Nobel Peace Prize awarded to nuclear weapons abolitionists

Editor’s Note: This is the press release sent out by Ground Zero Center in response to Friday’s announcement of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

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This year’s Nobel Peace Prize recognizes the central role of civil society in abolishing nuclear weapons.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). ICAN is comprised of hundreds of partner organizations in 100 countries, of which, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington is one.

Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Communications Coordinator, said:

“At a time when the potential for nuclear war is as high as it was during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, this award recognizes the huge and critical role of the global movement for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), parliamentarians and citizens has never been more important.”

Civil society has played a central role over many years in drawing attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and most recently in the negotiations at the United Nations (UN) that brought about the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

122 nations voted to approve the Treaty, and so far over 50 nations have signed on. None of the nuclear-armed nations support the Treaty, and they continue to rely on nuclear weapons as instruments of foreign policy.

The current inflammatory rhetoric on both sides of the US-North Korean conflict, coupled with President Trump’s efforts to undermine the Iran nuclear weapons deal, are in direct conflict with efforts for peaceful conflict resolution among nations.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represents the best of what the global community is capable through the UN, and it provides a clear path to abolishing the greatest threat to humanity.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action applauds the decision of the Nobel Committee to support the efforts of those who work within a framework of mutual cooperation and consensus to negotiate mutual security assurances among nations.

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Appeal for diplomacy in the Korean nuclear crisis

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ground Zero Center is a member of Abolition 2000, and has endorsed the Appeal for diplomacy in the Korean nuclear crisis. The following message is from Alyn Ware, on behalf of UNFOLD ZERO, an affiliate of Abolition 2000.

The United States and North Korea should step back from the brink of war in North East Asia, and instead adopt a diplomatic approach to prevent war, according to an appeal sent yesterday to these two governments, and to the UN Security Council, by members and affiliates of the Abolition 2000 global network to eliminate nuclear weapons.

110 organisations and over 200 additional civil society representatives from 44 countries endorsed the appeal. it highlights the increasing risk of war – and possibly even the use of nuclear weapons by miscalculation, accident, or intent, calls for ‘immediate commencement of negotiations to prevent a military conflict from erupting,’ and urges ‘the UN Security Council to prioritise a diplomatic solution to the conflict.’

Endorsers of the appeal included parliamentarians, mayors/city representatives, scientists, academics, business leaders, medical professionals, veterans, educators/teachers, Nobel Peace Laureates, Right Livelihood Award laureates (the ‘alternative Nobel Peace Prize’), religious leaders, artists, nuclear victims, lawyers, women’s organisations, youth, former UN officials & diplomats, NGO leaders and other civil society campaigners.

Diplomacy with North Korea has worked in the past, and could succeed again if the security concerns of all countries in the region are taken into consideration,’ said Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation (PNND) and coordinator of the appeal. ‘This could include negotiations for a North East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, which appears to have cross-party support from the three key countries – Japan, South Korea and North Korea.’

‘We support the call for a negotiated settlement of the dispute between Korea and USA, Japan, South Korea and neighboring countries with a view to secession of nuclear testing in the interests of humanity and protection of the planet,’ said Ela Gandhi (South Africa), Grand-daughter of Mohandas Gandhi and Co-President of Religions for Peace.

We support this call for diplomatic approach for North Korea,’ said Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate and member of Women Cross DMZ, a group of women who walked from North Korea to South Korea in support of peace. ‘As we experienced during our visit to North Korea, the people want peace not war.’

‘I feel sad for the ordinary folk who live in North Korea,’ said Karipbek Kuyukov (Kazakhstan), a second generation victim of nuclear tests and Honorary Ambassador of the ATOM Project. ‘We [in the USSR] went through that too. We thought having weapons of mass destruction means being stronger and more powerful, but it is like an illusion. It is like carrying a huge rock up a steep mountain.’

The appeal also opposes any pre-emptive use of force by any of the parties, calls on all parties to refrain from militaristic rhetoric and provocative military exercises, and welcomes the offers by the UN Secretary-General and the European Union Foreign Minister to assist negotiations to resolve the conflict.

UNFOLD ZERO, an affiliate of Abolition 2000, joins others in the Abolition 2000 network to promote this appeal.

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PLC Six found guilty of trespass on west coast nuclear weapons base

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Nick Mele for his stellar onsite reporting of the Federal trial of the PLC Six. Click here to read more about the March 7, 2017 nonviolent direct action that led to yesterday’s trial.

Tacoma, Washington, September 6, 2017: Nuclear resisters were found guilty in US District Court of criminal trespass for their nonviolent protest at a US Navy nuclear weapons installation in Washington State.

In a trial of six nonviolent activists who conducted an act of civil resistance on March 7, 2017 at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington, Magistrate Judge David W. Christel found the PLC Six (Mary H. Mele, Karan Founds-Benton, Charles Smith, Betsy Lamb, Steven Kelly SJ, and Alexandria Addesso) guilty of trespassing. The defendants had all stipulated to the Navy’s version of the facts in the case but pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal trespassing. Their motion to include international law and necessity in their defense had previously been denied at the request of the prosecution.

The six resisters had crossed the marked property line onto the Bangor Trident base while reading sections of the Nuremberg Principles out loud before being arrested by military police. They were charged with trespassing and received ban and bar letters before being released.

They were part of a demonstration at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington on March 7th at the conclusion of the Pacific Life Community’s (PLC) annual gathering. The Bangor submarine base, just 20 miles from Seattle, has the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. If Washington state were a sovereign nation, it would be the third-largest nuclear-weapons state in the world.

All were sentenced to 100 hours of community service and charged a total of forty dollars in mandatory processing fees and fines. All but Lamb were placed on probation for one year; Lamb was given two years probation because of a prior probation violation.

The judge permitted each defendant to testify about their state of mind at the time they crossed the line at the entrance to Bangor Naval Base. In moving testimony, many spoke of their personal conviction that nuclear weapons are immoral; two pointed out that the president of the United States has sole authority to launch nuclear attacks without any consultative process or review.

Charley Smith of the Eugene, Oregon, Catholic Worker, carried a copy of the Nuremberg Principles when he crossed the line, as did the others; asked to explain their significance to him, Smith replied, “Very simply, if we remain silent or do not challenge the evils of society we are complicit in those evils just as much as those giving the orders to commit crimes against peace, war crimes, or crimes against humanity.”

Alexandria Addesso, the youngest of the defendants spoke movingly of nuclear disarmament as a right to life issue for her and her generation. She noted the many threats to younger people, from climate change to economic stagnation, and said, “I might not have ten, twenty or thirty years of life ahead of me, and I want to work with my peers to end the threat of nuclear annihilation.”

In his closing argument, defense attorney Blake Kremer cited legal precedent to challenge the judge to change the framework of his thinking and temper his verdict based on the facts of the case with his sense of justice.

Before sentencing, Lamb invited Judge Christel to collaborate with the defendants in concluding the trial with an outcome that would be both creative and just. She concluded “I want to quote just two lines from a favorite piece of music of mine, the fourth cantata of Johan Sebastian Bach. Freely translated they read ‘It was an awesome war when life and death contended./The victory remains with life, the reign of death is ended. Alleluia.’ This is my hope.”

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Activists blockade west coast nuclear base in plea to de-escalate nuclear crisis with North Korea

Activists blockaded the West Coast nuclear submarine base that would likely carry out a nuclear strike against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) should President Donald Trump give the order.

Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, is home to the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the US. More than 1,300 nuclear warheads are deployed on Trident D-5 missiles on the eight ballistic missile submarines based at Bangor or stored at Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC) at the Bangor base.

Activists with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action held a vigil and nonviolent direct action at the Bangor base on August 14th, several days after the 72nd anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Participants briefly blockaded the base during the morning shift change by carrying banners onto the roadway at the main entrance gate.

(left to right) Nuclear resisters Susan DeLaney, Philip Davis and Charles (Charley) Smith

All were removed from the road by Washington State Patrol Officers, cited for being in the roadway illegally, and released on the scene.

Those cited were Philip Davis, Bremerton, WA; Susan DeLaney, Bothell, WA; Ryan DeWitt, Olympia, WA; Sarah Hobbs, Portland, OR; Mack Johnson, Silverdale, WA; Ben Moore, Bainbridge Island, WA; and Charles (Charley) Smith, Eugene Catholic Worker, Eugene, OR.

One of the banners implored the Trump administration to stop its incendiary rhetoric toward North Korea. It read, “No Nuclear Strike On N. Korea!”

(from left to right) Sarah Hobbs, Ben Moore and Ryan DeWitt

Ground Zero spokesperson Leonard Eiger said, “No one knows where this escalating rhetoric of President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will end. To take either leader at his word, a nuclear holocaust is an acceptable event. There is no acceptable military solution to this nuclear standoff. Diplomacy is the only way out of this mess.”

The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was founded in 1977. The center is on 3.8 acres adjoining the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.

Click here to see photos of the action, as well as events that took place on the Sunday prior to the action. You are welcome to download and use photos (taken by Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action).

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CONGRESS WANTS $1 TRILLION FOR NUKES. What will be left for our children?

On July 17, and continuing for eleven weeks, 26 King County Metro buses will display the following paid advertisement: CONGRESS WANTS $1 TRILLION FOR NUKES. What will be left for our children?  The ad includes a photo of a Trident nuclear submarine in Hood Canal and the eyes of a child.

 

The statement in the ad refers to the planned expenditure of $1 trillion for the next 30 years for upgrading the nation’s nuclear facilities and modernizing nuclear weapons.  The nuclear weapons modernization plan was initially planned and evolved under the Obama administration.  President Trump has given his support to this plan and stated in December 2016 that the “United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability…”

The bus ads are an effort by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, a grass roots organization in Poulsbo, Washington, to reawaken public awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons in the Puget Sound region. The Bangor submarine base, just 20 miles from Seattle, has the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.  If Washington state were a sovereign nation, it would be the third-largest nuclear-weapons state in the world.

Ground Zero member, Rodney Brunelle, said of the bus ad campaign, “We hope to generate a measure of citizen interest, and to begin a public discussion of nuclear weapons in the Puget Sound region. The submarine base at Bangor has the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.  The discussion needs to begin here.”

Photo courtesy of intersection.com

The issues

* The U.S. is currently spending more on nuclear weapons programs than during the height of the Cold War.

* The U.S. currently plans to spend an estimated $1 trillion dollars over 30 years for rebuilding the nation’s nuclear facilities and modernizing nuclear weapons.

* The New York Times reported that the U. S., Russia and China are aggressively pursuing a new generation of smaller and less destructive nuclear weapons. The buildups threaten to revive a Cold War-era arms race and unsettle the balance of power among nations.

* The U.S. Navy states that SSBN submarines on patrol provide the U.S. with its “most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability.”  However, SSBNs in port and nuclear warheads stored at SWFPAC are likely a first target in a nuclear war.  The latest Google imagery shows three SSBN submarines on the Hood Canal waterfront.

* An accident involving nuclear weapons occurred on November 2003 when a ladder penetrated a nuclear nosecone during a routine missile offloading at the Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor.  All missile-handling operations at SWFPAC were stopped for nine weeks until Bangor could be recertified for handling nuclear weapons.  Three top commanders were fired but the public was never informed until information was leaked to the media in March 2004.

* Public responses from governmental officials to the 2003 missile accident were generally in the form of surprise and disappointment.

* Due to ongoing modernization and maintenance programs for warheads at Bangor, nuclear warheads are routinely shipped in unmarked trucks between the Department of Energy Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas and the Bangor base.  Unlike the Navy at Bangor, the DOE actively promotes emergency preparedness.

* The award-winning documentary, Command and Control, and the critically-acclaimed book, Command and Control, by Eric Schlosser, address a dangerous nuclear weapons accident in Arkansas in 1980, and raise important issues for this region.

The bus ad

The bus ads measure 30 inches tall and 144 inches in length and are posted on the sides of 26 King County Metro buses that run through downtown Seattle.  An interactive map of the bus routes may be viewed at http://mapping.titan360.com/atlas.aspx?mapId=49878   The bus ads will run on buses traveling as far south as Federal Way and as far north as Edmonds.

Two bus companies in the Puget Sound area refused to run the ad.  

On June 22, Sound Transit in Seattle told Ground Zero: “Sound Transit’s advertising policy prohibits advertisements that Sound Transit reasonably believes promotes or implies a position on any proposed or existing laws or advocacy on disputed or controversial issues.

Community Transit in Snohomish County also refused to run the ad.  On June 23, Community Transit declared that the ad was a political advertisement which is defined under Community Transit policy as “advertisements that contain political speech referring to a particular ballot question, initiative, petition, referendum, law, candidate, political party or social issue or expresses or advocates opinions or positions upon any of the foregoing. This prohibition includes any advertisement referring to or depicting a candidate for public office in any context.”

Nuclear weapons and resistance

In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands demonstrated against nuclear weapons at the Bangor base and hundreds were arrested.  Seattle Archbishop Hunthausen had proclaimed the Bangor submarine base the “Auschwitz of Puget Sound” and in 1982 began to withhold half of his federal taxes in protest of “our nation’s continuing involvement in the race for nuclear arms supremacy.”

More than 1,300 nuclear warheads are deployed 20 miles west of Seattle on Trident D-5 missiles on SSBN submarines based at Bangor and nuclear warheads stored at Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC).

One Trident SSBN submarine at Bangor is estimated to carry about 108 nuclear warheads.  The W76 and W88 warheads at Bangor are equal respectively to 100 kilotons and 455 kilotons of TNT in destructive force.  One submarine deployed at Bangor is equal to more than 1,400 Hiroshima sized nuclear bombs.

On May 27, 2016, President Obama spoke in Hiroshima and called for an end to nuclear weapons.   He said that the nuclear powers “…must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.”  Obama added, “We must change our mindset about war itself.”

On December 22, 16 President Trump endorsed a growing arms race and posted to Twitter, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” 

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The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was founded in 1977.  The center is on 3.8 acres adjoining the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington.  The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action offers the opportunity to explore the roots of violence and injustice in our world and to experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.

Upcoming Ground Zero events:

* The annual Interfaith Peace Walk led by Bainbridge Island Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple starts in Corvalis, Oregon on July 30 and ends at the Bangor submarine base on August 14.

* Ground Zero Peace Fleet in Elliott Bay to meet the Navy fleet on August 2.

* From Hiroshima to Hope event at Green Lake on August 6 commemorating the victims of the Hiroshima bombing 72 years ago.

* Boats by Bangor on August 12, will be a flotilla of small boats in the waters of Hood Canal out past the perimeter of Naval Base Kitsap Bangor.

* The Annual Ground Zero Hiroshima/Nagasaki Commemoration on August 12 through August 14 at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action with a vigil and nonviolent civil resistance at the entrance to Bangor.

Please check our website at www.gzcenter.org for updates.

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