By Jamshed Baruah
BERLIN (IDN) - A series of events are slated for the first half of 2012 in Asia, Europe and the United States to raise awareness for a world free of atomic power plants and nuclear weapons of mass destruction, according to data compiled by Abolition 2000 – the Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons.
The first in the series is a Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World in Yokohama, Japan on January 14-15. The conference is co-sponsored by Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, Friends of the Earth (FoE) Japan, Green Action, Greenpeace Japan, Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies and Peace Boat.
The organisers expect it to "create a venue for people from all around the world to gather in Japan and respond to the reality of Fukushima" and "bring together the voices of people who suffer from radiation exposure all around the world, whether by nuclear power or nuclear weapons to learn from each other's experiences" in workshops on:
-- Fukushima: Raising common global awareness about what is happening in Fukushima
-- Renewable Energy: Developing alternative sources of renewable energy is realistic and possible
-- Safe Withdrawal from Nuclear Power: Draw realistic scenarios for complete withdrawal from nuclear power
-- Global Hibakusha: Realizing the harmful effects of radiation and working towards solutions for people suffering from them.
Some five weeks later, the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space will hold its annual meeting Feburary 24-26 on Jeju Island, South Korea, preceded by a mini conference and protest in Hawaii from February 18 to 22.
The importance of the venue is underlined by the fact that Gangjeong village on Jeju Island is in the midst of a tragic fight with the Navy to stop the construction of a base that will port Aegis destroyers, outfitted with "missile defense" (MD) systems, and aircraft carriers. These Aegis MD systems are being tested at the Pentagon's Barking Sands Pacific Missile Defense testing facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, says Network Coordinator Bruce Gagnon.
March 1, 2012 is Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day ('Bikini' Day) which marks the anniversary of the US 'Bravo' nuclear bomb detonation at Bikini Atoll in 1954. The explosion gouged out a crater more than 200 feet deep and a mile across, melting huge quantities of coral which were sucked up into the atmosphere together with vast volumes of seawater. The resulting fallout caused widespread contamination in the Pacific.
Powdery particles of radioactive fallout landed 100 miles away on the island of Rongelap to a depth of one and a half inches in places, and radioactive mist appeared 300 miles away on Utirik. Radiation levels in the inhabited atolls of Rongerik, Ujelang and Likiep also rose dramatically.
The US navy did not send ships to evacuate the people of Rongelap and Utirik until three days after the explosion. The people in the Marshall Islands, and elsewhere in the Pacific, were used as human guinea pigs in an obscene racist experiment to 'progress' the insane pursuit of nuclear weapons supremacy.
That's why for organisers of the event – Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and Abolition 2000 Indigenous peoples working group – March 1 is a day to celebrate the strength and endurance of indigenous Pacific peoples who have maintained and taken back control of their lives, languages and lands to ensure the ways of living and being which were handed down from their ancestors are passed on to future generations.
In solidarity with the Japanese people, suffering from the Fukushima disaster Human Chain Against Chain Reactions is organizing chains of people to demonstrate at nuclear power plants and related facilities on March 11, 2012. The actions will call for an end to nuclear power and a transition to clean, safe renewable energy, says Alice Slater.
To facilitate dialogue and build political momentum in support of the 2012 Conference on Establishing a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction, Horizon 2012 - Sailing in the Same Boat Toward a Nuclear Weapon‐Free Zone in the Middle East is scheduled for March 23-27.
It is a joint effort of Peace Boat, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non‐proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
Horizon 2012 combines land-based conferences with meetings on board the Peace Boat as it sails through the Mediterranean. The first Global Strategy Meeting of Horizon 2012's Advisory Group was held on board Peace Boat in March 2011, and included civil society representatives from Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, India, the US, Japan and several EU countries, as well as UN representatives, parliamentarians, former military officials, international disarmament experts and Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki).
Other events will include a conference in Civitavecchia/Roma, Italy on March 23-24, an onboard meeting as the Peace Boat sails to Piraeus/Athens, Greece, from March 24-27, and a press conference and upon disembarkation in Greece on March 27.
At the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington hosted by President Barack Obama, world leaders agreed to hold a second Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul in March 2012. The goals of the summits are on the very limited scope governments give to the term 'nuclear security', that is, "to come to a common understanding of the threat posed by nuclear terrorism, to agree to effective measures to secure nuclear material, and to prevent nuclear smuggling and terrorism." This includes "…the security of nuclear materials, leaving other broad topics such as nonproliferation, disarmament, and peaceful nuclear energy to different forums."
Knowledgeable sources say that the second Summit in South Korea on March 26-27 is likely to draw public and media attention – and perhaps of some participating governments too – on the regional issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons program as well as on nuclear safety in light of the Fukushima catastrophe. In fact, NGOs could go further and use the media and political attention surrounding the Summit to advance nuclear weapons abolition and the phase-out of nuclear energy as the only realistic options for real security from nuclear risks.
The first NPT Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference will meet April 30-May 11, 2012 in Vienna, Austria. It will be the first conference of State Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) since they agreed at the 2010 NPT Review Conference to a number of significant non-proliferation and disarmament measures. The Prep Com will be an important occasion to shine a spotlight on the agreements and build political momentum for their implementation.
Reaching Critical Will, in partnership with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, is producing three monitoring reports on the implementation of the 2010 NPT action plan. The first report, on "peaceful uses of nuclear energy," is available as of June 2011. The second report, on "non-proliferation", is available as of October 2011. The third report, on "nuclear disarmament", will be released in early 2012. An overview is available with the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs.
Ahead of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit meeting in Chicago, May 20-21, peace and justice activists will gather at a counter summit on May 18-19 to voice a new vision of global security and peace. It will focus on retiring NATO and building a more peaceful, economically secure and environmentally sustainable world.
War Resisters International says: "From Yugoslavia to Afghanistan and Libya the US has used NATO to enhance and extend its military, economic and political aims that ensure US and European dominance of the resources, markets and labor of the Global South. It has spread the cost of these adventures to its NATO partners."
Meanwhile, the Network for a NATO-Free World: Global Peace and Justice has released a Call to Action: Retire NATO, Create Jobs & Fund Peace, demanding complete withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, withdrawal of all foreign deployed US troops, bases, nuclear weapons and "missile defenses," substantial reductions in the US and NATO military spending to fund communities and to meet human needs.
The Network also calls for restitution of the UN Charter and International Law as means of resolving international disputes, and demands 'Retire NATO!' [IDN-InDepthNews – December 24, 2011]
Image: A nuclear weapon test by the US military at Bikini Atoll, Micronesia, on July 25, 1946.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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