Georgia WAND Responds to Recent Nuclear Updates by Emily Weyrauch

In the past few weeks, our issues of nuclear weapons and preventing war have been in the news a lot–on front pages, shared across social media. From the Hawaii missile alert error to the potential collapsing of the Iran Deal, from the Nuclear Posture Review to the spark of diplomacy between North and South Korea–people have been talking and thinking a lot more about nuclear weapons.

At Georgia WAND, we want you to know that we will continue doing our work of fighting white supremacy, championing peace and diplomacy, and advocating for environmental, health, and racial justice for all people–no matter if our issues are in the headlines or not.

We know that nuclear weapons not only affect those who are threatened by them but also those who live near the manufacturing and storage of them. Nuclear weapons affect people right here in Georgia, even without the threat of nuclear war. Silent victims, such as people who live near–or work at–nuclear weapons plants are facing health risks. We are gathering resources to find out more about how people are being affected due to their proximity to radiological contamination. These people do not die from the explosion of a nuclear bomb–they suffer long-term due to a disregard for rural lives, in which dangerous industries get sited in rural communities, whose health and well-being are not at the forefront of industry concerns.

Georgia WAND believes that the violence nations threaten and impose upon each other is intrinsically connected to the state violence of people’s environments and bodies being harmed by radioactive materials without their consent or knowledge.

We want you to know that we are continuing our work of community education, civic engagement, and advocacy. We are working on a small scale and raising awareness about larger-scale issues so that we can continue fighting for peace and justice.

Here are some voices we want to lift up around recent nuclear issues in the news.

Nuclear Posture Review
The Nuclear Posture Review of the Trump Administration was leaked to the Huffington Post last week, and its contents are stark. For context, the Obama administration’s nuclear posture review focused on reducing the role of nuclear weapons in the country’s national security strategy. Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review, however, aims to increase the role of nuclear weapons in the national security strategy. It also calls for a boost in military spending.

These are priorities that Georgia WAND strongly disagrees with, as peace and diplomacy are much safer and healthier ways to solve conflicts than bombs are. The Trump administration will need to have Congress authorize its spending on increased nuclear weapons, so contacting your representatives is a great way for you to get involved in Georgia WAND’s anti-violence work.

As Hampshire College Professor of Peace and World Studies Michael T. Klare writes in The Nation:

“…it is essential to resist the notion that a world without nuclear weapons is inconceivable and that only a bigger arsenal can protect us at a time of increased international tension. Enhancing the potency of the US nuclear arsenal at this moment will only aggravate tensions and increase the risk of confrontation, not reduce it. If we can be sure of anything, a US decision to procure additional nuclear munitions and expand the number of circumstances in which they might be used is certain to invite similar moves by Russia and China and lower the threshold for the first use of such weapons in a future crisis situation. In the end, the Trump plan, if fully executed, will put us at far greater risk than a strategy aimed at reducing the role of nuclear weapons in our military strategy.” (Read full article here)

Hawaii Missile False Alert
Last week when residents and visitors to Hawaii all received an urgent text alert about incoming ballistic missiles, there was widespread panic, until 38 minutes later it was reported as a false alarm, an error made a Hawaii Emergency Management Agency staffer.

Our ally Tri-Valley Cares described it as the following:

“Thousands of Americans called their loved ones for what they thought to be the last time. In those 38 minutes, citizens of Hawaii experienced first hand the radical contingency of life in the nuclear era.” (Read full article here)

This “radical contingency” is the fear of a destructive threat that could happen at any minute. In the nuclear era, nations prioritize terror and fear over diplomacy. We stand against any threats of using nuclear weapons, and we stand with the countless Hawaiians and others who believe that risking innocent human lives for conflicts between heads of countries is completely irresponsible, unfair, and a violation of basic human liberties.

The Iran Deal Last week, President Trump waived sanctions on Iran for what he said was the last time. He wants a tougher inspection regime, an end to Iran missile R&D, and a permanent nuclear ban–as opposed to the current deal signed in 2015.

Georgia WAND stands with the United Nations and with National WAND in believing that the current deal, though imperfect, should be upheld as it makes the US safer and prevents a path to war.

“The (nuclear deal) constitutes a major achievement of nuclear non-proliferation and diplomacy, and has contributed to regional and international peace and security,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on the second anniversary of the implementation of the deal between Iran and key world powers.
(Read full US News article here)


Diplomacy Between North and South Korea
Georgia WAND supports the ongoing talks between North and South Korea, the fact that North and South Korea will be marching under one flag at the Olympics in Seoul, and the joint women’s hockey team.

Please read the following statement written by Joseph Cirincione, the Executive Director of Ploughshares Fund, which funded our Korea survey and phone bank in 2017.
Here’s an excerpt:

“Thus, the current talks represent something potentially much greater than a joint athletic team, friendly photos and a two-month “Olympic Truce.” North Korean participation in the Olympics would obviously benefit the North by providing possible concessions from the South and an international platform to raise its “peace-loving” status. But even more, this breakthrough represents the first of many steps toward an improvement in North-South relations that may, following the Olympics, pave the way for negotiations related to the North’s nuclear and missile program.
For now, the goal should be to nurture this moment of de-escalation and support the South. The topic of North Korea’s nuclear and missile program is off the table until the United States is in the room. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis stressed on Friday, ‘This is simply South and North Korea, and so the right countries aren’t in the room to go further.'” (Read full article here)

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