The U.S.-North Korea nuclear crisis is not over. While tensions seem to have eased in the past few weeks, the situation remains dangerous and potentially volatile.
It is in this context that later this month the U.S. plans to launch a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, 4,200 miles away. The test was originally scheduled for early April, at the height of the current U.S.-North Korea nuclear crisis. U.S. officials announced the test’s postponement at that time because they did not want to provoke a response from North Korea.
Many of you have joined us in past Action Alerts opposing test launches of the United States’ only land-based nuclear missile because the tests are provocative and continued possession of land-based missiles significantly raises the risk of accidental nuclear war. Your actions have already helped stop two Minuteman III tests: one on the International Day of Peace in 2011, and the other on March 1, 2012, the anniversary of the Castle Bravo nuclear test, the biggest ever nuclear explosion conducted by the United States in the Marshall Islands.
This time it’s even more urgent that we stop the scheduled Minuteman III test to ensure the dangerous cycle of nuclear provocations does not re-start. Please take a moment to send a message to President Obama and ask him to cancel the scheduled test of a Minuteman III nuclear-capable missile.
For decades, U.S. political and military leaders have put their faith in the theory of nuclear deterrence, which requires both sides in a conflict to have rational leaders who will understand the threat of nuclear retaliation and act accordingly. An irrational leader, such as 29-year-old Kim Jong Un of North Korea, is a wild card who does not conform to traditional assumptions regarding nuclear deterrence.
The escalation of threats from North Korean leaders has reached a new level of hysteria, in which they have threatened nuclear attacks on the U.S. and indicated, “The moment of explosion is approaching fast.”
For its own security, the U.S. needs to set aside traditional nuclear deterrence theory, which isn’t working, and be the mature party seeking a de-escalation of the crisis. The U.S. should immediately cease its nuclear threats to North Korea and concretely convey its willingness to de-escalate the crisis.
Tell President Obama that acting with humility rather than with additional threats is urgently needed to defuse this dangerous situation.
President Obama has the opportunity in his second term to put the world squarely on track to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons. It is important for us to keep up the pressure and let him know that this is an issue of vital importance to us.
Please take a moment to send President Obama a message today asking him to take three actions that will make the U.S. and the world safer:
1. Take away Russia’s incentive to target the U.S. with nuclear weapons by decommissioning our land-based nuclear arsenal.
2. Clarify U.S. nuclear posture by announcing that the U.S. will not use nuclear weapons first under any circumstances.
3. Commence good faith negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons in accordance with our obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
While these three steps alone will not achieve the goal of nuclear weapons abolition, they are steps that can be taken immediately, which will set the tone for significant further accomplishments during President Obama’s final term in office.
Recent estimates put U.S. spending on nuclear weapons and related programs over the next decade at over $640 billion. Congress is desperately seeking ways to cut the budget deficit.
The nuclear weapons budget is an obvious place to begin.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) has authored a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate encouraging significant cuts to “our bloated nuclear weapons budget.”
Please take a moment to write to your Representative today and ask her/him to sign on to Rep. Markey’s letter. The deadline for your Representative to sign on is Tuesday, November 27, so please take action today. If you prefer to call your Representative, you can reach the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Rep. Markey’s letter reads in part, “We know there is plenty of waste in the nuclear weapons budget….just one nuclear bomb life extension program will cost $10 billion for an estimated 400 weapons. At that price, we could buy each bomb’s weight in solid gold. And this would be a better investment. Gold appreciates, while money spent on this nuclear bomb is money down the drain.”
The letter concludes, “Cut Minuteman missiles. Do not cut Medicare and Medicaid. Cut nuclear-armed B-52 and B-2 bombers. Do not cut Social Security. Invest in the research and education that will drive our future prosperity, not in weapons for a war we already won.”
Fifty years ago – October 16-28, 1962 – the Cuban Missile Crisis had the United States and Soviet Union at the precipice of nuclear war.
Now – 50 years later – the United States still keeps 450 Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles on high alert. The missiles and the thermonuclear warheads that they deliver can reach nearly any place on Earth in 30 minutes or less. Because they are located in fixed silos in Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana, there is pressure to “use them first or lose them,” drastically raising the risk that in a time of crisis the missiles could be launched because of a false warning.
Daniel Ellsberg, a NAPF Distinguished Fellow who released the Pentagon Papers in 1971, helped develop U.S. nuclear war strategies in the 1960s. He now strongly opposes the continued existence of land-based nuclear missiles. He says, “This will change only if the pressure on Congress and the Executive Branch is changed from pressure to preserve these [missiles], for the jobs they create and the profits, to the task of dismantling them. We must demand that this challenge to life on Earth be ended.”
Please join Daniel Ellsberg and thousands of other citizens around the United States in demanding that these destabilizing and dangerous land-based missiles be dismantled immediately.
Recent peer-reviewed studies by atmospheric scientists predict that even a relatively "limited" nuclear war between India and Pakistan, in which each side uses 50 Hiroshima-sized nuclear weapons against the other's cities, could create immense firestorms that would quickly surround the planet with a dense stratospheric smoke layer.
The black smoke would be heated by the sun, lofted like a hot air balloon, and would remain in the stratosphere for years. There it would block and prevent a large fraction of sunlight from reaching the Earth’s surface. The sharp reduction of warming sunlight would reduce growing seasons, cause crop failures and lead to the starvation of hundreds of millions of people (some predict up to 1 billion people).
A nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, which each possess thousands of thermonuclear weapons, would have even more severe consequences.
The only way to eliminate the threat of nuclear famine is by eliminating all nuclear weapons. Please write to President Obama and your members of Congress today and encourage them to take swift action to eliminate this existential threat.
The Cold War ended over two decades ago, yet business as usual continues with over 200 U.S. nuclear bombs in five European countries under a NATO nuclear sharing agreement. These B61 gravity bombs have no conceivable use, their deployment originally justified decades ago by Western concerns about Soviet conventional military superiority in Europe.
Please take a moment today to send a letter to President Obama, your Senators and Representative, letting them know that you oppose the continued deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons, particularly in other countries.
NATO nuclear sharing is a Cold War relic that has no place in the 21st century. Continued deployment of the B61 in NATO countries is provocative and unnecessary. Let President Obama and your Congressional representatives know that this practice must come to an end immediately.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, as Chair of the Senate Energy & Water Appropriations subcommittee, has the ability to suggest some important cuts in the bloated US nuclear weapons budget. Her committee is meeting this week, so the time to contact her is now!
Nuclear weapons funding for 2013 proposed by the Obama administration is lower than many people expected, although it is still an increase. Spending billions of dollars for new nuclear weapons facilities and life extension programs for obsolete nuclear weapons would not only be wasteful financially, but it also sends a message to countries around the world that the United States plans to continue relying on nuclear weapons for decades to come.
Take action today by asking Senator Feinstein to support a forward-looking budget that directs us to a world free of nuclear weapons, not backwards toward Cold War arms races.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Obama administration is examining options for deep cuts in the US nuclear arsenal. According to the report, the administration is considering options for three levels of cuts in deployed strategic nuclear weapons: 1,000 to 1,100; 700 to 800; and 300 to 400.
Any decrease in the size of the US nuclear arsenal would be a step in the right direction, but the lower level being considered would be a major step toward a world free of nuclear weapons. It would also demonstrate to the world that the US is serious about achieving nuclear disarmament, as it is obligated to do under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The same obligation applies to Russia, the UK, France and China.
Please take a moment today to encourage President Obama to act boldly in moving to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons use by accident, miscalculation or intent. Your message will be copied to your Senators and Representative so that they are made aware of your position on this vital issue.
If President Obama is successful in reducing the size of the US nuclear arsenal to 300 to 400 weapons and bringing the Russians along with the US, this will leave the other seven countries in possession of nuclear weapons roughly at parity with between 100 and 300 nuclear weapons each. This would be a strong place from which to launch multilateral negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, a treaty for the phased, verifiable, irreversible and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons. Such a Convention would be a great achievement for humanity and a gift to ourselves and the generations that will follow us on the planet.
The US and NATO have been pursuing the deployment of an integrated missile defense system throughout Europe and surrounding waters, which Russia views as a grave threat to its security.
Despite offering nonbinding verbal and written assurances that its missile defense system is not directed at Russia, the US has been unwilling to provide Russia with requested legally-binding written assurances to this effect. Accordingly, Russia has threatened to deploy its own missiles targeting the NATO missile defense installations. Russia has also threatened to withdraw from New START, the 2011 agreement with the US to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons and delivery systems in the arsenals of both countries.
This is a scenario for nuclear disaster. It is being provoked by US hubris in pursuing missile defense, a technology that is unlikely ever to be effective, but which Russian leaders and military planners must view in terms of a worst-case scenario (a US first-strike nuclear attack).
President Medvedev recently stated, “We are open to a dialogue and we hope for a reasonable and constructive approach from our Western partners.”
Send a letter to President Obama to let him know that you want him to work with the Russians for a safer world by taking their security interests into account, including them in any NATO missile defense plans and building trust through negotiations for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
As our first action of 2012, let’s help to build a stronger network of legislators in the United States and around the world working for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Legislators play key roles in advancing or blocking nuclear disarmament policies, initiatives and treaties. In order to help achieve progress, legislators need to work not only within their own country, but also in collaboration with legislators in other countries. Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), a global cross-party network of over 800 legislators in 80 countries, supports and enables legislators to take action on key initiatives.
Around the world, PNND members are active in promoting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; regional nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties (including ones in the Middle East, Northeast Asia and the Arctic); de-alerting of existing nuclear weapons; reducing/eliminating the role of nuclear weapons in military alliances; divesting public funds from companies involved in the manufacture of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems; and advancing the global abolition of nuclear weapons through a comprehensive treaty or framework of agreements.
Please help PNND to build membership, contributing to a political climate around the world that will facilitate the abolition of nuclear weapons. Contact your legislators and encourage them to join PNND today.
Right now, we have a unique opportunity to move closer to a safer world free of nuclear weapons.
Every President gets one significant opportunity to revise and update U.S. nuclear weapons strategy. Now President Obama has this opportunity and is developing guidance that will determine the role and the number of U.S. nuclear weapons.
This guidance affects everything from war plans to the size, structure and cost of the nuclear arsenal. It will help determine whether we continue to live with the threat of nuclear annihilation by accident or by design--or move closer to a world free of the danger of nuclear war.
Now is our opportunity to make our voices heard, to press President Obama to make good on his pledge to “put an end to Cold War thinking” and pursue further, dramatic steps that would make us all safer from the threat of nuclear weapons. Please join thousands of Americans by adding your voice below.
Only your name and postal code will be submitted with the petition - your email address will remain private.
Please sign the petition below to register your opposition to the planned test-launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base on February 25, 2012. The last test-launch, fired in July, was a unique failure, and we believe that our previous petition effort helped lead to the cancellation/delay of the subsequent test-launch that was originally planned – paradoxically – for the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2011.
We will submit this petition to the White House three days before the scheduled launch or every time we gather 1000 signers.
You can also click here to download a paper version of the petition to collect signatures in your community.
How risky is the United States’ current nuclear strategy? Right now, no one knows! Join a former Director of the National Security Agency and other prominent individuals in asking Congress to authorize an objective study of the risk. The proposed study is a step toward a more reasoned national security strategy.
If requested by Congress and performed by the National Academies, a risk analysis of nuclear deterrence has the potential to bring greater objectivity to the debate over our nuclear posture. The National Academies have frequently been called on by the government to provide objective, impartial advice on similar matters, as exemplified by a current study of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The major difference is that, in the case of nuclear deterrence, it is essential to mitigate the risk before disaster strikes, not afterward.
The National Academies is the umbrella organization for the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. These institutions were created by Congress to provide objective advice to the nation on matters of importance. Unlike an international treaty, which requires a 2/3 vote in the Senate, a single, motivated member of Congress could make this study happen.
Please write to your Representative and Senators today and ask them to take a leading role in requesting a study by the National Academies of the risks of current US nuclear strategy.
Nuclear deterrence is a doctrine that is used as a justification by nuclear weapon states and their allies for the continued possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear deterrence threatens the murder of many millions of innocent people, along with severe economic, climate, environmental, agricultural and health consequences beyond the area of attack.
We hope you’ll agree: Nuclear deterrence is dangerous, discriminatory, anti-democratic and unsustainable. This doctrine must be discredited and replaced with an urgent commitment to achieve global nuclear disarmament.
Urge President Obama and your Congressional representatives to reject nuclear deterrence and replace it with humane, legal and moral security strategies.
The Santa Barbara Declaration, issued earlier this year at the end of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s conference on the dangers of nuclear deterrence, is included as part of the sample letter.
After you write to President Obama and your Congressional representatives, you will have the opportunity to add your name to the Santa Barbara Declaration, which will be submitted to leaders of the nuclear weapon states later this year.
Please send a message to your Representative today urging him/her to co-sponsor HR1334, the Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act of 2011. The bill, introduced by Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), calls on the United States to negotiate an international agreement to disable and dismantle its nuclear weapons by 2020 and provides for strict control of fissile material and radioactive waste. It also calls for the use of nuclear-free energy resources.
This bill is particularly timely as Congress continues to make cuts to most programs in the federal budget. The United States currently spends over $50 billion each year on nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.
Join us in demanding that leaders of the nuclear weapon states and their allies reject nuclear deterrence and negotiate without delay a Nuclear Weapons Convention for the phased, verifiable, irreversible and transparent elimination of all nuclear weapons.
The United States and Russia maintain about 1,000 nuclear weapons each on hair-trigger alert, ready to fire within moments of an order. This Cold War posture is outdated and extremely dangerous. The chances of a nuclear weapons launch due to accident or miscalculation are vastly increased by maintaining a hair-trigger alert policy.
Please take a moment to write to President Obama today and ask him to take a bold step forward by working with Russian President Medvedev to de-alert US and Russian nuclear arsenals and declare a policy of No First Use.