Women's Action For New Directions
Nuclear Weapons Testing: History, Progress, Challenges

Image: From left to right: Denis Stevens, Canada’s Deputy Head of Mission to the U.S.; Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association; Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; and Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz (Ret.), Administrator for the National Nuclear Security. Photo by WAND staff. 

On September 15, 2014 The Embassy of Kazakhstan, The Embassy of Canada, The Arms Control Association, Green Cross International, and The ATOM Project hosted a forum commemorating the United Nations International Day Against Nuclear Tests. Since 2009, the international community has commemorated UN Day Against Nuclear Tests on or about August 29, the anniversary of the 1991 closing of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site where the then-Soviet Union conducted 456 atmospheric and underground nuclear weapons tests. (On the same date in 1949 the Soviets conducted their first nuclear explosive test; the bomb yielded 20 kilitons.)

A large portion of the event was devoted to discussing U.S. Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The Senate failed to ratify that treaty in 1999, but as many of the conference speakers pointed out, times are different now. For instance, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Head of the CTBT Organization, CTBTO, explained that in 1999, only small progress had been made in developing the international monitoring and verification systems. Today, there are 337 monitoring stations around the world that can detect most nuclear tests. Given current policy prohibiting new nuclear weapons development – and given that the United States stopped explosive testing in 1992 — full entry into force can only serve to benefit the U.S.

Read More

Throwback Thursday: Remember when the Mujahideen became Al Qaeda after the US armed them? When has violence ever bred anything but more violence? Tell us, how does this end?

The war vote is today! Let’s tell Congress to vote NO to endless war! http://www.congressweb.com/WAND/53

The war vote is today! Let’s tell Congress to vote NO to endless war! http://www.congressweb.com/WAND/53

Join in the National Day of Action in response to proposed military action in Iraq and Syria!

Join in the National Day of Action in response to proposed military action in Iraq and Syria!

Launching a Toolkit for Change

Toolkit launch panel: From left to right: Kathleen Kuehnast, USIP; Julie Arostegui, WAND Women, Peace, and Security Policy Director; Stephenie Foster, State Department; Susan Markham, USAID; Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, ICAN

by Pia Furkan, WAND Washington, DC Intern

On August 27, WAND, Women in International Security (WIIS), and the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) held an event to officially launch the toolkit entitled Women, Peace, and Security: Practical Guidance on Using Law to Empower Women in Post-Conflict Systems, authored by Julie Arostegui, WAND’s Women, Peace, and Security Policy Director.

The room was packed with a diverse audience including advocates, academics, federal agency representatives, military personnel, lawyers, and even an ambassador, all eager to hear from the panel that included Julie Arostegui;  Stephenie Foster, Senior Advisor of Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State; Susan Markham, Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Executive Director and co-founder of International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN); and moderator Kathleen Kuehnast, Director of the Center for Gender and Peacebuilding at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP).

I was interested as a young woman dedicated to the rights of women in her home country of Bangladesh, which was recently formed after a large-scale conflict. The toolkit is personal in nature because even though it focuses on the Great Lakes region in Africa, its recommendations are broadly applicable, and no matter our background or location, women can turn to it to use in their activism and daily lives.

Read More

The Good and Bad Ways to Address Russian Aggression

by Erica Fein, WAND Nuclear Weapons Policy Director

image

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis has unleashed cries from a number of U.S. policymakers to take action. Some have suggested sending U.S. arms to Ukraine. Others have sought to play up the role of forward-deployed nuclear weapons to Europe. And still more propose severing U.S.-Russia areas of cooperation. These three options are shortsighted and here’s why.

Lethal Aid to Ukraine Could Backfire

If Russia is rolling into Ukraine on tanks, why not just send some weapons to help Ukraine fight back?  Not so fast. The Ukrainian military is not a credibly cohesive force prepared to handle an influx of sophisticated weapons. While the Ukrainian military has reportedly made gains in professionalism and capabilities, it has a long way to go. It would be tragic if U.S. weapons were misused by the Ukrainian military to kill innocents or further escalate an already dangerous situation. Moreover, the military has also reportedly been penetrated by Russian intelligence, compromising the military’s ability to execute combat missions. 

Tactical Nuclear Weapons are Unlikely to Stop Russian Aggression

There are currently approximately 180 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons stationed on five European bases, including Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. These weapons are said to serve as symbols of a U.S. commitment to our allies. They were originally stationed in Europe during the Cold War to prevent a Russian invasion of the European continent; but as some experts point out, their value was likely greatly overstated.

Today, we should be even less sanguine about tactical nuclear weapons’ ability to deter Russia. Russia invaded Ukraine (and in 2008 attacked Georgia) despite U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. Tactical nuclear weapons will continue to be irrelevant in deterring Russia from potential military incursions in Eastern Europe because as nuclear weapons policy experts Hans Kristensen and Adam Mount put it,

“The threat to NATO territory is not nearly severe enough for nuclear weapons to play a role.”

U.S. military officials agree. For instance, former commander of U.S. Strategic Command, General James Cartwright, said of tactical nuclear weapons, “their military utility is practically nil.”

Read More

whitehouse:

When women succeed, America succeeds. Let’s keep working to give every woman the chance to realize her dreams.

whitehouse:

When women succeed, America succeeds. Let’s keep working to give every woman the chance to realize her dreams.

Women’s Equality Day

image

Image Credit: Suffragist and later Congressional candidate Genevieve Clark, 1914. Library of Congress. 

by Rawan Alkhatib, WAND Intern, Arlington, MA

On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment passed, granting women the right to vote. Every year on this day, the United States commemorates Women’s Equality Day to recognize the valiant efforts of women leaders and to remind the country that the advancement of women’s rights is not yet complete. As a young woman studying politics and international affairs, I do not take for granted the sacrifices women leaders have made to guarantee that I can pursue my passions. I also know that our work is far from done; progress is key. Gaining the right to vote was a step in the right direction, but not the end goal.

Women are disproportionately affected by conflict. This is a horrific reality that impacts all human beings, including those of us lucky enough to experience ordinary and stable lives. As conflicts rage on, women around the globe must be empowered to ensure that they have active roles in guiding political, economic, and social movements toward just and sustainable peace.  

Read More

 Tomorrow is Women’s Equality Day! Join us to hear how law is being used to empower women the world over.

To Audit Or Not To Audit

image

Image Credit: Department of Defense via Wiki Commons

by Pia Furkan, WAND Intern, Washington, DC

If you knew that a federal agency with a $500 billion budget could not pass a simple auditing process to identify waste and track spending, would you be worried about whether your tax dollars were being misused? Proper record-keeping of finances and program reports could end up identifying and solving many problems and inefficiencies and thus, saving money. It would seem as if this process should not be a problem for the Department of Defense because it seems as if the DOD would have exceptional records.

However, that is not the case. The DOD has not been audited because it is not audit-ready. It is amazing to think that my house community in college, governed by a group of about fifteen students, is more audit-ready and transparent than the Department of Defense. Surely the DOD, which is responsible for national security, should be held to a higher standard of accountability than Park House Council, which is responsible for managing house community of 70 students.

This is why Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), along with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Congressman Michael Burgess (R-TX-26), and Congressman Dan Benishek (R-MI-1) introduced on July 17, 2014 the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2014 (H.R. 5126), a bipartisan bill that penalizes the Pentagon for not being auditable. The latest version of the House Audit the Pentagon Act puts a .5% penalty on Pentagon spending areas that are not auditable. This amount is not substantial enough to hurt or jeopardize readiness, a concern raised with the previous versions of the Audit the Pentagon Act.

Read More