Save the INF; Support Other Measures to Lower the Risk of Use of Nuclear Weapons & Ban Them

Peace & Justice is supporting a protest tomorrow in Edinburgh at the Russian Consulate on Melville St (9am) and US Consulate on Regent Terrace (10:15am) in response to the announcements by the US and Russia of their intentions to withdraw from the Interrmediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (the INF). We will be joining other Scotland Internaional Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) partners in urging the parties to resume constructive dialogue and stay in the INF, and calling for them to join the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty (TPNW). Share the Event on Facebook here.

The INF was signed by Reagan and Gorbachev after huge and widespread public pressure in the 80s. The INF has reduced the risk of nuclear war in Europe since it was agreed in 1987. All of us who campaigned for the US and Russia to remove Cruise and Pershing and Russian SS missiles from central Europe breathed a huge sigh of relief when these dangerous weapons were dismantled and destroyed. The demise of this important treaty will be a huge setback and will greatly increase the risk of nuclear war, in particular in Europe.  

As an ICAN partner the Peace & Justice Centre supports the TPNW.  But that treaty will not come into force until it is ratified by 50 countries, and then it will not, at first at least, apply to the countries that do not sign it. That includes all the current nuclear armed states. And may not happen for two more years.

In the meantime Trump’s and Putin’s moves will increase the risk of nuclear war. That’s why we support a range of interim measures that will make us safer. These steps include a halt to Trident replacement and modernisation of nuclear weapons currently underway in nuclear weapons states, notably the US, which has begun a ten year programme at a cost of $1.3 Trillion. Under cover of modernisation it is upgrading several key weapons systems in ways that will destabilize the present balance of power and increase the risk of use of nuclear weapons. 

The US 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorized funds for the Defense Department to develop a  ground-launched cruise missile that, if tested, would violate the treaty.  In addition, the US is actively developing a low-yield Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile, the W-76-2  that is expected to be ready to roll out in October. While this warhead would be mounted on a long range ballistic missile it would not violate the INF Treaty, but it is part of the US response to the Russian and Chinese developments of intermediate nuclear forces. This is particularly relevant to the UK as these warheads could be deployed on UK Trident submarine. 
According to Hans Kristensen, Director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists, this is a 5 – 7 KT warhead that will be mounted on the Trident D-5 missiles, that is the same missile as the current W-76 -1 warhead with its 100KT yield. The Hiroshima bomb had a yield of approximately 15 KT. The danger is that, were the US to launch the low yield missile Russia would not be able to determine whether it was low yield or high yield and would need to decide within minutes whether to launch their own high yield nukes immediately. Possession of such a low yield weapon will give the US more options for use of nuclear weapons in situations in which it would not consider the use of its strategic weapons.  
Furthermore the US is adding a remotely piloted guidance system to the B61 gravity bombs that are still deployed in Europe, again increasing its mission capabilities and posing a greater threat to Russia.
A Chink in the Armour of the Nuclear Weapons Establishment: A No First Use policy
This week US Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren introduced a No First Use bill through the Defense Appropriations Committee in the Senate. Obama had wanted to do so but was talked out of it by the National Security establishment. This follows a statement she made in October that she will support “three core nuclear-security principles:” No First Use, no new nuclear weapons and more international arms control, not less. By introducing this legislation she is demonstrating her intention to follow through on her rhetoric. This means that halting the US and adversaries’ modernisation programmes will be part of the debate during the Presidential campaign, and this has not happened for a long time. With this it is now possible to imagine her or other Progressive candidates outrightly supporting the Ban Treaty.
Elimintating nuclear weapons altogether though the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (TPNW) is ultimately the only way to ensure that they are never used again. Let’s keep campaigning for it while we continue to campaign for interim measures that will make us safer, and could open up the possibility of the Nuclear Weapons States getting on board with the Ban Treay.  
Brian Larkin
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Nobel Peace Prize Medal Comes to Scottish Parliament

Scottish ICAN partners including Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre Coordinator Brian Larkin with Bill Kidd MSP holding the Nobel Peace Prize Medal

The Nobel Peace Prize medal, which was awarded to the the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in 2017, was displayed at Scottish Parliament on 12 June. Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre is one of five Scottish civil society groups that are among the 468 worldwide ICAN partners, who collectively share the Peace Prize. The medal was brought to a meeting of meeting of the Cross Party Group on Nuclear Disarmament by ICAN Co-Chair Dr. Rebecca Johnson. The event coincieded with the Trump – Kim summit.

Dr. Rebecca Johnson, founder of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, reported on last month’s historic women’s walk into the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) which separates North and South Korea and discussed the recent developments in the negotiations concerning the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the prospects that such events open.

In particular, Rebecca discussed what she believes to be essential points of the joint statement released by US President Donald Trump and the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un after their historic meeting which took place the same morning. Dr Johnson stressed that although the statement might appear as not bringing much novelty to the table, it is essential as it establishes a new development of two people working together for peace and prosperity.

In this complicated situation, there are three main issues at stake for the Koreans. Firstly, there is a desire for a peace treaty as, since the end of the war in 1953, there has only been an armistice in the region. Rebecca recalled that, during the Korean war, there had been discussion in the American administration about the possibility of using nuclear weapons in Korea.

Secondly, Kim is interested in providing prosperity to North Korea for maintaining his position. Kim, a very young leader, is seeking recognition in a region, Asia, in which there is a culture of always looking up at the elderly. To last as a leader and live he needs the support of China and possibly of Japan so that he can achieve economic prosperity.

Thirdly, the negotiations may open up a way for the Koreans to open up the society and manage a transition from oppression. In the statement released at the end of the Trump-Kim summit, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reaffirms the 27th April Declaration released after the meeting between Kim and Moon in the denuclearised zone and commits to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Rebecca noted that every action will need to be built on what Kim and Moon agreed on and the two leaders must continue to be the central actors in the negotiations even though the American involvement is important and the contribution of Russia and China is necessary to achieve a lasting solution. Also, it would be positive if all the countries that were at war in Korea would sign as well.

Significantly, in this meeting, none of the actors put preconditions down and during the press conference which took place after the meeting stressed the fact that “war games” in Korea would end. This is important considering that the US has around 70 bases in Korea and that, even if nukes were removed after the Cold War, there are suspicions that US ships carrying nuclear weapons visited these bases a few months ago.

Thus, Rebecca concluded, optimism is possible, and experts suggest that disarmament will not necessarily require a long time. Still, it must be kept in mind that the Trump administration positions change quite rapidly and that, while negotiations with North Korea now seem to be on a positive track the US is simultaneously withdrawing from the Nuclear Deal which had been signed with Iran.

Rebecca also discussed the importance of the ICAN Nobel Peace Prize, which belongs to everyone who has worked for Nuclear Disarmament, and of the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. Still, she stressed that they will remain just a medal and a piece of paper if campaigning is not continued. The Scottish Parliament can play an essential role in the process by enacting legislation to implement the aims of the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). There are steps the Scottish Government can take even within its devolved powers to confirm adherence to the Obligations listed in Article 1 of the TPNW, in particular to enact legislation confirming the Prohibitions on aiding anyone involved in the production, distribution and deployment of nuclear weapons. Such legislation would directly challenge UK basing of Trident nuclear weapons system at Faslane and the transport of nuclear weapons on Scotland’s roads.

At the same time, NGOs can get involved in actions such as petitioning for the UK government to adhere to the Treaty and talk about denuclearisation of the British Islands.

This report was compiled by Margherita Distrotti and Brian Larkin. 

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Trump – Kim Talks: A Surprising Opportunity for Disarmament

In light of North Korea’s accelerated nuclear weapons testing and Donald Trump’s rhetoric over the past year, from his threats to rain down “Fire and Fury” to his childish claim that his “nuclear button” is bigger than Kim’s Jong-un’s, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist moved the Doomsday Clock forward to 2 ½ minutes to midnight, the closest it has ever been.

Photo credit: duncan c CCBY-NC 2.6

But now a sudden unexpected twist. Trump has agreed to meet Kim. Many have welcomed the talks, expressing hope for progress on disarmament and even an end to the 60 year state of war between North and South Korea. Of course dialogue is key to resolving conflicts. And demilitarization of the Korean peninsula is desirable.

But Trump’s dramatic acceptance of Kim’s invitation is fraught with risks. Victor Cha, (NYTimes. March 9, 2018) warned “While the unpredictability of a meeting between these two unconventional leaders provides unique opportunities to end the decades-old conflict, its failure could also push the two countries to the brink of war.” Duyeon Kim (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists) cautioned “The risk is that if the White House comes away from initial talks believing that Pyongyang will not abandon its nuclear weapons… it could be further convinced that it should resolve the nuclear issue by force.”

Trump sees himself as the great deal maker and may see this as his big chance to demonstrate that prowess on the world stage after a year of near nil legislative accomplishment and recent weeks of White House chaos. Flattering Trump, South Korea’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong told Trump “that his maximum-pressure policy brought us to this juncture” and that Mr Kim is “committed to denuclearisation”.  

But Trump’s rash action appears to completely lack planning and preparation. The day before Trump accepted Kim’s invitation Rex Tillerson stated that the U.S. is “a long ways from negotiations” with North Korea. It seems Trump did not consult his Secretary of State before agreeing to North Korea’s longstanding main objective, to gain the status of a meeting between its head of state and a US President. Upon taking office Tillerson dismissed numerous officials at State and has not replaced them. The US does not have in place high-level diplomats to run parallel talks, or mid level officials to assist the president. How can the US pull together a coordinated negotiating strategy when it does not even have in place an ambassador to South Korea or an Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security?  

We hope Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong-un succeeds, though it would set a bad precedent, demonstrating that apparent irrationality and threats to use nuclear weapons can lead to negotiations and peace. The safer course would be for Trump to use the opportunity to invite North Korea, Russia, and China, to join it in signing the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, then direct Tillerson to fill that Under Secretary of State post and get to work on the detailed work of disarming the arsenals of weapons that continue to threaten us all with armageddon.

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ECND Public Meeting

Edinburgh cnd holds public meetings featuring a different topic with speakers, films and discussion, on the third Wednesday of most months at the Peace & Justice Centre. All welcome. Check their Facebook page: or email Email edinburghcnd[at]  to confirm the meeting is happening.

February 2018 meeting is on Nuclear Weapons Convoys.

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P&J welcomes “ICAN Nobel Peace Prize” Motion by Bill Kidd MSP

Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre welcomes the Motion: “ICAN winners of Nobel Peace Prize” 2017 put down by Bill Kidd MSP and urges all MSPs to add their names to it.

Motion Number: S5M-08161  states: “That Parliament congratulates the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2017; notes that ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental organisations in 100 countries working to bring to an end what it believes to be the only weapon that poses an existential threat to all humanity, and pays tribute also to the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who are known as the Hibakusha, for their part in achieving the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017.”

Thus far the Motion has been signed by James Dornan, Joan McAlpine, Graeme Dey, Elaine Smith, Richard Lyle, Patrick Harvie, Clare Haughey, Christina McKelvie, Gillian Martin, Richard Lochhead, Gordon MacDonald, John Mason, Maree Todd, Andy Wightman, Kenneth Gibson, Stuart McMillan, Stewart Stevenson, Alex Rowley

The Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre is one of  468 ICAN Affiliates worldwide and four in Scotland. We have long worked to promote nuclear disarmament and will continue to work hard here in Scotland for nuclear disarmament and for the implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.


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P&J – an Affiliate of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – Welcomes Nobel Peace Prize

Fantastic News! The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons – ICAN – of which the Peace & Justice Centre is an affiliate – has today been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize!
53 Countries have signed the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. When 50 Ratify it, it will be International Law. To date the UK, US, Russia and other nuclear weapons states have refused to sign and in fact actively opposed the treaty. 
From experiencing campaigning most people in Britain didn’t even know about it. The award of the Peace Prize will massively boost awareness of this historic campaign. This is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons. At last, after decades of campaigning we can, perhaps, see the light at the end of the tunnel.
It should now be crystal clear that the only way to prevent any future nuclear war is to ban them. But make no mistake, the countries that possess nuclear weapons, and those that want them, will not relinquish them without a fight. 
This comes at a time when, with the crisis in North Korea, tensions between the US and Russia, tensions with China, and, most importantly the uncertainty of Donald Trump, in the White House, with his finger hovering over that nuclear button at every moment, the risk of nuclear war is greater than at any time since the Cold War. Trump has repeatedly threatened the use of nuclear weapons. As we have said before, This is Not OK.  
It is vital that people everywhere understand the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. and that banning them is the only way to insure security against them.
That has been the core message of ICAN for ten years. The use of 50 or even just 10 nuclear weapons – of the tens of thousands still in existence worldwide would cause a nuclear winter due to the cloud of radioactive dust that would fill the air over half the world and would cause a global famine leading to the deaths of a Billion people. That’s 1/7 of the world’s population. But we can prevent this.
In its Statement on Nobel Peace Prize 2017 ICAN has honoured the millions of people who have campaigned for nuclear disarmament for generations. 
” It is a great honour to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 in recognition of our role in achieving the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This historic agreement, adopted on 7 July with the backing of 122 nations, offers a powerful, much-needed alternative to a world in which threats of mass destruction are allowed to prevail and, indeed, are escalating.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of non-governmental organizations in one hundred countries. By harnessing the power of the people, we have worked to bring an end to the most destructive weapon ever created – the only weapon that poses an existential threat to all humanity.

This prize is a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth.

It is a tribute also to the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – the hibakusha – and victims of nuclear test explosions around the world, whose searing testimonies and unstinting advocacy were instrumental in securing this landmark agreement.”

Please spread the word of this momentous ocassion and get involved.  There are lots of ways to do so.  

Some of the survivors of the Hiroshima bomb visited the Peace & Justice Centre just last week, and others visited earlier this year.  We heard their stories and told them about our Origami Cranes Project which aims to make 140,000 origami peace cranes to remember Hiroshima and give the message that this must Never happen again. All are invited to get involved in this as one way to deepen the opposition to nuclear weapons. Find out more about the project, info on the next workshop and how you can contribute to the project here. 

The Peace & Justice Centre is proud to be an affiliate of ICAN. We have been campaigning in Scotland for nuclear disarmament since 1980. 
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Threatening Use of Nuclear Weapons Is Not OK

As Peace & Justice News goes to press the war of words between two apparently unstable heads of government has, once again, been ratcheting up. US President Donald Trump, speaking at the UN, demonstrated an astonishing lack of good sense, threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea. When the North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho described Trump as a “mentally deranged person” on a “suicide mission” Trump tweeted back that Ri and Kim Jong-un “won’t be around much longer”. The undiplomatic exchange resembles a schoolyard shouting match between two little boys.  Such foolishness has no place in international relations, especially between the Heads of a nuclear superpower and a country close to acquiring nuclear weapons.

Demonstrating their prowess, US Air Force B-1B bombers flew provocatively close to North Korea’s borders. But, Trump, and it seems from these manoeuvres, the Pentagon do not understand that, regardless of US capabilities, there is no military solution to this conflict. That’s because of the mass of N Korean heavy artillery arrayed along the Demilitarized Zone, ready to rain destruction down on the people of Seoul.

The Peace & Justice Centre has joined in calls for the US to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis. We have called on all parties to refrain from militaristic rhetoric and provocative military exercises; encouraged China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States to consider the comprehensive approach for a North-East Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone; and encouraged the six countries to turn the 1953 Armistice Agreement into a formal end to the Korean War.

Trump has also suggested that the US will pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reinforced that stance in meetings with Iran’s Foreign Minister at the UN, arguing that Iran has not complied with the spirit of the agreement and that the agreement is not permanent. Yet Trump certified that Iran was in compliance, and the administration admits the agreement ensures that Iran will not be able to develop a nuclear weapon during the lifetime of the agreement. For the US to withdraw would create a second nuclear crisis. Iran would very likely restart its nuclear programme and would soon have the capability to reach Israel with a nuclear weapon. Most mainstream arms control advocates and former national security advisers agree abandoning this agreement would be a foolish move.

Instead of threatening N Korea and talking about ending the Iran agreement the US should take its nuclear forces off hair trigger alert and join the more than 50 countries that have now signed the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. By doing so, it could signal to Iran, N Korea and any other would be nuclear powers that nuclear weapons cannot provide the basis for security and lead the way to a world free of the imminent threat of a nuclear holocaust.

Brian Larkin

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Hiroshima Survivors Visit Peace and Justice Centre

On 29 March Yamada Reiko, Vice Chair and Yamada Midori of Tokyo Federation of A-Bomb Sufferers visited the Peace and Justice Centre and shared their stories of surviving the bombing of Hiroshima. We presented each of them with a tartan origami crane and told them about our 140,000 Origami Cranes project which aims to make that number of cranes to visualise and remember the people who were killed by the Hiroshima bomb in 1945 alone.

Hibakuxha visit p&JThey told us their stories, bringing to us a much deeper understanding of the suffering caused by the use of nuclear weapons. Their witness affected us profoundly so that we were re-inspired to our commitment to continue to raise awareness and to campaign for these terrible weapons to be forever banned.

Reiko was herself 11 years of age and in the yard of her school in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped on 6th of August 1945. Her account of the day and the aftermath of were deeply moving. She told of how every family in her neighbourhood had victims of the bomb. “A good friend of mine was waiting for their mother to return home, when a moving black lump crawled into the house; they first thought it was a big black dog but soon realized it was their mother. She collapsed and died, leaving her 5 children behind…. From the third day dead bodies were brought to the playground of my school. They were cremated one after another. The town was filled with black smoke and the smell of burning bodies…. We planted sweet potato seeds in the schoolyard. On the day of harvest, as we cut the ground, human bones came out with potatoes and we screamed to see them. They were served for lunch but we could not eat them.”

Yamada Midori is a second generation Hibakusha, born in 1949, after the bombing.

She suffered breast cancer at age 34. Her father was mayor of her small town and went everyday for a week to find missing people and was exposed to radiation. She shared with us a copy of her beautiful and sad book telling the story of her brother Jiro-chan who was 13 years old at the time of the bombing. He was in middle school in Hiroshima and on 6 August he and his classmates were mobilized to work on house demolition, making firebreaks on a street very close to ground zero. When the bomb fell he was trapped under the fallen building but crawled out. Just then the debris burst into flames and all his classmates were consumed by the flames and died. After that Jiro-chan did not speak of that day until, after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. Before Japan was the victim of the US bomb, this time Japan was responsible. Then, aged 80 he began to speak saying “As one who experience the tragedy I should have informed many people of the atrocity of the atomic bombings. It should be my mission as a survivor…the way to remember and console the souls of my friends who perished.” Midori’s little gem of a book, made for children, says “He opened his heart and now he talks as if he offers prayers to his deceased friends.”

Following their visit to the P&J Centre Midori and Reiko headed down to the Scottish Parliament to meet with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The following day they visited Faslane Peace Camp and saw the Faslane Naval Base where Trident nuclear weapons are based.

For more information on and to contribute to the 140,000 Cranes project please visit:

Photos by David Mackenzie (group) and Brian Larkin (Midori).


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TRIDENT NO MORE Demonstrations Set for 30 Locations Across Scotland Saturday

With the UK Parliament set to vote Monday 18 July on renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system Demonstrations are being organised by the Scrap Trident Coalition in 30 towns and cities across Scotland at noon on Saturday 16 July calling for scrapping Trident instead.

trident-no-more-posterSo far the Trident No More Flash Demos have been announced from Wick to Dumfries, and from Largs to Edinburgh. The full list of locations of demonstrations and more information about how to organise a demo is here.

The Edinburgh demo will take place on The Mound at Princes St at noon.
If a Demo is not listed in your town or city why not organise one?  It only takes a few people with placards or a banner to create an event.

The main things to do are:
  •  identify a location and let us know where that is. Contact us using the webform here.
  • Chase up some local people and ask them to come to the demo. Contact friends or people through your networks, faith communities, trade unions …
  • Post details of location and time on the Facebook event page.
  • You can also create your own local Facebook event
  • Trident No More - Grey SubPrint out or make some placards by hand and a banner if someone can bring one.
  • There are graphics available to download for posters placards, leaflets and social media are here.
  • If possible contact local media.  A Template Press Release is available here. Or Draft and send out your own to local press. Or you can just ring up your local paper or radio station to a let them know the demo is one of manyTridentNoMore demos taking place across Scotland prior to the vote scheduled for Monday on Trident Replacement.
  • Taliking points for talking to the media are available here.
  • Leaflets are available from the Peace and Justice Centre or Scottish CND or to download from the website.
  •  If you want help or advice contact the Scrap Trident Coalition via the Facebook event page here. Or via the webform here.

And please be sure to let the Scrap Trident coalition know about your plans.

For anyone who has ever opposed nuclear weapons this is a crucial moment to stand up and be counted as opposing Theresa May’s first piece of legislation – her mad plan to base nuclear weapons in Scotland for 50 more years against the express will of the people of Scotland.

Trident No More event photoWe need everyone working together, from local CND, SNP, Green, Scottish Labour, SSP, Yes Groups, Radical Independence, Women for Independence, faith communities and trade unions, not forgetting MPs, MSPs and Councillors to have a huge turnout across the country.

Please JOIN and SHARE the Facebook event widely to insure as many people as possible come out.

Trident No More Demonstrations Planned so far for the following locations Sat 16th July
Aberdeen – St Nicholas Square outside Marks and Spencers (starts 11am)
Ayr – Cafe Nero
Biggar – Corn Exchange
Bowmore, Islay – Outside Royal Bank
Clydebank – Chalmers St (starts 11am)
Cromarty – Cromarty Harbour
Dumbarton – Town Centre
Dumfries – The Fountain, High St
Dundee – Albert Square
East Kilbride – Bus Station
Edinburgh – The Mound, Princes St
– outside Quaker Meeting House
– Yes Hub, Liberton Dams
Glasgow – Donald Dewar Statue, Buchanan Street
Hamilton – Top Cross
Inverness – Market Brae steps
Kelty – Main St
Kilmarnock – The Cross
Largs – Main St
Linlithgow – The Vennel
Melrose – Market Square
Paisley – Paisley Cross
Peebles – High St (11am)
Penicuik – End of Precinct
Perth – March from North Inch 11am to Queen’s Barracks
Portree – War Memorial in Square
Stirling – King St
Ullapool – The Clock, Quay St (starts 11.45am)
Wick – outside Wetherspoons

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Dan Berrigan – Peacemaker – Dies, age 94

Catonsville Nine burn draft files

The great “radical priest” Daniel Berrigan has died. With his brother Philip and a group of Catholic pacifists known as the Catonsville Nine he famously burned draft files, protesting the Vietnam War, in 1968 and with the Plowshares Eight, he hammered on the nosecone of a nuclear missile, inspiring a wave of similar symbolic disarmament actions around the world. After being convicted for the Catonsville action Dan went underground, popping up at anti war demonstrations, eluding the FBI and, when caught, he spent two years in Federal prison.

Dan Berrigan with Howard Zinn in Hanoi. Photo:

With the historian Howard Zinn he travelled to North Vietnam and obtained the release of three American pilots, telling the story in the book Night Flight to Hanoi, and he appeared with Jeremy Irons in the film The Mission. He said his epitaph should be: “It was never dull. Alleluia.”

Berrigan was a prolific writer of poetry and prose. He wrote: “Of course, let us have peace, we cry, ‘but at the same time let us have normalcy, let us lose nothing, let our lives stand intact, let us know neither prison nor ill repute nor disruption of ties … ‘ There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war – at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison, and death in its wake.”

But Dan Berrigan was a peacemaker. He was arrested hundreds of times, consistently, nonviolently protesting US wars, bombing, torture. His way with words coupled with dramatic action propelled him to fame. In a “Meditation” on Catonsville he wrote: “Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise…. The time is past when good men can remain silent, when obedience can segregate men from public risk, when the poor can die without defense.”


And his brand of peacemaking certainly brought notoriety. The first US priests to be arrested for anti war protests Dan and Phil were, notably, pictured on the cover of Time magazine, and Dan’s obituary, fittingly, appears on the front cover of yesterday’s New York Times.

Among those inspired by Dan Berrigan were Sister Megan Rice, the 84 year old Catholic nun who broke into the Y12 complex in Tennessee where US nuclear weapons are built and Fr John Dear who hammered on an F15-E nuclear-capable fighter-bomber in North Carolina. Sr Megan and Fr John have both spoken at the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre.
I met Dan Berrigan when he spoke at Georgetown University in 1983, just a few years after the Plowshares Eight action near my hometown in Pennsylvania. I was deeply impressed by his talk and asked him what I could do to work for peace. He answered enigmatically that there were many things to do. And so there have been. And so there are.
Dan Berrigan’s life stands as a call to peacemaking, a call to action.
John Dear gives a more detailed account of the life of Dan Berrigan in The Huffington Post. 
Brian Larkin
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Plowshares activist Sr Megan Rice Speaks to Packed House at New Peace & Justice Centre

On Friday 8 January US Plowshares activist Sister Megan Rice, spoke at the newly opened Peace & Justice Centre about being imprisoned for two years for a symbolic act of resistance at the facility where the US is making new nuclear weapons and where the explosive components of the Hiroshima bomb were produced as part of the Manhattan project.

Megan was 82 years of age at the time of the Transform Now Ploughshares action. She and Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli crept through Tennesee woodlands at 1am and cut and crawled through three chain link fences at the Y12 facility in Oak Ridge Tennessee to reach the “Highly Enriched Uranium Facility” where enough Uranium to make 1000 nuclear weapons is stored. They poured blood on the building to symbolize the potential slaughter of millions of innocent human beings that is being prepared there, and hammered on the corner of the building to symbolically begin the transformation of that place from death dealing to life giving and graffittied “Swords into Plowshares” and “Woe to Empire”. Their action was in the faith based Ploughshares tradition inspired by the vision of the Prophet Isaiah that “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and learn war no more.” A Ploughshare is the blade of a plough that cuts through the earth and turns a furrow for seeds to be planted. Thus it is a vision of transforming our world from reliance on weapons that have the potential to destroy the planet to a life affirming culture of peace.

Michael, Greg and Megan

Their action, know as the “Transform Now Plowshares”, caused what the New York Times described as “The biggest security breach in the history of the [USA’s] atomic complex” and shut down the nuclear weapons plant for two weeks. This was highly embarassing to the US government which, perhaps for this reason, pursued a spurious sabotage charge. They were convicted of sabotage but the sentence was overturned by an Appeals Court Judge who stated that the US government had no grounds for this conviction as there was clearly no attempt to act in any way that threatened the security of the United States. They were dramatically released in May.

Megan was joined by Plowshares activist Paul Magno. Paul is a staff member at Nonviolence International and has been involved with Witness Against Torture, taking part in prolonged fasts at the Supreme Court and the White House in response to the ongoing imprisonment and torture at Guantanamo. A core supporter of the Transform Now Plowshares trio Paul served two years in prison in the 1980’s for his part in the Pershing Plowshares action in which he and four others entered a factory in Florida where components for the Pershing missile system were being made. The Pershing missiles were at that time being brought into Germany. The purpose of these short range nuclear weapons was for use as “Tactical” weapons for fighting a nuclear war in Europe.

The New Peace and Justice Centre

The pair stressed that while their actions were inspired by their Catholic faith this kind of action is open to anyone who wants to resist nuclear weapons and the empire that relies on them for security. They said the symbolism of pouring human blood and symbolically beginning to disarm the nuclear weapons complex with hammers is very powerful. The action took only minutes and such actions can be done by anyone. It is important Paul said, not to see Megan as a superstar. Sister Megan described their action as following a simple model of marking the place where our society is preparing for crimes against humanity and thereby revealing the truth of the terrible injustice embodied there. They asked the gathering whether they considered this form of action to still be worthwhile after 35 years, and urged people to consider taking similar nonviolent, direct, and symbolic action.

Asked about her background Sister Megan told of her parents’ connection to the Catholic Worker community in New York city. Her earliest memories were of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin the founders of the Catholic Worker movement, a loose network of communities which seek to live the social gospel by providing hospitality to the homeless and witnessing against war and militarism, which they see as the root cause of poverty. Megan stressed the importance of community for sustaining resistance. The Catholic Worker and Jonah House community in Baltimore are examples. Megan hoped that people understood that by “catholic” they were not talking about the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church but meant catholic “with a small c”, that is a faith and action that is universal, that lives in solidarity with the poor and seeks to create a just and peaceful world. When a member of the audience pointed out the strong stand of the Scottish Catholic Bishops (and another mentioned the stand of the Church of Scotland against nuclear weapons Paul agreed that was as it should be but emphasized that more than words actions of resistance are called for.

Fr Bill “Bix” Bichsel

Megan spoke too of her forty years working with poor communities in Nigeria as a nun. After returning to the US and caring for her mother in her final illness she went to work with the Nevada Desert Experience, a faith based retreat and witness at the Nevada test site. She was eventually inspired to take this action by the five members of the Disarm Now Ploughshares, including Father Bill Bichsel (“Bix”) who spoke at the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre three years ago.

Asked about how she prepared for prison Megan shared that she had been imprisoned for shorter periods of time – twice for six months – after crossing the line at two of the mass demonstrations at the School of Americas where the US has for many years trained members of the military from a number of Latin American dictatorships, especially in the 1980’s and still today in methods of torture. With this action Megan never made it to an actual prison but was in a holding facility in New York city, in a single dormitory style room where 60 women are held together, in many ways worse than a prison.

Paul spoke of the influence of Phil Berrigan who spent more than 13 years in prison for repeated Plowshares actions. Phil and his brother Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit priest, were members of the Plowshares Eight, the first group to take such action in 1980. The eight Catholics entered a factory in Pennsylvania and hammered on the nosecone of an MX Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. In a letter to Paul while in prison Phil advised that, for male resisters in the US prisons, how they fared in the face of possible personal violence depended on how they carried themselves non-violently.

For Megan, as for women peace activists in US prisons generally the situation was quite different. All of the women prisoners easily related to her resistance to injustice as they themselves experienced another side of the injustice of the US state directly. Some women were held in the interim facility for up to four years and never made it to prison where there are opportunities for education and work. Resistance to nuclear weapons in the US brings activists face to face with the injustice of the for profit Prison Industrial Complex and in these times especially with the disproportionate and unequal imprisonment of people of colour that has burgeoned with the war on Drugs.

Megan asked all of us to take a small action of solidarity and write to President Obama to urge him to give clemency to Michelle West a woman who was sentenced to two life sentences for inadvertently aiding a drug deal, which she denies. Cards with details of how to write to President Obama are available at the Peace and Justice Centre Or you can sign the petition to President Obama here. Thousands of women are imprisoned in similar cases in the US.

Megan read from a letter from General Douglas MacArthur who said that he was not consulted about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki  bombs. He wrote that Japan was ready to surrender at the time and he would not have approved their use had he been consulted.

In summing up Paul  urged us all to consider that everyone has faith of some kind. It maybe wanting a better world for your children. It may be the more universal idealism of caring about the future of our planet. But everyone is willing to give up at least part of their lives for that and urged us to consider doing so.

The talk was jointly organised by Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre and Trident Ploughshares and supported by Edinburgh CND. Sister Megan and Paul Magno went to Faslane the following day and joined a group of Glasgow Catholic Workers in praying for the disarmament of the Trident nuclear weapons system. Their tour of the UK and Europe continues.

Anyone wanting to explore the history of the Ploughshares movment more fully can borrow one of three books from the Peace and Justice Centre library, Crossing the Line and Doing Time for Peace by Rosalie Riegle and Swords into Plowshares by Art Laffin.

Anyone interested in getting involved in nonviolent resistance to the UK Trident nuclear weapons system can contact Brian at the Peace and Justice Centre or Jane Tallents at Trident Ploughshsares (TP) on tp2000[at] There will be NVDA (nonviolent direct action) trainings for TP in the spring of this year in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK.

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Sister Megan Rice – Transform Now Ploughshares Activist to Speak at New Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre

At the age of 82 Sister Megan Rice, a Catholic nun, along with two other Christian peace activists, caused “The biggest security breach in the history of the [USA’s] atomic complex” and shut down a nuclear weapons plant for two weeks.

Megan, Michael and Greg had cut through chain link fences and eluded security to reach the building in the Y12 Nucelar weapons complex where nuclear weapons grade Uranium is stored. There they had symbolically hammered on the wall of the building, poured blood and grafittied “Woe to Empire” and “Transform Now Ploughshares”. Their action exposed the massive insecurity of the nuclear weapons complex and was highly embarassing to the US government. The three were found guilty of sabotage but the verdict was later overturned on appeal and Megan and the others were dramatically released from prison after more than two years.

Sister Megan, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli called their action the “Transform Now Ploughshares” action. It was one in what is now a long and noble line of such actions of direct and symbolic disarmament of nuclear weapons that began with the action of the Ploughshares Eight. For these three Catholics it was an act of prayer and a dramatic witness inspired by the famous words of the Prophet Isaiah “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their swords into pruning hooks and study war no more.”

We have been following their remarkable story in Peace and Justice News since we first heard of their powerful witness three years ago. Now we will have the opportunity to hear Megan tell her story at our brand new location in the heart of Edinburgh just off the Royal Mile.

Come hear Megan tell her remarkable story at the new Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, 5 Upper Bow, Edinburgh EH1 2JN.

Organised by Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre
Supported by Edinburgh CND

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Don’t Bank on the Bomb Campaign Launch Targets RBS and Scottish Parliament

A broadly based campaign focussing on the links between banks and financial institutions to companies involved in the manufacture of nuclear weapons was launched at a public meeting in Edinburgh on Monday 16 November.

Wilbert van der Zeijden one of the authors of the 2015 Don’t Bank on the Bomb report pointed out that the Royal Bank of Scotland remains the largest investor in nuclear weapons in the UK, while the pension funds of public bodies in Scotland, including that of the Scottish Parliament, continue to invest in nuclear weapons despite clear majority opposition to them.

According to the report, published by Dutch peace organization PAX, 53 financial institutions now prohibit or limit investments in nuclear weapon producers. Van der Zeijden said “This is a 50% increase compared to last year’s report. The increase illustrates the growing stigmatization of nuclear weapons because of the renewed focus on their humanitarian consequences.”

The report also identifies 382 banks, insurance companies and pension funds which have made USD 493 billion available to nuclear weapons producers since January 2012.

Brian Larkin, Coordinator of the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, one of the groups campaigning on this issue in Scotland, said “Based on evidence presented in the report, activists worldwide are calling on financial institutions to stop any investments into weapons of mass destruction, and on governments to ban nuclear weapons once and for all.”P1090716

“Here in Scotland we are focussing on the Royal Bank of Scotland. RBS remains part-owned by the public so it’s all of our business when it continues these toxic investments. RBS have already responded to our approach and have agreed to meet with us.”

Arthur West, Chair of Scottish CND, one of the organisations in Scotland campaigning on this issue said “On Tuesday we will be briefing MSPs on this issue and we’ll highlight the fact that the Scottish Parliament is invested significantly in Rolls Royce, which is building the nuclear reactors, that is the engines, for the new Trident nuclear weapons submarines. It’s madness, and highly unethical, for the Scottish Parliament to invest in nuclear weapons when it has just voted against Trident replacement.”

Rebecca Sharkey of ICAN UK (International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons), which jointly organised the launch events, explained the link with the international efforts to prohibit nuclear weapons, including investments in nuclear weapon producers.

P1090728Van der Zeijden said “Investments in nuclear weapon producers are not a necessity but a choice, as is shown by 13 financial institutions listed in the report’s Hall of Fame. These institutions have outstanding policies preventing any types of investment in any company with association to nuclear weapons. Divestment makes it clear to producers that as long as they are involved in nuclear weapon programmes, they will be considered illegitimate, and a bad investment.”

A range of campaigning organisations including the Edinburgh PeaceDSC_0059 and Justice Centre, Scottish CND, ICAN UK, Medact, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Global Justice Now, Edinburgh CND,  and Edinburgh University People and Planet  are all supporting the campaign.

The full report is available at and

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Don’t Bank on the Bomb Twitter Action Monday 13 April

gdms_tankjpg (1)This coming Monday April 13th is the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS). It is an opportunity for people worldwide to demand a shift from disproportionate military spending to funding real human security needs.

Research coordinated by PAX shows that more than US$ 402 billion was invested in nuclear weapons producers during the period January 2011 – August 2014. These are significant investments from the private sector into companies involved in the production of key components for nuclear weapons.

Please join a twitter action on Monday 13 April! Use the hashtags #MoveTheMoney and #goodbyenukes. And please encourage people in your networks to take part too.

  1. Target these companies to stop producing components used to make UK nuclear weapons:

Alliant Techsystems – @ATK

BAE Systems – @BAESystemsplc
GenCorp – @AerojetRdyne
General Dynamics – @GD_AIS
Honeywell International – @Honeywell_Aero
Lockheed Martin – @LockheedMartin
Northrop Grumman – @northropgrumman
Raytheon – @Raytheon
Serco – @SercoGroup

Suggested tweets (but please get creative with your own wording too. I particularly like the new hashtag #SubmarinesOfDeath, which emerged out of BBC Question Time last week):

I don’t want my money financing #Trident #NuclearWeapons producers like @Honeywell_Aero#goodbyenukes #MoveTheMoney

It’s time to stop producing #Trident #SubmarinesOfDeath@AerojetRdyne#MoveTheMoney #goodbyenukes


 2. Demand an end to financial investment in nuclear weapons producing companies:

These UK financial institutions are in the Hall of Shame in PAX’s Don’t Bank on the Bomb report:

Barclays – @Barclays

HSBC – @hsbc_uk_press

Legal & General – @landg_group

LLoyds Banking Group – @lloydsbankinggp

Aberdeen Asset Management (no twitter handle)

Suggested tweet (insert twitter handles of different financial institutions from the list above):

Time for @landg_group to stop financing the production of #Trident #SubmarinesOfDeath#MoveTheMoney #goodbyenukes

Suggested tweets to specific financial institutions with relevant links:

Time for @Barclays to stop financing #nuclearweapons producers! #divest #goodbyenukes #MoveTheMoney

Time for @hsbc_uk_press to stop financing #nuclearweapons producers! #goodbyenukes #MoveTheMoney

#AberdeenAssetManagement should stop financing #nuclearweapons producers & #divest from @BAESystemsplc +@SercoGroup

No one wants to know that their money is connected with the production of weapons that are either illegal (like cluster munitions) or should be (like nuclear weapons). Everyone has an opportunity to do something about it.



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FM Nicola Sturgeon, Patrick Harvie MSP to speak at Scrap Trident Demo 4 April

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Greens Co-Convener Patrick Harvie MSP, will headline the Scrap Trident Bairns Not Bombs demonstration against Britain’s weapons of mass destruction in George Square, Glasgow on 4th April,.

Cat Boyd

Also on the platform will be Cat Boyd from the Radical Independence Campaign, Disability History Scotland campaigner Sasha Callaghan , Nuala Watt, founder of Human Beings on Benefits, Ann Henderson, Assistant Secretary, STUC, Labour MP Katy Clark and singers Karine Polwart and our favourite local peace troubadour Penny Stone.

And on 13 April it will be the turn of the people to show our determined resistance to the unacceptable immoral ongoing deployment of nuclear weapons on our shores. The Bairns Not Bombs blockade of Faslane starts at 7am. Nonviolent Direct Action Training is encouraged for all who will be taking part or supporting the blockade and will take place in Glasgow on 12 April. Read the Briefing for full details and register here.

A Scrap Trident Coalition spokesperson said:

Nuala Watt

“The eyes of the world are on us. Britain is part of that intransigent and increasingly isolated minority of the world’s nations that possess and deploy nuclear weapons. Right now we have a unique opportunity to lead the way to global disarmament. The understanding that Trident makes no fiscal or strategic sense is ever more widespread, and as we face up to the horrors of its purpose, we are pushing at a door that is beginning to creak open. 

karine Polwart

And Trident is not in fact a single issue. As well as being a horrific reality it is a key symbol of the things we want to change in Scotland, the UK and the world. It sums up the UK’s outdated approach to relations with the rest of the world, an approach that puts threats before peaceful co-operation.

In the context of savage cuts to services it is a sacred cow. It stands for hatred rather than social justice, for environmental devastation rather than care for the planet.

farslane protest tridentThe Peace and Justice Centre is one of several groups in the coalition that is organising the Scrap Trident events andw we are urging everyone who can to help fill George Square on the 4th April and to consider joining the Big Blockade at Faslane.  With this election Scotland has an opportunity to deliver a raft of anti-Trident MPs to Westminster who could stop the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons. This isn’t just about Scotland or the UK but its about the possibility of push starting global disarmament from right here in Scotland.

Moreover the Big Blockade is to take place on the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. The P&J has long called for deep cuts to the military and a seismic shift in the culture of corporate profit at the expense of human needs and indeed human life. Please join us in speaking out for a new and better world, free of nuclear weapons where we prioritise real human needs over armaments.

We also urge everyone to put pressure on Westminster election candidates. Scottish CND has set up an online system to make it easy for anyone to send emails to their election candidates and ask them what they think about Trident. Please contact the candidates in your constituency here.

You can also find out what we already know about the views of your candidates here. To help us to keep the system up to date, please pass on any responses or alterations to the candidate lists.

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