Answers from Janice Sevre-Duszynska24 Jan

Essays by Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP

To: Judge Ardie Bland of the Kansas City, Mo., Municipal Court
From: Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP (Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests), of Lexington, Ky.

1. If North Korea, China, or one of the Mideast countries dropped a nuclear bomb on a U.S. city tomorrow, would that change your opinion (about nuclear weapons)?
If North Korea, China, or one of the Mideast countries dropped a nuclear bomb on a U.S. city tomorrow, I would not change my mind about the immorality of nuclear weapons produced by the United States.
The production of nuclear weapons by any country is insanity and evil.
It is not a life-giving action, but rather one that delivers horrific death and destruction. Could the dead be brought back to life? What restitution is there for losing a child, a sister or brother, a parent, relative or friend? There is nothing that can replace a human being. I know…I lost my mother when I was 16 and the oldest of four. I also lost my younger son when he was 18. We know from experience that the death of a loved one causes grief beyond measure and it takes a long time before those left behind can gather their soul and breathe without feeling their heart aflame in the fires of hell. In fact, one never recovers completely. Instead, we learn to transform our suffering and loss into doing good in the world to bring about the Kin-dom.
Bringing about the Kin-dom, not Kingdom. Jesus in the Gospels is not about hierarchy or relationships of a domination/subordination paradigm. Rather, he calls us to friendship – which implies equality between each man and each woman. Everyone is invited to the table.
It is very interesting that the Christian tradition proclaims that Jesus had to die for our sins – that he suffered and died for our salvation. Today many of us reject this theology. Instead, we believe Jesus was killed by a brutal and oppressive Roman government that occupied his country, along with a handful of religious leaders. There was no need for such a bloody death. However, instead of looking at the source of Jesus’ murder and examining how governments treat human beings today, our religious leaders concocted a doctrine of salvation that requires bloodletting of the Innocent One. The motto, however, that many of us take from Jesus’ torture and death is “No More Crucifixions!” In other words, stop the imperialism and religious collusion in the torture and murder of human beings, be they by drones, nuclear weapons, economic disparity, or doctrines that oppress the marginalized and cause their suffering, such as those against gender, race, homosexuality, etc.
At the root of the belief system in our peace movement is that killing begets further killing, violence begets violence. Jesus said, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” The production of nuclear weapons by any government is idolatrous of our Loving God. We have committed such atrocities against our brothers and sisters in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today that legacy still haunts our world community.

2. If Germany or Japan had used nuclear weapons first in World War II, would your opinion change?
I don’t see any reason why my opinion would change if Germany or Japan had used nuclear weapons first during World War II. The result would be the same: Terrible suffering of children, their parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers. The loss of their homes/shelter, pets, their communities and ways of life, destruction of nature, water supplies, contamination of the air.
Our response must always be to stop the manufacture of these weapons and to work for peace and cooperation among people. We are all connected. We come from the same source: our Loving God. We as human beings are united in our DNA, our souls and spirit. We come from a Loving Source, a God who wants abundance and all good things for us. So much suffering comes to us already through natural causes.
Why, we must all ask, do we spend so much of our energy, time and money — from hard-earned taxpayers’ money — to see it squandered in an out-of-control addiction to out-manufacture and out-number nuclear weapons in comparison to other countries? It will never be enough. Our need for so-called security is insatiable. Why do so many of us profess a religious belief in a Loving God and then behave and make decisions which totally deny such beliefs?
We see that power-over was practiced by the Romans against the Jews and others. Eventually, an oppressive ruler and his military imprisoned, tortured and sadistically put to death on a cross a nonviolent man who offered hope and liberation and empowerment to the people. His spirit and their faith cured them of their illness. What was this Jesus of Nazareth doing but pointing out the insanity of a domination/subordination paradigm throughout the society in which he lived: through Roman laws enforced brutally by their military; by religious authorities who were often hypocritical and used religious faith to cover up enormous profits from tithing, etc.; from a societal structure that placed females in the same category as dogs – where girls and women had little or no voice within the family, religious tradition, and society in general; where those who were not of a certain faith, tribe or color, were marginalized and oppressed.
What would Jesus do if he walked beside us in the flesh today? Do you think he would support the manufacture of nuclear weapons by any country? Our Loving God – Holy Unfathomable Mystery – created the glory of the Universe and Holy Mother Earth that originated without the borders of countries. Our task is simple and direct: to cherish one another and all life, to work for justice and the integrity of all creation.

3. What would you say to those who say, “If we (the USA) do not have the big stick, that is, if we get rid of our nuclear weapons, and other countries develop nuclear weapons, then we do not have the opportunity to fight back”?
I think that in the formulation of question #3, an important institution was not mentioned. That is the United Nations. I am a member of St. Joan’s International Alliance, the oldest Catholic feminist group in the world and a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), established in London in 1911 as a women’s suffragist group. For three years, 2007-2009, I was one of several St. Joan representatives who participated in the UN Commission on the Status of Women. At these gatherings, I met women from all over the world and listened to their stories of oppression, lack of their voices being heard, and much suffering. From my experience I learned more about the UN and believe it could become healthier and increasingly, an instrument for cooperation. Our world community could benefit greatly if the United Nations would be held up and supported more by the U.S. as an example to other countries. I believe it would be healthy for our sisters and brothers and our planet if the role of the UN became more predominant, especially in promoting nonviolent resolutions of conflict in our world. The UN could become a training place for diplomats so that mediation would be used to resolve problems rather than through the military or the use or propagation of nuclear weapons. The UN could help promote nonviolence and require that all countries eliminate the manufacture and use of nuclear weapons and the waste of our people’s labor-taxes on the ever-expanding military budget. However, in order for any such thinking to become a reality, we must also deal with the realization that weapons manufacturers make huge profits from governments/companies selling weapons of all kinds throughout the world, including drones. We have also come to consciousness of the realization that the CIA instigates some political upheavals and that the truth is twisted or covered up in order to benefit and protect the wealthy and their interests and for our continued build-up and use of more and more weapons and the military. A fear-based populace gives away rights and checks and balances that are the foundation of democratic rule. The powerful and wealthy in the US and multi-national corporations want the USA to retain its “big stick” of continued nuclear weapons production. At the root is the almighty dollar and keeping things as they are. This mindset eats away at our humanity and depresses people, leading them to violence. Our people’s most basic needs are not being met, but yet we continue to keep pouring more and more money into nuclear weapons production and other military weapons of destruction.

4. You defendants say you are Christians and one is a Buddhist. Father (Carl) Kabat says you disobey a law that is ungodly. How do you respond to someone who believes there is no God? Who is to say what God believes, for slavery and the Crusades killed millions?
Fr. Carl Kabat says we disobey a law that is ungodly, which is true. To answer the rest of the questions you raise in #4, this is what I would say to someone who believes there is no God. What is necessary, I believe, is to expand our definition of Holy Mystery. To do so, I am using a treasured booklet called Women, Earth, and Creator Spirit written by Elizabeth A. Johnson, a gifted nun, feminist theologian, author of many outstanding works and professor of theology at Fordham University in New York. This particular work is part of the Madeleva Lecture in Spirituality sponsored by the Center for Spirituality, Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana.
Elizabeth Johnson and other notable pioneer thinkers such as Matthew Fox (The Coming of the Cosmic Christ), Diarmuid O’Murchu (Quantum Theology), Thomas Berry (The Dream of the Earth) and Sally McFague (Theology for an Ecological, Nuclear Age) have written about the connection between the exploitation of the earth and the marginalization of women. “Both of these predicaments,” says Johnson, “are intrinsically related to forgetting the Creator Spirit who pervades the world in the dance of life.” The true identity of women and the earth are obscured within a patriarchal sexist system. “Both are commonly excluded from the sphere of the sacred; both are routinely taken for granted and ignored, used and discarded, even battered and ‘raped,’ while nevertheless they do not cease to give birth or sustain life.” (p. 2-3) Moreover, women and the earth, says Johnson, are connected to the Creator Spirit, “giver of life, who is similarly ignored in western religious consciousness as a result of restricting the sacred to a transcendent, monarchical deity outside of nature.” (p. 3) Western thought, including theology, has been determined according to the values of patriarchy.
Neither the defense nor the prosecution is able to use a term such as ungodly which could not be defined in jurisprudence. The courts are “tainted” when they use Bibles, Korans, etc. Yet, human life and spirit come from somewhere, including Nature (which we must nurture and protect), from community (which is antithetical to oppression) and from acts of resistance (which draw attention to behaviors which annihilate fruitful and life-giving Mother Earth and her children and Father Sky and his breath of life). Any law that justifies nuclear weapons is unjust and must be resisted. We need, as Johnson says, “a vision of wholeness of a flourishing human community on a thriving earth” where “what has been disparaged is uplifted.” (p. 3)
5. How do you respond to those who have a God different from you when they argue their religion is to crush others into dust with nuclear devices?
Our country is not the only one that behaves in an immoral, insane and evil manner. Governments of other countries do, too. Unfortunately, the same is also true for religion and religious leaders. We need only to look into history to see how religious leaders have caused death and destruction, especially those professing Christianity. So it is no surprise to hear in question 5 that the intent of another religion “is to crush others into dust with nuclear devices.”
They are demonizing Americans as we Christians have in the past demonized pagans, Muslims, Jews, women called witches, the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc., etc. It seems that we humans – especially if we practice a religion – have a propensity to scapegoat others of different faith traditions, no faith at all, people of different races, people who look different from us, people of different lifestyles. The fighting may also be about gaining resources, including more territory.
Why do we, as humans, behave this way? Fear and anger would be emotions that come into play: Fear of being dominated, of being forced to change one’s ways of living, fear of being killed or losing one’s family, community and traditions.
Question 5 sounds like it may have come from leaders in Iran who are using powerful rhetoric against the U.S. – which has a growing reputation as a military and economic bully in the world – to get its way.
The people who live in Iran are Muslims. We know that Christians have been persecuting Muslims for hundreds of years. More recently, the United States has caused the deaths of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani people and the destruction of their property and land.
What we need are more people-to-people encounters not only for peace and justice activists but with ordinary Americans as well. Despite current rhetoric, the United States is the only country that has dropped nuclear weapons on the people of another nation. The use of weapons of mass destruction on Japan was a war crime. Japan had already been defeated.
As U.S. citizens, since our government has used nuclear weapons in the past, it is our responsibility to make sure that our government never uses nuclear weapons again. Just as importantly, we must abolish nuclear weapons. As our Hibakusha (nuclear bomb victims) say, “NEVER AGAIN!” Governments all over the world need to invite the Hibakusha to their countries to speak to adults and children in the schools. At the community level, people need to rally and advocate for nuclear-free zones. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

6. Who determines what “God’s law” is, given the history of Christianity in the USA and the world?
Over time, some Christian faith traditions have upheld racism, slavery, apartheid, the inferiority and the inequality of women (sexism), as well as homophobia and classism. There is no “God’s law” per se. Yet, we have the 10 Commandments. Joseph Smith spoke to God, and according to him, God supported bigamy. In Saudi Arabia, women can be flogged for committing adultery. In Jesus’ time, men could divorce women on a whim or for not producing males. Religious leaders have often colluded with the government and military when it was to their advantage. Most religions are male-dominated, and that’s an underlying indication why they are unhealthy.
In Catholicism, Pope John Paul II said that Jesus did not ordain women, so women can never be priests. We know that Jesus did not ordain anyone. The Vatican says that Jesus is the Bridegroom and the Church is the Bride, so women – who biologically are not males as Jesus was – cannot be ordained priests. From Elizabeth Johnson we learn that the Christomorphic sense is beyond gender. In other words, it does not matter if you are a woman or man, behaving like Christ to each other is what is important.
It is the I-Thou practice brought to light by Martin Buber. It is the mindfulness that Thich Nhat Hanh teaches. It is the brotherly (and sisterly) love of which the Quakers speak. It is the love of your neighbor at the heart of Christianity. It is also the reverence in which the prophets Mohammed, Abraham and Jesus are held by Muslims.
For obvious reasons, we cannot bring God’s law into the courtroom. However, through religion many have learned morality. For a law, in my opinion, to be upheld in a courtroom, whether it’s trespassing or something much more serious, the law must be moral and therefore just. Unfortunately, in this society, an unbiased observer would quickly recognize that a rich person has a better opportunity under law to receive due process than a poor person. So just as there is inequality in society, injustice can prevail in a court of law. For me, though, it is easy to recognize the many injustices in this society, and I will continue to resist them and argue in a court of law why I must resist.
I appeared before you, Judge Ardie Bland, because there were many influences in my life: the beauty in Nature, the teachings of Jesus, experiencing motherhood and the death of a child, teaching children from around the world who had lived through war, violence and economic disparity, as well as learning of war from my uncle who survived it with PTSD.


Carl Kabat — Long Term Anti-Nuclear Protestor answers the Judges Questions24 Jan

Essays by Carl Kabat, OMI

To: Judge Ardie Bland, Kansas City, Mo., Municipal Court
From: Carl Kabat, OMI, of St. Louis, Mo.

Note: I gave you four pages when you were on the bench, and I have no idea if you read them or not. I include (quotations from) those pages along with these answers.

1. If North Korea, China, or one of the Mideast countries dropped a nuclear bomb on a U.S. city tomorrow, would that change your opinion (about nuclear weapons)?
The simple answer is NO! The bombs we dropped on Japan during World War II were a crime against God/the Holy One and merit unequivocal condemnation.
I believe that only the Holy One/God has the right to take a human life. We are daughters and sons of the Holy One/God, but we do not have the right to take another human life. State murder and such are not the question here. As attempted followers of Jesus, the only response is to turn the other cheek. Fight, flight, or a nonviolent response are the three options, and to flee or offer a nonviolent response is all we can do.
You cannot indiscriminately kill babies, children, women, or old people. That is a crime against the Holy One/God and against humanity, and is to be condemned unreservedly.
“Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unhesitating condemnation.”—Vatican Council II
“The greatest purveyor of violence in the world: my own government. I cannot be silent.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel.”—Vatican Synod
“It is a sin to build a nuclear weapon.”—Richard McSorley, SJ

2. If Germany or Japan had used nuclear weapons first in World War II, would your opinion change?
An eye for an eye makes everyone blind. I believe, as an attempted follower of Jesus, we do not have that option.
As I mentioned in question one, only two options are possible, flight or a nonviolent response.
In an unprecedented show of global public concern that included strong religious voices, 500 civil society representatives and 132 governments met March 2-5, 2013, in Oslo, Norway, to address the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons.
“We strongly affirm the responsibility of all governments to examine the impact of nuclear weapons on human health, the biosphere, and the means of life,” said the World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit in a statement delivered to governments by the coalition Religions for Peace. “People everywhere have been denied rigorous, public, evidence-based scrutiny of weapons which are too terrible for any use,” he added.
Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, told the forum, “It is obvious in a civilized world that nuclear weapons have no place. The way we are headed, we will glamorously destroy ourselves.”
At the end of the meetings in Oslo, the government of Mexico announced that it would host a follow-up conference in 2014 to build on this humanitarian initiative of the Norwegian government.

3. What would you say to those who say, “If we (the USA) do not have the big stick, that is, if we get rid of our nuclear weapons, and other countries develop nuclear weapons, then we do not have the opportunity to fight back”?
First of all, fighting does not solve anything. Many say that Germany won (in World War II) since we now use the principles Germany stood for.
Even the experts say that nuclear weapons are useless since they can never be used.
Fighting is not something that the Holy One/God invented. Since the Holy One/God gave us free will, we can kill, steal, etc. We are responsible for the use of our free will.
Concerning the Kansas City Plant: 85 percent of (the parts of) the nuclear bombs that we (U.S. citizens) own were made in Kansas City, and 85 percent of (the parts of) all our future bombs will be made at this new factory in Kansas City (where we were July 13, 2013).
Judge Weeramantry’s Opinion (from 1996 at the World Court of Justice) is based on the proposition that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is illegal in any circumstances whatsoever. It violates the fundamental principles of international law, and represents the very negation of the humanitarian concerns which underlie the structure of humanitarian law. It offends conventional law and, in particular, the Geneva Gas Protocol of 1925, and Article 23 (a) of the Hague Regulations of 1907. The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons contradicts the fundamental principle of the dignity and worth of the human person on which all law depends. It endangers the human environment in a manner which threatens the entirety of life on the planet.
The brutalities of the nuclear weapon multiplied a thousand-fold all the brutalities of war as known in the pre-nuclear era. The nuclear weapon caused death and destruction; induced cancers, leukemia, keloids and related afflictions; caused gastro-intestinal, cardiovascular, and related afflictions; continued, for decades after its use, to induce the health-related problems mentioned above; damaged the environmental rights of future generations; caused congenital deformities, mental retardation, and genetic damage; carried the potential to cause a nuclear winter; produced lethal levels of heat and blast; produced radiation and radioactive fallout … as no other weapons do.
The Weeramantry Opinion concludes with a reference to the appeal in the Russell-Einstein Manifesto to “remember your humanity and forget the rest,” without which the risk arises of universal death. In this context, the Opinion points out that international law is equipped with the necessary array of principles with which to respond, and that international law could contribute significantly towards rolling back the shadow of the mushroom cloud, and heralding the sunshine of the nuclear-free age.

4. You defendants say you are Christians and one is a Buddhist. Father (Carl) Kabat says you disobey a law that is ungodly. How do you respond to someone who believes there is no God? Who is to say what God believes, for slavery and the Crusades killed millions?
Someone who believes that there is no God still has a conscience. Your conscience tells you that you cannot kill someone.
Your human mind, unless it is sick, tells you what is right or wrong.
Slavery and the crusades were not according to the Holy One/God’s will or desire. The Holy One/God allows us to use our free will for evil; otherwise, we would not be free. The Holy One/God created us as the Holy One/God is. We are free daughters and sons of the Holy One.
At a meeting in Kyoto, Japan, the European Council of Religious Leaders/Religions for Peace delegation made a statement including these points:
“Our delegation of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, and Buddhist leaders represents Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition. Religions for Peace brings together representatives of the world’s religions globally, regionally, and nationally. ‘Different faiths—common action!’ is our mission, and we believe that peace is more than absence of war and threat of annihilation.
“Man’s continued existence on this planet is threatened with nuclear extinction. Never has there been such despair among men. Our deep conviction that the religions of the world have a real and important service to render to the cause of peace has brought us to Kyoto from the four corners of the earth.
“With humility we admit that religions through history have been misused by those in power, and that religious institutions have supported political actions that grossly violate human dignity. This is in contrast to the spiritual values being taught by our religions and that are shared by other worldviews and philosophies. Those values include sanctity of life, human dignity, respect and solidarity. … We believe that the threat and use of nuclear weapons are completely contrary to these values.
“Religions for Peace will continue working for the abolition of all nuclear weapons, and our delegation calls upon governments of this conference immediately to set in motion a process that will result in a global treaty to ban nuclear weapons.”

5. How do you respond to those who have a God different from you when they argue their religion is to crush others into dust with nuclear devices?
I know of no religion that crushes others into dust. A misinterpretation of that religion may be wrongly understood as such. The experts of any religion know that such is not true. Some of the adherents may think so, just as happened in the Old Testament as they worshipped the golden calf.

6. Who determines what “God’s law” is, given the history of Christianity in the USA and the world?
Very often, it is simple to determine what the Holy One/God wants. Sometimes, such is not true.
It requires prudent and deliberate judgment, and sometimes that judgment is wrong. It is then when one asks pardon and attempts to make up for the wrong. It is not easy, but in many instances, it is clear what should be done. The hard part is doing it.


Anti Nuclear Protestor Elizabeth Keenan answers the judges questions24 Jan

Essays by Betsy Keenan

To: Judge Ardie Bland
From: Elizabeth Keenan of the Strangers and Guests Catholic Worker Farm, Maloy, Iowa

Question #1. If North Korea, China, or one of the Mideast countries dropped a nuclear bomb on a U.S. city tomorrow, would that change your opinion?
If I had the comfortable conviction that nuclear weapons will never be used, I would have had other things to do last July, rather than travel to Kansas City and take part in a symbolic protest. I have read and watched reports on nuclear explosions and other aerial bombings and the toll they have on cities. I do know that our lives would change, if a nuclear attack was to occur on our soil. Everyone’s life would be affected whether in a large or small degree. Families would experience devastating losses, our environment would suffer terribly, and the agricultural, economic, environmental and health impacts of such an attack would alter our society forever.
I would hope and pray that people would come together to care for the sick and dying, that people would do their best to care for the environment and reach out to the suffering, and that many people would be converted to the cause of anti-nuclear weapons activism. That is my hope for the day after a nuclear attack, when we would all stand together and say, “Enough is enough!”
I can’t imagine my feelings not changing in some way. How those feelings would change in particular cannot be predicted with any accuracy. I keep hoping that everyone will hold back from stepping to the brink of disaster, will use reason, and for all of my lifetime, though many horrible wars have been carried out with many horrible weapons, new and old, from machetes to napalm, the “nuclear option” has been resisted.
In our nation and others, though, the bombs have multiplied, increased in size, and the materials for making them also have been increased. Some nuclear missiles, deployed in intercontinental ballistic missiles, with multiple warheads, have actually been decommissioned, but those dangerous materials remain, and increasingly in the “old nuclear powers” Russia and the US, these dangerous substances are in storage or shipped from place to place seeking secure containment. Transporting and updating the weapons, as is planned for Kansas City’s new facility, is more planning for the abhorrent and criminal use of these weapons of mass destruction, which we are so sensitive about other nations having. Each movement of each weapon makes it more likely that, even if no one “decides” to use them, a pure accident or some kind of sabotage will cause either an explosion or damaging contamination. Let us not forget, then, the threat of a nuclear accident, greater than the threat of a nuclear attack. We threaten other countries with our nuclear stockpiles, but we also threaten ourselves.
Our pride in our weapons, our resolve to convince the world that we are willing to use them, no matter the cost, have brought some other nations, or at least their leaders, to envy our position and emulate our mistakes. God have mercy on us! The “peaceful” use of nuclear power also has the potential for devastating consequences, as has been demonstrated in Japan at the Fukushima plant, in the aftermath of a natural disaster. I do not believe there is a rational solution, other than to stop depending on this technology for security or energy and apply the best science can do to try to contain the damage already done, and make a safer future.
My opinion, I believe, would not be changed by the event of an attack, though of course emotions would be affected by the experience. But the “what if?” game leads us down paths of uncertainty and fear, the reason we have nuclear weapons in the first place. Instead, we should recognize evil and insanity when it is present in our lives and do our best to resist them. We should counter evil with love and fear with hope.

Question #2. If Germany or Japan had used nuclear weapons first in World War II, would your opinion change?
I believe the best way to answer this question is to look at public opinion in those two countries, on the subject of use of nuclear weapons and of warfare in general in the aftermath of World War II, to the present. Japan experienced the horror and devastation of the first two atomic devices, the only ones ever employed as part of an international conflict. I think that the closer one is in experience to the reality of these weapons of mass destruction, the greater the fear and resistance to seeing them used again. There is a decreasing effect of this reaction as the number of citizens remembering the war and its effects decrease and those born since, whose reaction to war is not so personal and emotional, become the majority. Most of the political parties in Japan seem to have held anti-war policies until around 1994, with the acceptance of a national defense force. But even to the present, though national sentiment is changing, there are still strong anti-nuclear feelings: “For the most part, the purest forms of pacifism continue to thrive at the local level, where it is both more relevant and more nimble in its formulations. Pacifism is a strong and persistent aspect of local identity in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two cities that advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons through initiatives like the Mayors for Peace initiative. The unique standing of these cities as the birthplace of atomic warfare provides them with significant moral authority to express pacifist sentiments and denounce the use of nuclear weapons.”-Daniel Clausen in East Asia Forum (October 24, 2013). Each year the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki issue public statements calling for an end to nuclear weapons, and at commemorations internationally these statements are reflected on, and people recommit to this work.
Germany surrendered to Allied forces before the atomic bombs were ever deployed, but Germany did undergo widespread destruction from aerial bombing by the US and British Air Forces, most notably the fire-bombing of Dresden, when 3.900 Tons of high-explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped on the city, reported killing an estimated 20,000 people and destroying 16 sq kms. As in Hiroshima, the high heat and resultant firestorm incinerated many of the victims, and in the chaos of the aftermath, calculation of casualties was difficult. Like Japan, during the aftermath of WWII, Germany was not permitted by the international community to maintain military forces. The trials of Nazi war criminals established international legal precedent that following a legitimate authority’s orders in the commission of criminal acts did not remove personal responsibility. When citizens know that crimes against humanity are being prepared, they become complicit and liable to prosecution. Many anti-nuclear weapons groups cite the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, in which it found that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict.”[33]
In the 1980s, when “tactical” nuclear weapons were deployed in Europe in the “Cold War,” with medium-range missiles sited in West Germany and targeted at East Germany, huge numbers of Germans objected, and many protested in the streets and countryside, calling for these weapons to be dismantled. Up to a million people mobilized, who probably represented a majority sentiment that this was unacceptable. My husband and I joined in this movement, visiting Bonn and other German sites, where people were anxious to assure us their movement was not “anti-American,” as the press sometimes represented it, but against the location and use of nuclear weapons in their homeland.
I don’t believe use of these weapons would change my opposition.

Question #3. What would you say to those who say, “If we (the USA) do not have the big stick, that is, if we get rid of our nuclear weapons, and other countries develop nuclear weapons, then we do not have the opportunity to fight back”?
Since I have a sarcastic streak, I would probably say, “O yes, this tactic is working so well for us! We spend roughly half our resources on war-related expenses, can’t afford to fund our education system adequately, aren’t investing in maintaining infrastructure we have, let alone improvements, and make new enemies every day, contributing to this spiral of insecurity and dependence on violence.”
I believe that the United States, if it wishes to live up to its own myth of moral superiority, needs to forsake the path of nuclear escalation that will bankrupt us, and eventually any nation that follows this blind and arrogant path. To use the weapons is to cause irreparable harm to the ecosystem we depend upon for life. To build and possess them exposes us to the risk of accident or sabotage every day. This is a reckless policy! Believing that it provides security is delusional. It hasn’t prevented us from becoming involved in inconclusive, expensive and unpopular wars, or protected us from terrorism. The idea of American “exceptionalism”—that it is noble for us to do what we would label “rogue” behavior from a smaller nation—is ridiculous. We are as much blinded by our self-interest as any other individual or group, and should be as willing to submit to International Court and UN mandates, as we wish others to be. The attitude of “No one can stop us from doing what we want” is no guarantee of wisdom! Instead we use international organizations as a tool when it suits us, and ignore them if they wish to call our behavior to account.
We have major political problems of our own to solve here. The federal government is dysfunctional and incapable of the compromises necessary to govern such a large, varied population. Our prisons are full to bursting, with more incarcerations per capita than any other developed county. Our election process is so embroiled in big money that Jimmy Carter’s Carter Center experts in election observation would not be able to certify our election process as “free and fair” (they only conduct operations where the government invites them!). Our civil liberties have been trashed in the name of the “War on Terror” with massive surveillance in the mode of Orwell’s 1984. Children are not safe in our schools because of widespread availability of many types of weapons, and inadequate mental health care.
In this “great” country of ours, some people are getting very rich from this sad state of affairs. The same group has a pretty firm hand on the news and entertainment sector as well. If the waste and corruption of war profiteering could be ended, perhaps we would be allowed to see that a “big stick” is not what the situation calls for at all! If energy and resources went to understanding local problems and conflicts and looking for resolutions that would increase security, opportunity and a safer future for all, we could begin to scale back the entire use of violence, which provokes violent reaction almost inevitably.
Listening is called for, understanding of different experiences and points of view. We probably need to put down the stick to begin. Every parent and teacher should know that the most effective way to change behavior is to model it. If threatening neighbors and people with whom we are in economic competition or ideological dispute is wrong for Iran or for China, maybe it is wrong for the USA also.

Question #4. You defendants say you are Christians and one is a Buddhist. Father Kabat says you disobey a law that is ungodly. How do you respond to someone who believes there is no God? Who is to say what God believes, for slavery and the Crusades killed millions?
There are many people who are not convinced that any God exists, and some of them are also against nuclear weapons on logical and scientific grounds. One example is the thousands of doctors who belong to Physicians for Social Responsibility, a completely non-sectarian group that works against nuclear weapons and educates about their danger and unfeasibility, from a scientific and professional point of view. It is the US affiliate of an international group of physicians who specifically work against nuclear war, which received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. Many people whose world view is more influenced by their understanding of science than by any ideology or religion oppose nuclear weapons for the danger they pose to people and the environment, the cost and misuse of technical resources that could be much more effectively employed to serve human needs, and the unsolved problems of nuclear waste and radioactive by-products that continue to be an unsolved problem, after more than 60 years of accumulation. Where politics are not involved, the logical analysis of the situation argues against nuclear weapons, without bringing subjective ethics into the picture.
Concerning the question of “what God believes,” I don’t think the question makes sense. If God is the ultimate, infinite power, God knows, and what God knows is what exists, and we who are finite beings are limited to trying to understand this reality, forming beliefs in the process. Christians use our sacred Scripture, “the Bible,” to help us interpret our experience and enter into dialog with each other to help us know how to act in order to bring to reality the prayer Jesus taught, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
In the most well-known instance of Christian theological reflection and non-violent civil disobedience in our country, Martin Luther King and other members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the student non-violent organizing committee discussed the issues of right and wrong, timing and focus in an ongoing process, weighing how to communicate, when to risk injury, when to wait, with the input of local activists and those who had traveled to act in solidarity with them. They prayed and sang and spent long hours in meetings, and in jail, and in walking though the southern countryside. Seeds for last summer’s action were planted over recent decades with the resistance to the nuclear warheads sited in missile silos in Missouri.
It is dangerous to speak for God. Father Carl Kabat has lived through many remarkable experiences in his commitment to a God who desires peace so that the human family might flourish. This nuclear weapons facility in Kansas City is a thorn in his side that will hardly let him rest, it seems. The laws that restrict and govern how and when you might enter someone else’s property are not our problem, rather the laws that took land, federal redevelopment grants and investment money from Kansas City, Mo., away from the citizen’s needs to build this dangerous facility to do evil work instead. Although Fr. Carl frames his argument in religious terms, a logical examination of the government processes and the political deals that took place raise doubts about the Kansas City plant.
Our work and discussion and reflection brought us together to witness to a better world, possible without nuclear weapons. We chose the time and place to act, hoping for opportunities to raise these issues with more people, and so we have. Our action is small but we are not alone, and we hope and pray that God will lead us on.

Question #5. How do you respond to those who have a God different from you when they argue their religion is to crush others into dust?
When I speak to those who worship and believe in a way radically different from what I learned, and how I was raised, I try to understand the cultural context and the reasons a different approach proved meaningful for people. The experience of oppression and disrespect can trigger an angry reaction, trying to get even for evils suffered in the past. Deprivation and ignorance may result in a need to attach the evil to an outside entity and destroy it, to get free from a painful past. There are many symbols and rituals for such a cleansing and turning situations around to provide a positive direction.
When one feels a need to crush and annihilate an enemy, it is sometimes an impulse from a need to see justice or balance maintained in the world.
Since I believe people each have intrinsic value, being made in God’s image, my personal feeling is that God’s call to us is to heal and forgive, to nurture and care for one another, and that motives of revenge and destruction are contrary to the divine will as I understand it. In dialog with a person who feels that God wills faithful servants to crush others into the dust, I would argue that God created all people as brothers and sisters and wants us to live in harmony. In some aspects people seem to fit in to this plan, with our desire for happy, secure families and communities and caring. It is natural to protect children and the weak, but few of us extend our care as far as God would wish, to strangers and even to enemies, as Jesus taught us. The Buddhist teaching would extend the care and nurture to every living thing, with respect for the part of life that is shared in the world as a whole.
Because we live in a world deformed by much inequality, insecurity and injustice, it is no wonder that violence wells up. But devoting a life to destruction rather than building bridges and working for justice hurts the individual whose soul is disfigured, not only by the evil done to the individual, but the evil actions the person chooses in response to it. By choosing to depend on nuclear weapons for our “security,” we as a country have accepted the premise that we have a right to prepare the means to incinerate our enemies—not as individuals, but whole cities and countries. It is no wonder that those under this threat strike back at us in violence by whatever means that they have available.
I have heard interviews with the parents of suicide bombers, often children of 13 or 14, who have lost a daughter or son and mourn the life, the future and possibility that was lost when their child came under the influence of a preacher who made them feel they could be a hero for their community by completing a suicide attack. Most children that age do not have a real sense that they can die, but they yearn for a way out of the terrible situation their family is in, facing a very bleak future. Even an interview with an “unsuccessful” suicide bomber, a young man recovering from the incomplete detonation in the hospital, reflects how much such young people are taken advantage of. It breaks my heart that such dangerous opportunities are offered them, instead of reasonable guidance, and hope for ways to make the future better.

Question #6. Who determines what “God’s Law” is, given the history of Christianity in the USA and the world?
In an overview of the history of Christianity, it was in the early centuries an underground movement, persecuted by the dominant Roman Empire. When an Emperor himself converted to Christianity (several hundred years after Jesus), it became safe to be a Christian, and the position of the Church in the society was dramatically different. While early converts believed it was not permissible for a Christian to be a soldier, when the soldier believed he was enforcing God’s law under a Christian government, some people’s consciences saw maintaining order as a service. Given the teaching of Jesus, not retaliating for injury, ”turning the other cheek” and loving one’s enemies, I believe it was clear that fighting in a war is always problematic for a follower of Jesus.
As Christianity spread out, the practices and beliefs were adopted by people in diverse conditions. From our Eurocentric viewpoint, the dominant strain of “Church” followed the model of the Roman Empire, and wielded influence from its center in Rome (mostly). While other structures of cultural organization collapsed, and travel, communication, literacy became rarer after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church maintained a powerful influence, in some cases positive in preserving history and study, mediating disputes, curbing abuses, but sometimes, in times of corruption, disgusting in self-indulgence and hypocrisy. In time many reformers appeared with plans to restore Christian purity, and reform or defy the old Church (Catholic) that was experienced as corrupt. This paralleled political and economic changes occurring, and the systems in conflict often saw Christians fighting other Christians of different sects. The development of new armaments made these conflicts increasingly disruptive, and many Europeans, sometimes whole minority communities, fled persecutions looking for different conditions in the “new world” across the Atlantic.
The history of religious freedom is entwined with political freedom in this country. The authors of our system, in the eighteenth century, understood the problems of an ”established” religion, as Christianity was linked with the political power in Europe and proclaimed the divine rights of kings over their subjects. Some felt that an individual had inherent dignity and rights, and that government was legitimate because of the consent of the governed. The old system of class and feudal subservience was breaking down as movements of “enlightenment” and progress in the sciences brought challenges to the established order where royalty and church authority reinforced each other and used fear and superstition to keep people under control. Given their rebellion, the Founders felt a theoretical divine mandate didn’t outweigh the poor governance and abuse they received from the British crown. They felt justified in their rebellion, and many preferred science over faith. To build a new nation, a system was needed that allowed variety of belief and worship, or no worship, as each man would see fit.
For myself, as a Roman Catholic in the 21st century, the worldwide nature of the church’s mission, and the efforts to define the role of Christians in the modern era, go beyond national boundaries. In light of widespread social change and catastrophic wars, a few principles have been clarified by the teachings of the church. Human beings are interdependent by nature, and not autonomous. Peace can only be reached when justice is served and everyone’s good is considered. “The arms race is a treacherous trap, and one which injures the poor to an intolerable degree.” (Documents of Vatican II; The Church Today)


Georgia Walker, anti nuclear protestor answers the judge’s questions!24 Jan

Essays by Georgia Walker

To: Judge Ardie Bland of Municipal Court, Kansas City, Mo.
From: Georgia Walker of Kansas City, Mo.

1. If North Korea, China, or one of the Mideast countries dropped a nuclear bomb on a U.S. city tomorrow, would that change your opinion?
This question seems to suggest that my opposition to nuclear weapons might be altered if another country utilized a nuclear weapon against a city in the United States. In that case, might I be persuaded to seek revenge against the aggressor nation in retaliation by sending a nuclear attack back against the citizens in that country? Emphatically, I would answer that I would not change my opposition to nuclear arms. On the contrary, it would intensify my efforts to work for the abolition of all nuclear armaments for several very definite reasons.
First, despite all of the American cultural messages that attempt to persuade us that we can win peace and safety by responding to violent actions by engaging in further violence, I am quite sure that revenge of this type never works. As Gandhi asserted, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth…just leaves us all blind and toothless.” Revenge does not lead to a resolution of problems and disagreements. It leads to an escalation of more violence. Whatever the cause of the deep-seated hatred, animosity, desperation and break in human relationships that led to the initial act of violence, a violent response will not resolve the situation or eliminate the bitterness that fueled the violent aggression in the first place. My faith tradition as a Christian compels me to search for creative ways to respond nonviolently to such acts. The futile unsuccessful attempt to reduce the violent acts of “terrorists” in the so-called “war on terrorism” should demonstrate the simple truth that responding to violence with further violence simply does not work…it leads to the production of more enemies with an even greater level of determination to hurt us back. The cycle of violence only continues to intensify and spiral beyond all expectations.
Second, by virtue of the technology of the modern media the mere fact that all of the world would immediately witness in real time the unspeakable human tragedy and devastation that would be caused by the use of a nuclear weapon on a city would surely cause me to intensify my resolve to eliminate this threat of mass destruction. A cataclysmic event of such destruction would completely eclipse the capacity of emergency responders and institutions to effectively handle the scale of human suffering and misery that would be produced. Nuclear bombs are now capable of causing far more damage than the atomic bombs dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Furthermore, we now know that the spread of radiation around the world would produce long-lasting detrimental effects on the environment and genetically affect generations of human survivors. Any use of atomic weapons could have a deleterious effect on the populations of both the aggressor nation and the victim nation. Surely, we would be even more resolved to eliminate these weapons of mass destruction when confronted by the results of their utilization!
Third, I would continue to believe that it is morally wrong to utilize weapons of mass destruction to murder innocent civilian populations. There really is no such thing as a “just war” or a “good war” for the “right reasons.” War is simply murder writ large. A nuclear war would cause so much destruction and human misery that it should be unthinkable. In a world of hatred, bitterness and resentment and violent “solutions,” it is only love and creative nonviolent responses that will have any hope of healing and mending the broken human relationships between people and nations which find themselves at odds with one another. Witnessing the murder of people, creatures and creation itself would increase my resolve to oppose the continued presence of nuclear weapons on our planet.

2. If Germany or Japan had used nuclear weapons first in World War II, would your opinion change?
Fortunately for the world, the United States (the so-called “good guys”) is the only aggressor nation that has ever utilized the atomic bomb. For this unnecessary and inexcusable act, every American should feel shame and regret. This question seems to suggest that if the “bad guys” had used nuclear weapons first then we would have been justified in retaliating with our nuclear arsenal. My opposition to nuclear weapons would not have been diminished if any other country had been the first to use them. The point is that using devastating weapons of mass destruction against any country is a crime not because of who perpetrated the act but because of what the act accomplished. Vaporizing humans and all living things with an atomic bomb is an act of moral depravity no matter which country does it or for what reasons it is executed. A crime is a crime.
A recent documentary video called “The Ultimate Wish: Ending the Nuclear Age” movingly illustrates the intrinsic immorality of using weapons of mass destruction, no matter who uses them. The video is the story of Nagasaki survivors of the 1945 atomic bomb and Fukushima evacuees from the meltdown of the nuclear power plants in 2011. In one particularly dramatic portion of the video, a Japanese survivor of Nagasaki discusses her experiences with a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz. It becomes very apparent in their interaction that sharing the horrors of experiencing and surviving such events has much less to do with the “who committed the act” and everything to do with the galvanizing effect that such experiences had on their resolve to spend the rest of their lives trying to convince the world that such horrors should never happen again. I too would commit myself to a focus preventing the consequences of such acts rather than being preoccupied with determining whether it can ever be justified for one nation/group to pursue such violent aggression on another nation/group. In my opinion, the use of weapons of mass destruction like nuclear weapons can never be a justified action no matter who utilizes them. Nuclear holocaust has the potential to destroy all life in its wake and the very foundations for life itself. The special legacy of the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been to send an urgent message to humankind to abolish all nuclear weapons forever…no matter which country or group currently possess them.
As the members of the only nation to experience the direct effects of an atomic bomb, the Japanese provide us with an outstanding model for the response to the use of nuclear arms. According to Article 9 of Japan’s Peace Constitution, “The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.” Before his death in 1951, Dr. Takashi Nagai, a medical doctor in Nagasaki who was a Hibakusha (survivor), said: “Nuclear war is not at all beautiful or interesting. It is the most disappointing, most brutal and most complete form of destruction. Only ashes and bones remain: nothing touches the heart…Whether it be a fight, a struggle or a war, all that remains afterward is regret…Nuclear war ended in Nagasaki: Nagasaki is the period: Peace starts from Nagasaki!”
My Catholic faith tradition asserts that not only should nations not use or produce nuclear weapons, but that it is absolutely essential that nations and human communities should make all efforts to rid the world of the evil that they represent. I would like to think that my own response to such brutality would be as gracious, forgiving and insightful as the Hibakusha of Japan. My opinion would not be different even if Japan or Germany had been first users.

3. What would you say to those who say, “If we (the USA) do not have the big stick, that is, if we get rid of our nuclear weapons, and other countries develop nuclear weapons, then we do not have the opportunity to fight back”?
The question appears to advance the argument that it is necessary for the nations which possess nuclear weapons to keep them so as to create a structural deterrent for any nation to actually use their nuclear weapons. Of course, this is based on the global policy and strategy known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)…the strategy that fully recognizes that no nation or group can actually “win” a thermonuclear war and that all life would be harmed by the use. Therefore, no “rational” and “logical” party would want to risk such a catastrophic event. Supporters of the “big stick” would be inclined to say that the policy strategy has worked thus far and that we should continue to support it and the continued expenditure of exorbitant sums of resources to maintain our nuclear arsenal. I would take an opposing point of view.
When the Cold War ended between the United States and the Soviet Union, some of the worry about nuclear weapons began to decrease. However, many did begin to wonder why if we were no longer in this arms race, why we were still keeping our nuclear weapons on high alert. A documentary called “The Forgotten Bomb” sought to explain why the posture of MAD still exists. Through the historical analysis of the development of this instrument of warfare and the evolution of the political and legal implications of nuclear weapons, Bud Ryan, the filmmaker, demonstrates the psychological and cultural reasons that are deeply embedded in the American psyche. Operating out of deep-seated fear of the immense powers of destruction that we unleashed on the world, we find ourselves trapped in the pursuit to stay in the superior position in the arms race. A cultural set of myths has been developed to support this pursuit of global superiority. Both the psychological and cultural dimensions serve to reinforce the maintenance of the very profitable “military-industrial complex” that President Dwight Eisenhower warned us of in his Farewell Address at the end of his presidency.
From the earliest years of the nuclear age, the United States has pursued a bifurcated strategy. On the one hand we have consistently engaged in diplomatic efforts and agreements to eliminate nuclear weapons. On the other hand we have spent billions of dollars building up our nuclear arsenal with no end in sight. In a 1963 address to the students and faculty of American University, President John F. Kennedy claimed that “peace is basically a human right–the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation–the right to breathe air as nature provided it–the right of future generations to a healthy existence…not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war…not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave…I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living.” In his presidency he began to resist the power and influence of the military-industrial complex to pursue continued development of disastrous nuclear weapons and expenditures.
There is an emerging organization called “World Beyond War” which describes itself as a “global movement to end all war.” Their major assertion is that “we can either eliminate all nuclear weapons or we can watch them proliferate. There’s no middle way. We can either have no nuclear weapons states, or we can have many. This is not a moral or a logical point, but a practical observation backed up by solid research…as long as some states have nuclear weapons others will desire them, and the more that have them the more easily they will spread to others still…If nuclear weapons continue to exist, there will very likely be a nuclear catastrophe, and the more the weapons have proliferated, the sooner it will come. Hundreds of incidents have nearly destroyed our world through accident, confusion, misunderstanding, and extremely irrational machismo. When you add in the quite real and increasing possibility of non-state terrorists acquiring and using nuclear weapons, the danger grows dramatically–and is only increased by the policies of nuclear states that react to terrorism in ways that seem designed to recruit more terrorists.”
Furthermore, they assert, “On the other side of the equation, possessing nuclear weapons does absolutely nothing to keep us safe, so that there is really no trade-off involved in eliminating them. They do not deter terrorist attacks by non-state actors in any way. Nor do they add an iota to a military’s ability to deter nations from attacking, given the United States’ ability to destroy anything anywhere at any time with non-nuclear weapons. Nukes also don’t win wars, and the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China have all lost wars against non-nuclear powers while possessing nukes. Nor, in the event of global nuclear war, can any outrageous quantity of weaponry protect a nation in any way from apocalypse.”
So I would recommend that the advocates of the “big stick” approach should do some reading of the documents of the international coalition of non-nuclear states which are begging the United States and other nuclear states to begin working on serious plans to ban the existence of the bomb. The countries which possess nuclear weapons are holding the whole world hostage with the fear and trembling that these weapons could destroy the entire planet through evil intent or careless accident. This is a great injustice which must be resisted with every ounce of courage that we can muster!

4. You defendants say you are Christians and one is a Buddhist. Father Kabat says you disobey a law that is ungodly. How do you respond to someone who believes there is no God? Who is to say what God believes, for slavery and the Crusades killed millions?
In reality, there is no way that I can answer for the millions of casualties and injustices that have been perpetrated in the name of God. The God that I know and strive to follow is a God of love who wants only the best for all of us and all of creation. Most of the defendants who appeared before you in this case operate on the basis of that same understanding of God. There are several underlying questions here, really. First, how is conscience formed? Second, how does one determine whether one’s conscience matches one’s understanding of God? Third, what is the relationship between individual conscience and the law?
First of all, I agree with Victor Hugo that “conscience is God present in each human.” That is, we each are born with the divine spark of God within us. That is not to say that we always recognize our own divinity or act in accordance with that divine spark. However, we at all times have the capacity to grow and develop an awareness of that goodness within us. Some call it our heart or our innermost truth or our innate nature as creatures created in the image of God. Although we do not all share the same religion or faith or awareness of the divine within us…we all develop a moral compass or sense of what is morally right and wrong. Pope Francis I recently said in a gathering of people of diverse faiths: “Since many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church and others are non-believers, from the bottom of my heart I give this silent blessing to each and every one of you, respecting the conscience that is within each one of you but knowing that each one of you is a child of God.” As children of God, we all share in the possession of a conscience, the only guide we have to follow in order to be true to ourselves.
But secondly, as Karl Jung asserted: “Through pride, we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, something is out of tune.” It is up to each individual to listen to that voice. Our journey to grow and develop our conscience cannot possibly be effective without some testing and discerning with others in a community of believers and/or non-believers. I must discern the soundness of the truth as I understand it in reference to documents that purport to be the “word of God,” the scholarly writers who have interpreted that word and a shared community who discern the movement of God in our lives together and strive to live out of their faith together.
Third and most importantly to this case and this assignment, I take my inspiration on this subject from other great practitioners of civil disobedience. Henry David Thoreau asserted that “only the individual is the final judge of right and wrong for his/her own life… since only individuals act, only individuals can act justly or unjustly.” We each have to make that final decision for ourselves. Mahatma Gandhi argued that “there is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience…it supersedes all other courts.” It is a moral imperative to act in the final analysis according to one’s own conscience. Martin Luther King also argued for the primacy of individual conscience over the law. He said: “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.” So I would recommend that persons refer to what others of many faiths have said about conscience and how to develop and test it and how to live in accordance with it in their daily life.

5. How do you respond to those who have a God different from you when they argue their religion is to crush others into dust with nuclear devices?
A question such as this one seems to suggest that there are actually major world religions that call for the systematic elimination of people who worship a God different from theirs. Most scholars who have comparatively studied the religious documents of all the world’s major religions seem to refute this. Comparing the world views and written holy documents of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Baha’i reveals an inherent common thread of a preference for peace and toleration for humans of diverse faiths. I personally do not accept the view that any of those major religions promote the idea of annihilating those who worship a God different from their own.
However, most of these great religions have developed radical and fundamentalist sub-groups which have advanced movements of hatred and intolerance of difference that have used their religion in extremist ways to foster destructive and intolerant behaviors. Unfortunately, attitudes and prejudices develop which would lump all members of a given religion together in the same stereotypes so that beliefs in response to the actions of religious and political extremists begin to be applied to all members of their given religion. Since the events of September 11, 2001, it has become commonplace for individuals and organizations to rise up and promote xenophobic attitudes and behaviors directed against Muslims and Arabs. Many of the Christian leaders of fundamentalist Christian denominations are embarrassingly complicit with promoting outright falsehoods about the Islamic faith tradition and its practitioners. I personally reject the idea that we can hold all the members of a religious tradition responsible for the small minority of extremists who have committed heinous criminal acts in the name of their religion. I also reject the Christian political extremists that promote hatred, misunderstandings and intolerance of Muslims or any other religion.
Ronaldo Cruz, the Director for Institutional Advancement at Pax Christi USA, asserted that “as the national Catholic Peace movement, Pax Christi believes in the freedom of religion and in countering systematic and perpetual deep spiritual and social brokenness. Catholic Social Teaching tells us that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society…and we claim that attacks on Muslims is behavior which is contrary to our Christian values…Pax Christi USA stands in solidarity with interfaith organizations committed to constitutional and civil rights for all people, no matter what faith tradition they claim.”
With Pax Christi, I would proclaim to those who narrowly condemn others because of their faith preference that they should take responsibility for seeking the truth about persons of other faiths and refuse to accept stereotypical and ill-informed proclamations of those among us who are the intolerant and bigoted persons who espouse such vile misinformation. My own faith tradition would not permit me to stereotypically view all Muslims or all of the adherents of any given religion as a threat to the peace and security of my country or world. I do not think that there is anything inherently violent about Muslims and we have yet to see them developing or testing nuclear bombs. If a country such as Iran would develop their capacity to produce a nuclear weapon to protect themselves from their hostile enemies, they would be joining the exclusive list of those countries possessing nuclear weapons and holding the whole world hostage, as our own country has done for almost 70 years. Just as I abhor the nuclear arsenal of my own country, I would hope that Iran does not join the infamous nuclear club.

6. Who determines what God’s Law is, given the history of Christianity in the USA and the world?
I cannot possibly answer for all of the bad things which have been perpetrated in the name of God in the USA and in the world. However, my faith tradition does contain a clear proclamation of the foundation of God’s law. In Scripture we are told the following clear message about God’s law:

Matthew 22:36-40 (New International Version)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
In my mind this is a very clear measuring stick for me to utilize to judge whether a law, a practice, or a belief reflects God’s law or not. Of course this judgment would not be done without consultation with a community of believers with whom I share faith. In their 2011 Ecumenical Call to Just Peace, the World Council of Churches invites Christians of every stripe, flavor and denomination to commit themselves to what they have called the “Way of Just Peace.” Churches and believers are called to be peacemakers, unifiers and countercultural advocates of acceptance and inclusion.
According to the call to become advocates of “Just Peace,” churches become builders of a culture of peace as they engage, cooperate and learn from one another. Members, families, parishes and communities will all be involved. The tasks include learning to prevent conflicts and transform them; to protect and empower those who are marginalized; to affirm the role of women in resolving conflict and building peace and include them in all initiatives; to support and participate in nonviolence movements for justice and human rights; and to give peace education its rightful place in churches and schools. A culture of peace requires churches and other faith and community groups to challenge violence wherever it happens: this concerns structural and habitual violence as well as the violence that pervades media entertainment, games and music. Cultures of peace are realized when all, especially women and children, are safe from sexual violence and protected from armed conflict, when deadly weapons are banned and removed from communities, and domestic violence is addressed and stopped.”
If all Christians became engaged in this movement, we would have all the tools we would need to advance peace in our world. We would be operating within the clear framework of God’s Law, as we understand it. According to Lisa Schirch who has written Strategic Peacebuilding: A Vision and Framework for Peace with Justice, “Strategic peacebuilding supports the development of relationships at all levels of society: between individuals and within families; communities; organizations; businesses; governments; and cultural, religious, economic and political institutions and movements. Relationships are a form of power or social capital. When people connect and form relationships they are more likely to cooperate together to constructively address conflict.” Within the context of respectful relationships with one another, even those with the greatest disparities of beliefs could come to the table to build peace and respect.


Truth About Israeli Nukes19 Jan

Truth About Israel’s Secret Nuclear Arsenal

By Julian Borger, Guardian UK

18 January 14

Israel has been stealing nuclear secrets and covertly making bombs since the 1950s. And western governments, including Britain and the US, turn a blind eye. But how can we expect Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions if the Israelis won’t come clean?

eep beneath desert sands, an embattled Middle Eastern state has built a covert nuclear bomb, using technology and materials provided by friendly powers or stolen by a clandestine network of agents. It is the stuff of pulp thrillers and the sort of narrative often used to characterise the worst fears about the Iranian nuclear programme. In reality, though, neither US nor British intelligence believe Tehran has decided to build a bomb, and Iran’s atomic projects are under constant international monitoring.

The exotic tale of the bomb hidden in the desert is a true story, though. It’s just one that applies to another country. In an extraordinary feat of subterfuge, Israel managed to assemble an entire underground nuclear arsenal – now estimated at 80 warheads, on a par with India and Pakistan – and even tested a bomb nearly half a century ago, with a minimum of international outcry or even much public awareness of what it was doing.

Despite the fact that the Israel’s nuclear programme has been an open secret since a disgruntled technician, Mordechai Vanunu, blew the whistle on it in 1986, the official Israeli position is still never to confirm or deny its existence.

When the former speaker of the Knesset, Avraham Burg, broke the taboo last month, declaring Israeli possession of both nuclear and chemical weapons and describing the official non-disclosure policy as “outdated and childish” a rightwing group formally called for a police investigation for treason.

Meanwhile, western governments have played along with the policy of “opacity” by avoiding all mention of the issue. In 2009, when a veteran Washington reporter, Helen Thomas, asked Barack Obama in the first month of his presidency if he knew of any country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, he dodged the trapdoor by saying only that he did not wish to “speculate”.

UK governments have generally followed suit. Asked in the House of Lords in November about Israeli nuclear weapons, Baroness Warsi answered tangentially. “Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons programme. We have regular discussions with the government of Israel on a range of nuclear-related issues,” the minister said. “The government of Israel is in no doubt as to our views. We encourage Israel to become a state party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT].”

But through the cracks in this stone wall, more and more details continue to emerge of how Israel built its nuclear weapons from smuggled parts and pilfered technology.

The tale serves as a historical counterpoint to today’s drawn-out struggle over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The parallels are not exact – Israel, unlike Iran, never signed up to the 1968 NPT so could not violate it. But it almost certainly broke a treaty banning nuclear tests, as well as countless national and international laws restricting the traffic in nuclear materials and technology.

The list of nations that secretly sold Israel the material and expertise to make nuclear warheads, or who turned a blind eye to its theft, include today’s staunchest campaigners against proliferation: the US, France, Germany, Britain and even Norway.

Meanwhile, Israeli agents charged with buying fissile material and state-of-the-art technology found their way into some of the most sensitive industrial establishments in the world. This daring and remarkably successful spy ring, known as Lakam, the Hebrew acronym for the innocuous-sounding Science Liaison Bureau, included such colourful figures as Arnon Milchan, a billionaire Hollywood producer behind such hits as Pretty Woman, LA Confidential and 12 Years a Slave, who finally admitted his role last month.

“Do you know what it’s like to be a twentysomething-year-old kid [and] his country lets him be James Bond? Wow! The action! That was exciting,” he said in an Israeli documentary.

Milchan’s life story is colourful, and unlikely enough to be the subject of one of the blockbusters he bankrolls. In the documentary, Robert de Niro recalls discussing Milchan’s role in the illicit purchase of nuclear-warhead triggers. “At some point I was asking something about that, being friends, but not in an accusatory way. I just wanted to know,” De Niro says. “And he said: yeah I did that. Israel’s my country.”

Milchan was not shy about using Hollywood connections to help his shadowy second career. At one point, he admits in the documentary, he used the lure of a visit to actor Richard Dreyfuss’s home to get a top US nuclear scientist, Arthur Biehl, to join the board of one of his companies.

According to Milchan’s biography, by Israeli journalists Meir Doron and Joseph Gelman, he was recruited in 1965 by Israel’s current president, Shimon Peres, who he met in a Tel Aviv nightclub (called Mandy’s, named after the hostess and owner’s wife Mandy Rice-Davies, freshly notorious for her role in the Profumo sex scandal). Milchan, who then ran the family fertiliser company, never looked back, playing a central role in Israel’s clandestine acquisition programme.

He was responsible for securing vital uranium-enrichment technology, photographing centrifuge blueprints that a German executive had been bribed into temporarily “mislaying” in his kitchen. The same blueprints, belonging to the European uranium enrichment consortium, Urenco, were stolen a second time by a Pakistani employee, Abdul Qadeer Khan, who used them to found his country’s enrichment programme and to set up a global nuclear smuggling business, selling the design to Libya, North Korea and Iran.

For that reason, Israel’s centrifuges are near-identical to Iran’s, a convergence that allowed Israeli to try out a computer worm, codenamed Stuxnet, on its own centrifuges before unleashing it on Iran in 2010.

Arguably, Lakam’s exploits were even more daring than Khan’s. In 1968, it organised the disappearance of an entire freighter full of uranium ore in the middle of the Mediterranean. In what became known as the Plumbat affair, the Israelis used a web of front companies to buy a consignment of uranium oxide, known as yellowcake, in Antwerp. The yellowcake was concealed in drums labelled “plumbat”, a lead derivative, and loaded onto a freighter leased by a phony Liberian company. The sale was camouflaged as a transaction between German and Italian companies with help from German officials, reportedly in return for an Israeli offer to help the Germans with centrifuge technology.

When the ship, the Scheersberg A, docked in Rotterdam, the entire crew was dismissed on the pretext that the vessel had been sold and an Israeli crew took their place. The ship sailed into the Mediterranean where, under Israeli naval guard, the cargo was transferred to another vessel.

US and British documents declassified last year also revealed a previously unknown Israeli purchase of about 100 tons of yellowcake from Argentina in 1963 or 1964, without the safeguards typically used in nuclear transactions to prevent the material being used in weapons.

Israel had few qualms about proliferating nuclear weapons knowhow and materials, giving South Africa’s apartheid regime help in developing its own bomb in the 1970s in return for 600 tons of yellowcake.

Israel’s nuclear reactor also required deuterium oxide, also known as heavy water, to moderate the fissile reaction. For that, Israel turned to Norway and Britain. In 1959, Israel managed to buy 20 tons of heavy water that Norway had sold to the UK but was surplus to requirements for the British nuclear programme. Both governments were suspicious that the material would be used to make weapons, but decided to look the other way. In documents seen by the BBC in 2005 British officials argued it would be “over-zealous” to impose safeguards. For its part, Norway carried out only one inspection visit, in 1961.

Israel’s nuclear-weapons project could never have got off the ground, though, without an enormous contribution from France. The country that took the toughest line on counter-proliferation when it came to Iran helped lay the foundations of Israel’s nuclear weapons programme, driven by by a sense of guilt over letting Israel down in the 1956 Suez conflict, sympathy from French-Jewish scientists, intelligence-sharing over Algeria and a drive to sell French expertise and abroad.

“There was a tendency to try to export and there was a general feeling of support for Israel,” Andre Finkelstein, a former deputy commissioner at France’s Atomic Energy Commissariat and deputy director general at the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Avner Cohen, an Israeli-American nuclear historian.

France’s first reactor went critical as early as 1948 but the decision to build nuclear weapons seems to have been taken in 1954, after Pierre Mendès France made his first trip to Washington as president of the council of ministers of the chaotic Fourth Republic. On the way back he told an aide: “It’s exactly like a meeting of gangsters. Everyone is putting his gun on the table, if you have no gun you are nobody. So we must have a nuclear programme.”

Mendès France gave the order to start building bombs in December 1954. And as it built its arsenal, Paris solds material assistance to other aspiring weapons states, not just Israel.

“[T]his went on for many, many years until we did some stupid exports, including Iraq and the reprocessing plant in Pakistan, which was crazy,” Finkelstein recalled in an interview that can now be read in a collection of Cohen’s papers at the Wilson Centre thinktank in Washington. “We have been the most irresponsible country on nonproliferation.”

In Dimona, French engineers poured in to help build Israel a nuclear reactor and a far more secret reprocessing plant capable of separating plutonium from spent reactor fuel. This was the real giveaway that Israel’s nuclear programme was aimed at producing weapons.

By the end of the 50s, there were 2,500 French citizens living in Dimona, transforming it from a village to a cosmopolitan town, complete with French lycées and streets full of Renaults, and yet the whole endeavour was conducted under a thick veil of secrecy. The American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his book The Samson Option: “French workers at Dimona were forbidden to write directly to relatives and friends in France and elsewhere, but sent mail to a phony post-office box in Latin America.”

The British were kept out of the loop, being told at different times that the huge construction site was a desert grasslands research institute and a manganese processing plant. The Americans, also kept in the dark by both Israel and France, flew U2 spy planes over Dimona in an attempt to find out what they were up to.

The Israelis admitted to having a reactor but insisted it was for entirely peaceful purposes. The spent fuel was sent to France for reprocessing, they claimed, even providing film footage of it being supposedly being loaded onto French freighters. Throughout the 60s it flatly denied the existence of the underground reprocessing plant in Dimona that was churning out plutonium for bombs.

Israel refused to countenance visits by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), so in the early 1960s President Kennedy demanded they accept American inspectors. US physicists were dispatched to Dimona but were given the run-around from the start. Visits were never twice-yearly as had been agreed with Kennedy and were subject to repeated postponements. The US physicists sent to Dimona were not allowed to bring their own equipment or collect samples. The lead American inspector, Floyd Culler, an expert on plutonium extraction, noted in his reports that there were newly plastered and painted walls in one of the buildings. It turned out that before each American visit, the Israelis had built false walls around the row of lifts that descended six levels to the subterranean reprocessing plant.

As more and more evidence of Israel’s weapons programme emerged, the US role progressed from unwitting dupe to reluctant accomplice. In 1968 the CIA director Richard Helms told President Johnson that Israel had indeed managed to build nuclear weapons and that its air force had conducted sorties to practise dropping them.

The timing could not have been worse. The NPT, intended to prevent too many nuclear genies from escaping from their bottles, had just been drawn up and if news broke that one of the supposedly non-nuclear-weapons states had secretly made its own bomb, it would have become a dead letter that many countries, especially Arab states, would refuse to sign.

The Johnson White House decided to say nothing, and the decision was formalised at a 1969 meeting between Richard Nixon and Golda Meir, at which the US president agreed to not to pressure Israel into signing the NPT, while the Israeli prime minister agreed her country would not be the first to “introduce” nuclear weapons into the Middle East and not do anything to make their existence public.

In fact, US involvement went deeper than mere silence. At a meeting in 1976 that has only recently become public knowledge, the CIA deputy director Carl Duckett informed a dozen officials from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the agency suspected some of the fissile fuel in Israel’s bombs was weapons-grade uranium stolen under America’s nose from a processing plant in Pennsylvania.

Not only was an alarming amount of fissile material going missing at the company, Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (Numec), but it had been visited by a veritable who’s-who of Israeli intelligence, including Rafael Eitan, described by the firm as an Israeli defence ministry “chemist”, but, in fact, a top Mossad operative who went on to head Lakam.

“It was a shock. Everyody was open-mouthed,” recalls Victor Gilinsky, who was one of the American nuclear officials briefed by Duckett. “It was one of the most glaring cases of diverted nuclear material but the consequences appeared so awful for the people involved and for the US than nobody really wanted to find out what was going on.”

The investigation was shelved and no charges were made.

A few years later, on 22 September 1979, a US satellite, Vela 6911, detected the double-flash typical of a nuclear weapon test off the coast of South Africa. Leonard Weiss, a mathematician and an expert on nuclear proliferation, was working as a Senate advisor at the time and after being briefed on the incident by US intelligence agencies and the country’s nuclear weapons laboratories, he became convinced a nuclear test, in contravention to the Limited Test Ban Treaty, had taken place.

It was only after both the Carter and then the Reagan administrations attempted to gag him on the incident and tried to whitewash it with an unconvincing panel of enquiry, that it dawned on Weiss that it was the Israelis, rather than the South Africans, who had carried out the detonation.

“I was told it would create a very serious foreign policy issue for the US, if I said it was a test. Someone had let something off that US didn’t want anyone to know about,” says Weiss.

Israeli sources told Hersh the flash picked up by the Vela satellite was actually the third of a series of Indian Ocean nuclear tests that Israel conducted in cooperation with South Africa.

“It was a fuck-up,” one source told him. “There was a storm and we figured it would block Vela, but there was a gap in the weather – a window – and Vela got blinded by the flash.”

The US policy of silence continues to this day, even though Israel appears to be continuing to trade on the nuclear black market, albeit at much reduced volumes. In a paper on the illegal trade in nuclear material and technology published in October, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) noted: “Under US pressure in the 1980s and early 1990s, Israel … decided to largely stop its illicit procurement for its nuclear weapons programme. Today, there is evidence that Israel may still make occasional illicit procurements – US sting operations and legal cases show this.”

Avner Cohen, the author of two books on Israel’s bomb, said that policy of opacity in both Israel and in Washington is kept in place now largely by inertia. “At the political level, no one wants to deal with it for fear of opening a Pandora’s box. It has in many ways become a burden for the US, but people in Washington, all the way up to Obama will not touch it, because of the fear it could compromise the very basis of the Israeli-US understanding.”

In the Arab world and beyond, there is growing impatience with the skewed nuclear status quo. Egypt in particular has threatened to walk out of the NPT unless there is progress towards creating a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. The western powers promised to stage a conference on the proposal in 2012 but it was called off, largely at America’s behest, to reduce the pressure on Israel to attend and declare its nuclear arsenal.

“Somehow the kabuki goes on,” Weiss says. “If it is admitted Israel has nuclear weapons at least you can have an honest discussion. It seems to me it’s very difficult to get a resolution of the Iran issue without being honest about that.”


8 ways the Hawks and Aipac are wrong about Iran Nukes.17 Jan

Oft repeated but false assertions about Iran’s nuclear program—and the [3]recent deal to tamp it down [3]—may end up being more dangerous than the program itself. These wrong statements reinforce each other, get amplified in the media, and are [4]fueling a march to military action [4].

Such use of force would further inflame the Middle East and could push Iran to start a full-scale nuclear weapons project. US national security would further erode as a result—just like it has with the Iraq debacle. The ‘aluminum tubes’, ‘mobile biological-weapons labs’, and ‘yellow cake from Niger’ memes fueled the march to that war. Let’s examine some of the current false Iran nuclear memes before we’re led [5]down the yellow-cake road again [5]:

Meme 1: “If the world powers fail to reach a deal with Tehran the alternative is bombing.”

An incarnation of this shopworn meme appears in [4]Matthew Kroenig’s recent piece in Foreign Affairs [4]. He states “A truly comprehensive diplomatic settlement between Iran and the West is still the best possible outcome, but there is little reason to believe that one can be achieved. And that means the United States may still have to choose between bombing Iran and allowing it to acquire a nuclear bomb.” Er, no. That’s a false choice. Iran is not acquiring a nuclear bomb—the [6]US Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has a “high level of confidence” [6] that no decision to weaponize has yet been taken in Tehran. This conclusion of the DNI is not based on an absence of evidence but on actual information [7] that whatever weaponization research Iran may have been doing up to about 2003 has been wrapped up a decade ago.

The P5+1 nations—the five permanent members of the Security Council: the US, UK, France, Russia and China, plus Germany—are not negotiating with Iran to stop it from making a nuclear bomb. They are negotiating with Iran on how to continue to keep its nuclear program peaceful. The discussion is about the methods used to verify that Iran continues its peaceful nuclear program. Even if the nuclear talks fall apart the IAEA inspectors would still continue to inspect Iranian nuclear facilities.

If we—or our allies—bomb Iran the IAEA inspectors would most certainly be expelled, Iran would likely leave the NPT, and Tehran would likely kick off a full-blown nuclear weapons development project. Iraq’s nuclear weapons project also started in earnest after Israel bombed [8] Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981.

To sum up: The negotiations with Iran are about the methods to use to continue to make sure Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful. Not reaching a deal is not the end of the world. And if we do bomb Iran, it is likely to bring about the very thing the bombs were trying to prevent: a full-blown nuclear weapons program.

That said, a deal is still the best outcome: it would give even more reassurance about Iran’s nuclear program, and it would end the sanctions which are [9]punishing the weakest of the Iranian civilians while enriching the Revolutionary Guards [9] who profit from busting sanctions.

Meme 2: “Sanctions forced Iran to the table and extracted concessions from Iran.”

This [10]meme has been expressed, [10] for example, by Senator Robert Menendez, among many others. He has stated that “Current sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table and a credible threat of future sanctions will require Iran to cooperate and act in good faith at the negotiating table.” However cliché, the statement is untrue. [11]Iran was at the negotiating table almost ten years ago [11] and offered the same concessions back then. The [12]sanctions are not what resulted in the recent breakthrough [12] interim agreement between the world powers and Iran. The main thing that changed is the improved atmospherics, which “allowed” the P5+1 to sign a deal with Iran. The election of Iranian president Rouhani, a moderate and erudite leader, permitted the world powers to sign a deal with Iran—a “reward” the US was unwilling to bestow upon the loudmouthed and provocative Ahmedinejad, mostly for domestic reasons [13].

It is important to underline that [11]Iran has offered nothing more in terms of concessions now than what it offered in 2005 [11]. The sanctions [12]did not bring Iran to the negotiating table [12]—Tehran was [13]always there [13]—and the sanctions definitely did not wring out extra concessions from Iran. Basically, were it not for [14]western intransigence [14] and the [13]bad atmospherics [13], the interim deal signed in late 2013 could have been signed in 2005.

This brings us to next false meme:

Meme 3: “Iran has dragged out negotiations unnecessarily—the West sees the nuclear issue as an urgent matter and desperately wants to resolve it but is frustrated by Tehran’s foot-dragging”

As mentioned above, the [11]world powers could have gotten the same concessions [11] out of Iran back in 2005 but have only now [15]decided to seriously engage [15] with Iran. As the [16]New York Times has reported [16], “Mr. Obama’s aides seem content with stalemate.” The main thing this foot-dragging by the west indicates is that it does not see the Iranian nuclear issue as particularly important. This is unsurprising because the US Intelligence community is aware—with a [6]“high level of confidence” [6]— [17]that there is no nuclear weapons program in Iran right now.

Even now, after the interim agreement with Iran has been signed, elite US analysts and commentators are yawning at the prospect of an Iranian bomb and actually urging a lackadaisical approach to negotiations with Iran. For example, [18]Mitchell Reiss and Ray Takeyh argue [18] that “to succeed in nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Western powers should be mindful…[that] Iran needs an agreement more than the United States does…There is no reason for Washington to seem more eager than Tehran to reach an agreement…” Yes, if one chooses to dismiss the issue of an alleged nuclear weapons capability in Iran, then indeed the advice of such commentators may be worth heeding. But one needs to decide: is the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons capability a serious issue or not? If not, then why place such draconian sanctions on Iranian civilians to begin with? The sanctions are causing tremendous harm to the weakest civilians in Iranian society while [9]enriching the Revolutionary Guards who profit from sanctions-busting [9]. If, as these commentators suggest, the West does not need a deal urgently they cannot simultaneously pretend that the issue is important enough to launch military action.

If stopping an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons capability is worth going to war, it’s certainly [15]worth taking the issue seriously and undertaking serious sanctions relief [15].

Meme 4: “ The P5+1 is extra-tough on Iran because Iran signed the NPT, whereas other nations like Pakistan, India, and Israel did not, and so it’s okay to tolerate nuclear weapons in the latter states and even help them with nuclear know-how and technology.”

If the P5+1 nations want to invoke the NPT to try to limit nuclear know-how in signatory states like Iran they need to at least first show a firmer hand with the nuclear-armed NPT non-signatories. For instance, because Iran is being sanctioned for its past violations of its nuclear safeguards agreements—which were [19]somewhat gratuitously interpreted as a “threat to the peace” by the UN Security Council [19] (UNSC)—then certainly Pakistan, India and Israel should be similarly sanctioned.

After all, the sanctions are applied to Iran only because the “trigger” of the IAEA nuclear safeguards violations raised the issue to the level of the UNSC. The only reason such triggers have not gone off for India, Pakistan and Israel is that, since they are outside the framework of the NPT, their safeguards agreements are watered-down and similar triggers simply don’t exist. But since these nations already have nuclear weapons and are outside the NPT they are objectively a bigger “threat to the peace” than Iran, which is an NPT signatory and has been determined by the US DNI has having no current nuclear weapons program with a “high level of confidence”. [The UNSC sanctions are applied under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, Article 39, in which the Security Council can determine a “threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and may recommend, or decide what measures to maintain or restore international peace and security.”]

Under no circumstances should nations who have signed the NPT—whether or not they are currently seen to be in good standing—be sanctioned and treated more severely than those that haven’t signed on to the NPT and have nuclear weapons. Such heavy-handedness with signatory nations will undercut the desire of many nations to sign on to new arms control initiatives, like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

In fact, the actions of some of the P5+1 nations, namely China and US, go against the spirit and intentions of the NPT. US and China are helping the nuclear-armed NPT non-signatory states India and Pakistan, respectively, with their civilian nuclear programs. (And before it signed the NPT in 1992, France helped Israel with its nuclear program.) But the ‘firewall’ between civilian and military nuclear sectors in Pakistan, India and Israel is somewhere between porous to non-existent. And, at the least, civilian nuclear assistance frees up nuclear resources—scientists and materiel much of which are dual-use—which can be applied to the military nuclear programs in these non-NPT nations. Thus the nuclear assistance given by China and the US to Pakistan and India can legitimately be seen as a violation of the NPT.

As Daniel Joyner puts it in his book, “Interpreting the NPT [20]”: “Many NPT Non Nuclear Weapon States see this granting of nuclear technology concessions to India by an NPT Nuclear Weapon State as a positive reward for India’s decision to remain outside the NPT framework, and develop and maintain a nuclear weapons arsenal, which is the precise opposite to the incentive structure which the NPT sought to codify into international law.”

Meme 5: “Iran is in violation of its NPT obligations.”

This meme is often repeated in the media and by policy wonks but is not true. For instance, former Obama administration official [21]Robert Einhorn has argued [21], “[W]hat is not debatable is that Iran has forfeited—at least temporarily—any right to enrichment (and reprocessing) until it can demonstrate convincingly that it is in compliance with its NPT obligations.”

But Iran has never been found to be in non-compliance with the NPT: in fact, there is no agency or international body tasked with checking compliance with the NPT. And there is no automatic nuclear fuel-cycle “forfeiture” provision in the NPT. So statements such as Einhorn’s overreach.

In older treaties like the NPT and the Outer Space Treaty, there aren’t any enforcement mechanisms. There is the IAEA, but it is not responsible for—nor does it have the ability to—verify compliance with the NPT. The IAEA’s monitors a different set of bilateral treaties: the narrowly focused “Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements” (CSAs). And it’s entirely possible for a state to be in noncompliance with its bilateral CSA and still be in compliance with the NPT. The CSA deals mostly with the precise accounting of nuclear material whereas the threshold of NPT violation for NNWSs—nuclear weaponization—is much higher and much more vague. The CSAs and the NPT are independent legal instruments, although they both deal with nuclear nonproliferation.

As Dr. Hans Blix, former head of the IAEA, [22]recently stated [22]: “So far, Iran has not violated the NPT,” adding, “and there is no evidence right now that suggests that Iran is producing nuclear weapons.” And Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who spent more than a decade as the director of the IAEA, [23]said that he had not “seen a shred of evidence” [23] that Iran was pursuing the bomb. “All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran,” he concluded.

Meme 6: “There is no right to enrich uranium in the NPT”

This meme is deceptive, being more irrelevant than wrong. The right to enrich uranium exists independent of the NPT: this right, like many many others, [24]does not need to be spelled out in the NPT [24]. In fact, theoretically—according to the letter of the NPT—signatory nations can enrich uranium to arbitrarily high concentrations, including weapons grade, so long as the enrichment is done under safeguards. The important point is that uranium enrichment is not prohibited in the NPT: the [25]inherent right to enrich uranium is not interfered [25] with by the NPT.

The official US government view on the subject was expressed early on. On July 10, 1968, then-Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Director William Foster testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the NPT. In response to a question regarding the type of nuclear activities prohibited by Article II of the NPT, [26]Foster said [26]:

“It may be useful to point out, for illustrative purposes, several activities which the United States would not consider per se to be violations of the prohibitions in Article II. Neither uranium enrichment nor the stockpiling of fissionable material in connection with a peaceful program would violate Article II so long as these activities were safeguarded under Article III. Also clearly permitted would be the development, under safeguards, of plutonium fueled power reactors, including research on the properties of metallic plutonium, nor would Article II interfere with the development or use of fast breeder reactors under safeguards.” [emphasis added]

So not only does the NPT not interfere with the inherent right of nations to pursue nuclear fuel-cycle activities, but the official US government view was that such activities are explicitly permitted under the NPT.

As [27]Mark Hibbs recently explained [27]: “…like Iran, countries negotiating 123 agreements, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam, refused to have Washington dictate and limit their future nuclear technology choices. Some protagonists in debates on Iran and broader nuclear policy insist there is no “right” to enrich. Yet, if this were self-evidently true, it would not have been a big deal for the UAE to have agreed not to undertake enrichment.”

Meme 7: “If a country acquires a nuclear-weapons capability, that nation is intending to acquire nuclear weapons.”

Not so. Much nuclear know-how and technology is dual use and can be used for peaceful or military purposes. Under the NPT, it is not illegal for a member state to have a nuclear-weapons capability: if a nation has a developed civilian nuclear infrastructure—which the NPT actually encourages—this implies it has a fairly solid nuclear-weapons capability. Just like Iran, Argentina, Brazil, and Japan also have a nuclear-weapons capability—they, too, could break out of the NPT and make a nuclear device in short order. Capabilities and intentions cannot be conflated.

This is like owning a car that can go faster than 35 miles per hour—having the capability to race through your neighborhood and exceed the speed limit does not mean you intend to do so.

To be sure, this is not an ideal state of affairs. It would certainly be preferable if the NPT had more teeth to prevent the research of nuclear weaponry in member states, or outlawed the collection of excess low-enriched uranium. But the treaty that exists today reflects the political compromises made to win broad international support. The current NPT is simply not a very stringent treaty. Even Pierre Goldschmidt, a former deputy director of the IAEA Safeguards Department, admits that [28]the organization “doesn’t have the legal authority it needs to fulfill its mandate. [28]”

I have [29]proposed a stricter “NPT 2.0” which would strike a [29] bold new ”more-for-more” bargain. The nuclear-weapon states —or at least Russia and the United States, with a hefty 95 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons between them—would offer swift and drastic reductions in their weapons stockpiles in exchange for the outright elimination of nuclear fuel processing activities (such as dual-use uranium enrichment and plutonium processing) in non-nuclear weapon states. A notable difference between the current incarnation of the NPT and the [29]proposed NPT 2.0 [29] would be that the updated version would not encourage the propagation of nuclear power. It no longer makes any sense is to have a treaty force-feeding a flawed and dangerous 1960′s technology to developing nations, as the NPT now does.

Meme 8: “Iran has been deceptive in the past so we cannot trust them.”

Iran’s nuclear enrichment program was not covert by initial design. Iran’s nuclear program was kicked off in the 1950s with the [30]full encouragement and support of the United States [30], under president Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. In 1983, after the Islamic revolution, Iran went—in an overt way—to the IAEA to get help in setting up a pilot uranium enrichment facility. And the IAEA was then quite receptive to the idea. According to an authoritative account by Mark Hibbs in [31]Nuclear Fuel [31], “IAEA officials were keen to assist Iran in reactivating a research program to learn how to process U3O8 into UO2 pellets and then set up a pilot plant to produce UF6, according to IAEA documents obtained by Nuclear Fuel.” But, [31]according to Hibbs [31], “when in 1983 the recommendations of an IAEA mission to Iran were passed on to the IAEA’s technical cooperation program, the U.S. government then ‘directly intervened’ to discourage the IAEA from assisting Iran in production of UO2 and UF6. ‘We stopped that in its tracks,’ said a former U.S. official.”

So when Iran’s open overture to the IAEA was stymied politically, they used more covert means to set up their enrichment facilities. Enrichment facilities by their nature can be dual-use, of course, but they are certainly not disallowed under the NPT. Iran’s allegedly “covert” or “sneaky” behavior may thus have been a response to the [31]politicization at the IAEA documented in Hibbs’ Nuclear Fuel article [31].

A good way to stop the propagation of dual-use nuclear technology is to implement [29]a revamped “NPT 2.0” [29] that explicitly discourages the propagation of nuclear fuel-cycle and nuclear power technology.

Yousaf Butt, a nuclear physicist, is director of the Emerging Technologies Program at the Cultural Intelligence Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting fact-based cultural awareness among individuals, institutions, and governments. The views expressed here are his own.


Soul Destroying Missile Duty–Say NO!16 Jan


“Betcha didn’t know,

Right here in Colorado,

49 nuclear missiles,

Are ready to go!” —Colorado Coalition for the Prevention of Nuclear War

“Two missile-launch crew at US base in Montana suspended in drug probe.” Reuters

“Drug probe undercuts Hagel pep talk to nuke force.” Associated Press

“Air Force drug probe widened to include cheating.” Associated Press

And, Wednesday’s news, “Air Force: 34 missile officers in cheating scandal.” Associated Press. here

Five hundred nuclear Minute Man III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) are located in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota and Montana, according to “Nuclear Heartland.” Colorado has 49. The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War released a new report that concludes that more than two billion people would be at risk of starvation in the event of a limited nuclear exchange, between India and Pakistan, for example.

Air Force officers, underground in bunkers, 24/7, for 50 years must be upstanding, well-trained, drug-free, waiting for word to turn the keys and fire the missiles, aimed currently at Russia, which has their equivalent aimed at us. This was relevant in the long ago past of the Cold War, but that is all over and the bombs, the bunkers and the idea of nuclear deterrence are all costly and dangerous relics, and the missileers are bored, probably depressed and sick of their thankless jobs doing nothing, yet carrying the burden of its possibilities!

So, and let this sink in, these missileers bear the unfathomable responsibilities of weapons that could certainly bring life as we know it to a halt filled with nuclear fallout and a deep shadow over the earth blotting out the sun from burning debris, creating “nuclear winter,” according to Joseph Cirincione, in an abstract from the Global Catastrophic Risks Conference. It would all be over in one hour. Rand Corporation

A glaring example of all of this is the case of Major General Michael Carey who was fired in October from his job as commander of the whole ICBM force because of drinking heavily, complaining about his bosses, drunkenly insulting his Russian hosts and lamenting publicly about the low state of morale in the ICBM force. Associated Press.

At least we must get these relics off “hair-trigger” alert and get the frustrated and bored officers out of their bunkers. Now is the time. Senators Udall and Bennet, Pentagon, do you hear us?


Answer these questions? Here is one set of essays by defendant Cele Breen SCL02 Jan
See here the report of a recent trial of anti nuclear activists at the Kansas City Nuclear Weapons Production Plant which the government paid 80 million dollars to move 8 miles to a new home. If you want to answer the Judge’s questions I would be happy to post them on this site. Send your answers to

Judge asks … we answer!
Kansas City, Mo., Judge Ardie Bland, on Dec. 13, 2013, found nine nuclear weapon resisters guilty of trespass. He then dished out essay questions as a sentence. Applause in the courtroom prefaced weeks of scribbles by defendants. Lawyer Henry Stoever submitted the essays to Judge Bland Jan. 22.
Word spread about the sentence. Lawyer Bill Quigley of Loyola University in New Orleans commented, “Wonderful news. … A just sentence, who would have thought?” Defendant Father Bill “Bix” Bichsel, in a note with his essays, wrote the judge, “Through your conscientious judgments, you are guiding your court to be a sanctuary of justice-dealing for all people. Thank you for your judgment.”
Reflecting on the leadership of Father Carl Kabat, defendant Betsy Keenan wrote, “Father Carl has lived through many remarkable experiences in his commitment to a God who desires peace so that the human family might flourish. This nuclear weapons facility in Kansas City is a thorn in his side that will hardly let him rest, it seems.” Defendant Georgia Walker wrote, “The countries which possess nuclear weapons are holding the whole world hostage with the fear and trembling that these weapons could destroy the entire planet through evil intent or careless accident. This is a great injustice which must be resisted with every ounce of courage that we can muster!”
The essay homework sparked a fire in Ron Faust, who was not a defendant Dec. 13 but wrote a house-of-mirrors poem to greet the essays. Wanna write? Yes! Send your essays/poems/yearnings to You just might make it to this web page.

Essays by Cele Breen, SCL

To: Judge Ardie Bland, Kansas City, Mo., Municipal Court
From: Mary Cele Breen, SCL, of the Holy Family Catholic Worker Community, Kansas City, Mo.

1. If North Korea, China or one of the Mideast countries dropped a nuclear bomb on a U.S. city tomorrow, would that change your opinion?
If this was to happen, and I survived, I would be even more strongly opposed to nuclear weapons than I am now.
I’m sure that I would be shocked, horrified, stunned, angry, frustrated and deeply disappointed. If my experience of 9/11 is any clue, I would probably be like a walking zombie for a while. Even as I write this I can’t even imagine how massive and horrible the destruction would be. The pictures I’ve seen of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are almost beyond my capacity to take in the reality. And we know that the nuclear bombs in use now (and that we are helping to produce here in Kansas City) are many times more powerful and therefore more destructive than those used in World War II.
I would certainly be angry. I can only hope and pray that in time and with the help of others around me that my anger would be a source of energy for good. I know this can happen. I have been influenced in this hope by hearing the children of survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They speak quietly but as if they are on a mission, sent by their ancestors to plead with the world to never let this happen again.
I would also be both frustrated and deeply disappointed that as human beings we are so slow to learn and so quick to forget. This is why our little protests are so necessary. We need to get people’s attention.

2. If Germany or Japan had used Nuclear weapons first in World War II, would your opinion change?
I can only answer this question based on my experience of WW II as it happened but with the added complication of the initial strike coming from our “enemy.” I’m presuming the question means the bomb landed in the U.S.
Since I turned nine years of age right after World War II, I have to think that I would have grown up hating the Germans and the Japanese even more if one of them had dropped the atomic bomb first. I’m sure that we in the U.S. would have retaliated with greater force or in a more widespread manner. I’m also sure that I would have been convinced that we did the right thing.
I say this because, as it was, I grew up thinking that it was somehow necessary or a smart thing for us to drop the bombs because it ended the war and fewer lives were lost. As a child I remember seeing the small square signs in the front window of homes that showed that someone from that family was fighting in the war. If that person were killed, I think the symbol was replaced with a gold one. I also remember feeling so bad for the mothers of my friends whose husbands were away fighting in the war, and I didn’t know how they managed. Add to that, my brother was in the navy. So to end the war as soon as possible made sense.
I was way into adulthood before I began to learn the real destructive force of nuclear weapons. I had no idea about radiation and what it did to people and to the earth, nor how far the damage spread. So, if that bomb had landed here in our country, I presume that I would have learned this a lot sooner. It is possible that my initial hatred of our enemy might have been stronger. It is also possible and I think probable that I would have been even more opposed to nuclear weapons as I grew up because I would have seen the effects firsthand.

3. What would you say to those who say, we (the USA) do not have the big stick, that is, if we get rid of our nuclear weapons, and other countries develop nuclear weapons, then we do not have the opportunity to fight back?
Let me start by not answering the question. If we were attacked by another nation using nuclear weapons and we fought back using our “big stick” of nuclear weapons, we might soon be engaged in a nuclear disaster that could destroy a major part of the planet. I have already referred to the fact that our present bombs are so much more powerful than the ones we used In Japan. The whole notion of “fighting back” when it comes to these very destructive weapons strikes me as madness.
Back to this question, I would want to ask the people who think that we need a big stick if there are alternatives to fighting back, to war, and to getting even or really proving our superiority. We are a great nation, we have many talented people, and we have numerous resources. Are we not capable of using our richness in finding ways to settle conflicts?
After the terrible attacks of 9-11, I know there were some suggestions of pursuing responses other than air raids and soldiers on the ground. What a challenging opportunity that would have been. We are keen on seeing ourselves as the greatest nation on the earth. Imagine – if we could’ve absorbed the blow, not retaliated in kind but found ways to bring about justice for those acts of violence.
I realize that many brush these ideas off as weak, pie-in-the-sky dreams. I was recently encouraged in continuing to think positively about alternatives to violence and war for our country and our world by remembering what Nelson Mandela did in South Africa. He did not act out of revenge and hatred and retaliate. Instead he forgave, he healed, and he moved a nation toward healing their human rights abuses. It is not a perfect situation, but it is healthy.

4. You defendants say you are Christians and one is Buddhist. Father Kabat says you disobey a law that is ungodly. How do you respond to someone who believes there is no God? Who is to say what God believes, for slavery and the Crusades killed millions?
My response would be first to admit to the person that my language in this conversation will likely be inadequate. I would ask for patience. I would explain that I was born into and raised in a Catholic family, was educated in Catholic schools, and worked in Catholic settings all my adult life. In addition, I have been a member of a religious community of women for 60 years. I am like a tea bag that has been steeping in Catholicism for 77 years! However, in the last 50 years I’ve also had experiences that opened up my horizons significantly – not perfectly – that taught and continue to teach me a great deal.
One thing I learned was that using God language is not the only way to have conversations about important things. So I would invite my conversation partner to explore with me things that we could both affirm about what promotes life in this universe: human, animal, plant, ocean, air and river – all life! Maybe we could even talk about how nuclear weapons fit into this affirmation of life.
In regard to Fr. Kabat’s statement, perhaps my partner and I could agree to find a new word or make one up. Instead of “ungodly,” we might choose “unlifely.” Although it is ungainly, it makes a point.
In regard to the second question above: 1st we believers often forget that our statements about what God wants or stands for are human attempts at expressing the divine. We believe in revelation but our expressions are limited, time-bound, and culturally shrouded. 2nd there is no magic that keeps people from sometimes being misled.

5. How do you respond to those who have a God different from you when they argue their religion is to crush others into dust with nuclear devices?
This question is the most challenging of all in terms of a response. Even after thinking about it at length, I am at a loss as to how to respond. I am “out of my depth” for sure. Here’s my best effort.
It seems to refer to what I would call an extremist group. As I imagine this conversation I realize that it will take discipline to avoid an argument and maybe not even then. I think that I would start by stating some of my assumptions given the brief information I have. In acknowledging or correcting my assumptions, perhaps other avenues for discussion might arise. One assumption as an example:
Your God is also the God of creation, I presume, responsible for the beauty of the earth and the universe, and the marvelous intricacies of the human person. The destruction of human persons and the earth through the use of nuclear weapons appears to be a paradox.
I have to admit that even this approach seems futile. As someone from the U.S., the only nation to have used these weapons against another nation, I feel that challenging my own nation, my own government is the only proper approach.

6. Who determines what God’s Law is, given the history of Christianity in the USA and the world?
These last three questions are all asking “the God Question” in some way. Who speaks for God? Who knows the mind of God? Who interprets God’s plan or will for people? I am not a student of World Religions, but certainly, from the earliest record of Hebrew history up to the present, this has been a thorny and persistent question.
At times, patriarchs, prophets and kings have stepped up to the plate, often at their own peril. Others, both the prominent and the pauper and many in between, have attempted to speak for God or to define the law of God.
My personal answer to this question is rooted in the Catholic/Christian tradition. I look upon it as both an ideal but also a practical guide. It comes from a tradition that is both amazing and flawed.
We seek God’s way or will or law by consulting many sources. We see how God has dealt with people throughout history especially in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. We look at how faithful people have applied that to different situations throughout history. Sometimes these are expressed in precepts or specific teachings. At any given time we try to look at all sides of a question or situation and see traces of how God might be dealing with us now. Finally we consult with the faithful people trying to live good lives today.
This isn’t fool proof. It is not at all exact. And because human beings are limited and sometimes are capable of fooling themselves royally, it doesn’t always work. History is replete with sorry examples.
On the other hand, we humans do some great things.


Rethinking Nuclear Weapons–Cato25 Nov

The Cato Institute makes the argument about how we could save $20 Billion dollars by shutting down the two legs of the so called triad we bought into under the Eisenhower administration to be sure to include all the big military folks in the prestige weapon of mass destruction. (Army, Navy, Airforce) They think its time to redesign our nuclear capability and put it entirely in the hands of the “Global Force for Good” as the Navy using our tax money has advertised itself. See below.

Featuring Benjamin Friedman, Research Fellow in Defense and Homeland Security Policy, Cato Institute; and Christopher Preble Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute; moderated by Laura Odato, Cato Institute.

The United States maintains nearly 1,600 deployed nuclear weapons and a triad of systems — bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) — to deliver them. Current plans call for modernizing all three legs of the nuclear triad, which could cost taxpayers over $100 billion. A just-released Cato paper explains why a triad is no longer necessary. U.S. nuclear weapons policies have long rested on Cold War–era myths, and the rationales have aged badly in the two decades since the Soviet Union’s demise. Two of the paper’s authors, Benjamin Friedman and Christopher Preble, will discuss the origins of the nuclear triad and explain why a far smaller arsenal deployed entirely on submarines would be sufficient to deter attacks on the United States and its allies and would save roughly $20 billion annually.


N-8 Nuclear Missile silo Vigil Saturday October 12 Noon11 Oct

Vigil at Nuclear Silo N8

October 12, 2013
12:00 Noon

Ten years ago Dominican Sisters Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert and Jackie Hudson were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 2 ½ years to 3 ½ years for entering this missile silo and praying for the abolition of nuclear weapons. We will vigil at the gate of this silo to commemorate their action and to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons. We still have 49 missiles that are on ready alert in northern Colorado. Under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we are obliged to get rid of our nuclear weapons. But the present administration is planning to develop new and more destructive ones. The weapons manufacturers will be richer, but we will not be safer. These weapons threaten our environment.

N8 is almost 2 hours northeast of Denver. Carpool from Denver, Boulder or Colorado Springs. For carpool locations or directions to missile silos: Judith in Boulder – 303-444-6981; Bill in Colorado Springs – 719-389-0644; Mary in Denver – 303-807-2109

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