A Nuclear Free Zone in the Puget Sound?

A reflection by Susan Crane, FDC SeaTac, 2011-4-12

The US has blocked nuclear free zones in Africa, the Middle East, and the Pacific Islands.

African countries agreed to be a nuclear weapons free zone. But Africa includes Diego Garcia, an island in the Indian Ocean. Diego Garcia is a US military base, and nuclear weapons are stored there. So, the US vetoes the African nuclear weapons free zone.

Similarly in the South Pacific. The South Pacific countries want to be a nuclear weapons free zone, but the US has islands there, and nuclear weapons are stored on those South Pacific islands. The US consequently won’t agree to a nuclear weapons free zone there.

Further, after the May [2010 Nuclear] Non Proliferation [Treaty Review] Conference in New York City last May, there was an international call for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East.

The US said it wanted a nuclear weapon free Middle East, but first, there had to be a comprehensive peace treaty. The US has been taking the side of Israel and blocking comprehensive peace treaties in the Middle East for decades.

As we struggle for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Puget Sound, we’re in solidarity with the people of Africa, the Pacific Islands, and many in the Middle East. There is one blue sky over all of us, and we struggle together.

Editor’s Note: Susan’s reflection was inspired by US Savage Imperialism, The U.S., the Mideast, and the world, part four of a talk at Z Media Institute with Noam Chomsky, published online at Z Magazine (http://www.zcommunications.org/u-s-savage-imperialism-part-4-by-noam-chomsky).

From War Culture to Peace Culture: Steven Leeper Interview


Steven Leeper, Chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, spent the week with us during the Disarm Now Plowshares trial – observing, supporting and testifying, and sharing his experience and knowledge with others.  Mike McCormick interviewed Steve on Saturday, December 11th, on KEXP Radio, Seattle.  Steve gave a rich explanation of the purposes and functions of Mayors for Peace and the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, provided perspective on the trial, and spoke directly about the world “nuclear weapons crisis.”

Steven Leeper’s Talk – Wednesday Dec 8

Steven Leeper is Chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. He spoke on December 8th to a packed hall of people gathered in support of Disarm Now Plowshares.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Resisting Trident: For Love and for Life

Resisting Trident: For Love and for Life

by Lynne Greenwald

Although I’ve been “part of the peace movement” since the 1970’s, two phrases have remained a common thread throughout the years:  “Don’t take myself too seriously,” and “Resistance should be a song, a dance, an act of love.”

At the Pentagon in the mid-1970’s I experienced what seems to have been a life-altering experience and I knew from that point on, that with my life I had to show that nuclear weapons were wrong.  This became a foundation for my life on the East Coast, in Montana and in Washington State.  I moved to Kitsap County over 26 years ago, to join Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, and to raise a family.  Living in this community, it has been possible to learn how to become neighbors to those in the military and discovering our common desires.

I was pregnant with my first daughter when I learned of the Nuclear (White) Train that traveled from Amarillo, Texas to the Trident Submarine Base at Bangor.  The train carrying nuclear weapons was originally parked over night on the tracks behind the Poverello Center, a shelter I helped manage in Missoula, Montana. Christy’s birth was motivation to join a community, nonviolently resisting Trident.

A lot has changed over the years – my three children are all independent young adults now, and the Trident Base continues to expand.  As part of the U.S. strategic military triad (air, land and sea), Trident remains entrenched in the nuclear posturing with its ability to deliver its deadly cargo to any location in the world within 15 minutes.  The beginning of the Iraq war convinced me to take my demands for the end of all war, and the abolition of all nuclear weapons, to the Trident Base in my community.

Last August I was arrested for the third time for “crossing the blue line” at the Base. On November 2, 2009 I entered the Trident Base with four friends and proceeded to walk to the nuclear weapons storage facility.  As part of the Disarm Now Plowshares group we spent several hours walking on the Base and cut through fences that “secured” the largest single stockpile of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal.

I can’t not act to stop nuclear weapons from being planned, developed or deployed.  The compelling reasons include a faith that life is to be nurtured, not destroyed; that all resources should be used for life-giving purposes for all; and that nuclear weapons do not make us safe, and actually make us less secure.  When entering the base I carry prayers for peace and images of children, including 2-year-old Ali Hussein, who died late April 2008 following a U.S. missile attack on his home in Baghdad, Iraq.  I take a vision of a world without nuclear weapons and war, and sunflower seeds representing hope for this violated earth.

All signs indicate that this country is not preparing for nuclear disarmament.  On January 29, 2010 Joe Biden presented an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, the President’s Nuclear Vision.  The article clearly outlines a plan to maintain and further develop the strength of the nuclear arsenal, with a proposed $7 billion ($600 million more than Congress approved last year) to be spent to maintain the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile and complex.

Knowing what I know, acts of Civil Resistance are a responsibility I take seriously, committing my life to the elimination of all nuclear weapons.  Trident nuclear weapons are illegal and immoral. Even the existence and threat to use nuclear weapons violates International Law and the International Tribunal of Justice of 1996.

I began this article by mentioning two thoughts that run through my actions.  By committing acts of Civil Resistance we have an opportunity to create an alternative peaceful world.  I am convinced that “those in control” completely lack creativity and imagination and need our voices and lives to describe another reality – complete nuclear abolition in our lifetime.

Lynne is preparing for a trial March 3 for an August 2009 trespass at the Bangor Trident BaseShe currently lives in Tacoma and volunteers at the Guadalupe Catholic Worker House.  As a member of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, she is helping to plan for a May 1 – 3 gathering and action to coincide with the NPT Review gathering at the UN in NYC.

New Fence at Naval Base Kitsap

by Susan Crane

Naval Base Kitsap, in Washington state, is planning to build a new fence to protect the Trident submarines and the nuclear weapons that are carried on the subs.

The cost for the fence, and projects encompassed in the fence building, is $14,000,000. Not 14 hundred, not 14 thousand, but 14 million dollars. That, my friends, is a lot of money.

That much money, fourteen million dollars, could pay salaries and benefits for 140 well paid teachers for a year, or buy 16,000 families of four food for a month, or send 560 students to college for a year.

And that 14 million will never keep the illegal and immoral Trident warheads safe, because they are inherently unsafe. They already cause death and destruction from the mining of uranium and radioactive materials, to production, deployment, threats to use, and actual use. Additionally they are unsafe because they force other countries to spend money that should be spent on human needs on developing nuclear weapons, in an attempt to secure themselves from our nuclear weapons.

A number of retired Secretaries of State, including Henry Kissinger, as well as some in the military have endorsed the elimination of nuclear weapons because they are unsafe as an instrument of US foreign policy.

And what does it mean that President Obama has pledged to bring global nuclear weapons down to zero? What does it mean that the US has signed a non-proliferation treaty and has agreed to decrease nuclear weapons production? As long as the US maintains its arsenal of roughly 5200 nuclear warheads and plans for its next generation of Trident submarines, other nations feel forced for their own security, to build nuclear weapons, too.

It makes no sense to me that here in the United States we consider that our nuclear weapons are good, moral and lawful, while the nuclear weapons of anther country (depending upon our relationship with it) are evil, immoral and illegal. It is, to me, the same sort of logic that says it’s OK, righteous, and defending freedom when the US drones are used to kill civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq, and when the people on the bottom fight the occupying forces using explosives strapped to their bodies, that is considered outrageous, immoral and beyond any defense. Why is it any worse to look at the people you kill before you kill them? Why is it outrageous to die with those you are killing, instead of sitting thousands of miles out of harms way and drop hellfire missiles on people?

If the word “terrorist” has any meaning, it would seem that the US use of drones and the US continued development of nuclear weapons bring terror into many hearts, and many lives; and into the everyday life of many children.

And now we hear that President Obama has asked for a 7 billion dollar increase for nuclear weapons spending over the next five years; making the 2011 fiscal year budget $11.2 billion.

The fence at the US/Mexico border costs more than 14 million, as it’s much longer. That fence fence probably won’t keep people from coming across the border, and neither will the fence at Naval Base Kitsap keep us safe from the danger of nuclear weapons. (or keep Plowshares activists away). So long as the weapons exist, and the fear deep within our hearts that drives us to rely on these insane, omnicidal weapons, we live in constant danger of something far greater than any terrorist attack.

Is it not time for us to to re-evaluate the value of fences and walls, and consider whether we should start building bridges? Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that,

Love is the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or to bow before the altar of retaliation. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals who pursues this self-defeating path of hate.

Dr. King’s calls us to take a different, yet life-giving path. To do so, we will have to make radical changes in both our individual and collective lives, and as a nation will have to stop threatening other nations with regime change, fulfill our obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and stop holding the threat of nuclear weapons over other countries, and start using true diplomacy rather than military action as a tool of foreign policy.

And what does all this ultimately mean? It means that tearing down fences and building bridges is the only way we will ultimately stop the downward spiral that is bankrupting our nation both morally and financially, and build a safer world for current and future generations. May it be so, and may it start with each of us.

%d bloggers like this: