US PLANS INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC
MISSILE TESTON INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE
By David Krieger
In 1981, the United Nations General Assembly
created an annual International Day of Peace to take place on
the opening day of the regular sessions of the General Assembly.
The purpose of the day is for "commemorating and strengthening
the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples."
Twenty years later, in 2001, the General
Assembly, desiring to draw attention to the objectives of the
International Day of Peace, gave the day a fixed date on which
it would be held each year: September 21st. The General Assembly
declared in its Resolution 55/282 that "the International
Day of Peace shall henceforth be observed as a day of global
ceasefire and non-violence, an invitation to all nations and
people to honor a cessation of hostilities for the duration of
The Resolution continued by inviting "all Member States,
organizations of the United Nations system, regional and non-governmental
organizations and individuals to commemorate, in an appropriate
manner, the International Day of Peace, including through education
and public awareness, and to cooperate with the United Nations
in the establishment of the global ceasefire."
The United States has announced that its next test of a Minuteman
III will be held on September 21, 2011. Rather than considering
how it might participate and bring awareness to the International
Day of Peace, the United States will be testing one of its nuclear-capable
intercontinental ballistic missiles that, 20 years after the
end of the Cold War, continue to be kept on high-alert in readiness
to be fired on a few moments notice.
Of course, the missile test will have a dummy warhead rather
than a live one, but its purpose will be to assure that the delivery
system for the Minuteman III nuclear warheads has no hitches.
As Air Force Colonel David Bliesner has pointed out, "Minuteman
III test launches demonstrate our nation's ICBM capability in
a very visible way, deterring potential adversaries while reassuring
So, on the 2011 International Day of Peace, the United States
has chosen not "to honor a cessation of hostilities,"
but rather to implement a very visible, $20 million test of a
Perhaps US officials believe that US missile tests help keep
the peace. If so, they have a very different idea about other
countries testing missiles. National Security Spokesman Mike
Hammer had this to say about Iranian missile tests in 2009: "At
a time when the international community has offered Iran opportunities
to begin to build trust and confidence, Iran's missile tests
only undermine Iran's claims of peaceful intentions."
In 2008, Condoleezza Rice, then Secretary of State, said, "We
face with the Iranians, and so do our allies and friends, a growing
missile threat that is getting ever longer and ever deeper -
and where the Iranian appetite for nuclear technology is, to
this point, still unchecked. And it is hard for me to believe
that an American president is not going to want to have the capability
to defend our territory and the territory of our allies, whether
they are in Europe or whether they are in the Middle East against
that kind of missile threat."
The US approach to nuclear-capable missile testing seems to be
"do as I say, not as I do." This is unlikely to hold
up in the long run. Rather than testing its nuclear-capable delivery
systems, the US should be leading the way, as President Obama
pledged, toward a world free of nuclear weapons. To do so, we
suggest that he take three actions for the 2011 International
Day of Peace. First, announce the cancellation of the scheduled
Minuteman III missile test, and use the $20 million saved as
a small down payment on alleviating poverty in the US and abroad.
Second, announce that the US will take its nuclear weapons off
high-alert status and keep them on low alert, as China has done,
in order to lower the possibilities of accidental or unauthorized
missile launches. Third, declare a ceasefire for the day in each
of the wars in which the US is currently engaged. These three
actions on the International Day of Peace would not change the
world in a day, but they would be steps in the right direction
that could be built upon during the other 364 days of the year.
David Krieger is the President of the Nuclear Age Peace
an organization that has worked since 1982 for the abolition
of nuclear weapons.