Testimony on Nuclear-Free Bellingham Resolution

Testimony on Nuclear-Free Bellingham Resolution      January 29, 2024

by Nicholas Mele

Good evening, my name is Nicholas Mele and I spent most of three decades as a U.S. Foreign Service officer. At times, I held security clearances which gave me access to highly secret information about our nuclear weapons. Currently, I am an adviser on nuclear issues to Pax Christi USA, a faith-based movement dedicated to nonviolence and reconciliation. I also serve on the nuclear disarmament committee of Pax Christi International, which includes roughly 100 member organizations from countries around the world. Why should our city, or any city, pass a resolution on nuclear policy? The national government of this country pays lip service to nuclear disarmament but last year spent about 40 billion dollars on developing, maintaining, and deploying nuclear weapons.

According to the National Priorities Project, the nuclear weapons tax burden on Bellingham totals 6.47 million dollars, money the could be spent on education, healthcare, housing, infrastructure and/or sustainable energy. Over and above the financial burden of nuclear weapons, there is the threat of them. Last week the Union of Concerned Scientists updated its Doomsday Clock, a graphic measure of how close we are to destroying human civilization. It is ninety seconds to Doomsday according to leading scientists and policy makers. That threat of total destruction ought to motivate our leaders to take action, but they are busy with political posturing and election campaigning. We the people need to grab their attention and give them saner priorities.

We must generate a grassroots movement for nuclear disarmament, like the mass movement which inspired Ronald Reagan to negotiate the largest reductions in nuclear warheads ever 40-some years ago. One way to create the movement is to make known the cost and the potential destruction of our fascination with nuclear weapons.

Beyond taking a public stand against nuclear destruction with this resolution, I also ask that the Council disinvest the city government from any financial institutions and corporations which invest in nuclear weapons. The information on those financial institutions and other businesses that invest in nuclear weapons can be found at the website of Don’t Bank on the Bomb, A complete list of investors and companies is updated and available on their website:

[ URL https://www.dontbankonthebomb.com/investors ]

On the positive side, there are some actions we can ask the federal government and national security establishment to take to reduce risks of nuclear war. One is to begin taking steps to acknowledge the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, which became international law three years ago only last week. There are provisions of the treaty which the U.S. can implement almost immediately, especially compensating victims of our nuclear programs, victims like the Hanford downwinders and Marshall Islanders, which impact our community.

In closing, I urge the City of Bellingham to join the 76 other local governments across the country which have passed versions of this resolution. Our future depends on it.