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Russia, Ukraine, and Nuclear Weapons

Monday, 7 March 2022

This opinion piece by by Thomas Graham and Bernard Norlain provides insight to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In a historic moment, the West cannot look away from Ukraine

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

This is a crisis entirely manufactured by President Putin; Ukraine has never been a military threat to Russia. Putin wants to reestablish the Soviet Union and in the process drive the United States out of Europe. Russia would then be the dominant power in Europe. Most of all he wants Ukraine, the jewel in the crown of the Russian/Soviet empire. He wants to use the rejection of his demands as an excuse to attack Ukraine in violation of Russia’s legal obligations under the Budapest Memorandum which, contrary to what Putin has said, is not null and void. If it were, Russia would in theory be obligated to return the nuclear weapons to Ukraine. 

As Putin Lines Ukraine Border with Russian Troops, Is There a China Factor?

Monday, 24 January 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s months-long troop buildup near the Ukrainian border may be coming to a head, with new reports almost daily of additional military assets mobilized, including most recently to the north in Belarus and to the south in the Black Sea. While Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, deny plans for a new invasion of Ukraine, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after meeting with him in Geneva last week that the two had agreed to keep talking, the situation has the appearance of an imminent invasion force ready to act, regardless of what the United States and its European allies do. 

Joint Statement from Civil Society to the States Parties of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty  

Monday, 10 January 2022

The 50th-anniversary review conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT)  prompted global NGOs to call on members of the treaty to meet their obligations. Rising risks, arms racing, demand bolder leadership their message said. Now is not the time to claim the ‘environment’ isn’t right for disarmament. The time to act is now.

The Hill: President Biden should pledge never to use nuclear weapons first

Monday, 3 January 2022

This opinion piece by Voices own, Jonathan Granoff and Thomas Graham Jr., states that President Biden can make the world a dramatically safer place by declaring that it is now the policy of the United States never to use nuclear weapons first.

Spend on education, not weapons, pope says in annual peace message

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Nations should divert money spent on armaments to invest in education, Pope Francis says in a yearly peace message, decrying growing military costs at the expense of social services.

Cision PR News: Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons Takes a New Approach With Informative Videos for Children and Young Adults

Monday, 1 November 2021

Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons, a Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative, recently launched three nuclear disarmament videos for children and young adults. They are inviting educational institutions, religious communities, nuclear disarmament groups, and other grassroots organizations to post these videos on their websites and social media platforms.

Four senators ask Biden to clear Oppenheimer’s name

Monday, 28 June 2021

J. Robert Oppenheimer led the Manhattan Project, and was awarded the highest civilian honor for his contributions to the war efforts. Later, he came to regret his actions and took a stand for international controls on the atomic bomb. Click on the above link from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to learn what happened, and why four US Senators are demanding President Biden clear Oppenheimer’s name.

Can Biden and Putin Ease Nuclear Dangers like Reagan and Gorbachev?

Thursday 24 June 2021

Can Biden and Putin ease nuclear dangers like Reagan and Gorbachev achieved at the 1986 Reykjavik Summit? Click on the link above to find out more from Voices Founding Member Jonathan Granoff in Newsweek, following the recent Geneva Summit with both world leaders once again affirming that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’.

'I've never regretted doing it': Daniel Ellsberg on 50 years since leaking the Pentagon Papers

Sunday, 13 June 2021

This interview conducted by David Smith is with a man who exposed US lies about the Vietnam war. Ellsberg says the culture of official secrecy is worse today. But he urges whistleblowers: ‘Don’t wait years till the bombs are falling and people have been dying.' Read more in this Guardian article.  

 N-arms spending swelled by $1.4bn amid pandemic: report  

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

In a fresh report, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) detailed how the world’s nine nuclear-armed states continued to swell their spending on nuclear weapons.

"Approaching Human Security" by Jonathan Granoff

Saturday, 03 April 2021

This article by Voices Founding Member Jonathan Granoff was originally published in the Cadmus Journal. It outlines the centrality of Human Security in the modern security paradigm, and why the safety of people must be placed at the core of our decisions and choices for the future. This of course includes nuclear security and climate security, among other man-made and existential threats being faced by humankind today.

Report: Nuclear Responsibilities – A New Approach for Thinking & Talking about Nuclear Weapons

Sunday, 01 November 2020

by Co-Authors: Sebastian Brixey-Williams and Nicholas J. Wheeler

 

In this cutting-edge report by the British American Security Information Council, a "trust" and "responsibilities" based approach to nuclear policy and negotiations is advocated. "This report makes the case for a new way of thinking and talking about nuclear weapons: the nuclear responsibilities approach. We seek to suggest ways, and crucially propose a new method, to gradually shift the nature of the contemporary global conversation on nuclear weapons away from one characterized by rights, blame, and suspicion towards one framed by responsibility, empathic cooperation, and even trust." 

DISARMAMENT DIGEST

Monday, 17 February 2020

Nuclear: Jens Stoltenberg dismisses French president’s call for ‘strategic’ nuclear dialogue

The head of NATO on Saturday dismissed President Emmanuel Macron’s call for a European “strategic dialogue” about the role of France’s nuclear weapons, saying a “tried and tested” deterrent was already in place. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that thanks to the US and Britain’s atomic weapons, Europe was already protected by a long-standing and effective nuclear umbrella. While a NATO member, France does not make its atomic weapons available to the alliance, but in a major speech last week Macron called for dialogue among EU countries about what role the French nuclear deterrent could play. Stoltenberg, who last year clashed with Macron over the French leader’s claims NATO was suffering “brain death” in its geopolitical thinking, gave his latest suggestion a frosty reception (South China Morning Post).

Missiles: U.S. Military confirms that hypersonic missile can carry nuclear warhead

American military leaders officially confirmed that a revolutionary hypersonic missiles may be equipped with a nuclear warhead. In today’s Armed Services hearing, Senator King asked U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) head Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy and Strategic Command head Adm. Charles Richar “Can hypersonics be nuclearized?” Senator King was concerned that some of hypersonic research should be going into defense because right now hypersonics are really a nightmare weapon, for an aircraft carrier, for all kinds of targets. He also asked heads of Northcom and Stratcom “Can hypersonics be nuclearized? Can a hypersonic missile carry a nuclear warhead?” The answer was harrowing: “Absolutely yes,” leading King to respond, “So is this really triad 2.0? Because this is different – it’s not a ballistic missile, it’s not a submarine, it’s not aircraft, or it could be, yes all three of those. Clearly we need to think about hypersonics in terms of the triad, in terms of our strategic deterrence.” 

Cyber Security: US President Donald Trump warns Germany Huawei 5G deals will put intelligence sharing at risk

President Donald Trump warned Germany that the United States will cut off intelligence sharing if Berlin does not ban Chinese telecoms company Huawei Technologies from its 5G infrastructure. The warning, announced by the US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, heightened tensions in US-German relations over Chancellor Angela Merkel's ambivalence to a company that Washington described as a "Trojan horse" for Chinese intelligence services. On Thursday, the US justice department accused Huawei of intellectual property theft. Its executive director, Meng Wanzhou, is facing an extradition trial in Canada which could result in her being sent to the US to answer criminal charges that include illegal dealings with Iran. (South China Morning Post)

See also: Esper to allies: Picking Huawei risks intel and security ties with the US (Defense News)

See also: ‘Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump see Huawei the same.’ 5G in Europe aligns America’s top political rivals (C4ISRNET)

Relevant Diplomacy: Top diplomats from Japan, U.S. and South Korea discuss North Korea

Meeting on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich, Germany, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha also reaffirmed their cooperation on North Korea, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry. Next to agreeing on help regarding the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the ministers also discussed North Korea’s weapons program and efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pledged to unveil a “new strategic weapon,” possibly breaking his promise with U.S. President Donald Trump not to carry out intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear tests. At their last meeting in mid-January, Motegi and his counterparts urged North Korea to refrain from military provocations and continue efforts to reach a deal that would see denuclearization rewarded with relief from crippling economic sanctions. Motegi and Kang also held a separate meeting Saturday amid a diplomatic feud between their countries over wartime history and trade policy. (Japan Times)

 

Relevant Diplomacy: Oman sees prospects of talks between Iran and U.S.

Oman is working to reduce tensions in the Persian Gulf and sees prospects of talks between arch-rivals Iran and the U.S., its foreign minister said. "We are in touch with the U.S. and Iran," Yousef Bin Alawi, Oman's foreign minister, was cited as saying on Sunday by the state-run Oman News Agency at the Munich Security Conference. "We feel that there is a possibility of dialogue between them." "We don't expect military confrontation in the region at the moment," Bin Alawi added. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a press briefing in Tehran that "there is no complicated, unresolvable issue between Iran and Saudi Arabia," but as far as the U.S. is concerned, his country will "never come to the negotiating table in weakness." (The Hour)

 

Relevant Diplomacy: US-Chinese confrontation hangs over summit

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began his speech at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday by defiantly rejecting the motto of this year's gathering: "Westlessness." "The West is winning, we are collectively winning. We're doing it together," Pompeo declared to the delegates sitting in the palatial main hall of the Bavarian hotel. "China encroaches on the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia," he said. "China has had a border or maritime dispute with nearly every nation bordering it … Huawei and other Chinese state-backed tech companies are Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence. ... China demands silence on Taiwan and Hong Kong so that deals will keep flowing." (Deutsche Welle)

See also: US defense chief slams China as rising threat to world order (AP)

See also: Trump's Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the world needs to 'wake up' to China's growing global threat and slams their 'predatory' treatment of rivals (Daily Mail)

 

OPINION & ANALYSIS

 

US Energy secretary talks arms control, nuclear budget boost and Iranian cyber attacks

With backing from several influential Republican lawmakers, U.S. President Donald Trump is requesting a 20 percent increase in the budget for the federal agency that oversees the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile, which falls under the Department of Energy. Energy Secretary Dan Broulliette ― a former lobbyist for Ford Motor Company, and the deputy secretary until he was confirmed in December ― is supporting the National Nuclear Security Administration’s $19.8 billion budget, which must still receive congressional approval. Here’s part of his conversation with reporters on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference Saturday. (Joe Gould for Defense News)

 

Nuclear arms race among U.S., Russia, China could heat up as Obama era treaty nears expiration

The clock is ticking as the Trump administration weighs the fate of the last major nuclear arms treaty with Russia, as fears of a world without accountability between the world’s two largest nuclear powers deepen. Last week marked exactly one year until the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty expires. New START, as the deal is known, limits the number of deployable American and Russian nuclear weapons at 1,550. The accord also reduced by half the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers each side may have and set up a new inspection and verification regime to prevent cheating. The administration also is feeling pressure from Russia hawks who say a simple extension of the Obama deal next year is unacceptable. Sens. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, and John Cornyn, Texas Republican, joined Rep. Liz Cheney, Wyoming Republican, on legislation in March 2019 designed to block any funding for a New START extension unless China is brought into the talks and the full range of Russia’s nuclear threat is addressed. “America deserves better than a mere New START extension,” Ms. Cheney said at the time the bill was introduced. “Any meaningful arms control treaty must reflect reality as it is rather than the hopes and dreams of negotiators.” (Lauren Meier for The Washington Times)

Virtual Nuclear Weapons Design and the Blur of Reality

T hirty years ago, designers and scientists talked about simulations as though they faced a choice about using them. These days there is no pretense of choice. Theories are tested in simulation; the design of research laboratories takes shape around simulation and visualization technologies. This is true of all fields, but the case of nuclear weapons design is dramatic because here scientists are actually prohibited from testing weapons in the physical realm. (Sherry Turkle for the MIT Press Reader)

 

PUBLICATIONS

 

George Shultz (1920–2021) American Statesman and Nuclear Abolitionist by Michael Krepon

“If Shultz was in your foxhole, you had good company,” writes Michael Krepon. This article highlights former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz’s eminent leadership on disarmament issues and close relationship with Bishop Swing, founding member of Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons. It also includes the Voices Nuclear Prayer, that Shultz “adopted as his own” and reflects his fervent belief in abolition.

Nuclear Weapons in the Anthropocene by Peter Waring

“Nuclear Weapons have triggered a new geological era, but what does that really mean?” asks Peter Waring in this insightful article on the changes the nuclear age has wrought on our planet and society. The impact, it seems, is larger than we could have imagined. With the invention of the atom bomb, we have forever changed our world and ourselves and our role in relationship to it as well. What does this mean for security and the environment?

Report to Congress on Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles

Members of Congress and Pentagon officials have placed a growing emphasis on U.S. programs to develop hypersonic weapons as a part of an effort to acquire the capability for the United States to launch attacks against targets around the world in under an hour. Conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) weapons may bolster U.S. efforts to deter and defeat adversaries by allowing the United States to attack high-value targets or “fleeting targets” at the start of or during a conflict. Congress has generally supported the PGS mission, but restricted funding for several years. Recently, efforts to develop a long-range prompt strike capability, along with other efforts to develop extremely fast hypersonic weapons, have garnered increased support. (USNI)

MULTIMEDIA

Big Nuke Energy: Episode 16

In the sixteenth episode of this podcast about young women working in nonproliferation, Grace, Sam, Arielle, and guest Jamie discuss new mediums for public engagement in nonproliferation, the false narratives of paradise in Oceania, and emotions as knowledge. (Big Nuke Energy)

 

 

New York City To Divest...

In January 2018, New York City decided to divest the city’s $189bn pension funds from fossil fuel companies within the next five years. Now the city looks set to also divest from the nuclear weapons industry.

 

Last Tuesday (January 28), the Council held public hearings on draft Resolution 0976 which calls on New York City to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and divest from the nuclear weapons industry, and on Initiative 1621 to reaffirm New York City as a nuclear weapons-free zone and establish an advisory committee to implement this status.

 

Click here for the written testimony of Move the Nuclear Weapons Money.

The draft measures were introduced to the council in June 2019 by Council members Daniel Dromm, Helen Rosenthal and Ben Kallos. Since then, New York peace, climate and disarmament activists have been campaigning to build endorsement from enough council members for the adoption of these two measures.

 

The campaign has included directed research, lobbying of councilors, public events & actions, and open letters in support such as the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money Open Letter to New York City Council endorsed by representatives of over 20 New York peace, disarmament and climate action organizations, plus investors and entrepreneurs.

 

‘City of New York pension funds should not be used to support any aspect of nuclear weapons production, plain and simple,’ Councilor Helen Rosenthal told a support action organized by the Move the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign in front of City Hall in October 2019.

 

‘Helping to fund nuclear proliferation (whether directly via investments in weapons manufacturers, or indirectly via Citibank and other financial institutions with ties to weapons makers) runs contrary to what this city and our 300,000+ municipal workers stand for. Our teachers, fire fighters, social workers, and so many other public sector workers have devoted their careers to making life better for their fellow New Yorkers. We cannot in good conscience assist in underwriting the catastrophic loss of life and environmental ruin that would result from a nuclear conflict.’

 

New York Administration resistance addressed by Move the Nuclear Weapons Money

 

One unresolved issue from the hearings is which city department would oversee the implementation of the two measures. Another issue is what resources, including budget, would be required for implementation and from where these would come.

 

The New York City administration was represented by Ms Penny Abeywardena, New York City's Commissioner for International Affairs, who argued that her department (the Mayor's Office for International Affairs) had neither the resources nor the mandate to implement the measures if they were adopted. She argued that her department was responsible for building good working relations between NY City and the United Nations, educating youth about the United Nations, and reporting to the UN on NYC’s implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, but not to engage in national security policy or international disarmament which was the mandate for the Federal government – not the city.

 

Mr Jonathan Granoff, representing Move the Nuclear Weapons Money, responded in his oral testimony that the remit from these resolutions was not that the City engage in advocacy at the United Nations, but rather to implement obligations arising from the UN that are applicable to cities as well as to federal governments. This is exactly what her department is doing with respect to SDGs, and is what they have a mandate to do for nuclear disarmament.

 

‘The very first resolution of the United Nations, which was adopted by consensus, affirmed a universal commitment to abolish atomic weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and this is further affirmed as an obligation in the Non-Proliferation Treaty ,’ said Mr Granoff, who is also President of Global Security Institute and an internationally respected lawyer.

 

‘Ms Abeywardena, in outlining her department’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, seems to be unaware that SDG 16 includes the obligation to implement such international law at all levels of government, including at city level. As such, the Commission on International Affairs does indeed have the mandate to implement these measures if and when they are adopted.'

 

With regard to the human resources required to implement the measures, Mr Granoff agreed with Ms Abeywardena that her commission and the City Council did not have much expertise on nuclear weapons. ‘This is exactly why an advisory committee is required – to provide that expertise, and that expertise is here in this room, and you can have our expertise for free. The only resource standing in the way of getting rid of nuclear weapons is emotional, spiritual and political will.’

 

Click here for the oral testimony of Mr Granoff.

 

Click here for the written testimony of Move the Nuclear Weapons Money, which includes experience of nuclear weapons divestment by cities, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and other investors from around the world.

 

New York City and Mayors for Peace

 

The written testimony of Move the Nuclear Weapons Money included a proposal that a key action New York City should take in implementing the resolutions once adopted would be for them to join Mayors for Peace.

 

Jackie Cabassso, North America Representative for Mayors for Peace, in her oral testimony outlined some of the actions of Mayors for Peace - including introduction of nuclear disarmament resolutions that were adopted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Ms Cabasso reminded the City Council of the invitation from Mayors for Peace to New York to join, and urged she that they do so.

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