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August 2013 E-News

August is Nuclear-Free Future Month, a time dedicated to exploring alternatives to the pursuit of security through inhumane nuclear weapons and the pursuit of energy through dangerous nuclear power. It’s also a time for preparing for the busy months ahead. September and October will be full of events and conferences focusing on disarmament and arms control issues. We will bring you full coverage of those meetings in next month’s E-News. This addition highlights some of the activities going on during July and August and provides information about some of the newest resources available from civil society on issues ranging from the arms trade treaty to killer robots.

In peace,
Ray Acheson, RCW Director

68 years after the US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

hiroshimaOn 6 and 9 August 1945, the United States dropped nuclear weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “Indiscriminately stealing the lives of innocent people, permanently altering the lives of survivors, and stalking their minds and bodies to the end of their days, the atomic bomb is the ultimate inhumane weapon and an absolute evil,” said Mayor Kazumi Matsui of Hiroshima in the 2013 Hiroshima Peace Declaration. 68 years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States, it’s time to consider new, innovative, and daring ways to change the political and economic landscape that currently protects the possession of nuclear weapons from significant challenge. It’s time to ban the bomb. Read more >>

Nuclear Abolition Week

During Nuclear Abolition Week 2013 in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, North America, and in the Pacific, ICAN campaigners organized bike trips, flag hoisting, parties, cabin trips, church services, beach days, press conferences, exhibitions, public meetings, round tables, meetings with government officials, social media outreach, film screenings, pub quizzes, and many other activities. In addition to this, more than five hundred people shared their shadows in solidarity with the victims of nuclear detonations, and several thousand signed ICAN’s online petition calling for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. ICAN staff members have compiled a report that outlines the main achievements of Nuclear Abolition Week 2013.

Nuclear-Free Future Month

During August each year, anti-nuclear campaigners around the world host events to mark Nuclear-Free Future Month. This month of action, established by United for Peace and Justice in 2006, provides an opportunity for groups opposed to nuclear weapons and nuclear power to spread their message and to stimulate recognition of the relationship between nuclear technologies and the broader crises engendered by the deepening polarization of wealth and political power and by economic growth and technology choices that are ecologically unsustainable. Check out the website for a calendar of events, resources, and more information.

CTBT Article XIV Conference

On 27 September 2013, the Conference on Facilitating the Entry-Into-Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (aka Article XIV Conference) will be held at the UN in New York. NGO participants wishing to attend must submit an online request for accreditation following the information available in the information note.

TEDx Talk on killer robots

In July 2013, a representative of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots gave a TEDx Talk on fully autonomous weapons. Dr. Noel Sharkey is a Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at the University of Sheffield and Chairman of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. In this talk he highlights the ongoing development of autonomous weapons and the threats such weapons pose to civilians and international law.

ATT parliamentary handbook

Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) has published a Parliamentary Handbook on the Arms Trade Treaty. Available in English, Spanish, French, and Russian, the handbook seeks to highlight the many different and important ways in which parliamentarians can help achieve universality and implementation of the ATT.

International Conference on Gandhi, Disarmament, and Development

From 4-6 October 2013, an International Conference on Gandhi, Disarmament, and Development will be held in Indore, India. The conference will feature discussions on the relevance of Gandhi in the 21st century; people-oriented development versus corporate-oriented development; abolition of nuclear weapons and the prevention of an arms race in outer space; the abolition of global military bases and reduction of military expenditure; and an Asian Union for Peace and Progress. If you are interested in attending the conference, please write to Jammu Narayana Rao at jnrao36[at]rediffmail.com or jnrao193636[at]gmail.com.

WILPF in the World: Men, peace, and security

In July, WILPF’s PeaceWomen programme hosted an event at the UN on Men, Peace and Security: Engaging Men and Boys to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence and Violence Against Women. The event, co-hosted by the Mission of Liechtenstein and Princeton University, looked at how to engage men and boys to create gender justice, peace, and freedom. It featured Gary Barker, International Director of the civil society organization Promundo, who highlighted how engaging men and boys to promote gender equality and eliminate gender-based violence must be in partnership with women and girl empowerment. Read more >> | Webcast >>

Upcoming Events

Nuclear Free Future Month
1–31 August 2013 | Global

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

IAEA Board of Governors
9 September 2013 | Vienna, Austria

Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties
10–13 September 2013 | Lusaka, Zambia

Featured News

The UK government releases Trident Alternatives Review that does not consider disarmament

The report (pdf) only considers alternative ways to maintain nuclear weapons and does not challenge the UK’s possession of these weapons or the concept of nuclear “deterrence”. Article 36 describes the report as “bizarrely insular” and argues that the report dismisses the UK’s obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as irrelevant to Trident renewal. It suggests that “the UK’s fellow NPT states parties will not take much confidence from this report that the UK is serious about these disarmament commitments.” The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament released its own report, The Real Alternative, which advocates for the scrapping of Trident altogether.

Daniel Ellsberg among 31 arrested at Livermore lab during Hiroshima Day protests

Protestors laid down in front of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s west gate, where they were outlined in chalk to symbolize the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ellsberg and others were arrested for blocking the gate and released. “It’s hard for me to believe that the crime (of bombing Hiroshima) will not be repeated,” Ellsberg said prior to his arrest. “We shouldn’t be letting it go on without our protests. This won't happen without it being over our bodies.”

The UK government has approved more than 3,000 export licences for military sales to countries which it believes have questionable records on human rights

The House of Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls says the value of the existing export licences to the 27 countries in question exceeds £12bn. UK civil society group Article 36 demanded that the UK government urgently explain these licencing decisions, noting that this revelation comes one month after Foreign Minister Alistair Burt signed the Arms Trade Treaty designed to stop the transfer of arms where they are likely to be used for serious human rights abuses.

Fukushima nuclear plant leaking radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean

Officials with Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority revealed that the plant has likely been leaking the radioactive water into the ocean since the March 2011 disaster. Authority head Shunichi Tanaka told reporters neither his staff nor the plant’s operator knew exactly where the leaks were coming from, or how to stop them. A government official later noted that some 300 tons, or about 75,000 gallons, of contaminated groundwater is now believed to be flowing daily into the harbor at the Fukushima plant.

Koodankulam nuclear reactor in Tamil Nadu reaches criticality, violating a Supreme Court order

On 16 July, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited announced that the first Kudankulam nuclear reactor had attained criticality, or the beginning of a fission chain reaction. The Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace argued that this violated the spirit of the Supreme Court’s order from 6 May, which required the plant operators file a report with the Court about safety and environmental issues before the plant was commissioned.

Indian People’s Charter on Nuclear Energy is adopted

The People’s National Convention Against Nuclear Energy held in Ahmedabad from 25-26 July 2013 adopted a Charter demanding a moratorium on all proposed nuclear reactor projects and an open and democratic debate on alternatives.

Recommended Reading

The Real Alternative: What the government’s Trident Alternative Review isn’t telling you, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, July 2013

Mia Gandenberger, “Trinity and the need to remember humanity,” Los Alamos Monitor, 18 July 2013

Liv Torres and Philip Jennings, “‘Ban the Bomb’ Resonates Anew,” Huffington Post, 18 July 2013

Yousaf Butt, “Nonproliferation Misinterpretation,” The National Interest, 26 July 2013

Hiroshima Peace Declaration, 6 August 2013