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APEC - Y2K and Nukes Action Alert

8 September, 1999

Forwarded from the Peace Foundation ...

Dear Friends,

The Peace Foundation has taken action to highlight the visit to Auckland (Wellington and Christchurch) of three leaders of nuclear weapon states. We are placing an Open Letter to President Clinton, Prime Minister Putin and President Jiang Zemin in the Sunday Star Times (1/4 page)and sending personal letters to them on Saturday in Auckland. It would be wonderful if NZ peace groups could help support the campaign by faxing their hotels in Auckland on Sunday/Monday 12/13 September and/or their US/Moscow offices or Chinese mission in Wellington (see numbers below).

It would also be helpful if you could try and get letters into the Sunday Star Times for this Sunday ( or into your local papers. We hope that most papers ( yes, we've also sent it to the ODT, Nelson Evening Mail, Bay of Plenty Times, Ashburton Guardian, Southland Times, Waikato Times etc) will reprint a substantial article published in the International Herald Tribune by Chinese President Jiang Zemin entitled 'The Way to Get on With Nuclear Disarmament' during his visit. In it he calls for:

"A convention on the comprehensive ban of nuclear weapons should be negotiated.Since biological and chemical weapons have been prohibited, there is no reason why nuclear weapons, which are more destructive, should not be comprehensively banned and thoroughly destroyed. ALL IT TAKES TO REACH THIS OBJECTIVE IS STRONG POLITICAL WILL."

We have linked the Open Letter to the Y2K computer bug and nuclear weapons and highlighted the commitment by the nuclear weapon states to Article VI of the NPT (Non Proliferation Treaty), and the World Court Advisory Opinion.

The attached letters contain some ideas for inclusion in any faxes/letters you may wish to send. Also, please find the fax numbers of the hotels and offices below. Remember that this is part of a fax campaign which is already having an impact worldwide. Over 380 groups have now signed on to a faxed letter to Yeltsin and Clinton. Resolutions have been tabled in Canberra and the European Parliament and there is likely to be another one in Ottawa in the next few weeks.

If any of you can help with the cost of the 'ad' ($3,500), donations earmarked for it can be sent to the Peace Foundation, PO Box 4110 Auckland.

Many thanks, and happy faxing,

Kate and Rob


Fax a letter on Sunday to their hotels/offices:

President Clinton: (09) 379 6445 or (001)-202-456-2461/2883

Prime Minister Putin: (09) 303 2932 or (007)-095-205-4219/4330

President Jiang Zemin: (09) 377 9367 or (04) 499 0419

(Chinese Embassy, Wellington)


Dear Presidents Yeltsin, and Clinton,

I am writing to you to convey my extreme concern over the possibility that Y2K -related problems in the computerised command, control, and monitoring systems of nuclear forces and weapon systems, may give rise to an unacceptable risk of accidental nuclear war, as a result of incorrect data and miscalculation. I therefore urge you to solve the problem by taking your nuclear forces off alert, or by standing them down.

I ask that standing down nuclear forces in view of the problems posed by the 'Millennium Bug', be a matter for urgent priority discussions at the G8 Summit in Berlin on Sept 21. As well asY2K considerations, taking nuclear weapons off alert will increase strategic stability and confidence, and eliminate the possibility of accidental nuclear war.

I would remind you that your two countries have some 5000 strategic nuclear weapons that are able to be fired within a time span of 15-30 minutes.

This must never happen. Should it do so, not only would your two countries cease to exist, but it is entirely possible that human life and maybe all life life on the planet, could be terminated.

Any risk of this happening at any time, Y2K or otherwise, no matter how small, is unacceptable.

However, the Y2K problem adds another layer of uncertainty to the risk that already exists.

Taking nuclear forces off alert was strongly recommended by the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in 1996, and a number of resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly have urged that it be done.

Taking nuclear weapons off alert and placing them in a state in which hours to days rather than minutes or seconds would be required to make them launch ready, would effectively eliminate the risk of accidental nuclear war due to the Y2K computer problem. It would also make impossible the many non-Y2K related problems that have many times brought us to within minutes of a possible nuclear exchange.

De-Alerting will cost you nothing, and can be done by a simple executive order to stand down nuclear forces.

The UK has already altered its 'notice to fire' from minutes to days.

We/I urge you to do likewise.

The stakes involved far outweigh any considerations of national pride, national interest, or even national security. Indeed, the immediate stakes are so high, and the potential for global catastrophe so clear that mutually verified de- alerting must now take precedence over all other considerations. Signed...


* Kate Dewes
* IPB Vice-President
* Disarmament and Security Centre
* P O Box 8390
* Christchurch
* Aotearoa/New Zealand
* Ph/Fax +64 3 348 1353
* (The DSC is a specialist branch
* of the NZ Peace Foundation.)

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