Monday, May 22, 2017

New This Week (May 22, 2017)

Thank you #KAZAKHSTAN.
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I've encouraged people to give attention to GLOBAL support for a ban on nuclear weapons -- in Latin America, in the Middle East, in the Commonwealth countries . . . .

This week I start to lift up support from the countries of Central Asia and the Pacific, too.

Please help me get the word out by sharing these messages on social media: 133 Is a Lot of #Nuclearban-Supporting Countries.


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Last week, Nick Kristof asked, "What if the president becomes unstable?" and emphasized the risk posed by Trump's sole authority to use nuclear weapons.

Now that Donald Trump is out of the country, might it not be a good time to take his authority to conduct a nuclear first strike away from him?

Global Zero (and allied organizations) have delivered 500,000 signatures to Congress suggesting just that: (Watch the video with a phenomenal 35000 views and 1100+ shares: "We're joining our allies to tell Congress that Trump or any successor must not be allowed to start a nuclear war on a whim." ) The Hill reported: "Lawmakers back push to curtail Trump’s nuclear strike ability."


Congressional supporters of bill to restrict presidential use of nuclear weapons.


There are now thirty-four (34) co-sponsors on Rep. Ted Lieu's House bill to rein in presidential first use of nuclear weapons. (And seven (7) co-sponsors on the corresponding bill in the Senate sponsored by Ed Markey.) Will support continue to grow in the rest of May, throughout June, and through the summer?

Please use this script to call and get YOUR representative on that list!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Axiomatic Design and the #NuclearBan Treaty


Design for combination pencil and eraser:
simple and effective.


Several weeks ago, there was a G7 statement on disarmament. As I combed through the long statement, trying to parse its meaning in relationship to the UN negotiations on a global nuclear weapons ban (which the G7 countries are boycotting), I had an epiphany:

The language is obfuscating the process.

Without minimizing the complexity of the disarmament process, it is possible to design each progressive step in the process to remove confusion, not increase it.

It was at that point that I fell back on a concept I learned about 15 years ago: "axiomatic design." As I understand it, the "axiom" in axiomatic design is that, first and foremost, a good design should avoid building in features that trip up the design itself, and that there should be simple rules that guide designers in doing this. Hence, the two axioms of axiomatic design:

Axiom 1: The Independence Axiom. Maintain the independence of the functional requirements (FRs).

Axiom 2: The Information Axiom. Minimize the information content of the design.

(See "Axiomatic design" on Wikipedia.)

What might this mean for the nuclear ban treaty? Several things come to mind.

First, in accordance with the "independence" axiom, the nuclear ban treaty should focus on its principal "functional requirement." As I understand it, that requirement is to achieve cooperation in "efforts to stigmatize, prohibit, and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences."

Every point of connection between the new treaty and other instruments must be weighed by the criterion: does this connection tend to strengthen the treaty, or does it tend to bog the treaty down in obligations and escape clauses that tend to dilute it?

Second, in accordance with the "information" axiom, nuclear ban treaty should be stripped of any and all language that is not absolutely necessary.

Again, each addition to the new treaty's text should be weighed by the criterion: do these words tend to give the treaty more power? or simply make it longer?


This treaty in particular

It is worth reflecting that the treaty ban negotiations are being supported and carried out by a large number of countries that are unequivocally committed to the ban's success. The countries that want to keep their nuclear weapons (or want to remain under the "umbrella" of their allies' nuclear weapons) have boycotted the talks.

(The treaty supporters don't need a lot of extra words. The treaty opponents would be happy to bury the treaty in words.)

The situation of the negotiation participants is that they face a challenge in enforcing the treaty's aims against the non-participants. The situation of the non-participants is that they believe they can throw up roadblocks indefinitely against the treaty's aims.

(To the treat supporters, the words that matter are the ones that give them real power. The treaty opponents are praying those words get lost in the shuffle.)

If ever there was a need for axiomatic design -- minimum complexity with maximum efficacy -- this is it.


An example: NPT and IAEA

In an article published today, Kjølv Egeland probes one of the principal axiomatic design questions of the nuclear ban treaty: "Should the ban treaty oblige its parties to ratify the NPT?" He contrasts the possibility of linking the ban treaty to the NPT with a different point of connection -- concluding IAEA safeguards. I encourage everyone to read his article and consider the question for yourself.

(Related reading: I take every opportunity to commend this book that about the workings of the IEAE: ElBaradei's "Age of Deception.")


I hope that Kjølv Egeland's article is just the beginning of the process of widespread debate among people everywhere about the kind of nuclear ban treaty that will be designed to succeed.


Related: REQUIRED READING: "Banning nuclear weapons" from Reaching Critical Will


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New This Week (May 15, 2017)

South Korea got a new president last week.

The first thing I did was wonder: will South Korea join negotiations on a global nuclear ban when they resume in New York at the United Nations on June 15?

The second thing I did was go back and study the history of Korea. What I read convinced me Korea could be a game-changer.



Thank you #PANAMA.
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And it's not just Korea.

A handful of nuclear weapons states have dug their heels in and are doing everything possible to prevent a global ban on nuclear weapons. But that's not the whole story . . . .

The much larger truth is that the vast majority of countries are committed to banning nuclear weapons. It's time for us to focus our energy on supporting their efforts.

Please help me get the word out by sharing these messages on social media: 133 Is a Lot of #Nuclearban-Supporting Countries.


Ban the Bomb - from A to Z!
#nuclearban
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AND . . . just one month until the #nuclearban march June 17 in NYC -- to coincide with the three week UN session to negotiate a global ban on nuclear weapons!


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Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey last week, invoking memories of Richard Nixon ordering the firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox (the "Saturday Night Massacre").

Let's face it: eventually Trump is going to go too far, and even the Republicans in Congress are going to realize he needs to be tied down.

Meanwhile, there are now thirty-three (33) co-sponsors on Rep. Ted Lieu's House bill to rein in presidential first use of nuclear weapons. (And seven (7) co-sponsors on the corresponding bill in the Senate sponsored by Ed Markey.) Will support continue to grow in May, June, and through the summer?

Please use this script to call and get YOUR representative on that list!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Korea: A History of Living Under Nuclear Terror

Korean War map, showing relative position of
Manchuria (Northeast China), Yellow Sea, and
Sea of Japan. (Source: Encycl. Britannica)
A few days ago, I wrote about the new president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, and wondered: will South Korea join negotiations on a global nuclear ban when they resume in New York at the United Nations on June 15?

I wrote a post several years ago about nuclear weapons in Korea, emphasizing the ways in which the US (not North Korea) has been the one making threats with nuclear weapons for decades. (See: The Cynical American Scapegoating of Korea as a Cover for Nuclear Terror.)

After I wrote the post about President Moon's election, I began to go back and study the history of Korea again. Prof. Bruce Cumings has documented US plans to use nuclear weapons in Korea, and you can read some of his research online: "Nuclear Threats Against North Korea: Consequences of the 'forgotten' war." Here is an excerpt:

In interviews published posthumously, [Gen. Douglas] MacArthur said he had a plan that would have won the war in 10 days: "I would have dropped 30 or so atomic bombs . . . strung across the neck of Manchuria." Then he would have introduced half a million Chinese Nationalist troops at the Yalu and then "spread behind us -- from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea -- a belt of radioactive cobalt . . . it has an active life of between 60 and 120 years. For at least 60 years there could have been no land invasion of Korea from the North."

From the Korean War onward, nuclear weapons were part of US military planning for Korea. It's well worth reading Cumings' book, Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History, to get a perspective on Korea across the decades since 1945 - including nuclear politics throughout the period. (It's a perspective that most people in the US currently lack.)

Vietnam, another country that has been on the receiving end of nuclear threats by the US, is a co-sponsor of the resolution for global nuclear ban negotiations at the UN. (See VIETNAM and the NUCLEAR BAN: Out From Under the Shadow of US Nuclear Terror.) One wonders if there isn't similar broad sentiment in Korea about putting an end once and for all to nuclear weapons. As I mentioned in my post last week, North Korea voted in favor of holding the nuclear ban negotiations. South Korea voted against holding negotiations -- but that was under a conservative government that was disinclined to say "no" to the US.

Things are changing fast in Korea.

Let's see what President Moon does next.


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Thursday, May 11, 2017

#Nuclearban Game-Changer: South Korea?

South Korea's new leader: Moon Jae-in
(Image: NY Daily News)


What if South Korea participated in the negotiations at the UN on a global nuclear weapons ban?

Up until yesterday, that seemed unlikely. Based on information provided by the ICAN (the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), "South Korea voted against the UN resolution to begin negotiations in 2017 on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. It claims that US nuclear weapons are essential for its security and has refused to declare that nuclear weapons should never be used again under any circumstances."

However, South Korea elected a new president two days ago, and he has said that his country should no longer sit on the sidelines while the US and China control the efforts to deal with a nuclear North Korea. Moon Jae-in favors a "Sunshine Policy" to achieve peaceful reconciliation with North Korea. (See "South Korea’s New President, Moon Jae-in, Promises New Approach to North") Not incidentally, Moon is willing to challenge the US on military systems like THAAD.

It is noteworthy that . . .

* the US actively protested against the nuclear weapons ban negotiations, and has urged/pressured its allies to do the same (See USA: Bringing a Trumpian Posture to the Nuclear Ban Talks. (Bankruptcy.) )

* China abstained from the vote on the negotiations, sent a representative to the preparatory meeting, but then announced it would sit the negotiations out. (See China DOES Have a Role in the Nuclear Ban Movement)

* North Korea voted in favor of the negotiations, but then said it would not participate in the negotiations if the US is not doing so. (See North Korea and #NuclearBan)

* Japan gave strong indications that it would participate, but ultimately declined to participate, saying it would be inconsistent with its reliance on the US nuclear umbrella. (See NUCLEAR WEAPONS BAN TALKS: With Japan at the Table (Hopefully))

Negotiations on a global nuclear ban resume in New York at the United Nations on June 15. Participation by South Korea could be a game-changer.



RELATED: Korea: A History of Living Under Nuclear Terror and The Cynical American Scapegoating of Korea as a Cover for Nuclear Terror


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Monday, May 8, 2017

New This Week (May 8, 2017)

Thank you #JAMAICA.
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Summer is coming!

And that means the #nuclearban negotiations at the UN are coming!

Please help spread the word by sharing the memes on these pages:

133 Is a Lot of #Nuclearban-Supporting Countries

Tlatelolco 50: A Gift to the World

The Road to the Commonwealth Games Passes Through #Nuclearban Territory

(Most of) The Mideast Wants a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World

June 17 - March to Ban the Bomb #Nuclearban


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There are now thirty-two (32) co-sponsors on Rep. Ted Lieu's House bill to rein in presidential first use of nuclear weapons. (And five (5) co-sponsors on the corresponding bill in the Senate sponsored by Ed Markey.)

Update May 9 -- make that seven (7) Senate co-sponsors - now including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Ron Wyden!

Update May 12 -- make that thirty-three (33) House co-sponsors - now including Rep. Dwight Evans!

Please use this script to call and get YOUR representative on that list! 



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Monday, May 1, 2017

June 17 - March to Ban the Bomb #Nuclearban

Ban the Bomb - from A to Z!
#nuclearban
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Ever since I learned about the massive 1982 no nukes march in New York City, I've felt a mass mobilization needed to be part of the #nuclearban campaign.

Now a march is scheduled for June 17 in NYC -- to coincide with the three week UN session to negotiate a global ban on nuclear weapons.

Please help get the word out -- share the messages below, and create messages of your own. And please support womenbanthebomb.org.


"A" is for "Activists" -- making the #nuclearban happen!
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B, C, D ...
#banthebomb #campaign #disarmament

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"E" is for ENOUGH!
Ban #nuclearweapons.

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"F" is for FUTURE!
(let's make sure we have one)

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"G" is for the GLOBAL #nuclearban movement!
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"H" is for HEALTH
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"L" for LIFE
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"M" is for #MothersDay  ... and MARCH!
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"N" is for #nuclearban ... #NOW!
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"P" is for PEOPLE ... PEACE ... and PLANET!
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"W" is for #WorldWide #WednesdayWisdom: #Women #BantheBomb!
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"Y" is for 100+ countries saying "YES!" to #nuclearban at the UN.
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Thank you!