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Articles from the Peace News log: Nuclear Weapons

Articles from the Peace News log.
For articles in this category from the whole site, look here

122 countries vote in favour of a treaty banning nuclear weapons - Britain refused to participate

UN negotiations on treaty to ban nuclear weapons, 3 July - ICAN

New York, 7 July 2017: Negotiations of a new international treaty that bans nuclear weapons concluded at the United Nations today as the treaty was formally adopted by states. The United Kingdom, alongside other nuclear-armed states, has boycotted the negotiations despite government claims to support multilateral disarmament and a world without nuclear weapons.

'States that are serious about eliminating nuclear weapons have joined the United Nations treaty negotiations to ban nuclear weapons and they represent the majority of states in the world,' said Richard Moyes of Article 36.  

'The UK along with other states that possess nuclear weapons have chosen to boycott these talks, but the process has shown that any group of committed and concerned states can and should take collective responsibility to reject these horrific weapons,' said Moyes.

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An interview with Daniele Santi – secretary general of the Buddhist peace group, Senzatomica.

PN: What is Senzatomica?

Daniele Santi: Our aim is to raise public awareness about the threats of nuclear weapons and to empower each individual to speak out for a world free of nuclear weapons. In order to create an unstoppable force for peace, we launched a touring exhibition, believing that it is people’s right and duty to speak out.Daniele Santi of Senzatomica, Florence, Italy, 19 September 2016

Since we started in 2011, hundreds of thousands of people have visited over 70 exhibitions organized in towns and cities across Italy. We have also organized concerts, TV shows, flash mobs and so on. We really want to achieve a process whereby people can act and show that such a far-reaching goal is not beyond the grasp of ordinary people. Men and women have stood up for peace, countless people have done so. There are equivalent movements such as ICAN, Pugwash conferences and many others. We want to show that each individual has the power to change the world, to transform our behaviour and to share our humanity at its deepest level. We believe that if we campaign against nuclear weapons, we are fighting the root of powerlessness.

PN: How did Senzatomica start?

DS: We read the 2009 proposal, 'Building Global Solidarity for Nuclear Weapons Abolition' by Japanese philosopher Daisaku Ikeda. It suggests five points for action. We felt we, as ordinary citizens, rather than politicians, could act on the fifth point which addresses empowerment. In order to empower people, we needed a shift of public opinion. In our Senzatomica campaign we reached out to up to a million people. Over 300,000 people have visited our exhibitions and 40,000 are signed up to our website.

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A thoughtful review of The Truth About Trident: Disarming the Nuclear Argument by Tim Wallis

The Truth About Trident sets out a blow-by-blow detailed analysis in advance of the forthcoming parliamentary debate about the renewal of Britain’s nuclear weapons’ system known as the ‘main gate’ decision later this year.

Despite the slightly disingenuous claim of the book that it will act as an objective ‘trial’ of the 30-year-old weapons system, Tim Wallis’s credentials as a leading peace activist reverses this expectation. As he states his intention is that ‘the moral case [will] outweigh lesser arguments based on finances, jobs, politics, strategic interests and deterrence and so on.’Mock Trident submarine protests at AWE Burghfield, June 2016

Laid out in a reader-friendly way, the book steers us through key headings such as, What is Trident? What is Radiation? Have Nuclear Weapons kept the peace? Is Trident Affordable? But Wallis does sum up the conclusion of the book in the introduction. ‘What we are left with is a weapon system that is not powerful at all but is extremely dangerous.’

Wallis’ approach is to pick apart the main shibboleths of the Trident argument and in doing so, he hopes to reveal the irrationality of arguing, for instance, that nuclear weapons have kept the peace for the past 70 years.

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Come to protest in the heart of the development of the UK's nuclear weapons system.

June 2016 will see a month of disarmament action against Trident at AWE Burghfield. Situated a few miles south-west of Reading, this is at the heart of the UK's nuclear weapons system. It is the final assembly line for the UK's nuclear warheads, and they return here for major maintenance work.

Opposition to Trident has spiralled rapidly in recent years. In Scotland, polls consistently show 85% opposed to the presence of Trident submarines, the country has elected an anti-Trident government, and blockades of the country's submarine bases are so frequent and popular that blockaders are rarely prosecuted.

It may seem that we are nowhere near this in England, but we should take comfort from the fact the Scotland's anti-Trident consensus has been achieved by ordinary people deciding what they believed in and acting on it. And even in the England, a larger and broader group of people are questioning the planned renewal of Trident. When the lifetime costs of a new Trident system were revised upwards, to £180bn, the veteran Conservative MP Crispin Blunt went on record to say that this couldn't be justified.  Since then, they have risen again, to a staggering £205bn.

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A new Trident Ploughshares project to involve local magistrates' courts throughout Britain in the struggle against the Trident nuclear weapon system

Trident Ploughshares has today, 1 October 2015, launched a project to encourage groups around England and Wales to go to their local magistrates court to try and initiate a citizen's prosecution against the secretary of state for defence for conspiring to commit a war crime.

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I'm one of 14 young people from different parts of the UK, most with a Quaker background or who had worked for Quakers, who formed a group called Wheel Stop Trident in early 2015.

Our first significant action was a 75 mile bike ride from central London to Atomic Weapons Establishment Burghfield from 27-28 March 2015, to protest against the possible renewal of our useless and immoral Trident nuclear weapons system at a time when the more genuine, sustainable security of strong public services and renewable energy are facing massive cuts and obstacles respectively. Nine or us were cyclists (a tenth cyclist was prevented from joining us by illness), and the others helped with organising the route, doing social media work, and in one case carrying extra bedding to Reading for the second night. 

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Thirty years on, the anti-nuclear war drama Threads has lost none of its power to shock. Its message of making connections has inspired many, including one of its producers, Richard Levitt.

Ruth and Jimmy kiss in their car on the Moors. A fighter jet roars ominously overhead. Potential violence erupts into the everyday. Some of the images in Threads - a mushroom cloud rising over Sheffield, a middle-aged woman urinating in fear - are etched forever into my mind’s eye. Watching the film again, the same cold fear washes through my guts at the thought that such destruction is still within the reach of several world leaders. Threads is chilling because of its salty social realism, thorough grounding in a wide range of contemporary research, and its unblinking exposure of the disasters nuclear war brings.

The story unfolds against the backdrop of everyday life. Nuclear states rattle, then unsheathe their sabres over border conflicts. Conventional munitions give way to small nuclear devices, like dominoes knocking against one another. Sheffield becomes a microcosm for the whole of Britain, the rest of the world. Panic looting and mass hysteria follow the first mushroom cloud, before the city takes a direct hit. Jimmy, searching for Ruth, disappears in a blinding white flashpoint. Milk bottles on a doorstep melt like water. Buildings are smashed and burning. A husband dabs at the ravaged face of his wife. Infrastructure has been obliterated.

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International fast to be held between Hiroshima and Nagasaki days (6th-9th August) in Burghfield, Paris, and Büchel.

Every year an International fast is held between Hiroshima and Nagasaki days (6th-9th August) in Burghfield, Paris, and Büchel, the last Nato base in Germany at which nuclear weapons are stationed. PN has covered the fast in both Paris and Burghfield with several articles in the past (see PN September 2012, June 2013 and September 2013).

This year over 120 participants are expected at the three sites. A small group of French and British activists will be fasting at Burghfield, and holding vigils and peaceful demonstrations at the same time. On the last day of the fast, 9th August (Nagasaki day), the participants will join in in the “Wool Against Weapons” initiative involving the rolling out of a seven mile long pink anti-nuclear scarf between AWE Aldermaston and AWE Burghfield.

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Report and images from Trident Protest at Rolls Royce AGM.

Trident KillsRolls-Royce directors were confronted with the harrowing testimony of a Hiroshima survivor, Setsuko Thurlow, at their AGM on 1 May. Although the quote was lengthy, the chair was too disorientated to interrupt, and the board responded with nervous laughter.

Rolls-Royce provides power systems for Britain's Trident nuclear-powered, nuclear-missile-carrying submarine system. In June 2012, Rolls-Royce was awarded a £1bn contract to produce new reactor cores for the submarine that is intended to replace Trident.

At the Rolls-Royce AGM, Sheffield peace activists asked about the impact of a nuclear strike on shareholders, alternative uses for Rolls-Royce technology such as green energy, and whether taxpayers would have to pay for the lost investment if the Trident nuclear submarine system is not replaced. At the end of the AGM, activists held up banners saying: ‘No Trident’ and ‘Trident Kills’.

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Report back from Natalia Grana’s recent trip to the Faslane Peace Camp

ImageEver since Peace News Summer camp 2012 I had been hankering after getting up to visit Faslane Peace camp, in fact to be totally honest I had wanted to visit and support the peace camp since I heard about it many years previously, and had driven past it during the Faslane365 year of actions when we did an action.

Anyway, with the backing of Manchester and Warrington Area Quaker Peace group I finally went and what follows are my notes and observations:

Day 1: I got to the camp after a long train ride from England to Scotland. I swore that I smelled the freshness of the air through the train windows as we crossed the border. I was met at Helensburgh station by a member of the camp who has now sadly left. When we arrived at camp I was struck by the lovely welcoming gate and the little rockeries that framed the paths in between the caravans, and the Hiroshima tree was decorated and looking healthy. I was given a guided tour, and shown the new addition of the washing machine, which campers jokingly told me not to mention as then they might seem too posh to outsiders!

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