By Leonard Eiger
Puget Sound area activists will hold a nonviolent protest against nuclear weapons at the U.S. Navy’s West Coast Trident submarine base at Silverdale on May 11.Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action will host its annual Mothers’ Day weekend day of education and action honoring the original intention of Mothers’ Day. The day will be highlighted by a speech by Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and a traditional vigil and nonviolent direct action at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
In 1870, Julia Ward Howe envisioned a Mothers’ Day for Peace in response to the carnage of the Civil War and other wars of her time. In that continued spirit Ground Zero Center believes that the world’s children deserve better than to live under the threat of a renewed nuclear arms race and the catastrophic effects of any nuclear war. Increasing militarization and wars steal resources desperately needed to mitigate climate change and improve people’s lives, while increasing the risk of nuclear annihilation.
Today, the U.S. government is accelerating nuclear weapons modernization, developing new nuclear weapons (including the new “low-yield” Trident W76-2 nuclear warhead that will be deployed on Trident submarines based at Bangor), and threatening to use nuclear weapons in potential conflicts with Russia and other nations. This is not only threatening humanity with the devastating effects of a potential nuclear war, but also diverting money and human resources from desperately needed efforts to deal with the existential threats posed by climate change. The nurturing efforts of mothers around the world would be destroyed in the brief timeframe of a nuclear war.
Kelly will give the keynote address: “Deploying Love in a Permanent Warfare State.” Kelly has traveled to war zones and lived alongside the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza, Lebanon, Bosnia and Nicaragua. She and her colleagues in Voices for Creative Nonviolence believe the U.S. should end all U.S. military and economic warfare and pay reparations for suffering already caused by U.S. wars. For the past two years, Voices has helped organize vigils and forums about conflict-driven near famine conditions in Yemen and northern Africa. Kelly was sentenced to one year in federal prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites (1988-89) at Whiteman Air Force Base and spent three months in prison, in 2004, for crossing the line at Fort Benning’s military training school. As a war tax refuser, she has refused payment of all forms of federal income tax since 1980.
The Saturday events will include a morning legal rights workshop with Tacoma attorney Blake Kremer, and The Seattle Peace Chorus will conduct a morning sing along and will also be present at the afternoon vigil and action. In the afternoon, participants will hold a vigil and nonviolent direct action at the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base.
Eight of the U.S. Navy’s 14 Trident ballistic missile submarines are based at the Bangor Trident base, which is just 20 miles west of Seattle. It is home to the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. The W76-1 and W88 warheads at Bangor are equal respectively to 100 kilotons and 455 kilotons of TNT in destructive force (the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was between 13 and 18 kilotons). One submarine deployed at Bangor is equal to more than 1,400 Hiroshima-sized nuclear bombs.
The low-yield W76-2 nuclear warhead is expected to be deployed at Bangor later this year. The latest survey in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, United States Nuclear Forces, 2019, by Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda, lists the W76-2 as a single-stage low-yield modification of the W76-1 with an estimated yield of five to seven kilotons. Trident D-5 missiles equipped with this type of warhead are expected to carry one or two W76-2 warheads. Trident D-5 missiles equipped with W76-1 or W88 warheads usually carry four to five of the larger warheads.
The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was founded in 1977. The center is on 3.8 acres adjoining the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington. The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action offers the opportunity to explore the roots of violence and injustice in our world and to experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.
Leonard Eiger is communications chair for Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, based in Poulsbo