Ellen Thomas Speech - August 2001, Japan


Endnotes | Workshop

187 countries have promised to abolish nuclear weapons, but haven't set a date. i

Our purpose here is to make it happen, to make global nuclear disarmament the LAW. There are others who can't be here who share our purpose. I bring you greetings from our relatives across the sea: From the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee, who are holding their 20th annual commemoration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in Washington DC now, as we speak, and from the Peace Park Antinuclear Vigilers -- who have had signs and literature outside the White House, all hours and weather, for twenty years, and successfully brought nuclear disarmament to the voters of Washington DC.

Greetings from Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has introduced the resulting "Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act" into the US House of Representatives five times. If her bill becomes law, the US must -
- eliminate ALL its nuclear weapons, if everyone else does;
- use the billions of dollars saved each year to shut down and clean up the nuclear weapons industries and convert other war industries. For example, instead of missiles and bombs, why not produce solar panels and windmills? Clean-energy prototypes exist; now we need production lines. This way, everybody wins!

We call the idea "Proposition One." You can read about it and more at our website, www.prop1.org.


I love my country. Which is why I can say --

The United States is the most shameless bully on Earth. Our political leaders speak of peace, and make war. The philosophy of "Peace through Strength" poisons the Earth, its waters, air, and minds; breeds fear, apathy, rage, rebellion.

The US is not the only sick place, of course. There are now eight nuclear-weapons countries, with more at the door. There are arms and arguments of varying ferocity on all continents.

But, as patriots boast, the US is Number One:

- Number One Arms Dealer. Since 1990 the US has exported more weapons to combatants around the world than any other nation. Of the 42 active conflicts in 1999, the US supplied arms or military technology to 39. ii

- Number One on Earth and in Space. The US hopes to have military control of space by 2020. President Bush supports a "missile defense" system, which likely won't work, iii at enormous financial and diplomatic cost, while cutting social and environmental spending. Despite the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, scientists continue so-called "subcritical" nuclear tests and develop "burrowing" nuclear bombs.iv President Bush reportedly favors resuming full-scale nuclear testing. v There are 5,000 US nuclear weapons on hairtrigger alert. vi

- Number One with Foreign Bases. US nuclear weapons can be stored in, and launched from, all NATO countries vii -- and the volatile Balkans may soon join! There are an obscene number of US military bases on Japanese soil, still, 56 years after the end of World War II. And now, due to US influence, Japan's evolutionary Peace Constitution is endangered.
- Number One "DU" Terrorist. US military-industrialists have shipped radioactive "depleted uranium" ammunition to 24 countries -- 18 NATO and six others -- including Japan.viii The US government denies its danger. Why? Perhaps because --
- US military have practice-bombed oceans and beaches -- including Japan's. ix
- US military bombarded Iraq with 700,000 rounds (or 320 tons) of DU in 1991, x and dumped DU on Bosnia in 1996. xi
- NATO dropped 10+ tons of DU on Kosovo in 1999. xii

- Number One Police State. The US funds and trains global police and military forces, which are increasingly used against peaceful demonstrators. xiii While the US and NATO claim their military incursions are to protect "freedom," the US imprisons a larger portion of its population than any other nation. xiv Prisons have become a profitable business. xv

Other challenges Americans face:
- A Presidential proposal to build new nuclear power plants. xvi
- Plans to transport tons of nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain, which has several earthquakes each year. xvii
- Delayed worker compensation at nuclear facilities which criminally mishandled radioactive materials. xviii

All these insanities are cloaked in secrecy and sophisticated, widespread lies. No wonder American activists feel overwhelmed. No wonder other countries are losing interest in disarmament.

It's time to heal.


Native American tradition holds that those who lead must plan seven generations into the future. The seventh, or fifth, or third generations will curse us for failing to protect them. We can only protect them by changing the minds and hearts of our leaders.

There are billions of people on this planet who should take responsibility, but most are sleepwalking. Thankfully you, here, are awake. Some have been awake a long time, such as the Hibakusha who travel the world telling their stories year after year. To you we say, "Thank you!" Some are newly awake. To you we say, "Tell us how we can help you, for YOU are our future." TOGETHER we must plant the seeds of peace.

Remember ...

- War is not inevitable. Only change is inevitable. WE determine its direction. Evolution, not revolution, is the key. Work, don't "fight," for peace. xix

- Honor the whistleblowers. xx No secrets!xxi When you learn the truth, forgive.xxii

- Take heart and learn from people who banish nuclear plants, toxic dumps, and military bases from their backyards, who keep working, even alone. xxiii

- Educate our politicians, reporters, and workers! They're human! Letters, phone calls, visits can change minds! Tell them why it's important to stop designing, building, deploying, selling or buying weapons, nuclear or otherwise, on Earth or in space. Tell them we ALL WIN if we de-alert nuclear weapons, stop arms sales, change armies into peace corps, turn arms factories into clean energy producers. And be sure to tell them you support Proposition One, the "Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act," the first step toward abolishing nuclear weapons. xxiv

Thank you for being here today. Please keep working for sanity and peace. Come visit us outside the White House in Washington, DC. And be sure to check out our website, www.prop1.org. Heiwa!

Ellen Thomas - prop1@prop1.org | www.prop1.org

PROPOSITION ONE COMMITTEE - PO BOX 27217, WASHINGTON, DC 20038 USA | 202-682-4282-- (phone)


i "Highlights of Nuclear Agenda," AP, May 20, 2000, http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2000nn/0005nn/000520nn.htm

ii "Fast Facts,"Federation of American Scientists, June 15, 2001, http://www.fas.org; "Global arms outlays up to $798 bil., U.S. share 37%," June 13, 2001, Kyodo News, http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2001nn/0106nn/010615nn.htm#320

iii "Anti-missile system has crucial flaw, critic says," NY Times, May 18, 2000, http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2000nn/0005nn/000518nn.htm; Theodore Postol: "We Can't Tell the Missiles From the Mylar," July 7, 2000 NY Times, http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2000nn/0007nn/000707nn.htm

iv "Scientists take aim at low-yield nukes," UPI April 18, 2001, http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2001nn/0104nn/010418nn.htm#125; "Burrowing nuclear bomb," by Greg Mello, 1997, http://prop1.org/2000/subcrit/97newnuk.htm

v "White House Wants to Bury Pact Banning Tests of Nuclear Arms," New York Times, July 7, 2001 - http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2001nn/0107nn/010707nn.htm#180; "Bush Wants Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to Die," Reuters, July 7, 2001, http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2001nn/0107nn/010707nn.htm#220

vi Hairtrigger alert: "Bombing drowns out anti-nuke message," Robert Bragg, Calgary Herald, 21 April 1999, http://prop1.org//nucnews/9904nn/990423nn.81.htm; Vice Admiral Eugene Carroll, August 4. 1999, http://nucnews.net/nucnews/9908nn/990823nn.us2.htm; "The Most Important Moral Issue of Our Time" by David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/krieger-moral-issue.html

vii NATO nuclear weapons: "An Uneasy Alliance: NATO Nuclear Doctrine & The NPT," By Karel Koster, Disarmament Diplomacy -- Issue No 49, September 2000, The Acronym Institute, http://www.acronym.org.uk/49npt.htm; "Dispelling Myths About NATO's Nuclear Posture," by Gregory L. Schulte, 21 February 1997, http://www.eaf.org/papers/myths.htm

viii DU weapons: "Defense Tango," Washington Post, June 11, 1999, by Nora Boustany, http://prop1.org/2000/du/99du/990611wp.htm; "Policy Paper On The Use Of Depleted Uranium In Ammunition," By Dan Fahey, Military Toxics Project, December 15, 1999, http://www.miltoxproj.org/

ix Japan d.u. testing: "U.S. apologizes for firing radioactive ammunition," Japan Times, February 2, 1997, http://prop1.org/du/97du/970211du.htm

x Iraq d.u. use: "Gulf War Veterans and Depleted Uranium," By Dr. Rosalie Bertell, Ph.D., Hague Peace Conference, May 1999, http://prop1.org/2000/du/99du/9905du.hague.htm

xi Bosnia d.u.: "Pentagon Poison: The Great Radioactive Ammo Cover-Up," by B. Mesler The
Nation, May 26, 1997; "NATO warplanes blast Serb targets," by D. Crary.,
Plattsburg (NY) Press-Republican, August 6, 1994; "Pentagon Document Scores Risks of DU Used in Gulf War and Bosnia," By Dennis Bernstein, January 15, 1996 Pacific News Service, http://prop1.org/2000/du/96du/960115du.htm; "Global spread of DU reaches food chain," http://prop1.lorg/nucnews/2001nn/0104nn/010415nn.htm#du

xii Kosovo d.u.: "US reluctance to talk about DU," "The Trail of a Bullet ," Christian Science Monitor, by Scott Peterson, October 5, 1999; http://prop1.org/2000/du/99du/991004cs.htm; "Nato obstructs UN inquiry into depleted uranium," By Robert Fisk, UK Independent, October 1999, http://prop1.org/2000/du/99du/991016du.htm; "US 'lost count of uranium shells fired in Kosovo'," 22 November 1999 Independent - UK, http://prop1.org/2000/du/99du/991122uk.htm; "Kosovo DU reconnaisance visit report," UK Ministry of Defence, January 19-23, 2001, http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2001nn/0106nn/010626nn.htm#du

xiii US funds and trains military / police worldwide: "All-out security effort for GOP convention," 5/26/2000 Philadelphia Inquirer, http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2000nn/0005nn/000526nn.htm

xiv US more prisoners per capita - In 1984, when I began my own vigil outside the White House, the prison population of the United States was 495,000; in 1999 the number was somewhere between 1.5 and 1.6 million, with legislators promising to double that figure within the next 10 years. The US population is 273 million, 71.9 per cent white. The majority of prisoners are poor minorities. On September 12, 1994, there were 1.3 million inmates in American prisons. (Associated Press; http://www.zpub.com/un/prison1.html), Incarceration Rates Of Industrialized Nations:

Country Inmates per 100,000 Population

United States 519
South Africa 368
Singapore 229
Hong Kong 179
England 93
France 84
Germany 80
Japan 36

xv Corrections Corporation of America and Wackenhut are leaders of the private prison industry. Look, for example, at http://biz.yahoo.com/p/w/wak.html, http://www.wackenhutstore.com/, and http://www.prnewswire.com/cnoc/CXCmda.html

xvi President's proposal new nuc power plants: "House panel debates US nuclear plant liability law," Reuters, June 28, 2001, http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2001nn/0106nn/010628nn.htm#190; "More Join Chorus for Nuke Power," June 11, 2001 Albuquerque Journal, http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2001nn/0106nn/010611nn.htm#130

xvii Dangers of Yucca Mountain, Las Vegas Review Journal, September 1997 - http://prop1.org/2000/safety/quake.htm; for more information on Yucca Mountain or US nuclear testing, contact Shundahai Network: http://www.shundahai.org

xviii For more information on workers and others exposed to radiation, see Downwinders - http://www.downwinders.org/ -- and DOE Watch - http://www.onelist.com/archives.cgi/doewatch

xix Work, don't fight, for peace: I noticed in 1994 that many Japanese peace workers often use the words "fight for peace" or "fight for nuclear disarmament." To me, this is an oxymoron (a contradiction in terms). Perhaps there is a confusion in translating from Japanese to English. Philosophically, I believe that we must avoid words like "fight" and "revolution" and substitute words like "work" and "evolution." "Revolution" means going round and round (repeating the same old mistakes?). Evolution means change, improvement. In the same way, "fight" conjures an image of anger, battle, war. Much better to "work" than to "fight" ... do you agree?

xx Whistleblowers: Whistleblowers are the people who work for government or industry who have the courage to tell the world what they know about dangerous or corrupt practices. In the US, they often lose their jobs. There is an effort to legally protect whistleblowers, but in practice even if they keep or return to their jobs after years of legal arguments, their careers have been ruined. And there are notorious cases of whistleblowers ending up dead. For example, Karen Silkwood, a contaminated nuclear worker in Oklahoma, was killed (run off the road) in November 1974 while trying to deliver safety documents to the New York Times.

xxi "No secrets!" Most politicans and militarists maintain their positions through secrecy and lies. It's part of the culture, excused by the phrase, "National security." We cannot heal our planet without changing to a culture of openness and truth. The internet is helping with such a change.

xxii "When you learn the truth, forgive." Looking at Germany, Russia, and South Africa, which have gone through huge changes in the last dozen years, the truth was revealed when people knew they weren't going to be executed or imprisoned for the mistakes they had made out of fear, greed, or ignorance. In South Africa, a condition of the Truth Commission was that those who testified weren't prosecuted.

We have activist friends who argue that we should just close down the factories and fire the workers of the current war machines ... the scientists and engineers who design new and better ways of killing, the machinists who produce the weapons, the salesmen who peddle their lethal wares. But this is an opinion steeped in anger and revenge, and will get us nowhere. Surely we will find much greater acceptance for the idea of military/industrial conversion if the people building the bombs can instead be put immediately to work researching, designing, and building solar panels, windmills, hydrogen fuel cells, geothermal taps, etc., to free us of the energy crisis.

We all make mistakes. Some of the mistakes are worse than others, but we're all human, capable of improvement, and needing forgiveness. Psychiatrists and alcohol counsellors and priests all know that the greatest sinners can become the greatest saints. Those who know the worst, can do the most to correct it, once they understand their true obligations. Of course, the hard part is helping them understand.

xxiii You can begin learning about other activists in two places on our website, http://prop1.org. Click on "A-Z Antinuclear Weblinks" (http://prop1.org/prop1/azantink.htm) for links to many people who are working on nuclear and other peace and justice issues. And you can read timely Activists' News by going to NucNews at http://nucnews.net/nucnews/briefslv.htm, then click on the date you want to research to the left, and on "Activists' News" in the right frame. You also can subscribe to NucNews Email Archives at http://www.onelist.com/archive/nucnews

xxiv H. R. 2503, July 16, 2001 -- the "Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act" ...


The United States Government shall--
(1) disable and dismantle all its nuclear weapons and refrain from replacing them at any time with any weapons of mass destruction;
(2) redirect resources that are currently being used for nuclear weapons programs to use--
(A) in converting all nuclear weapons industry employees, processes, plants, and programs smoothly to constructive, ecologically beneficial peacetime activities during the 3 years following the effective date of this Act, and
(B) in addressing human and infrastructure needs such as housing, health care, education, agriculture, and environmental restoration, including alternative fuel sources *;
(3) undertake vigorous good faith efforts to eliminate war, armed conflict, and all military operations; and
(4) actively promote policies to induce all other countries to join in these commitments for world peace and security.

This Act shall take effect when the President certifies to theCongress that all foreign countries possessing nuclear weapons have established legal requirements comparable to those set forth (above) and those requirements have taken effect.

Congress re "Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act"
Other Delegates to Japan 2001 World Conference Against A & H Bombs
Gomen Nasai (I'm Sorry)