for the Anti-Nuclear Movement in the United States
(And the Necessity for International Solidarity)
*Jacqueline Cabasso, February 28, 2005
I would like to thank the Japan Council against Atomic and
Hydrogen Bombs for inviting me to participate in the 2005
Bikini Day events. It is a great honor for me to be here with
you. As an American citizen born after World War II, I would
like to begin by offering my personal apology to the victims
and survivors of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Fifth Lucky Dragon)
and the nearly 1000 other Japanese tuna boats who suffered
from the intolerable heat, blast and radiation unleashed by
the "Bravo" hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll on
March 1, 1954. I also extend my apologies to the people of
Rongalap and Utrik Islands, whose lives were disrupted forever
by that terrible event. And, in this 60th anniversary year,
I again offer my apologies to the people of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki for the atomic bombings of your cities by my government.
I have worked my entire adult life for the elimination of
nuclear weapons. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
and the nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific were reprehensible,
immoral and illegal. Nothing could have justified the use
of those monstrous weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately,
prospects for nuclear disarmament any time soon, are bleak.
I will start with the bad news.
George W. Bush's election to a second term as U.S. President
removed any perceived ambiguity about prospects for nuclear
disarmament in the foreseeable future. While many had hoped
that a John Kerry Presidency would open the way to progress
on nuclear disarmament, it probably would only have muddied
the waters. While candidate Kerry stated his opposition to
"new" nuclear weapons and espoused vaguely progressive
ideas like alliance-building and being prepared to talk directly
with North Korea, it was in the context of a national security
policy premised, in his own words, on "modern[izing]
"the world's most powerful military to meet new threats."
In terms of U.S. nuclear weapons policy, a Kerry Presidency
would have looked a lot like the Clinton Presidency. Despite
the unprecedented historical opportunity at the end of the
Cold War, Democratic President Bill Clinton's regressive 1994
Nuclear Posture Review set the stage for current U.S. nuclear
policy. Clinton's 1997 Presidential Decision Directive reaffirmed
the threatened first use of nuclear weapons as the "cornerstone"
of U.S. national security, and contemplated an expanded role
for nuclear weapons to "deter" nuclear, chemical
or biological weapons.
The Bush Administration reinforced and expanded this policy,
making it even more reckless by turning away from the long-standing,
if often weak, declared U.S. commitment to treaty-based international
law. Knowing with virtual certainty that we expect more of
the same during the second Bush term requires a critical evaluation
of past approaches to arms control and disarmament, and development
of new strategies that that will be sustainable over many
Although George W. Bush declared a popular mandate following
his re-election, nearly half of American voters voted against
him. But there were significant gains by Republicans in the
Senate and, for the first time in many years, the Republican
Party now solidly dominates the Administration and both Houses
of Congress. Further, all indications from the post-election
Bush White House are that new appointments will favor those
who support a unilateral, militarist world view of a U.S.
empire determined to bring "freedom" and "democracy"
to the Middle East and other volatile regions, through whatever
means it deems necessary. Bush's loyal National Security Advisor,
Condoleeza Rice, has been promoted to Secretary of State.
Her replacement, Stephen Hadley, is a nuclear hawk who has
expressed a hegemonic view: "[B]ecause we cannot be confident
that the world will ever be . . . permanently 'devoid of nuclear
weapons,' some nations, such as the United States, must continue
to possess them to deter their acquisition or use by others."
Hadley has also written that it is "often an unstated
premise that "if nuclear weapons are needed at all, they
are needed only to deter the nuclear weapons of others. I
am not sure that this unstated premise is true."
In the current situation, at best what can be accomplished
through conventional methods of lobbying in Washington, DC,
is defending against the most egregious nuclear weapons programs.
Somewhat surprisingly, last year Republican House members
led efforts to cut funding for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator
(RNEP) and Advanced Weapons Concepts, but the Fiscal Year
2006 budget request reinstates funding for the RNEP. It also
establishes a new "Reliable Replacement Warhead"
program, which has the enthusiastic support of the same Republicans
who last year opposed the RNEP and Advanced Weapons Concepts.
The U.S. will spend nearly $7 billion this year to maintain
and modernize its nuclear warheads, and many billions more
to operate and upgrade its delivery and command and control
systems - all of this to ensure that its nuclear arsenal remains
useable for decades to come, in any number of potential circumstances.
And U.S. deployment of anti-ballistic missile interceptors
in Alaska and California is well underway.
In understanding what will be required to halt this juggernaut,
it is essential to recognize that the Bush doctrine is a continuation
and extension of programs and policies carried out by every
U.S. administration, Democrat and Republican, since President
Harry Truman - a Democrat - authorized the U.S. atomic bombings
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 60 years ago. Today, more than 2,000
"old" U.S. strategic nuclear warheads remain on
hair-trigger alert, deployed on land-based missiles and Trident
submarines still patrolling the seas at Cold War levels, ready
to instantly target locations around the globe upon receiving
a few short computer signals. And, it was recently reported
that the U.S. maintains some 480 nuclear bombs in six NATO
Despite this gloomy assessment, there are some reasons to
1) The 2004 Presidential election mobilized thousands of
activists around the country - including many young people
- for the first time. A tremendous opportunity and challenge
exists to keep them engaged and to educate them on the most
important issues facing human kind.
2) With the number of U.S. soldiers dying and injured in
Iraq growing each day, a growing outcry against the war and
occupation by military families and former government officials,
and ominous new U.S. threats against Iran, Syria and North
Korea, there is a potential for a powerful, mainstream, anti-war
movement to emerge in the U.S. Long after the end of the Cold
War and fears of "mutually assured destruction,"
it hasn't been easy to educate a new generation of peace activists
about the growing dangers of nuclear weapons, but over the
past two years, Abolition 2000 groups in the U.S. have worked
hard to bring nuclear disarmament "home" to the
anti-war movement. As a result, United for Peace and Justice,
the largest anti-war coalition in the United States, with
nearly 1000 member groups, has agreed to co-sponsor a major
demonstration in New York City on May 1, the day before the
2005 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference
opens, to demand an end to nuclear excuses for war and a plan
for the global elimination of nuclear weapons.
3) The 60th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Mayors' call
for A Year of Remembrance and Action for a Nuclear Weapons
Free World, provide a useful framework for public education
in the United States. The Abolition Now! campaign of Abolition
2000 is working internationally with the Mayors Emergency
Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons to enroll U.S. mayors in World
Mayors for Peace, and to encourage them to join an international
mayors delegation to the NPT Review Conference in May, headed
by Mayors Akiba and Itoh. Perhaps more importantly, the Mayor's
Campaign provides a powerful organizing tool for local groups
in cities across America, large and small, to approach their
mayors to educate their citizens about the threat of nuclear
weapons. On August 6, nationally coordinated protest actions
against U.S. nuclear weapons policy will take place at the
Livermore and Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratories, the
Nevada Test Site, and the Y-12 nuclear facility in Tennessee,
which represent the core of the active U.S. nuclear weapons
complex. And on August 9, we are calling for candlelight vigils
at city halls in towns and cities across the United States.
No more Hiroshimas! No More Nagasakis!
We have just received some very good news. In the face of
enormous pressure from the United States, the Canadian Prime
Minister has announced that Canada will refuse to participate
in the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense program. This represents
a dramatic turnaround in Canada's position, and a major victory
for the peace movement, demonstrating the importance of international
solidarity, and in particular, the close cooperation between
American and Canadian peace activists.
The American anti-war and anti-nuclear movements stand in
solidarity with the Japanese movements, in defense of the
"three nonnuclear principles" and Article 9 of the
Japanese Constitution, and in opposition to the deployment
of so-called "self-defense" forces to Iraq and U.S.
bases in Japan. Japan, as the only country to experience the
devastating effects of nuclear weapons in war, has a unique
moral stature. For that reason, I urge Japanese NGOs to press
their own government and corporations. It's time for Japan
to get out from under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Japan should
join with European nations and others in opposing U.S. missile
defense plans, and should withdraw from participation in theater
missile defense research and development. Japan should halt
uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing activities and
permanently shut down the Monju and Rokkashomura facilities.
Japanese companies should refuse to participate in U.S. nuclear
weapons programs like the National Ignition Facility, a stadium-sized
laser installation at the Livermore Lab. Japan should renounce
the idea that nuclear weapons can provide regional security,
and should initiate negotiations on a Northeast Asia Nuclear
Weapons-Free Zone inclusive of Japan and the Korean peninsula.
Japan should support the New Agenda countries, and should
initiate an even stronger coalition with like-minded nations
and NGOs to lead global efforts for nuclear disarmament at
the upcoming NPT Review Conference.
Here's what I'm telling my government. Without further delay,
the U.S. should reaffirm its commitment to the rule of law
and make good on its long-overdue NPT commitments to end the
nuclear arms race and negotiate the elimination of its nuclear
weapons. The U.S. should ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty and halt all efforts aimed at "improving"
the military capabilities of its nuclear arsenal, including
research and development for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator,
"mini-nukes," and delivery systems. It should halt
plans for upgrades to existing weapons production facilities
and forgo building new ones for plutonium pit manufacturing
and tritium. The U.S. should cancel plans for missile defenses
and support efforts to ban the weaponization of space. Instead
of threatening countries suspected of having biological and
chemical weapons programs, it should work to strengthen the
Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions. The U.S. should
lead the world out of the nuclear arms race it began by initiating
comprehensive negotiations to verifiably eliminate nuclear
weapons and ban missiles worldwide, under strict international
If the most powerful country in history reserves for itself
the threatened first use of nuclear weapons in the name of
"national security," we shouldn't be surprised if
others follow suit. Following the 9-11 attacks, the Bush doctrine
of preventive war, carried out and disastrously continuing
to unfold in Iraq, makes clear that we urgently need a new
understanding of what security means. It is too little and
too late to campaign narrowly against individual weapons like
bunker busters and mini-nukes. As responsible global citizens,
we must demand a more sustainable concept of "human security"
based on the promise of food, shelter, health care, education,
clean water and air for all people everywhere, and on the
resolution of international conflicts through multilateral
institutions and nonviolent mechanisms rather than through
the threat or use of force.
Somewhat paradoxically, I'd like to close with an observation
by Dr. Ralph Lapp, a U.S. nuclear physicist, who worked on
the Manhattan Project. Just a few years after the tragedy
we are commemorating today, he wrote: "The true striking
power (of nuclear weapons) was revealed on the deck of the
Lucky Dragon. When men 100 miles from an explosion can be
killed by the silent touch of the bomb, the world suddenly
becomes too small a sphere for men to clutch the atom. For
this knowledge, gained so strangely from the adventures of
23 men, the world may some day rank this voyage with that
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*Jacqueline Cabasso is the Executive Director of the Western
States Legal Foundation in Oakland, California, USA (www.wslfweb.org)
and the U.S. Coordinator of the Abolition Now! campaign (www.abolitionnow.org)
+(510) 839-5877; firstname.lastname@example.org