Thursday, August 13, 2009

Citizens' Actions for nuclear disarmament

We at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action have just completed one more citizens' action at Sub Base Bangor on the Hood Canal to commemorate the 64Th anniversary of the Atom bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I have been participating in actions with GZ since 1978. We yearn for the end of nuclear weapons, a nuclear free world without the threat of ending life on earth. We must take the threat away. And yet ... And yet.

Today we have the best opportunity to begin the disarmament process, since President Barack Obama has stated that he wants their abolition and has begun a process with Russia aimed at taking the next step in that direction. Both countries have thousands of the weapons on hair trigger alert, although the Cold War ended twenty years ago. Both countries have been involved in the Start Treaty process which have taken thousands of nuclear weapons out of commission. This process was severely stalled by the Bush administration. Now, Obama must hustle just to keep the disarmament protocols in place until new treaties can be negotiated. The protocols are scheduled to cease in December, 2009. While this opportunity beckons us with hope and expectation, several factors hamper the will to do so.

First, the health insurance reform is diverting energy and political capital from disarmament. Second, while the US led administration is stating the intent to disarm, it is also assisting India with nuclear deals which enable India to develop its own nuclear weapons and submarines. Other countries are being tempted to arm themselves with nuclear weapons. Third, the Nonproliferation Treaty has its next meeting in May, 2010. Without serious US leadership that Treaty is threatened by India's and other nations arming. Fourth, the US nuclear weapons establishment has careers on the line with disarmament and true believers in nuclear weapons. This is a formidable force for keeping the weapons in place, not only in place, but also creating new and more diverse nuclear weapons. Fifth, a recent poll showed that a more than 50% majority of Americans support the possession of nuclear weapons. To continue down the road to disarmament the Obama administration needs to take a very proactive posture. The activists and American people must put greater energy in support of US leadership.

This is the situation as I see it. Our best opportunity for nuclear abolition. Our daunting challenge to take advantage of it.

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