Nuclear Weapons

Beyond Nuclear advocates for the elimination of all nuclear weapons and argues that removing them can only make us safer, not more vulnerable. The expansion of commercial nuclear power across the globe only increases the chance that more nuclear weapons will be built and is counterproductive to disarmament. We also cover nuclear weapons issues on our international site, Beyond Nuclear International.



July 16th -- a date that will live in infamy

Under "Current Activities" on the CCNS (Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety) homepage, a July 14 commemorative event re: the July 16, 1979 Church Rock uranium tailings spill commemoration is discussed, as is a July 21 commemoration of the July 16, 1945 Trinity blast.

The former happened near Gallup, New Mexico in Navajo/Diné country. The latter took place near Socorro, New Mexico.


Beyond the Bomb


May 18, 1979 - Karen Silkwood verdict

As reported by PEACEbuttons.INFO:

Today in Peace and Justice History

A Publication of PEACEbuttons.INFO

May 18, 1979

A jury in a federal court in Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee established a company's responsibility for damage to the health of a worker in the nuclear [weapons] industry.

Karen Silkwood worked for the Kerr-McGee Nuclear Corporation, at their Cimmarron, [Oklahoma] plant, where plutonium was manufactured.

Silkwood had become the first female member of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers bargaining committee, focusing on worker safety issues, but had suffered radiation exposure in a series of unexplained incidents.

The jury in judge Frank G. Theis's court awarded her estate $505,000 in actual damages, and $10 million punitive damages.

She had died in a [very suspicious] car accident on her way to a meeting with a New York Times reporter five years earlier.

Karen Silkwood remembered.

The Supreme Court upheld the decision and the award.

View this entry on PEACEbuttons.INFO website.


Takoma Park, MD recognized by ICAN as 1st U.S. city to comply with U.N. Treaty Ban on nuclear weapons 

A campaign initiated by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and NuclearBan.US to build local and state support for the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the Treaty Ban, got its kick-off at the United Nations in New York with a national strategy session and recognition ceremony to the City of Takoma Park, MD. The Nobel Prize-winning ICAN recognized Takoma Park with a Certificate of Compliance with the UN Treaty Ban. 

On March 14, 2018, Takoma Park became the first city in the U.S. to declare its compliance with the UN accord. The Treaty Ban prohibits the development, testing, production, deployment, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, and requires environmental remediation and assistance to victims of the nuclear age. It was adopted by 122 countries at the UN on 7 July 2017. Once it is ratified by 50 nations, it becomes international law. Austria has recently became the ninth signatory state to ratify the Ban Treaty. 

The ICAN Certificate of Compliance to Paul Gunter, a member of the City of Takoma Park’s Nuclear-Free Committee, received the award and will convey the recognition to Takoma Park mayor, Kate Stewart, and the City Council on May 23. Gunter is also the Director of the Reactor Oversight Project at Beyond Nuclear, a Takoma Park-based non-profit and anti-nuclear advocacy organization.

“In 1983, the City of Takoma Park, Maryland, was one of the first US cities to become a nuclear free zone by a city ordinance,” said Gunter. “This honor from ICAN recognizes another important ‘first’ by our city, which has remained consistently proactive and a leader on this issue,” Gunter said. The Nuclear-Free Committee was created by the ordinance to vet all city contracts to assure compliance on the prohibition against doing business with nuclear weapons manufacturers.

Takoma Park’s recognition award came during meetings that launched a national campaign initiated by NuclearBan.US. in support of the Ban Treaty. Campaigners in the US want cities and states – as well as businesses, universities, faith communities, and individuals – to comply with the treaty, even if the US government, along with the eight other nuclear weapons states, refuse to do so.

The Takoma Park Nuclear-Free Committee is already working on the next stage of this issue by calling on the city to divest from the banks that are themselves financing the nuclear weapons industry. This is part of an international effort led by the Don’t Bank on the Bomb campaign to get financial institutions all over the world to divest from the nuclear weapons industry.


MLK & Coretta Scott King's Opposition to the Bomb

MLK historical sign, River Raisin park, downtown Monroe, MIToday, marking the 50th year since the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) was assassinated in Memphis, TN, is a good time to reflect on his statements opposing nuclear weapons, and nuclear war.

On Jan. 16, 2016, the Boston Review ran an excerpt from Vincent Intondi's African Americans Against the Bomb. It included numerous quotations by MLK, dating back to as early as Dec., 1957, speaking out passionately, forcefully, and compellingly, for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and the prevention of nuclear war. 

(In Jan. 2016, the Stanford University Press blog also excerpted passages from Intondi's book, in a post entitled "Why Dr. King Opposed the Atomic Bomb.")

David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, published an essay on Jan. 15, 2018 entitled "Martin Luther King and the Bomb." 

Kreiger's article includes the following section:

King’s Nobel [Peace Prize] Lecture, delivered in December 1964, is worth reviewing.  He compared mankind’s technological advancement with our spiritual progress and found us failing to keep pace spiritually.  He said, “There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance.  The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually.  We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple act of living together as brothers.”

The yawning gap between mankind’s technological advancement and spiritual poverty led King to draw this conclusion: “If we are to survive today, our moral and spiritual ‘lag’ must be eliminated.  Enlarged material powers spell enlarged peril if there is not proportionate growth of the soul.  When the ‘without’ of man’s nature subjugates the ‘within,’ dark storm clouds begin to form in the world.”  He found that mankind’s spiritual “lag” expressed itself in three interrelated problems: racial injustice, poverty and war.

When King elaborated on war, he spoke of “the ever-present threat of annihilation,” clearly referring to the dangers of nuclear weapons.  Recognizing the dangers of denial, or “rejection” of the truth about the nuclear predicament, he went on, “A world war – God forbid! – will leave only smoldering ashes as a mute testimony of a human race whose folly led inexorably to ultimate death.  So if modern man continues to flirt unhesitatingly with war, he will transform his earthly habitat into an inferno such as even the mind of Dante could not imagine.”

MLK used very similar language in a quotation inscribed on a historical sign posted in a park alongside the River Raisin just off of downtown Monroe, Michigan. (See photo, above.) The sign reads:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"If you are cut down in a movement that is designed to save the soul of a nation, then no other death could be more redemptive. We must somehow believe that unearned suffering is redemptive. We must work passionately and indefatibably to bridge the gulf between our scientific progress and our moral progress. One of the great problems of mankind is that we suffer from a poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technologic abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually."


What's even more remarkable about this historical sign, is that it is located in the company town of Detroit Edison's Fermi Nuclear Power Plant. The Fermi Unit 1 reactor, which partially melted down on Oct. 5, 1966, was originally proposed to supply weapons-grade Plutonium-239 to the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, and even highly radioactive material like Cesium-137 for "dirty bomb" (radiological dispersal device) usage to the U.S. military, as proposed by a coalition of companies including Detroit Edison.

The Fermi 1 meltdown inspired a book by John G. Fuller, and a song by Gil Scott Heron, both entitled "We Almost Lost Detroit."

MLK continued to speak out against nuclear weapons, and the risk of nuclear war, right up to his final days. On April 4, 2018, WPFW-Pacific Radio in Washington, D.C. played audio recordings of sermons by MLK. One, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," delivered at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on March 31, 1968 -- just four days before his assassination in Memphis, TN -- mentioned nuclear weapons and nuclear war multiple times. (See the text of MLK's March 31, 1968 sermon, here.)

For her part, MLK's wife, Coretta Scott King, a co-leader with her husband of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., was also actively opposed to nuclear weapons. A photo of Coretta Scott King (as part of a montage, see left), showing her marching with Women's Strike for Peace, in the late 1950s or early 1960s, in opposition to nuclear weapons testing and the threat of nuclear war, is displayed on an outside wall, in the fountain-side courtyard, of the King Memorial in Atlanta, very near the King's final resting place. Coretta Scott King's hand-made placard reads:

"Let's Make Our Earth a Nuclear-Free Zone."

(See an earlier Beyond Nuclear website post from Feb. 9, 2017, with links to Democracy Now! and New York Times coverage about Coretta Scott King.) 

The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Committee in Washington, D.C. has held annual commemorations of the August, 1945 atomic bombings of Japan at the MLK monument on the National Mall in the nation's capital in recent years (see an image from the 2014 commemoration, here). Beyond Nuclear has been deeply honored and privileged to have been invited to speak at these events.