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ICAN Nobel Peace Prize press conference; outreach and fundraising needed!

October 10, 2017

Dear friends,

Yesterday's UN press conference on the Nobel Peace Prize is available on UN TV at the link. As usual the ICAN team did an excellent job. You may find their comments useful and inspiring. It was also interesting to hear the Austrian Ambassador openly mention, in response to a question, the "pressure" on states, even "threats," to keep them from signing the new Treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

We are proud of our work on this Treaty (e.g. here), the overall success of which was recognized in last week's Nobel Peace Prize. You have been a part of that.

The Treaty will now grow and ripen, a process which we can help a little. But the greater part of our work in nuclear disarmament, and in catalyzing better responses to our converging existential crises, will be based right here, and in Washington, DC where we have some modest influence with key decisionmakers.

Friends, it is particularly important that we hold the line on preventing the expansion of plutonium warhead core ("pit") production -- and more broadly, on limiting nuclear warhead modernization. History assigns these missions to New Mexico most of all, where pit production and a good part of warhead modernization is taking place. We have the legal standing, the moral authority, the knowledge, and the latent on-the-ground organization. If we don't stop it, nobody will. In fact, on pit production we are pretty much on our own.

After all the sacrifices that were made by so many people to shut down the Rocky Flats Plant, it would be a crying shame if the whole cycle of industrial plutonium pit manufacturing, with all it entails for arms racing, domestic priorities, nuclear waste, and worker health, started up again in earnest, in our own back yard.

We see these two poles of our work -- detailed policy intervention and the big-picture ban treaty -- as complementary. Both are part of a redefinition of security that prioritizes human beings and the environment. This re-prioritization is necessary for our survival and it must be accomplished quickly. "Catastrophe learning" will be a major part of how that happens in our benighted country, but for even this to happen we must be prepared and in motion ourselves, in the right direction.

Meanwhile we must curb the vast misallocation of resources underway in the $1+ trillion nuclear weapons modernization program, which in turn is just a few percent of our giant military budget. The military currently sucks, on average, about $1,800 from every New Mexican household annually. (You probably thought the state benefited from military spending. Yes and no. Most places in New Mexico pay net taxes -- tribute -- to the "military-industrial-congressional" complex, using Eisenhower's draft name for it.) It is usually easier to halt bad programs when they are small, and that is what we must do with pit production and its related mega-construction. But will enough people figure out what's in store for them if they don't act?

In this connection we must mention the terrible prospect of opening a huge "temporary" storage site for the very worst kinds of nuclear waste. Because ours is a state that has gladly accepted dirty nuclear weapons work, and plutonium waste, New Mexico now has a nuclear waste bulls-eye on it. If such a site were a good idea, perhaps New Mexico would be a good place for it. It is, however, not a good idea, as we have lightly explained. More can and must be done to keep this from happening. Such a site would almost certainly be permanent and would be an environmental, social, and economic disaster.

To succeed in this we need your help with outreach, specifically at this time for fundraising.

Twenty-eight years ago, when the Study Group began, it was relatively easy to reach like-minded people, who would come to meetings. Newspapers covered the issues far better than they do today. Bringing people together is now much harder, for many reasons. Without your help, we usually can't afford it.

Back then, we spent very little time on fundraising. It sort of took care of itself. The situation is very different today.

Some outreach, including fundraising, we can do ourselves. But there is much we cannot do without outreach and fundraising eating up all our time and slender resources, leaving nothing with which to accomplish our main program goals, i.e. to actually stop nuclear modernization, prevent pit production, help bring the nuclear ban into force, and help our sister organizations accomplish common climate and environmental goals.

Our successful efforts to prevent the expansion of plutonium pit production have substantially depended upon local contributors. To win, we use objective facts and law. Given the nuclear loyalties of the New Mexico delegation, we shifted the focus of some of our work to Washington, DC, where we continue to educate and successfully influence decisionmakers.

We have beaten several Department of Energy (DOE) and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) pit production proposals. Most recently, in the 2010-2012 period, we litigated to prevent the construction of a very large factory, which was then imminent. It was NNSA's highest priority, and endorsed as such by a bipartisan strategic commission (see electronic pp. 70-72 in America's Strategic Posture, William Perry et. al.). Once the project was halted in its tracks by DOE's fear of creating the very environmental impacts that would make our case before the judge, Washington decisionmakers across government became more "educable."

Many of you generously supported these successful efforts. Again, these are your victories, part of your story and legacy.

We don't have the resources to blanket our communities with mailings and other forms of outreach. We can't go to every soiree and meeting -- in fact, we can go to nearly none. You have friends and connections we don't. We are very grateful for your own support but we need your help to reach out in ways we cannot.

You can talk to your friends. You can forward this email to them. You can print it out and mail it. You can ask one of us to come speak to a gathering or meal with a few interested friends who want to know more. You can invite us to speak before a group of which you are a part. There are, in short, lots of ways to reach out.

You can also refer your friends to one of our cooperating solar companies, as we explained in our letter of July 20.

We try to be as frugal as possible but we are a professional team, not a nickel-and-dime operation. We meet with powerful people, who listen to us. We work full-time and then some. In our experience, many New Mexicans -- so used to being powerless -- cannot understand our influence, or how it arises. Others have a hard time grasping that our policy analysis is better than DOE and the labs.

We are ready to help you and organizations of which you are a part whatever way we can. We want to share what we have learned and help catalyze truly effective political and social change.

Sincerely,

Greg and Trish, for the Study Group


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