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April 1, 2011

Norton Reintroduces Nuclear Disarmament Bill in Wake of Japanís Nuclear Catastrophe

Ms. Norton: Mr. Speaker.
 
Today, I am introducing the Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act of 2011, a version of which I have introduced since 1994, after working with the District of Columbia residents who were responsible for the Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion ballot initiative passed by D.C. voters in 1993.  This version of the bill now requires the United States to negotiate an international agreement to disable and dismantle its nuclear weapons by 2020 and provides for strict control of fissile material and radioactive waste and for use of nuclear free energy resources.  The bill continues to provide that the funds used for nuclear weapons programs be redirected towards human and infrastructure needs, such as housing, health care, Social Security and the environment.  The bill is particularly timely as Congress continues to make cuts to important human and infrastructure programs and as the world confronts nuclear catastrophe in Japan. 

This year, I introduce the bill to recognize the Alliance of Nuclear Accountabilitys DC Days 2011, beginning on Monday, and in memory of William Thomas, who died in 2009 after demonstrating in front of the White House in an anti-nuclear vigil for nearly 28 years.  His efforts were the longest uninterrupted anti-war protest in U.S. history.  William Thomas made the cause of peace the centerpiece of his meaningful life and was an example for us all.

Following years of dangerous increases in U.S. nuclear capacity during the George W. Bush administration, President Barack Obama has begun to rebuild U.S. credibility with his goal of taking the necessary steps to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.  The presidents strong push for the New START treaty last year, when Republicans seemed adamant on stalling it, resulted in ratification by the Senate.  The treaty requires the two major nuclear powers, Russia and the United States, continue to reduce nuclear weapons by mutually reducing their nuclear warheads by half and their number of intercontinental ballistic missiles and missile launchers, and, within sixty days of the treatys entry into force, on February 5, 2011, submit to on-site inspections of strategic nuclear weapons facilities by the weapons experts of the other country.
 
Despite the progress embodied by the New START treaty, the events of the last few weeks remind us of the urgent need to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  The tragic nuclear catastrophe in Japan, a result of a massive earthquake and tsunami, demonstrates another, perhaps even more likely, nuclear peril.  Radiation has been detected around the world since the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown.  It is painfully ironic that the one country that has been attacked with nuclear weapons is now struggling to control its own nuclear capability after the plant meltdown.  The U.S. has an obligation to lead in ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
 
Today, our country has a long list of urgent domestic needs that have been put on the back burner even though millions of Americans have lost their homes and jobs.  As the only nation that has used nuclear weapons in war, and that still possesses the largest nuclear weapons arsenal, I urge support for my bill to help the United States lead the world in redirecting funds that would otherwise go to nuclear weapons to instead be available for urgent domestic needs.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, 2136 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC 20515
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Ask your Member of Congress to co-sponsor this bill at WILPF's E-Action Site:
http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5372/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6172
Proposition One Campaign - 202-210-3886 - Ellen Thomas <et@prop1.org> - http://prop1.org/prop1/