Nuclear Disarmament: Humanist Society January Talk
By Robert Bernstein
2018: A Turning Point for Nuclear Disarmament - Rick Wayman 1/20/18
The Humanist Society of Santa Barbara opened the year with a talk by Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF) Director of Peace Operations Rick Wayman.
Here are all of my photos.
Here Rick Wayman posed for me before the talk
Here he posed with Humanist Society President Roger Schlueter
This is the 35th year of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF). The talk filled the Val Verde theater with people eager for an update on what is happening with nuclear weapons.
The NAPF operates locally, nationally and internationally. For peace in general as well as for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Wayman assured us that there are good things happening. Not all is gloom and doom. But he started with the 2017 Lowlights.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un moved forward with missile tests and an underground hydrogen bomb test. US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has tried to undermine the so-called "Iran deal". This was in fact negotiated among seven countries: US, Russia, UK, France, China, Germany and Iran.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated she is prepared to make use of nuclear weapons. Past prime ministers have avoided saying this explicitly.
Five countries have nuclear weapons under the Non Proliferation Treaty: United States, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, France and China.
India, Pakistan and North Korea have declared they possess nuclear weapons. And Israel is believed to possess nuclear weapons even though there has been no open admission.
All nine of these countries are involved in "modernizing" their nuclear arsenals.
Wayman went on to the 2017 Highlights.
Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). She is a member of the NAPF Advisory Council.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, was formally adopted by the United Nations. It was negotiated by Elayne G. Whyte Gómez, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United Nations. It would ban even the threat of use of nuclear weapons.
Wayman also showed a photo of himself meeting with Pope Francis who has spoken out on a range of peace issues.
Finally, Norges Bank has $1 trillion in investments. They have made a policy to divest from companies involved in making nuclear weapons. This has led to other banks following their lead.
Wayman went on to discuss the "Nuclear Posture Review" of the Trump Administration which was just leaked.
It defines what constitutes a threat to the US and allies. Conventional or even cyber attacks on our infrastructure could be cause for nuclear retaliation. It calls for new nuclear weapons with new capabilities. These weapons would be smaller than the Hiroshima weapon. This is meant as a way to make it easier to use nuclear weapons which is just what we have tried to avoid ever since 1945.
It's possible that Trump wants these new weapons as a bargaining chip for a "tremendous deal." He has reportedly welcomed a new arms race with Russia that he is convinced the US will win.
Most of the policy is actually a continuation of Obama era policies. Obama devised a plan to spend $1.25 trillion over 30 years for modernizing our nuclear arsenal.
"We must look reality in the eye and see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be" according to the Nuclear Posture Review.
In the 9th century BC in Greece an Olympic Truce was established. The International Olympic Committee has talked of reviving this in recent decades. The UN General Assembly has introduced a resolution for this to happen for the next Olympics in South Korea.
Joint US-South Korea military exercises are seen as threatening to North Korea.
The US has agreed to pause them for the Olympics.
Heightened tensions with North Korea made the recent false warning about a missile attack on Hawaii especially jarring. It was a wake-up call that nuclear weapons are as much of a threat now as they were during the Cold War.
There is bipartisan concern about Trump's mental stability, specifically with regard to military action and nuclear weapons. HR 4837 would prohibit the president from taking any military action on North Korea without Congressional approval. Our representative Salud Carbajal is a co-sponsor. For some reason he is not a signer on the letter, though.
Christine Ahn is the founder of Women Cross DMZ. A courageous group who crossed from North to South Korea for peace in the region. She will deliver the NAPF's Frank Kelly Lecture at the Karpeles Library on March 7.
Wayman passed out postcards to send to Senator Kamala Harris to support Senate Bill 200 which would prohibit US first use of nuclear weapons. Senator Feinstein has already signed.
NAPF would like all nuclear weapons abolished. But this bill and HR 669 in the House of Representatives are our best chance for now to block nuclear disaster.
Wayman was happy to answer questions from the Humanist Society audience.
Roger Schlueter asked about the risk of a suitcase bomb or a bomb coming into a US port. Wayman said there is a lot of nuclear material from the end of the USSR that is not accounted for. And it is currently impossible to check every shipping container at a massive port like Long Beach. But there are labs working on that problem.
Clover asked if we could survive if we went to the Southern Hemisphere. Wayman said you could avoid fallout. But not the effects of nuclear winter. Billions could starve due to the inability to grow food under such conditions.
It is clear we need to work hard to reduce the chances of any use of nuclear weapons by any and all means. Wayman urged us to stay informed of how we can support this effort by joining NAPF on Facebook, Twitter and on their email list.
Please go to https://www.wagingpeace.org/ for more information!