Peace with Iran: updates from Code Pink USA's campaign

Code Pink USA have won another victory in their campaign for the US to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, with Representative and presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard committing her support.


In May 2018, President Trump pulled the US out of the deal, which provided that Iran's nuclear activities would be limited in exchange for reduced sanctions. The international community reacted to Trump’s announcement with serious concern.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said of the decision: “Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Iran nuclear deal is a dangerous and irresponsible move, rightly condemned by the international community. The groundbreaking 2015 deal achieved its central aim: Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons programme. Only a president hellbent on making the world a more dangerous place would consider such a belligerent and counterproductive move. It will be seen as a step towards war and sends a threatening message to the world.”

For the past couple of weeks, Code Pink have been calling on the 2020 Presidential hopefuls to publicly support rejoining the deal as part of their campaign to reinstate it.

So far, Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Representative Julian Castro and candidates Wayne Messam, Marianne Williamson, and now Representative Tulsi Gabbard have all committed to re-entering the Iran Nuclear deal.

Code Pink also had another victory last month when the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution calling on the U.S. to re-enter the Iran Nuclear deal. This means that rejoining the agreement is the official policy of the Democratic Party.

Code Pink USA is a grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S.-funded wars and occupations. In January this year, we held a video interview with its co-founder Medea Benjamin, which was screened at our conference. You can watch the interview in full here.

Protest NATO: 70 years too many

This April, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) celebrates its 70th birthday.

As CND General Secretary Kate Hudson writes, ‘in the 30 years since the Cold War and the removal of its political and military rival, the Soviet Union, NATO has massively expanded territorially, changed its mission statement from a defensive to an aggressive posture and embarked on a series of wars, of which their intervention in Afghanistan is getting on for two decades long. ‘

CND has long opposed NATO, and on the 2nd April will protest to challenge this aggressive alliance which makes all of us less safe. Linking with anti-NATO protests internationally, CND will be at NATO’s Allied Maritime Command in Northwood.

Join us on the 2nd April to say No to Nato and No to Trump!

A new nuclear arms race? The INF treaty explained


What is the INF treaty - and why does it matter?

This morning, we woke up to the news that Donald Trump is pulling the US out of the INF treaty. So what?

Read our explainer to find out why it’s actually a big deal.

What is it?

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF for short) was signed in Washington in 1987 between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, then General Secretary of the USSR. The treaty put an end to an arms race in which both the US and the USSR had deployed nuclear missiles all across Europe.

The INF outlawed all missiles with ranges of 500–1,000 kilometers (short-range) and 1,000–5,500 km (intermediate-range), and by May 1991, 2,692 such missiles were eliminated.

Why does Donald Trump want the US to pull out?

In October last year, Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the treaty on the grounds that Russia is not complying with it. The Trump administration claims that Russia is developing a new Cruise missile, which violates the treaty.

What happens next?

Today Trump confirmed that the US will be leaving the treaty. The US will suspending its compliance on Saturday, and will serve formal notice that it will withdraw altogether in six months.

If Russia does not destroy its new missiles within that six-month window, the US will start to develop its own intermediate-range missiles. This is likely to lead to a dangerous nuclear arms race.

Use CND’s tool to call on the foreign secretary to save the treaty.

Trump's finger on the nuclear button: Report from London CND 2019 conference

Photo: Henry Kenyon

Photo: Henry Kenyon

Last Saturday, CND supporters from across London gathered for our annual conference - this year taking the theme ‘Trump’s finger on the Nuclear Button.’

We were honoured to be joined by Ambassador Husam Zumlot, head of the Palestinian mission in Washington until President Trump closed it down. The Ambassador gave fascinating insights into the challenges facing those who seek a peaceful solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and what the Trump administration’s policies mean for the region. We also heard from Catherine West on the UK Parliament’s response to the Trump administration, and from Ann Feltham from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade on the importance of ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

After the first session we crossed the Atlantic, with a video interview with Medea Benjamin from Code Pink USA, a women-led organisation opposing war and militarism. She told us about the varied tactics Code Pink uses - from traditional protest marches to inventive publicity stunts and educational programmes - and said she hoped to work more closely with the UK peace movement in the months and years ahead.

You can watch the video interview  here

You can watch the video interview here

Our second plenary featured Dr Rebecca Johnson from the Acronym Institute, London CND Chair Carol Turner, and Rae Street, Vice-Chair of CND UK. The guests discussed the trashing of international treaties - such as Trump’s intention to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, first signed in 1987 between the US and Russia. We heard about the importance of international agreements like the in building towards a nuclear-free world.

SOAS CND chair Nobu Ono speaking at the conference. Photo: Henry Kenyon

SOAS CND chair Nobu Ono speaking at the conference. Photo: Henry Kenyon

In the final plenary - ‘Think Global, Act Local’ - our speakers tackled the challenge of how to take concrete action as campaigners and communities to build this world. Sara Medi Jones, acting CND General Secretary, spoke about CND’s current campaigns; Nobu Ono told us about the work he’s been doing running SOAS CND, and the challenges and opportunities in youth and student activism. Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley left us with a message of hope: that we are living through times of intense change, in which the old political order is breaking apart - and we have the opportunity to build something new.

London CND vice-chair Hannah Kemp-Welch chairs the final panel of the day. Photo: Henry Kenyon

London CND vice-chair Hannah Kemp-Welch chairs the final panel of the day. Photo: Henry Kenyon

You can see all the photos from the conference here.

Women against Trump: video interview with Code Pink's Medea Benjamin

At our annual conference on the 12th January, titled ‘Trump’s Finger on the Nuclear Button’, we were lucky enough to carry out a video interview with Medea Benjamin from Code Pink USA, a women-led anti-war organisation. Watch it here!

Trump Is Giving Palestinians a Choice. We’ll Choose Dignity.

By Husam Zomlot

This piece first published in the New York Times, Sept. 25, 2018

RAMALLAH, West Bank — My family and I moved to Washington in April 2017, just a few months after President Trump took office. I’d been sent as the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s general delegation to the United States — effectively the Palestinian ambassador in Washington.

At the time, the new administration said it wanted to forge a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East. This seemed like a long shot given Mr. Trump’s positions and his close association with some of Israel’s most extreme American supporters. Still, we Palestinians wanted to give this effort a chance.

One of my first tasks was preparing for a visit in May by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. My team and I began to meet with officials at the White House, the State Department and Congress. We also held encouraging meetings with universities, churches, think tanks and the news media, in which I saw how American opinions are changing on the Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence.

At the same time, my family began to get used to our new home. My son, Saeed, then 6, and my 5- year-old daughter, Alma, began school. My wife, Suzan, who trained as a biomedical scientist, took time off as our children adjusted to their new life and I started my demanding job. In no time, we all made many wonderful American friends. It was a hopeful new beginning.

A few months later, things changed radically. Although our relationships with the American people — including the American Jewish communities — were growing, political ties with the Trump administration deteriorated. In December, President Trump announced the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his intention to move the American Embassy in Israel there. By that point, it had become clear that the White House was fully embracing the right- wing Israeli agenda.

The situation has gotten even worse since. In May, the United States officially moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, at which point I was recalled by Mr. Abbas to the occupied West Bank, where I remain. More recently, the Trump administration has taken even more pointless and vindictive steps toward the Palestinian people. In August, the White House decided to defund the United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees. The effort to punish the Palestinians continues. The administration appears intent on cutting off all aid, even to hospitals.

I haven’t been spared this vindictiveness. This month, the administration ordered the closing of the Palestinian mission in Washington, my office. And it has announced that it plans to revoke my family’s visas by Oct. 10.

We are in the middle of a political and diplomatic crisis. I resent, of course, the toll this is taking on my family. But as a diplomat, I can see the upside. This situation presents three strategic opportunities.

First, it frees the Palestinians from the shackles of a failed 27-year-old, American-led peace process, unleashing more of our energy to work with the international community. At our invitation, dozens of countries will attend a meeting in New York this week to discuss restarting international peace efforts.

Second, it provides an opportunity to correct the American-Palestinian bilateral relationship. In 1987, Congress designated the P.L.O. as a terrorist organization. This law, among others, contributed to the United States’ failure as a mediator. Despite the American-sponsored Madrid peace conference in 1991, the signing of the Oslo accords at the White House in 1993, the numerous bilateral agreements and generous American aid program, this label was never removed. We know this process drags on — Nelson Mandela was officially classified as a terrorist by the United States until 2008 — but it’s time to do so. Our diplomatic mission in Washington must be reopened only once this law is repealed.

Third, this crisis will help redirect Palestinian attention away from just high-level American officials and toward an equally, if not more, important investment: long-term engagement directly with the American people. American public opinion, especially among young people, is shifting toward supporting peace and Palestinian rights.

My family left the United States a few days ago. While as a father I am dismayed that my children had to change schools three times in one year, as an ambassador I feel a sense of national fulfillment. The Trump administration has given us a choice: Either we lose our rights or we lose our relationship with this administration. We took the choice that any dignified people would have taken.

Peace is never about extortion, coercion or blackmail. It is about vision, leadership, trust and investment. The Trump administration lacks all of those. In seeking liberation from the Israeli occupation, which steals our land and denies us our most basic human rights, we are demanding no more than what Americans would demand for themselves: freedom, liberty and equality.

I’m not sure when I will be back in the United States. I’ll miss all of the great people I met there. But even in my short time there, it was clear that there is much hope for peace and justice. I am confident the United States will one day restore commitment to the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people. I hope that day will come soon.

Husam Zomlot (@hzomlot) is the strategic affairs adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas.

Join London CND for our 2019 conference!

We’re really excited to announce the details of this year’s London CND conference - with the theme ‘Trump’s finger on the nuclear button.’

We’ll be exploring themes of global conflict, nuclear escalation and grassroots resistance, with speakers including Catherine West MP, Ambassador Husam Zomlot, and Medea Benjamin from Code Pink USA.

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Tickets are free, and you can book yours here.

We look forward to seeing you!

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review explained!

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On Friday, the Pentagon unveiled the US’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, a document which has already been the subject of intense debate and concern since a copy was leaked last month. Here's a brief guide to what it is and why it matters. 

What is a nuclear posture review?

The Nuclear Posture Review is published periodically by the US department of defense, and it sets out the role of nuclear weapons in the country’s military. It is often used to signal a change in nuclear policy: for example, Barack Obama’s 2010 NPR ruled out for the first time a nuclear attack against non-nuclear-weapon states who are in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

What is in the 2018 NPR?

The main policy change signalled by this review is the move to introduce so-called ‘low yield’ nuclear weapons into the US’ arsenal, in order to combat the perception that its current nuclear weapons are ‘too big to be used’ and thus redundant.

‘Low yield’ nuclear weapons have a strength of up to 20 kilotons. The bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki would today be classed as ‘low yield’ despite the fact that it killed over 70,000 people.

Why does it matter?

This change in policy is designed to make nuclear weapons more ‘usable.’ That means it is much more likely that they could be used in a ‘conventional’ (non-nuclear) conflict. Far from moving towards disarmament, President Trump is creating a situation in which an escalation to nuclear war is a real risk.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson says:

“Essentially, the lid is being taken off the restraints on both new-build and nuclear weapons use. The most significant element of the review is commitment to a whole new generation of nuclear weapons, with the emphasis on low-yield, often described as ‘usable’.

“It should be pointed out here that the bombs used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are technically low-yield in today’s parlance, so we are not talking about something small.

“The excuse underpinning this approach is supposedly that there are no real options between conventional weapons and all-out nuclear war, and that there should be more rungs on the ‘escalatory ladder’. Personally I would rather see more rungs on the de-escalatory ladder.”

'Living in interesting times': Report from a member

Helen Martins from Kent Area CND attended our 2018 conference 'Living in interesting times' and wrote the following report, which she has kindly allowed us to publish here! 


Shifts in United States foreign policy are coming thick and fast as President Trump begins his second year in office. A conference in January – Living in interesting times: how the world is shaping up under President Trump – was held at SOAS (the School of Oriental and African Studies), organised by London CND and backed by SOAS CND. What an exhilarating day!

Nobu Ono, a Japanese student representing SOAS CND, referenced the Japanese government – at the time of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and Japanese aggression in the Second World War. He widened this out to include all governments, saying that “It is our responsibility as citizens to stop our governments killing people.”

Next came a live link-up with Brian Becker in Washington DC. He is National Coordinator of the US anti-war Answer Coalition and co-host of Sputnik Radio’s Loud and Clear show with CIA analyst turned whistle-blower John Kiriakou. Carol Turner, London Region CND Chair, questioned Becker about a leaked document in the previous 24 hours about the USA’s nuclear weapons review, and its policy “to make nuclear weapons more usable.” Describing Trump as racist, politically reactionary, misogynist and xenophobic, Becker said that the USA’s 2018 military budget was 10 times larger than Russia’s, and that 60% of America’s military forces are based around Japan and North Korea. Why put this giant military machine in one place? He asked whether it was for confrontation, or war, or to threaten war, or for political or economic ends.

Dr Jim Hoare, LRCND chair Carol Turner, Catherine West MP and Costa Rican Ambassador Jose Enrique Barrantes 

Dr Jim Hoare, LRCND chair Carol Turner, Catherine West MP and Costa Rican Ambassador Jose Enrique Barrantes 

Plenary 1 focused on the shape of things to come. Costa Rica Ambassador Jose Enrique Castillo Barrantes said that 2018 commemorates 70 years of his country abolishing its army. Costa Rica has played a vital role in the UN treaty negotiations, but the Ambassador warned that turning the treaty into an actual global ban would be a long-term fight. He called for strategies to counteract media bias; for attention to be paid to education at all levels, including phasing out toys for children that glorify weapons and violence; and to generate a cultural transformation to a consensus and ideology for peace and disarmament.

Jim Hoare is a UK diplomat who established the British Embassy in North Korea. He is also a historian, writer and broadcaster, who has lived in North and South Korea, Japan and China, singling out North Korea as the most militaristic government of all governments. Despite much posturing, his feeling was that Trump and his hawkish advisers may use diplomacy and not strike North Korea, partly because of massive disruption to international trade and because unless that country is actually wiped out, Trump’s so-called problem is not solved. North Korea is exceedingly difficult to target: it has underground airfields, weapons and ammunition, and the ability to move its war machine around underground easily and invisibly. In addition, if he made a strike, Trump would also hit an estimated 20,000 American service personnel based in South Korea, their families and associated support staff.

Catherine West, Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, wants to see cross-party censure against Trump, who is seemingly not being reined in by his advisers. She expressed particular concern over the leaked nuclear weapons review, in which the USA plans to expand the circumstances in which it would use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state.

Panel discussion points concluded that Trump can’t be trusted to act with the degree of restraint we would expect from a US president, and that he is “living in the superficial now” without any historical perspective.

Sami Ramadani from the Iraqi Democrats, LRCND's Tom Cuthbert, and Kim Sharif, director of Human Rights for Yemen

Sami Ramadani from the Iraqi Democrats, LRCND's Tom Cuthbert, and Kim Sharif, director of Human Rights for Yemen

Plenary 2 focused on facing the challenges. Sami Ramadani, a political refugee from Saddam Hussein’s regime and founder member of Iraqi Democrats, described the USA’s closest allies in the Middle East as Israel and Saudi Arabia. He argued that the genocide against Yemen is only possible because of the UK and USA’s complicity by supplying arms. He also said that Trump’s advisers give the appearance of being rational, but are actually hawkish in relation to foreign policy.

Kim Sharif, lawyer, Director of Human Rights for Yemen, and a campaigner against Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen gave an explosive presentation that left the audience reeling with admiration, outrage and emotion. She described the illegal war against Yemen, and the indiscriminate use of chemical and uranium-enriched cluster bombs, all being sold by the UK and USA. The USA is also providing mid-air refuelling as well as training and technical support. The Saudi-led coalition likes to target markets, weddings and funerals because they like to kill women and children. There is also an illegal blockade, grave breaches of human rights, hunger used as a weapon of war, bombing and destruction of infrastructure, birth defects, unbelievable injuries, a media blackout, increasing cases of cholera and diphtheria, as well as mercenaries trained and armed by the Saudi-led coalition. Sharif asks activists to let the UK government know that its complicity is not being done in our name, and that we don’t want our country to make a living out of the blood of women and children.

Stop the War's Murad Qureshi, Green MEP Molly Scott-Cato, LRCND's Hannah Kemp-Welch, and Bruce Kent

Stop the War's Murad Qureshi, Green MEP Molly Scott-Cato, LRCND's Hannah Kemp-Welch, and Bruce Kent

Plenary 3 focused on action for change. Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for South West England, argued that the UK and USA continue to break the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty so how can we be surprised or outraged that other countries do so too, or want to develop nuclear weapons. She cited a study in Devonport dockyard that she had commissioned to show how jobs in the nuclear industry could be redeployed into the renewable energy industry – a job diversification transformation “from Devonport to Green Port.” Because the defence industry is often hidden, Cato would like to see CND and like-minded groups mapping the nuclear industry in their areas and devising a job diversification plan for alternative employment opportunities. She called for the abolition of NATO, as a relic of the cold war.

Bruce Kent, CND vice president, reminded everyone that Britain does not have an independent nuclear weapons system and argued that it would be a very strange ‘independent’ motor car if we had to borrow four wheels from our neighbour every time we wanted to use our car. He suggested writing to the American peace organisations listed over seven pages in Housmans Peace Diary to ask what they are doing to encourage the US government to sign the UN treaty. He concluded “Why waste millions on international suicide?”

Murad Qureshi, Chair of Stop the War Coalition, called for investment in renewable energy, which would lead to good job security, and also identified the need to persuade the unions that job diversification is an opportunity rather than a threat.

Panel discussion points agreed on the need to redefine the word ‘deterrent’ because people – consciously or unconsciously – actually believe that nuclear weapons keep us safe.