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An Act for the Divestment from Nuclear Weapons

Written testimony by C.R. Spicer to the Joint Committee on Public Service, House Chair Gordon, Senate Chair Brady, following in-person testimony given June 9 approximately 11:45am.

In my remarks, I had followed Nick Cantrell’s analysis of the financial responsibility to divest, pursuant to H. 2597/H.1703 An Act to Divest the State Pension Fund from Nuclear Weapons.

I limited my remarks to the moral argument in favor.

I expressed thanks to the testimony shared by Dr. Jonathon King and Dr. Ira Hefland, whom you also heard from, colleagues on the Mass Peace Action Working Group for Disarmament, where I have the distinction of leading the Direct Action subcommittee.

The personal responsibility for disarmament was taken to Kings Bay Submarine Base, a group of seven performed symbolic and prophetic disarmament, praying the Rosary at the site of sin, pouring blood, then making their case in court that their action followed from the Catholic Social Teaching, as expressed most visibly by Pope Francis.

The Pope visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2019, heard testimony of Hibakusha, proclaimed that the Possession of Nuclear Weapons is a Sin. And led the Vatican to ratify the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2020.

Mark Colville of the Kings Bay Plowshare has just entered prison to serve his sentence, as of 24 or 48 hours ago. The personal responsibility to witness against nuclear weapons is an act of faith, a particular moral expression of which most certainly includes testifying in favor of this bill to Divest the State Pension Fund from Nuclear Weapons.

My second point was that this Act will not harm Massachusetts companies. I drew on reporting from Bruce Kellerman of WBUR from a 2017 article to illustrate just a fraction of the total participation of Massachusetts companies in the complex infrastructure of the modernization of nuclear weapons systems.

The Act defines “Nuclear Weapon System” as any device designed exclusively to carry, contain, detonate, or launch a nuclear weapon. The F-35 is one such device. The estimated cost over the lifetime of the F-35 program is more than $1.5 trillion.

Kellerman tells the story from the machine shop floor of the Woburn family-owned company with 67 employees who make the housings for an engine oil pump. Custom Machine Inc. is a sub sub sub contractor for Lockheed Martin, just one of the 18 primary producers of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons systems targeted for divestment of the Pension Fund according to H.2597/S.1703.

Working on the F-35 had stopped at the time of the report but now resumes. The 87 MA companies bring $140 million a year to the state, and support 1700 jobs in the state. But Lockheed Martin’s F-35 consists of 235,000 components, for which it subcontracted to companies in 46 states and Puerto Rico. “You can’t kill the F-35” said Aviation Weekly reporter whom Kellerman quotes. It may have stopped, but its redesign, its revival suggests that despite the underperformance well-described by Nick Cantrell, investors remain embedded with companies like Lockheed Martin at ever increasing risk.

I concluded by assuring you the Act will not harm MA companies nor its employees. I asked you to report it out of committee.

*I would like to offer you consolation in the Spirit, prediction of the peace of God. It cannot be denied that the Albatross of nuclear weapons systems, as broadly as you have defined them, will miss the springs of arrows, it will not quell the avaricious death machine. For sound reason last November the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists unveiled the Doomsday Clock was set at 100 seconds to Doomsday.

Earlier that month it was business as usual at the Pentagon and Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, which celebrates its “design of the world’s most accurate and reliable guidance systems for undersea-launched ballistic missiles.” The Navy awarded $9.4 billion contract for General Dynamics Electric Boat to start work on the first two (of 12) Columbia-class submarines, as reported in November by Paul McLeary of BreakingDefense. “’We already have the schedules locked-in’ Captain John Rucker said. The missile tubes will be done for the first ship by February and the stern should be complete by the spring.” This June, presumably the missile tubes and the stern of the first ship are complete. Clearly, this Act before your committee must do something about this? Yours is a Great Boulder to push up a mountain of despair.


And you might be tempted to ignore the Hibakusha Testimony, but you do not. You might not need Dr. Joseph Gerson’s article “The Promise of the Treaty for Prevention of Nuclear Weapons” to awaken you. But as Gerson predicted last year “The Former Vice-President won’t be signing the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” which entered into force Jan 22 of this year “until at least reversing the Pentagon’s posture to obtain first-strike supremacy. The upgrading of the US nuclear arsenal and Washington’s preparations to fight and ‘win’ a nuclear war will continue.” You may ask how? Where?

I already pointed to the air-born and the sea-born parts of the nuclear triad. I already pointed to the entangled complicity of local companies with an intractable burden of the Death Machine.

To be more specific about the Act, about the definition of nuclear weapons systems it contains—I have much comfort to offer in that the Act, again, will not devastate local employees already receiving their blood money…

It won’t affect Communications and Power Industries in Beverly, MA that won a mere $9.5 million for electron tubes.

It may affect the 2% share of work for a Ratheon contract of $32.5 million increasing a $67 million contract to about $100 million from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System (MAD-FIRES) Program.

It may affect Raytheon from carrying out its contract for development of Operational Flight Software (OFS) 10.15. A contract won September 10 of last year for $52 million, 3% of work completed in Andover, MA “required for AIM-9X Block II Missile Production in support of Lot 223 as well as future lots for Navy, Air Force and Foreign Military Sales.”

It may affect a contract won October 1, by Lockheed for $68.6 million “for US and UK to provide Strategic Weapons System Trident Fleet Support Trident II SSP Shipboard Integration (SSI) Increment 8, SSI Increment 16, Columbia Class and Dreadnought class navigation subsystem development efforts. The contract assigns Lockheed the contract with 6% of the work done in Cambridge, and 2% in Hingham, MA.

The above contracts may be affected, if the State Pension Fund is Divested from Raytheon and Lockeed Martin. As others testified, Nick Cantrell among them, Divestment has persuaded companies to stop and realign the work they do. Susi Snyder writes in “The Role of Civil Society” contributed to A World Free from Nuclear Weapons: The Vatican Conference on Disarmament eds. Drew Christiansen and Carole Sargeant, 2020.

“Two American companies decided to end production of cluster bombs recently, despite the United States’ failure to sign the Cluster Munitions Treaty. The companies said they wanted to enable European investors to engage with them again. Divestment activities are powerful, and they generate change.”

Certainly the moral argument is clear. It is not necessary that the worded definition of the “nuclear Weapon System” include “any device designed exclusively” which may or may not include the role of guidance—shielding therefore Charles Stark Draper Laboratory for the near future. As I have shown you may pass this act in either good faith or even what the philosopher John-Paul Sartre called “bad faith.” Predictably the capital gains derived from the nuclear-industrial weapons—wallstreet complex will have other offerings suitable for the State’s Pension Fund, as it was this “bad faith” to which Nick Cantrell so convincingly appealed. People of goodwill will take encouragement from this Act which persuasively opposes deterrence as a policy of defense. By contributing to the solid intellectual, political and religious foundations for that public judgement, you will undoubtedly hearten public educators and prick the conscience of just war thinkers. This Act reflects John Paul II’s pastoral principle of “gradualness,” that is, “a gradualness in the prudential exercise of free acts on the part of subjects who are not in a position to understand, appreciate, or fully carry out the objective demands of the law.” (Pope John Paul II, Familiaris consortio, no. 34; and see Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, no. 295.)

With that long legacy pointed to by Rep. Eldridge, of divestment against Tobacco products, and the divestment campaign to end Apartheid, please report H.2597/S.1703 out of committee.


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