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The role of the Churches in promoting the U.N. Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

February 23, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

No apologies from France, over nuclear bomb tests’ pollution in Algeria

The New Arab 12th Feb 2021, President Emmanuel Macron’s recent statement that a “memories and truth” commission will be established to look into the history of the French colonisation of Algeria, has led to much public discussion over this bloody legacy.

And in this context, the absence of apologies or offers of reparations by the French state has not gone unnoticed. One area of particular contention in this process is the ongoing and detrimental effects of France’s nuclear testing in Algeria, conducted throughout the
1960s. France conducted its first nuclear test known as the “Gerboise Bleue” in February 1960 in the Sahara Desert – an atomic bomb that was four times the strength of Hiroshima. A total of 17 tests were carried out, four of them atmospheric detonations, and 13 underground.

https://english.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2021/2/12/frances-nuclear-colonial-legacy-in-algeria

February 15, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, Religion and ethics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, wastes, weapons and war | Leave a comment

All-Africa Conference of Churches welcomes Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty

All-Africa Conference of Churches welcomes Nuclear Prohibition Treaty https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2021-01/aacc-treaty-nuclear-weapon-proliferation-africa-church.htmlThe All-Africa Conference of Churches salutes the recent coming into force of the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), hailing it as further inspiration to work for a nuclear-weapons-free world.

By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ  The first-ever Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) came into force on 22 January 2021 after years of negotiations. The Treaty, welcomed by many as a step towards ridding the world of nuclear weapons, was signed four years after it was adopted by the UN in 2017.

Hailing this recent development, the All-Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), in a statement on Tuesday, expressed its support, together with the rest of the ecumenical community, for the Treaty which now becomes international law.

The ecumenical body said that the Treaty “ushers in the possibilities of heralding a new world free of the threats and tensions that have been characterized by the battle to develop and hold nuclear weapons.”

No safe hands for nuclear weapons

In the Tuesday statement, AACC stated its belief “that the very holding and potential threat of use of nuclear weapons is immoral,” adding that it looks forward to the day “when the world will be freed of these weapons permanently.”

“There are no safe hands for these weapons,” added AACC. “The accidental or deliberate detonation of a nuclear weapon would cause severe, long-lasting and far-reaching harm on all aspects of our lives and our environment throughout the world.”

At the same time, these technologies are “part of structures and systems that bring about great suffering and destruction” and have been the cause of “major tensions and threats of widespread devastation.”

TPNW: inspiration for a nuclear-weapon-free world

In the wake of the entry into force of the Treaty, AACC said that at a time when the world desperately needs fresh hope, the TPNW inspires us to work towards fully eliminating “the threat of nuclear weapons, and to create conditions for peace, justice and well-being.”

AACC also pointed out that the treaty addresses the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons on women and indigenous peoples, as well as the “importance of victim assistance and healing environmental harms in a groundbreaking way.”

Citing the example of the hibakusha – survivors of the two nuclear attacks launched at Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II – AACC noted that their courage and perseverance serve as “the inspiration, guidance and moral foundation” in the quest for a world without nuclear weapons.

Appeal to States

Highlighting that none of the nine nuclear global powers, and many countries with defense pacts with them have signed or ratified the Treaty, AACC pointed out that a lot of work still remains to be done.  As at its entry into force, the TPNW was signed by 86 countries and ratified by 51.

n this regard, AACC appealed to the ecumenical global community to make its contribution, in whichever way possible, to participate in the global work for peace, justice and respect for life.

Concretely, the ecumenical body is urging all States to sign and ratify the TPNW, as well as join the first meeting of the State parties scheduled for next year. AACC further calls for decisive action “to strengthen the power of the TPNW upon its entry into force, and to work for peace, cooperation and common security.”

“We must not be discouraged at the slow pace, but become even more determined to push for a better world,” AACC said. “This is part of our mission and we know God is on our side.”

AACC

Founded in Kampala, Uganda, in 1963, the AAAC is an ecumenical association that today has 173 member churches present in 40 African countries, representing over 120 million Christians on the continent. Its headquarters is in Nairobi, Kenya.

January 30, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, politics international, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Catholics welcome Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Catholic advocates welcome treaty banning nuclear weapons coming into force, Crux, Dennis SadowskiJan 17, 2021, CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE 

CLEVELAND — A Holy See-supported treaty banning the possession of nuclear weapons that is coming into force is buoying efforts by nations and nonprofit and church organizations working to abolish such armaments.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons comes into force Jan. 22, three months after the 50th nation ratified the historic document.

Nuclear abolition supporters said the treaty puts the world’s nine nuclear powers on notice that momentum to dismantle arsenals of the world’s most destructive weapons is building.

We have an opportunity to move in a different direction now. We have to convince the nuclear states to take this seriously, to take this as an opportunity to move to a new conversation in the nuclear age,” said Marie Dennis, the Washington-based senior adviser to Pax Christi International’s secretary general.

The treaty resulted from months of negotiations at the United Nations in 2017 led by non-nuclear countries. Dennis described the effort as an example of the Catholic social teaching principle of participation.

“People around the world who live in countries that are not part of the nuclear weapons countries or under the nuclear umbrella have realized more and more clearly that the whole world would be devastated by an exchange of nuclear weapons and the people of the world decided to do something about it,” she explained.

The Holy See was a key participant in the process that led to drafting the treaty, providing encouragement and advice to negotiators, said Jesuit Father Drew Christiansen, a nuclear weapons expert who is professor of ethics and global development at Georgetown University.

He credited Pope Francis for the Vatican’s work on the pact. “I think it’s part of Francis’s agenda to get this out there,” he said. “As Francis begins to elaborate more about this teaching on arms and warfare, he’ll speak out more on this issue.”

The Holy See was the among the first to ratify the treaty, which was approved by 122 U.N. members. Netherlands was the only country to vote against it while Singapore abstained.

The nuclear nations and those under the U.S. nuclear umbrella opposed the measure and played little if any role in negotiations. In addition to the U.S., the countries possessing nuclear weapons are Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.

Data from various sources, including the U.S. Department of State and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, show that the nine countries hold an estimated 13,440 nuclear weapons. …….. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2021/01/catholic-advocates-welcome-treaty-banning-nuclear-weapons-coming-into-force/

January 18, 2021 Posted by | Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Why Japanese people should say ‘Sayonara’ to nuclear energy- a nun’s voice for nuclear victims

A Voice for Nuclear Victims Catholic Outlook, By David Aquije, 15 January 2021.   Maryknoll sister advocates for victims of Japan’s triple disaster caused by an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear accident. After Japan lifted its state of emergency, due to the coronavirus, on May 31, Maryknoll Sister Kathleen Reiley expressed relief that COVID-19 was settling down in the country. But, she said, “The problem with the nuclear accident and what to do with nuclear waste will be around for hundreds of years.”

Sister Reiley, who has served as a missioner in Japan since 1968, was referring to the accident at Fukushima-Daichi Nuclear plant, which occurred on March 11, 2011. The accident was triggered by a devastating tsunami that followed a powerful 9.0 earthquake that hit a large part of Japan’s northern coast.

The quake and tsunami left more than 18,000 people dead or missing and hundreds of thousands of houses and businesses destroyed, according to Japan’s National Police Agency. More than 160,000 people fled the region near the nuclear plant because of the meltdown and more than 40,000 are still unable to return home due to radiation contamination.

Last June, Sister Reiley took the 3.5-hour train ride from Tokyo, where she lives, to Fukushima to give this Maryknoll reporter a tour around Haramachi, a town near where the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear accident happened.

The area had the feeling of a sci-fi apocalyptic movie: A ghost town with abandoned farmlands that could not be used; streets blocked with fences and no-trespassing signs; decaying houses damaged by the earthquake that cannot be repaired because they are contaminated; Geiger counter boxes under the street signs to measure the level of radioactivity; thousands of huge black vinyl bags filled with radioactive dirt; security guards wearing masks and radioactive protective gear at checkpoints, only allowing entrance to radioactive waste cleaning crews—many of them immigrants who are temporarily hired to do a job that could harm their health. …….

Sister Reiley has striven to show God’s love for the people by speaking out against nuclear energy in a country whose 52 nuclear plants, she believes, pose an enormous threat to human life.

After the triple disaster in 2011, Sister Reiley responded to the Japanese Catholic Church’s call for volunteers. “Initially I went several times a year to several different Japan Caritas bases wherever the need was at the time,” says Sister Reiley. “But gradually towns far away from the reactor returned to normal, (except) Haramachi where the need is still great for the elderly, differently abled and those people in a low economic bracket. They don’t have the means to move away from the reactor area.”

…….. Her concern about nuclear energy began in 1979 in her native Schuylkill County, Pa. She was visiting home from her mission in Japan when there was a reactor meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in nearby Dauphin County. It is considered the most serious nuclear accident in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“We’re poisoning our earth,” Sister Reiley remembers her father saying shortly after the nuclear accident.

“In 1999, there was a nuclear accident at the Tokaimura [nuclear facility] in Ibaraki Prefecture,” Sister Reiley says. “About two years after that accident happened, I asked the families [at the cancer hospital], ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Ibaraki.’ ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Ibaraki.’”

Out of the 24 beds for children with cancer at the hospital, at the time, seven children were from Ibaraki, explains the missioner. “But nobody can document that and say absolutely, ‘that’s why [the nuclear accident] they got cancer’.”

Still, the missioner works tirelessly to raise awareness about the dangers in nuclear energy   Nearly 25 years after the 1986 nuclear accident in Chernobyl, in the former Soviet Union, Sister Reiley read an article, in a Japanese newspaper, about the high incidences of cancer linked to the nuclear accident. The report cited a study conducted by an international team of researchers led by the National Cancer Institute. That gave the Maryknoll sister an opportunity to question what happened at the nuclear facility in Japan. She visited the newspaper headquarters to speak to the editors.

“Won’t you please do some research about Tokaimura? About the accident that happened in Ibaraki?” she asked. The paper did not respond to her request. She was undaunted.

That sombre day in June in Haramachi, as we drove back to the train station, we saw a farm with cattle and stopped for a lesson from Sister Reiley. She explained that the government had asked the owner to kill the cattle. The cows’ milk could not be sold nor could the cows be slaughtered to sell their meat because they were contaminated. The cows, she continued, were innocent victims of problems caused by human beings.

“But this wonderful man asked the government to let the cows live a natural life and die a natural death,” says Sister Reiley.

Then she translated a sign at the cattle ranch. “We lived here with no fear of nuclear energy and now we realise that we lost something that can never be returned to us and we want people to understand that we have to say sayonara, goodbye, to nuclear energy.”  https://catholicoutlook.org/jana-voice-for-nuclear-victims/

January 16, 2021 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Church leaders call on UK to sign nuclear weapons ban treaty

UK is urged to sign UN nuclear-weapons treaty  https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2021/15-january/news/uk/uk-is-urged-to-sign-un-nuclear-weapons-treaty by PAT ASHWORTH, 15 JANUARY 2021   But there is resistance to change, say peace campaigners.

CAMPAIGNERS are urging the UK to sign the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which will come into effect on 22 January.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, with more than 30 Church of England bishops, called on the Government in November to accept the treaty, which, they said, would “give hope to all people of goodwill who seek a peaceful future” (News, 20 November 2020).

It has been signed by 51 states. They will now be required to stop producing, developing, testing, or stationing nuclear weapons, and will be required to help any victims of their testing and use. Their financial institutions will be expected to stop investing in companies that produce nuclear weapons.

The UK, the United StatesFrance, and Russia have not signed the treaty. Clergy and church leaders were reminded in a briefing by the Network of Christian Peace Organisations (NCPO), on Tuesday, of the overwhelming support given to a Lambeth Conference resolution in 1998, which called on the Government and the UN to press for an international mandate for all member states to prohibit nuclear warfare.

Now was the time to fulfil that, Rebecca Johnson, one of the architects of the treaty and a founder member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), said. Nuclear weapons must be known for what they really were — weapons of mass destruction — and the phrase “nuclear powers” must be replaced with “nuclear-armed states”.

The treaty was a legal one, but it would work by persuasion and not by coercion; it was normative in taking away any status attached to hanging on to nuclear weapons, and in labelling as pariahs those who did. “We all need to think about what we can do to bring this treaty into force in our own countries. There is an important job here for faith leaders to do,” she said.

Although the C of E had a blanket policy of not investing in companies with an interest in nuclear weapons, everyone should examine investment practice in their churches, the policy adviser on international affairs for the ecumenical Joint Public Issues Team, Steve Hucklesby, said.

The treaty brought “a very real possibility of a new norm on nuclear weapons across the whole finance and business sectors; but be clear: there is resistance to change,” he continued. Pressure could be applied to banks and pension providers if individuals saw this as something relating to their own lives. “The issue now becomes compliance with an international treaty, to be applied across the whole of an institution’s business.”

An international meeting to be held in Vienna later this year will establish mechanisms for compliance. It will be open to observers from nuclear-armed states, who will not be able to vote but who should be urged to “attend, listen, and learn,” Ms Johnson said. “It is so important for the UK to join sooner rather than later . . . to be at the table.”

Russell Whiting, who chairs Christian CND, described a world in which President Trump, or even Joe Biden, had their finger on the nuclear button, as “an incredibly dangerous place”. The treaty has been declared dangerous by the Prime Minister, and by the former Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. These governments had “misrepresented” the treaty wherever they went, saying that it would undermine the existing non-proliferation treaty, Ms Johnson said.

The General Synod called for the elimination of nuclear weapons in July 2018, but it stopped short of urging the Government to sign the treaty. The Government’s refusal to do so was described by the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cotrrell, then Bishop of Chelmsford, as “hugely disappointing” and “a decision that looks like complacency”. He questioned the billions of pounds spent on Trident (News, 13 July 2018).

The general secretary of the Roman Catholic peace movement Pax Christi, Pat Gaffney, said on Tuesday that RC bishops had issued a statement asking the Government to support the treaty — a move that she described as “a huge step forward, because they have habitually said it undermined the existing non-proliferation treaty. Catholics need to write to their bishops affirming what they are doing.”

The NCPO is holding a service online at 11.30 a.m. on 22 January, to mark the treaty. It will conclude with the ringing of the peace bell at Coventry Cathedral.

January 16, 2021 Posted by | Religion and ethics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Quakers welcome nuclear weapons ban treaty 

January 14, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Plowshare anti nuclear-weapons activists again face prison .

Longtime Anti-Nuke Activists Face Prison, Again, After Breaking Into Naval Base  https://www.npr.org/2020/12/28/948116757/longtime-anti-nuclear-activists-face-prison-again-after-breaking-into-naval-base
December 28, 20205: Heard on Morning Edition

EMMA PEASLEE.  Dressed in black, the seven intruders cut through a fence and stole along the perimeter of the naval base, trying to avoid detection from the guard towers, as a loudspeaker overhead blared: “Deadly force is authorized!”

Patrick O’Neill, who had a GoPro strapped to his head, tried to reassure himself by remembering a scene in the Bible where Jesus escapes unscathed from a wrathful mob that wants to throw him off a cliff.

When O’Neill and the others reached their target, they poured their own blood on the shield of the Kings Bay naval base in Georgia and attached a poster of Martin Luther King Jr. to a mock-up of a Trident II D5 ballistic missile at the welcome area.

The anti-nuclear activists — Roman Catholics who call themselves Plowshares, from the Biblical passage about “beating swords into plowshares” — followed the metaphor quite literally and took a hammer to the replica of the warhead.

“When you think of idolatry, that’s exactly what I think of: statues of nuclear weapons,” O’Neill said later. “I mean, my God, you’re gonna build a statue for something that if it’s used would blow up a whole city full of people. This is your idea of welcoming people? I mean, it’s sick.”

The break-in on the night of April 4, 2018, ended with the arrest and conviction on charges of trespassing and destruction of property for the seven activists aged 58 to 81.

And in the midst of a pandemic that’s wreaking havoc on prisons and disproportionately affecting older people, six of them have been sentenced to up to 33 months in prison. The seventh is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

The Plowshares activists were seeking to revive the anti-nuclear movement by committing acts of civil disobedience.

They are part of a larger faith-based movement that has been around since the 1980s, when anti-nuclear protests used to draw millions into the streets.

Those days are long gone, but the threat of nuclear warfare isn’t. According to some atomic scientists, the threat may be even greater now, and the activists are frustrated that in their view hardly anyone is paying attention.

Which is one reason why they have broken into military bases and sometimes succeeded in doing damage to actual nuclear armaments. In a highly publicized protest in 1980, Plowshares activists hammered two missile nose cones at a General Electric complex in King of Prussia, Pa., causing tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage. In 2012, another group that included an 82-year-old Catholic nun defaced a bunker holding weapons-grade uranium at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

People are always astounded that a bunch of old people or unarmed people or whatever people can gain access to these weapons at all,” said O’Neill, 64.

Patrick O’Neill, 64, is a member of the Kings Bay Plowshares. He reports to prison in January for a 14-month sentence.
Emma Peaslee/NPR

Martha Hennessey, 65, had already been to prison three times before beginning her sentence at a federal prison in Danbury, Conn., on Dec. 14. She is the granddaughter of the journalist-turned-activist Dorothy Day, who founded the pacifist Catholic Worker Movement in the 1930s.

Rather than dwell on her own sentence, she drew attention to the mass incarceration of people who have committed minor offenses.

“I mean, there are people being thrown into prison for years for, you know, things that are not even crimes,” she said in an interview before reporting to prison.

Members of the Plowshares group prefer not to talk about the risks they might face in prison, but their families are worried.

“I’m afraid that my dad might die in prison,” said Maura O’Neill, 26, one of O’Neill’s eight children. “I worry that he might contract COVID and get really sick, and it feels like a real possibility.”

December 31, 2020 Posted by | Legal, opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Archbishop Tomasi has led the Vatican’s fight against nuclear weapons

October 29, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Jesuit priest sentenced for peacful civil disbedience in protest against nuclear weapons

October 24, 2020 Posted by | Legal, Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The cruel and lonely death of an American nuclear weapons scientist

  The lost tale of a nuclear scientist’s death in a secret San Francisco hospital room, Katie Dowd, SFGATE, Oct. 23, 2020 Before San Francisco became a metropolis, there was the Presidio. Since its creation as a military base in 1776, it has stood alone in a windswept corner, gathering legends.It has seen executions, tragic accidents and countless hospital patients.

And if you’re a believer that violent ends produce restless spirits, the Presidio is full up with phantoms as a result.
The most haunted place is said to be Letterman Army Hospital, once the base’s largest medical facility

In looking for Presidio ghost stories, though, we stumbled across a far stranger tale than any haunting: the real-life demise of a nuclear scientist — a chapter of the Cold War, as far as we can tell, untold since 1953.

Twitchell was a genius. Born in Minnesota in 1917, he got his undergraduate degree from Rollins College in Florida and a masters in chemistry at UC Berkeley. At 23, he was promoted to project engineer in charge of the equipment department of the University of California radiation lab.
This was no ordinary lab. Among Twitchell’s colleagues were Glenn Seaborg, Ernest O. Lawrence and J. Robert Oppenheimer — all of whom would later contribute to the Manhattan Project — and together the team was working on the discovery of atomic particles. Once World War II broke out, their mission shifted. The lab’s work was now crucial to the creation of nuclear weapons for the U.S. military……….
 In 1952 then just 35 years old. That year, doctors diagnosed him with a malignant brain tumor and told him he likely did not have long to live.
As Twitchell and his wife Marie processed the terrible news, the U.S. government sprung into action. Although he likely would have wanted his palliative care to take place at his home at 2319 Glen Ave., in Berkeley, he was told that wouldn’t be possible. He needed to be moved as soon as possible to a secure location.

The brain tumor presented a particular problem for the Atomic Energy Commission: It had the potential to cause erratic behavior and uncontrolled verbal outbursts. They were fearful that as he lost control of his mental faculties, Twitchell would begin spilling nuclear secrets. He knew “as much about atomic energy as any one man,” an anonymous source in the commission would later tell the Oakland Tribune.

So they built a secret ward just for Twitchell. At the cost of $100,000 — nearly $1 million today — construction began at the Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco’s Presidio for the unusual patient. Once finished, all doctors and nurses who might interact with Twitchell were given rigorous screenings for any national security issues. In the end, only one male nurse was trusted to primarily care for Twitchell. A guard stood watch outside the room at all times.

Unbeknownst to the other military patients at the hospital, a civilian lay dying in his own wing. “He was the hospital’s hush-hush case,” the San Francisco Examiner reported.

On March 23, 1953, five months after his diagnosis, Twitchell died. Two days later, news broke nationally. “A macabre tale of the atomic age was revealed yesterday,” the Examiner proclaimed. The Atomic Energy Commission was forced to admit Twitchell’s room wasn’t the only one they’d covertly constructed. Around the nation, there were similar isolation wards for individuals dealing in nuclear secrets.

An anonymous source told the Tribune this was standard protocol to keep scientists from blabbing while “unbalanced, anesthetized or under the influence of dentists’ ‘laughing gas.'” Although expensive, it was the only way to maintain national security.

But all this drama meant little to the Twitchells, who were left to bury their loved one…… https://www.sfgate.com/sfhistory/article/letterman-army-hospital-presidio-ghost-uc-berkeley-15668131.php

October 24, 2020 Posted by | health, psychology and culture, Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Two excellent new books on a nuclear-weapons -free world

September 5, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics, resources - print, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Vatican representative calls on U.S. to sign nuclear-test-ban treaty

September 1, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Southern African Faith Communities oppose extending the life of Koeberg nuclear power plant 

August 13, 2020 Posted by | Religion and ethics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Hiroshima and the normalisation of atrocities

August 11, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, Religion and ethics, weapons and war | 1 Comment