons capability. The second is that nuclear-armed nations divest themselves of their own nuclear weapons. Article VI of the treaty is quite explicit on this second point, stating: “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 and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

What has been the record of the nuclear powers when it comes to compliance with the NPT?

The good news is that there has been some compliance. Thanks to a variety of nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements negotiated among the major nuclear powers, plus some unilateral action, the world’s total nuclear weapons stockpile has been reduced by more than two- thirds.

On the other hand, 45 years after the NPT went into effect, nine nations continue to cling to about 16,000 nuclear weapons, thousands of which remain on hair-trigger alert. These nations not only include the United States and Russia (which together possess more than 90 percent of them), but Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. If their quarrels—of which there are many—ever get out of hand, there is nothing to prevent these nations from using their nuclear weapons to lay waste to the world on a scale unprecedented in human history.

Equally dangerous, from the standpoint of the future, is that these nations have recently abandoned negotiating incremental nuclear disarmament agreements and have plunged, instead, into programs of nuclear weapons “modernization.” In the United States, this modernization—which is projected to cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years—will include everything from ballistic missiles to bombers, warheads to naval vessels, cruise missiles to nuclear weapons factories. In Russia, the government is in the process of replacing all of its Soviet era nuclear weapons systems with new, upgraded versions. As for Britain, the government has committed itself to building a new nuclear-armed submarine fleet called Successor, thereby continuing the nation’s nuclear status into the second half of the twenty-first century. Meanwhile, as the Arms Control Association recently reported, China, India, and Pakistan “are all pursuing new ballistic missile, cruise missile, and sea-based delivery systems.”

Thus, despite the insistence of the nuclear powers that Iran comply with the NPT, it is pretty clear that these nuclear-armed countries do not consider themselves bound to comply with this landmark agreement, signed by 189 nations. Some of the nuclear powers, in fact, have been quite brazen in rejecting it. Israel, India, and Pakistan have long defied the NPT—first by refusing to sign it and, later, by going ahead and building their own nuclear weapons. North Korea, once a signatory to the treaty, has withdrawn from it.

In the aftermath of the Iranian government’s agreement to comply with the treaty, would it not be an appropriate time to demand that the nuclear-armed nations do so?

At the least, the nuclear nations should agree to halt nuclear weapons “modernization” and to begin negotiating the long-delayed treaty to scrap the 16,000 nuclear weapons remaining in their arsenals. Having arranged for strict verification procedures to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons, they should be familiar with procedures for verification of their own nuclear disarmament.

After all, isn’t sauce for the goose also sauce for the gander?

– See more at:

No Nukes! President Obama Keep Your Promise!

July 2, 2015

We want a nuke free world Picture Petition 014

It was President Obama who created the expectation that our country would lead a global effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  In his Prague speech in April, 20009 he committed the U.S. to this goal: “I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Instead, the President 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 just as secure, and probably more so, with far fewer nuclear weapons.

Sign Peace Action’s petition to President Obama.  Together, let’s hold him to his promise to lead the world to a future without nuclear weapons.

With just 18 months left in his presidency, there are concrete steps he can take immediately to show our nation is prepared to lead the world to that goal.  Some of them, like stating the US will not be the first nation to use nuclear weapons in war, taking our nuclear arsenal off ‘launch on warning’ status and initiating negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention to eliminate all nukes worldwide, as Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires, don’t require Congressional approval.

Sign our petition to President Obama.  As we approach the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki we are reminded today’s nuclear weapons pack much greater destructive power and their use would be a catastrophe unlike any the world has ever seen.

Peace Action chapters are already planning 70th anniversary Hiroshima and Nagasaki commorations.  They will be reaching out to their local communities using earned media to educate the public on the danger that is still very much with us and what we need to do to abolish these doomsday weapons once and for all.

Each year, Peace Action sends a delegation to Japan to participate in observances there.  We will continue to work with our international partners to insure a strong presence at the United Nations as the UN works to repair the damage done at the NPT review when the United States blocked consensus on a final statement. 

Please sign our petition and then forward it to your family and friends..  Ask them to join in this effort to press President Obama to use the final 18 months of his presidency fulfill his promise “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Now that would be a legacy he could be proud of.

Join Peace Action at the US Social Forum in Philadelphia this Friday, June 26!

June 22, 2015

Geneseo chapter

Peace Actionistas from the national office and our Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania affiliates will give presentations and lead discussions on various peace and justice issues at three different sessions this Friday, June 26th at the US Social Forum at Temple University in Philadelphia.

1. Massachusetts Peace Action on a Foreign Policy for All, 8:30 to 10:00 am, Temple University Mitten Hall Room, 1801 N. Broad St.

2. Peace Action of New York State board chair Jim Anderson and Student Coordinator Natia Bueno, along with American Friends Service Committee’s Joseph Gerson and Sofia Wolman, Shattering Silos – Building Connections Between Peace and Disarmament, Social, Economic and Racial Justice and Climate Change Movements, 10:30AM-noon – Temple University Gittis Student Center – Room 217 A, 13th St. and Montgomery Ave. This workshop is a follow-up to our Peace and Planet organizing in New York in April and May.

3. No Wars, No Warming! Justice at Home, Peace Abroad! Explore Solutions for our Communities! Organized by Coalition for Peace Action’s Ed Aguilar and Alesha Vega along with colleague organizations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, this Peoples Movement Assembly will explore a variety of peace and justice issues. National Executive Director Kevin Martin will speak at 4 pm on the prospective peace deal with Iran and prospects for a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Middle East, and Code Pink co-founder (and Peace Action Advisory Board member) Medea Benjamin will recount her recent trip to Korea as part of a women’s peace delegation. 1:00 – 5:30 pm (presented in four separate sessions, see previous link for details) Reel Cinema, ground floor, Temple University Gittis Student Center, 13th St. and Montgomery Ave.

Hope to see you there!

Join us next week for Human Rights on the Hill at UDC!

May 29, 2015
Martin pontificating as usual!

Martin pontificating as usual!

Our executive director, Kevin Martin, will be speaking next Wednesday at 10:30 am, but the whole lineup for this annual course organized by former national Peace Action board member Joshua Cooper is outstanding, hope you can make one or more of these sessions!

Please join us at one or more sessions of this, the 14th annual Human Rights on the Hill program, organized by Joshua Cooper of the Hawaii Inst. for Human Rights at UDC David A. Clarke School of Law.  Each year, Cooper magically assembles an absolutely terrific line up of human rights activists, lawyers, government officials and policy wonks – see schedule below – to whose presentations interested students and citizens of all ages are cordially invited.

Venue: UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, Street address: 4340 Connecticut Ave.,Washington, DC 20008

The weeklong program is free, but please register here:

If you’d like to donate to support the program go to: and choose the general fund with a note to “HR 14”

Schedule:  14th Human Rights on the Hill 

Monday, June 1

9:00 a.m. The Peoples Voice at 70; From the Green Room in San Francisco to the Global Stage of Diplomacy & Decision-Making: Strong NGOs Means Stronger UN and The Best World Possible.

Joshua Cooper, Executive Director, Four Freedoms Forum

10:30 a.m. The Universal Periodic Review of the United States of America

Amanda J. Wall, Attorney Adviser, Office of the Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State

12:00 p.m. Universal Periodic Review of the United States of America

UN Webcast TV

1:30 p.m. Business & Human Rights at the United Nations and the United States of America: The UN Forum & Working Group on Business and Human Rights Early Results as well as Current National Action Plan Progress and the Upcoming Initial Treaty Negotiations

John Richardson, Professorial Lecturer, School of International Service, American University

3:00-7:00 p.m.  TBA – Watch this space!

8:00 p.m. at Busboys & Poets

The News: Jeffrey Brown with Gwen Ifel

Tuesday, June 2

9:00 a.m.  The Universal Periodic Review of the United States of America:

An Opportunity to Organize Partnerships Across Communities in Our Country to Unite People for Rights Realization

Joshua Cooper, Executive Director,  Four Freedoms Forum

10:30 a.m. Local Human Rights Lawyering: Implementation of International Recommendations to Realize Right in Individuals Lives at the Community Level

Lauren Bartlett, Research and Training Director, Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, American University Washington College of Law & Director of Law Clinics and Assistant Professor of Law Ohio Northern University Petit College of Law

12:00 p.m. Universal Periodic Review of the United States of America

UN Webcast TV

1:30 p.m.  Gender Justice and Women’s Rights: Beijing+20 Beyond the Beltway in Our Beautiful Communities, Tarah Demant, Senior Director, Identity and Discrimination Unit, Amnesty International USA

3:00 p.m. The Implementation of the Universal Periodic Review Recommendations in the United States of America

Sakira Cook, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

7:00 p.m. at Busboys & Poets.  Stolen Futures:  Palestinian Children in Israeli Military

No Way to Treat a Child Campaign American Friends Service Committee

Wednesday, June 3

9:00 a.m. The United Nations Human Rights Charter Bodies and NGOs Ability to Advocate for Fundamental Freedoms

Joshua Cooper, Executive Director, Four Freedoms Forum

10:30 a.m. Peace is a Human Right: The UN Efforts on Demilitarization from NPT to Small Arms

Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action 

12:00 p.m.  Testify! Voices for Human Rights in the U.S.


12:30 p.m.  U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:  Current Status and Challenges Ahead

Jorge Araya, Secretary, Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Eric Rosenthal, Executive Director, Disability Rights International

1:30 p.m. The U.S. Foreign Policy of Drones & the Denial of Human Rights

Jeff Bachman, Ethics Peace & Global Affairs Program Co-Director, American University

3:00 p.m.  Implementation of the UPR Recommendations for Indigenous Peoples Human Rights in the U.S.

Christina Snider,  National Congress of the American Indians

5:00 p.m.  Strategies for Eco-Innovation: Open Source or Orthodox IP?

Jeremy DeBeer, Professor of Law, University of Ottawa

8:00 p.m.  White House Freedom of Speech Action

Implement the UPR Recommendations

Bring Human Rights Home

Thursday, June 4

9:00 a.m. The United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies Process & Participation: Growing a National Human Rights Movement Through the Ratification, Reporting and Realizing Recommendations from the UN Committees Responsible for Human Rights

Joshua Cooper, Executive Director, Four Freedoms Forum

10:30 a.m. A People Forgotten: Diego Garcia and the Exiled People of the Chagos Archipelago

David Vine, American University

12:00 p.m. The Treaty Bodies Bringing Human Rights Home

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

1:30 p.m. Islamophobia & Muslims as Targets of the War on Terror:  Origins & Impacts

Maha Hilal, Deputy Executive Director, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms

3:00 p.m. Panel: The United Nations Tells U.S. Government That Guantanamo is a Black Hole: Now What? A National Response to Restore Human Rights

James G. Connell III, Attorney

Raashid Williams, Major

Jennifer Kamorowski

Kim Lanoue-Chapman

Maha Hilal

Friday, June 5

9:00 a.m. Gun Violence in the United States of America

Jamira Burley, Senior Campaigner, Gun Violence and Criminal Justice,  Amnesty International USA

10:30 a.m. Bringing Human Rights Home

Jasmine Heiss, Senior Campaigner, Individuals at Risk, Amnesty International USA

12:00 p.m. The Lady Aung San Suu Kyi

Freedom to Lead

1:30 p.m.  A U.S. Congressional Mechanism to Promote and Protect Human Rights Around the World: The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission




Take Action: Tell President Obama to stop protecting Israel’s nuclear weapons monopoly in the Middle East

May 28, 2015


Disappointingly but not surprisingly, the month-long Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon) at the United Nations ended last Friday in failure.  The United States and other nuclear powers continue to blow off their Article VI treaty obligation to negotiate the elimination of their arsenals, preaching abstinence to the non-nuclear states from a barstool while indulging in an outrageous binge of “modernization” of their nuclear weapons enterprises (the U.S. is the worst, planning to spend up to $1 trillion of our tax dollars over the next 30 years to upgrade all parts of the nuclear weapons complex).

There was no consensus reached at the NPT RevCon to strengthen and extend nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation measures as the United States (joined by the United Kingdom and Canada) blocked a proposal by Egypt to convene a conference to create a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone.  This isn’t the first time the U.S. put Israel’s desire to pretend it doesn’t have nuclear weapons above humanity’s interest in abolishing these doomsday weapons before it’s too late.

ACTION: Please write President Obama to protest the U.S.’s intervention to protect Israel’s nuclear arms monopoly in the region and demand he reverse course and work to convene the Middle East conference, as agreed at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The Middle East conference was to have been held in 2012, but was never convened, due to Israeli and U.S. opposition. Furthermore, urge him to initiate negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention to eliminate all nukes worldwide, as the NPT’s Article VI requires.

The failure to agree to proceed toward a WMD-Free Zone conference, something advocated by all states in the region other than Israel, is particularly short-sighted.  The U.S. and its “P5+1” negotiating partners (France, China, the UK, Russia and Germany) are in the home stretch of crucial negotiations that would close off Iran’s potential paths to a bomb.  Israel’s nuclear weapons monopoly needs to be acknowledged and addressed or it will remain a stumbling block to regional peace and world security.

Peace Action was proud to be one of the co-conveners of the Peace and Planet mobilization, bringing thousands of peace and disarmament activists from around the world to New York just before the NPT RevCon. Peace and Planet is also a promising initiative to demand rapid progress toward global nuclear weapons abolition, as part of a broader peace and justice movement.

The failure of the obstinate nuclear states at the NPT RevCon is unacceptable.  Please take a moment to let the president know your views.


Peacefully and Disarmingly Yours,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. If you want to read more on the NPT RevCon outcome (or lack thereof), please see my article on our Peace Blog

US defense of Israel’s nukes leads to failure of international non-proliferation and disarmament conference

May 27, 2015

We want a nuke free world Picture Petition 041

–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

To paraphrase one of my least favorite presidents, Ronald Reagan (though today he’s practically be a liberal), there they went again.

Once again, despite President Obama’s recent assertion that the U.S. would cease knee-jerk support for and protection of Israel at the United Nations, the U.S. delegation to the every-five-years Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon) did just that. Joined by Canada and the United Kingdom and at Israel’s behest, last week the U.S. rejected the convening of a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone conference, even though it was agreed by consensus at the last RevCon in 2010, and was supposed to have been held in 2012. Binyamin Netanyahu went so far as to publicly thank the U.S. for its interference-running (Reuters). 

The WMD-Free Middle East Zone issue was not the only problem preventing the conference from issuing a consensus final statement on a program for further progress on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as it customarily does. Failure of the existing nuclear states to get serious about abolishing their arsenals, as required by the treaty’s Article VI, is a source of ongoing frustration.

As a matter of fact, the Nuclear Nine (U.S., UK, France, China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea), led by the U.S., are moving in the wrong direction, as all have ludicrous, nuclear “modernization” schemes in process or on the drawing board. Uncle Sam is the worst, planning to squander up to $1 trillion of our tax dollars (not. gonna. happen. we will stop this madness!) over 30 years to upgrade the entire nuclear weapons complex, soup to nuts.

Every country has signed the NPT except Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea. (North Korea had signed but later withdrew.) I don’t expect any countries will withdraw from the treaty in frustration, or worse to pursue the Bomb, though that is a possibility. On a more promising note, 107 countries have signed onto the Humanitarian Pledge, led by Austria, committed to pursuing global nuclear weapons abolition as an urgent humanitarian priority, coming out of three recent international conferences focused on the humanitarian and environmental consequences of nukes. That’s obviously not a binding treaty, but it could become one, as there is movement to negotiate a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, starting (unfortunately) without the nuclear states, in order to establish an international norm that nuclear weapons are illegal, as chemical and biological weapons and land mines are.

The timing of this RevCon and the spotlight on its failure over defending Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the world’s most volatile, war-riven region is particularly interesting given the ongoing, promising P5+1 (U.S., UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) peace negotiations with Iran. The talks to reach an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program and close off all paths to a bomb should it decide to build an arsenal (which it has not) may well succeed within a matter of weeks. It’s too soon to tell whether the NPT flap will affect the Iran talks, but it seems like it was an unnecessary risk and complication. After all, what was at issue was picking up a ball that was dropped previously but that had consensus support coming out of the 2010 RevCon. Would it have been so hard to agree to convene the confab later this year, perhaps capitalizing on the momentum of a possible agreement with Iran? Nobody expects Israel (or the U.S. for that matter) to give up its nukes immediately, but neither is its regional nuclear monopoly sustainable. Without a WMD Free Zone, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Turkey or others might pursue the Bomb, or at least be sorely tempted to do so. Also, ISIS has made public its desire to acquire the Bomb. Shouldn’t that focus attention on the gravity of this matter?

For Peace Action’s part, we continue to support any and all proposals for global elimination of nuclear arms, regardless of the mechanism or forum (a treaty could be written on the back of a cocktail napkin for all we care!). We were proud to be a leader in convening the Peace and Planet mobilization prior to the NPT RevCon, and look forward to continuing to build the movement for nuclear abolition as part of a broader effort to create peace, social, economic, racial and environmental justice.

For more views on the failure of the NPT RevCon and the hypocrisy of the nuclear states, see our colleague Joseph Gerson’s op-ed on truthout, an article by IPS News (also re-published by Common Dreams), and a piece on Pressenza by Tony Robinson.


Peace and Planet Statement to delegations to the NPT Review Conference

May 19, 2015

peace and planet rally youth

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon) is scheduled to adjourn at the end of this week. There are serious questions about what, if anything, the conference will commit to in terms of concrete next steps toward global nuclear weapons abolition, as the treaty requires.

Here is a statement to the governmental delegates to the Rev Con from Peace and Planet, the terrific mobilization Peace Action helped lead just before the RevCon convened, and Global Wave.

Dear Ambassador [name],

With less than one week to go in the month-long deliberations of governments at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York, Global Wave 2015 and Peace and Planet call on non-nuclear governments to stay strong on the nuclear disarmament language in the draft outcome document.

You have overwhelming support for this from civil society around the world – as was demonstrated by the Peace and Planet rally and conference in New York, the 7 million strong petition we presented to the President of the NPT Review Conference, and the Global Wave actions which took all around the world including in all of the nuclear-weapon States and many of the nuclear umbrella States. See Peace and Planet presentation to the NPT Review Conference, May 1, 2015.

As you know, the NPT 2015 draft disarmament section has some important language calling on nuclear weapon States to take immediate steps to reduce nuclear stockpiles (operative para 5), end modernisation of nuclear weapons (op 6), reducing or eliminating the role of nuclear weapons (op 7), and remove of all nuclear weapons from high alert levels (op 9). The draft also calls on States to engage in an inclusive process within the United Nations to explore and develop the legal framework to achieve and maintain a nuclear weapon free world.

This language is already a compromise from the civil society call for States Parties to the NPT to agree to commence negotiations for the prohibition and complete elimination of nuclear weapons, supported by over 350 organisations in 45 countries. We hope that the draft does not get watered down any further, and that our global actions can help non-nuclear governments like yours to remain strong.

We also support the Mayors for Peace appeal to reinstate language calling on world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to learn first-hand about the devastating humanitarian impact of the use of nuclear weapons.

Last Friday, Global Wave 2015 and the Peace and Planet organised a presentation at the United Nations to promote our nuclear abolition call to the NPT. At the event we showed videos and photos from Global Wave actions around the world.

In addition, during the opening days of the NPT conference we tweeted photos and videos of Global Wave actions from specific countries as the foreign ministers and other representatives of those countries spoke, demonstrating public opinion from their countries in favour of nuclear abolition.

There have been many other events and actions in support.

UNFOLD ZERO, a partner campaign to Peace and Planet, held a side-event last Thursday, outlining the ways in which the abolition of nuclear weapons can be, and is being, facilitated and supported through various UN bodies and initiatives. These include promotion of a nuclear weapons convention by the UN General Assembly and the UN Secretary-General, putting legal pressure on the nuclear weapon States through the International Court of Justice, hosting deliberations and negotiations through a UN General Assembly process, deciding to hold a high-level conference on nuclear disarmament (similar to a UN Summit), criminalising nuclear weapons through the International Criminal Court, and building public engagement and support through the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

All of the above gives support to the language in the NPT draft outcome document on using the United Nations system and other approaches to ensure the participation of all key countries (including nuclear-armed States) in a nuclear abolition process.

Global Wave and Peace and Planet will continue to be active beyond the 2015 NPT Review Conference to build civil society action for a nuclear-weapon-free world. We look forward to cooperation to facilitate this goal.

Yours sincerely

Alyn Ware

Rimma Velikanova

Global Wave Joint Coordinators


Jackie Cabasso

Joseph Gerson

Kevin Martin

Peace and Planet Joint Coordinators


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