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Home Articles Flashpoints Letter Faxed to Obama, US Congress 15/16Nov2012 De-Alerting/Nuke Disarmament

Letter Faxed to Obama, US Congress 15/16Nov2012 De-Alerting/Nuke Disarmament

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The letter below has been faxed to President Obama, his advisers,
his administration, and to members of US Congress committees on nuclear

It has gone to the following numbers:

President Obama:1-202-456-2461

Hilary Clinton: 1-202-647-6047, 1-202-647-0122, 1-202-647-6434

Leon Panetta, Defence - 1-703-697-6602

US Ambassador to UN 1-212-415-4443

Ban Ki Moon 1-212-963-1185

Angela Kane 1-212-963-4066

Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
Turner (Chair) 202-225-6754
Trent 202-225-6328
Lamborn 202-226-2638
Brooks 202-225-4392
Rogers 202-226-8485
Fleming 202-225-8039
Rigell 202-225-4218
Scott 202-225-3013
Sutton 202-225-2266
Ruppelsberger 202-225-3094
Garamendi 202-225-5914
Heinrich 202-225-4975
Langevin 202-225-5976
Sanchez 202-225-5859

Other Key Congresspeople
Kerry 202-228-3612
Levin 202-228-0360
Lugar 202-224-0836
Markey 202-226-0092
Kucinich 202-225-5745
Fienstein 202-228-3954
Lee 202-225-9817
Boxer 202-224-0454
Woolsey 202-225-5163
Skelton 202-225-9077
De Mint 202-228-5143
Berman 202-225-3196
Ros - Lehtinen 202-226-7269

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs 6273-4112, 6261-2151

Arms Control Association 1-202-463-8273






Dear President Obama,

First of all we would like to congratulate you on your election victory. We
hope that victory has positive implications for nuclear disarmament
agendas worldwide. It was no accident that nuclear disarmament
including, quite correctly, the lowering of the operational readiness
of US and Russian nuclear weapon systems, was prominent in your
original electoral manifesto of 2008.  Nuclear disarmament  remains a
vital, indeed, existential, issue not only for the US but for the
entire world. It must not be forgotten. The most recent session of
the UN General Assembly and upcoming NPT meetings reinforce the
critical significance of nuclear disarmament issues.

Though nuclear disarmament may not have been front-and-centre in the recent
US election, it has been, as it has been every year since 1946, the
number one priority in the United Nations General Assembly First
Committee in New York this October and November.

Yet again, the Governments of all the world, meeting on First Avenue New
York, (notwithstanding the hurricane) have made it clear,  by a
series of overwhelming majority votes, that they want the world to
have abolished nuclear weapons 'yesterday', and that they continue
quite rightly to regard nuclear weapons as the single most critical
short/medium term threat to the continuance of humans as a species.
Statement after official statement from the Governments of the world
(most recently, the statement of 35 Governments on 'Catastrophic
Humanitarian Consequences' of nuclear weapons use) – makes it clear
that 'existential' terms are the correct ones in which to speak of
nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament issues.

The most overwhelming vote for nuclear disarmament came this year in the
First Committee vote on the 'United Action' resolution, of which the
US itself is a sponsor. That resolution was adopted by 159 votes,
with only the DPRK casting a 'NO' vote.

The New Agenda resolution, (for which the US voted 'NO') was nonetheless
adopted by an equally overwhelming 156 votes, with 7 'no' votes and 4
abstentions. Whether or not the US voted for this resolution, with
its slightly more urgent language, it represents a massive
endorsement of the goal of nuclear disarmament as a matter of
urgency. Even with a US 'NO' vote your government cannot ignore it.

A resolution that is of extreme interest to the authors of this letter
is of course, the resolution on Operational Readiness of nuclear
weapon systems. (L28- text appended) This resolution, adopted in
First Committee by 145 votes with 4 noes (US, UK, France and Russia),
again shows – to put it bluntly – that 145 governments believe
the world will be safer if the US and Russia could lower the
operational readiness of nuclear weapon systems and would no longer
maintain them in a status in which they can be launched in minutes or
even seconds. This is also consistent with the final declaration of
the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

Many distinguished voices in the US including at least two persons who
have at various times commanded US nuclear forces (Generals Eugene
Habiger and Cartwright), as well as former second-in-command at Offut
AFB, Dr Bruce Blair, have urged that US strategic forces be removed
from high alert. Their voices should be heeded.

While the recent nuclear posture review did not specifically endorse
lowering operational status, it DID, very importantly, concede that
Presidential decision-making time is of vital importance.  Again, put
bluntly, the President of the United States – yourself – needs
more than zero to eight minutes to take a decision that might, in the
most extreme scenarios, potentially destroy civilisation and much
else. We are sure  you must be very much conscious of this.

One of the authors of this letter, in discussions at a reception at your
UN mission with one of your staff, found a welcome willingness to
discuss this whole issue of 'decision-making-time'. We hope that
continuing discussions around this issue with the authors and
sponsors of Operational Readiness will be possible.  

That issue of decision-making time is absolutely central to the entire
issue of operating status/operational readiness of nuclear weapon
systems. As General Cartwright quite correctly points out, holding
nuclear weapons in a 'ready for quick launch' configuration,
especially vulnerable land-based ICBMs, actually IMPOSES ultra-short
decision-making times on key personnel such as yourself. Far from
expanding the range of options open to the President, paradoxically,
it constricts them, forcing potentially apocalyptic decisions to be
made in too-short time-frames with inadequate and possibly incorrect
data.  Recent scholarly studies on the issue of operational readiness
by the US's foremost nuclear weapons expert Hans Kristensen, and by
the East-West Institute, have focussed on decision-making timeframes.  

The linked issues of alert levels, and the role of nuclear weapons in
strategic decision-making and security strategies, have been
prominent in a number of other resolutions adopted this year by UN
First Committee including not least, the United Action resolution
which the US itself has sponsored, the Non-Aligned Movement ('NAM')
resolution, India's 'Reducing Nuclear Dangers' resolution (still
supported by some ¾ of the world, with stronger language than
Operational Readiness), and New Agenda.

These resolutions all show the strong will of governments and their peoples
worldwide both to rid the world of nuclear weapons sooner rather than
later, as a matter of urgency, and to 'remove the apocalypse from the
agenda' by lowering the operational readiness of nuclear weapons.

The United States cannot forever ignore the strongly expressed wishes of
the governments that represent in effect, most of the rest of the
human race, nor can a 'decent respect for the opinions of Mankind'
allow it to place even what it may regard as core national security
concerns before the interests of all other humans. We are confident
that the US would never do this. Rather, a United States that
continues to be impelled by the values of its founders will
understand, respect, and share the desire of the rest of the world
and of its own citizens to be free from the nightmare of potential
global destruction and take action accordingly as laid out in your
own 2008 manifesto.

Organisers of the Letter:
John Hallam, People for Nuclear Disarmament/Human Survival Project, Sydney
NSW Australia
Professor Peter King, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies/Human Survival
Project, Sydney NSW, Australia,  
Steven Starr, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Missouri USA,  
Alyn Ware, Aotearoa Lawyers for Peace, Wellington, NZ,  

Aaron Tovish, International Director, Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision
Campaign, Klosterneuburg, Austria,
Pol D'Huyvetter, International Development Director, Mayors for Peace,
Rio de Janiero, Brazil,  
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens,  

Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, New York, USA,
David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, (NAPF), Santa Barbara, Calif,
Marylia Kelley, Director, Tri-valley CARES, Livermore, Calif, USA,  
David Hartsough, Peaceworkers, San Francisco, USA,  
Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power in
Space, Brunswick ME, USA,  
Kathy Sanchez, Tewa Women United, USA,  
Tony Robinson, World Without Wars and Violence, USA,
Lynn Rudmin Chong, Director, NH Peace Action Education Fund Board,
Sanbornton, NH,
Jill Mackie, WILPF Ashland, Oregon,  

Gordon Edwards, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, (CCNR),
Ontario, Canada,
Barbara Birkett MD, Past President, Physicians for Global Survival, Canada,
Dr. Cathy Vakil, Canadian Association of Citizens for the Environment,
Physicians for Global Survival.  

Luis Guttierrez Esparza, Latin-American Circle of International Studies,
Mexico City, Mexico,  

Dominique Lalanne, Chair, Abolition2000 Europe, Chair, Armes Nuclaires STOP,
Jean-Marie Matagne, President, Action des Citoyens pour le desarmement Nucleaire
(ACDN) France,

Maria Arvaniti Sotiropoulou,  President, IPPNW Greece,
Olga Athaniti, Vice-President, Mediterranean Anti-nuclear Watch, No
Nuclear Neighbourhood Network,  

Jenny Maxwell, Hereford Peace Council, UK,
Dave Webb, Chair, CND, London, UK,  
George Farebrother, INLAP/World Court Project, UK,
Frank Jackson, Uniting for Peace, UK,  
Stuart Stephenson, Abolition2000, UK,
Kevin Lister, Chair, NUCLI Project, UK,  

Dr Herman Spanjaard, Chair, IPPNW Netherlands,

Regina Hagen, Darmstaedter Friedensforum, Germany,

Jana Jedlickova, World Without Wars and Violence, Czech Republic,  

Agneta Norberg, Vice-Chair, Swedish Peace Council,  

Birgitta Jonsdottir, MP,  Iceland, (Althing),

Hallgeir H. Langeland MP, Norway,  
Prof. Kirsten Osen (emeritus) IPPNW Norway, Oslo, Norway,
Prof. Bjorn Hildt, Trondhiem, Norway,  

Dr/Professor Andreas Nidecker, President, IPPNW Switzerland, Professor of
Radiology, Basel, Switzerland,  

Hillel Schenker, Co-Editor, Palestine-Israel Journal, Tel Aviv
Gideon Spiro, Israeli Committee for a Middle East free of ABC Weapons
Brigadier Vijai K. Nair, Magoo Strategic Infotech, Noida, New Delhi, India,  
A.H. Nayyar, Prof. Of Physics, Lahore, Pakistan,  
S.P. Udayakumar, National Alliance of Antinuclear Movements, Nagercoil,
Tamil Nadu, S. India,  
Sukla Sen, EKTA, (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai, India,
Gopal Krishna, Convenor, Toxics Watch Alliance, New Delhi, India,

Jayasekhara, Sri-Lankan Doctors for Peace and Development,  

Kazuhiko Tamaki, Takako Takahara,  Peace Depot, Yokohama, Japan,  

Commander Robert Green, Royal Navy (retd), Disarmament and Security Centre,
Christchurch, NZ,
Barney Richards, New Zealand Peace Council, NZ,  

Dr. Jenny Grounds, President, Medical Association for  Prevention of War, Australia,
Jo Vallentine, Anti Nuclear Alliance of W.A., (ANAWA), Perth, W.A.,
Markus Atkinson, Footprints for Peace, Perth, W.A.,
Richard Broinowski, Professor Emeritus, Former Ambassador, Sydney NSW,  
Jan de Vogt, Quaker Peace and Justice NSW,  

Eileen Fleming, Founder, We Are Wide Awake,  

Text of Operational Readiness of Nuclear Weapon Systems (L28):

United Nations General Assembly
Sixty-seventh session First Committee Agenda
item 94 General and complete disarmament
Limited 23 October 2012
Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria and Switzerland: draft resolution Decreasing
the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems
The General Assembly, Recalling its
resolutions 62/36 of 5 December 2007, 63/41 of 2 December
and 65/71 of 8 December 2010,
Recalling also that
the maintenance of nuclear weapons on high alert was a feature of
cold war nuclear postures, and welcoming the increased confidence and
transparency since the cessation of the cold war,
Concerned that, notwithstanding the end of the cold war, several thousand nuclear
weapons remain on high alert, ready to be launched within minutes,
Noting the continuing engagement in multilateral disarmament forums in support
of further reductions to the operational status of nuclear weapons
Recognizing that the maintenance of nuclear weapons systems at a high level of
readiness increases the risk of the unintentional or accidental use
of such weapons, which would have catastrophic humanitarian
Recognizing also that
reductions in deployments and the lowering of operational status
contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, as
well as to the process of nuclear disarmament, through the
enhancement of confidence-building and transparency measures and a
diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies,
Welcoming the steps taken by some States in nuclear disarmament, including
detargeting initiatives, increasing the amount of preparation time
required for deployment and other measures to diminish further the
possibility of nuclear launches resulting from accidents,
unauthorized actions or misperceptions,
also the adoption by consensus of the conclusions and recommendations for
follow-on actions by the 2010 Review Conference of the
Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,1 including
the commitments of the nuclear-weapon States to promptly engage with
a view to, inter alia, considering the legitimate interest of
non-nuclear-weapon States in further reducing the operational status
of nuclear weapons systems in ways that promote international
stability and security,
Acknowledging, in this regard, the continued dialogue among the nuclear- weapon
States to advance their nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament
commitments under the Action Plan of the 2010 Review Conference of
the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
and the potential of this process for leading to deeper engagement on
nuclear disarmament and greater mutual confidence,
1. Welcomes the opportunities provided by meetings of the Preparatory Committee for
the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the
Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to address the further reduction
of the operational status of nuclear weapons systems as a step
leading to nuclear disarmament, and looks forward to the reporting of
the nuclear-weapon States on their undertakings in this regard to the
Preparatory Committee for the Review Conference at its third session
in 2014;
2. Calls for further practical steps to be taken to decrease the operational readiness of
nuclear weapons systems, with a view to ensuring that all nuclear
weapons are removed from high alert status;
3. Urges States
to update the General Assembly on progress made in the implementation
of the present resolution;
4. Decides to
remain seized of the matter.
1 See 2010
Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the
Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Final Document,
vols. I-III (NPT/CONF.2010/50 (Vols. I-III)), vol. I, part I.



Nuclear disarmament and abolition groups worldwide, in the wake of the Obama
election victory and the most recent meeting of the United Nations
First Committee, have urged President Obama, in his second term, to
prioritise nuclear disarmament as an 'existential issue', and a
matter of human survival.

53 disarmament and abolition groups, representing millions, have written
to President Obama, his advisers, key policy people, and to
Congressional committees on strategic defence, pointing to the
overwhelming votes in favour of nuclear disarmament and abolition of
nuclear weapons taken in the United Nations General Assembly First
Committee in the previous month.  

According to People for Nuclear Disarmament Human Survival Project spokesperson
John Hallam who coordinated the letter,

“People in the United States and especially in Congress, need to understand
that just over the road in First Ave, New York, the world has voted
overwhelmingly (and wisely) for the complete abolition of all nuclear
weapons, not once, but over and over again every year since about
1946, and does so by utterly crushing votes of up to 180 to 1.  

A number of resolutions went through First Committee this year that
urge the complete abolition of nuclear weapons and that point to the
fact that there is a growing consensus that their use could be
absolutely terminal both for civilisation and possibly even for
humans as a species. 35 Governments signed on to a major statement on
the catastrophic humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons use,
including devastating global 'nuclear winter' that could last
decades. Statement after statement referred to nuclear weapons as an
immediate threat to survival.  

President Obama and even more so the strategic defence committees of the US
Congress needs to recognise that nuclear disarmament is not just some
idealistic idea whose time will 'realistically' never come. Nuclear
disarmament is a pressing and urgent human survival imperative whose
time should have been decades ago, that we were legally obliged under
the NPT to have achieved also decades ago, and which if not achieved
yesterday  is likely to lead to human extinction or at least the end
of what we call civilisation.  

Nuclear disarmament and abolition must be treated as a national and global
security priority that absolutely trumps all other possible security

The Administration and Congress also need to understand that this is
indeed the way that the overwhelming majority of the world sees it,
and this is the way the world actually votes by a completely crushing
vote count, in the big green building in First Ave New York.

The administration and Congress should take their lead from the rest of
the world, who rightly see nuclear weapons in anyones hands as an
existential threat that must be eliminated yesterday.”

John Hallam
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Last Updated on Sunday, 08 February 2015 22:27