Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program’s 2023 Year in Review December 15, 2023

World events brought more salience to PSR’s ongoing struggle to lower the risk of nuclear war, achieve justice for nuclear-affected communities, and stop the theft of public resources by the military industrial complex. PSR’s Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program aided local activists commemorating the Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries, brought Downwinders to Washington, DC to fight for expanding the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, convened a panel to explore the health harms of uranium mining, worked with Back from the Brink to secure cosponsorships on legislation supporting the nuclear ban treaty, and for those who flocked to the cinema to see Oppenheimer, our chapters provided vital parts of the Manhattan Project story that were missing from the film.

Advancing Nuclear Disarmament at the local, state, and national levels:

  • NWA coordinated with the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists around the Jan. 24 Doomsday Clock announcement moving the clock 30 secs closer to midnight. Jasmine Owens, Bob Dodge (PSR-LA), Doug Dransfield (PSR Maine), Scott Baker (WNC PSR), and Maureen McCue (PSR Iowa) all placed op-eds.
  • PSR reached out to grassroots activists and organizations across the country to compile a comprehensive database of all the Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemoration events nationwide. Intrepid intern Orlando Bell tracked 75 local and online events around the country in 21 states plus DC, including 8 events involving PSR chapters.
  • The Back from the Brink coalition rallied behind H. Res. 77, introduced by Reps. Jim McGovern (MA) and Earl Blumenauer (OR) which expresses Congressional support for the ban treaty and the five nuclear policy ‘asks’ advocated by the BftB coalition. PSR signed on to a letter to U.S. reps urging them to cosponsor. 41 sponsors signed on and PSR chapter activists were involved with 16 of those.
  • PSR chapters advocated for and obtained local Back from the Brink resolutions in Johnson County, Iowa; South Portland, Maine, and Madison, Wisconsin.
  • PSR and 9 chapters were among 56 groups that signed onto a People Over Pentagon letter to President Biden asking him to submit a budget with much lower military spending.
PSR Board member Gwen DuBois, MD (in center with hat) and her Prevent Nuclear War Maryland colleagues, August 9 Nuclear War Awareness Town Hall, Baltimore

Promoting justice for nuclear weapons victims and uplifting voices of impacted communities:

  • Jasmine Owens, along with other coalition organizations, created and carried out a project called Notes From the Edge of Society. This project aimed to build the nuclear abolition movement, in particular building community with people who are most likely to be harmed by nuclear weapons (Black, brown, Indigenous, poor and young people). Jasmine facilitated a webinar and workshop as part of the project.
  • Jasmine spoke on intersectionality, organizing and advocacy at a nuclear workshop hosted by the Truman Center for undergraduate students in the Atlanta area, to introduce the nuclear community to college students from an area that is largely left out of conversations on nuclear weapons.
  • On August 23, the NWA program held a webinar titled “Invisible Devastation: The Global Legacy of Uranium”, discussing neocolonialism, narrative setting, and racial inequity in the nuclear enterprise. The panelists were all women of color; all but one were from impacted communities.
  • PSR worked to push Congress to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, including participation in the RECA Working Group and action alerts to PSR members in support of the expansion and extension bill introduced by Senators Lujan (D-NM) and Crapo (R-ID). In addition, PSR Kansas City’s Ann Suellentrop met with Sen. Josh Hawley, who subsequently authored an amendment that would expand RECA. PSR also facilitated the fly-in of atomic veterans to DC to lobby Members of Congress on RECA, which contributed to winning a bipartisan Senate vote, 61-37. in support of expansion.
  • For the release of the film Oppenheimer, the NWA team created a series of infographics and a toolkit for chapter leaders to assist with public education, all focusing on themes of justice for impacted communities and nuclear weapons abolition and pointing out the human and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons that were left out of the film. PSR-LA, San Francisco Bay PSR, and PSR/National all worked with Ploughshares Fund to promote Oppenheimer screenings that included panel discussions. WPSR, Chesapeake PSR, Greater Boston PSR, PSR Kansas City, and PSR-Arizona all delivered flyers or Back from the Brink postcards directly into the hands of moviegoers as they entered the theaters.

Engaging with international nuclear weapons abolition work and humanitarian concerns:

  • For the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine (Feb 22), NWA issued a PSR-branded report: First Year of the Russian War in Ukraine: Humanitarian Impacts.
  • In April PSR staff Jasmine Owens and Bella Javidan served on panels at IPPNW’s World Congress in Mombasa, Kenya. Bella co-facilitated a workshop on how to use social media for social change; Jasmine spoke on a panel discussing the intersections of climate change, public health and nuclear weapons, and co-facilitated another workshop about the TPNW.
  • In June, NWA issued the report, Nuclear Risks at the Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP)
  • NWA responded to Biden’s announcement that the USA would provide Ukraine with U.S.- made cluster munitions (banned by international law) with a press statement, NWA intern Orlando Bell placed an op-ed in Inkstick Media, plus a group of 11 PSR-CAN members sponsored a full-page ad in the Delaware News-Journal urging Biden to reverse this decision.
  • PSR members urged American medical specialty journals to join with over 150 health-oriented journals who published a rare joint editorial urging health professionals to promote nuclear weapons abolition as a health imperative.
  • PSR spoke out on the danger of nuclear weapons use in the conflict in Gaza and on the need for humanitarian aid for Gazans
  • PSR’s Bella Javidan was a youth delegate for the second Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW in November where she participated in pre-conference events hosted by Youth4TPNW. PSR sent a delegation of 15 advocates to the UN for the Meeting.
PSR’s Bella Javidan (front row, second from right) with colleagues from Youth4TPNW

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