March 2012 E-News

March marks the one-year anniversaries of many world-changing events, including some of the revolutions of the “Arab Spring” and the Japan tsunami, earthquake, and disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station. The effects of these events are still being felt and new events occur every day. This edition of the E-News includes information on the local opposition to the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island, South Korea; US-based actions against missile test launches; new resources on the financing of the nuclear weapons industry; and more.

At the UN, next week a meeting on small arms and light weapons will take place, at which member states will prepare for a bigger conference in August 2012 that will review the UN Programme of Action on small arms (pdf). Just like the arms trade treaty process has given civil society an opportunity to push for regulations of the arms industry that will protect human rights and uphold international humanitarian law, so too does the small arms process. At next week’s meeting, Reaching Critical Will is planning to promote the integration of a gender perspective into the implementation of the UN Programme of Action and calling for stronger measures to prevent the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

RCW is also hard at work finalizing a study on the modernization of nuclear weapons in all possessor countries. This report, which looks at the plans for upgrading and extending the lives on nuclear weapons and delivery systems, will be released by the end of March.

In peace,
Ray Acheson, RCW Project Director

New draft programme of work introduced at the CD

On 13 March, the current CD President, Ambassador Badr of Egypt, tabled a new draft programme of work in the Conference on Disarmament (CD).The proposal calls for four working groups to be set up on the “core issues” of the CD: nuclear disarmament, fissile materials cut-off treaty (FMCT), prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS), and negative security assurances (NSAs). However, CD/1933 does not call for “negotiations” of an FMCT, but rather will “deal with elements of a multilateral treaty”. The working groups on PAROS and NSAs do not call for negotiations either, but will “discuss” the issues “substantively, without limitations”. However, the mandate for the NSA working group also says that it will not exclude recommendations “related to an internationally legally binding instrument”. The PAROS mandate contains no such reference. The working group on nuclear disarmament does not even call for substantive discussions. The draft programme of work simply states that it should “deal with nuclear disarmament”.

On 15 March, however, the delegation of Pakistan indicated that it would not accept the programme of work as written. Ambassador Akram stated that Pakistan’s security situation has worsened since last year and therefore he is not in a position to jeopardize his country’s national security. He argued that while the wording in the proposed programme of work is deliberately vague to accommodate different positions, “there is no room for ambiguity” for Pakistan since the stakes “are extremely high” and there is an “existential threat” facing his country. 

RCW’s views on the new draft programme of work: If one’s objective is to preserve the CD as an institution, adopting CD/1933 on Thursday may well be the last chance to do so. Previous concerns about the stalemate has in the last few years grown into outspoken criticism, questioning of the CD’s relevance, and even concrete suggestions for shutting it down. The CD has become irrelevant and if a programme of work isn’t adopted, substantive work on these issues will start somewhere else. Rejecting this programme of work would be clear evidence that the CD will not be able to perform its task in any reasonably foreseeable future and probably put a final nail in its coffin. However, it is far from a perfect programme of work. It has considerable flaws due to its vagueness and lack of negotiations on any issue. Many delegations and members of civil society wanted something much more substantial in particular on nuclear disarmament. There is also the risk that if the CD adopts and implements this programme of work, it will mean that the CD continues to toil without achieving substantive results. It will be up to member states to not only adopt and implement this programme of work, but to make the work they undertake meaningful. The best reason to adopt this programme of work is not to preserve the CD but to achieve progress on nuclear disarmament and human security. Otherwise, it’s time for something else.

For details of the ongoing saga at the CD, please see RCW’s past CD Reports and other CD materials.

WILPF International Women’s Day Statement to the CD

On 8 March, in honour of International Women's Day, Beatrice Fihn, project manager of Reaching Critical Will of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) delivered an address to the Conference on Disarmament. The full statement is available on our website. The statement highlights the importance of redirecting military spending to social and environmental needs and integrating disarmament into perspectives on human rights and international humanitarian law.

Don’t Bank on the Bomb: New report from ICAN

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) just launched a groundbreaking report on the global financing of the nuclear weapons industry.  The comprehensive study, entitled Don’t Bank on the Bomb, identifies more than 300 banks, pension funds, insurance companies, and asset managers in 30 countries with substantial investments in nuclear arms producers.  The 180-page report also provides details of financial transactions with 20 companies that are heavily involved in the manufacture, maintenance and modernization of US, British, French, and Indian nuclear forces.  

The interactive website that accompanies the report has actions you can take. Please check it out and divest for disarmament today!

Toolkit against war with Iran

In late February, RCW released an information and action toolkit on the nuclear situation in Iran. The kit contains a short briefing paper on the current situation with Iran’s nuclear programme; talking points that can be used in conversations with friends, family, colleagues, and with government representatives; a sample letter to the editor; a sample letter to parliamentarians; and resources for further information.

UN Programme of Action on small arms

The preparatory committee for the Second Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons In All Its Aspects will meet at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from 19–23 March 2012.

The UNPoA PrepCom has the potential to set the agenda for the Review Conference, which will take place in August/September 2012. The Review Conference will in turn set the agenda for the next 5 years of the UN small arms process. This presents the opportunity to make real progress against the global problem of small arms proliferation and misuse. The PrepCom will cover issues such as preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects at the national, regional, and global levels; implementation and international cooperation and assistance; and the International Tracing Instrument.

Reaching Critical Will, along with other NGOs, will be monitoring and providing reporting and analysis on this PrepCom. Articles will be posted on our joint civil society blog and distributed daily to conference participants. Details will be available soon on the RCW website.

In addition, RCW will be supporting the IANSA Women’s Network in promoting the integration of gender perspectives into the implementation of the UNPoA. The IANSA Women's Network has developed a policy brief on “Mainstreaming gender in the UN PoA,” which is based on the “Guidelines for gender mainstreaming for effective implementation of the PoA” (A/CONF.192/2006/RC/CRP.3) produced by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs/Regional Disarmament Branch (UNODA/RDB) and IANSA.

The UNPoA contains only one reference to gender, in paragraph 6 of the Preamble, where states express grave concern about the devastating consequences of the illicit trade in small arms for children “as well as the negative impact on women and the elderly.” Men, who in numerical terms are the largest number of victims and perpetrators of armed violence, are not mentioned at all.

At the UNPoA PrepCom, the IANSA Women's Network will continue to urge member states to take a systematic gender-inclusive approach in the implementation of the UNPoA. We know that addressing the gender, poverty and development dynamic behind illicit trade and trafficking including sexual exploitation and human trafficking in national, regional and international collaboration with development partners will enhance the effectiveness of UNPoA implementation.

Update on the arms trade treaty

From 13 to 17 February, the final preparatory committee for the arms trade treaty (ATT) took decisions on the rules of procedure, agenda, and more for the ATT negotiation conference, which will take place 2–27 July 2012. In short, the PrepCom decided that the negotiating conference will consider the treaty text “by consensus” but take procedural decisions by 2/3 majority vote if necessary. Accredited civil society representatives will be allowed access to plenary and main committee meetings; all other organs will be closed to civil society. The PrepCom also decided that the Chair’s draft text of July 2011 will be forwarded to the negotiating conference, but that all interested states can also submit 1500 words of their priority issues to the Secretariat for compilation before July. This compendium of states’ views will also be forwarded to the negotiating conference to help guide its work.

During the PrepCom, a statement in support of a robust and comprehensive ATT was issued on behalf of Valerie Amos, United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator; Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme; António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Mr. Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund; and Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The statement articulates the key elements that the heads of the UN humanitarian, development, and human rights organizations “believe must be included in such a treaty if it is to effectively address the human cost—that is to say, the appalling humanitarian and development consequences—of the poorly regulated global trade in conventional weapons.” The full statement is available on the RCW website.

For more details about the procedures and decisions of the preparatory committee meetings, please see RCW’s Arms Trade Treaty Monitor and the joint ATT blog.

Reaching Critical Will has statements online as well as the provisional agenda and rules of procedure for the July negotiating conference and the Chair’s draft report of the PrepCom.

NPT PrepCom: NGO accreditation closes 16 March

Information about NGO accreditation and registration to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee in 2012 is available in the aide memoire prepared by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs. NGO requests for accreditation are due by 16 March 2012. NGOs that are provisionally accredited to the meeting must pre-register online by 20 April 2012. Requests for accreditation and registration must be done through CSO-Net. See the aide memoire for details.

See the RCW website for more information on NGO participation in the PrepCom. A calendar of side events is available and slots are filling up fast.

WILPF in the World: US Section protests Vandenberg missile test

On 24 February, the US military conducted a test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at Vandenberg Space Command in Southern California. These long-range high-speed hydrogen bomb delivery systems are tested several times a year. The US Section of WILPF organized a protest against the test launch, at which 15 people were arrested. There is an NBC news clip online in which one of the protestors, C.J. Minster of WILPF, is interviewed about the campaign against nuclear delivery systems.

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Action Alerts: Military spending, Jeju Island

Second Global Day of Action on Military Spending

17 April 2012 will mark the second Global Day of Action on Military Spending. The day will coincide with the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) new annual figures on world military expenditure. On this day, people on all continents will join together in joint actions to focus public, political, and media attention on the costs of military spending and the need for new priorities. Check out demilitarize.org for details on how to get involved. Also see WILPF’s International Women’s Day Statement to the Conference on Disarmament (8 March 2012), which is on this theme.

Save Jeju Island

The struggle continues against the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island, Republic of Korea that would service US Navy Aegis destroyers that hold Raytheon’s missile “defence” systems. South Korean peace activists argue that the base will build-up offensive military systems in North East Asia, undermining security and prompting military responses from China and North Korea. Villagers also oppose the base because of the loss of farm land, where they have grown rice, garlic, tangerines, and more on the fertile land. The base will destroy the local environment, including coral reefs named by UNESCO as key environmental treasures. The Navy intends to pour concrete over the rocks and marine life to make wharfs for the Aegis destroyers.

International attention to the plight of the villagers is increasing every day. The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space held its annual meeting on Jeju Island in February. Foreign activists are teaming up with local ones to protest the base in the United States and in Korea. For some updates, please see Bruce Gagnon’s blog, for example, People keep coming to Gangjeong.Also see a recent article by Robert Redford, The Battle for Jeju Island: How the Arms Race is Threatening a Korean Paradise.

Action: The Global Network notes that South Korean corporation Samsung is the lead contractor building the Navy base on Jeju, and calls on activists to boycott Samsung.

In addition, please view this appeal from the international team in Gangjeong Village:

Dear friends and supporters of the struggle against the Jeju naval base project

On March 7, the first blasting the coastal rock, known as “Gureombi” has begun in while the government and the navy exercised its power in Gangjeong village and villagers and peace activists were hauled by the police. There was expected to carry the explosives by land but the navy handled sea freight, not to take the road that were blockaded by the villagers and activists. People who were determined to defend the Gureombi were immensely shocked. The navy announced that 43 tons of explosives will be used for blasting the Gureombi and it will takes from 3 to 5 months according to the weather. There have been daily nonviolent direct actions and other forms of struggles for saving Gureombi every day since the first blasting progressed. More than 60 people were already arrested and the numbers of arrests continue to occur as well. There has been an increase in cases of police misconduct and human rights frequently violated. Professor Yoon-mo Yang who was arrested for obstructing police in carrying out their duties is now on his 35th day of hunger strike as of March 13 while inside the prison. The Jeju government demanded on temporal reservation on construction but the Ministry of the National Defense didn’t have an attitude accepting this demand at all.

We ask you to support to our efforts to save the Gureombi and resist the naval base on Jeju Island. Take some time to write letters of complaint to the government and the navy planners and please distribute this appeal among your friends or in your local group.

1. Call the Korean Embassy or organize demonstrations in front of the Korean Embassy in your country and let them know that Jeju does not want a naval base!

2. Write and mail to the President Lee Myung-Bak, Kim Kwan-Jin, South Korean Defense Minister and Woo Keun-Min, Island governor. Please refer to the mail address at:


3.Sign the petitions on Avaaz (http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_jeju/?vl), Care2 (http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/Save-Jeju-Island/) or other online sites urging South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak to stop construction of the military base! After signing please share the petition with your social network.

4. Contact the media in your country about this resistance to raise their awareness about the struggle.

5. Stay updated on the resistance by joining the "Save Jeju Island” and the “No Naval Base on Jeju!” Facebook pages. Follow the most recent developments on Twitter at #savejejuisland and #gangjung - then re-post.

6. Consider making a donation to support the international campaign to Save Jeju Island. 100% of your financial contribution will go directly to villagers on the ground waging peace against this dangerous militarization project.

Upcoming Events

Left Forum workshop: “Military industrial complexes, nuclear complexes, and the emerging movements for democracy and economic justice”
18 March 2012 | 3:00–4:40 PM | New York City, USA

UN Programme of Action: Preparatory Committee
19–23 March 2012 | New York City, USA

Nuclear Security Summit and Counter-summit
26–27 March 2012 | Seoul, Republic of Korea

UN Disarmament Commission
2–20 April | New York City, USA

Global Day of Action on Military Spending
17 April 2012 | Global

NPT Preparatory Committee
30 April–11 May

Featured News

Construction of the new plutonium pit facility at Los Alamos as been “indefinitely deferred”
As part of its fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) proposed to delay, “for at least five years,” all spending on a proposed $4 to $6 billion plutonium facility to be located in Los Alamos, New Mexico. This facility, called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF), has been the flagship US nuclear warhead infrastructure project and the first priority of the NNSA’s programme of weapons complex modernization for the past decade.  The project has been under development since 2001 and will have absorbed a total of $994 million by the end of the present fiscal year. These funds have been used primarily for design. Background on the project can be found at the Los Alamos Study Group’s website.

After the deferment was announced, the Santa Fe New Mexican ran an article detailing the work of the Los Alamos Study Group to prevent construction of CMRR-NF.

Obama administration looking at options for reducing the US nuclear arsenal
According to reports, the Obama administration is weighing options for new cuts to the US nuclear force, including a reduction of up to 80 percent in the number of deployed weapons. No final decision has been made, but the administration is considering at least three options for lower total numbers of deployed strategic nuclear weapons cutting to around 1,000 to 1,100, 700 to 800, or 300 to 400, according to a former government official and a congressional staffer. See the Associated Press article for details.

Counter-summit activities planned for Seoul Nuclear Security Summit
People’s Action against the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit has issued a statement and is planning events to call for nuclear disarmament and a nuclear free world, in counter to the Summit’s official mandate of merely nuclear security. The statement says, “A safe world requires the immediate elimination of nuclear weapons. To speak about a ‘nuclear free world’ on the one hand while taking about ‘nuclear security’ at a large-scale Summit on the other is a contradiction in terms. The Nuclear Security Summit discusses nuclear terrorism as the greatest existing threat, but this is to mistake a symptom for the main cause. The real threat humankind now faces is the existence of countless nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants and the possibility that nuclear weapons will be used in the name of ‘nuclear deterrence.’” Also see the South Korean Women’s Statement on the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, issued in January 2012, which calls for a nuclear free and peaceful world.

Germany pushes for changes in NATO’s nuclear posture
According to a recent article from the Arms Control Association, Germany is pushing for changes in NATO’s declaratory policy and for a stronger role of NATO in arms control and disarmament. “Yet at the same time,” ACA reports, “Berlin is trying to dodge a debate about the deployment of new types of U.S. nuclear eapons in Europe.” For details, see the article by Oliver Meier in Arms Control Now.

International activists denied entry to/deported from the Republic of Korea
Three Veterans For Peace members who arrived in Jeju Island, South Korea on 14 March were denied entry into the country. Tarak Kauff, Elliott Adams, and Mike Hastie were met by South Korean authorities when they landed on Jeju Island via Shanghai, China.  The South Korean authorities had a photo of each of them in their hands and told them they would not be allowed to enter Jeju Island. Futhermore, on 13 March, Angie Zelter (UK) and Benji Monnet (France) were deported from South Korea after being arrested for protesting against the Navy base. 

Recommended Reading

Darwin BondGraham, “Starving the Real Beast,” Counterpunch.org, 14 February 2012

Physicians for Social Responsibility, “Military action cannot prevent nuclear proliferation,” 15 February 2012

Fukushima: One Year of a Continuing Disaster, March 2012

Senator Scott Ludlam, Let the Facts Speak, March 2012

Roger Snodgrass, “Activist’s experience, passion culminate in LANL project delay,” Santa Fe New Mexican, 11 March 2012

M.V. Ramana, “In denial of Fukushima,” From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 11, 17 March 2012

Don’t Bank on the Bomb: A Global Report on the Financing of Nuclear Weapons Producers, ICAN, March 2012

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The preparatory committee for the Second Review Conference of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons In All Its Aspects will meet at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City from 19–23 March 2012.


The UNPoA PrepCom has the potential to set the agenda for the Review Conference, which will take place in August/September 2012. The Review Conference will in turn set the agenda for the next 5 years of the UN small arms process. This presents the opportunity to make real progress against the global problem of small arms proliferation and misuse. The PrepCom will cover issues such as preventing, combating and eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects at the national, regional, and global levels; implementation and international cooperation and assistance; and the International Tracing Instrument.


Reaching Critical Will, along with other NGOs, will be monitoring and providing reporting and analysis on this PrepCom. Articles will be posted on our joint civil society blog and distributed daily to conference participants. Details will be available soon on the RCW website.