NUCLEAR TWO-STEP, ONE STEP FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK
By Yeabu Conteh
CTBT– The Next Sensible Step Toward Nuclear Abolition
Long part of Peace Action’s strategy for a nuclear-free world, we are renewing our efforts to secure Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). CTBT is a multi-lateral treaty that outlaws explosive nuclear testing and is a simple, but effective, way to help stop the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. Currently, 179 nations, including the United States have signed the CTBT and 144 have ratified it. In order for the CTBT to become recognized internationally as law, the United States and eight other nations must ratify it.
In May, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Ellen O. Tauscher spoke before the Arms Control Association’s annual meeting on “The Case for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.” She informed those present that the Obama administration would soon begin talks with Republican and Democratic Senators on the CTBT, including a discussion of key technical issues that was met with some resistance during a congressional debate on the treaty in 1999. The President also plans to soon start an education campaign to help lead to CTBT ratification.
As we near the start of another election campaign season, Peace Action will be working closely with our congressional and organizational allies to make the case for CTBT ratification. There is a good chance that a vote will happen before the 2012 elections. Given the success we had with passing START (Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty), we are in a good position to ratify CTBT, but only if we keep the pressure on.
From our founding in 1957 as the Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy, Peace Action has been a principal advocate of a test ban, working to impose a moratorium on testing during the administration of George H.W. Bush and pressing for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) during the Clinton Administration.
What’s the Bottom Line?
By ratifying CTBT, the Obama administration will fulfill an important campaign promise taking another step along the path he laid out in Prague in 2009, the path that leads to nuclear abolition. It will take a lot of work from those of us who care about our planet, the future of our children and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, but in the end our world will be much safer for our efforts.
COMPLEX “MODERNIZATION” – Don’t Step Back
When the Senate ratified New START in December, it was a satisfying victory for Peace Action and the peace and disarmament community as a whole. The underlying stipulations for its passage however, specifically the bargain struck between President Obama and Senate Republicans to invest approximately $185 billion over the next ten years to “modernize” the nuclear weapons production complex, demonstrates the extent to which the far-right and the military-industrial complex are committed to this ‘nuclear weapons forever’ program. This move clearly undermines President Obama’s stated commitment to a nuclear-free world and the work of the disarmament community to help the President achieve this goal.
For fiscal year 2012, the Department of Energy requested $7.63 billion for nuclear weapons programs and activities. After inflation, this request is 21 percent more than Ronald Reagan’s largest nuclear weapons budget and 19 percent more than George H.W. Bush’s highest spending level. Instead of spending nearly $8 billion to upgrade nuclear weapons, that money would be more wisely spent on increasing the rate of dismantling the U.S. stockpile. Less nuclear weapons makes Americans safer and sends the right message to the rest of the world.
Currently, there are plans underway to “modernize” the following nuclear weapons facilities in the United States:
- CMRR-Nuclear Facility at Los Alamos, NM
- Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 in Oak Ridge, TN
- Kansas City MO Plant
In addition to these rather new facilities, the US currently maintains and operates five other facilities; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Nevada Test Site, Pantex Plant, Savannah River Site and the Sandia National Labs.
How is Peace Action Responding?
Peace Action chapters and activists in communities long forced to live with nuclear bomb making plants in their backyards are mobilizing local opposition to these plans. Peace Action New Mexico, Peace Action West and Kansas City PeaceWorks have already done some excellent work to educate their communities and build local campaigns to stop plans for ‘modernization.’
Peace Action is lobbying Congress and the Obama administration to overturn this exorbitant and hypocritical proposal, as it directly undermines progress toward nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
In 2008, Peace Action defeated similar plans to “modernize” the US nuclear arsenal by then President George W. Bush called the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) and in 2009 we defeated Bush’s plan for Complex Transformation (better known in activist circles as “Bombplex”), the Bush administration’s $150 billion proposal for rebuilding US nuclear weapons production capabilities, enabling the production of as many as 125 new nuclear warheads a year. Bombplex proponents refused to accept the defeat and waited for a suitable hostage (New START) to leverage support for their nuclear weapons forever program.
In May of this year, Peace Action lobbied Congress to increase funding for nuclear non-proliferation programs designed to dismantle Russia’s nuclear arsenal and secure its bomb grade materials by $190 million over their previous levels. Republicans sought a $600 million cut in funding. So, rather than spend $600 million to help reduce Russia’s nuclear arsenal, congressional Republicans – deficit hawks all – would spend $185 billion in the next 10 years building up our nuclear overkill.
This is far from over. We will be ramping up our outreach and education campaigns across the country around our annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemorations in August. Watch for alerts and bulletins from Peace Action on how you can organize and participate in your community.