World Scholars Call on Obama to Address Nuclear Weapons Ban at Hiroshima

May 25th, 2016 - by admin

Joseph Gerson / Peace and Planet & Peace Action & Japan Times Editorial – 2016-05-25 00:23:12

More than 70 Prominent Scholars and Activists Call on Obama to Take Concrete Action in Hiroshima
Joseph Gerson / Peace and Planet

(May 24, 2016) – Peace and Planet has collaborated with partners at Peace Action and Peter Kuznick of American University in organizing this statement on very short notice. It is signed by 70 prominent scholars and activists urging President Obama’s to take concrete actions for nuclear disarmament when he visits Hiroshima. The signers include Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Gar Alperovitz, Oliver Stone, Betty Reardon and many others.

It is currently reverberating through the Japanese press [See Japan Times editorial below] and is making its way with the US press. Please take a look, share it with others, and call or write the White House urging that President Obama make the announcements we urge when he is in Hiroshima.

Over Seventy Prominent Scholars and Activists
Call on Obama to Take Concrete Action in Hiroshima

The President Should Meet with A-Bomb Survivors,
Announce Initiatives to Reduce Nuclear Weapons

WASHINGTON, DC (May 23, 2016) – Over seventy prominent scholars and activists, including Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to visit with Hibakusha, atomic bomb survivors, and to announce concrete steps toward nuclear disarmament when he visits Hiroshima this Friday after the Group of Seven economic summit in Japan.

American University Professor Peter Kuznick remarked, “This is an extraordinary moment. President Obama can either use it to further the cause of world peace and nuclear disarmament or he can use it as a cover for his militarization of the conflict with China and his trillion-dollar nuclear modernization program to make nuclear weapons more usable. Such an opportunity may never come for him again.”

The signers expressed support for the president’s visit to Hiroshima, but advocated further action to fulfill the promise to reduce nuclear weapons outlined in his 2009 Prague speech.

Despite the significant achievement of the Iran nuclear deal and successes in securing and reducing nuclear weapons grade material globally, the president’s Prague agenda has been mostly stalled since the 2010 New START agreement with Russia, with no further nuclear weapons reductions. The letter is online at

Joseph Gerson, of the Quaker peace organization American Friends Service Committee, said, “The US is on track to spend a trillion dollars over thirty years on the next generation of nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

President Obama should cancel this spending, revitalize disarmament diplomacy by announcing a reduction of the US nuclear arsenal, and challenge Russian President Putin to join in beginning negotiations to create the nuclear weapons-free world promised in Prague and required by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

Today’s letter follows a similar statement by US religious leaders, released last week, available at

One of the letter’s organizers, Kevin Martin, President of Peace Action, noted, “President Obama still has time to move boldly on his Prague agenda before he leaves office. He no doubt will be deeply moved by visiting Hiroshima, as Secretary of State John Kerry was, and if the president acts to further reduce the menace of nuclear weapons, he will have strong, grateful support worldwide.”

May 23, 2016
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President,

We were happy to learn of your plans to be the first sitting president of the United States to visit Hiroshima later this week, after the G-7 economic summit in Japan. Many of us have been to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and found it a profound, life-changing experience, as did Secretary of State John Kerry on his recent visit.

In particular, meeting and hearing the personal stories of A-bomb survivors, Hibakusha, has made a unique impact on our work for global peace and disarmament. Learning of the suffering of the Hibakusha, but also their wisdom, their awe-inspiring sense of humanity, and steadfast advocacy of nuclear abolition so the horror they experienced can never happen again to other human beings, is a precious gift that cannot help but strengthen anyone’s resolve to dispose of the nuclear menace.

Your 2009 Prague speech calling for a world free of nuclear weapons inspired hope around the world, and the New START pact with Russia, historic nuclear agreement with Iran and securing and reducing stocks of nuclear weapons-grade material globally have been significant achievements.

Yet, with more than 15,000 nuclear weapons (93% held by the US and Russia) still threatening all the peoples of the planet, much more needs to be done. We believe you can still offer crucial leadership in your remaining time in office to move more boldly toward a world without nuclear weapons.

In this light, we strongly urge you to honor your promise in Prague to work for a nuclear weapons-free world by:

* Meeting with all Hibakusha who are able to attend;

* Announcing the end of US plans to spend $1 trillion for the new generation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems;

* Reinvigorating nuclear disarmament negotiations to go beyond New START by announcing the unilateral reduction of the deployed US arsenal to 1,000 nuclear weapons or fewer;

* Calling on Russia to join with the United States in convening the “good faith negotiations” required by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for the complete elimination of the world’s nuclear arsenals;

* Reconsidering your refusal to apologize or discuss the history surrounding the A-bombings, which even President Eisenhower, Generals MacArthur, Arnold, and LeMay and Admirals Leahy , King, and Nimitz stated were not necessary to end the war.


Gar Alperovitz, Co-Chair of The Next System Project, former Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political-Economy at the University of Maryland,

Christian Appy, Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Colin Archer, Secretary-General, International Peace Bureau

Charles K. Armstrong, Professor of History, Columbia University

Medea Benjamin, Co-founder, CODE PINK, Women for Peace and Global Exchange

Phyllis Bennis, Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies

Herbert Bix, Professor of History, State University of New York, Binghamton

Norman Birnbaum, University Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University Law Center

Reiner Braun, Co-President, International Peace Bureau

Philip Brenner, Professor of International Relations and Director of the Graduate Program in US Foreign Policy and National Security, American University

Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation; National Co-convener, United for Peace and Justice

James Carroll, Author of An American Requiem

Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

David Cortright, Director of Policy Studies, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame and former Executive Director, SANE

Frank Costigliola, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, University of Connecticut

Bruce Cumings, Professor of History, University of Chicago

Alexis Dudden, Professor of History, University of Connecticut

Daniel Ellsberg, Former State and Defense Department official

John Feffer, Director, Foreign Policy In Focus, Institute for Policy Studies

Gordon Fellman, Professor of Sociology and Peace Studies, Brandeis University.

Bill Fletcher, Jr., Talk Show Host, Writer & Activist.

Norma Field, Professor Emerita, University of Chicago

Carolyn Forche, University Professor, Georgetown University

Max Paul Friedman, Professor of History, American University.

Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

Lloyd Gardner, Professor of History Emeritus, Rutgers University.

Irene Gendzier Professor Emeritus, Department of of History, Boston University

Joseph Gerson, Director, American Friends Service Committee Peace & Economic Security Program,

Todd Gitlin, Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

Andrew Gordon, Professor of History, Harvard University

John Hallam, Human Survival Project, People for Nuclear Disarmament, Australia

Melvin Hardy, Heiwa Peace Committee, Washington, DC

Laura Hein, Professor of History, Northwestern University

Martin Hellman, Member, US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University

Kate Hudson, General Secretary, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK)

Paul Joseph, Professor of Sociology, Tufts University

Louis Kampf, Professor of Humanities Emeritus MIT

Michael Kazin, Professor of History, Georgetown University

Asaf Kfoury, Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, Boston University.

G. Peter King, Honorary Associate, Government & International Relations School of Social and Political Sciences, The University of Sydney, NSW

David Krieger, President Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Peter Kuznick, Professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute, American University

John W. Lamperti, Professor of Mathematics Emeritus, Dartmouth College

Steven Leeper, Co-founder PEACE Institute, Former Chairman, Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation

Robert Jay Lifton, MD, Lecturer in Psychiatry Columbia University, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, The City University of New York

Elaine Tyler May, Regents Professor, University of Minnesota

Kevin Martin, President, Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund

Ray McGovern, Veterans For Peace, Former Head of CIA Soviet Desk and Presidential Daily Briefer

David McReynolds, Former Chair, War Resister International

Zia Mian, Professor, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University

Tetsuo Najita, Professor of Japanese History, Emeritus, University of Chicago, former President of Association of Asian Studies

Sophie Quinn-Judge, Retired Professor, Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture and Society, Temple University

Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus of East Asian Studies, Brown University, Veteran, United States Army

Betty Reardon, Founding Director Emeritus of the International Institute on Peace Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

Terry Rockefeller, Founding Member, September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows,

David Rothauser Filmmaker, Memory Productions, Producer of “Hibakusha, Our Life to Live” and “Article 9 Comes to America

James C. Scott, Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University, ex-President of the Association of Asian Studies

Peter Dale Scott, Professor of English Emeritus, University of California, Berkleley

Mark Selden, Senior Research Associate Cornell University, editor, Asia-Pacific Journal,

Martin Sherwin, Professor of History, George Mason University

Tim Shorrock, Journalist, Washington DC.

John Steinbach, Hiroshima Nagasaki Committee

Oliver Stone, Academy Award-winning writer and director

David Swanson, director of World Beyond War

Max Tegmark, Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Founder, Future of Life Institute

Ellen Thomas, Proposition One Campaign Executive Director, Co-Chair, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (US) Disarm/End Wars Issue Committee

Michael True, Emeritus Professor, Assumption College, is co-founder of the Center for Nonviolent Solutions

David Vine, Professor, Department of Sociology, American University

Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament 2009 Laureate, Right Livelihood Award

Jon Weiner, Professor Emeritus of History, University of California Irvine

Lawrence Wittner, Professor of History Emeritus, SUNY/Albany

Col. Ann Wright, US Army Reserved (Ret.) & former US diplomat

Marilyn Young, Professor of History, New York University

Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics & Coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies, University of San Francisco

Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee, 617-216-0576,
Peter Kuznick, American University, 301-320-6961,
Kevin Martin, Peace Action, 301-537-8244,

The UN Nuclear Disarmament Talks
Japan Times Editorial

TOKYO (MAY 22, 2016) — The United Nations Open-ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament held its second session this month in Geneva, following its first gathering in February.

What emerged from the latest meeting is a schism between countries seeking to create a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons and those nations opposed to the idea, including nuclear-weapons powers and those states relying on the protection of a nuclear umbrella.

While the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty recognizes five countries — the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China — as nuclear weapons states, it requires all parties to the treaty to pursue negotiations to achieve nuclear disarmament.

Given the potential dangers posed by the accidental use of nuclear arms and nuclear terrorism, all states should support the effort to ban nuclear weapons.

The undercurrent of discussions in the working group’s meetings is the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. The consequences of a nuclear explosion would spread beyond national borders and have regional and global effects. It would indiscriminately kill or injure numerous civilians.

Radioactive contamination would devastate the environment for generations, causing cancer and other deadly diseases. No nations would have the capability to adequately respond to the human suffering caused by nuclear weapons.

This aspect of nuclear weapons has raised concerns among many non-nuclear weapons states and civil society groups and led to the holding of three international conferences — in Norway in 2013 and Mexico and Austria in 2014 — to discuss the humanitarian consequences of nuclear arms. The discussions at these conferences served as the basis for the talks in the latest meeting in Geneva.

The Humanitarian Pledge, issued at the 2014 Vienna conference and endorsed by 127 states, calls for filling the “legal gap” in which nuclear arms are the only weapons of mass destruction that have not been explicitly banned by a treaty.

The failure of the 2015 NPT review conference to adopt a final document also increased the concerns of non-nuclear weapons states over the lack of progress being made toward achieving nuclear disarmament. This situation has given birth to a movement to legally ban nuclear weapons on grounds of the humanitarian consequences of their use.

What is disappointing is that none of the five nuclear weapons states under the NPT and none of the four other nations that possess nuclear arms — India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — took part in the working group.

The five nuclear weapons states maintain the position that nuclear arms play a role in the sphere of security and that parties calling for a ban on these weapons ignore that role’s significance.

Those states’ seeming indifference to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons has prompted the formation of a majority opinion that discussions should be initiated on a legal framework to prohibit nuclear arms even if the nuclear weapons powers refuse to join the talks.

At the Geneva meeting, 10 countries — Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Zambia — proposed that a conference be convened in 2017 to negotiate a legally binding instrument and that progress on the negotiations be reported to the UN high-level international conference on nuclear disarmament.

The nuclear weapons states need to realize that frustration and dissatisfaction are building over their unwillingness to abandon nuclear deterrence and start a process of disarmament as mandated by the NPT. There are more than 15,000 nuclear warheads worldwide and more than 1,500 of these are deployed for possible use at any time.

The risk of human error or hackers triggering accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear arms and the danger of terrorist attacks utilizing radioactive materials cannot be eliminated. In addition, since nuclear deterrence entails preparing for nuclear warfare, the risk of nuclear arms being used cannot be eliminated. Therefore nuclear weapons powers should change their thinking.

Many nuclear umbrella states, including Japan, attended the Geneva meeting. Efforts by Japan — the only country to suffer nuclear attacks — to bridge the gap between nuclear weapons powers and non-nuclear weapons states produced no tangible results.

In deference to the US position, Japan takes a negative view toward the proposal to begin negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, stating that such moves could divide nuclear weapons and non-nuclear weapons states. Other nuclear umbrella states including NATO members, Australia and South Korea took a similar position.

Japan instead called for a “progressive approach” that entails a gradual reduction of nuclear weapons while heeding their security role. Japanese officials should realize that the nation’s position of calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons while accepting the nuclear deterrent theory and relying on America’s nuclear umbrella is contradictory and undermines its persuasive power.

If Japan is truly serious about ridding the world of nuclear weapons, it should formulate a long-term security policy that doesn’t rely on them.

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