July 2013 E-News
Last week was Nuclear Abolition Week, during which campaigners around the world raised awareness about the devastating effects of nuclear weapons and urged their governments to outlaw and eliminate these weapons once and for all. Campaigners also “shared their shadows” in solidarity with the victims of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
At the same time, the US House and Senate were considering nuclear weapons funding for 2014. The millions of dollars that will be wasted next year on nuclear weapons represent squandered resources and missed opportunities. Part of the message resounding clearly from those participating in Nuclear Abolition Week is that the time for investment and modernization in nuclear weapons is over and the time for ridding the earth of these weapons of terror is now.
Ray Acheson, RCW Director
- Ban Nuclear Weapons Now
- Attend the high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament
- Kiruna conference highlights High North militarization
- Reactions to Obama’s Berlin speech
- Actions in support of the Arms Trade Treaty
- Explosive weapons highlighted at Security Council debate on children and armed conflict
- International Peace Declaration for the Korean peninsula
- Feminist reflections on the UN post-2015 development agenda
- Upcoming Events
- Featured News
- Recommended Reading
ICAN has released a new publication making the case for a treaty banning nuclear weapons, Ban Nuclear Weapons Now (pdf). Banning nuclear weapons would not only make it illegal for states to use or possess nuclear weapons; it would also help achieve their complete elimination.
On 26 September 2013, the UN General Assembly will host a high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament. Non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will be able to attend the high-level meeting. Each ECOSOC-accredited organization can nominate up to three representatives to attend the meeting. Please note that seating capacity will be very limited. The deadline for online pre-registration is 26 July 2013. Please pre-register through CSO Net.
From 28–30 June 2013, civil society from a number of Scandinavian, European, Asian and Latin American countries, Russia, and the United States attended the International Conference on the High North and International Security in Kiruna, Sweden. Conference participants agreed to an outcome statement expressing concern that that the High North is being used by an expanding NATO as a military practice ground in which to rehearse future war fighting strategies and to test and develop new killing technologies. WILPF International issued a statement of solidarity to be delivered at the meeting:
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is pleased that the 21st annual meeting of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space is being held in Kiruna, Sweden in order to highlight the militarization of the High North. WILPF members from Norway and Sweden are participating in the conference. WILPF’s International Secretariat strongly supports the conference and its participants in their work to publicize and eliminate the infrastructure for missile defence, military satellites, and test drones in the region, as well as NATO military exercises and advanced weapons testing. The High North should be a region of peace, not war.
US President Obama’s speech in Berlin on 19 June 2013 indicated his readiness to pursue further reductions of the deployed US nuclear arsenal in tandem with Russia. While intentions of pursuing further reductions are welcome, his plan for achieving these reductions is unclear, especially since the Russian government has declared it will not participate in further nuclear reductions if the United States continues to pursue a missile defence system with NATO. Furthermore, the announced goal of reducing the US and Russian deployed nuclear arsenals by 1/3 does not go far enough. Following a series of positive initiatives highlighting mounting concerns over the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, the Berlin speech should have responded better to the international desire to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
Reaching Critical Will/WILPF, and other organizations are preparing now for how to monitor and support the effective implementation of and compliance with the ATT once the treaty enters into force. In the meantime, the Control Arms Coalition has prepared a set of easy actions to take over the next few months:
- If your government is one of the 79 signers, then send them a letter congratulating them and asking them to ratify as soon as possible. Offer to meet to discuss the ratification process, and any help that can be offered from Control Arms and ATT Legal.
- If your government has not yet signed but voted yes to adopt the treaty write to them requesting that they sign at the High Level Treaty event in September 2013 in New York.
- If your country abstained or did not vote, they can still sign the treaty. Try to arrange a meeting with them to discuss this, and contact the Control Arms Secretariat for lobby points for abstaining governments.
- If your government tells you when they will be signing, please let the Control Arms Secretariat know as soon as possible by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On 17 June 2013, UNICEF, Save the Children, and several governments highlighted the use of explosive weapons in populated areas as a key area of concern during the United Nations Security Council open debate on children and armed conflict. As noted by the International Network on Explosive Weapons, of which WILPF is a member, “The use of explosive weapons in populated areas has been raised consistently as a key concern for the protection of children in armed conflict. The UN Secretary-General and the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict have raised the issue, calling on parties to refrain from using explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas and for systematic data collection on the use and impact of explosive weapons and analysis of the human cost.”
Instability has characterized the Korean peninsula for the past 60 years. Six decades have passed since the armistice of the Korean War and yet the level of military tension is higher than ever. This is why WILPF has endorsed the International Peace Declaration, which states that:
- Peace negotiations between North Korea and the US must start at once and a Peace Agreement signed to realize full and complete peace in the Korean Peninsula.
- All relevant countries must stop military exercises and shows of force that damage Northeast Asia’s Peace and Cooperation and must lead efforts to establish a peace and cooperation regime.
- South and North Korea must fully implement the agreed upon and widely supported by international society South-North Korea Joint Declaration!”
In May 2013, a High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda launched its report (pdf). Unfortunately, the report contains many loopholes and does not meet expectations. A coalition of feminist and women’s rights organizations (including WILPF) have issued a response to the report (pdf), expressing our opinions. We argue that report emphasizes the economic value of human rights instead of highlighting their intrinsic value and makes some concerning, numerous references to the private sector’s key role in development. Furthermore, the report’s inter-linkages with women’s rights and gender equality are missing.
ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment
15–17 July 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland
Anniversary of the first US nuclear weapons test
16 July 2013
Conference on Disarmament 2013, Part Three
29 July–13 September 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland
Anniversary of the US bombing of Hiroshima
6 August 2013
Anniversary of the US bombing of Nagasaki
9 August 2013
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention Meeting of Experts
12–16 August 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland
Open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament
19–30 August 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland
International Day against Nuclear Tests
29 August 2013
US President Obama makes speech in Berlin about “reductions” that won’t affect the arsenal
As Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists argues, “The envisioned one-third reduction of deployed strategic warheads will not in and of itself destroy a single nuclear warhead or reduce the size of the bloated U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals.” Furthermore, “these decisions will likely be used to justify expensive modernizations of nuclear forces and upgrades to nuclear warheads that will prompt many to ask what has actually changed.”
Obama administration releases a $275 billion 25-year plan for nuclear weapons
Roughly contemporaneous with President Obama’s speech in Berlin expressing aspirations to nuclear disarmament, the administration released a $275 billion (B), 25-year plan (pdf) to maintain, design, and produce new nuclear warheads and build up U.S. warhead production capacity. The Los Alamos Study Group notes, “In its proposed cost and scope of work, this week’s plan eclipses all prior planning for U.S. nuclear warheads.”
Funds or B61 modernization debated by Senate and House
On 28 June, the US Senate Appropriations Committee approved $369 million for the B61 nuclear bomb life-extension work at Sandia and Los Alamos National laboratories and elsewhere, with the potential to draw an extra $168 million if the project proves to be on time and on budget. New Mexico Democratic Senator Tom Udall threatened to vote against the entire energy and water appropriations bill if the extra $168 million was not included. Meanwhile, the US House rejected an attempt to scale back spending on B61 bombs maintained at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories, setting up a possible spending showdown with the Senate. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., introduced an amendment that would have cut $23.7 million from the proposed $551million B61 Life Extension Program in the House Energy and Water Appropriations budget. The measure was defeated 227-196, with all three of New Mexico’s U.S. House members voting against the spending cut.
Dutch parliament asks US not to invest in B61 nuclear bombs
Representing a majority in the Dutch Parliament, Raymond Knops of the Dutch Christian Democratic Party (CDA) hand delivered a letter to the US House of Representatives requesting that the US not invest in modernization of the B-61 nuclear bombs stored in Europe.
US Conference of Mayors calls for elimination of nuclear weapons
On 24 June, the US Conference of Mayors unanimously adopted a resolution (pdf), “Calling for U.S. Leadership in Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and Redirection of Military Spending to Domestic Needs.” The USCM is the nonpartisan association of American cities with populations over 30,000 and resolutions are the official policy of the Conference.
Audit suggests an earthquake could cause collapse of US nuclear weapons lab
An audit report released by the US Department of Energy renews concerns about vulnerabilities from natural disasters at Los Alamos National Laboratory and calls attention to the possibility that the lab’s plutonium facility could collapse in a large earthquake, risking workers’ lives and threatening off-site radioactive exposures well above acceptable limits.
UK reportedly considers making Faslane nuclear base sovereign territory
The UK government is reportedly examining proposals to claim sovereignty over the military base in Scotland which houses its Trident nuclear weapons if the Scottish people vote for independence next year. The Scottish National Party (SNP) has promised to get rid of all nuclear weapons if it secures a 'yes' vote in the independence referendum which will take place in September 2014. The UK government has since disowned these reports.
Iceland becomes first country to ratify Arms Trade Treaty
On 2 July, Iceland’s Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson announced that his government had signed the ATT. In his announcement he highlighted his country’s efforts to ensure the treaty had a strong provision for preventing gender-based violence.
John Borrie and Tim Caughley, “After Oslo: Humanitarian Perspectives and the Changing Nuclear Weapons Discourse” (pdf), UNIDIR, June 2013
Yousaf Butt, “Why Russia won’t deal on NATO missile defense,” Reuters, 17 June 2013
Christoph Heyns, “Robot wars: after drones, a line we must not cross,” The Guardian, 19 June 2013
Hans Kristensen, “New Nuclear Weapons Employment Guidance Puts Obama’s Fingerprint on Nuclear Weapons Policy and Strategy,” FAS Strategic Security Blog, 20 June 2013
Peter Bradford, “Nuclear renaissance was just a fairy tale,” The Guardian, 11 July 2013
AL Kennedy, “Faslane: this was a nuclear weapon for the SNP,” The Guardian, 12 July 2013