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From UN meeting on nuclear weapons to KC peace steps

(Back row) Ann Suellentrop and Kimmy Igla in line at UN with Hirotsugu Terasaki, VP of Soka Gakkai and a Hibakusha. (Front row) Another Japanese woman, left, and the interpreter, right.
Ann Suellentrop and Kimmy Igla (upper right) in line at the UN with Hirotsugu Terasaki, a Hibakusha. The interpreter is in the front row at right.

Two PeaceWorks KC Board members went to the UN meeting in late November, in New York City, on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Their reports, and reflections of others, came Jan. 7 in KC MO. It was an opportunity for calling peace activists to urgent action.

Opposing genocide in Gaza is depleting her energy for anti-nuclear work, PeaceWorks Vice Chair Ann Suellentrop said. She handed out fliers from two groups leading many of the KC peace-in-Palestine efforts: Al-Hadaf KC and KC Tenants. She quoted Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.”

Ann introduced Christopher Overfelt, whose talk is at Ann then asked Kimmy Igla, who went with Ann to the UN meeting, to share her reflections, online at Christopher condemned the US empire for genocide in Gaza. Kimmy shared the hope she experienced at the UN, meeting persons young and old from around the world whose countries have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Ann asserted that the UN meeting refuted the deterrence claim for nuclear weapons. She said that claim has not prevented war after war, and that the weapons threaten all life on Earth. “Nuclear weapons do not keep us safe,” she insisted. One of the main things propelling the treaty forward, she said, was that communities affected by nuclear weapon production and storage are speaking out and organizing. “The ban treaty provides for compensation to affected peoples, health care for them, and remediation for contaminated environments,” she said. “These demands will not go away because radioactivity damages DNA and affects generation after generation.”

At the UN meeting, called the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Ann and Kimmy met Hirotsugu Terasaki, the vice president of Soka Gakkai International, a global Buddhist organization. Ann and Kimmy spoke with him through a woman interpreter, talking to them about persons in KC who have died or been ill from contaminants from the production here of mechanical and electronic parts for nuclear weapons. Ann said at the Jan. 7 meeting, “The interpreter said to us, ‘Those persons are your hibakusha,’” referring to those in Japan who survived the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.

Dave Pack jumpstarts moving “Back from the Brink” in meetings with local city council members.–Photo by Kriss Avery

Ann also explained at the Jan. 7 meeting that the Radiation and Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) failed in 2023 to be expanded to many outside the nuclear weapon production or storage facilities who have become sick or died from the toxins. Here, in the KC area, the Bannister Federal Complex HVAC system included both the nuclear weapon production plant and other federal offices, said Ann, and many workers outside the weapons plant contracted illnesses from the contamination there. “They should be compensated just as much as a downwinder,” she said. Ann and others, including a former supervisor at the weapon plant, Maurice Copeland, met to ask for Sen. Josh Hawley to call for a town hall to press for RECA expansion this year.

David Pack, treasurer of PeaceWorks, spoke Jan. 7 about Back from the Brink, a campaign to ask federal lawmakers and local council members to take steps to eliminate US nuclear arsenal. Dave offered lists of local council members and a proposed resolution to the 15 participants in the Jan. 7 meeting. Action time! Email to join in council contacts in KC MO, KC KS, Independence, or Overland Park.

Spencer Graves noted the new edition of Warheads to Windmills, on transforming nuclear weapon projects to other work, such as solar/wind energy production. Spencer said author Timmon Wallis will speak via zoom to the All Souls Forum (at 4501 Walnut, KC MO) Jan. 14 at 9:30 am. The talk can be accessed live via — select the second YouTube channel for “UU Forum at All Souls Church Channel.” In addition, the talk will be broadcast later on KKFI, 90.1 FM.

(c) PeaceWorks Kansas City, Jane Stoever, Ann Suellentrop, Dave Pack, Kriss Avery, Kimmy Igla, Chris Overfelt, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License.

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