It wasn’t the first time Rowen, a burly former Marine, had witnessed safety violations at the plant, but it was the first time he had the gumption to record the violation in a logbook, which would eventually be reviewed by the nuclear industry’s then government watchdog the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC).
As for PG&E management, they were getting pretty fed up. Rowen was proving to be a real pain in the ass. Continue reading
PENTAGON PAPERS WHISTLEBLOWER: KENNEDY RESISTED ‘NUCLEAR CULTIST’ JOINT CHIEFS, Shadow Proof, Published in partnership with MintPress News., 4 Feb 16
MINNEAPOLIS — MintPress News is proud to host “Lied to Death,” a 13-part audio conversation between famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and social justice activist Arn Menconi.
Menconi wrote that these interviews are a “mixture of historical, political science and Dan’s sixty-year scholarly analysis as a former nuclear planner for Rand Corporation.”
For more information on the interview and Ellsberg, see the introduction to this series.
Chapter 5: Vietnam War a ‘foreign-instigated war,’ ‘not a civil war’
In this chapter of “Lied to Death,” Daniel Ellsberg continues to explore President John F. Kennedy’s involvement with the Vietnam War and other military conflicts in Asia, including his resistance to the use of nuclear weapons and ground troops, a topic also discussed in Chapter 4.
The whistleblower revealed that most of the military leadership advising Kennedy were inherited from President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In general, they strongly encouraged Kennedy to commit to the use of ground troops and sought opportunities to use nuclear weapons. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, in particular, who Ellsberg calls “nuclear cultists,” believed that only the use of nuclear weapons would prevent a defeat similar to the one U.S. forces suffered in Korea.
Ellsberg says Kennedy resisted escalation of both the Vietnam War (which he argues could have expanded if Kennedy had committed ground troops earlier, per the Joint Chiefs’ guidance), and America’s covert war in Laos. However, Kennedy resisted the military due to its mishandling of the “Bay of Pigs invasion,” a failed 1961 mission to overthrow Fidel Castro.
According to Ellsberg, the military also repeatedly urged Kennedy to carry out a massive bombing campaign with the aim of cutting off Vietnamese rebels in South Vietnam from Communist weapons and supplies. Ultimately, Ellsberg argues, this would have been impossible: The guerilla forces occupying South Vietnam at the time depended largely on makeshift weapons, many of which had been stolen from U.S. soldiers or adapted from their unexploded munitions.
Ellsberg compares Kennedy’s resistance to committing ground troops to the current conflict with Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group commonly referred to as ISIS or ISIL). He says President Barack Obama is under considerable pressure from the military to commit more ground forces in Iraq and Syria. Similarly, Daesh forces often use makeshift weapons or munitions stolen from the U.S.
The whistleblower emphasizes that Kennedy felt forced to accede to some of the military’s demands because his leadership of the country was quite fragile. Although remembered today as a very popular president, Kennedy won by a tight margin, amid widespread electoral irregularities and possible fraud………
Ellsberg remains a sought-after expert on military and world affairs, and an outspoken supporter of whistleblowers from Edward Snowden to Chelsea Manning. In 2011, he told the Chelsea Manning Support Network that Manning was a “hero,” and added:
I wish I could say that our government has improved its treatment of whistleblowers in the 40 years since the Pentagon Papers. Instead we’re seeing an unprecedented campaign to crack down on public servants who reveal information that Congress and American citizens have a need to know. https://shadowproof.com/2016/02/02/pentagon-papers-whistleblower-kennedy-resisted-nuclear-cultist-joint-chiefs/
- On January 16 1966, a U.S. B-52 Stratofortress took off from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in North Carolina
- Bombers were continually flown on 24-hour missions across the Atlantic, to provide the States’ nuclear capability
- It was a routine mission for the crew but then disaster struck over Palomares, Andalucia, as the aircraft refuelled
- Four hydrogen bombs plummeted to earth at horrific speeds, which would have killed millions had they exploded
By GUY WALTERS FOR THE DAILY MAIL18 January 2016 “……the B-52 had overshot and the boom had missed the fuel nozzle in the top of the plane. Instead, the boom had smashed into the bomber with such force that its left wing was ripped off.
Fire quickly spread up the fuel-filled boom and ignited all 30,000 gallons of the tanker’s kerosene, causing it to plummet to the ground. Meanwhile, the bomber started to break up, and the crew did their best to get out of the plane using parachutes.
As for the hydrogen bombs, there was nothing that could be done. In less than two minutes, they would be crashing into the Earth at an enormous speed — potentially destroying much of the regions of Andalucia and Murcia.
Hundreds of thousands of people could be about to die, and the nuclear fallout would have the capacity to kill millions more all over Europe — not just from radiation poisoning but from cancers for decades to come……..
The nuclear payloads of the four American B28 hydrogen bombs mercifully did not detonate when they landed, even though the conventional explosives in two of the bombs did explode, showering some 500 acres around the fishing village of Palomares with three kilograms of highly radioactive plutonium-239. Continue reading
Memories of Whistling Past Nuclear Armageddon, NYT By FRANCIS X. CLINESJAN. 2, 2016 No one called it terrorism back then, but the angst of day-to-day existence during the Cold War was chillingly recalled with the release last month of the government’s top-secret nuclear target list for 1959. “Population” was the obscenely brief title of target category No. 275 — population, as in the citizens of major cities who war planners estimated would necessarily die by the millions……..
“Duck and cover” jokes and tight-lipped laughter became the real civil defense in the Cold War. It felt smarter to seek survival in satire like Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove.” Or in Mort Sahl’s stand-up skewering of Dr. Wernher von Braun, the captured German rocket scientist, who metamorphosed into an American space-age hero. Mr. von Braun said in his best-selling autobiography that “I aim at the stars.” “But,” Mr. Sahl amended, “sometimes hit London,”……..
the notion of nuclear Armageddon reappeared with the discovery by the New York State Assembly during a routine session that the state, in 1963, had actually constructed a bomb shelter with 4½-foot-thick walls and drawn up a list of 700 or so people who would be privileged to survive in it.
The long-forgotten shelter was a quiet, pet project of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, who was also one of the era’s chief promoters of bunkers. Immediately, questions arose among the lawmakers: Why didn’t I know about this until now? More urgently: How do I get on the list?…….http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/03/opinion/sunday/memories-of-whistling-past-nuclear-armageddon.html?_r=0
Stranger than Strangelove: how the US planned for nuclear war in the 1950s, The Conversation, Paul Lashmar, Senior Lecturer in Journalism, University of Sussex December 28, 2015 Those who have written about the nuclear Cold War remain grateful to Stanley Kubrick for giving us the satirical 1964 film Dr Strangelove which captures the madness that swept the world for 40 years. The name Strangelove may be overused but the United States has now released a secret file that really does justify the sobriquet: “Stranger than Strangelove”. Almost anodyne in title, Atomic Weapons Requirements Study for 1959 is a truly shocking document, revealing the scale of the holocaust that would have been unleashed in a nuclear war.
The start was America’s Manhattan project – developing the atomic bomb. Then came the horror of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then came – the shock and guilt, and the attempt to turn the nuclear project into something good – “atoms for peace’ “electricity too cheap to meter”.
Of course the costing for “cheap” nuclear energy did not include the health and environmental toll of uranium mining, which, as always, was to be paid by indigenous people. Costing also did not include the virtually eternal toll of the cleaup of radioactive trash. And of course, there would be no accidents, (no Chalk River, Rocky Flats, Windscale, Mayak, Lenin icebreaker, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Tomsk, Hanford, Fukushima Daiichi)
Meanwhile, the military-industrial complex continued its production of nuclear weapons. Other countries adopted the “peaceful nuke”, so that they could develop nuclear weapons. The nuclear arms race was underway.
FROM THE ARCHIVES For this month, each week we’ll be posting an item from the past. Lest we forget.
The press release was drafted ahead of Operation Buffalo at Maralinga, during which troops were ordered to crawl through areas hit by fallout. It was not meant to be made public
Top secret document reveals British troops were knowingly exposed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests – mirror.co.uk, by Susie Boniface, 2 Jan 2011, British troops WERE knowingly exposed to radiation during nuclear fallout tests, a top-secret document has finally proved. Continue reading
WWII Hero Credits Luck and Chance in Foiling Hitler’s Nuclear Ambitions, By ANDREW HIGGINS, NYT, NOV. 20, 2015 LESUND, Norway — For a man who saved the world, or at least helped ensure that Adolf Hitler never got hold of a nuclear bomb, 96-year-old Joachim Ronneberg has a surprisingly unheroic view of the forces that shape history.
“There were so many things that were just luck and chance,” he said of his 1943 sabotage mission that blew up a Norwegian plant vital to Nazi Germany’s nuclear program. “There was no plan. We were just hoping for the best,” Mr. Ronneberg, Norway’s most decorated war hero, added.
The leader and only living member of a World War II commando team that destroyed the Nazis’ only source of heavy water, a rare fluid needed to produce nuclear weapons, Mr. Ronneberg has had his exploits celebrated in a 1965 blockbuster movie, “The Heroes of Telemark,” starring Kirk Douglas, been showered with military medals and been honored, belatedly, with a statue and museum display in his hometown here on Norway’s west coast.
M.R.D. Foot, the official historian of Britain’s wartime sabotage and intelligence service, the Special Operations Executive, which organized Mr. Ronneberg’s mission, described the raid on a Norsk Hydro plant producing heavy water in Nazi-occupied Norway as a “coup” that “changed the course of the war” and deserved the “gratitude of humanity.”……..
it took years before Mr. Ronneberg came to understand the exact purpose and importance of the job. All the British told him before dropping him onto a snow-covered Norwegian mountain, he said, was that a row of pipes at the Vemork plant needed to be destroyed.
“They just said it was important and had to be blown up,” he said,…….
He added that he knew nothing at the time about nuclear physics, heavy water or the race to build a nuclear bomb. He knew that Britain had lost more than 35 men in a disastrous 1942 attempt to sabotage the Norsk Hydro plant, but he had no idea why it was so intent on disabling a remote mountain facility whose only product as far as he knew was fertilizer…….
Mr. Ronneberg’s raid slowed the Nazi’s pursuit of a bomb rather than delivering a knockout blow. The Nazis worked quickly to rebuild the plant at Vemork, prompting a series of bombing raids by the United States Air Force that infuriated even anti-Nazi Norwegians because of the civilian casualties they caused. The Germans then tried to move all their surviving heavy water in Norway to Germany, but this effort collapsed when Norwegian saboteurs, led by one of Mr. Ronneberg’s team, Knut Haukelid, blew up a ferry carrying the prized cargo.
While long celebrated by foreign, particularly British, filmmakers, the exploits of Mr. Ronneberg and nine other Norwegians involved in thwarting the Nazi nuclear project became widely known in Norway only this year, when NRK, the state broadcaster, ran “The Heavy Water War,” a six-episode mini-series that became a national sensation. The statue of Mr. Ronneberg in front of City Hall here in Alesund was put up only last year to observe his 95th birthday………http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/21/world/europe/wwii-hero-credits-luck-and-chance-in-foiling-hitlers-nuclear-ambitions.html?_r=0
Top Secret Documents Reveal A NATO Training Exercise Nearly Started A Nuclear Apocalypse With Russia http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/11/12/top-secret-documents-reveal-a-nato-training-exercise-nearly-started-a-nuclear-apocalypse-with-russia-_n_8542766.html The Huffington Post UK | By Thomas Tamblyn
A recently declassified document has revealed that in 1983, the United States and Russia were almost plunged into nuclear war and here’s the real kicker: It would have been completely by accident
It is thought that the exercise could have, at some stages, brought the two countries closer to war than even the famous Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Codenamed Able Archer, the NYT reveals in its exposé of the training exercise that many NATO commanders were seemingly oblivious to the knife edge that they were creating.
Then US President Ronald Reagan rather eloquently described the situation as ‘Really scary’ after reading the briefing documents that summarised how perilously close the situation had become.
The document was finally declassified earlier this month, some 11-years after the request had been made by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.
Speaking to the NYT about the significance of the event archive director Thomas S. Blanton said: “Turns out, 1983 is a classic, like the Cuban missile crisis, where neither superpower intended to go nuclear, but the risk of inadvertence, miscalculation, misperception were just really high. Cuba led J.F.K. to the test ban. Nineteen eighty-three led Reagan to Reykjavik and almost to abolition.”
What might be the most terrifying piece of news is that before and during the exercise, the Soviets weren’t just using human judgement but were inputting some 40,000 scenarios into a supercomputer in an effort to try and assess how likely a nuclear strike actually was.
Ironically it was the then leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev who summed up the severity of the situation later in 1986:
“Never, perhaps, in the postwar decades has the situation in the world been as explosive and, hence, more difficult and unfavorable as in the first half of the 1980’s.”
Nuclear Shutdown News – October 2015, ObRag, by MICHAEL STEINBERG on NOVEMBER 12, 2015 Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline of the nuclear power industry in the US and beyond, and highlights the efforts of those who are working to create a nuclear free future.
Millstone and Me: 2015…… The Millstone Nuclear Power Plant began operating in 1970. It wasn’t long before its notoriety began too, as its design was similar to Fukushima’s.
During the mid 1970s, the plant’s owner and operator, CT’s Northeast Utilities was running Millstone reactor 1, with defective fuel rods, which resulted in massive releases of radiation into the air and water. The US Nuclear Regulator Commission NRC) knew of these releases, but said they were “within acceptable limits.”
Enter Sternglass Knowledge of these massive releases eventually made their way to Dr. Ernest Sternglass – who had been a nuclear energy proponent who worked for Westinghouse, which was building some of the first US nuclear power plants. One of these was Shippingport in Pennsylvania.
At first Sternglass believed that radioactive emissions from this nuke plant would be too low to harm people. Soon, however, he began to question this. First of all, reported releases from the plant were significantly higher than authorities had predicted.
This led Sternglass to examine vital statistics in populations living near the plant. There he found spikes in cancer rates emerging, as well in other health problems such a infant mortality and birth defects.
When Sternglass reported these findings to his employer, he quickly became persona non gratain the nuclear power industry.
Dr. Sternglass went on to become professor of radiological studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
When Sternglass received the information about the Millstone ‘70s radioactive releases, and examined them, he became alarmed. These turned out to be the highest annual releases from a US nuclear power plant with the exception of Three Mile Island during its partial meltdown in 1979.
As with Shippingport, Sternglass analyzed vital statistics in communities surrounding Millstone. Again he found disturbing rises in death rates and infant mortality, as well all cancers and specific ones like leukemia and thyroid cancer.
Dr, Sternglass went public with his findings, and initially they caused quite a stir around Connecticut and New England. There were calls for further investigations and cries for the permanent shutdown of Millstone.
Dr. Ernest Sternglass continued his pioneering work into the effects of radiation on human health, which he reported in his brilliant book Secret Fallout: From Hiroshima To Three Mile Island. Dr. Sternglass died in 2014.
Instead of shutting down Millstone reactor 1, Northeast Utilities started up 2 more reactors. In the1990s chronic mismanagement and harassment of whistle-blowers landed Millstone on the cover of Time Magazine and forced the permanent closure of reactor one.
All its high level nuclear waste, as well as that of the other 2 units, remains on site, making it a massive nuclear dumpsite as well.
Unit 2 turned 40 this year, meaning it has exceeded the years it was designed to operate. Unit 3 will turn 30 next year.
Cancer rates remain high in the region, Dr, Sternglass helped start the Radiation and Public Health Project, which continues his work and has produced studies showing that people living within 50 miles of nuclear plnt are more likely to develop cancer and that after nuclear plants permanently shut down, cancer rates in populations around them begin to fall.
Sources: Millstone and Me: Sex, Lies, and Radiation in Southeast Connecticut; 1998, Black Rain Press.
Who, What, Why: What would the radio broadcast in a nuclear war?, BBC 3 Nov 15 Who, What, WhyThe Magazine answers the questions behind the news BBC newsreader Peter Donaldson, who has died aged 70, was to have been the voice of radio bulletins in the event of a nuclear attack. What would have gone out on the UK’s airwaves if the Cold War had turned hot?
“This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known.”
So began the script, read by Peter Donaldson, which was to go out on British airwaves in the event of nuclear war.
The Wartime Broadcasting Service was run by the BBC on behalf of the government. It was intended to replace existing radio broadcasts in the event of a nuclear exchange.
According to declassified papers, the recording of Donaldson would have been broadcast from a nuclear bunker at Wood Norton in Worcestershire and transmitted from nearby Droitwich.
The script urged people to stay calm, remain in their homes, save water and make the most of tinned food supplies. It was hoped this would provide reassurance as well as information.
“If there had been a nuclear attack, people would still have heard the BBC and hopefully they would have taken heart,” Michael Hodder, who ran the Wartime Broadcasting Service, told the BBC’s The One Show in September.
The service would also be used to make official government announcements. It was intended that there would also have been regional services performing similar functions for regional seats of government.
BBC staff would have followed procedures set out in the War Book, a Cold War instruction manual that was declassified in 2009. “Engineers in charge of transmitters had it in their safes,” says BBC historian Jean Seaton.
Initially it was planned that music and light entertainment programmes including Hancock’s Half Hour, Round the Horne and Just A Minute would be broadcast too, but by the 1980s it was decided that only official announcements would be transmitted to preserve energy.
The use of a well-known presenter was considered crucial. In a June 1974 letter, Harold Greenwood from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications warned that an “unfamiliar voice” would lead listeners to conclude that “perhaps after all the BBC has been obliterated”.
Failure Chernobyl nuclear power plant http://fotokomorka.com/czarnobyl/ translated here by Google Translate, 25 Oct 15 Chernobyl nuclear reactor No. 4 architecture RBMK 1000 was lekkowodnym graphite moderated reactor with a capacity of 1000 MW, which was adapted from the military reactor, once producing fissile material for nuclear weapons. It has not been equipped with properly reinforced shield to lessen the impact of any failure. Alarming is the fact that exactly the same reactors still used in Lithuania, Ukraine or Russia. Continue reading
It’s Time to Finish What Ike and JFK Started and Ban Nuclear Weapons Testing by William Lambers, History News Network, 25 Oct 2015, William Lambers is the author of “Nuclear Weapons On an October day in 1987 people in Las Vegas thought they were having an earthquake. Tremors rattled the city’s buildings. But this was not nature at work. This was an underground nuclear test explosion at the Nevada Test Site.
Residents of Hattiesburg, Mississippi had their own similar experiences from underground nuclear tests. There have been over 1000 U.S. nuclear tests with severe public health consequences from radiation. And these nuke tests cost many billions of taxpayer dollars. Why would anyone want to relive those chapters of the Cold War?
Instead, how about Senate Democrats and Republicans ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which bans all nuclear test explosions.
Now these two political parties working together may sound like a fairy tale. But history reveals that Dems and Reps, for the most part, have shared this goal of ending nuke testing.
Since the days of President Dwight Eisenhower (a Republican), the United States has sought a treaty ending nuclear testing. In a letter to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, Eisenhower wrote that a nuclear test ban “would be an important step toward reduction of international tensions and would open the way to further agreement on substantial measures of disarmament.”
Ike and his team worked very hard to achieve a treaty ending nuclear testing. They contributed much research for building an international monitoring system to detect anyone cheating a treaty by setting off a secret nuclear explosion.
Eisenhower got the ball rolling and his successor, Democrat John F. Kennedy, took up the fight. Achieving a nuclear test ban treaty became a major initiative of JFK’s presidency. This was during the most dangerous period of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Continue reading
Palomares nuclear crash: US agrees Spanish coast clean-up http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34569614 19 October 2015 Almost 50 years after four nuclear bombs fell on the Spanish coast after two US military planes collided, American officials have signed a deal to clean up contaminated land.
None of the bombs detonated in January 1966, but three fell around Palomares and a fourth was found on the sea bed.
Highly toxic plutonium was spread over a 200-hectare (490-acre) area.
On a visit to Madrid, Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to finalise a deal on disposing of contaminated soil.
Under the agreement in principle, signed by Mr Kerry and Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, the US will remove the soil at Palomares to a site in the US.
Spanish media said the soil would be transported to a site in Nevada. The deal comes a few months before the 50th anniversary of the crash, one of the most serious nuclear incidents of the Cold War.
An earlier consignment of contaminated soil was shipped to a site in South Carolina shortly after the accident and buried in deep trenches.
But further analysis of soil in the area has been carried out in recent years, and the health of residents in the Palomares area is still being monitored.
- On 17 January 1966, a US B-52 bomber carrying four 1.5 megaton bombs collided with a refuelling tanker some 31,000 feet above Palomares on Spain’s Mediterranean coast
- The tanker crew and three people on board the bomber were killed
- One bomb equipped with a parachute landed intact
- Two bombs hit the ground at high speed, scattering plutonium
- A fourth bomb landed five miles off shore and was later recovered by USS Petrel
“I looked up and saw this huge ball of fire, falling through the sky” – Spain waits for US to finish nuclear clean-up
The Ultimate Weapon of War: Nuclear Land Mines? National Interest, Matthew Gault, 20 Sept 15 Land mines and nukes are two of the most terrifying weapons of war — for two very different reasons. Nuclear weapons can wipe out entire cities, and land mines wait buried in the earth, ready to harm anyone who wanders too close.
In the 1950s, Britain tried to combine the two into a nuclear mine … with chickens as a heating source. Yes, this was actually proposed. But we’ll get to the chickens in a moment. The Blue Peacock would have been one of the worst kinds of Cold War weapons — a nuke the enemy doesn’t know you have. The United Kingdom sought to develop and deploy 10 nuclear mines. Once completed, it would ship the nightmare weapons to the British Army of the Rhine — the U.K.’s occupation force in Germany.
The BAOR would then plant the landmines along the East German border in the north and detonate them should the Soviets ever try to cross the Iron Curtain. The project’s primary goal wasn’t to kill Soviet soldiers — though the blasts certainly could — but to irradiate and contaminate the North German Plain so Moscow’s troops couldn’t occupy it.
“A skillfully sited atomic mine would not only destroy facilities and installations over a large area, but would deny occupation of the area to an enemy for an appreciable time due to contamination,” explained a Cold War era policy paper unearthed by Discovery.
Scientists based the Blue Peacock’s design on Britain’s first atomic weapon — the Blue Danube. The Danubes were 10 to 12 kiloton bombs designed to free fall from planes. They looked cartoonish, like a bomb Wile E. Coyote might drop on the roadrunner.
The Blue Danubes packed less of a punch than Fat Man and Little Boy, so in 1954, the British Army decided to adapt that tiny nuclear punch into a land mine.
The War Office ordered development and the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment set to work converting the Danube into the Peacock. In a few years, the researchers had a prototype. The nuclear land mine used a plutonium core surrounded by conventional explosives with twin firing pins. Steel encased the entire contraption.
The project had several problems.
First, compared to a conventional land mine, the Blue Peacock was massive………
The U.S. Army developed and deployed nuclear bazookas — the Davy Crockett — in the ‘60s, but the tiny nuke was still a nuke. It takes miles for the fallout from even a small nuclear blast to dissipate. The Pentagon thought better and shelved the project.
Britain had a similar problem with its Blue Peacock. How could it detonate a nuclear land mine without being anywhere near the device? It came up with two solutions, one ingenious and the other bizarre……….
The British Army shelved the project. One of the prototype Blue Peacocks is currently on display at the Atomic Weapons Establishment Historical Collection in England.
Britain’s attempts to develop a nuclear land mine were crazy, but it wasn’t the only time a nuclear power attempted to develop mines and smaller, more tactical nuclear munitions. It was just one reflection of the mad logic that was 1950s atomic war planning.
This piece first appeared in WarIsBoring here. http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-ultimate-weapon-war-nuclear-land-mines-13890
Born In The USA: How America Created Iran’s Nuclear Program, npr, STEVE INSKEEP, 18 Sept 15 “……..”The Iranian nuclear program has deep roots. In fact, it is four years older than President Obama,” says Ali Vaez, the International Crisis Group’s senior analyst for Iran. Vaez grew up in Iran, which means the nuclear program is a personal story for him.
“It started in 1957,” he says, “and ironically, it is a creation of the United States. The U.S. provided Iran with its first research reactor — a nuclear reactor, a 5-megawatt nuclear reactor that is still functioning and still operational in Tehran.”
The U.S. built that nuclear reactor on the campus ofTehran University. It also provided Iran with fuel for that reactor — weapons-grade enriched uranium.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
It was part of President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peaceprogram, an initiative to provide countries with peaceful, civilian nuclear technologies in the hope that they wouldn’t pursue military nuclear programs.
Under the program, many countries received what Iran did: their own small reactors, their own dollops of fuel. But, says Vaez, “as a result of the oil boom of the 1970s, that [Iranian] nuclear program morphed into a full-fledged civilian nuclear program.”
The Iranians had money to exploit the knowledge they were given, and to develop scientific minds. Iran provided the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a $20 million endowment in the 1970s to train Iranian nuclear scientists, Vaez says.
“The majority of people who returned to the country and started running the nuclear program were trained at MIT,” he notes.
The trainees have been central to Iran’s nuclear program ever since.
There was a moment in the 1970s when American officials thought they might be making a mistake. They feared Iran would become one of the nations seeking nuclear weapons.
U.S. diplomats began negotiating to limit Iran’s nuclear program. They ran into a problem familiar to diplomats today: Iran under the shah insisted it had the same right to nuclear power as any nation.
“The shah famously said that unless it was clear Iran was not being treated as a second-class country, he would look for alternative vendors and he would not work with U.S. companies to acquire nuclear technology for Iran.”
Iran bought nuclear plants from West Germany and France. The research reactor at Tehran University kept working. And then the campus became famous for something else.
After the shah was overthrown in 1979, under the new Islamist government led byAyatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, thousands of people gathered at the university every Friday and angled their prayer mats toward Mecca.
“Tehran University is at the epicenter of Friday prayer ceremonies,” Vaez says. “And [it] is also infamously known to be [the] epicenter of ‘Death to America’ chants that are heard every Friday during the prayer ceremonies.”
The clerics in power did not initially embrace the country’s existing nuclear infrastructure, Vaez says.
“In many ways, Iran’s nuclear program encapsulates Iran’s struggle with modernity,” he says. “During the shah’s time, it was the symbol of the country’s march towards modernity. After the revolution, it came to symbolize the kind of rapid modernization that was riddled with corruption and ‘West-toxification.'”
“West-toxification” was a term Iran created and used to denote pernicious Western influence that was to be rejected.
“Ayatollah Khomeni famously said the unfinished nuclear power plants in Bushehrshould be used as silos to store wheat,” says Vaez. Ultimately, “they were abandoned as a costly Western imposition on an oil-rich nation.”
This attitude lasted into the 1980’s. But by then, Iran was fighting a brutal war against neighboring Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein. As part of that war, Saddam repeatedly bombed the Bushehr nuclear facility, which was not operational at the time.
The war, which lasted from 1980 to 1988, also created severe power shortages in Iran.
Eventually, Iran’s leaders decided to revive the nuclear program, though the precise reason was not clear…….
Iran has consistently denied that it wants a weapon, though the U.S. and many others argue otherwise. In the early 2000s, Iran offered to discuss the future of its nuclear program. It even reached a deal with European powers. But the U.S. under Bush did not sign on. The efforts to reach a deal fell apart, and Iran began building thousands of centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium.
Ali Vaez says at this point, the meaning of Iran’s nuclear program was “mutating.” Iran under Khomeini had rejected the program as a symbol of the corrupt West — but now, more than a decade after his death, it was becoming a symbol of Iran’s defiance of the West……http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/09/18/440567960/born-in-the-u-s-a-how-america-created-irans-nuclear-program
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