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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

A Trident Ploughshares Press Release

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Trident Ploughshares activists chained to houses of parliament in central London 20 June 2018
At 1.30pm on 20 June, while Britain's Westminster parliament was sittin
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At a London training day, women prepare themselves to lobby for nuclear disarmament.

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Paula Shaw, Dr Rebecca Johnson and Sheila Triggs (left-right) at a WILPF UK training day on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in London, 7 April 2018.

'We need to recognise that we can change the debate in this country and this treaty gives us the means to do so' said Rebecca Johnson on 7 April, at a WILPF UK training day on realising the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Dr Johnson is a member of the British branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF UK) and founding co-chair of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

WILPF UK had invited members and non-members to an interactive training day on lobbying for the TPNW in the UK. The purpose of the day was to provide an opportunity to develop negotiation and lobbying skills. Participants received background information about the treaty and the UK context, as well as practical advice on campaigning. We were fortunate to have speakers who had been present in New York during the final negotiations leading up to the UN adoption of the treaty. Janet Fenton (of WILPF UK and Scottish CND) gave an account of the successful WILPF campaigning efforts in New York.

Taniel Yusef (WILPF UK) highlighted the core humanitarian values and aims of the treaty, followed by Dr Rebecca Johnson who provided insight into key issues in the UK context. 'This is a real treaty in the real world. When the UN bans something, it stays banned', she reminded us as an encouragement to use the very existence of the treaty as an argument in meetings with MPs.

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Celebrating CND's 60th anniversary with profiles of some of its offices around England, Scotland and Wales.

CND Cymru

CND Cymru is the center of the Welsh anti-nuclear movement. Before it was established in 1981, the Welsh branch of the CND was made up of a collection of smaller groups spread out across the region. This network of local associations shared a commitment to decreasing the significant role of nuclear power and nuclear proliferation in Wales through mass protest of local nuclear power plants and loud opposition to military campaigns. In the last few decades, CND Cymru has grown to have over 1,000 members across Wales and connections internationally even though the branch itself is only run by a group of 10 core volunteers. 

An interview with Brian Jones, CND Cymru vice chair:

What are some of the issues that CND Cymru has been working on recently?
Jones: 'I guess that the main issues that we've been campaigning on will not be a surprise to you; nuclear weapons, supporting ICAN [International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons] and the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and opposing the UK's plans to renew Trident. Unlike some of the other branches, we do not really have a particular focus. For me at least, the nuclear issue is the end all, be all.'

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CND marked the opening of the nuclear ban treaty for signatures in New York with an event in Downing Street, central London.

On 20 September, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) handed in hundreds of letters from citizens across the United Kingdom at No 10 Downing St in London. The United Nations had started to accept signatures for the nuclear arms ban treaty earlier the same day.

'British democracy has happened this afternoon. The public have made their voice heard, and we hope that the prime minister will take notice,' said Kate Hudson, CND general secretary. 'There’s a big multi-signature petition to Mrs May getting her to take the ban treaty seriously.'

Prior to the delivery of the letters, CND read its own letter outside the gates of Downing Street. The campaign encouraged the prime minister to sign the treaty the 'start of a long struggle'. 'Nothing is going to happen instantaneously… this is the first step today,' said Hudson. The general secretary also discussed public opinion polls from British citizens have shown their desire for the prime minister to show support of the treaty. 'We have to do the best we can to translate that public sentiment into political top-level sentiment,' Hudson said.

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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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