I have a dream: A world free of nuclear weapons Aljazeera, Karipbek Kuyukov 28 Aug 2014 China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the US are still to sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Nuclear war is suicide for humans, but our leaders still have their fingers on the nuclear triggers. There seems to be absolutely no awareness, either in our Federal government or in the American public, of the existential danger posed by nuclear war. Such ignorance is embodied by The Russian Aggression Prevention Act, which if enacted will put us on a direct course for nuclear war with Russia
“The Russian Aggression Prevention Act” (RAPA): A Direct Path to Nuclear War with Russia The Russian Aggression Prevention Act”, introduced to Congress by U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), will set the US on a path towards direct military conflict with Russia in Ukraine. Global Research, BySteven Starr , Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility August 22, 2014
Any US-Russian war is likely to quickly escalate into a nuclear war, since neither the US nor Russia would be willing to admit defeat, both have many thousands of nuclear weapons ready for instant use, and both rely uponCounterforce military doctrine that tasks their military, in the event of war, to preemptively destroy the nuclear forces of the enemy.
RAPA provides de facto NATO membership for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova via RAPA
The Russian Aggression Prevention Act, or RAPA, “Provides major non-NATO ally status for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova for purposes of the transfer or possible transfer of defense articles or defense services.” Major non-NATO ally status would for practical purposes give NATO membership to these nations, as it would allow the US to move large amounts of military equipment and forces to them without the need for approval of other NATO member states. Thus RAPA would effectively bypass long-standing German opposition to the US request to make Ukraine and Georgia part of NATO.
Germans rightly fear placing US/NATO troops and US Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) in Ukraine, given the profound and long-standing Russian objections against the expansion of NATO (especially to Ukraine and Georgia) along with deployment of European US/NATO BMD. Germany is acutely aware of the distinct possibility that the civil war raging in Ukraine could evolve into a Ukrainian-Russian war. Under such circumstances, deployment of US/NATO forces in Ukraine would make it virtually inevitable they would come into fight with Ukraine against Russia. Continue reading
The Russian Aggression Prevention Act”, introduced to Congress by U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), will set the US on a path towards direct military conflict with Russia in Ukraine. Global Research, By Steven Starr , Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility August 22, 2014
“………..RAPA supports plans in Kiev for an attack on Crimea
The Russian Aggression Prevention Act demands that Russia “withdraw from the eastern border of Ukraine,” which is by definition, the Russian border. In other words, RAPA provocatively demands that Russia remove its own military forces away from its own borders, while Ukrainian military forces are meanwhile massed on the other side, attacking predominantly Russian cities.
RAPA also demands that “Russian forces must have withdrawn from Crimea within seven days of the enactment of the Act.” Not likely to happen, given that
(1) Crimea was part of the Russian empire from 1783 until 1954,
(2) withdrawal from Crimea would require Russia to abandon its only warm water port at Sevastopol, where Russian forces have been based, by internationally recognized treaty, since 1997, and
(3) more than three-quarters of all Crimeans voted “yes” to reunify with Russia, a vote which Russia accepted by its subsequent annexation of Crimea.
Thus, in the eyes of Russia, the requirement to “withdraw from Crimea” amounts to a US demand that Russia surrender Russian territory. Putin has just taken the entire Russian Duma (the Russian House of Representatives) to Crimea, to address them there and strongly make the point that there will be no withdrawal from Crimea.
RAPA, however, stipulates that the US does not recognize the Russian annexation of Crimea, and creates sanctions and legal penalties for anyone who does. RAPA therefore provides both military and political support for Ukrainian President Poroshenko’s stated goat that Ukraine will retake Crimea.
This goal was recently echoed by the Ukrainian defense minister, who was applauded by the Ukrainian Parliament when he told them that the Ukrainian army will “have a victory parade in Sevastopol“. These statements are taken seriously in Moscow, where they are viewed as a promise to attack Russia. Thus, Putin’s advisers are telling him he must fight today in Eastern Ukraine, or tomorrow in Crimea.
Any Russian military intervention in Eastern Ukraine would certainly be described in the West as Russian aggression in pursuit of empire, which would trigger deafening demands that US/NATO forces act to support Ukraine. Should NATO intervene, subsequent Russian military action against any NATO member would trigger the alliance’s Chapter 5 mutual defense clause, committing it to war with Russia.
Any major Ukrainian attack upon Crimea would make war with Russia inevitable. Ukraine appears to be preparing for such an assault by drafting all men of ages 18 to 60 years, in a forced mobilizationof its armed forces, which also includes calling up its active reserves of one million men, and bringing more than 1000 battle tanksout of storage. Putin is being told by his close advisers thatUkraine will have an army of half a million men in 2015.
RAPA would provide hundreds of millions of dollars to train and arm the rapidly expanding Ukrainian armed forces, and position US/NATO forces for rapid intervention on the side of Ukraine in the event of a Ukrainian-Russian war. Thus, the many political and military provisions of RAPA would certainly act to fully encourage Ukraine to carry out its stated policy to retake Crimea. The Republic of Georgia attacked Russian forces in 2008 with far fewer US promises of aid. Of course, RAPA would also arm Georgia, too………..http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-russian-aggression-prevention-act-rapa-a-direct-path-to-nuclear-war-with-russia/5397171
China’s second test of nuclear-armed hypersonic glider fails SCMP, Minnie Chan
firstname.lastname@example.org The People’s Liberation Army has carried out a second, albeit unsuccessful test of a hypersonic vehicle, two sources close to the military said, as China attempts to find a way to deliver nuclear weapons at immense speed to evade defence systems………
Media reports in the US in June said Washington was funding the further development of a hypersonic missile programme amid concerns over China’s research.
A US-based news website, the Washington Free Beacon, reported on this month’s test on Tuesday, quoting unnamed American government officials.
Global Network board member Sung-hee Choi, long time activist on Jeju Island, wrote today:
Recently, Pope Francis has visited Korea from Aug. 14 to 18. He left us many moving messages of peace and justice, but the South Korean (ROK) conservative Park Geun-Hye government started the World-biggest war exercise Ulji Freedom Guardian (In government drill, about 480,000 personnel join. In military drill, about 50,000 Korean soldiers and 30,000 US soldiers) started along with the United States on his leaving day. It ends on Aug. 21.
The exercise targets North Korea and the strategy includes preemptive nuclear strike against her. The exercise will be a passage for the US to push for the US-Japan-ROK trilateral military alliance and Missile Defense system. http://space4peace.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/from-pope-to-war-games-in-south-korea.html
Israel’s nuclear strategy – a larger role for submarine-basing, Jerusalem Post, 08/17/2014 By PROFESSOR LOUIS RENÉ BERES,ADMIRAL LEON “BUD” EDNEY“……….From the early days of the country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, Israel has understood the need to rely upon a “great equalizer,” that is, on nuclear weapons and (implicit) strategy. Of course, there are a great many circumstances in which a nuclear option would be unsuited – most obviously, in any forms of regional counter-terrorism – but, in the end, there can be no substitute for such a residual option. Doctrinally, Israel has already rejected any notions of theater nuclear deterrence, and/or nuclear war-fighting; nonetheless, there are still some identifiable circumstances wherein a nuclear exchange might not be prevented.
Japan plans fund to develop military technology with universities, Japan Times 17 Aug 14 Ministry plans fund to aid schools engaged in military research The Defense Ministry plans to set up a fund to develop military technology by aiding research projects at universities and other civilian institutions, government sources have revealed.
In a move aimed at keeping down development costs and bolstering civilian-military cooperation, the ministry plans to seek roughly ¥2 billion for the fund in its budget request for fiscal 2015 beginning next April, raising it to ¥6 billion in three years, the sources said Saturday.
The fund, which will be modeled after the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to expand the nation’s military capabilities……..
A group of university researchers has recently organized a petition opposed to civil-military cooperation, citing the bitter history of academia contributing to the nation’s militarization during World War II……… http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/17/national/japan-plans-fund-develop-military-technology-universities/#.U_KmJsVdUnk
Trident missiles ‘could be relocated to Plymouth from independent Scotland‘ Devonport is obvious alternative to Faslane for Britain’s nuclear missiles, says Rusi thinktank, despite risk of ‘accidental ignition’ Richard Norton-Taylor The Guardian, Thursday 14 August 2014 There would be no insurmountable technical or financial obstacle to relocating Britain’s Trident nuclear missile base to England out of an independent Scotland, a report by a leading thinktank says on Thursday.
Any local opposition might delay but not stop relocation, and the favoured site would be Devonport in Plymouth, it says.
Some opponents of Scottish independence have suggested it would mean the end of the Trident nuclear weapons system and that the cost of moving the submarine base at Faslane and the nuclear warhead depot at Coulport would be prohibitive.
The study by the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) says that relocating Trident would add up to £3.5bn to the cost of retaining the UK’s nuclear forces. The cost of the overall nuclear deterrent programme over 25 years is estimated to be £80bn………
The study acknowledges there would be safety concerns: “Introducing nuclear-armed [submarines] to Devonport will unavoidably introduce a new risk that an accidental ignition of one or all of a submarine’s Trident D5 missiles could spread radioactive material over some of Plymouth’s 260,000 inhabitants.”
Though there would be opposition on safety grounds, it notes that the Ministry of Defence is reported to have waived safety requirements at Coulport in the 1970s to allow that base to continue operating……>It adds: “The various challenges of relocation would probably trigger a wider national discussion in the [rest of the UK] on whether or not the strategic benefits of retaining nuclear weapons exceeded the costs involved.” http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/aug/14/trident-missiles-relocate-plymouth-independent-scotland-rusi-report
The day the bomb fell on Nagasaki BRIAN MCKENNA The Globe and Mail Aug. 07 2014, The atomic bomb destined for the ancient trading port of Nagasaki was called Fat Man. Sister Regina McKenna, my grandfather’s sister, was close enough to ground zero to feel the death wind on her face. She might have preferred another name: Terror. Or, as the Japanese call it: Slaughter.
Trident nuclear deterrent would be scrapped by an independent Scotland Rt August 07, 2014 Scottish voters face the choice between a multibillion-pound tax bill to fund a new generation of nuclear weapons, or the chance to completely disarm in an independent Scotland.
Veterans Minister Keith Brown warned Scottish taxpayers could face an almighty burden if the UK Government decides to renew the program in 2016. In a move that could garner greater support for Scottish independence, the Scottish government set out plans to remove Trident from Scotland if September’s referendum secures a ‘Yes’ vote.
Speaking during a debate at Holyrood, Brown said the decision on renewal “appears to have already been made,” with the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour backing the retention of Trident. He also said the cost of renewal will also have implications for the UK’s conventional defense forces.
“The Scottish Government position is that Trident should be removed from an independent Scotland by 2020 – before we are hit with a share of the further £100 billion in lifetime costs, at 2012 prices, which are estimated for its replacement,” he said.
“We will also propose a constitutional prohibition on nuclear weapons being based in Scotland, ensuring they would never return.”
The Trident Commission reports that taxpayers will be spending nearly £4 billion a year on nuclear weapons at 2012 prices, when spending reaches its peak in the next decade. This is the equivalent of almost one third of the entire current defense budget. The costs would impact on other defense spending, such as helicopter support and equipment for troops.
“That is money which could and will be far better spent on other priorities – something underlined by statistics showing one million people in Scotland are living in relative poverty,” added Brown……..http://rt.com/uk/178692-trident-scrapped-independent-scotland/
Y-12: Poster child for a dysfunctional nuclear weapons complex Robert Alvarez, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 6 Aug 14 “……The United States halted production of new nuclear weapons in 1989, with the end of the Cold War. But the US nuclear weapons complex—composed of eight key facilities that have an annual budget exceeding $8 billion—has stumbled on, in the form of a massive, decaying empire that in many cases does its work poorly or dangerously, or both. The Y-12 National Security Complex is the poster child for much of what ails the weapons complex. Although Y-12 has not produced weapons for some 25 years, its annual budgets have increased by nearly 50 percent since 1997, to more than $1 billion a year.
For decades, the Energy Department—which manages the weapons complex through the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA)—has not been able to reconcile competing objectives at the 811-acre Y-12 site, whether they involve storage areas for HEU and other fissile materials, the restarting of old weapons facilities, environmental cleanup, the building of new weapons facilities, or the downsizing of the site. As a result, costs have significantly increased, and long-standing problems have continued, unresolved, for years that have run into decades. For every dollar spent to maintain and modernize the US nuclear weapons stockpile, nearly three dollars is spent “to provide the underlying infrastructure” for maintenance and modernization at Y-12.
Long-term secrecy and isolation have created a dangerous form of hoarding at Y-12; a panoply of severe hazards continues to build up, constantly awaiting ever more costly mitigation in the future. But the stark reality is that there are no more cans to kick down the road. Y-12 has inexorably caught up with its future. Its environmental and security problems are too threatening to leave unaddressed, and questions about its mission will have to be answered definitively in an age of budgetary austerity and relatively little need for new nuclear weapons…….
During its heyday, Y-12 produced some 1,000 CSAs per year. Now, its annual production capacity has dwindled to less than 100. Though the NNSA declares that Y-12 has multiple missions, including non-proliferation efforts that involve the downblending of HEU and the provision of fuel for the Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines, nearly 99 percent of its budget comes from funds dedicated to maintain the US nuclear weapons stockpile. More than anything, Y-12 serves to stockpile thousands of CSAs from discarded nuclear weapons, as well as depleted uranium, lithium, and other hazardous chemicals…….. the Government Accountability Office finds that “NNSA’s decision to retain many CSAs … poses significant challenges to Y-12’s ability to plan its disassembly workload.” Although exact numbers have been classified since the 1990s, there are likely several thousand excess CSAs, containing hundreds of tons of HEU, awaiting dismantlement at Y-12. ……
Around New Year’s Eve of 1996, a long-awaited vulnerability assessment of HEU storage at Energy Department sites was released. Y-12 had the most significant problems. Even though fires posed the greatest danger of radiation and chemical exposure to workers and the public, buildings, mostly constructed in the 1940’s, had deteriorated and had insufficient or non-existent fire-protection systems, despite the very real possibility of a truly catastrophic fire and resulting release of radiation. It wasn’t until 14 years later that a replacement facility for the aged wooden structure serving as the main HEU storage warehouse was opened; it cost five times the original construction estimate. That facility gained notoriety in August 2012, after nonviolent peace protestors, including an 84-year-old nun, penetrated its security barriers……..
From 1997 to 2006, there were 21 fires and explosions at Y-12 involving electrical equipment, glove boxes, pumps, waste containers, and nuclear and hazardous chemicals. Several resulted in worker injuries and destruction of property. ……….. In March 2014, a large portion of a concrete ceiling collapsedin a building that was once part of the weapons operation. It was a near miss: Foot-long concrete pieces bounced onto walkways and an area where welders had been working just a day before. …..
In April 2014, the NNSA released a “red team” report, led by the director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, on the troubled UPF. The team’s most significant recommendation was to rethink a basic, “big-box” approach that would create a UPF to serve multiple functions in one structure. Instead, to hold the line at an estimated $6.5 billion for design and construction costs, the team recommended going back to the drawing board to effectively reduce the size and scope of the project. Meanwhile, in recognition of the growing hazards associated with a deteriorating infrastructure for storing “materials at risk,” the team recommended that greater emphasis should be given to safe consolidated storage of materials, deferred maintenance, and safety upgrading……….
Regardless of the wisdom of or need for an asteroid-protection program, the future of Y-12 should be focused on earthly realities: cleaning up the environment, decontamination and decommissioning of facilities, stabilizing nuclear and other hazardous materials, and the dismantlement of a large excess stockpile of weapons components. There is a very real need to replace the collapsing infrastructure at Y-12 with facilities that can accomplish these goals.
Protecting the planet from asteroids is a poor rationale for failing to deal with the environmental, safety, financial, and health challenges the Y-12 site poses to the people who live in the area, and to the country as a whole. http://thebulletin.org/y-12-poster-child-dysfunctional-nuclear-weapons-complex7361
Why We Must Disarm the U.S.’s Unprecedented Nuclear Arsenal http://time.com/3080077/why-we-must-disarm-the-u-s-s-unprecedented-nuclear-arsenal/ Elaine Scarry The potential for so vast a massacre has never before existed.
August 6 is the 69th anniversary of the day the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The bombing of Nagasaki took place on August 9. An appropriate way to reflect on these events might be to contemplate our current nuclear arsenal and ask why it is being kept in place.The U.S. has by far the most powerful nuclear arsenal on Earth. Our 14 Ohio-class submarines together carry the equivalent of at least 56,000 Hiroshima blasts. These ships are not a remnant of the Cold War. Eight were made after the opening of the Berlin Wall during the presidencies of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
A fleet of 12 new Ohio-class submarines is currently undergoing design and construction: the first is scheduled for completion in 2021, the last in 2035. Also underway are a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile and a next-generation heavy bomber, land-based and air-based delivery systems initiated by George W. Bush and continued by Barack Obama.
The country’s nuclear planners do not wait for a crisis to choose possible targets. Thousands of designated targets exist right now, often involving cities whose populations have no quarrel with us. Specific missiles have been assigned to each target city.
The U.S. citizenry cannot stop nuclear missiles once they are fired. Nor can we undo injuries—to humans, animals, plants and to the earth and sky themselves—once they are inflicted. Only by acting now— before they are fired and while the danger seems remote—can missiles be stopped and the injuries cancelled.
Polls conducted at the University of Maryland’s Center for International and Security Studies show that 73% of the U.S. population wants total elimination of nuclear weapons. But anonymous polls require no courage and carry no force. Making audible the population’s voice requires that people speak in their own voices and write their names, putting their opposition on record.
We have freedom over the ways we choose to express our opposition to these weapons. We have no freedom to determine what the stakes are or what happens if opposition fails.
Four factors make openly registering our opposition this summer and fall urgent:
1. Right now we have what we may never have again: a president who, in his Prague speech, put himself on record as saying nuclear weapons have to be eliminated. Furthermore, he acknowledged that because the U. S. is the only country to have used them, we are morally obligated to take the lead in eliminating them. So far Obama has failed to act. But if the U.S. population makes its will clear, he may act.
2. Next spring the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons will undergo its next five-year review at the United Nations. Article 6 requires that nuclear states give up their nuclear arms. Many of the treaty signers have expressed dismay and disgust with the failure of progress on Article 6. If by April 2015 the nuclear states have—after 45 years—still made little progress, the countries that have so far abstained from acquiring them may become convinced that a nuclear-free world is impossible. The dream of non-proliferation will end.
3. We have at present an ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, who has written extensively about the moral horror of genocide inflicted on Armenians, Rwandans and others. She has criticized the United States for failing to act to stop genocide. Surely our citizenry can convince her that our own nuclear architecture is the genocide-ready instrument most in need of elimination.
4. The U.S. constitution makes Congress (through the requirement for a declaration of war) and the citizenry (through the second amendment) responsible for overseeing the country’s war making. A citizenry that turns its back on this responsibility is infantilized and marooned, severed from all governance. No one can take from us the authority over the country’s defense the constitution gives us; but if we do not act on it, it’s gone.
There are ways of honoring this responsibility that most of us might find too costly. Right now, Megan Rice, an 84-year old nun, is serving a three-year prison sentence for cutting through the security fences at the Oak Ridge, Tenn. nuclear facility. She and two companions set out in the middle of the night, crossing wilderness ground for several hours before they reached and broke through the fences. They risked not just prison sentences; they risked their lives.
The U.S. arsenal has taken away the right of self-defense from all creatures everywhere. Arrangements for so vast a massacre have never before existed on Earth. These arrangements must be unmade. They will not be unmade unless each of us steps forward and insists that it happen.
Elaine Scarry, who teaches at Harvard, is the author ofThermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom.
Obama curbs nuclear security goals as bomb-building budget grows, http://news.yahoo.com/obama-curbs-nuclear-security-goals-005500310.html by Douglas Birch, 30 July 14 Since the start of his presidency, Barack Obama has been clear that one of his major goals was to secure nuclear weapons and materials, and as recently as March, at the Nuclear Security Summit in Holland, the president declared that “it is important for us not to relax but rather accelerate our efforts over the next two years.”
According to a new analysis of nuclear security spending by a bipartisan group at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the administration in its proposed 2015 budget chose to cut nuclear nonproliferation programs in the Energy Department by $399 million while increasing spending on nuclear weapons by $534 million.
In addition, despite missing a self-imposed deadline of April 2013 for ensuring that nuclear materials were safe from terrorists across the globe, the White House at about the same time rejected a confidential Energy Department-sponsored plan to accelerate those efforts by 2016, the year Obama is slated to convene a fourth international summit on the issue.
The proposal, which appears in a May 2013 report obtained recently by the Center for Public Integrity, was intended to address the huge amount of unfinished work in the Obama administration’s nonproliferation plan.It said that more than two tons of portable, easily-weaponized uranium were still being held in scores of nuclear research reactors, while the world’s supply of another nuclear explosive, plutonium, was growing at a rate of about 740 bombs’ worth a year.
Despite progress, there remained enough nuclear explosive material in the hands of civilians to cobble together 40,000 atomic bombs.
Moscow may walk out of nuclear treaty after US accusations of breach http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/29/moscow-russia-violated-cold-war-nuclear-treaty-iskander-r500-missile-test-us
Russia may be on the point of walking out of a major cold war era arms-control treaty, Russian analysts have said, after President Obama accused Moscow of violating the accord by testing a cruise missile.
There has been evidence at least since 2011 of Russian missile tests in violation of the 1987 intermediate range nuclear forces (INF) treaty, which banned US or Russian ground-launched cruise missiles with a 500 to 5,500-mile (805 to 8,851km) range. But the Obama administration has been hesitant until now of accusing Moscow of a violation in the hope that it could persuade Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to stop the tests or at least not deploy the weapon in question, known as the Iskander, or R-500.
Washington has also been reticent because of the technical differences in definition of what constitutes the range of a missile under the INF treaty. That ambiguity now seems to have dropped away. According to Pavel Felgenhauer, a defence analyst and columnist for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Russia has indeed broken the treaty by testing the R-500 which has a range of more than 1,000km.
“Of course, this is in gross violation of the 1987 treaty, but Russian officials including Putin have said this treaty is unfair and not suitable for Russia,” Felgenhauer said. “The United States doesn’t have [medium-range missiles] but other countries do have them, such as China, Pakistan and Israel, so they say this is unfair and wrong.”
Russian press reports have suggested the missile may even be in deployment, with state news agency RIA Novosti reporting in June that the “Russian army currently uses its Iskander-M and Iskander-K variants.” Felgenhauer said he doesn’t believe the missile has been deployed, although he said it’s entirely possible that Russia will leave the treaty amid tensions with the US.
“The present situation of a new cold war in Europe – and not even cold, at least not in Ukraine right now – it’s a situation in which Russia can abrogate the 1987 treaty, and the possibilities are rather high,” Felgenhauer said.
Russian officials have previously criticised the 1987 treaty, including former defence minister Sergei Ivanov. In 2013, Ivanov, then presidential chief of staff, said of the treaty: “We are fulfilling it, but it can’t last forever.”
- According to Kremlin-linked analyst Sergei Markov, Russia has a far greater need for medium-range cruise missiles than the |US, because military rivals including China are located near its borders and because Moscow lacks the Americans’ long-range bombing capabilities.”Russia would be happy to leave this agreement, and I think Russia is using the Ukraine crisis to leave the agreement,” Markov said.
As for Russia’s complaints about US aegis missiles, Felgenhauer said they reflect the genuine belief among Kremlin top brass that the US missile defence has a secret attack capability and poses a threat to Russia.
“This was a normal Soviet practice that missile interceptors had the in-built capability to be used as an attack missile,” Felgenhauer said.
UK-US sign secret new deal on nuclear weapons, Guardian 29 July 14,
• Vital for Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system
• MPs also demand debate on UK’s future world role A new agreement critical to Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system, was signed the other day by British and US officials.
Whitehall was silent. We had to rely on the White House, and a message from Barack Obama to the US Congress, to tell us that the 1958 UK-US Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA) had been updated.
A new amendment to the treaty will last for 10 years. Obama told Congress it will “permit the transfer between the United States and the United Kingdom of classified information concerning atomic weapons; nuclear technology and controlled nuclear information; material and equipment for the development of defense plans; training of personnel; evaluation of potential enemy capability; development of delivery systems; and the research, development, and design of military reactors.”
The UK, Obama added, “intends to continue to maintain viable nuclear forces into the foreseeable future.” It was in America’s interest, to continue to help Britain “in maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent”.
There was no word from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Whitehall department responsible updating the UK-US treaty. Parliament, a spokesperson said in response to questions, would be informed “at an appropiate time”. MPs would have a 21 day window before the end of the year in which they could debate the issues involved.
However, the content of the new agreement will remain secret. To reveal them, Whitehall officials say, could “assist proliferation” of nuclear weapons.
That is a curious comment given that both the US and UK insist the agreement does not in any way breach their obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
The updated agreement, as I described last month, means that Britain is stepping up its cooperation with the US over the design of nuclear warheads, raising new questions about the independence of the UK deterrent. Increased cooperation with the US on warhead design and the exchange of material crucial in the manufacture and stockpiling of nuclear weapon is vital to the Trident system.
Though the agreement is incorporated in US law, it has no legal status in Britain.
Paul Ingram, executive director of the British American Information Security Council (BASIC) says that though the agreement is an international treaty that requires regular ratification, it has never been debated in the Commons. Questions from MPs were met with “cursory information”.
He adds: “With the deepening of technical collaboration that shapes the procurement decisions here in London over nuclear weapons programmes, in a manner that stretches or breaks Article 1 of the NPT, it is high time we took this relationship and its consequences for international security seriously.”…….
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