Nuclear Weapons Abolition Working Group: 2015 Work Plan

Guntram Mueller and Shelagh Foreman are co-conveners of our Nuclear Weapons Abolition Working Group.  Jonathan King is scheduled to become a co-convener in summer 2015.  More information on the Working Group

1.   Background:

At the height of the Cold War, there were 67,000 nuclear weapons on earth. Today, there are about 17,000 of which Russia and the US have about 8,000 each, about 1,600 deployed each. The US has 450 warheads on land-based missiles, on hair-trigger alert, the rest mostly on subs and some stored near bombers. In 1991, George H. W. Bush unilaterally took US nuclear bombers off 24/7 airborne hair-trigger alert (which shows that unilateral de-alerting can be done). But those 450 missiles are still on high alert.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1970 will begin its every-five-year Review Conference at the UN in NYC in late April 2015. The non-nuclear states have been getting increasingly impatient and angry that the nuclear states of the treaty (US, Russia, UK, China, France) have, after 44 years, still not met to begin the “negotiations in good faith” to get rid of their nuclear weapons as they had committed themselves to do in Article VI of the NPT. In response, some states have talked of quitting the NPT, freeing them to develop their own nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, the US is embarked on a 30-year Nuclear Modernization Program, upgrading its warheads, and designing and building new missiles, subs, bombers, and manufacturing facilities, at an estimated price of $1 trillion.

Adding complexity to these issues:

a) In May 2014, the US and separately also Russia, held their regularly planned nuclear war exercises. In the context of the broken 1990 NATO spoken promises not to move NATO eastward, and the hostilities in Ukraine including the March 2014 annexation of Crimea by Russia, these exercises took on a heightened significance.

b) There are the nuclear negotiations with Iran, about which some optimistic statements have been made, so the real question may be whether Congress and the hardliners in Iran allow such a deal. A failure to conclude a deal could well end in an attack on Iran, triggering an even more disastrous regional war.

c) North Korea has been suggesting talks with the US, but has been rejected because “we don’t want to buy the same horse twice”. In the meantime, in the absence of inspections and real information, suspicion and fear are rising that the miniaturization and missile development programs are progressing, leading to a usable ballistic nuclear missile.

d) Ever since 1970, in the context of the NPT, the “non-aligned” states have been saying that for Israel to be the only nuclear state in the region, in perpetuity, is unacceptable, and have been calling for negotiations to create a zone free of nuclear weapons. This was later changed to a “Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone (MEWMDFZ), which was supported by almost all nations on earth, including the US, and with caveats, by Israel. For years, the first meeting has been postponed, but at the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the US, UK, and Russia agreed to be conveners for the first meeting, to be held by Dec. 2012. A few weeks before the deadline, the US, and then the UK and Russia, postponed the meeting indefinitely. This issue is expected to cause great agitation at the Review Conference in April.

e) Pakistan is a politically unstable nuclear state, opposes any cap on its fissile material production, and is steadily adding to its estimated 100 nuclear weapons. There have been three wars with India, which also has about 100 nuclear weapons, over the disputed regions of Jammu and Kashmir. A nuclear exchange between them could be enough to unleash a “nuclear winter”, collapsing agriculture worldwide, possibly resulting in human extinction.

f) The threat of accidental nuclear war is absolutely real. Google that phrase, and see for yourself. And those entries do not include the mishaps and near-disasters of the less-maintained Russian weapons, nor of the other states. There is also the threat of non-accidental nuclear war, intended nuclear war. This threat can be recognized by the phrase “all options are on the table”.

2.   Long term Goal: The Elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide.

3.   Intermediate Goals:

a) Get President Obama to:

i) invite the nuclear states, to start in 2015 the negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide

ii) declare an absolute no-first-use policy

iii) declare a policy never to target cities with nuclear weapons

iv) take all 450 nuclear missiles off hair-trigger alert.

v) Together with Russia and the UK, convene the MEWMDFZ negotiations.

All these actions can be taken by President Obama without any involvement by Congress.

b) Get Congress to:

i) eliminate or cut back significantly the Nuclear Modernization Program of upgrading warheads, and creating a new class of missiles, subs, and bombers, all at a 30-year price tag of $1 trillion, $1,000,000,000,000, which comes to about $10,000 per household.

ii) stop calling for the cancellation of the INF (Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty in Europe, a treaty that has made Europe, including Ukraine, safer and more stable than it otherwise would be)

iii) re-pass the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty)

iv) pass the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty)

v) indicate support for the FMCT (Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty – in negotiation)

c) Get Mayors to join Mayors for Peace, with 6260 members from 160 countries, an organization with a goal of eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide by 2020.

d) In view of the fact that the U.S. Conference of Mayors has unanimously (!) voted to support the Mayors for Peace in their quest for nuclear abolition for the last 9 years, get City Councils to pass resolutions in support of this effort, with copies going to federal officials and the press.

4.   Proposed actions for 2015:

a) Convene other organizations in the Boston area and across Massachusetts to mobilize a large Boston area attendance at Peace and Planet: Mobilization for a Nuclear-Free, Just and Sustainable Future, consisting of conferences in NYC on April 24-25, with a large international rally at the UN on April 26, which lead up to the NPT Review Conference.

b) Go to the Peace & Planet events, joining in the international call for the start of negotiations to eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide. Japan is expected to send 2,000 people, and we hope to make this a truly strong action in NYC.

c) Attend the Jan. or Feb. D.C. Peace Action Organizers’ Conference and meeting with government officials, and the spring Alliance for Nuclear Accountability conference and meeting with officials.

d) Hold Hiroshima Day Event on or about August 6, 2015, part of a planned sequence of events in coalition with other groups.

e) Hold event for the UN-declared Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Sept. 26.

f) Present talks, panels, films, with a special emphasis on including college and high school students, reaching at least 6 different regional communities.

g) Set up tables at various summer festivals to talk to a wide variety of people not “in the choir”, hand out brochures, and get petitions signed.

h) Meet with elected officials, write to them, write letters to the editor of local papers.

i) Build closer cooperation and plan joint events with the Cape Cod anti-nuclear energy community.

j) Take action to educate Congress about international crises when nuclear weapons are part of the threat, as for example in Ukraine, Iran, and Korea.

5.   Tactical Goals and their Measures of Success:

a) Get 200 Boston area people to go to NYC for April 24-26. (Pro-rated equally across the country, that would amount to about 20,000 people.)

b) Get 2,000 petition signatures.

c) Get 20 letters to the editor published

d) Distribute 5,000 nuclear-related brochures.

e) Hold 8 events: talks, films, etc.

f) Get 7 new mayors to become members of Mayors for Peace.

g) Get 5 City Councils to pass resolutions in support of the nuclear weapons abolition work of the Mayors for Peace.

6.   Volunteers Needed —  with this very ambitious program, we’ll need lots of help to make it happen. Please sign up on the forms going around.

a) Firstly, we need more people to join the Nuclear Weapons Abolition Committee to help in the planning and the doing. Sign up or send an email to

b) At all our hosted events, we’ll need volunteers to help with making and distributing flyers, to welcome and talk to incoming guests, to help in the set-up and take-down. Sign up, and we’ll email requests for help as the need arises.

c) For the tabling at summer festivals, you’ll have a wonderful opportunity to meet with people not “in the choir”, to talk about nuclear weapons issues and to hand out fliers and get petitions signed. People usually volunteer for 2-3 hours. Sign up, and we’ll email you as the festivals come up.

d) The Peace Action Organizers’ Conference in Jan. or Feb. is very inspiring and valuable. The ANA conference is extremely informative. Both give an opportunity to talk with federal officials in a very informed way. Both are open to all, and organizers give information on thrifty accommodations, especially in DC. Sign up, and we’ll email you.

e) If you live outside Boston, Cambridge, and Newton, and would like to lead or support the effort to get your mayor to join the Mayors for Peace, and/or to have your City Council to pass a resolution in their support, please email