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)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Trident Replacement: "Essential Investment"... or Omnicide?

From the Editor:  The Navy is pushing hard to build 12 new ballistic missile submarines that will sail into the end of this century, loaded with missiles armed with thermonuclear warheads.  Should the unspeakable ever happen - and continuing deployment of Trident increases that probability - the devastating humanitarian consequences would be beyond imagination.

In the article below, Rear Adm. Bruner creates an argument that attempts to place the subject of disarmament securely in a coffin and start nailing the lid shut: 

"As long as nuclear weapons remain in the hands of potential adversaries, our nuclear forces must provide a safe, secure and credible deterrent to prevent the United. States, our allies and partners from being coerced by the threat of nuclear attack."

Should those in government who are responsible for carrying out our nation's responsibilities under our treaty (and other) obligations accept this argument at face value we are all doomed to the inevitability of nuclear war and the subsequent end of civilization as we know it 

Our nation's continuing deployment and associated threat of use of nuclear weapons does not keep our nation or any other nation safe or secure, and only increases proliferation and the risk of nuclear war.

Our inescapable task is to either move beyond the Cold War thinking that led to the development of the Trident nuclear weapons system in the first place, or continue to cut away at the fraying cord by which hangs the nuclear Sword of Damocles that threatens humanity.

There is NO military solution to the issue of nuclear weapons.  Moving the world toward disarmament will require a major paradigm shift, and that will require massive citizen engagement of this issue to counter arguments such as Rear Adm. Bruner's.

Is the replacement of Ohio class submarines an "essential investment" or Assured Omnicide???


Ohio Replacement Class SSBNs an Essential Investment

By Rear Adm. Barry L. Bruner
Director, Undersea Warfare Division (N97)
(originally published at NAVY LIVE: The Official Blog of the United States Navy, March 19, 2003, http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2013/03/19/ohio-replacement-class-ssbns-an-essential-investment/)

As our nation debates future defense spending, a healthy dialogue concerning future capabilities, size and value of the nation’s nuclear weapons and the Navy’s ballistic missile submarine force continues to grow. As long as nuclear weapons remain in the hands of potential adversaries, our nuclear forces must provide a safe, secure and credible deterrent to prevent the United States, our allies and partners from being coerced by the threat of nuclear attack. As part of this credible deterrent, the Navy’s continuous at-sea deployment of SSBNs provides the ability to mount an assured response and impose unacceptable costs on potential adversaries.

The current SSBN fleet and the future 12 Ohio replacement class SSBNs support our nation’s deterrent mission by ensuring survivability. In fact, there is little debate that they are the most survivable leg of our nuclear triad. What is often lost in translation is the major roles stealth and the size of the SSBN force play in our sea-based deterrent survivability. In addition to allowing operational flexibility, numbers matter when it comes to survivability. With a large enough SSBN force, adversary planning becomes complicated. SSBN operations are less predictable and operational intervals (time between underway and return to port events) can be varied as well as the nature of at-sea patrols. Simply said, a sufficient number of SSBNs allows their dispersal across wide ocean areas, making it exceedingly difficult to locate and destroy them. In this case, it is the number of ships, not warheads that preserves the deterrent value. As we reduce our operating warhead numbers to comply with the New START Treaty, our SSBNs are scheduled to assume a larger role in our nation’s nuclear deterrent capability. Reducing our SSBN force structure potentially invites adversaries to consider the likelihood, e.g. the risk, associated with attempting to hold that smaller force – at risk.

Logistics Specialist Seaman Kevin Simpson helms the
Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734)
while underway in the Atlantic Ocean, Feb. 19, 2012.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist
1st Class James Kimber/Released)
We have already significantly reduced our SSBN force size – from the 41 for Freedom boats of Cold War fame, to 18 Ohios taking us through the end of the Cold War to the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom – to 14 Ohios (after we converted the four oldest SSBNs to guided missile submarines) to the planned fleet of 12 Ohio replacements. The number of Ohio replacements will be less than a fourth the size of the SSBN fleet of the 1970s.
To ensure the survivability of the SSBN force it must be stealthy, which is almost exclusively a function of its as-built characteristics. This means that an appropriate amount of research and development effort must be expended early in the design phase to ensure the SSBN’s ability to remain undetectable for the entire 42-year hull life. The credibility and effectiveness of our deterrent are undermined if we make the mistake of accepting degradation in stealth that an adversary can in the future exploit.
The Ohio replacement class SSBN is an essential investment for our nation and will continue to be a national imperative that will ensure stability and security for our country and our allies. We cannot slide this program any further to the right. We must invest in designing and building the class now. The commitment that the Ohio replacement team makes is that they will do everything available to design and build this critical ship in a responsible way. They will drive down costs at every logical opportunity – of that, you can be sure. But, we must resource this program appropriately – we cannot hesitate or delay any further.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Dangers of Nuclear Weapons in our Neighborhood

Glen Milner: "The Dangers of Nuclear Weapons in our Neighborhood," on Pirate Television

Glen Milner is a researcher and activist with the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. He has focused on the danger of nuclear weapons. For over 25 years, he has used the Freedom of Information Act to monitor Naval activities in the Puget Sound Region. He discovered that rail cars carrying submarine missile rocket motors involved in a 1986 derailment contained large amounts of high explosives, contrary to official Navy statements, and also that nuclear warheads were being transported by truck to the Bangor submarine base in violation of rules. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in his favor in Milner v. Department of the Navy, involving explosives handling issues at Naval Magazine Indian Island.

Glen discusses his current involvement with Ground Zero and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility in a National Environmental Policy Act lawsuit against the Navy’s second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor.

Source URL for this video: http://archive.org/details/scm-227083-glenmilnerthedangersofnuclear

Watch Pirate Television in King County channel 29/77  Mondays 8-9pm, Thurs. 1-2pm, & Sat. 1-2am PST or streaming live on Seattle Community Media.  Pirate TV streams several times a week on Puget Sound Access.  Pirate TV also broadcasts on Free Speech TV: Details listed in FStv Schedule.  FStv also has a PirateTV Website.
Pirate Television: Challenging the Corporate Media Blockade 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

20 Nuclear Resisters Arrested at Bangor Trident Base

Silverdale, Washington, March 4, 2013 — Twenty peace activists from around the United States were arrested as a result of their nonviolent protest against nuclear weapons at a U.S. Naval base.
Members of the Pacific Life Community gathered at the Main Gate to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor early Monday morning in resistance to the continued deployment of the Trident nuclear weapons system and the associated threat of use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. government.

The Bangor Trident base is home port to eight of the nation’s 14 Ohio class nuclear ballistic missile submarines and also home to the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific, where the Navy stores thermonuclear warheads for deployment on its submarines. Bangor represents the largest operational concentration of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal.

While maintaining a peaceful vigil along the roadway, six of the resisters entered the roadway with a banner, which they stretched across the entrance lanes in symbolic closure of the base. The banner quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: “When scientific power outruns spiritual power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.” The protesters also knelt in prayer.

First six resisters entering the roadway, assisted by Ground Zero Peacekeepers.
(photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)
Washington State Patrol officers ordered the protesters to leave the roadway. All six protesters complied with the officers and were escorted to the median where they were briefly detained and issued citations for “Walking on roadway where prohibited.”

Meanwhile, another fourteen protesters walked onto the roadway carrying banners and signs calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. All crossed the blue line onto the base and knelt in prayer. Naval security personnel arrested the protesters and drove them to a facility on the base for processing. They were cited under Section 1382 of Title 18 prohibiting trespassing on military bases, and released a short time later.

The resisters carried a letter addressed to the Bangor base commander. It stated that the “Trident II D-5 missiles with their W76 or W88 [thermonuclear] warheads are illegal under international law and hence are also illegal per the Constitution of the United States.” Naval security personnel declined to accept the letters. 

The "Federal" resisters, after crossing over the blue line.
(photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)
Those cited for Federal trespassing were Louis Vitale, OFM, Oakland, CA; Rodney Herold, Seattle, WA; Ted Bracknan. Puyallup, WA; Tensie Hernandez, Santa Maria, CA; Betsy (Frances Elizabeth) Lamb, Bend, OR; Ann E. Havill, Bend, OR; Denny Moore, Bainbridge Island, WA; Bill Bichsel, SJ, Tacoma, WA; James G. Haber, San Francisco, CA; Ed Ehmke, Menlo Park, CA; Mary Jane Parrine, Menlo Park, CA; Jerry Zawada, OFM, Milwaukee, WI; Felice Cohen-Joppa, Tucson, AZ and Susan Crane, Redwood City, CA.

Cited by State Patrol were Tom Karlin, Tacoma, WA; Clancy Dunigan, Langley, WA; George Rodkey, Tacoma, WA; Marcus Page-Collonge, Albuquerque, NM; Leonard Eiger, North Bend, WA and Cliff Kirchmer, Tacoma, WA.

The vigil and nonviolent direct action brought to a close this year’s Pacific Life Community (PLC) Faith and Resistance Retreat held near Tacoma, Washington. The PLC is dedicated to abolishing nuclear weapons and war-making through nonviolent direct action. The annual event is held each year on the weekend around the anniversary of Castle Bravo, the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the U.S. 
"Federal" resisters kneeling in prayer as they are arrested.
(photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)
Fallout from Castle Bravo contaminated a large portion of the Marshall Islands, and poisoned island residents as well as the crew of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru, a Japanese fishing vessel. It also generated international concern about atmospheric testing. The U.S. still occupies part of the Marshall Islands in its continued testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

This year’s Faith and Resistance Retreat was hosted by the Tacoma Catholic Worker community. The event brought together people from around the Western U.S. Catholic Workers came from San Jose, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Half Moon Bay, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Guadalupe, CA; Sheep Ranch, CA and Redwood City, CA. 
Fr. Bill Bichsel, of the Tacoma Catholic Worker community and 2012 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize laureate, commented on the significance of the Pacific Life Community’s work. “We refuse to accept nuclear weapons as our security. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to create a nonviolent world. We are the future and the kingdom that we have been waiting for.”

Federal arrestees being cuffed before loading into vans.
(photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)
Also represented at the retreat were Nevada Desert Experience, The Nuclear Resister and Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. Ground Zero, a community in resistance to nuclear weapons, particularly Trident, hosted this morning’s vigil and action at Bangor.

The U.S. Navy is building a Second Explosives Handling Wharf at the Bangor Trident base, and is engaged in research and development to build twelve new ballistic missile submarines designed to replace the existing Trident submarines. Estimated cost to build the twelve submarines is almost $100 billion. Rear Admiral Joseph Tofalo, commander, submarine Group 10, Kings Bay, Georgia has stated that “A single Trident submarine is the sixth nuclear nation in the world all by itself.” 
Full text of letter to base commander follows.


March 4, 2013

Dear Captain Pete Dawson, Commander, Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor:

We are members of the Pacific Life Community, a network of people from the western United States working for the abolition of nuclear weapons. We come today, near the anniversary of the March 1, 1954 Bravo hydrogen bomb test in the Bikini Atoll, in memory of the people of Rongelap who died from radiation poisoning as a result of fallout from that test. We stand with their survivors who do not trust the assurances of the United States government that it is safe for them to return there, even now. Any pressure on the former residents of Rongelap to return must stop now.

Trident II D-5 missiles with their W76 or W88 warheads are illegal under international law and hence are also illegal per the Constitution of the United States. It is a violation of the Nuremberg Principles to threaten destruction of a city, and it is a violation of the Geneva Conventions to threaten use of weapons of indiscriminate power. The July, 1996 International Court of Justice ruling was clear; nuclear weapons are not consistent with international humanitarian law.

It is obvious that nuclear weapons are stored at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. Please inform us if we’re wrong. We have a responsibility as citizens to be informed enough to weigh in on military and foreign policy issues. Local governments and residents have a need to plan for public safety given the surety that one of the largest collections of nuclear weapons in the world is only 20 miles from Seattle and Tacoma and its 1 million residents.

We want to stop the continued pollution and radioactive contamination from the ongoing nuclear weapons stockpile. The problem of uranium leaks at Hanford cannot be divorced from the problem of nuclear weapons on Trident submarines that threaten nuclear war on every nation and person in the world. Nuclear weapons are killing people now.

We need and deserve a response. We’re waiting.


[Signed by the resisters who crossed onto the base]

cc: Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, United States Armed Forces
cc: Rear Admiral Dietrich H. Kuhlmann III, Commander, Submarine Group 9