Seeds of Peace at the Carter Center
Anti-nuclear activists gathered this week in the Carter Center gardens to celebrate the annual “Seeds of Peace” observance, an event that marks the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 6, 1945 and Nagasaki on Aug. 9.
About 60 attendees gathered Sunday evening to watch interpretive dances, listen to poetry, and participate in sing-a-longs. Local activists have marked the two bombings, which killed a combined 220,000 people, since 1996.
“Seeds of Peace,” sponsored by Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND), Nuclear Watch South, and others, is one of over 150 events in 34 states across the United States.
“With President Obama giving a historic speech in Prague earlier this year that echoed campaign promises and articulated a plan towards a ‘world without nuclear weapons,’ these events show clear support from the electorate for Obama to achieve his vision as soon as practicably possible,” Paul Kawika Martin, political director of Peace Action, said Tuesday in a press release. “Taking concrete steps like ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty [CTBT], continued negotiations with Russia to reduce nuclear stockpiles, securing nuclear weapons and materials and a clear movement towards international negotiations ridding the world of nuclear weapons will not only make Americans safer, but save us money in the long-term.”
The CTBT, which calls for a prohibition of nuclear testing anywhere in the world by anyone, was negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva from 1994 to 1996.
Since the it became available on Sept. 24, 1996, 181 nations have signed the CTBT, 148 of which have ratified it.
For the treaty to have effect, the 44 states outlined in Annex 2 must ratify it. These states are those that participated in the negotiation at Geneva and possessed nuclear reactors or research reactors at that time.
As of April 2009, there are still nine such states that have not ratified the CTBT: China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and the United States.
The U.S. Senate rejected ratification in October 1999. Barack Obama, during his 2008 campaign, pledged to renew efforts to ratify the treaty. His election to the presidency appears to have renewed spirits within the anti-nuclear community.
“We at WAND are really going to be pressing awareness of the CTBT,” Bobbie Paul, executive director of the Atlanta chapter of WAND, told APN. “We hope people in Georgia become educated about it.”
Paul said activists will not only press Georgia’s Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss to sign on but also keep pressure on the president to fulfill his promises.
“People need to be twice as vigilant with Obama,” Paul said. “It’s not time to sit back and say ‘great, we’ve got somebody up there.’”
Paul told APN local activists want to reach out and work with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a group formed by Ted Turner and former Georgia Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn.
Nunn, along with former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and former Secretary of Defense William Perry, met with President Obama in May to discuss a world without nuclear weapons.
Attendees at Sunday’s event signed on to a letter to the president that urges him to stick to his nuclear-free vision.
“We are going to be pushing this as one of our highest priorities, to take specific steps,measurable steps, verifiable steps, to make progress on this issue, even as we keep a long-term perspective and a long-term vision about what can be achieved,” Obama said after the May meeting.
(All photos by Jonathan Springston, Senior Staff Writer, Atlanta Progressive News)