An Oak Ridge organization that opposes the nuclear weapons production work at the Y-12 National Security Complex has organized a Sunday reading of a world court opinion on the legality of the use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons.
Open to the public, the reading will be part of a 5 p.m. weekly Sunday vigil at the main entrance to Y-12 at East Bear Creek and Scarboro roads.
It will celebrate the 17th anniversary of the International Court of Justice, or World Court, decision in 1996, the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance said in a press release. It’s the seventh year OREPA has marked the World Court anniversary with a public reading.
“It started out as a one-time reading to mark the 10th anniversary,” said OREPA coordinator Ralph Hutchison. “But as we read it, we found the document to be compelling, and we decided to repeat it the next year. And here we are, seven years later, still reading.”
The press release said the World Court opinion was issued after hearing arguments from the United States and other nations, and it reviews the various arguments, reflects on the nature of nuclear weapons, places them in the context of the larger goals of humanity, and finally determines that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to common humanitarian law.
“While the court issued split rulings on several of the issues raised by the arguments, it spoke with one voice when it ruled, unanimously, that nuclear weapons states have ‘an obligation to achieve nuclear disarmament,'” the release said. “The court’s language echoes and strengthens the commitments made by the United States in 1969 when it promised, in signing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to pursue nuclear disarmament negotiations ‘at an early date.'”
Hutchison said the ruling has particular power today because the Nonproliferation Treaty is “in danger of unraveling with disastrous consequences.” He alleged that the work being done at Y-12 to extend the lifetimes of U.S. nuclear warheads is “in clear defiance of the court’s ruling.” He cited a claim made by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who testified in U.S. District Court in Knoxville that the nuclear weapons work at Y-12 is unlawful.
Clark testified during an April hearing for three anti-nuclear weapons activists who cut through fences in a high-security area at Y-12 on July 28 and splashed human blood, spray-painted slogans, and hammered on a uranium storage building.
OREPA said it has held nonviolent vigils for peace every Sunday for more than 13 years at Y-12. For more information, contact Hutchison at (865) 776-5050 or [email protected].