The trial of the Disarm Now Plowshares activists who entered a U.S. Navy Trident nuclear submarine base and nuclear weapons storage depot begins on December 7, 2009 at 9:00 AM at the Tacoma Courthouse, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
The Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants, Bill “Bix” Bichsel, SJ, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, Steve Kelly, SJ, and Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, all face charges of Conspiracy, Trespass, Destruction of Property on a Naval Installation and Depredation of Government Property for their November 2, 2009 Plowshares action. They entered the U.S. Navy’s nuclear weapons storage depot at Bangor, Washington to symbolically disarm the nuclear weapons stored there, and expose the illegality of the government's continued preparations for nuclear war.
As co-defendant Susan Crane described their intention during a pre-trial hearing, “On Nov. 2, 2009, we remembered the words of the prophet Isaiah, who had a vision of beating swords into plowshares … convert weapons of war into something useful for human life. It is our firm understanding that these Trident nuclear weapons are illegal under national and international law, as well as the teachings of our faith, and general humanitarian law and conscience.”
The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles west of Seattle, is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads. In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal. The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined.The base has been rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more accurate Trident D-5 missile system. Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead is about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb) and costs approximately $60 million. The D-5 missile can also be armed with the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead. The Trident fleet at Bangor deploys both the 455 kiloton W-88 warhead and the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead.Despite the limitations already imposed on their defense by Judge Benjamin Settle, the Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants are prepared to present a case to the jury; that their actions on November 2, 2009 were lawful in light of the government's unlawful actions involving continuing preparations for and threat of use of nuclear weapons, in this case Trident. International law is clear regarding the illegality of the possession and threat of use of nuclear weapons, and the voluntary participation of the U.S. government in international law is well established. Because of the government's disregard for the law coupled with its ignoring all previous attempts by the co-defendants to bring the government's attention to this
issue, they had no other recourse, and in fact were bound by the law and their conscience to engage in this Plowshares action. A number of expert witnesses will be in Tacoma to testify on behalf of the Disarm Now co-defendants. They include Scottish Trident activist Angie Zelter, Anabel Dwyer, Esq., an expert on international law relating to nuclear weapons, Retired Air Force Colonel Ann Wright, and Steven Leeper, Chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation.
Angie Zelter is a British nuclear disarmament activist, founder of Trident Ploughshares and winner of the 2001 Right Livelihood Award. Anabel Dwyer is an attorney and Board Member of The Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP). She has studied, lectured, taught and written widely on public international law in particular human rights and humanitarian law (the laws of war) and nuclear weapons. Ret. Col. Ann Wright, who served in the U.S. Army and Foreign Service, resigned on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, stating that without the authorization of the UN Security Council, the invasion and occupation of a Muslim, Arab, oil-rich country would be a violation of international law. Most recently, she was on the May 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli military. Steven Leeper is the first American (as well as the first non-Japanese) chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. He was recognized with the 2008 Academia Prize in International Exchange from the Academic Society of Japan for his leadership as the Chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation in the initiatives of Mayors for Peace, the project to do 101 Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-bomb Exhibitions in the U.S., and other international exchange and cooperation projects.
People and organizations around the world have demonstrated their support for Disarm Now. Letters of support have come from Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nobel Laureates Shirin Ebadi, Mairead Corrigan and Jody Williams.-thanks to MaryAnne who forwarded this Plowshares newsrelease to me
Supporters of Disarm Now Plowshares will vigil outside the courthouse each day beginning at 8:00 AM. On December 7th, Ground Zero Center for onviolent Action will set up a full scale (44 foot long) inflatable Trident D-5 missile in front of the courthouse for the 8:00 AM vigil as a graphic reminder of what should be on trial.
A Press Conference will be held on Tuesday, December 7th at 8:00 AM in front of the Tacoma Union Station Courthouse (1717 Pacific Avenue) with all members of Disarm Now Plowshares and some expert witnesses present to make a statement and answer questions.
Evening events are also planned each night of the trial where the public can meet the Disarm Now Plowshares Five, hear speakers, including each of the expert witnesses, and learn more about the movement to abolish nuclear weapons.
An updated listing of all the week's events is at the "Events" page at the Disarm Now Plowshares Website and Blog. Daily trial summaries will be posted on the Blog.
There have been more than 100 Plowshares Nuclear Resistance Actions worldwide since 1980. Plowshares actions are taken from Isaiah 2:4, a book in the Hebrew Scriptures of the Bible, “God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many people. And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not take up swords against nations, nor will they train for war anymore.”
Contact: Leonard Eiger, 425-445-2190