Sunday, August 12, 2012

Aging Disobedience

Nuclear Weapons

An article  by in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists brought home the point on how threatening to humanity nuclear weapons truly are. When three protesters of the group Plowshares entered what was supposed to be a well-guarded nuclear-enrichment plant, it raised concerns of how secure such places really are. It also raised the possibility that nuclear disarmament might again become a front-and-centre issue.

What was noteworthy about this act of civil disobedience was that the protesters were all older persons:  Sister Megan Rice, an 82-year-old nun, and her two companions, Michael R. Walli, and Greg Boertje-Obed—aged 63 and 57. In the early hours of July 28, the three protesters cut through fences at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The article notes:
The group spray-painted protest messages, hung banners, and splashed blood on the national facility, which manufactures US nuclear weapons and stockpiles highly enriched uranium. This act of civil disobedience is the latest in a series of such protests since 1980 when the group was founded to raise public awareness of the continuing dangers of nuclear weapons.
Small protests at nuclear and military facilities rarely get much media attention. But this one is raising more concerns than others have in the past, because at Oak Ridge the protesters were able to break through security at one of the most significant and oldest bomb-making plants in the country. It was at this plant where highly enriched uranium was manufactured for use in the Hiroshima bomb dropped on August 6, 1945, at the end of World War II. The "Oak Ridge Three," as the activists will come to be known, marked the Hiroshima anniversary with vandalism -- and an extraordinary breach of security at the Y-12 plant. In their statement, the trio also protested the planned construction of a new $6.5 billion uranium-processing facility next to Y-12.
Age does not necessarily confer wisdom, but in this case the actions of the three does speak about the very real threats that nuclear weapons pose. Nuclear weapons have no purpose other than to destroy; some will say they act as a deterrence— the so-called doctrine of MAD— a necessity when there are so many members of the "nuclear club." That's like saying if everybody has guns, you need to get a gun to feel safe. That argument has merit only in a society that is violent. Such is not an ideal state; the ideal is to work toward peace and to create a peaceful civilization.

Thus, the best possibility would be to work assiduously and thoughtfully on ridding the planet of nuclear weapons; this would ensure that unstable regimes would not have the option of having such weapons at their disposal. Such an initiative has to be led by both the United States and Russia, if it's to have any chance of working. In case there's any doubt as to why this ought to be done, just ask Israel about its fears of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons.

You can read the rest of the article at [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists].


  1. MAD succeeded in preventing war between the USA and the USSR since both countries wanted to survive. Iran would like to survive, to be sure, but its leaders know that destroying Israel comes first. Iran is totally selfless.
    Former President Ali Akhbar Rafsanjani, in the annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem) sermon given on December 14, 2001, said that if one day the world of Islam comes to possess nuclear weapons, Israel could be destroyed. Rafsanjani said that the use of a nuclear bomb against Israel would leave nothing standing, but that retaliation, no matter how severe, would merely do damage to the world of Islam (reported in MEMRI Special Dispatch Series No. 325).

    1. Your point is well taken in that MAD worked well thus far, since both the U.S. and Russia are rational actors. Even so, should we not try to move beyond MAD and try to rid the world of nuclear weapons? That would take the cooperation and encouragement of only two nations—the U.S. and Russia—the original two members of the nuclear club.


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