Speech given on July 24, 2003, at the press conference announcing the Speak Out at Stratcom Rally to be held in Omaha on August 1 -3.
Thank you to the brave organizers of the SOS rally. I strongly support your efforts. I thank you for continuing to remind us of what our government is up to. Are we the only ones who find it ironic that it is the United States who produces and maintains the largest supply of weapons of mass destruction? Are we the only ones who are appalled that our country is spending a billion dollars a week to fight a fabricated war in Iraq and cannot even pay for our children's education? Are we the only ones concerned about the daily killing of our soldiers in Iraq? How many more will die? What ever happened with Afghanistan? And now we want to add ‘mini-nukes’ to the largest arsenal of weapons in the world.
Dr. Helen Caldicott wrote in her book The New Nuclear Danger about the use of ‘mini-nukes’ and how this is an effort by our military, the military that is supported by our tax dollars, to introduce nuclear weapons to the battle field. She wrote: "In October 2000 Congress passed an authorization bill for research and possible development of a ‘user friendly’ mini-nuke. Designed to be less than 5 kilotons in size, it will exert a one-mile radius of blast destruction. (The Hiroshima bomb at 13 kilotons experienced a blast radius of one and a half miles.)
Stephen Younger, associate laboratory director for nuclear weapons at Los Alamos National Laboratory, wrote that these low-yield weapons offer the ‘advantage’ of ‘reduced collateral damage’ - but only by a half a mile. Younger enthused in a paper titled ‘Nuclear Weapons for the Twenty-first Century’ that mini-nukes would not require testing because they could use enriched uranium instead of plutonium and be triggered by a well-known ‘gun assembly’ mechanism - which was deployed in Little Boy, the Hiroshima bomb. Like the bunker buster, mini -nukes would most likely be regarded as weapons on the battlefield to be used to ‘defeat hardened and deeply buried targets,’ thus again crossing the fire wall between conventional and nuclear weapons." end quote
I find this incredibly frightening that we would think to ever use nuclear weapons on the battlefield. This weapon offers the ‘advantage’ of ‘reduced collateral damage’. "Reduced collateral damage." What does that mean. Let me read Dr. Caldicott’s description of what the Hiroshima bomb did: "In Hiroshima, which was devastated by a very small bomb - 13 kilotons compared to the current 1000 kilotons - a child actually disappeared, vaporized, leaving his shadow on the concrete pavement behind him. A mother was running, holding her baby, and both she and the baby were converted to a charcoal statue. The heat will be so intense that dry objects - furniture, clothes, and dry wood - will spontaneously ignite. Humans become walking, flaming torches." end quote
If we are willing to use these weapons on the battlefield, how long before we are persuaded into using the ‘real’ nuclear bombs? How long before our allies have mini-nukes? How long before our enemies have mini-nukes? How long before terrorists have mini-nukes? We are not safer by adding new and improved weapons. We will never become safer by using violence to fight violence. Somehow we must stop this insanity. That is why I support the efforts to Speak Out at Stratcom. No matter how numb the American public gets to the reports of another soldier killed, or the maiming of Iraqi civilians, this is truly a matter of life and death.
Let me end by reading a poem by Robert Lowell - one he wrote in 1967 called ‘Near the Ocean’>
"Wars flicker, earth licks its open sores,
Fresh breakage, fresh promotions,
Chance assassinations, no advance.
Only man thinning out his kind sounds through
the Sabbath noon,
The blind swipe of the pruner and his knife
busy about the tree of life …’