Nuclear disarmament conference, Brussels, 10 January


Brussels nuclear disarmament cconference poster

From the peace movement intal Greater Middle East in Belgium (translated):

10/01/2018: Conference on nuclear disarmament: necessary step for peace?

On 7 July 2017, a historic moment took place: 122 countries signed a UN treaty that forbids nuclear weapons. Not just a piece of paper, but a binding treaty for the signatories. Historical and hopeful. Most countries in the world want to get rid of nuclear weapons.

Belgium, on the other hand, remains on the sidelines. The left progressive group [of European Parliament members] GUE-NGL will be discussing this with some guests on 10 January from 3 pm to 6 pm in the European Parliament. Will you be there? You can register via veronique.coteur@intal.be

Program:

15u-16u30: First panel:

Sabine Lösing, European Parliament member Die Linke – GUE/NGL
Leo Hoffmann-Axthelm, ICAN (Nobel Peace Prize, 2017)
Maria do Socorro Gomes, president World Peace Council
Merja Kyllönen, GUE/NGL (video message)

Discussion and questions

16u30-18u: Panel Campaigns:

João Pimenta Lopes, PCP GUE/NGL MEP
Ilda Figueiredo, president Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation (CPPC)
Regina Hagen, Board Member of Büchel ist überall! atomwaffenfrei.jetzt (Germany)
Laura Lodenius, Executive Director Peace Union of Finland

Interventions of the public and other movements:

Kate Hudson, British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmement (CND) General Secretary
Veronique Coteur, intal
Dennis Kyriakou, Cypriot Peace Movement
Samuel Legros, CNAPD [Belgium]

Final word by João Pimenta Lopes, GUE/NGL.

‘Ban nuclear weapons now’


This video from the USA says about itself:

Hiroshima Survivor Setsuko Thurlow Recalls U.S. Bombing

27 May 2016

As President Obama becomes the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city of Hiroshima, we look back at the devastation caused by the U.S. bombing on August 6, 1945. It was the first time a nuclear bomb had been dropped in history. At the time, Setsuko Thurlow was a 13-year-old student at the girls’ school. At 8 a.m. that morning, she was on the second floor of the school’s building, about one mile away from the site that was about to become ground zero. She recalls seeing a bluish white flash through the window. Moments later, she was falling through the air as the building was flattened by the blast. For the rest of her life, Setsuko has organized against nuclear weapons. We’re joined now by Setsuko herself.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

See the light: Ban nuclear weapons

Monday 11th November 2017

As Nobel Prize is handed to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Hiroshima surivor makes a plea to the powerful

A HIROSHIMA bomb survivor made an impassioned plea for world leaders to “see the light” and ban nuclear weapons at this year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony yesterday.

Setsuko Thurlow, a leading activist with 2017 prizewinner the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), made her request as the award was handed over in Oslo, Norway.

She was 13 when the US launched the world’s first nuclear attack by bombing the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945, killing tens of thousands of civilians.

Ms Thurlow said the blast left her buried under the rubble of a school, but she could see light and crawled to safety.

She said: “I repeat those words that I heard called to me in the ruins of Hiroshima: ‘Don’t give up. Keep pushing. See the light? Crawl toward it.’ Our light now is the ban treaty.”

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN followed a United Nations vote in July to ban nuclear weapons.

There were 122 votes in favour and two against. Britain and the US did not attend and have previously released a joint statement that they do not intend “to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.”

In London on Saturday activists marked the Nobel award by staging a “die in” outside the Ministry of Defence.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) vice-chair Bruce Kent said Britain could easily be the first nuclear power to abolish its nuclear weapons because its Trident nuclear system is totally dependent on the supply of missiles from the US to carry its warheads.

“We are well placed to be the first nuclear power to come off the fence,” he said.

Mr Kent said the £205 billion cost of building and running the system “could be spent on housing or hospitals, or social services, or overseas aid — that money does not get challenged.”

He condemned US President Donald Trump for his sabre-rattling over North Korea and said Trump was “volatile.”

“It is a very dangerous time because a man like Trump really is not sufficiently informed to know what he is dealing with,” he said.

“He is still living in a kind of cowboy world, where the one with the bigger gun somehow wins. Well, nobody wins with a nuclear war — there is no winning.”

Mr Kent said it is a possibility that the US president could get “into a [tantrum] and press the button.”

“The answer to the North Korea problem is to get rid of American nuclear weapons from that area and de-target North Korea — not to encourage them to copy us”, he said.

He hoped that there are enough people “with independent minds” to stop Trump.

Gatherings across Britain watched the Oslo presentation yesterday.

In Leeds peacemakers filled the city’s Unitarian church to watch the ceremony on a large screen.

Former Labour MEP for Leeds Michael McGowan told the Morning Star how the anti-nuclear movement had grown, including the international Mayors for Peace group, led by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and uniting more than 8,000 mayors worldwide.

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER WARNS NUCLEAR WAR IS ONE ‘TANTRUM AWAY’ Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, cited the rise of nuclear-armed states, terrorists and cyberwarfare as pressing international threats. [HuffPost]

Is the United States on the brink of nuclear war? Here.

British nuclear weapons unsafe, government covers up


This video from Britain says about itself:

Caroline Lucas on TridentBBC Question Time

9 April 2015

Caroline has taken a clear and consistent stand for peace, justice and equality. On BBC Question Time she tells us: ‘The idea that we keep ourselves safe by basically sending a message to the rest of the world that says that unless you have nuclear weapons you are not going to be able to have your own security, that is a recipe for spreading nuclear weapons right across the world and making us all deeply more unsafe.’

She makes it clear to the audience that we could be using the money spent on Trident to invest in schools, hospitals, and investing in the real threat that we face, the climate crisis.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Government censorship of safety report on our nuclear weapons sparks anger

Monday 13th November 2017

CAMPAIGNERS against nuclear weapons have slammed a government decision to censor safety reports on the Trident missile system.

The annual reports — which in the past have listed a catalogue of problems, many attributed to cuts and skilled staff shortages — have been reclassified as “secret” by the Ministry of Defence, according to the Sunday Herald newspaper.

“National security” was given as the reason.

The 2014 report said the lack of skilled staff was “the principal threat to the delivery of nuclear safety,” a warning also given in earlier reports.

Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament chairman Arthur West said: “It suggests that there has been a lack of progress on issues which have been raised in previous reports.”

Fred Dawson, a Ministry of Defence nuclear expert for 31 years until he retired as head of radiation protection policy in 2009, said: “The obvious conclusion to draw is that there is something to hide.”

South Korean peace activists banned from the USA


South Korean peace activists. The sign says 'We condemn the U.S. for denying entry'. Photo: Ban Trump’s Crazy Action (BTC) delegation

From www.zoominkorea.org:

South Koreans Opposed To War On North Korea Banned From Entering US

October 29th, 2017

Fourteen members of the Fellowship of South Korean Youth — calling themselves the “Ban Trump’s Crazy Action” (BTC) delegation — were stopped at Incheon airport on October 25 and prevented from boarding their planes to the United States, where they had planned to protest Trump’s war threats in Korea. The group, which had planned to visit New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles to demand an end to U.S. sanctions and war threats against North Korea, was turned away despite having acquired proper documentation to visit the United States.

The members of the delegation were told by the United Airline staff that there were problems with their visas. When the delegation asked for an explanation, they were told, “You need to find out why from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. Due to privacy concerns, we cannot release any information.”

Following their entry denial, the BTC delegation held a press briefing at Incheon Airport. One representative of the delegation stated, “We received our visas through the proper channels, but suddenly our visas were rejected. We don’t understand what is so free about the so-called ‘land of the free.’ Every member of the BTC delegation is furious about this.”

Every member of the delegation had received an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) approval. According to the delegation, there was no further explanation from the airline staff as to why the visas they had received were denied. Later, the delegation members found out that their ESTA approval’s were canceled prior to checking in to their flights.

One of the members of the delegation took a separate flight and managed to arrive at JFK International Airport in New York before being detained without telephone access and deported back to South Korea the next day.

U.S. anti-war/peace activists, including the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea & Militarism in Asia and the Pacific and Nodutdol for Korean Community Development released a joint statement denouncing the U.S. government’s decision to ban the entry of the South Korean activists:

As organizations and individuals who advocate open borders, freedom of speech, and peaceful resolution of international conflicts, we strongly protest the U.S. entry ban of the members of BTC and demand a full explanation for this action and immediate reversal of this decision. We also forcefully oppose the Trump administration’s escalation of tension with North Korea, fully support South Korean peacemakers mobilizing to protest Trump’s visit to their country and preparing for mass demonstrations on November 4th, and stand in solidarity with all people – Koreans, citizens of the United States, and others throughout the world – unconditionally committed to preventing a second Korean War.

The list of organizations endorsing the statement include CODEPINK, Peace Action, US Labor Against the War, Veterans For Peace, the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), among many others.

Trump will visit South Korea on November 7 and 8 as part of his upcoming Asia tour, and South Korean anti-war/peace activists plan to hold a series of actions to protest Trump’s hostile policies and war threats against North Korea. Peace groups are planning a mass demonstration in Seoul on November 4. Korean Americans plan to hold solidarity protests in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington DC.

We Want Peace, Not War, with North Korea! —South Korean and Japanese Activists: here.

The White House has quickly undercut suggestions by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday that Washington was willing to start talks with North Korea without preconditions. The latest differences emerge amid growing signs that the Trump administration is preparing to wage war against the Pyongyang regime in the coming months unless it capitulates completely to US demands: here.

Trump’s Korean nuclear war threat and corporate media


This video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Speaks To UN, Threatens To Destroy North Korea

19 September 2017

Trump keeps saber-rattling on North Korea. Does he intend to commit genocide with a nuclear first strike? Ana Kasparian, Michael Shure, and Brett Erlich, hosts of The Young Turks, discuss.

“ON TUESDAY MORNING, Donald Trump gave a bombastic speech to the assembled delegates of the United Nations. Pay special attention to how he addressed North Korea and its looming nuclear threat. Unlike most of what Trump said otherwise, its implications are as wide-ranging as they are grim.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” said Trump. “‘Rocket Man’ is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

“Rocket Man,” you rightly guessed, refers to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. … And while Trump has made similar provocations before, either in impromptu remarks or ill-advised tweets, his UN taunting worsens an already alarmingly combustible situation—while also making it harder to defuse.”

Read more here.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Obscuring the truth with lies and demonisation

Saturday 14th October 2017

IAN SINCLAIR on the media’s drumbeat for war

“Defence news is highly sensitive and tends to be conservative especially at times of crisis,” the Glasgow University Media Group noted in its influential 1985 book War and Peace News.

The nuclear standoff between the US and North Korea is the perfect illustration of this truism, with the mainstream media — bar a few exceptions — acting as a well-oiled propaganda system, echoing the official line of Western governments and minimising the public’s understanding of the ongoing confrontation.

This mass production of ignorance occurs in several ways.

First, the media tends to focus on immediate events and ignore the wider historical context. When some history is discussed, it tends to be a simplistic, limited and Western-biased narrative which is presented.

“As the war memorials in South Korea tell you: freedom isn’t free. In the Korean war four million died on both sides — soldier and civilian — in just three years, after the communist Korean People’s Army invaded the pro-Western South.” This was Asia correspondent Jonathan Miller’s take on the crisis for Channel 4 News in August 2017.

Compare Miller’s suggestion the war was fought for freedom with a 2008 report in the Sydney Morning Herald which noted that, by the start of the war in 1950, South Korean leader Syngman Rhee “had about 30,000 alleged communists in his jails, and had about 300,000 suspected sympathisers enrolled in an official ‘re-education’ movement.”

In his book The Death of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America’s Wars, John Tirman notes the CIA knew Rhee was “bent on autocratic rule,” with repression of trade unions, liberal newspapers and political parties proceeding with US support.

Miller’s quote highlights the conflict’s gigantic human death toll but doesn’t give any indication of the central role played by the US in the slaughter. Journalist Blaine Harden summarised the largely unknown history in the Washington Post in 2015: in 1984, General Curtis LeMay, head of the US Strategic Air Command during the Korean war, told the Office of Air Force History: “Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — 20 per cent of the population.”

Picasso's Massacre in Korea

This is Pablo Picasso‘s painting Massacre in Korea.

Dean Rusk, who served as US secretary of state in the 1960s, said the US bombed “everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another.” After running low on urban targets, US aircraft destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams, flooding farmland and destroying crops, notes Harden.

While the Korean war has largely been forgotten in the West, “the American air war left a deep and lasting impression” on North Koreans, notes Professor Charles Armstrong from Columbia University in his 2013 book Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950-1992. The aerial bombardment, “more than any other single factor, gave North Koreans a collective sense of anxiety and fear of outside threats, that would continue long after the war’s end.”

Another key propaganda technique, wilfully amplified by the media, is the demonisation of the enemy’s leader — in this case Kim Jung Un, who has ruled North Korea since 2011.

In addition to focusing the public’s attention on a single, supposedly evil person rather than the millions of ordinary people who would be killed in any war, the demonisation campaign has painted Kim as unstable, perhaps insane. However, after weeks of interviews with “experts and insiders,” Benjamin Haas and Justin McCurry noted in the Guardian that while Kim “may be ruthless and bellicose, few believe he is a madman with his finger on the button.”

The portrayal of the North Korean leader as mad chimes with another argument pushed by the Western media: that it is impossible — and therefore pointless to try — to negotiate with North Korea. In contrast, in a 2008 report for Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Co-operation, John Lewis and Robert Carlin, a senior adviser on North Korea from 1989 to 2002 in the US State Department, wrote: “Forgotten is the reality that from 1993 to 2000, the US government [had] 20 or more issues under discussion with [North Korea] in a wide variety of settings.”

“A large percentage of those talks ended in agreements or made substantial progress,” they note.

Discussing the recent history of US-North Korean relations, Professor Noam Chomsky told Democracy Now! earlier this year: “maybe you can say it’s the worst regime in history … but they have been following a pretty rational tit-for-tat policy.”

Chomsky pointed to the establishment of the Framework Agreement between the Clinton Administration and North Korea in 1994, which agreed a freeze on North Korea’s nuclear weapons ambitions in exchange for the US providing North Korea with fuel oil, assistance with building two nuclear reactors and the normalisation of relations between the two nations. Though neither side fully lived up to their commitments, Chomsky noted that “it more or less worked,” meaning that up until 2000 “North Korea had not proceeded with its nuclear weapons programmes.”

James Pierce, who was part of the US State Department team which negotiated the agreement, tells a similar story. “The bottom line is, there was a lot in the 1994 agreement that worked and continued for some years,” he told The Nation magazine. “The assertion, now gospel, that the North Koreans broke it right away is simply not true.”

Finally, the way in which the media chooses to present important information or arguments plays a crucial role in the public’s level of knowledge and understanding. “The best way to erase-a-story-while-reporting-it is to give no hint of it in the title or in most of the article, and to drop it in at the end of the piece without any context, like a throwaway remark which deserves no attention,” activist and author Milan Rai recently argued in Peace News.

One could add an additional test: is the information or argument voiced by a particular actor? If so, are they a credible source to readers?

For example, in a August 30 2017 Guardian 34-paragraph report on the crisis — titled “Donald Trump on North Korea: all options are on the table” — US-South Korean military exercises are only mentioned in paragraphs 20 and 26 by Chinese and North Korean government officials, respectively. These war games have previously included training for striking North Korea and assassinating Kim and top North Korean military figures.

This is hugely significant because China and North Korea have repeatedly suggested a deal in which North Korea freezes its nuclear weapons programme in return for an end to the joint US-South Korean military exercises — the lastest of which took place in August 2017, likely escalating the face-off.

The offer has been rejected by Washington. Chomsky, however, believes the proposed deal “to end the highly provocative actions on North Korea’s border could be the basis for more far-reaching negotiations, which could radically reduce the nuclear threat and perhaps even bring the North Korea crisis to an end.”

Surveying the US media’s reluctance to report on the willingness of North Korea to negotiate, The Intercept’s Jon Schwarz argues: “there are huge roadblocks” to finding a peaceful solution to the crisis “and one of the biggest is the Western media’s failure to simply inform their audience of the basics of what’s happening.”

The peace movement and general public in the West therefore have an important role to play in this suicidal game of nuclear chicken: to apply pressure on their governments to sincerely explore the Chinese-North Korean offer, and work to de-escalate and resolve the crisis as quickly as possible.

Comments Tuesday by Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the US Pacific Command (PACOM), underscore the advanced state of US preparations for war with North Korea. Delivering a speech in Singapore, Harris dismissed warnings by various strategic analysts and military commentators that a conflict on the Korean Peninsula would cost millions of lives and was therefore unthinkable: here.

Amid a deepening standoff with North Korea and rising tensions with Russia and China, the United States is preparing to place its fleet of nuclear-capable B-52 bombers on 24-hour alert for the first time since 1991: here.

Trump: US “totally prepared” for war with North Korea: here.

Trump team drawing up fresh plans to bolster US nuclear arsenal: here.

US to loosen nuclear weapons constraints and develop more ‘usable’ warheads. New proposal is significantly more hawkish than Obama-era policy. Critics call development of new weapons ‘dangerous, Cold War thinking’: here.

The “false alarm” delivered to a population of 1.5 million in the US Pacific island state of Hawaii on Saturday morning has laid bare the clear and present danger of a nuclear war: here.

Trump’s nuclear war in Korea?


This 8 August 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

Trump threatens North Korea with “Fire and Fury”

In his new song, United States rapper Eminem states about Trump:

What we’ve got in office now‘s a kamikaze that’ll probably cause a nuclear holocaust.

US army chief urges greater “combat readiness” for war with North Korea. By Peter Symonds, 11 October 2017. The US is planning an illegal war of aggression against North Korea on a scale that would dwarf its military interventions into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria: here.

Australia deploys for war with North Korea and confrontation with China. By James Cogan, 11 October 2017. A flotilla of six Australian warships is making its way toward the Korean Peninsula and an Australian attack submarine is already in the area exercising with US and Japanese subs: here.

As Trump faces a mounting political crisis at home, the US president may see a war with North Korea as a means of shoring up his administration and crushing domestic political opposition: here.

Trump to light fuse under Iran nuclear deal, as part of more aggressive anti-Iran strategy: here.