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May 1, 2012

You are Invited!

this image was created by Rachel McIntire

Design by Rachel McIntire, photography by Dena Rapoport, artwork by Sonya Rapoport

Dear Friends,

It has been three years in the making, over 100 meetings in Washington D.C. and Silicon Valley (executive offices and coffee shops including), many great organizations and institutions, and people were involved. You are invited to the play by Richard Rhodes “Reykjavik” at the Stanford University. The play will be preceded by a digital presentation “Nuclear Family in the Atomic Age” by renown Sonya Rapoport. We are grateful to all involved.

Warm regards,

Les DeWitt and Elena I. Nicklasson

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January 8, 2012

Reykjavik by Richard Rhodes in Stanford – May 2012!

Just over twenty-five years ago the world’s two nuclear superpowers meet at Reykjavik , Iceland to discuss an agenda of limited nuclear arms reduction and human rights.  President Ronald Reagan of the United States of America, and President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and their respective staffs soon abandoned the proposed agenda and the talks transformed into a discussion of the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  For such a topic to be seriously considered by such leaders was unheard of in 1986.  Unfortunately, it is still twenty years after the end of the cold war.  What were Reagan and Gorbachev thinking for those brief hours at Reykjavik?  What was in their hearts and what were their dreams for a new world, a world without nuclear weapons?

Richard Rhodes has written a one-act play, Reykjavik, which is an eighty-minute dialogue based upon the actual transcripts from the conversation between the two Presidents.  Mr. Rhodes, a renowned author has chronicled the nuclear age with numerous books and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb this is his first play.

Reykjavik, the play, will be performed at 7:00 p.m. on both Tuesday, May 8th and Wednesday, May 9th at the new Cemex Auditorium at The Knight School of Management on the Stanford University campus.  After the Tuesday performance a short question and answer session will be held with the audience . Mr. Rhodes and Phillip Taubman, N.Y. Times journalist, author, professor and nuclear expert, who covered the Reykjavik Summit in person for the N.Y. Times will be on stage.

On Wednesday, May 9th the performance will be followed by comments and a question and answer by Dr. Charles Ferguson, President of the Federation of American Scientists and Dr. Sidney Drell of the Hoover Institute’s Nuclear Security Project.

Reykjavik the play will have prior to each performance a pre-show viewing of Sonya Rapoport’s “The Nuclear Family in the Atomic Age”.  Her images will be shown before each performance of Reykjavik.  Also, being shown will be a five minute video by the Nuclear Literacy Project created by Dr. Sri Devabhaktuni.”

The Reykjavik Project will also unveil a new public opinion questionnaire that will be the work of Professor Jon Krasnick  of Stanford’s Department of Political Science.  This questionnaire will be offered to all event participants and will be used in future events and made available to other non-proliferation / disarmament initiatives.  It will be a survey assessing the hopes, fears and expectations of the general public for governmental policies that will lead to a world where the elimination of nuclear weapons is valued and activity pursued.

The overall objective of the Reykjavik Project is to spark awareness and a sense of empowerment to our audience that they can speak out and demand a world that exists without nuclear weapons.  President Reagan and President Gorbachev felt this in their hears as have many world leaders prior to Reykjavik and after.  Why can’t we get this done?  The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and these steps must be taken by many not just the few.

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Peace Through Art

Sonya Rapoport, with whom the Fund for Peace Initiatives closely collaborates, will have a show of interactive works exhibited at the Mills College Art Museum. Spaces of Life: The Art of Sonya Rapoport will feature an interactive work Nuclear Family in the Atomic Age produced with support of FFPI’s Les DeWitt and Elena Ilina Nicklasson.

Please join us for the reception held at Mills College on January 18, 2011, 6 pm – 8 pm. The exposition will last from January 18 to March 11, 2012. For more details, please see: http://mcam.mills.edu/events/

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August 8, 2011

Mr. Les DeWitt, Founder and Director of the Fund for Peace Initiatives, Joins the Advisory Board of the Federation of American Scientists’ New Initiative, the International Science Partnership

Mr. Les DeWitt joins the International Science Partnership Advisory Board. The International Science Partnership (ISP) brings together American scientists and engineers with counterparts in countries of security concern to the U.S. to build robust personal and institutional relationships and solve critical social and environmental issues.

As quoted from the Federation of American Scientists (FAS): “Public-private partnerships are vital to building peace worldwide,” said Les DeWitt. “I feel privileged to join FAS’s exciting ISP project and help raise public awareness about the importance of energy and water security issues.”

The first ISP project involves American scientists assisting Yemenis engineers in helping to alleviate Yemen’s chronic water depletion. To learn more on this particular project, visit: www.water.org.

For more information visit the FAS website: www.fas.org

More updates to follow.

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August 4, 2011

Nuclear Family – Art and Civic Advocacy

Fund for Peace Initiatives currently supports one of the art projects by Sonya Rapoport, an acknowledged Berkeley artist and an outstanding woman. Sonya is an American conceptual/digital artist and New media artist who has created computer-assisted interactive installations and participatory web-based artworks. To learn more about Sonya and her art, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonya_Rapoport.

Sonya’s new art project is planned to be finished by winter 2012 and will tentatively be under the theme of Nuclear Family, which will combine family and nuclear concepts (including some Russian). The project is in the works, so follow this post for more updates in the near future.

We particularly recommend one of Sonya’s pieces on militarism: KABALLAH KABUL

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Reykjavik – a Play by Richard Rhodes

Fund for Peace Initiatives is currently working on a  with Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Rhodes to plan and produce a play, Reykjavik, in Stanford, Palo Alto (California) with anticipated date January 2012. Rhodes writes about the play: “my play based on the historic summit meeting between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland, on 11 – 12 October 1986, is receiving staged readings nationwide. Paul Newman advised me on writing Reykjavik; he read the third draft just weeks before his death. He was a warm, modest, decent, generous man; his death on 27 September 2008 carried away one of the good people of the world. Reykjavik is dedicated to him.”

To learn more about future Reykjavik productions, visit: http://www.richardrhodes.com/appearances.html

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July 28, 2011

On Nuclear Activism

Elena Ilina Nicklasson, Partner at the Fund for Peace Initiatives, spoke on KPFA about nuclear activism and the role women take in nuclear disarmament. Elena indicated that the young people relate less to the problem of nuclear weapons and security, because most of them grew up in the post-Cold War world. What nuclear future do you envision?

To listen to her interview log-in to an hour long interview for the last twenty minutes here: http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/71838

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May 16, 2011


The Board of Directors and staff of the Federation of American Scientists in partnership with the Fund for Peace Initiatives will host a lunch on Thursday, June 2nd 2011 at the Menlo Circus Club.

The lunch will be a private event to focus on the implications of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident for the U.S. and global nuclear industry as well as the next urgent steps needed to secure nuclear weapons and weapons-usable fissile material to prevent nuclear terrorism. In addition, the presenters will discuss the work that the Federation of American Scientists is performing to understand the science and technology underlying national and international security issues and to develop practical recommendations to improve security.

Attendees will receive a copy of my latest book Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know, published by Oxford University Press. This newly published book includes an analysis of the Fukushima Daiichi event.

The Federation of American Scientists is working to prevent the next Fukushima and Hiroshima. Les Dewitt, Martin Hellman, Sri Srikrishna, and Tom Tisch, the Event Host Committee, want the business community to add its voice to these important issues. Using research, analysis, and outreach on nuclear energy and nuclear security, FAS advances safe and secure nuclear power solutions that are resilient to natural disasters, accidents, and attacks. And we want a world free of nuclear explosions, especially from a terrorist’s use of nuclear weapons.

Through advice and investment, the business community must play a role to ensure safe and secure nuclear power and to prevent nuclear terrorism.

This event will focus on the implications of the Fukushima Daiichi accident for the nuclear industry and the next steps needed to secure nuclear weapons and the fissile material to make these weapons.

The event organizing committee includes Les DeWitt, Devabhaktuni Srikrishna, Martin Hellman, and Tom Tisch.

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April 26, 2011

Maternal Meltdown: From Chernobyl to Fukushima

Elena Ilina Nicklasson, Partner at the Fund for Peace Initiatives co-authored an op-ed in commemoration of the Chernobyl tragedy and with great concern about the future of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Original post: IPS News.

By Whitney Graham and Elena I. Nicklasson
SAN FRANCISCO, Apr 26, 2011 (IPS) – On this day 25 years ago, a massive explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine released clouds of radioactive particles into the atmosphere across Russia and Europe. The catastrophe had lasting effects on people’s health, particularly on women and their unborn children. On this sober anniversary, we look back at Chernobyl and the lessons learned to ensure the health of Japanese women as the Fukushima disaster unfolds.

Although slow to address the crisis, the Japanese government recently raised the alert level of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants from a 5 to a 7, the highest rating possible and on par with the only nuclear disaster of this magnitude: Chernobyl. By raising the level to 7, the government acknowledged the grave situation before Japan. What it hasn’t done, however, is delineate clear protocols for how people should protect themselves against radiation, particularly the most vulnerable: pregnant women and their unborn foetuses.

Women of reproductive age are at significant risk from the effects of radiation on their bodies and reproductive systems. Studies show women’s exposure to radiation may harm her future ability to bear children and can cause premature aging. The U.S. Center for Disease Control warns pregnant women that, in the event of exposure to radiation, even at low doses, the health consequences for unborn foetuses “can include stunted growth, deformities, abnormal brain function, or cancer that may develop sometime later in life.”

No one understands the implications of radiation on women’s health better than the Russian women who survived the Chernobyl nuclear holocaust. The amount of radiation levels released into the atmosphere was comparable to 500 atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

In the two decades after Chernobyl, approximately 200,000 people died. Women living in highly contaminated areas in Ukraine and Belarus were affected by chromosome disorders, leukaemia, psychological trauma, depression, and multiple birth defects in their children. Among women who lived in the affected area, medical studies detected high levels of thyroid and breast cancer. Unfortunately, the former Soviet Union failed to provide timely and continuous information about the effects of radiation on human health.

In light of the unique risk to women’s health caused by exposure to radiation, the Japanese government and international agencies must take immediate action. Yet neither the World Health Organisation nor the International Atomic Energy Association – the two international bodies that monitor health and nuclear security respectively – have provided any information about the effect of radiation exposure to women’s bodies. Even a simple google search on the impact of radiation on women does not yield much, nor are there steps that women can take to mitigate the impact on her health and her children.

Although the transition to safer energy sources is a long road, what can and must be immediately done is the proactive outreach to women. The Japanese government must address the gender-specific health risks posed by its nuclear crisis by encouraging women to have medical evaluations and providing them with available resources on the implications of nuclear radiation on their health and strategies to reduce their exposure.

Our recommendations for women affected by the unfolding nuclear crisis are: first get a medical evaluation, and avoid foods produced locally, including lettuce, milk, berries and mushrooms. Pregnant women, specifically those in their first or second trimesters, must be especially vigilant about what they consume, as radiation passes through the umbilical cord to the unborn fetus.

Most importantly, women in Japan should reach out to the local authorities, contact their representatives, and send inquiries to the state-level medical authorities requesting informational materials about measures to protect women’s health and how the Japanese government is ensuring women’s health rights are protected. They should speak out if they feel misinformed, if their health concerns are dismissed (including continuous fatigue or psychological trauma), or if they are discriminated at a work place or hospital as it relates to them being affected by the nuclear crisis. The right to health and the wellbeing of future generations should be of paramount importance and vigilantly protected.

“It wouldn’t have been so annoying for us to die had we known our death would help to avoid more ‘fatal mistakes’,” Chernobyl survivor and Ukrainian poet Lyubov Sirota wrote about the Chernobyl disaster. Unfortunately, Japan has not learned the “fatal mistakes” of Chernobyl, and the ones who will pay the heavy price are women and future generations.

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December 14, 2010

New Nuclear Treaty is the Latest Crusade of George Shultz – at 90

From: Mercury News

By James Goodby and Les DeWitt

History is made by individuals, and once in a while events come along to remind us of that.

An example is New START, a strategic arms reduction treaty that is critical to the future of humankind and now is before the U.S. Senate. It is a relatively modest treaty in terms of the reductions in strategic nuclear weapons it will require Russia and the United States to make. But it will reinstate a monitoring process in both countries that lapsed when a strategic arms reduction treaty negotiated during the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush expired a year ago.

And here we come to that conjunction of events that ties an abstract idea to human action.

George Shultz, the former secretary of state, secretary of the Treasury and secretary of labor, turned 90 Monday. He continues to work for causes he believes in, and he enjoys considerable success in doing so.

Probably closest to his heart is the vision of a world without nuclear weapons. His advocacy of this goal, added to Reagan’s own vision, nearly led to an agreement with the Soviet Union’s last president, Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1986 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Then, the idea was attacked. Now, it is seen as a highly desirable goal around the world.

What a wonderful conjunction of events it would be if the Senate were to ratify New START this week, tying this indispensable next step in bringing nuclear weapons under control to the secretary’s momentous birthday.

Russian and American stockpiles of nuclear weapons constitute about 90 percent of all the nuclear weapons in the world today. Without cooperation between the two countries in shrinking those numbers, there is little chance that others will follow suit. In fact, there is every reason to believe that more and more nations will build, buy or steal nuclear weapons.

The threat we face is no longer Russia, of course, but nuclear-armed terrorism and rogue states. Without the New START treaty, the barriers built to block the spread of nuclear weapons to additional countries will erode. Loss of control of these deadly weapons or the materials from which they are made will certainly ensue.

A nuclear bomb sent by a terrorist will have no return address inscribed upon it, nor will it care if the Democrats or Republicans voted for or against policies based upon particular partisan concerns. This is a real threat, and it cannot be removed short of drying up the reservoir of weapons and materials to which terrorists or rogue states may gain access.

Shultz, at 90, is still working hard to prevent a nuclear catastrophe by advocating ratification of this treaty. As he frequently says, democracy is not a spectator sport. Join him in this critically important endeavor: E-mail your voice of support for Senate ratification of the New START treaty this week to Democratic Sen. John Kerry and Republican Sen. Richard Lugar. Both support ratification, and knowing that you support the treaty will strengthen their position.

Controlling nuclear proliferation is a long, hard diplomatic climb to a mountaintop that has never been scaled before. That climb must be supported and led by our country. Ratification of the New START treaty by our Senate is vital to this cause.

JAMES GOODBY is a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution (www.hoover.org). LES DeWITT is the founder of the Fund for Peace Initiatives (www.ffpi.org). They wrote this article for the Mercury News newspaper.

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