REPORT FROM THE
NUCLEAR ABOLITION SUMMIT
Peace Action Education Fund
Las Vegas, Nevada
What it was:
A working meeting for antinuclear activists combining educational plenaries, organizational networking and strategic planning to raise nuclear-related issues in the 1996 elections, and strengthen the worldwide nuclear abolition movement known as Abolition 2000.
The Summit was called on the basis of the widely held belief that 1996 represents an incredible window of opportunity for the nuclear abolition movement: at no other time in the nuclear age have the nuclear weapons states been so close to a decision to ban nuclear testing and deal seriously with nuclear disarmament.
Who was there:
Approximately 100 activists. An incredibly diverse grassroots movement was in evidence. A sizable number of Native American participants, indigenous peoples and other activists from Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Germany, and a delegation from Japan including Hibakusha from Gensuikyo. The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) sent 16 delegates from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The youngest participants were in high school and the oldest was 90. Participants broached all social and political strata running the gamut from suit-and-tie Washingtonian politico to New Age pantheist traveler to Pacific islands revolutionary to Buddhist monk to ex-DOE nuclear laboratory worker to community journalist to Western Shoshone spiritual leader.
Greetings were read from retired Navy Admiral Eugene Carroll and ex-Congressman, Mike Kopetski (D-OR).
The presence and active participation of people from outside the U.S. brought a valuable global perspective to the Summit. U.S. activists felt that they were part of a global movement; Native Americans from tribal lands in the U.S. experienced solidarity with indigenous peoples' struggles from the Pacific; everyone benefited from hearing about the political situations and activities in other countries.
Jackie Cabasso reported on a March 31 demonstration in Bordeaux, France where 3,000 people marched on the CESTA nuclear laboratory to protest plans for the megajoule laser (the NIF's evil twin).
The Japanese delegation reported that 90,000 people demonstrated in Okinawa the week preceding the Summit to call for the closure of the U.S. military bases there and the presence of nuclear weapons in Japanese waters.
Abolition 2000 is growing and national networks are forming in many countries based upon adherence to the 11 point statement produced by the NGO Abolition Caucus at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review & Extension Conference last year.
Focal Points of the Discussion/Lessons:
1. Lively discussion and debate on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as a genuine means to real disarmament. The Summit participants were a highly radical crowd; many viewed the CTBT as it has taken shape as being almost worthless as a disarmament measure as vertical proliferation will go unchecked amongst the nuclear weapons states due to laboratory simulated testing. The treaty was generally viewed as discriminatory, serving to consolidate the privileges enjoyed by the nuclear weapons states, locked into the NPT last year when non-proliferation was effectively decoupled from disarmament. However, there was wide-spread support for the CTB Call-In Day, May 13 and support for promoting the CTBT as a qualified victory for the global disarmament movement, and support for using the occasion of its signing (September, 1996 at the UN in New York) as an opportunity to build the movement for abolition.
2. Preventing sub-critical testing and opposing DOE's Stockpile Stewardship & Management program were viewed as campaign priorities. All participants wrote a postcard to either the President or Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary during one plenary session. The Mouvement de la Paix's slogan "simulated tests = real death" caught the imagination of many activists.
3. Connection of military and commercial nuclear uses was fundamental to the Summit's agenda. The slogan for the Summit
"Breaking the Nuclear Chain: no mining, no testing, no production, no dumping, no nukes" acknowledges the inextricable link between the 'peaceful' and warlike uses of nuclear technologies. It was noted by indigenous activists that they make no distinction between radioactive contamination coming from nuclear reactor waste or nuclear weapons testing. It was acknowledged that a real non-proliferation policy requires disarmament and safe renewable energy alternatives.
4. Connection of nuclear issues to indigenous land issues was made in many discussions. The legacy of nuclear colonialism was established as a necessary contextual theme to understand and address in our nuclear abolition work.
5. Knowing our history as a U.S. and global disarmament movement is important for our sense of perspective. Understanding where we have come from, what we have achieved and where we may have taken wrong turns in the past allows us to see the 'big picture' for nuclear abolition, and not get distracted from our mission by fixating on short term pragmatic objectives.
Working Groups operating within the U.S. Nuclear Abolition Network have been established or strengthened in the following areas:
CTBT (including coordination of a "victory party"/NGO presence at the UN signing) - contact person, Bruce Hall, CTB Clearinghouse.
Subcritical testing/SS&M - contact person, Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation.
Faith-based outreach (including coordination of bell tolling action to celebrate the signing of the CTBT) - contact person Howard Hallman, Methodists United.
Electoral issue advocacy - contact person, Karina Wood, Peace Action Education Fund.
There are also plans to establish working groups or resource clearinghouses for graphics/cartoons, outreach to schools, outreach to the scientific community.
Short Term Goals
Some short-term goals were set by the U.S. Nuclear Abolition Network meeting at the close of the Summit. At the next Network meeting we will assess our achievements in these areas.
1. Support Rep. Joe Kennedy's bill to cut funds for the National Ignition Facility.
Bruce Hall agreed to distribute a copy of the bill to Network members, and relay his communications with Kennedy's office.
Activists will urge their Representatives to support the bill.
2. Support Representatives Furse and Leach's sign-on letter to the President on Russian ratification of START II and beginning talks on a START III.
Activists will urge their Representatives to sign on.
Bruce Martin, AFSC, is drafting a letter to the President along the lines of the Furse/Leach sign-on, signed by organizations and individuals present at the Summit.
3. Publicize and promote initiatives from Rep. DeFazio and the Democratic Progressive Caucus on a 'Sensible Military Budget.'
Alice Slater, Economists Allied for Arms Reduction, will be a point of contact for information.
4. Achieve a CTBT.
Build for the May 13 Call-In Day to the President.
Send letters to the editor and op-eds on the CTBT, agitating for an end to all nuclear tests, real or simulated.
5. Cancel the sub-critical tests and close down the Nevada Test Site.
Write to the President and O'Leary.
Take direct action at the Nevada Test Site and elsewhere.
Possibly a Peace Action-led protest in D.C. during our annual National Congress, May 17-19.
6. Work for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.
This is the context and over-arching goal of all our nuclear abolition work.
In general, activists committed to lobbying their Reps and the Administration on cutting the budget for DOE defense programs and increasing the DOE budget for clean-up. Also, to campaign against Dole and Gingrich's 'Defend America Act.'
* The grass roots are radical and enthused about nuclear abolition.
* The Summit was well-organized and represented an important contribution to developing a mass global movement for nuclear abolition.
* Communication amongst organizations and individual activists will be improved as a result of the Summit and the networking that took place there.
* Activists exchanged experiences and perspectives that will enrich their everyday work, and gained a sense of common purpose and focus.
Nuclear Abolition Summit | Abolition 2000 | Organizations