Published on Friday, April 16, 2010 by Foreign Policy in Focus
The New Anti-Nuclear Movement
There is a lot of news about nuclearism these days. President Barack Obama just concluded his Nuclear Security Summit . The new START agreement  between the
It's good that nuclear weapons reductions and security are in the news. When they are asked about it, Americans are concerned. According to a Pew Research survey last fall, a little more than a half of the American public believes that "an attack on the
That is an alarming statistic. And a quick look at the nuclear landscape reinforces this anxiety. There are four more nuclear powers —
And here in the
In addition, the administration recently unveiled its Nuclear Posture Review , which affirms a more limited but "essential" role for nuclear weapons in
Existential Threat, Daily Impact
It isn't just the existential threat of global annihilation by accidental or deliberate nuclear strike that is of pressing concern. Whole communities throughout the world are affected daily by nuclear weapons, their land forcibly subjected to decades of nuclear testing, mining, and dumping of toxic radioactive waste.
Today, nuclear mining and nuclear waste dumping on Native lands is back with a vengeance , as the Obama administration pushes for a renaissance of nuclear power production in the United States. In January, the White House approved a $54 billion dollar taxpayer loan in a guarantee program for new nuclear reactor construction, three times what Bush previously promised in 2005. Right now, there are 104 nuclear reactors in the
Since 2007, 17 companies have sought government approval to build 26 new reactors, at an estimated cost of more than $12 billion each. These new nuclear reactors need uranium and the mining industry has applied to open (or reopen) 22 mines in
At the end of April, people will be coming to
The 2010 NPT Review Conference represents a vital opportunity to put needed pressure on the
In 1982, the War Resisters League initiated a "Blockade the Bombmakers" series of mass actions in
This year, we'll have another opportunity to take to the streets. On May 2, the "Disarm Now: For Peace and Human Needs " march across
To cut through the verbiage of treaties and agreements and summits, and move people from fear to action, we need to focus on three concepts. The
Between them, the
Next, we need a simple and fair treaty. The NPT entered into force in 1970 and set up a bargain between nuclear haves and have-nots. The five acknowledged nuclear powers at the time — the United States, the Soviet Union, the
Nuclear weapons states have not disarmed, and more than one has transferred nuclear know-how and materials to other nations. The treaty is broken. But there is an opportunity to channel the will toward disarmament into a new treaty framework that is free from the old constructs of haves and have-nots.
The Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy and other groups established a framework for real action towards disarmament. The "Nuclear Weapons Convention ," which Costa Rica submitted to the 2007 UN meeting in preparation for the NPT Review Conference this spring, would simply and universally "prohibit development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons" [and] calls for "states possessing nuclear weapons [to] destroy their arsenals according to a series of phases." There is much more to the treaty that these few sentences, but in essence it says: "Let's build a safer world and start dismantling nuclear weapons."
Finally, no nukes means no nuclear power. The NPT enshrined nuclear power as the ultimate carrot to be exchanged for nonproliferation. It didn't work. And, just as importantly, nuclear power is not clean, green, or cheap. As uranium mining begins again under Obama, one need only visit Grand Canyon, Arizona  (where uranium mining is once again under way) or Cane Valley, Arizona (the site of a uranium reprocessing plant) to be immediately disabused of that nuclear power industry propaganda.
These aren't slogans to shout from the ramparts. They're building blocks for a new anti-nuclear movement. We can't wait for the president or the leaders gathering at the next nuclear summit. They will have to be moved further in the right direction — by us.
Frida Berrigan serves on the Board of the War Resisters League and is a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus.
URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/16-5
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