- No events
On April 2, 2015, the United States, along with the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Germany, and the European Union, reached a deal with Iran that would severely restrict their ability to produce nuclear resources solely for power-generation purposes. This unified effort of all of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as Germany and the EU, resulted in the reversion of Iran’s nuclear production to first-generation methods, reduce centrifuges by two-thirds, and reduce Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium (less than 3.67% U-235 by concentration) by 97% over the next 15 years (among many other sanctions upon Iran). While this is a first step in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons-state and reduces the risk of nuclear war, there are several issues that exist regarding both Iran’s current nuclear situation, as well as United States foreign policy.
The most pressing issue is that this is a statement by the United States rather than a multilateral treaty between the aforementioned states (and presumably Iran). Senators – who have the power to vote “yes or no” on treaties, and can pass treaties with a two-thirds vote – have been rallying to cancel President Obama’s executive order on the basis that while the President may negotiate and sign treaties, it is ultimately up to the Senate to ratify agreements with any other state. 47 Republican Senators have aligned to “give Iran a civics lesson” by outlining the concessions the United States government has made in order to build such this framework. The United States Constitution may validate those Senators’ position regarding treaties, but making an Executive Agreement between states is often easier than a treaty due to the non-binding nature and its allowance for other party-states to aspire to the goals of the agreement in much the same way as a UN Declaration. In essence, it is easier to get agreement when states just have to aspire, rather than comply.
The second issue with the nuclear resource agreement lies in Iran’s prior nuclear weapons aspirations. The Executive Agreement, which reverses some of Iran’s global sanctions while maintaining the United States’ sanctions against Iran due to its support of terrorism, does provide for the re-estabilishing of sanctions should Iran fail to meet the criteria imposed in the JCPA. While Iran has increased its transparency and allowed organizations such as the IAEA to inspect their facilities, Israel, a long-standing ally of the United States, has viewed the agreement as appeasing Iran and gone so far as saying that the United States is making excuses for Iran’s inability to uphold the agreement. Israel’s position is one that if the United States spent more time exerting its power by supporting Iraq’s fledgling government, preventing the overthrow of the Yemeni government, and weakening terror regimes such as Hezbollah, that Iran would have fallen into line rather than subtly finding ways to expand its imperialist aspirations. With Iran’s history of violence against women, minority oppression, and other actions viewed by the West as “deplorable,” what’s an economic sanction to a state that views repressing such persons as de rigeur?
This brings up the third issue. Whether there are stronger ways to dismantle Iran’s nuclear aspirations without going to war. The United States has already attempted this with the alleged installation of the Stuxnet virus in Iranian nuclear infrastructures. Although cyberattacks have the potential to be used against government institutions, when done correctly, cyberattacks can destroy infrastructure and force a state’s compliance to larger states’ demands. However, a cyberattack can easily spiral out of control should the virus or other mechanism land in an undesired location. This makes a cyberattack a powerful, albeit somewhat unfeasible, option while avoiding the casualties of traditional warfare.
Peace Action takes the position that while this diplomacy may be a bit lopsided, it does stave off the nuclear threat while providing Iran the opportunity to gradually reduce munitions in the same way that the United States was granted an opportunity to gradually reduce its weapons-load. However, the burden is on Iran to make the executive agreement work. If Iran shows a continued commitment to maintaining the agreement, not only would more coercive forms of non-violence be avoidable, but the legitimacy of the executive agreement would remove the conduciveness of the dissenting senators to give a “civics lesson” that would only serve to accelerate a path towards violent conflict.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) entered into force on March 5, 1970, was drafted with the intention of avoiding a nuclear Armageddon by the nuclear powers of the time: the United States and the former Soviet Union. Although the NPT promoted the scaling back of nuclear weapons and the elimination of their dissemination to smaller states, the NPT’ currently leaves three urgent issues unresolved. First, the NPT states that the permanent members of the UN Security Council are allowed to have nuclear weapons. Second, the United States Congress voted to defund efforts to secure nuclear materials in Russia; a response met with Russia’s cutting off of nuclear security cooperation with the United States. Third, the NPT does not expressly prohibit the reconditioning of older nuclear weapons. As a result, proliferation has become more than merely the production of newer, more powerful weapons, but the maintaining of older weapons.
It is essential that states reaffirm the intentions of the NPT, commit to ending prodution of new nuclear weapons, and cease refurbishing old weapons. Proliferation only serves to keep countries on edge rather than sufficiently protected, and the costs incurred by the United States in doing this, the aim is to show that editing the NPT for a more “nuclear” society is necessary in order to prevent the Doomsday clock from striking midnight. Lastly, this entry aims to provide alternatives that will bring a peaceful end to the “nuclear era.”
Also read more at http://www.peaceandplanet.org/
Who Are the Nuclear Scofflaws?
Dr. Lawrence Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. He is the author of “Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement” (Stanford University Press).
Given all the frothing by hawkish U.S. Senators about Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons, one might think that Iran was violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
But it’s not. The NPT, signed by 190 nations and in effect since 1970, is a treaty in which the non-nuclear nations agreed to forgo developing nuclear weapons and the nuclear nations agreed to divest themselves of their nuclear weapons. It also granted nations the right to develop peaceful nuclear power. The current negotiations in which Iran is engaged with other nations are merely designed to guarantee that Iran, which signed the NPT, does not cross the line from developing nuclear power to developing nuclear weapons.
Nine nations, however, have flouted the NPT by either developing nuclear weapons since the treaty went into effect or failing to honor the commitment to disarm. These nine scofflaws and their nuclear arsenals are Russia (7,500 nuclear warheads), the United States (7,100 nuclear warheads), France (300 nuclear warheads), China (250 nuclear warheads), Britain (215 nuclear warheads), Pakistan (100-120 nuclear warheads), India (90-110 nuclear warheads), Israel (80 nuclear warheads), and North Korea (10 nuclear warheads).
Nor are the nuclear powers likely to be in compliance with the NPT any time soon. The Indian and Pakistani governments are engaged in a rapid nuclear weapons buildup, while the British government is contemplating the development of a new, more advanced nuclear weapons system. Although, in recent decades, the U.S. and Russian governments did reduce their nuclear arsenals substantially, that process has come to a halt in recent years, as relations have soured between the two nations. Indeed, both countries are currently engaged in a new, extremely dangerous nuclear arms race. The U.S. government has committed itself to spending $1 trillion to “modernize” its nuclear facilities and build new nuclear weapons. For its part, the Russian government is investing heavily in the upgrading of its nuclear warheads and the development of new delivery systems, such as nuclear missiles and nuclear submarines.
What can be done about this flouting of the NPT, some 45 years after it went into operation?
That will almost certainly be a major issue at an NPT Review Conference that will convene at the UN headquarters, in New York City, from April 27 to May 22. These review conferences, held every five years, attract high-level national officials from around the world to discuss the treaty’s implementation. For a very brief time, the review conferences even draw the attention of television and other news commentators before the mass communications media return to their preoccupation with scandals, arrests, and the lives of movie stars.
This spring’s NPT review conference might be particularly lively, given the heightening frustration of the non-nuclear powers at the failure of the nuclear powers to fulfill their NPT commitments. At recent disarmament conferences in Norway, Mexico and Austria, the representatives of a large number of non-nuclear nations, ignoring the opposition of the nuclear powers, focused on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. One rising demand among restless non-nuclear nations and among nuclear disarmament groups is to develop a nuclear weapons ban treaty, whether or not the nuclear powers are willing to participate in negotiations.
To heighten the pressure for the abolition of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament groups are staging a Peace and Planet mobilization, in Manhattan, on the eve of the NPT review conference. Calling for a “Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just, and Sustainable World,” the mobilization involves an international conference (comprised of plenaries and workshops) on April 24 and 25, plus a culminating interfaith convocation, rally, march, and festival on April 26. Among the hundreds of endorsing organizations are many devoted to peace (Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pax Christi, Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Veterans for Peace, and Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom), environmentalism (Earth Action, Friends of the Earth, and 350NYC), religion (Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Unitarian Universalist UN Office, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist General Board of Church & Society), workers’ rights (New Jersey Industrial Union Council, United Electrical Workers, and Working Families Party), and human welfare (American Friends Service Committee and National Association of Social Workers).
Of course, how much effect the proponents of a nuclear weapons-free world will have on the cynical officials of the nuclear powers remains to be seen. After as many as 45 years of stalling on their own nuclear disarmament, it is hard to imagine that they are finally ready to begin negotiating a treaty effectively banning nuclear weapons―or at least their nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, let us encourage Iran not to follow the bad example set by the nuclear powers. And let us ask the nuclear-armed nations, now telling Iran that it should forgo the possession of nuclear weapons, when they are going to start practicing what they preach.
Last week I had a very enjoyable, short work trip to New York City. On Wednesday night, the indefatigable Judy Lerner (90+ years young!), who has served on the Peace Action national board for at least two decades, hosted a wonderful wine and cheese reception at her Manhattan apartment. Close to 30 Peace Action supporters turned up for a relaxed, social soiree, but we also talked a lot of politics as you can imagine (the picture above, taken by my Uncle, Todd Whitmer, who was there along with my brother, Kris Martin, shows just some of the assembled good folk) and raised a bit of much needed dough, thanks to a strong pitch by Joanne Robinson, Peace Action of New York State’s fundraising chair.
A few days before the event, I saw an RSVP list compiled by Sylvia Rodriguez Case, Peace Action of New York State’s superb administrator, and thought, wow, the brain trust of Peace Action in New York will be at the event, that’s great! And I got to thinking about the term “brain trust.” In Peace Action’s case, leadership is a collective, decentralized “brain,” and we have a lot of trust in our leadership to make the right decisions about priorities, strategies and tactics in our work.
Then I recalled Jim Anderson, board chair of Peace Action of New York State, from Buffalo, calling our national organizers’ meeting in DC two months ago a “Love Circle.” This wasn’t some hippie thing, he was encouraging a younger colleague to feel comfortable that her concerns would be heard and respected, even if they made some folks at the meeting a bit uncomfortable. Peace Actionistas certainly do form a trusting love circle where disagreements can be respectfully aired so we might reach higher ground together. I felt honored to be a part of that love circle last week at Judy’s, and also the following night at a chapter meeting of Peace Action of Staten Island, where I spoke to a terrific bunch of local supporters about the state of Peace Action’s work to support diplomacy with Iran, cut the gargantuan Pentagon budget, abolish nuclear weapons and end our country’s endless wars.
We also focused quite a bit on the April 24-26 Peace and Planet mobilization in New York City, which will bring together these issues as well as social, economic and racial justice and climate concerns. Right there at the meeting, Staten Island organizing powerhouse and Peace Action Fund of New York State board chair Sally Jones got firm commitments from over 50 people to turn out for Peace and Planet! And kudos to Peace Action of Staten Island chair Eileen Bardel for running a great meeting, keeping the agenda moving while also allowing space for everyone to participate, no easy feat!
Lately, some scholars and a few journalists have raised questions about why the peace movement isn’t as strong or visible as it was in the Bush error, I mean era, or why the peace movement isn’t as strong as the labor or environmental or human rights movements. Sometimes I get analytical about it (I could go on and on with my analysis but won’t do so here), other times I get a bit defensive, and other times I think, well if you’ll let me get off the phone I’ll get back to my job, which is to help organize and strengthen the peace movement.
Taking a long view, there are many social, political, economic and cultural factors (most out of our control) at play in why a movement catches fire or doesn’t in a particular place and time. One thing we can always control is sowing seeds that will lead to future growth in our organization and movement, and Peace Action of New York State is a leader in its investment in student/campus organizing. PANYS now has ten student chapters around the state, which didn’t just spring up by themselves. PANYS has invested in building those student chapters, and has a wonderful Student Outreach Coordinator Natia Bueno hard at work to spread this student chapter network even further (Natia will help lead a training session on student organizing for Peace Action affiliates and chapters next month, details TBA soon). Another crackerjack young organizer, Drew King, is working as our coordinator for Peace and Planet (and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as his father, Jonathan King, is an MIT professor and Massachusetts Peace Action activist).
Peace and Planet will be an outstanding opportunity to build and support the Peace Action brain trust, embrace our love circle, and sow seeds that will blossom in myriad, wonderful ways we can’t fathom today. Please plan to join us!
Peace Action of New York State is excited to invite you to join us as a member today – whether for the first time or once again – and help us make this year a very special one for peace & justice in New York.
Join us ONLINE today and you will be that special member who helps us save money on mailing costs.
Join us ONLINE today at a $40 membership level or more, and you will receive a free 20-week subscription to The Nation magazine.
As one of the hosts of the 2015 Peace & Planet mobilization, we also extend a warm invitation to come to New York City from Friday April 24th to Saturday April 25th for an international conference, and Sunday, April 26th for an international march, rally and festival taking place on the weekend before the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review begins at the United Nations. Sign up for more information at peaceandplanet.org.
On April 26th, we will be joined by thousands of activists from the U.S. and around the world, including many survivors of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to demand that the NPT Review Conference mandates the beginning of the promised negotiations for nuclear weapons abolition and making the connections between the no nukes, no war, climate justice, move the money, and racial and economic justice movements. Stay tuned for rally location and march route at peaceandplanet.org.
We are also proud to be taking the lead in organizing student chapters of Peace Action around New York State from Buffalo to SUNY Stonybrook University. We currently have 10 student chapters (up from 4 just a year ago) and, if you show support, we can keep going.
We are a membership organization and members like you are the voice for nuclear abolition, diplomacy, not war, moving the money to fund human needs, and building the next generation of Peace Action activists.
Let’s take it to the next level together. Click here to join.
Jim Anderson, President
Source: Dan Shewan, “What Is Net Neutrality and Why Should Marketers Care?,” Wordstream: Online Advertising Made Easy (blog), April 18, 2014, accessed February 20, 2015,http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/04/18/what-is-net-neutrality.
FREE INTERNET… IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT
On February 26, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on new Net Neutrality Rules on Title II of the Communications Act. Net Neutrality is the ability for individuals and organizations to communicate freely online without the risk of internet service providers (ISPs), using “undesirable tiers” for financial gains. If passed, the new Net Neutrality rules would have far-reaching, and beneficial, ramifications for social and political minorities within the United States. However, many ISPs are working to block its passage on exploitative “fast lane” and “slow lane” practices that protect their profitabilities through usurious monthly fees.
Social minorities, whether due to race, gender, or other “axes,” would benefit from Net Neutrality due to the reduced cost for entrepreneurs to enter various internet media outlets. While some contend that the advent of Net Neutrality may stifle innovation and the use of mobile broadband, many European countries consider broadband internet a public utility not unlike water, electricity, and heat. If implemented in the United States, minorities would have a greater ability to access fast internet at lower costs, and continue to advance in adopting various internet technologies.
Net Neutrality would allow political minorities to share viewpoints without ISP-based restrictions. Much like telephone services cannot determine who you can call nor decide the topic of conversation, the introduction of Net Neutrality would prevent ISPs from discriminating against “dissenting” sites, regardless of whether the site was accessed by wired or wireless connection. Political minorities would not have to worry about issues such as “paid prioritization”, in which a provider can either favor bandwidth to its affiliates, or sell the bandwidth to other companies at “preferred” rates. More importantly, political minority organizations would no longer be subjected to “blocking,” and ISPs would be required to protect the privacy of both the producers and the viewers of such content.
PANYS supports net neutrality because it would allow greater accessibility and opportunities for social and political minorities to learn, teach, and communicate with one another without the risk of an ISP deciding what’s “best” for a community. As an organization that speaks out against nuclear proliferation, wars in Iraq and other states, and advocates for the advancement of social minorities, an affirmative vote by the FCC would allow PANYS and other organizations to reach a broader audience. A broader audience that can take our non-violence message and distribute it to areas that the internet may not yet reach.