I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Test Pile Program is a PILE!!!

The Navy continues pursuing its plans to build a $782 million Second Explosives Handling Wharf at the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base. Although the public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) ended on May 17th, the Navy is now soliciting comments on what it deems a separate project - a Test Pile Program for the very same wharf.  Essentially, the two projects are directly connected, and the Test Pile Program will cause needless damage to Puget Sound whether or not the wharf is ever built.

We still have an opportunity to change the direction of this project!  The Navy is quite likely having problems with the environmental review as well as the project.  If you oppose the Navy's plans, here's what you can do:

If you have previously commented on the Test Pile Program, please send your comment again (to the address listed below).

If you previously commented on the Second Explosives Handling Wharf, please send a revised comment or your original comment  (to the address listed below).

If you haven't yet commented on either project please write a brief comment explaining your opposition to the project, whatever the reason.

Comments will be accepted through June 8. They will only accept written comments by postal mail.  Send written comments to:

ATTN: Mr. Thomas Dildine - NEPA Project Manager
Commanding Officer
Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest

1101 Tautog Circle
Silverdale, WA  98315

Click here for more details and Glen Milner's excellent, detailed analysis of the Test Pile Program at our Act Up page.  Glen clearly shows how the Navy, in pushing through the Test Pile Program, has failed to follow both the intent and letter of the law.  

Click here to watch video of all the public comments at the Seattle public hearing on the Second Explosives Handling Wharf. 

Click here to read previous posts on the Second Explosives Handling Wharf.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Navy Plans Rebuild of Trident Nuclear Weapons System

David C. Hall, MD

The Pentagon and US Navy are planning to rebuild the Trident submarine nuclear weapons fleet over the next fifteen years at a cost likely to exceed $1 trillion over the life of the program. Currently eight of the fourteen Trident warships allowed under the START treaty home port on Hood Canal at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington State. The other six home port at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia.

In what may well be an opening salvo announcing the rebuild of the Trident fleet, the Navy plans to build a new and expanded Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor next to the one currently servicing these warships. Price tag: $783 million. The Navy claims to need 400 operational days a year to load and unload missiles from the warships over the next 30-plus years, and they can only get 300 operational days from the current Explosives Handling Wharf. Public comment was solicited up through May 17, 2011 at www.nbkeis.com/EHW.

What goes unsaid is the impact of current treaty negotiations to reduce the number of warheads and launch vehicles. While Trident warships are patrolling the world's oceans at Cold War levels, the number of warheads on the Trident subs has probably been reduced by half according to what data is available in the public record. The Navy, however, wants to upgrade the missiles and warheads, so presumably will want more handling days available.

This at a time when across the country we are cutting back basic medical care for indigent children, more people are out of work than at any time since the Depression, and people continue to lose their homes.

And then there is the unimaginable devastation these weapons are designed to create. Hiroshima was leveled in 1945 by a 12 kiloton atomic bomb. Trident warships can carry W-76 warheads rated at 100 kilotons and W-88 warheads rated at 450 kilotons, up to 192 warheads on a single warship. A single Trident submarine warship has the capacity according to recent climatological calculations to black out the sun in an entire hemisphere for weeks to months, an event named “nuclear winter” by Carl Sagan and colleagues in the 1980's. What sane motives continue to compel us to rebuild this doomsday system? How can human freedom hope to survive once such a weapon is used?

A single Trident-launched warhead could create a fireball with the heat of the sun over an area that would incinerate the heart of any city, and then the blast, firestorms, and radiation would expand that zone in waves of destruction over five miles and several generations.

On whose country would we deliver such wholesale killing, suffering, and environmental devastation? China would seem to be the principal target of the Pacific Trident warship fleet. We remember World War II, the Nazi holocaust, Stalinist Russia, and Mao Tse Tung's China – political and military catastrophes in themselves for people with any will to freedom and human rights. Yet there will be no democracy under nuclear fire. And if the United States is held responsible for the crime against humanity that a modern nuclear weapon would perpetrate, then what of the international backlash against us?

Imagine if the earthquake and tsunami assault on Japan had instead been caused by one or two nuclear weapons. The destruction could have been comparable with many more deaths, but what then would be the world's reaction against the perpetrator of such a crime? And where does it end?

This is not the world I want to leave for my grandchildren or their grandchildren.

Our world is much too interdependent and vulnerable to have its multifarious problems and injustices solved by military force, much less by weapons of mass destruction. We need national, international, and non-governmental institutions to broker negotiations across the panoply of threats to life on Earth.

It is time to outlaw and abolish nuclear weapons, not rebuild them. What is hopeful about abolishing nuclear weapons is that it is doable within a relatively short time frame, and it would propel other efforts at cooperative security and cooperative development to the benefit of all.

Our safety resides in our capacities to get along with each other. What sense does it make to threaten China daily with incineration by a Trident-launched hydrogen bomb when China now manufactures half of our consumer goods and holds nearly a trillion dollars of our debt? How about instead of spending another $783 million for a redundant and outmoded facility to service (illegal) weapons of mass destruction we instead invest in securing fissile materials worldwide, pass a nuclear weapons convention to abolish them, and develop cultural and educational exchanges with China, Russia, Iran and even North Korea to empower mutual understanding. That was a huge part of what helped to end the Soviet era of domination in Eurasia and bring an end to the Cold War.

David C. Hall, MD
Past President, Physicians for Social Responsibility and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility (psr.org and wpsr.org)
Member, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (gzcenter.org)
Seattle, WA
206-235-8245 cell
206-957-4702 office voicemail

Editor's Note:  You can read all posts on the Second Explosives Handling Wharf by clicking here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The X-band: an icon we DON'T need!


Seattle has a new, albeit temporary, icon that quite rivals the Space Needle.  Can you guess?  What is 240 feet wide and 390 feet long, towers more than 280 feet from its keel to the top of the its huge white dome, displaces nearly 50,000 tons, and cost $900 million to build???

The sea based X-band radar about to eclipse the Space Needle on its way to Elliott Bay
Have you guessed??? It's the Sea-Based X-band Radar, just one of many components of the U.S. Defense Department's Ballistic Missile Defense System.  This $900 million extremely photogenic and technological marvel is said to be able, according to the head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), "to track an object the size of a baseball over San Francisco in California from the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, approximately 2,900 miles (4,700 km) away."

As if that wouldn't be enough to impress people, the X-band is supposed to provide extremely accurate and precise data in order for other elements of the nation's missile defense system, such as ground-base interceptor missiles, to destroy enemy missiles fired by another country.  Sound complicated?  It is!

It is so complicated, in fact, that the folks responsible for this project have had their share of failures trying to get this system to function at 100 percent which, if it is ever going to defend the United States (or any of its allies) against nuclear-armed missiles, is the only acceptable level of reliability.  One nuclear missile hitting our shores is one too many, is it not?  Of course, if we really try to make the system even 99.9999%, our current economic mess will pale in comparison.  Star Wars is BIG BUCKS!!!

In one failed test (February 2010) the target missile successfully launched from the Marshall Islands, and the interceptor missile successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base.  However, the $900 million X-band "did not perform as expected," according to the MDA.  In other words, IT FAILED.  And this was a test in which everything was well choreographed.  What happens if a real nuclear-armed missile is headed toward the good old US of A and the X-band fails???  You don't want to know!!! 

One of the questions almost no one seems to ask is, will the X-band radar work against a bunch of missiles all coming at the same time (a realistic probability). At least one person has spoken out. "Philip Coyle, a former Pentagon weapons testing specialist who has been critical of missile defense testing, said... one problem with the [Sea Based X-band] radar is that its resolution is so fine it needs to be “cued,” or directed where to look."  Wait a minute!!!  This thing can spot a baseball 3000 miles away, but it won't be able to find it unless it's pointed in the right direction!?!?!? Oh, great!!!

The U.S. missile defense system has an unheavenly host of hardware including land and ship based missiles, "exoatmospheric kill vehicles" (now there's a mouthful), the Boeing YAL-1 Airborne Laser, space tracking and surveillance satellites, a Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) system, and land and sea-based radars.  Ever since President Ronald Reagan raised the Star Wars battle cry it has been a fast and furious (and extraordinarily costly) push to deploy a missile defense system.

The companies making a fortune off missile defense read like a who's who of the weapons industry, and include Boeing (prime contractor), Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Bechtel.  Boeing currently has the $27.1 million contract for "maintenance and upgrades" for the Sea-Based X-band.  Judging by its past performance, it sorely needs some work. Philip Coyle, now with the Center for Defense Information, said that "both the [Government Accountability Office] and my former office have questioned whether this radar can survive the maritime environment."

It is time to face the fact the Star Wars was one of Ronald Reagan's pipe dreams that allowed the Military-Industrial Complex to go full throttle in a sky's-the-limit push to develop a self-perpetuating system that Rube Goldberg would have loved.  Rather than feeding our paranoia about North Korea and Iran, and starting a new missile race with Russia, we should be working to reduce global tensions and eliminate the factors that cause other nations to build missiles and nuclear weapons.  That would logically begin with the U.S. ditching a futile missile defense program and putting even a fraction of that human and financial capital into positive diplomatic measures.

The Sea-Based X-band Radar is just another poster child for the hubris and waste that we euphemistically call "defense." If you live in Seattle take a trip down to Harbor Island where the X-band is currently at Vigor Shipyards (formerly Todd Shipyards).  See it for yourself, and then ask your Senators and Representative why we are wasting so much money on this program while cutting so many social programs???  The X-band is an icon we simply don't need and can't afford. 



For much more on this issue (and other related issues) check out the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Statement of support for nonviolent nuclear resisters

To: Newark Peace Education Summit, May 13-15, 2011

Re: Support U.S. nonviolent nuclear resisters

We applaud and support the peaceful disarmament activists convicted this week in Federal Court in Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as those recently convicted and sentenced for the “Disarm Now: Trident Illegal and Immoral” action at the Kitsap-Bangor Trident submarine base in Washington. In addition we applaud and support the six preparing for a June federal trespass trial in Tacoma, Washington for a Martin Luther King Day demonstration at the Kitsap-Bangor Trident Base and the 53 arrested during a May 2 protest of the Kansa City H-bomb factory now under construction in Kansas City, Missouri. Disgracefully, all five elderly resisters from the Kitsap-Bangor Trident Base “Disarm Now” action are now in federal prison. One of those an 82 year old priest from Tacoma Washington was also one of the 12 convicted this week for trespass at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. during an Independence Day action last year. Seven more of those convicted in Knoxville have also surrendered to federal prison pending sentencing of up to 1 year in prison and $100,000 fine.

We are appalled by the federal court orders issued in these cases that prohibit any defense evidence of the lethality and unlawfulness of nuclear weapons. US courts wrongfully presume legality of US nuclear weapons and fail to recognize any justification or necessity for peaceful resisters to enter nuclear weapons facilities such as the Kitsap-Bangor Trident Base or the Y12 site. This leads to cruel and unnecessary imprisonment and precludes good-faith discussion or implementation of nuclear disarmament. We understand that any use of nuclear weapons causes grotesque mass destruction and betrays our humanity. All nuclear weapons including the Trident system and the warheads built for it at Y12 and the Kansas City Plant are intended to inflict indiscriminate and uncontrollable massacres and, as such, violate the fundamental rules and principles of humanitarian law.

In the absence of any genuine intention by the United States government to undertake disarmament, we congratulate and celebrate those who respond to this nuclear terrorism with peaceful actions of civil resistance, including nonviolent disruption of the production or threatened use of hydrogen bombs anywhere.

For more information contact:

John La Forge, Nukewatch, nukewatch1@lakeland.ws
Anabel Dwyer, anabeldwyer@yahoo.com
Elizabeth McAlister, Jonah House, disarmnow@verizon.net
Leonard Eiger, Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (Coordinator), subversivepeacemaking@gmail.com

Editor's Note:  Click here for information about the Neward Peace Education Summit.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Nuclear resisters honor Mother's Day by symbolical​ly closing nuke base

Poulsbo, Washington, Saturday, May 7, 2011 – “Disarm, Disarm! The Sword of murder is not the balance of justice” rang out as nuclear resisters symbolically closed the United States’ largest operational nuclear weapons base.Eighty three people gathered at the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action on Saturday to celebrate Mother’s Day weekend honoring nurturing women and resisting The Trident nuclear weapons at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Kitsap County, Washington.

Following a reading of Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation Ground Zero Center Peacekeepers entered the roadway to safely block traffic just before seven nuclear resisters symbolically closed the base by crossing the roadway and standing with a long banner that reading “THE EARTH IS OUR MOTHER --- TREAT HER WITH RESPECT.”

Each D-5 missile, deployed on Trident nuclear submarines at Bangor, carries up to 8 warheads, each with an explosive yield of up to 475 kilotons. Each D-5 missile costs approximately $60 million. With at least 1000 nuclear warheads at Bangor, according to Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists, it is the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons.

Participants held a vigil at the Silverdale Mall. Standing along Silverdale Way NW, they held banners and signs with a clear message: “Abolish Nuclear Weapons.” Sr. Megan Rice, SHCJ, from Las Vegas, Nevada, held a sign that read “Trident Illegal and Immoral: Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone” and offered newsletters to motorists stopped at the intersection; she ran out of materials by the end of the vigil.

Dr. David Hall, former president of Washington Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, presented the costs and threats posed by the Trident nuclear weapons system which, by its very design, is a first strike weapon.After nonviolence training participants walked from Ground Zero Center, led by drummers from the Bainbridge Island Nipponzan Miyohoji Temple, to the Bangor Main Gate where they vigiled once again.

Following a rousing reading of Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation Ground Zero Center Peacekeepers entered the roadway to safely block traffic just before seven nuclear resisters symbolically closed the base by crossing the roadway and standing with a long banner that reading “THE EARTH IS OUR MOTHER --- TREAT HER WITH RESPECT.”

Washington State Patrol officers arrested the resisters, charging them with “walking in a roadway where prohibited.” Each one was processed on the scene, given a citation carrying a $56 fine, and released.

Those arrested were Mary Gleysteen, Kingston, WA; Rev. Anne Hall, Seattle, WA; David Hall, M.D., Seattle, WA; Bernard Meyer, Olympia, WA; Shirley Morrison, Seattle, WA; Dorli Rainey, Seattle, WA; and Alice Zillah, Olympia, WA.

Some of the arrestees wore signs with the names, registration numbers and prisons, honoring the five Disarm Now Plowshares activists - Bix Bichsel, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, Steve Kelly and Anne Montgomery - who are in prison for their 2009 Plowshares action.

Participants heard from peace activist Glen Milner who recently won a significant victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in his Freedom of Information Act case “Milner v. Department of Navy.”

They also received an update on the recently declared Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and its work that includes supporting the campaign to stop the Navy from building a Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the construction cost of the planned ballistic missile submarine to replace the current Trident fleet at $99 billion.

For over thirty-three years Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Resistance to Evil (Nuclear Weapons) = Trespassing


Robert "Berd" Whitlock was one of six nuclear resisters arrested on January 15, 2011 during Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action's (GZ) vigil and non-violent direct action at Washington's Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base.  These six exercised their rights and duties as citizens to speak out against our government's possession of and threat of use of illegal and immoral [Trident] nuclear weapons when they crossed onto the base that day.  For that they have been charged with trespassing.

Berd as written a letter to the editor, and just in case the corporate press does not print it you can read it here without alteration. 

People will come together once again this Saturday to vigil at Bangor, and some may once again choose to block the gate (symbolically closing the base) or try to enter the base to speak with the base commander.  The day at GZ will include an orientation to Bangor and nonviolence training.  All are invited to join in the spirit of nonviolence and resistance to nuclear weapons this Saturday as we honor nurturing women and work towards a peaceful, weapons-free world.

Click here for the full day's schedule.



P.S. - Berd has a Blog worth checking out called Peace is Possible.

Letter to the Editor
Monday, 2 May, 2011

Earlier this year, on Martin Luther King Jr. day, Saturday the 15th of January, I participated in a protest with the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action [http://www.gzcenter.org/]. Ground Zero has been around for decades, and stands in principled resistance to the existence of nuclear weapons.

In Washington State, we have a significant (actually huge) arsenal of nuclear weapons, many of which are housed at the Kitsap Bangor Naval Base. This military installation is the focus of much of the local work of the Ground Zero Center, and the Trigger Gate of the Bangor Base is where the January protest occurred.

During the protest, five others and I attempted to approach the gate in order to address the command, in petition for redress of grievances. Our grievances relate to the establishment of an offensive (aggressive) and hence immoral and illegal establishment of weapons of mass destruction.

As we made our approach, we were confronted by military police. We told them that we wanted to speak with the commander. They told us that wasn’t an option. They told us to turn back, and when we remained, we were then “apprehended.”

Now the Navy has accused us of, as is prosecuting us for, trespassing. I believe these charges are unjust, and that our ability to peaceably assemble and petition for redress of grievances is the prevailing principle. Our next trial date will be the 1st of June, at US District Court in Tacoma.

Robert Whitlock