Written by Gregg Brekke
Mike Neuroth, the UCC's policy advocate for internatinal issues, explains the actions of N.H. Confernece annual meeting delegates to Sen. Judd Gregg's aids March 22.
As the United States and Russia draw close to a new agreement to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) arms-control agreement which expired in December 2009, the UCC in New Hampshire has called for an all-out ban on nuclear testing.
On March 8, four United Church of Christ ministers from New Hampshire, including Conference Minister the Rev. Gary Schulte, participated in a conference call with Sen. Judd Gregg's (R-N.H.) national security advisor, Brian Miller, in which they urged the Senator to speak out in support of ratifying the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
The Test Ban Treaty bans all nuclear test explosions and establishes a global monitoring system to enforce the ban.
"Ending global testing will curb the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons, and reduce the risks of nuclear war and nuclear terrorism," says the Rev. Gordon Crouch, chair of the Peace With Justice Task Force of the UCC's N.H. Conference, and one of the participants in the conference call.
The treaty has been ratified by 151 nations, including Russia and all U.S. allies in NATO. The treaty can only enter into force upon its ratification by nine more nations, including the United States. "For the security of our nation and the safety of all the world's people, we have a moral imperative to ratify this treaty," says Crouch.
The conversation with Sen. Gregg's staff was the culmination of an ongoing dialogue with his office that began last May when the Peace With Justice Task Force presented a resolution at the N.H. Conference UCC annual meeting urging the U.S. Senate to ratify the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
The meeting passed the resolution overwhelmingly which prompted Schulte, on behalf of the Conference, to write both New Hampshire senators, informing them of the resolution and asking for their support. In response, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) expressed support for ratification while Sen. Gregg expressed reservations.
Crouch wrote a follow-up letter, signed by 50 New Hampshire UCC ministers and dozens of New Hampshire UCC lay people, requesting that Sen. Gregg reconsider his position, saying, "To us, the choice is clear: a world without nuclear testing is a safer world."
Mike Neuroth, the UCC's policy advocate for international issues, hand delivered a copy of the letter to Sen. Gregg's legislative director March 22 in conjunction with office visits made with N.H. constituents during Ecumenical Advocacy Days.
Sen. Gregg has indicated he is not seeking reelection, yet the Peace With Justice Task Force feels their conversations are important, even if another legislator will be in office to vote on the issue. "To be sure," says Crouch, "the Peace With Justice Task Force will continue these conversations with whomever holds this office in 2011."
More information on the Test Ban Treaty is available at <projectforthectbt.org>.