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Y2K Nuke De-Alert Legislative Initiatives


Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 20:38:41 EDT
Subject: [y2k-nuclear] Rep. Edward Markey's Resolution for De-Alerting


Representative Edward Markey, of Massachusetts, today released the following
text of his Resolution concerning de-alerting of nuclear missiles to the
Metro-Boston Committee to De-Alert Nuclear Weapons, with permission to
publish it here on the Internet. Rep. Markey is the first US Congressman to
take such a stand on the urgent question of missile de-alerting. He would
like to encourage other members of Congress to join him as cosponsors.

William F. Santelmann, Jr., for the
Metro-Boston Committee to De-Alert Nuclear Weapons



Expressing the sense of the Congress that nuclear weapons should be taken off
hair-trigger alert.

Whereas accidental or mistaken launch of a nuclear missile could devastate a
city, and launch of a nuclear force could wreak worldwide destruction;

Whereas the United States and Russia currently maintain thousands of nuclear
weapons on "hair-trigger" alert, such that they can be fired within minutes;

Whereas in several incidents false signals of missile attacks have triggered
a process in which national leaders had to decide in only a few minutes
whether to fire nuclear weapons;

Whereas the failure of computers to recognize the year 2000 date change could
infect command, control, communications, and intelligence systems, causing
false signals or blank monitoring screens;

Whereas Russian monitoring and control systems are deteriorating;

Whereas a massive preemptive attack attempting to destroy the nuclear weapons
capability of either Russia or the United States is extremely unlikely, and
mutual measures to slow the firing of nuclear weapons would make a preemptive
strike even more difficult;

Whereas much of the nuclear force of each country, including submarines at
sea and mobile land-based missiles, is almost invulnerable and thus would
preserve retaliatory ability through a nuclear attack, making immediate
firing of weapons unnecessary;

Whereas President Bush in 1991 ordered a unilateral stand-down of United
States strategic bombers and de-alerted some missiles, and Soviet President
Gorbachev quickly reciprocated with similar actions, improving bilateral
relations and national security;

Whereas removing further missiles from hair-trigger alert would help
alleviate recent tensions between Russia and the United States; and

Whereas there are several ways that land and submarine based weapons could be
temporarily disabled, with times ranging from minutes to weeks in order to
reactivate them: Now, therefore be it

the sense of the Congress that---

1) the United States, Russia, and other nuclear powers should negotiate an
agreement to take all of their nuclear weapons off of high-alert status in
order to decrease the risk of accidental or mistaken firing of nuclear

2) to further such an agreement, the United States should immediately take
off of hair-trigger alert as many of its nuclear weapons as is feasible and
consistent with national security, and should encourage Russia to reciprocate;

3) the Department of Defense and the State Department should study methods to
increase further the time needed to launch all nuclear missiles and study the
effect these actions would have on nuclear deterrence, relations with other
recognized nuclear powers, the international nuclear nonproliferation regime,
and other aspects of national security; and

4) the President should expedite the establishment of a United States-Russian
joint early-warning center to ensure accurate detection of any missiles and
effective communication in the even of a false alarm, computer malfunction,
accident, or diplomatic crisis, as set forth in the "Joint Statement on the
Exchange of Information on Missile Launches and Early Warning", agreed to in
1998, and should facilitate the establishment of a temporary center before
the end of 1999 that could address any problems which might arise due to the
failure of computers to recognize the year 2000 date change.




Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 16:35:42 +1000
From: FoE Sydney - Nuclear Campaign <>

John Hallam
Friends of the Earth Sydney,
17 Lord street, Newtown, NSW, Australia,
Fax(61)(2)9517-3902 ph (61)(2)9517-3903

Dear All,
The resolution that managed to pass unanimously through the Australian
senate was unfortunately, not as good as it should have been- both the ALP,
and the overnment, very predictably, tried to water it down drastically.

The resolution, specifically, lacks a committment to de-alerting.

However, it 'notes' that the Canberra Commission reccommended de- alerting,
as well as various resolutions of UNGA doing so.

What is however, quite stunning is that the government voted at all for ANY
Y2K weapons related resolution whatsoever.

That is in itself extraordinary.

What I now propose to do is to get Australians to fax foreign minister
Alexander Downer and shadow foreign minister Brereton, asking them to adopt
as policy,



The Senate today unanimously passed a motion moved by Democrat Senator Lyn
Allison, that calls on the nuclear weapons states to develop measures to
eliminate the risk of the accidental use of nuclear weapons over the Y2K
rollover period.

The motion comes after the release of a letter to Yeltsin and Clinton
signed by 271 groups worldwide including 22 Australian Parliamentarians,
Friends of the Earth International and Greenpeace International, calling
for the de-alerting of nuclear weapons in accordance with the
recommendations of the Canberra Commission of 1996.

Both the letter and todays Senate motion are in response to deep concerns
that have been aired by Bruce Blair of the influential Brookings
Institution, the Federation of American Scientists, and the
British-American Security Information Council, that Y2K-related computer
malfunctions in the massive and ancient computer complexes that control US
and Russian nuclear missiles could pose an 'unacceptable risk of accidental
nuclear war'.

According to Friends of the Earth nuclear campaigner John Hallam,
"The resolution moved by the Democrats and now passed unanimously, calls
on the Australian Government to continue to encourage the efforts being
made by nuclear weapon states to develop measures to eliminate any risk of
the accidental use of nuclear weapons'."

"It also makes specific reference to the 1996 Canberra Commission
recommendation that all nuclear forces be taken off hairtrigger alert."

"We welcome the fact that there is now a parliamentary consensus that there
is actually a potential problem. As such the resolution represents
progress and is to be welcomed. However, it is clear that many people on
both sides of the parliament have their heads stuck firmly in the sands of

"There is one way in which the risk of accidental nuclear war can be
completely eliminated. That is by taking nuclear weapons and forces off
hairtrigger alert, as the Canberra Commission, and a number of UN
resolutions, have recommended."

According to Irene Gale of the Australian Peace Committee,
"As long as nuclear weapons are not taken off alert, some 5000 nuclear
warheads are 24 hours a day in readiness to be launched within 20-30
minutes. If that ever happens, it really will be the end of the world -
certainly for civilisation, possibly for all human life."

"Y2K- related computer malfunctions provide a small but still significant
chance that this could happen. It's a risk that the planet as a whole
should not be subjected to. Taking nuclear weapons off alert will eliminate
that risk. We call on the government to implement the Senate resolution by
making the recommendations of the 1996 Canberra Commission policy, and
urging the nuclear weapon states to implement them."

Contact: John Hallam, 02-9517-3903 h9810-2598
Irene Gale A.M., 08-8212-7138, Ron Gray, 08-8364-2291


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