Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

A new wave of anti-nuclear action in Washington

Fear of a new nuclear arms race revives hotbed of anti-nuclear action, President Trump’s plans for escalation kick off a new chapter in Washington’s long history with nuclear proliferation and resistance. CrossCut, by Kevin Knodell. October 18, 2019, As worries of nuclear war resurface and new concerns about the health impacts of America’s atomic arsenal emerge, Washington state’s long-lived but largely dormant anti-nuclear movement is again raising its voice.

President Donald Trump has made a show of withdrawing from landmark nuclear arms treaties while pushing a $1.7 trillion plan to replace America’s entire nuclear arsenal, even as North Korea has made progress toward a long-range atomic weapon. Those developments and violence around the globe have rekindled anti-nuke activism in the Northwest.

On Sept. 29, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility held a town hall on Washington’s history with nuclear weapons that brought together anti-war, environmental and Indigenous rights activists. Activists marched on the Federal Building in Seattle the following day to protest Trump’s nuclear policies.

“We’re a little more alarmed than in the past, so we’re working hard to affect Congress and also working to build a movement of people,” said Dr. Joe Berkson with Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. “The issue is the new nuclear arms race. There’s an expansion, the current administration wants to expand into new nuclear weapons and redo the whole nuclear weapons arsenal for a large amount of money, and we are opposed to that.”

On Sept. 29, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility held a town hall on Washington’s history with nuclear weapons that brought together anti-war, environmental and Indigenous rights activists. Activists marched on the Federal Building in Seattle the following day to protest Trump’s nuclear policies.

“We’re a little more alarmed than in the past, so we’re working hard to affect Congress and also working to build a movement of people,” said Dr. Joe Berkson with Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. “The issue is the new nuclear arms race. There’s an expansion, the current administration wants to expand into new nuclear weapons and redo the whole nuclear weapons arsenal for a large amount of money, and we are opposed to that.”

Berkson and others hope to draw on that history to broaden the conversation about nuclear weapons from the abstract fears of nuclear war to the tangible impacts the weapons have had on communities and on the environment. Activists hope to give new life to anti-nuclear activism in Washington.

“We’ve focused a lot of times on the environmental issues but now we’re really looking to hit home with the health issues,” said Twa-le Abrahamson of the Spokane Tribe.

Spokane and Yakama people have dealt with the radioactive contamination from Hanford that has poisoned their lands and, activists say, caused health problems for tribal members living on their reservations.

Abrahamson noted Trump administration has made deep cuts to cleanup efforts at Hanford and moved to roll back regulations on nuclear waste handling.

“We get some impacts on the daily. And our water has been contaminated forever, so forever we’ll have transportation of that waste,” she said. “Nobody talks about that. They want to act like that’s a history, but we have that going through our communities.”

For years, anti-nuclear activists have continuously protested against the U.S. Navy’s ballistic missile submarines stationed at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, which some nuclear weapons watchdogs believe houses 1,300 nuclear warheads. Berkson claimed the base, located near Hood Canal, is home to about one-third of America’s nuclear arsenal and is the third-largest cache of nuclear weapons in the world.

But the actual numbers — and locations — of America’s nuclear weapons are hard to nail down.

“It is U.S. government policy that we can neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of nuclear weapons at any general or specific location” said Sheila Murray, a spokesperson for Navy Region Northwest, noting that for safety and security the information is tightly guarded.

Activists argue that those weapons and other large military facilities make Western Washington an attractive target for strikes by rival nuclear powers. As Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un traded insults, some Seattleites worried that the city would be in Kim’s crosshairs.

New fears of nuclear conflict have spurred a wave of activism among younger Americans. Jeanelle Sales, a University of Washington student with the campus chapter of Beyond the Bomb, became active after a nuclear false alarm in her home state of Hawaii. The thought that her friends and family could have been caught in the blast terrified her. “It was a major wake up call for me,” she said.

Among the activists’ concerns is the Trump administration’s keen interest in tactical or “low yield” nuclear warheads that are easier to deploy and which produce smaller explosions. The fear among activists is that these weapons could make a nuclear strike much more likely……https://crosscut.com/2019/10/fear-new-nuclear-arms-race-revives-hotbed-anti-nuclear-action

 

October 19, 2019 - Posted by | General News

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