News Release

As Anti Nuclear Weapons Activists Released, 91 Nations Pressing Abolition

nuclear siteThe program “Democracy Now” reports today: “Three peace activists who infiltrated a nuclear weapons site have been freed from prison after their convictions were overturned. In 2012, the self-described Transform Now Plowshares broke into the Y-12 nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Known as the ‘Fort Knox of Uranium,’ the complex holds enough uranium to make 10,000 nuclear bombs.” See the program’s interview with two of the activists here.

Talks are now going on at the United Nations on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

GREG MELLO, gmello at lasg.org, @TrishABQ
Mello is executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group and is a leading expert on nuclear weapons. He said today: “This was an impactful, brave action that resonates across the political spectrum in different ways.” See Mello’s “Forget the Rest” blog.

ALICE SLATER,  aslater at rcn.com
Slater is with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the Abolition 2000 coordinating committee. She said today: “The bravery of Plowshares activists, risking their freedom to bring public attention to the need to finally get rid of the massive U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons, is a cause to reflect on the current UN meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This 45-year-old treaty, which since 1995 reviews the progress of the nuclear weapons states every five years to ‘pursue negotiation in good faith’ for nuclear disarmament will end its four week session this Friday and the nuclear powers are continuing to object to any meaningful progress to eliminate their nuclear weapons.”

“In the past two years however, there has been a series of conferences in Norway, Mexico, and Australia, supported by the vibrant new grassroots International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to make known the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. At last December’s Vienna meeting, the Austrian government pledged to work for nuclear disarmament and to ‘fill the legal gap’ that would specifically ban the use or possession of nuclear weapons. There’s no doubt that the ICAN campaign and the humanitarian initiative which started in Norway, and then went on to Mexico and Austria has shaken things up at the NPT. There’s a new impatience with the nuclear weapons states’ commitment to a ‘step by step’ approach to nuclear disarmament on a never ending treadmill stairway that leads nowhere. Indeed the U.S. announcement of its intention to spend one trillion over the next THIRTY years for new bomb factories in Kansas City and Oak Ridge, delivery systems and nuclear bombs is obscene and indicates a total lack of good faith to honor its NPT promise for nuclear disarmament. Other nuclear weapons states are also ‘modernizing’ their arsenals.

“That’s why the Austrian initiative to gather nations on a pledge ‘to fill the legal gap’ and let the non-nuclear weapons states take the lead in banning the bomb is so promising. As of today, thanks to campaigners all over the world and at the NPT in New York, 91 countries have signed the Austrian pledge with one more week to go until the NPT ends this Friday. Yesterday, the Austrian Ambassador announced that since so many countries are joining in, it will be now known as the Humanitarian Pledge as it has grown beyond a mere Austrian initiative; see: www.icanw.org/pledge. The next big gathering will be the 70th Anniversary of the catastrophic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this in Japan.”

“See the extraordinary speech given by South Africa this week [], calling the nuclear weapons states to account for holding the world hostage for their ‘security’ that selfishly serves to put everyone else on the planet as well as all life on earth itself, at risk of nuclear catastrophe.”

Slater also noted a recent story from WikiLeaks: “Trident whistleblower: nuclear ‘disaster waiting to happen’.” See also in the Guardian: “Fallon urged to act on whistleblower’s claims about Trident nuclear subs.”

Background: The U.S. obligation to disarm under the NPT has been acknowledged by former Secretary of Defense McNamara (the U.S. signed the treaty during the Johnson administration, in which McNamara served). In 2005, he told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “The NPT was signed by a president. It was submitted to the Senate; it was ratified by the Senate. It is today the law of the land. The U.S. government is not adhering to Article VI of the NPT and we show no signs of planning to adhere to its requirements to move forward with the elimination — not reduction, but elimination — of nuclear weapons. That was the agreement, these other countries would not develop nuclear weapons and the nuclear powers would move to elimination. We are violating that.” In 2009, McNamara wrote the piece “Apocalypse Soon.”