Sunday, November 3, 2013

Grassroots Pressure Builds on Nuclear Dependent States to Come Out from Under Their Nuclear Umbrella and Take a Stand to Ban the Bomb 

Steve Leeps, former Chair of the Hiroshima Peace Foundation and organizer of Mayors for Peace, wrote a great article on recent developments in Japan, where citizen pressure caused Japan to  sign on to a statement at the UN General Assembly emphasizing the catastrophic consequences of nuclear war and stating that nuclear weapons should not be used under “any circumstances”.   This past summer in Geneva, Japan, sheltering under the US promise to use nuclear weapons on its behalf in retaliation for any attack it might suffer, refused to sign a similar statement and caught tremendous disapproval from citizens active in the new International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons working to ban nuclear weapons, just as the world has banned chemical and biological weapons.  Steve posted his article to an expert group of US campaigners against nuclear power  
One campaigner asked: “Does Japan have any nuclear weapons?  I thought they did not.”  I replied as follows: 

The short answer, is no, they don’t have nuclear weapons, but they are part of a nuclear mafia that shelters behind the US nuclear “umbrella” pledged to be used on their behalf should their enemies fail to be “deterred”.  Additionally, since every nuclear reactor has the capacity to manufacture nuclear bomb material, Japan has all the technology it needs to swiftly assemble nuclear bombs of its own, having enriched uranium to weapons grade, as has Brazil and others, the very thing we are threatening to go to war over with Iran.  In other words, it’s OK for Japan, but not for Iran because Japan is part of our alliance.   Indeed we actually park a few hundred nuclear weapons on the territory of our NATO allies, including Germany, Netherlands, Turkey, Italy, and Belgium!!  

And this despite our promise in the Non-Proliferation Treaty as one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states (UK, France, China, Russia) not to share nuclear weapons. The NPT is a flawed Faustian bargain in which the five nuclear weapons states promised to give up their nuclear weapons in return for a promise from all the other countries in the world not to get them.   To sweeten the pot, the non-nuclear weapons states were promised an “inalienable right”, to “peaceful“nuclear power thus giving them the keys to the bomb factory.  Only India, Pakistan and Israel refused to sign and they got their own nuclear arsenals.  North Korea availed itself of its right and then walked out of the treaty to build a bomb.  This is the right Iran is lawfully asserting.

For years, those of us battling nuclear power, and those of us working to ban the bomb, have operated in separate spheres.  This was the result of a deliberate policy by the US after the horrendous revulsion at what occurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to make the atom more acceptable to people.  Hence, President Eisenhower, seeking to counter public revulsion at the normalization of nuclear war in US military policy, was advised by the Defense Department’s Psychological Strategy Board that “the atomic bomb will be accepted far more readily if at the same time atomic energy is being used for constructive ends.” Thus his Atoms for Peace speech at the UN in 1953, in which he promised that the US would devote “its entire heart and mind to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life” by spreading the peaceful benefits of atomic power across the globe.   The benefits of nuclear power were aggressively marketed as miraculous technology that would power vehicles, light cities, heal the sick.  The US made agreements with 37 nations to build atomic reactors and enticed reluctant Westinghouse and General Electric to do so by passing the Price Anderson act limiting their liability at tax-payer expense.   

The fallout from the 1954 Bravo test of a hydrogen bomb contaminating 236 Marshall Islanders and 23 Japanese fisherman aboard the Lucky Dragon and irradiating tuna sold in Japan resulted in an eruption of rage against the atomic bombings which were forbidden to be discussed after 1945 by a ban instituted by US occupation authorities.  For damage control, the US NSC recommended that the US wage a “vigorous offensive on the non-war uses of atomic energy,” offering to build Japan an experimental nuclear reactor and recruiting a former Japanese war criminal, Shoriki Matsutaro, who ran the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and Nippon TV network to shill for nuclear power by getting him released from prison without trial. 

And now we’re reaping the whirlwind with Fukushima.   

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, does global monitoring for radiation releases, to make sure no one is cheating on promises to stop full-blown underground tests (not to be confused with sub-critical tests, 26 since the 1992 treaty was signed, where the US blows up plutonium with chemicals at the Nevada Test site on Western Shoshone land, claiming that since there’s no chain reactions they’re not really tests!?).  The CTBTO originally reported some of the fallout from Fukushima but now all reports are going to the industry-corrupted IAEA and the WHO and to governments.   We need a FOIA to find out where the fallout is going.   See 

This has been a long answer to a short question about Japan’s nuclear status, but y’all know more about nuclear power than anyone else in the US and it’s important that you know about its evil twin, the nuclear bomb.  The Abolition 2000 Network, working for a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons recognized the “inextricable link” between nuclear weapons and nuclear power in 1995 when we were founded.   See  The ICAN campaign that Steve Leeps referred to is a new and exciting development to get a simple treaty saying that possession, use, manufacture of nuclear weapons is illegal and should be banned, just as we have banned chemical and biological weapons.   A legal ban treaty would have the advantage of not needing the recalcitrant nuclear weapons states to negotiate it.  Those negotiations would come afterwards for a treaty to actually eliminate them.   In the meantime, we are shaming non-nuclear weapons states to take a less hypocritical honest position, and to stop hiding behind the nuclear umbrella. Since the fall UN meeting, questions have been raised in Germany and Italy as well, nations which actually house and shelter US nuclear bombs on their territory as part of NATO’s unlawful nuclear sharing program.  See