This edition of the E-News includes a section looking at new figures on nuclear weapon spending and anticipated rises in costs associated with nuclear weapon modernization programmes. If you turn to the Featured News section, you’ll find several entries that also highlight excessive nuclear weapons spending corresponding to modernization of nuclear weapons and related infrastructure. But you’ll also find some interesting stories about governments in Europe rejecting nuclear power.
There is a stark contrast between these two approaches to nuclear technology. In the countries that have committed to phase-out nuclear power, or that have done so already, the governments have responded to the demands of their populations, who understand the risks and costs of this very expensive and dangerous method of boiling water. Meanwhile, the governments modernizing their nuclear weapons have ignored the will of their people, most of whom want nuclear weapons eliminated from the planet, and are ignoring economic realities in their countries and across the globe.
During an award acceptance speech earlier this month, Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami lamented the use of nuclear power in his country and argued that Japan should have worked to develop alternative energy sources as a way to take collective responsibility for the hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Instead, he said, “those who questioned (the safety of) nuclear power were marginalised as being ‘unrealistic dreamers,’” and priority was placed on “efficiency” and “convenience” by the government and utility countries. “We must not be afraid to dream,” he said. Urging people to take action to achieve a sustainable future, he cautioned, “Do not be caught up by the evil dogs that carry the names of ‘efficiency’ and ‘convenience’. Instead, we must be ‘unrealistic dreamers’ who charge forward taking bold steps.”
Ray Acheson, RCW Project Director
Nuclear weapon modernization and expenditure
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) launched the findings of its 2011 Yearbook on 7 June 2011, which assesses the current state of international security, armaments, and disarmament. One of key findings is that nuclear forces are “leaner but meaner,” explaining that “cuts in US and Russian nuclear forces are offset by long-term modernization programmes.”
Modest cuts in US and Russian strategic nuclear forces were agreed in April 2010 under the New START treaty, but both countries currently are either deploying new nuclear weapon delivery systems or have announced programmes to do so, and appear determined to retain their nuclear arsenals for the indefinite future. Meanwhile, India and Pakistan continue to develop new ballistic and cruise missile systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons. They are also expanding their capacities to produce fissile material for military purposes.
‘It’s a stretch to say that the New START cuts agreed by the USA and Russia are a genuine step towards nuclear disarmament when their planning for nuclear forces is done on a time scale that encompasses decades and when nuclear modernization is a major priority of their defence policies,’ says SIPRI Senior Researcher Shannon Kile.
In an Inter Press Services article by Thalif Deen, Jackie Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation, noted that “the fact that the numbers of nuclear weapons have been drastically reduced since their mind-boggling peak has been generally confused with disarmament, when in fact, more than 20,000 nuclear weapons in the hands of eight or nine states continues to represent an intolerable threat to humanity and the earth.” She argued, “This package essentially renders START as an anti-disarmament measure, projecting modernisation of nuclear warheads and their delivery system decades into the future.” The Western States Legal Foundation has also released a new information brief about US nuclear weapon spending.
Furthermore, in an article for Time, Bruce Blair of the World Security Institute provided the result of his research on global spending on nuclear weapons. He explained that the China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States are collectively spending approximately one hundred billion dollars this year on their nuclear programmes. Blair notes, “At this rate the nuclear-armed states will spend at least one trillion dollars on nukes over the next decade. It will likely go much higher as modernization programs across the board kick into high gear.”
Reaching Critical Will works with its sister project PeaceWomen and national sections of their organization the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom to demonstrate that the resources wasted on arms, especially nuclear weapons, could be better spent on human and ecological security. Our “You Get What You Pay For” campaign contrasts military spending with the funds needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and our contribution to the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign focused on militarism as a structure that creates a climate of violence, prevents economic justice and the realization of basic social and economic rights, and facilitates impunity for gender-based violence.
Currently, Reaching Critical Will is facilitating a study of the modernization programmes by all eight nuclear weapon-possessors, which will highlight nuclear weapon expenditure, plans to upgrade and extend the life of weapons and delivery systems, and more. At the same time, Reaching Critical Will is working to produce resources on the economics of nuclear weapons. We will keep you up to date through the E-News and our website when these resources become available!
WILPF Statement on Jeju Island and the US Naval Base
In the village of Ganjeong on Jeju Island, off the coast of South Korea, local people are struggling to prevent the construction of a new US naval base. The base is intended to service US Navy Aegis destroyers that hold Raytheon’s missile “defence” systems. South Korean peace activists argue that the base will build-up offensive military systems in North East Asia, undermining security and prompting military responses from China and North Korea. Villagers also oppose the base because of the loss of farm land, where they have grown rice, garlic, tangerines, and more on the fertile land. The base will destroy the local environment, including coral reefs named by UNESCO as key environmental treasures. The Navy intends to pour concrete over the rocks and marine life to make wharfs for the Aegis destroyers.
At a village meeting in 2007, the vast majority of villagers voted to oppose the base. They have launched lawsuits against the construction; they have held protests and engaged in civil disobedience against the construction efforts; their encampments have been raided and protestors have been injured and arrested; and some have even engaged in hunger strikes. Yang Yoon-Mo was arrested on 6 April 2011 for locking himself under earth moving equipment intended to begin construction. He began a hunger strike that lasted for 60 days, until Bishop Kang U-il of Jeju Catholic Diocese convinced him to stop and go on struggling in solidarity with the other activists. Sung-Hee Choi, who was arrested on 19 May for holding a sign that read “Do not touch any stone or flower,” went on hunger strike until Yang was released from jail on 1 June. She will go on trial on 10 June.
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) expresses solidarity with the people of Ganjeong in their struggle to stop the construction of the naval base and demands the immediate cessation of construction of this base.Military bases are a visible structure of militarism and imperialism; they waste economic resources of the “home” country and destroy environmental, social, political, and financial resources of the “host” country; and they undermine the lives and livelihoods of local people. They also undermine more constructive forms international cooperation and engagement and perpetuate militarism and military spending.
WILPF calls upon members in all of its National Sections to contact the Korean Defence Attaché assigned to Washington, DC firstname.lastname@example.org, the South Korean Embassy in Washington at +1.202.939.5600, or the South Korean embassy in one’s own country.
WILPF also encourages its members to follow developments on the island through the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space blog and the Save Prof Yang and Sung Hee-Choi of Jeju Island Facebook page and to support the trip of Global Network board member MacGregor Eddy to Jeju Island to bring international messages of solidarity to the people of Gangjeong village. MacGregor Eddy (who is also a WILPF member) from Salinas, California has been a leader in the international effort to build support for the people on Jeju Island. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to the Global Network to help fund her trip.
Update: The people of Jeju Island have requested that their international supporters please contact Greenpeace and other environmental organizations to raise this issue with them and encourage them to bring attention to the matter.
Also see this statement from a network of 34 Korean women’s groups “who have come together in agreement to work with the people of Jeju Island to create peace.”
Joint position paper on revitalizing multilateral disarmament negotiations
Reaching Critical Will and the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy have drafted a joint position paper on the revitalization of multilateral disarmament negotiations, aiming to provide input to discussions on the Conference on Disarmament regarding next steps for resuming substantive work. The paper makes the following recommendations:
This paper calls on the UN General Assembly to establish open-ended working groups on nuclear disarmament and prevention of an arms race in outer space.
The open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament would have three main committees: a framework convention on nuclear disarmament; a fissile materials treaty or protocol; and negative security assurances and the prohibition of use of nuclear weapons.
An open-ended working group would also be established on preventing an arms race in outer space.
A fissile materials treaty or protocol should be negotiated within a framework for nuclear disarmament. It should not be treated as a step to be completed before negotiations on elimination of nuclear forces are commenced. The policy of sequentialism, which has not proved to be an efficient way to achieve nuclear disarmament, must be abandoned, and a policy of integration and parallelism adopted.
The General Assembly could stipulate the rules of procedure for the open-ended working groups in a resolution, as it did with the arms trade treaty resolution establishing a negotiating conference, or the committees could establish their own rules. We suggest following the General Assembly's rule that decisions are taken by a two-thirds majority, or the rules for negotiating the cluster munitions convention, that consensus is pursued but voting is permitted if "all feasible efforts to reach general agreement have failed."
We emphasize the importance of an integrated approach as alternative to the ineffectual sequencing that has not worked for disarmament. The goal is nuclear disarmament; the “core issues” that the CD is looking at are components of disarmament but must be embedded in an explicit disarmament context in order to be effective.
The full text of the paper is available online.
Next NPT PrepCom: Vienna 2012
The first Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will be held in Vienna, Austria from 30 April to 11 May 2012. As always, Reaching Critical Will is your resource for all things NPT: primary documentation, NGO access and facilitation, reporting and analysis, and much more.
Stay tuned with the RCW E-News for upcoming details and announcements regarding civil society presentations, an NGO orientation, accreditation and registration, and more.
Global Network 29th Annual Space Organizing Conference
17–19 June 2011 | Andover, Massachusetts, USA
2011 marks the 19th anniversary of Global Network’s organizing efforts to build an international constituency to Keep Space for Peace. Each year we gather to share the latest international developments on Pentagon and aerospace industry plans for the militarization of space. We approach this conference with clarity that U.S. “missile defense” programs are actually key elements in overall Pentagon first-strike planning. The Raytheon Company, which had 2009 sales of $25 billion, 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. Get the full conference program, schedule, and registration brochure at http://www.space4peace.org/
Nuclear Abolition Day
25 June 2011 | Global
On 25 June thousands of people around the world will take part in coordinated actions for a treaty banning all nuclear weapons. The leaders of the five nuclear weapon states – the US, Russia, Britain, France and China – are meeting in Paris a few days later, and we must send a loud and clear message to them and to other government leaders: Now is the time to begin negotiations on a nuclear abolition treaty. ICAN has developed a website where you can register your actions. It also offers a number of action ideas, some taking as little as 10 minutes. Even if you’re short of time, there’s no reason why you can’t take part! Seehttp://www.nuclearabolition.org/ for details.
Third Preparatory Committee for the Arms Trade Treaty
11–15 July 2011 | New York
The third session of the Preparatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT PrepCom) will take place in New York from 11 to 15 July 2011. This session will build on the work undertaken during the second session, which was held in March 2011. The purpose of the PrepCom is to make recommendations on the elements that would be needed to attain an effective and balanced legally-binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms. The ATT is to be negotiated in July 2012. Keep up with the NGO blog and daily PDF monitor.
Judge dismisses lawsuit against construction of new plutonium pit facility in New Mexico
On 23 May 2011, U.S. District Judge Judith Herrera dismissed the lawsuit (pdf) brought last August by the Los Alamos Study Group (LASG), an Albuquerque-based nonprofit, against the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Department of Energy (DOE) over these agencies' evolving Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF), a $6 billion plutonium complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The lawsuit (the entire docket is available here) was brought under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and related law. The lawsuit sought to compel NNSA and DOE to pause design and construction of the massive project to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) that examined alternatives to the project, which is much bigger, with far greater environmental impact, than when it was originally proposed and analyzed under NEPA in 2003. “We believe our arguments were sound and remain sound, factually and legally. We are studying the judge's opinion closely and will decide our legal course of action over the next few days,” said Study Group Director Greg Mello. “It is never legal for a federal agency to decide to implement a project with significant environmental impact without an applicable, objective EIS, and that is what is happening here.” He added, “This decision, while disappointing, will not stop our opposition to this highly destructive project. It's a speed bump. If NNSA thinks they are in the clear now, they are wrong. This ruling doesn't change the facts on the ground -- the high seismicity, the cramped site and poor geology, the lack of need, the lack of money, and the basic horror and immorality of the mission. All of these are unfavorable to this project.” (Source: Los Alamos Study Group Press Release, 23 May 2011)
The House Appropriations Committee slashes $100 million from proposed plutonium facility at Los Alamos
The cut represents about 37 percent from the project. The Committee also called for a delay in the construction planned on the facility for the duration of the coming fiscal year, i.e. until at least 1 October 2012. In his opening remarks Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Freylinghuysen (R-NJ) said the proposed bill would cut out from the Administration’s request for nuclear warheads
…hundreds of millions of dollars for construction projects that are not ready to move forward, capabilities that are secondary to the primary mission of keeping our stockpile ready, and yes, slush funds that the Administration has historically used to address its needs. The recommendation before you eliminates these weaknesses and it is responsible.
The bill must now be passed by the House as a whole and sent to the Senate for consideration. Los Alamos Study Group Director Greg Mello noted, “While not yet law, the endorsement of this deep cut and the associated delay of at least one year in the project by the powerful House Appropriations Committee is yet another indication that Congress doubts the wisdom of proceeding with this project at this time.” (Source: Los Alamos Study Group Press Release, 15 June 2011)
US bomb to get an upgrade that increases its targeting capability; German officials split over upgrade
Germany’s governing political factions are split over US plans to update B-61 nuclear gravity bombs deployed in Germany via NATO. The weapon is slated to enter detailed design refinement in 2012 and full manufacturing in 2017. Germany’s Büchel Air Base is thought to host between 10 and 20 of B-61 Mod 4 bombs. (Source: “Division Seen in Germany over U.S. Tactical Nuke Updates,” Global Security Newswire, 3 June 2011)
Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists argues that the modified bomb will have improved military capabilities compared with older weapons and increase the targeting capability of NATO’s nuclear arsenal:
The B61-12, the product of a planned 30-year life extension and consolidation of four existing versions of the B61 into one, will be equipped with a new guidance system to increase its accuracy.As a result, if funded by Congress, the U.S. non-strategic nuclear bombs currently deployed in five European countries will return to Europe as a life-extended version in 2018 with a significantly enhanced capability to knock out military targets.Add to that the stealthy capability of the new F-35 aircraft being built to deliver the new weapon, and NATO is up for a significant nuclear upgrade.The upgrade would also improve the capability of U.S. strategic bombers to destroy targets with lower yield and less radioactive fallout, a scenario that resembles the controversial PLYWD precision low-yield nuclear weapon proposal from the 1990s.Finally, the B61-12 will mark the end of designated non-strategic nuclear warheads in the U.S. nuclear stockpile, essentially making concern over “disparity” with Russian non-strategic weapons a non-issue. (Source: Hans M. Kristensen, “B61 LEP: Increasing NATO Nuclear Capability and Precision Low-Yield Strikes,” FAS Strategic Security Blog, 15 June 2011)
US military lays out plan for new nuclear bomber
The U.S. Defense Department in a new acquisition document laid out preliminary plans to develop a fleet of next-generation nuclear bombers capable of carrying out long-range missions with or without onboard pilots. (Source: Diane Barnes, “Pentagon Details Plan for New Nuclear Bomber,” Global Security Newswire, 1 June 2011)
Switzerland and Germany decide to phase-out nuclear power
On 25 May, the Swiss government decided to abandon plans to build new nuclear reactors. Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard had suspended the approvals process for three new reactors, pending a safety review, after the accident that struck the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11. Days after an anti-nuclear rally in Switzerland drew a large crowd of 20,000 people, the Cabinet said it had decided to make the ban permanent. The country’s five existing reactors—which supply about 40 percent of the country’s power—would be allowed to continue operating, but would not be replaced at the end of their life span, it said. The last would go offline in 2034. (Source: James Kanter, “Switzerland Decides on Nuclear Phase-Out,” New York Times, 25 May 2011)
In addition, Germany's coalition government has announced a reversal of policy that will see all the country's nuclear power plants phased out by 2022. Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen said the seven oldest reactors - which were taken offline for a safety review immediately after the Japanese crisis - would never be used again. An eighth plant - the Kruemmel facility in northern Germany, which was already offline and has been plagued by technical problems, would also be shut down for good.
Six others would go offline by 2021 at the latest and the three newest by 2022, he said. (Source: “Germany: Nuclear power plants to close by 2022,” BBC News, 30 May 2011)
Eight governments speak out against nuclear power
Austria, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, and Portugal released a joint declaration arguing that the risks of nuclear power outweigh any potential development and calling for the development of sustainable energy.
95% of Italian voters rejected Berlusconi’s plan for a return to nuclear power generation
Acknowledging defeat even before the polls closed, Berlusconi said, “We shall probably have to say goodbye to nuclear [energy].” He told a press conference in Rome that his government would now throw all its energy into developing renewable sources. Italy abandoned its nuclear programme following a similar referendum in 1987. The government of the day opted to phase out all the country’s existing plants. The last one shut down in 1990. Berlusconi had planned to generate a quarter of Italy’s electricity with French-built nuclear plants. Construction of the first was due to start between 2013 and 2015. Vittorio Cogliati Dezza, president of the environmental organisation Legambiente, said,
“The era of nuclear [energy] is coming to an end today. Definitively. A new season of development for the country is beginning.” (Source: John Hooper, “Berlusconi’s nuclear power plans crushed,” The Guardian, 13 June 2011)
WILPF UK Statement on Liam Fox’s approval for work to start on Trident replacement, 24 May 2011
Vandana Shiva, “Nuclear insanity,” Deccan Chronicle, 25 May 2011
Tim Wright, “Our Nuclear Sovereign Wealth,” newmatilda.com, 1 June 2011
Bruce Blair, “World Nuke Spending to Top $1 Trillion Per Decade,” Time, 4 June 2011
Haruki Murakami, Catalunya International Prize speech, 10 June 2011
Senator Scott Ludlam, “Fukushima 3 Months On—Still a Matter of Public Importance