Nuclear Weapons are 65 Years Old: It's Time to Retire Them!
On July 16, 1945, the first nuclear test, code-named "Trinity," took place in the desert north of Alamogordo, New Mexico. According to the Washington Nuclear Museum and Educational Center, the test released the equivalent of 19 kilotons of TNT, far mightier than any weapon ever used before. The plutonium used in this bomb was produced in the B Reactor at Hanford, Washington.
July 16, 2010 marked the 65th anniversary of the first atomic bomb explosion. While certainly not everyone is ready to retire at age 65, NJ Peace Action firmly believes that it is well past the time for the U.S. government (and all governments, for that matter) to retire nuclear weapons all of them. NJ Peace Action, formerly known as NJ SANE, has had nuclear disarmament as its primary mission since its founding in 1957.
NJ Peace Action continues that work today, together with our parent organization, Peace Action, and other affiliates across the country. To that end, we are working on the following issues. We are pushing for U.S. Senate ratification of the new START Treaty. We support allocating additional money for nuclear disarmament work, but oppose allocating more money for nuclear weapons development. We are continuing to educate the public about the dangers of nuclear weapons, relying on the stories of Hibakusha, Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 65 years ago. Lastly, we support efforts to divert funding from nuclear weapons development to programs that address community needs such as hunger and poverty, as we believe that the eradication of hunger and poverty would go a long way toward establishing genuine security throughout the world.
Here's how you can get involved.
1. The New START Treaty: Join us in calling on all U.S. Senators, Republican and Democrat alike, to vote to ratify the new START Treaty, an agreement between the United States and Russia to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in both countries.
Another idea from nuclear disarmament expert and president of the Ploughshares Fund, Joseph Cirincione, comes from his blog.
"social media can also play a role. For instance, Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee--the Senate committee through which the New START must pass before it can be ratified. You can write on Senator Corker's Facebook wall here to let him know why he should vote yes on the New START treaty. Also, become a fan of New START on Facebook to get ideas and updates about how you can get involved.
Joseph Cirincione continues, "Whatever security nuclear weapons may have provided during the Cold War is now outweighed by the real risks they pose to our nation. Nuclear weapons are a liability, not an asset. By working together with other nations, verifying the mutual drawdown of outdated arsenals, and guarding all nuclear weapon materials as securely as we guard the gold in Fort Knox, we make the world safer. The New START treaty is a crucial first step in creating a more secure future for our children, our country, and the world."
2. Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Disarmament Funding: The House Energy and Water Committee voted recently to fully fund a host of nuclear nonproliferation initiatives, something we support completely. At the same time, the Committee also voted to fully fund a series of initiatives that undercuts nuclear disarmament measures. We ask that you call your Representative in Congress and let him or her know that while you support the levels of funding for nuclear disarmament initiatives, the increased funding for nuclear weapons laboratories undermines efforts at nuclear disarmament. The toll free number for the Congressional switchboard is 866-220-0044.
For background information on U.S. spending on nuclear weapons, check out the Peace Action Military Spending Primer located at http://peace-action.org/Peace%20Action%20Military%20Spending%20Primer.pdf . The Primer provides excellent background information on how much the United States has spent on nuclear weapons in the past few years.
For example, according to a Carnegie Endowment report published January 2009, total appropriations for nuclear weapons and weapons related programs for fiscal year 2008, was at least $52.4 billion. The report reveals a nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons related budget that is far larger than what is typically thought of as US expenses on nuclear weapons programs. The majority of the spending goes towards "nuclear forces and operational support" which includes the maintenance, operation and upgrading of the nuclear weapons arsenal, delivery systems, and infrastructure while only 10% goes towards limiting the spread of nuclear weapons.
Some of the Primer's key findings include:
* Nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs account for at least 67 percent of Department of Energy's budget, 8.5 percent of the FBI's budget, 7.1 percent of the Department of Defense budget, and 1.7 percent of the Department of Homeland Security's budget.
* Only 1.3 percent ($700 million) of the nuclear security budget was devoted to preparing for the consequences of a nuclear or radiological attack.
* Another 56 percent of the total went toward operating, sustaining, and upgrading the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
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