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Bulletin 227: Year of the Ban

December 20, 2016

  1. Can you help support our work?
  2. New directions in disarmament
  3. Year of the Ban!

Dear friends –

  1. Can you help support our work?

The end of the tax year is fast approaching, when nonprofits must redouble their efforts to raise necessary funds. The disarmament opportunities – and their flip side, dangers – of 2017 are becoming less abstract and are starting to show up on our calendars.

Can you help support our work next year? This is the time of year we have to ask. Take a look back at Bulletin 226, where you can find links to our terrific solar energy partners and other background.

If you are already helping out, please accept our heartfelt thanks. We are in this together.

Please feel free to forward this email to anyone who might be interested. (If you have been forwarded this email and want to receive our occasional bulletins directly, send a blank email to subscribe.)

We are very proud of what the Study Group community has been able to accomplish, with your help. No other organization in the U.S., large or small, has a better record of halting nuclear weapons modernization projects. We are experienced, expert, accessible, and accountable.

There are many ways to give. Those of you who wish to donate and have not yet done so can do so by check sent to the address below, by credit card over the phone or via secure link, by donating stock (thus avoiding capital gains and the associated taxes), by PayPal, or by donating an extra car, boat, or real estate. You can set up a monthly donation. You can remember the Los Alamos Study Group in your will or estate plans. Please contact Trish by email, or phone 505-265-1200 if you have any questions.

As with every other organization, larger gifts powerfully liberate time. Enough major gifts, and we can hire skilled help to leverage our experience and skills in key areas. Putting us in contact with potential donors large or small, or with friendly foundations, is a very powerful way to help.

Please do not feel that small gifts are not important. Numerous smaller donations comprise about one-third of our annual budget. Our broad base of community support has given us a degree of financial resilience, and above all political independence, which is a big part of why we have been effective.

A Dec. 14 letter to some of our local members describes our most in-your-face nuclear weapons challenge for next year in a nutshell – namely, plutonium warhead core (“pit”) production – and why we can win again. It also provides (with links taking you to whatever level of detail you want) some of the basic talking points that citizens, executive branch decisionmakers, and lawmakers can use.

There are many ways to work with us, besides supporting us financially. The more skill and commitment you can bring, the wider the possibilities, and the less overhead for us. Talk to us.

  1. New directions in disarmament

We promised, at the end of Bulletin 226, much more on “New Directions in Nuclear Disarmament.” This was the title of three public discussions we organized this fall, two led by Dr. Frank von Hippel and one led by myself. Bulletin 224 provided an introduction to the subject; our Nov. 8 letter to colleagues in government comes at the same problem from a different direction (“Today begins a time when significant reforms in nuclear policy can be made”).

In the next day or so we will post a rather loose white paper, “New Directions in Nuclear Disarmament” – call it unfinished (which it is), or a discussion draft – following up on these presentations.

We are pushing this white paper out the door in draft form because there has been a minor proliferation of meetings and papers on this topic of late, mostly by well-meaning folks in the arms control and funding community who haven’t had the benefit of much organizing or activist experience. Decisions are being made. To those of you who are thinking about these matters, talk to us, please. It’s important. Plans made using organizational and intellectual assumptions from long ago won’t work. Flawed plans generated within today’s closed echo chambers will harm, not help, disarmament.

Send us your comments on this paper when it appears. Meanwhile we will improve on what we’ve provided as time allows, incorporating your comments as we see fit and acknowledging your help if you would like.

  1. Year of the Ban

In a few days, probably on December 23 or 24, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will endorse the resolution passed by its First Committee on October 24 (see “Historic UN vote to mandate negotiation of treaty banning nuclear weapons” and Bulletin 224: New directions in nuclear disarmament), opening the procedural and budgetary doors to negotiating a treaty banning nuclear weapons next year. The vote will be on UNGA Resolution L.41, “Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations,” which passed with 123 yeas, 38 nays, and 16 abstentions.

Negotiations will take place in two sessions, March 27-31 and June 15-July 7. Negotiations are open to all states and will be undertaken under UNGA rules, with no state having veto power.

Please see our ban treaty web page for in-depth background. The International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), in which the Study Group is a US partner organization, has provided an excellent, concise overview of the negotiations to come as well as highlights of this year’s campaign activities.

As the US State Department has stated (in a document circulated to NATO member states prior to the October vote), the effects of a ban treaty will be “wide-ranging.” “Allies and partners should not underestimate the breadth of potential impacts…or their potential to grow more severe over time.” A ban treaty “could even have an impact prior to its entry into force.”

We agree. We will be writing you in early 2017 about how you can help build that impact.

In the meantime, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Rest up, because next year will be a doozy.

And if you can, but haven’t yet, please consider supporting the Los Alamos Study Group!

Very best wishes to all,

Greg, Trish, and the Los Alamos Study Group community


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