News May 2011
Abolition 2000 Update
Progress and actions for the global abolition of nuclear weapons May-June 2011
- Global Peace Index – nuclear weapons don’t bring peace!
- Japan Federation of Bar Associations calls for nuclear abolition
- Scottish parliament acts to remove Trident from Scotland!
- Global Peoples Indigenous Caucus backs Ban Ki-moon on nuclear abolition
- Middle Powers Initiative calls for a global ban on nuclear weapons
- Climate change and nuclear disarmament – new report from the World Future Council
- CTBTO – disarmament mechanisms assist in disaster prevention
- Nuclear radiation affects babys’ gender – according to recent German research
- Unprecedented US nuclear weapons spending
- Heritage Foundation concerned that Obama is serious about nuclear abolition
- South Korean’s fast to prevent new military base
- Music for nuclear abolition
- Fukushima and nuclear energy updates:
a) A2000 statement: Nuclear energy is uncontrollable in time and space
b) Angry parents force change in exposure limit
c) Eight European countries release declaration on forgoing nuclear energy
d) TEPCO admits meltdown
e) 100,000 march – Germany to close nuclear reactors by 2022
f) CTBTO data on radiation dispersal
- Up-coming events:
a) Peace in Space conference – June 17-19
b) Nuclear Abolition Day – June 25
c) Abolition 2000 Annual General Meeting – Sep 16-17
On 26 May, Vision of Humanity released the 2011 Global Peace Index – a system of rating the relative peace of countries based on 21 peace indicators including the level of violent crime in society, respect for human rights, support for United Nations peacekeeping, military spending, number of homicides, number of displaced people, prison populations, relations with neighboring countries, political stability, weapons imports/exports, overseas military involvement and deaths from conflicts (internal and external).
GPI also compared these peace indicators with other indicators – such as gender equality, political participation, freedom of the press, education spending – most of which had a positive correlation with peace. Possession of nuclear weapons, like the level of corruption in a society, had very low correlation with peace. In fact, the States possessing nuclear weapons, with the exception of France which ranked number 36 (out of 153) were all in the less peaceful half of the list (China – 80, United States – 82, India – 135, Israel – 145, Pakistan – 146 and North Korea – 149). So more evidence that nuclear weapons don’t bring peace!
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations in October 2010 adopted a Declaration of a Call to Action Toward Achieving a World Without Nuclear Weapons (click here for the English version which is now available). The declaration is very influential coming from the pre-eminent law organization in Japan – which includes 52 bar associations, 28,800 member attorneys and over 600 law firms and other legal organisations as members. The declaration affirms that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be illegal, notes that Japan has a special obligation to nuclear disarmament as the country to have experienced the use of nuclear bombs in wartime, and calls on the Japanese government “to legislate three non-nuclear principles – a policy of not possessing or producing nuclear weapons, and not permitting their entry into the country; to work toward the denuclearization of Northeast Asia; and to take a strong initiative to urge other countries around the world to sign on to a multilateral nuclear weapons convention.”
Trident submarine.JPGFollowing elections in May which saw the Scottish National Party to a majority of the seats in the Scottish Parliament, a resolution calling for the Trident nuclear submarine weapons system to be removed from Scotland is likely to be adopted in the near future (See SNP call for the removal of Trident base, Scotland on Sunday, 22 May). The move comes after UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox last week began the process for a new generation of submarine-based nuclear warheads to replace the current Trident weapons based at Faslane, Scotland. The UK has no other home-port for the Trident submarines and so is unlikely to yield to any call from the Scottish parliament to close the base. However, the move would be a demonstration of divergence between Scotland and the UK – putting some wind behind the sails of a more independent Scotland. In addition, the move would strengthen the arguments of Trident critics within the UK parliament who argue against replacement of the Trident system once it is retired, on the grounds that replacement is too costly and not necessary – in fact possibly detrimental – for or UK defence.
Trident replacement and ongoing running costs were reported in 2007 as being £15 – 20 billion (buying replacement system) plus £26 – 31 billion (operating existing system 2007-2023 until replacement system is ready) plus £49 – 59 billion (operating new system 2024-2054) for a total cost of £90 – 110 billion. However, there are reports that these figures are under-estimated.
The Global Peoples Indigenous Caucus, representing the many indigenous peoples and sub-caucuses (as distinct from the government representatives) at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, agreed on seven key recommendations which they presented to the Forum on 17 May 2011. Amongst these was a call for the transition to the development of safe, clean, renewable energy sources in light of the Fukushima disaster, and a call on all governments to undertake a concerted global response to the Secretary General’s 5 Point Plan on negotiating a Nuclear Weapons Abolition Treaty. The Caucus also called for governments to financially compensate communities adversely affected by the nuclear industry and remove all subsidies to produce nuclear fuel. Abolition 2000 Global Council Member Mayra Gomez co-chaired the Indigenous Women’s Caucus which had proposed these recommendations to the combined Global Caucus.
The Middle Powers Initiative (MPI), a coalition of eight international disarmament organizations, is calling on governments to “begin collective preparatory work leading to the enactment of a universal, verifiable, irreversible and enforceable legal ban on nuclear weapons.” MPI Chair Richard Butler, founder Douglas Roche and Executive Committee Member Alyn Ware have embarked on a series of consultations with governments at the United Nations and in capitals around the world on a draft brief exploring the modalities for such preparatory work.
The brief is stimulated by the agreement at the 2010 NPT Review Conference that “All States need to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons” noting “the Five-Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, which proposes inter alia the consideration of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention or a framework of separate mutually reinforcing instruments.” The tour of capitals by the MPI team over the next month will take in Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Delhi, London, Moscow, Oslo, Stockholm and Washington.
The MPI brief also notes the affirmation by the 2010 NPT Review Conference of the application of International Humanitarian Law to nuclear weapons. “Landmines and cluster munitions were banned by treaty once people realized the humanitarian consequences of their continued use,” said Senator Roche. “There is now a similar realization of the threat to humanity, not just if nuclear weapons are used but by the threat of use, their possession and their proliferation- This is a moment for enlightened leaders to start convening meetings to draw together those who want to build a global law banning all nuclear weapons.”
On 17 May the World Future Council released its latest report entitled Climate Change, Nuclear Risks and Nuclear Disarmament: From Security Threats to Sustainable Peace. It is the outcome of groundbreaking research by Prof. Dr. Jürgen Scheffran of the University of Hamburg.
The report examines the linkages between nuclear and climate risks, noting that these two clear threats may interfere with each other in a mutually re-enforcing way. It also acknowledges that finding solutions to one problem area could lead to solutions in the other: “Preventing the dangers of climate change and nuclear war requires an integrated set of strategies that address the causes as well as the impacts on the natural and social environment.” Prof. Dr. Scheffran offers an approach to move away from these security threats to building sustainable peace.
The study brings to light the multidimensional interplay between climate change, nuclear risks and nuclear disarmament, and its critical implications for the strategic security environment. In addition, it explores prospects and openings to tackle these key challenges, stressing the role played by institutions to “strengthen common ecological and human security, build and reinforce conflict-resolution mechanisms and low-carbon energy alternatives, and create sustainable lifecycles that respect the capabilities of the living world.”
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) was established in order to monitor seismological and radiation producing events in order to detect potential nuclear tests and verify compliance with the test ban. The international monitoring system, which includes data sharing from seismological and radiation monitoring stations around the world, has demonstrated that it is up to this task – being capable of reporting on events that were not nuclear tests (for example, an earthquake close to the Russian former nuclear test site in Novaya Zemlya) and on events that were nuclear tests (North Korean tests).
A positive offshoot from the development of the global monitoring system is that it is also able to assist disaster prevention and alleviation by providing early information on key seismic, radiation and aerial pollution events that could severely impact on human health and the environment. Data from the seismic stations, for example, is now available to the Tsunami Early Warning system enabling almost instantaneous warnings of potential or actual Tsunamis. Data from infrasound stations is available to provide early warning to civil aviation of volcano eruptions like the eruption at Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland. Data from the radiation monitoring stations is able to provide information about the types, relative amounts and dispersal patterns of radiation from nuclear accidents like Fukushima. (However, public availability of this data is in the hands of the States parties to the CTBTO – see item 12 (e) below).
The CTBTO met with other disaster prevention agencies at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 8-13 May to explore greater collaboration (See CTBTO report on the conference), and will be holding an International Conference on Science and Technology from 8-10 June in Vienna, Austria to build and strengthen its relationship with the broader science community.
These developments indicate just some of the positive offshoots that can arise from the international cooperation involved in developing arms control and disarmament treaties.
Nuclear radiation exposure leads to an increase in male births relative to female births, researchers in Germany say. Hagen Scherb and Kristina Voigt of the Helmholtz Zentrum in Munich have discovered that radiation from atomic bomb testing before the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, the Chernobyl accident, and for those living near nuclear facilities, has had a long-term negative effect on the ratio of male to female human births. The study, scheduled to be published in the Environmental Science and Pollution Research, estimated the deficit of births and the number of stillborn or impaired children after the global releases of ionizing radiation amount to several million globally.”Taken together these findings show a long-term, dose-dependent impact of radiation exposure on human sex odds, proving cause and effect.” (See Nuclear radiation affects baby gender, UPI 26 May 2011)
On May 13, 2010, President Obama submitted a classified report on a Congressionally-mandated plan to maintain and modernize U.S. nuclear forces for the foreseeable future. According to a White House fact sheet: “The plan includes investments of $80 billion to sustain and modernize the nuclear weapons complex-.” and “well over $100 billion in nuclear delivery systems to sustain existing capabilities and modernize some strategic systems” by the year 2020. A second White House fact sheet, released November 17, 2010, An Enduring Commitment to the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent, increased the amount projected “to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons complex that supports our deterrent,” to “more than $85 billion over the next decade.”
Jackie Cabasso (Western States Legal Foundation), in a paper Unprecedented U.S. Nuclear Weapons Spending, notes that this level of spending on nuclear weapons is “21 percent more than Ronald Reagan’s largest nuclear weapons budget and 19 percent more than President George H.W. Bush’s highest spending level.”
Cabasso also notes that H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2012, reveals the long planning horizon for nuclear weapons, specifying, “The planned Ohio-class ballistic submarine replacement is expected to be in operations through 2080.” This would extend nuclear weapons into the future for at least 69 years – longer than they have existed to-date.
ADespite increased funding for nuclear weapons programmes by the Obama administration (which some argue was forced on him by US Republican senators), the right-wing Heritage Foundation is worried that Obama is actually serious about nuclear disarmament, and that his vision for achieving a nuclear-weapons-free world is not just rhetoric.
In an article Beware the Next U.S.-Russian Arms Control Treaty, Baker Spring and Ariel Cohen argue that ” it is clear that the Obama Administration is already planning to negotiate a new arms treaty with Russia-one that goes beyond the provisions of New START. While it is possible only to speculate on the specifics of such a new treaty, the Obama Administration’s general goal for this treaty is obvious: placing the U.S. irreversibly on the path to nuclear disarmament.”
Spring and Cohen predict that the next treaty with Russia will “most likely establish a minimal deterrence posture for the U.S.” which will “marginalize nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal to the greatest extent possible short of disarmament itself.” They warn against such a development arguing that “If the U.S. cannot determine where a threat will originate, then this nation will need a comprehensive strategy to deter and defend against a wide range of proliferating threats. Adopting a minimal deterrence policy would limit America’s range of responses.”
Spring and Cohen go further to argue that adopting a minimal deterrence approach, including a possible withdrawal of the remaining US nuclear weapons from Europe, would play into the hands of the Russians and result in an even more lopsided treaty than New START (which they argue is heavily in Russia’s favour). They thus urge Senate Republicans to act now to ensure that US negotiators do not adopt a minimal deterrence approach – but maintain a strong and robust policy for US nuclear weapons into the indefinite future.
Koreans Yang Yoon-Mo and Sung-Hee Choi are on a hunger fast to protest plans to build a new US naval base in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island, South Korea. The base would be primarily to service U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers outfitted with Raytheon-built missile offense systems. South Korean peace activists argue that the base would support a build-up of offensive military systems in North East Asia, thus undermining security and prompting military responses from China and North Korea. Yang Yoon-Mo started his fast on 4 April and so is now into his 8th week without solid food. Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, is more than a week into a support fast.
Bruce is encouraging North Americans to email the Korean Defense Attaché assigned to Washington DC and demand an end of the Navy base construction. For further information contact Bruce Gagnon. Click here to watch a video about Yang Yoon-Mo on his fast.
Inspire others with some nuclear abolition music. Here are a few examples (mostly video versions):
Song of the Atomic Bombing – soft Rap/Hiphop by 5th blood – photos of Hiroshima bombing
Nuclear waste – by Herbs a soft rock, pacific reggae group from Aotearoa/New Zealand celebrating the peaceful Pacific peoples but lamenting the radioactive pollution in the region. Other anti-nuclear songs by Herbs include No Nukes calling for an end to nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, and French Letter opposing the French nuclear tests in the Pacific.
Russians – by Sting. Strong lyrics of connection between ‘us’ and ‘them’ – those we would threaten with nuclear weapons.
Nuclear madness, we are the people, stand up – a sing-a-pong country rock anti-nuclear song by A Geek Forever – great photos and graphics.
Mother – by Pink Floyd. Lyrical rock ballad wit video clips of nuclear weapons and testing.
Radiation blues – by Courtney Dowe. Dedicated to Fukushima victims and Hiroshima/Nagasaki survivors who are already suffering health problems, and to ALL victims of radiation since 1945. It is also dedicated to the Proposition One Campaign for global nuclear weapons abolition, and conversion of the nuclear weapons and nuclear energy economies toward carbon-free, nuclear-free energy and environmental restoration from the radioactive mess. If you would like Courtney to perform email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fire of compassion – by Mr Lotus Dragon, anti-nuclear rock song.
Fukushima night – by Dalia Kobelieva and Rise to Stars – a Ukrainian rock group. Hard rock anti-nuclear protest song.
Monument – by Diatessaron, a rock symphony in five movements dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The music for each movement was composed by a different band-member, a creative approach that results in a wildly varied sound-scape across the work as a whole. The lyrics approach the subject of the atomic bomb from a different perspective in each section: that of a statue, a phoenix, a ray of light, a sea creature, and a Japanese legend.
Since its inception in 1995, Abolition 2000 member organisations and individual subscribers have expressed concern about the health, environmental and proliferation risks of nuclear energy. On the other hand, a number of countries in which Abolition 2000 is active, rely on nuclear energy for a considerable portion of their energy production. Thus, in its founding statement, Abolition 2000 noted “the inextricable link between the “peaceful” and warlike uses of nuclear technologies and the threat to future generations inherent in creation and use of long-lived radioactive materials must be recognized,” and urged a “move toward reliance on clean, safe, renewable forms of energy production that do not provide the materials for weapons of mass destruction and do not poison the environment for thousands of centuries.”
In response to the Fukushima catastrophe, the Abolition 2000 Global Council released a statement on 26th April (coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster) expressing its concern and support for the people of Japan in the wake of the Tsunami and nuclear catastrophe, highlighting the environmental and proliferation risks of nuclear energy, exposing the hidden economic costs of nuclear energy, arguing that investment in nuclear energy is detrimental to combating climate change, and calling for call for an end to nuclear energy and weapons – the human and environmental impact of both being uncontrollable in time and space.
The Japanese Federal government, in response to angry protests from parents, has reversed a controversial decision to set radiation exposure levels for children in the Fukushima region at 20 times the normal exposure level. The acceptable radiation exposure level had been raised from 1 milliSievert per year to 20 milliSieverts per year, with claims that this was done in order to reduce the extent and cost of protection measures in the region, including the costs of decontaminating schools. Earlier in May angry parents delivered bags of radioactive dirt from school playgrounds to officials to protest the higher permissible levels of exposure. On 29 May 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that the angry protests of parents had forced a reversal by the government – lowering the acceptable exposure levels back to 1 milliSievert per year – and that the government would authorize additional funding for decontamination and clean-up.
On 25 May 2011, eight European countries (Austria, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta and Portugal) at a ministerial level meeting released a declaration in Vienna noting the Fukushima catastrophe, arguing that the risks of nuclear power outweigh any potential benefit, emphasizing that that nuclear power is not compatible with the concept of sustainable development and does not provide a viable option to combat climate change, calling for the trans-boundary nature of the risks associated with nuclear power to be considered by States with nuclear facilities including in assessing liability for accidents , and decided that a further meeting of Ministers and those of other interested States will take place in Athens in fall 2011.
On 15 May 21001, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) admitted for the first time that there had been a meltdown of fuel rods at Fukushima Daiichi’s No. 1 reactor about 16 hours after the March 11 earthquake. Based on provisional analysis of data on the reactor, the utility concluded that the water level in the pressure vessel began to drop rapidly immediately after the tsunami, and the top of the fuel began to be exposed above the water around 6 p.m. Around 7:30 p.m., the fuel was fully exposed above the water surface and overheated for more than 10 hours. At about 9 p.m., the temperature in the reactor core rose to 2,800 degrees Celsius, the melting point for fuel. At approximately 7:50 p.m., the upper part of the fuel started melting, and at around 6:50 a.m. on March 12, a meltdown occurred. On the reason why it took over two months after the earthquake to reveal the information, TEPCO said it had only been able to start obtaining detailed data on the temperature and pressure in the reactor for analysis in early May.
More than 160,000 demonstrators took to the streets in 20 cities across Germany on 28 May to call for a rapid end to nuclear power. The protests were timed to coincide with a report from a government-sponsored national commission which recommended that Berlin phase out nuclear energy over the next decade. In response to the overwhelming public antipathy to nuclear energy, Chancellor Angela Merkel on 30 May announced that all German reactors would be closed in 11 years. Of the existing reactors, eight would remain closed from now and not be re-started, while nine others would continue operating until 2021 and then be closed by 2022. Proponents of nuclear energy – including the Federal Association for German Industry – argued against the decision saying that nuclear energy would be needed for much longer. Some opponents of nuclear energy were also critical, saying that maintaining the reactors for a decade would prevent the smooth development of renewable energy sources – as the main power grid would continue to give precedence to purchasing electricity from the nuclear power plants until 2021. They had hoped for a quicker phase-out of nuclear energy. However, in general the government decision was seen as a victory for the anti-nuclear movement.
Within hours of the Fukushima disaster, monitoring stations that are part of the CTBTO International Monitoring System (IMS) were detecting airborne radioactive elements from the damaged reactors. Since then more than 35 radionuclide stations that are part of the IMS have provided information on the spread of radioactive particles and noble gases from the Fukushima accident. The CTBTO reports that “Initial detections of radioactive materials were made on 12 March at the Takasaki monitoring station in Japan just 250 km away from the troubled power plant. The dispersion of the radioactive isotopes could then be followed to eastern Russia on 14 March and to the west coast of the United States two days later. Nine days after the accident, the radioactive cloud had crossed Northern America. Three days later when a station in Iceland picked up radioactive materials, it was clear that the cloud had reached Europe. By day 15, traces from the accident in Fukushima were detectable all across the northern hemisphere.”
However, despite being able to detect and measure the airborne radio-nuclides, the CTBTO was unable to release complete information about radiation levels due to its restricted mandate. Member States of the CTBT, however, have access to such data. The German government made some of this data available (in German) at http://www.bfs.de/en/ion/imis/spurenmessungen.html
The Global Network Against Nuclear Weapons and Power in Space is holding its 19th Annual Space Organizing Conference in North Andover, Massachusetts from 17-19 June. The conference will focus on the Raytheon Company, which had 2009 sales of $25 billion and is a leading builder and promoter of the missile “offense” program. Headquartered in Massachusetts, Raytheon has a manufacturing plant in Andover that builds the Patriot (PAC-3) system that is now being used by the Pentagon to help encircle Russia and China. To register contact Bruce Gagnon phone +1 207 443-9502.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is holding an international day of action to abolish nuclear weapons on June 25. Find out where actions are being held by clicking here, or organise your own action. Recommended actions include:
Mark your calendars. Abolition 2000 will be holding its annual general meeting in Geneva on September 16-17. This is the time to come together to catch-up on Abolition 2000 initiatives and campaigns, to strategise for the future and to build our network. It will include regional reports, working group updates, campaign planning and organizational planning – including affirming the Global Council and building support for the office, staff, website and A2000 campaign materials. The AGM is timed just before an ICAN training in Geneva which is open to all A2000 and ICAN members
Abolition 2000 Update is a regular update of progress and actions for a global treaty to abolish nuclear weapons. Please send any items for inclusion in the next update to email@example.com
For further information about Abolition 2000 and our activities see www.abolition2000.org or contact:
Abolition 2000 Global Office
C/- Pax Christi
1225 Otis St. NE, Washington, DC 20017, USA
Phone: +1 202-635-2757 ext 118
Alyn Ware or Mayra Gomez (A2000 Global Coordinating Committee)
Aotearoa-New Zealand PO Box 24-429, Manners Street Wellington,
Phone: +64 4 496-9629
Fax +64 4 496-9599
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com