Modernizing nuclear weapons endangers the whole planet | As It Turns Out

America quietly observes the madness of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and President Trump as they do their nuclear saber-rattling dance.

We nervously hope we won’t be used as sacrificial pawns in nuclear warfare blundered into by these two power-hungry characters.

North Korea has just celebrated its success at reducing the size of its warheads to fit into the tip of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Defense intelligence says Jong-un has realized his goal of finally stretching his missiles’ reach to the U.S. West Coast.

Only Guam has been openly threatened by North Korea so far. Two guided-missile submarines, USS Ohio and USS Michigan, both operate out of Guam, with Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor as their base.

The USS Carl Vinson, two destroyers, and a cruiser are en route to South Korea in order to show an intimidating presence while the world waits in angst to see what Jong-un and/or Trump will do next.

From 1947-1991, the world experienced the Cold War, where the Eastern Bloc (Soviet Union) despised the Western Bloc (U.S. and allies) and vice versa. Boomers in grade school were told we could survive a nuclear blast if we hid under our school desks. Fortunately, we never had to test the theory.

Since then, both blocs agreed to denuclearize their stockpiles by about three quarters. Nuclear disarmament worked well until the last 10 years or so when Russia started acting up, so back to nuke stockpiles. Ah, deterrence.

There are nine countries with nuclear weapons: Russia (7,000), U.S. (6,800), France (300), China (270), U.K. (215), Pakistan (140), India (130), Israel (80), North Korea (60) — totaling 14,995 (that we know of). Some of these nuclear weapons are 30 times more powerful than those used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which still managed to kill 100,000 instantly; another 100,000 died later from burns and radiation.

President Trump gets a $1 trillion budget for modernizing our nukes over the next 30 years from President Obama. Trump has already called it an “arms race.” This statement alone moved the Doomsday Clock up by 30 seconds.

Trump’s finger alone can press the red nuclear button — at any urge of vindictiveness, mental instability or uninformed assumption. No consultation is currently expected with military advisers or Congress — Trump alone can destroy the world. There are many problems with this scenario, more than room on this page.

“Even before the recent election, U.S. military-industrial profiteers launched a plan to spend $400 billion on nuclear weapons over the next 10 years,” writes Common Dreams’ Jack Johnson.

“According to Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington residents paid $1.4 billion in 2016 in federal taxes — $196.06 per person.”

So, yes, one of Jong-un’s nuclear weapons could reach Seattle, although there has been no indication this is his plan. Let’s look at what emergency plans are in place for a nuclear attack here in Washington. Oops, turns out that there are none. And there’s a law against having such plans; leavings from the disarmament era. This needs changing, now.

Washington is a fascinating state with its vital military infrastructures like Naval Base Kitsap, Bangor submarine base on our own Hood Canal, and Joint Base Lewis/McChord’s strategic location south of Tacoma.

Bangor is only 20 miles west of Seattle and has the largest stockpile of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. Imagine if the base were nuked or detonated either by accident or hack — or if some employee dropped a hammer on a warhead? It’ll have far more consequences than a fire in a firecracker shed.

We need to fully understand that every living thing will be obliterated — killed. If not then, just a couple of weeks later.

“The U.S. Navy says SSBN submarines on patrol provide the U.S. with its ‘most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability,’ ” wrote Ground Zero’s Leonard Eiger.

“However, SSBNs in port and nuclear warheads stored at SWFPAC are likely the first target in a nuclear war.”

I spent a good share of last weekend with others at the Poulsbo-based Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, a grassroots organization founded in the 1970s. Their main event was a protest during the 72nd anniversary of the WWII bombings in Japan.

How can you help?

Join a nuclear resistance group like Ground Zero Center, Physicians for Social Responsibility, or Global Zero.

Call your members of Congress: Sen. Maria Cantwell, 202-224-3441; Sen. Patty Murray, 202-224-2621; Rep. Derek Kilmer, 202-225-5916.

Possible subjects for those calls: diplomatic dialogue, not escalation; no first strikes, no hair-trigger alerts without Congress’ declaration of war; but don’t lower our guard against potential nuclear attack by North Korea or Russia.

Time to gather up that dusty political energy from back in the day, or learn how to produce it. Marches, vigils, rallies! Now is the time.

— Contact columnist Marylin Olds at