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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

South Korea’s President Park under pressure from nuclear weapons lobby

Pressure For South Korea To ‘Go Nuclear’ For Defense Against North’s Arsenal, Forbes, Donald Kirk , CONTRIBUTOR , 4 Feb 16 

North Korea’s success in conducting a fourth nuclear test has ignited calls for South Korea also to produce nuclear warheads as a “defensive” measure that could heighten the balance of terror that already threatens the Korean peninsula.

South Korean nuclear physicists and engineers have been tinkering with developing nuclear warheads since 1970 but have been frustrated by U.S. insistence that the South abide by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which the South signed under U.S. pressure in 1975.  The most they can do, under a deal reached with the U.S. last year, is to enrich uranium up to 20% — way above the 4% level for nuclear energy but far below the level for nuclear warheads……..

Calls for South Korea to develop a nuclear arsenal are heard in public, in the media and in political gatherings. The conservative Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s biggest-selling newspaper, articulated the argument in an editorial reflecting the widespread view that China will do nothing to stop North Korea from exploding more warheads and firing more missiles – and that sanctions against the North will be weak and ineffective……..

At the same time, South Korea would have to abrogate the agreement signed by both Koreas in 1991 for denuclearizing the Korean peninsula – a deal that the North violated from the outset.

‘The U.S. has passed the buck for taming North Korea to China,’ said Chosun Ilbo. “China is doing nothing. Seoul now faces a real need for public discussion of the development of its own nuclear weapons.”

GlobalSecurity.org, a website that specializes in such issues, traced South Korea’s recurring interest in developing its own nukes back to the presidency of Park Chung-hee, father of the current president, Park Geun-hye……..

The current President Park has said her government will abide by the 1991 denuclearization agreement, but she faces rising demands at least for a review of longstanding policy……http://www.forbes.com/sites/donaldkirk/2016/02/04/pressure-mounts-in-south-korea-for-its-own-nukes-to-combat-north-koreas-nuclear-arsenal/#3e42677c345f

February 5, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

25 toxic years of use of depleted uranium weapons

depleted-uranium“The most toxic war in history” – 25 years later, International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons,  Quarter of a century on from the first widespread use of depleted uranium munitions, have lessons been learned about the need to protect civilians, military personnel and the environment from conflict pollution and the toxic remnants of war? 1 February 2016 – Doug Weir 

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the start of Operation Desert Storm, the combat phase of the Gulf War. Precipitated by Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait in August 1990, the conflict was the first to see the widespread use of depleted uranium (DU) ammunition. US and UK forces subsequently acknowledged firing a combined 286,000kg of DU – the vast majority of which was fired by US Abrams and M60 tanks, and A10 and Harrier aircraft.

The decision to deploy the radioactive and chemically toxic weapons, which had been under development since the 1950s as a response to Cold War concerns over defeating Soviet armoured divisions, would prove highly contentious in the following years. Once the media and military’s enthusiasm for what was promoted as a new paradigm in high-tech low-casualty warfare began to subside, veteransjournalists and civil society organisations in the US and UK increasingly began to challenge the general conduct of the war, and the use of DU in particular.

This was largely to be expected, and had been anticipated just six months before the conflict in a US military study on the environmental and health risks of DU: “Public relations efforts are indicated, and may not be effective due to the public’s perception of radioactivity. Fielding and combat activities present the potential for adverse international reaction.” Those wishing to continue to use DU weapons recognised that they would need to plan vigorous public relations efforts in order to justify their continued use, a pattern that continues today. Following 1991, this saw DU branded as the “Silver Bullet” – a weapon capable of such astonishing feats, and so militarily important, that any concerns over its potential health or environmental impacts should be disregarded.

“The most toxic war in history”

As increasing numbers of veterans began to report post-deployment health problems in the years that followed, attention began to focus on the overall toxicity of the conflict. From oil fires and pesticides, to the use and disposal of chemical weapons, the Gulf War was increasingly viewed as “the most toxic in history”. Whether it was – conflict pollution had been developing in concert with the mechanisation of warfare and industrialisation throughout the 20th Century, or whether this just represented a growing awareness of the linkages between chemicals and health is a matter of debate. Nevertheless, questions were asked about whether possible exposures to a suite of chemicals could be responsible for the ailments reported by veterans. These ranged from birth defects to chronic fatigue, and led to the emergence of the catch all term Gulf War Syndrome (GWS)…..

In the case of DU, it also became clear that scientifically unjustified assumptions had been made about the health risks it posed. Continue reading

February 3, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, depleted uranium | Leave a comment

Doomsday Clock to stay at 3 minutes to midnight

Doomsday clock 2016‘Doomsday Clock’ to stand still amid nuclear tensions http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35412454  26 January 2016  The so-called Doomsday Clock will remain set at three-minutes-to-midnight amid global perils such as climate change and nuclear proliferation.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BPA), the group behind the clock, said the standing still is “not good news”.

The minute hand on the Doomsday Clock is a metaphor for how vulnerable the world is to catastrophe.

“It remains the closest it has been over the past 20 years,” said Rachel Bronson, BPA’s executive director.

In addition to nuclear arms and climate change, the group also cited growing cyber threats and an uptick in terrorist attacks in their decision to keep clock unchanged.

Lawrence Krauss, chairman of the BPA’s Board of Sponsors said that the Iran nuclear agreement and the Paris climate accord were good news, but said it remained unclear if the Paris agreement would actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He also noted increased tensions between the US and Russia as a sore point.

Last year, the scientists moved the clock up from five-minutes-to-midnight, noting the threat of climate change, the modernisation of nuclear weapons as well as large nuclear arsenals.

At the time, they said the threats were “extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity”.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded at the University of Chicago in 1945 by a group of scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons. Their metaphorical clock was created two years later.

Today, the group includes physicists and environmental scientists from around the world, who decide whether to adjust the clock in consultation with the group’s Board of Sponsors – which includes 17 Nobel laureates.

The closest the clock has come to midnight was in 1953, when it was moved to two minutes from the apocalyptic midnight, following hydrogen bomb tests by the US and Russia.

January 28, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Senior Tories agree with Jeremy Corbyn on ditching Trident nuclear weapons system

submarine-missileflag-UKNot just Jeremy Corbyn – senior Tories also think ditching Trident might be a good idea https://tompride.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/not-just-jeremy-corbyn-senior-tories-also-think-ditching-trident-might-be-a-good-idea/18 Jan 2016  by Tom Pride

Perhaps the Cameron government should be more careful before labelling Jeremy Corbyn a national security ‘threat’ just for saying Trident should be scrapped. Because there are several influential people in the Tory Party who think Trident should be scrapped too.

Former Conservative Defence Secretary Michael Portillo agrees with Jeremy Corbyn:

“Our independent nuclear deterrent is not independent and doesn’t constitute a deterrent against anybody that we regard as an enemy. It is a waste of money and it is a diversion of funds that might otherwise be spent on perfectly useful and useable weapons and troops. But some people have not caught up with this reality.”

And Tim Montgomerie – who has been called one of the most influential Tories outside the cabinet – has also floated ditching Trident (from the Times last March): In fact, in 2009 Montgomerie praised the willingness of the Tory Party to discuss the scrapping of Trident as “tough thinking”.

Veteran Tory MP and former Tory Party chairman David Davis has alsoquestioned the affordability of Trident.

And before he was Prime Minister, David Cameron himself refused to rule outscrapping Trident.

But it’s not just senior Tories who agree with Corbyn.

Field Marshal Lord Bramall, General Lord Ramsbotham, General Lord Ramsbotham and General Sir Hugh Beach have denounced Trident as “irrelevant”.

And in 2009, that well-known hotbed of radical socialism, the Daily Telegraphdiscussed reasons why Trident should be scrapped.

Even the Daily Mail has in the past pondered getting rid of Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

OK. I think I’ve just about got the hang of this Trident discussion thing now.

Scrapping Trident is only a threat to national security when it’s not being proposed by a Tory?

Oh shit. Our nuclear deterrent runs on Windows XP. No, really, it does.

January 22, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Anniversary of a nuclear disaster in Spain

text-relevantThe day America dropped 4 nuclear bombs on Spain, [excellent photos] Daily Mail, 19 Jan 18  … but the disaster, 50 years ago, has been forgotten by all but its surviving victims 

  • 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.

What in the name of God are doing, Pepé? Get away from there! This could be dangerous.
Pedro de la Torre Flores’ wife, Luisa

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

January 19, 2016 Posted by | history, Reference, Spain, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

How long are people going to tolerate this nuclear tragedy?

death-nuclearThe Shockingly High Number of Casualties of America’s Nuclear Weapons Program  http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/161607?__scoop_post=74a15000-b971-11e5-b8b0-00221934899c&__scoop_topic=2427585#__scoop_post=74a15000-b971-11e5-b8b0-00221934899c&__scoop_topic=2427585  by Lawrence S. Wittner– When Americans think about nuclear weapons, they comfort themselves with the thought that these weapons’ vast destruction of human life has not taken place since 1945—at least not yet. But, in reality, it has taken place, with shocking levels of U.S. casualties.

This point is borne out by a recently-published study by a team of investigative journalists at McClatchy News. Drawing upon millions of government records and large numbers of interviews, they concluded that employment in the nation’s nuclear weapons plants since 1945 led to 107,394 American workers contracting cancer and other serious diseases. Of these people, some 53,000 judged by government officials to have experienced excessive radiation on the job received $12 billion in compensation under the federal government’s Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. And 33,480 of these workers have died.

How could this happen? Let’s examine the case of Byron Vaigneur. In October 1975, he saw a brownish sludge containing plutonium break through the wall of his office and start pooling near his desk at the Savannah River, South Carolina nuclear weapons plant. Subsequently, he contracted breast cancer, as well as chronic beryllium disease, a debilitating respiratory condition. Vaigneur, who had a mastectomy to cut out the cancer, is today on oxygen, often unable to walk more than a hundred feet. Declaring he’s ready to die, he has promised to donate his body to science in the hope that it will help save the lives of other people exposed to deadly radiation.

Actually, workers in nuclear weapons plants constitute only a fraction of Americans whose lives have been ravaged by preparations for nuclear war. A 2002 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintained that, between 1951 and 1963 alone, the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons—more than half of it done by the United States—killed 11,000 Americans through cancer. As this estimate does not include internal radiation exposure caused by inhaling or swallowing radioactive particles, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research has maintained that the actual number of fatal cancers caused by nuclear testing could be 17,000. Of course, a larger number of people contracted cancer from nuclear testing than actually died of it. The government study estimated that those who contracted cancer numbered at least 80,000 Americans.

Who were these Americans? Many of them were “downwinders”—people whose towns and cities were located near U.S. nuclear testing sites and, thus, were contaminated by deadly clouds of nuclear fallout carried along by the wind. During the 1950s, the U.S. government conducted close to a hundred atmospheric nuclear explosions at its Nevada test site. Nearly 30 percent of the radioactive debris drifted over the towns to the east, which housed a population of roughly 100,000 people. The residents of St. George, Utah recalled that a “pink cloud” would hang over them while they worked amid the fallout, walked in it, breathed it, washed their clothes in it, and ate it. “Even the little children ate the snow,” recalled one resident. “They didn’t know it was going to kill them later on.”

During subsequent decades, leukemia and other cancer rates soared in the counties adjoining the Nevada test site, as they did among the 250,000 U.S. soldiers exposed to U.S. nuclear weapons tests. From the standpoint of U.S. military commanders, it was vital to place American soldiers close to U.S. nuclear explosions to get them ready to fight in a nuclear war. Subsequently, as many of these soldiers developed cancer, had children with birth defects, or died, they and their family members organized atomic veterans’ groups to demand that the federal government provide medical care and financial compensation for their suffering. Today, atomic veterans receive both from the federal government.

Uranium miners comprise yet another group of Americans who have suffered and died from the U.S. nuclear weapons program. To obtain the uranium ore necessary to build nuclear weapons, the U.S. government operated thousands of uranium mines, often on the lands of Native Americans, many of whom worked as miners and died premature deaths. The U.S. Public Health Service and the National Institute for Public Safety and Health conducted studies of uranium miners that discovered alarmingly high rates of deaths from lung cancer, other lung diseases, tuberculosis, emphysema, blood disease, and injuries. In addition, when the uranium mines were played out or abandoned for other reasons, they were often left as open pits, thereby polluting the air, land, and water of the surrounding communities with radiation and heavy metals.

This American nuclear catastrophe is not only a matter of the past, but seems likely to continue well into the future. The U.S. government is now beginning a $1 trillion program to “modernize” its nuclear weapons complex. This involves building new nuclear weapons factories and labs, as well as churning out new nuclear weapons and warheads for firing from the air, land, and sea. Of course, if these weapons and their overseas counterparts are used, they will destroy the world. But, as we have seen, even when they are not used in war, they exact a dreadful toll—in the United States and, it should be noted, in other nations around the world.   How long are people going to tolerate this nuclear tragedy?

January 19, 2016 Posted by | health, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“Modernisation” making nuclear war more likely: time to renew disarmament process

Modernizing’ the Opportunities for Nuclear War  Huffington Post,   Professor of History emeritus, SUNY Albany, 18 Jan 16,  A fight now underway over newly-designed U.S. nuclear weapons highlights how far the Obama administration has strayed from its commitment to build a nuclear-free world.

du_rounds……The fight, as a recent New York Times article indicates, concerns a varietybomb B61-12 of nuclear weapons that the U.S. military is currently in the process of developing or, as the administration likes to say, “modernizing.” Last year, the Pentagon flight-tested a mock version of the most advanced among them, the B61 Model 12. This redesigned nuclear weapon is the country’s first precision-guided atomic bomb, with a computer brain and maneuverable fins that enable it to more accurately target sites for destruction. It also has a “dial-a-yield” feature that allows its handlers to adjust the level of its explosive power……

The Federation of Atomic Scientists pointed out that the high accuracy of the weapon and its lower settings for destructiveness might tempt military commanders to call for its use in a future conflict…….

Another weapon undergoing U.S. government “modernization” is the cruise missile. Designed for launching by U.S. bombers, the weapon–charged William Perry, a former secretary of defense–raised the possibilities of a “limited nuclear war.” Furthermore, because cruise missiles can be produced in nuclear and non-nuclear versions, an enemy under attack, uncertain which was being used, might choose to retaliate with nuclear weapons.

Overall, the Obama administration’s nuclear “modernization” program–including not only redesigned nuclear weapons, but new nuclear bombers, submarines, land-based missiles, weapons labs, and production plants–is estimated to cost as much as $1 trillion over the next thirty years. Andrew C. Weber, a former assistant secretary of defense and former director of the interagency body that oversees America’s nuclear arsenal, has criticized it as “unaffordable and unneeded.” After all, the U.S. government already has an estimated 7,200 nuclear weapons.

The nuclear weapons modernization program is particularly startling when set against President Obama’s April 2009 pledge to build a nuclear weapons-free world. Although this public commitment played a large part in his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize that year, in succeeding years the administration’s action on this front declined precipitously.

It did manage to secure a strategic arms reduction treaty (New START) with Russia in 2010 and issue a pledge that same year that the U.S. government would “not develop new nuclear warheads.” But, despite promises to bring the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the Senate for ratification and to secure further nuclear arms agreements with Russia, nuclear disarmament efforts ground to a halt. Instead, plans for “nuclear modernization” began. The president’s 2016 State of the Union address contained not a word about nuclear disarmament, much less a nuclear weapons-free world.

What happened?

Two formidable obstacles derailed the administration’s nuclear disarmament policy. At home, powerful forces moved decisively to perpetuate the U.S. nuclear weapons program: military contractors, the weapons labs, top military officers, and, especially, the Republican Party. Republican support for disarmament treaties was crucial, for a two-thirds vote of the U.S. Senate was required to ratify them. Thus, when the Republicans abandoned the nuclear arms control and disarmament approach of past GOP presidents and ferociously attacked the Obama administration for “weakness” or worse, the administration beat an ignominious retreat. To attract the backing of Republicans for the New START Treaty, it promised an upgraded U.S. nuclear weapons program.

Russia’s lack of interest in further nuclear disarmament agreements with the United States provided another key obstacle. With 93 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons in the arsenals of these two nations, a significant reduction in nuclear weapons hinged on Russia’s support for it. But, angered by the sharp decline of its power in world affairs, including NATO’s advance to its borders, the Russian governmentengaged in its own nuclear buildup and spurned U.S. disarmament proposals.

Despite these roadblocks, the Obama administration could renew the nuclear disarmament process. Developing better relations with Russia, for example by scrapping NATO’s provocative expansion plan, could smooth the path toward a Russian-American nuclear disarmament agreement. And this, in turn, would soften the objections of the lesser nuclear powers to reducing their own nuclear arsenals. If Republican opposition threatened ratification of a disarmament treaty, it could be bypassed through an informal U.S.-Russian agreement for parallel weapons reductions. Moreover, even without a bilateral agreement, the U.S. government could simply scrap large portions of its nuclear arsenal, as well as plans for modernization. Does a country really need thousands of nuclear weapons to deter a nuclear attack? Britain possesses only 215. And the vast majority of the world’s nations don’t possess any.

Given the terrible dangers and costs posed by nuclear weapons, isn’t it time to get back on the disarmament track? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-wittner/modernizing-the-opportuni_b_9005600.html?ir=Australia

 

January 19, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Anything to make nuclear look good – Russia’s asteroid plan

Scientists plan nuclear strike to save earth http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/the-times/scientists-plan-nuclear-strike-to-save-earth/news-story/803d9da83072b44a5934fcb60f1a1268  MARC BENNETTS THE TIMES JANUARY 18, 2016

Russian scientists have come up with plans to protect the planet from asteroids heading towards Earth by launching nuclear missiles.

Although the use of nuclear weapons in outer space is prohibited under a 1967 treaty, Russian scientists say that the ban would be lifted if the planet was in genuine danger. “If the asteroid threat becomes a matter of massive destruction or even the very existence of life on the planet, that ban would naturally be lifted,” they said.

The plan would not be to destroy the asteroid but to deflect it off course to a safe distance from Earth.

The strategy was formulated as part of the 2012-15 European Union-funded NEOShield project. Researchers from Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said: “Work was distributed among participants from different countries and organisations, and work on deflecting dangerous space objects with nuclear explosions was conducted by Russia.”

NEOShield, which received most of its funding from the EU, brought together researchers from Germany, France, Britain, Spain, Russia and the US. A three-year follow-up programme, NEOShield-2, began last March.

Other proposals developed as part of the project include a “kinetic impactor”, deflecting asteroids by crashing small unmanned spacecraft into them.

January 19, 2016 Posted by | Russia, technology, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Irradiated of the Republic: Testimonies of the French nuclear test victims.

Book Les IrradiaesBrothers in Nuclear Arms:
Testimony of a Veteran of French Nuclear Testing  Nuclear Free by 2045? 13 Jan 16  
the oral histories of nuclear victims are still met with official dismissal, no matter how methodically they are compiled.

In recent posts (Part 1Part 2Part 3) I covered the testimonies of Polynesians who lived during the era of French nuclear tests (1966-1996), but that chapter would not be complete without the voices of the civilians and soldiers who came from France for tours of duty in the nuclear Pacific. Some of these were published in the book described below, but no English edition exists. This testimony told here does not come from this book. It is told by Jean-Paul Vimare, a French veteran who was posted on the Fangataufa atoll in 1974-1975. He has told his story throughout several blog posts written in recent years, and some of that content has been compiled and translated here……….
The Irradiated of the Republic: Testimonies of the French nuclear test victims.
Bruno Barrillot, Les irradiés de la République: Les victimes des essais nucléaires français prennent la parole (Complex, 2003).
There were 150,000 of them, most of them young men. They were poorly informed, or completely uninformed, about the risks of radioactivity. They were even dis-informed. For example, this is what the personnel were told by military authorities: “Ninety seconds after the explosion, all the debris has fallen back to the surface and there is no danger from radiation.” Residual radiation? It is “so low that it constitutes no danger. Do not concern yourself with it.” Were they naïve? Respectful of authority? They were proud to participate in this grand adventure which, they were told, would lift France to the level of the great powers. And what memories would they bring back from the Sahara desert or the island paradises of the Pacific? “It was well-known that the bomb was a deadly thing, but when it exploded, I was fascinated by this artificial sunrise.” And they were told then, as they are told today, that these bombs were “clean,” so what harm could possibly follow? They wouldn’t find out, the lucky ones, for another ten, twenty or thirty years, when cancers and other illnesses would affect them. At last, they have spoken, emerging from the silence and the forgetting created by the requirement of military secrecy. At last, they are fighting so that “truth and justice” can be brought to the victims of nuclear tests……..http://nf2045.blogspot.jp/2016/01/brothers-in-nuclear-arms-testimony-of.html

January 18, 2016 Posted by | weapons and war | Leave a comment

Simulated pre-emptive nuclear strike on North Korea in the planning?

exclamation-Flag-USAflag-S-KoreaUS and South Korea plan simulated nuclear strike on North Korea http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/12099482/US-and-South-Korea-plan-simulated-nuclear-strike-on-North-Korea.htmlUpdated plans would help them prepare their defenses against a potential nuclear strike from Pyongyang By Julian Ryall, Tokyo.  14 Jan 2016

 South Korea and the US are considering a military exercise that would simulate a pre-emptive strike against North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities.

In November, the two governments agreed upon an updated set of plans to defend South Korea from missile, nuclear, chemical and biological threats. Known as the 4D Operational Concept, the plans are designed to detect, disrupt, destroy and defend the South from threats posed by the North.

The additional capability would be on top of the military hardware that South Korea has asked its closest security partner to provide.

In the wake of Pyongyang’s fourth underground nuclear test on January 6, however, Seoul and Washington are examining the possibility of conducting manoeuvers to extend the reach of the plan, the Chosun Ilbo reported on Thursday. The two countries are discussing ways to reflect parts of the 4D concept during the joint annual exercises in March and then to develop it as a full scale operational system”, an official of the defence ministry in Seoul told the newspaper.

Analysts say the two governments – along with others in the region – will have drawn up contingency plans for a number of possible scenarios on the Korean peninsula, including indications of an imminent nuclear strike, an invasion of the South with conventional forces or the collapse of Kim Jong-un’s regime.

One situation that military planners are particularly concerned about would be the current regime imploding but a number of factions – potentially armed with nuclear or other non-conventional weapons – jostling for power.

“North Korean assets that are capable of waging nuclear war will obviously be of the highest priority”, Lance Gatling, a defence analyst and president of Nexial Research Inc., told the Telegraph.

“These will be the mobile launch tractors that the North has for its tactical medium-range ballistic missiles, which can reach targets in South Korea and Japan”, he said.

“They will also be targeting the openings to underground facilities where weapons are stored in preparation for launch, although it can be very difficult to find all these sites”.

The US has said it will “not accept North Korea as a nuclear armed state”.

Pyongyang has in the past condemned joint US-South Korean military exercises as provocation and preparations for an invasion of the North. It is likely to react angrily to suggestions that its perceived enemies are preparing a first-strike capability.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Did North Korea fake its footage of submarine-launched ballistic missile?

flag-N-KoreaClaims North Korea faked test footage to hide ‘catastrophic failure’ of submarine-launched ballistic missile, ABC News 14 Jan 15  Experts analysing footage released by North Korea last week showing the firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile say the images appear to be faked. In defiance of a United Nations ban, North Korea said it tested ballistic missile technology that would allow it to launch a nuclear warhead from a submarine.

North Korea released the submarine launch footage after it separately conducted a fourth nuclear weapons test on January 6.

Two days later, North Korean state television aired footage of the submarine test which it said took place in December.

Unlike a previous submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test in May, it was not announced at the time.

At the weekend, South Korea’s military said North Korea appeared to have modified the video and edited it with Scud missile footage from 2014.

However, an official said the ejection technology might have improved since that test.

Now, analysis by the California-based James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) shows two frames of the state media video where flames engulf the missile and small parts of its body break away.

“The rocket ejected, began to light, and then failed catastrophically,” CNS senior research associate Melissa Hanham said.

“North Korea used heavy video editing to cover over this fact.”

Ms Hanham said North Korea state media used different camera angles and editing to make it appear the launch was several continuous launches, when in fact it was a single event.

Launch likely from barge, not submarine: expert

She said the CNS study showed editors used rudimentary techniques to crop and flip old video footage of an earlier SLBM test and Scud missile launch.

John Schilling, an aerospace engineer who is a specialist in satellite and launch vehicle propulsion systems, said it appeared from the video that the launch was conducted from a submerged barge rather than a submarine…….

Crispin Rovere, an Australia-based nuclear policy and arms control specialist, said the 5.1-magnitude tremor detected at the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site was too small to support Pyongyang’s claim.

“The seismic data that’s been received indicates that the explosion is probably significantly below what one would expect from an H-bomb test,” Mr Rovere said.

“So, initially, it seems to be that they’ve successfully conducted a nuclear test but unsuccessfully completed the second-stage hydrogen explosion.”

This test came just two days before leader Kim Jong-un’s birthday. Analysts said the leader had been looking for a major achievement to highlight at a rare ruling party congress scheduled for May, the first gathering of its kind for 35 years. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-13/claims-north-korea-faked-missile-test-footage/7085094

January 15, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iraq war is a bonanza for US weapons salesmen

weapons1Even as the Obama administration stumbles and bumbles along in search of a magical political strategy in Iraq that would make sense of everything, American weapons-makers can expect a bountiful future. In the meantime, Washington is putting forces in place that, by doing more of the same for the third time in a disintegrating Iraq in the middle of a fracturing region, guarantee more of the same. In that sense, you might say that American forces are partly in place to help promote the investment. If one needed an example of how the military-industrial complex works today, that might be it. Every mistake by Washington is a boon for future arms sales.

Once Again, American Weapons-Makers Are Making a Killing in Iraq Our battle with ISIS lacks goals and direction, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a profit to be made.Mother Jones—By  Fri Jan. 16,his story first appeared on the TomDispatch website.

The current American war in Iraq is a struggle in search of a goal. It began in August as a humanitarian intervention, morphed into a campaign to protect Americans in-country, became a plan to defend the Kurds, followed by a full-on crusade to defeat the new Islamic State (IS, aka ISIS, aka ISIL), and then… well, something in Syria to be determined at a later date.

At the moment, Iraq War 3.0 simply drones on, part bombing campaign, part mission to train the collapsed army the US military created for Iraq War 2.0, all amid a miasma of incoherent mainstream media coverage. American troops are tiptoeing closer to combat (assuming you don’t count defensive operations, gettingmortared, and flying ground attack helicopters as “combat”), even as they act likearchaeologists of America’s warring past, exploring the ruins of abandoned US bases. Meanwhile, Shia militias are using the conflict for the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis and Iran has become an ever-more significant player in Iraq’s affairs. Key issues of the previous American occupation of the country—corruption,representative government, oil revenue-sharing—remain largely unresolved. The Kurds still keep “winning” against the militants of IS in the city of Kobani on the Turkish border without having “won.”…….

there is one bright side to the situation. If you can’t create Victory in Iraq for future VI Day parades, you can at least make a profit from the disintegrating situation there.
Team America’s Arms Sales Force

In the midst of the December holiday news-dumping zone, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) quietly notified Congress of several pending arms deals for Iraq. DSCA is the Pentagon office responsible for coordinating arms agreements between American defense contractors and foreign buyers.

Before those thousands of not-boots-on-the-ground troops started hemorrhaging back into Iraq late last year, DSCA personnel made up a significant portion of all US military personnel still there. Its staff members are, in fact, common in US embassies in general. This shouldn’t be surprising, since the sales of weaponry and other kinds of war equipment are big business for a range of American companies, and the US government is more than happy to assist. In fact, there is even ahandbook to guide foreign governments through the buying process.

The DSCA operates under a mission statement which says the “US may sell defense articles and services to foreign countries and international organizations when the President formally finds that to do so will strengthen the security of the US andpromote world peace.” While the Pentagon carries out the heavy lifting, actual recommendations on which countries can buy US gear are made by the secretary of state, and then rubber-stamped by Congress………

Would You Like the Extended Warranty?

Iraqis have a saying: “The rug is never sold.” It means that there’s always more money to be made from any transaction. General Dynamics would agree. Arms sales work remarkably like consumer electronics (and Iraqi carpets). Want the extended warranty for your new smartphone? Extra battery? Accessories? Insurance against loss or damage? Suddenly the cost of your phone doubles.

Same for tanks. The M1 is a complex beast. You’ll need to pay General Dynamics for trainers to teach your guys to operate its systems. You’ll need lots of spare parts, especially operating in the desert. And it won’t be long before you’ll want to do some upgrades—maybe better computers or a faster engine. The US is currently working on “urban warfare” upgrades for the 140 M1s the Iraqis have hung onto. In the defense world, these after-sales are known as the “tail.” And the longer the tail, the bigger the profits.

For example, built into the contract for the new M1 tank sale is the provision that “approximately five US Government and one hundred contractor representatives [will] travel to Iraq for a period of up to five years for delivery, system checkout, program support, and training.” And that isn’t going to come cheap from General Dynamics, though the five government employees may be a bargain financed by American taxpayers.

None of this even touches on the potential for repeat sales. ………..

from any point of view except General Dynamics’s, the Islamic State’s, or maybe the Iranians’, these tank sales don’t add up.
Call Your Broker

It’s easy enough to toss around terms like “military-industrial complex” and equally easy to slip from there into what some might consider blood-for-oil conspiracy theories or suggestions that Iraq War 2.0 was all about the mega-contractor Halliburton’s bottom line. While oil and Halliburton were certainly part of that past war’s calculus, they can no more account for it than the piles of money General Dynamics is about to make selling tanks can alone account for Iraq War 3.0.

Still, it’s hard to ignore the way defense companies find themselves buried in cash from selling weapons that aren’t needed to people who can’t use them, sales that are, in the end, likely to harm, not help, America’s geopolitical interests. Perhaps it is better to see the immediate profits from such deals as just a part of a muchbigger process, one that demands America have enemies to crusade against to ensure the survival of the national security state.

To such a “wartime” paradigm one just needs to plug in new bad guys from time to time, which is proving an ever-easier venture, since each of our previous wars and conflicts seems to offer a remarkably helpful hand in creating them. In this way, radical Islam has proven, with Washington’s help, a worthy successor to the Soviet Union, itself once a superb money-making venture and a great way to build a monumental national security state.

Even as the Obama administration stumbles and bumbles along in search of a magical political strategy in Iraq that would make sense of everything, American weapons-makers can expect a bountiful future. In the meantime, Washington is putting forces in place that, by doing more of the same for the third time in a disintegrating Iraq in the middle of a fracturing region, guarantee more of the same. In that sense, you might say that American forces are partly in place to help promote the investment. If one needed an example of how the military-industrial complex works today, that might be it. Every mistake by Washington is a boon for future arms sales.

So if you’ve got money to invest in General Dynamics, you might want to call your broker. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/iraq-military-win-business-not-war

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Iraq, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons material: North Korea’s reactor not fully operational

flag-N-KoreaNorth Korea nuclear reactor not fully operational: US think tank https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/30571677/north-korea-nuclear-reactor-not-fully-operational-us-think-tank/ January 14, 2016  Seoul (AFP) – Recent satellite images suggest the nuclear reactor seen as North Korea’s main source of weapons-grade plutonium is still not operating at full capacity, a US think tank said on Thursday.

North Korea mothballed the Yongbyon reactor in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament accord, but began renovating it after its third nuclear test in 2013.

When fully operational, the reactor is capable of producing around six kilos (13 pounds) of plutonium a year — enough for one nuclear bomb, experts say.

Analysing satellite imagery from late 2014 to the end of 2015, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) concluded the reactor has been operating intermittently or at low power throughout the period.

Using tell-tale operational markers, including steam emissions and hot water discharges, the ISIS experts discerned a pattern of limited operations for a few weeks, followed by an apparent shutdown.

“The reasons for this type of operation are unknown,” the institute said.

Its findings contradict a North Korean statement in September last year that all facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex were working normally.

The ISIS experts did detect signs that a gas centrifuge plant for enriching uranium was operational, given snow melt on the roofs of the plant’s main buildings.

Activity at Yongbyon is closely monitored for any sign of reprocessing activity.

At some point North Korea is expected to shut down the reactor, discharge the spent fuel, and chemically process it in a nearby radiochemical laboratory to extract weapons-grade plutonium.

North Korea has carried out four nuclear tests since 2006, the most recent being last week when it announced it had detonated its first hydrogen bomb.

Experts have disputed the H-bomb claim, saying the yield from the test was far too low for a full-fledged thermonuclear device.

January 15, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Jeremy Corbyn – inconveniently sensible on nuclear weapons

Corbyn, JeremyCorbyn says the Trident isn’t worth the money. It is a costly weapon that can never be used. British security concerns should be focused on terrorism, economic turmoil and catastrophic climate change; nuclear weapons are irrelevant to all that. Corbyn argues, sensibly, that the Cold War era is long gone

Jeremy Corbyn talks common sense on nuclear weapons, WP.  By Katrina vanden Heuvel  January 12 The new leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has sparked a political firestorm by challenging the myths around nuclear weapons and Cold War deterrence. Corbyn announced that he would never use a nuclear weapon. He followed that apostasy by declaring that he opposed renewal of the British nuclear Trident submarine program.“I am opposed to the use of nuclear weapons. I am opposed to the holding of nuclear weapons. I want to see a nuclear-free world. I believe it is possible,” Corbyn declared.

Several Labour shadow ministers suggested they might resign if that became Labour’s policy. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and the right-wing British press have been pillorying Corbyn as a threat to national security for his heresy.

Corbyn’s aides argue this is not a new version of the debate over unilateral disarmament that wracked Labour in the 1980s. Rather, they insist the question is whether renewing the fleet is worth the money. Corbyn’s doubts are shared by some current and retired military officers. The British fleet of four Trident submarines is slated for retirement in the late 2020s. It will take almost that long to develop a successor. Renewing and operating the Trident program will cost an estimated 167 billion British pounds over the next four decades. The Army has already been reduced to below 82,000 soldiers, the lowest number since the 1700s. Renewing the Trident fleet would likely force more cuts.

Corbyn says the Trident isn’t worth the money. It is a costly weapon that can never be used. British security concerns should be focused on terrorism, economic turmoil and catastrophic climate change; nuclear weapons are irrelevant to all that. Corbyn argues, sensibly, that the Cold War era is long gone….

The Corbynites are sensitive about being accused of unilateral disarmament, since the party’s adoption of that position in the 1980s at the height of Cold War tensions was electorally damaging. Yet a British commitment to give up nuclear weapons unilaterally might just be the highest and best use of the Trident fleet…..

Corbyn is now taking a beating in the conservative tabloids for his blasphemies. Yet he is talking common sense. No leader in his right mind would use nuclear weapons. The British people would be better off spending the money that renewal would cost elsewhere. The reality is that the British nuclear arsenal will have greater global significance if it is dismantled rather than renewed. Corbyn is meeting fierce resistance, even inside his own party, but he is raising questions that deserve a full debate. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeremy-corbyn-talks-common-sense-on-nuclear-weapons/2016/01/12/52e8c886-b88f-11e5-b682-4bb4dd403c7d_story.html

January 13, 2016 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Against all reason, Republican hawks still trying to sabotage Iran nuclear agreement

Republican hawk (Trump)Opponents of Iran Nuclear Deal Just Won’t Quit   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-elsner/opponents-of-iran-nuclear_b_8962566.html?ir=Australia Opponents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and six world powers to deal with Iran’s nuclear program mounted a massive campaign last summer, spending tens of millions of dollars to sabotage the agreement.

They failed — but they have not quit.

Days after reports that Iran has dismantled one of the most dangerous parts of its program by removing the core of its heavy-water reactor in Arak and filling it with cement, Republicans in the House of Representatives are mounting a new attempt to kill the agreement that has already made the world much safer.

The “Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act” would prevent the President from lifting sanctions imposed on Iranian individuals and entities unless the Administration can “certify the entity is not a terror financier, human rights abuser or involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

President Obama has already vowed to veto the bill, should it reach his desk, for the simple reason that it tangles up an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program with other issues that have nothing to do with it. The new bill is simply a poison pill, designed to kill the nuclear deal.

The deal was designed to do one very important thing — make the world safe from the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. It does not aim to tackle Iran’s role in regional conflicts, or its sponsorship of terrorist groups or its domestic human rights abuses.

There are separate sanctions imposed on Iran to confront those issues, all of which will remain in place. And the United States and its partners should remain vigilant and take appropriate action when faced with Iranian provocations — like the ballistic missile test they conducted last October which violated UN Security Council resolutions. But none of these factors have anything to do with the nuclear deal.

If the latest bill passed, the White House warned, the legislation “could result in the collapse of a comprehensive diplomatic arrangement that peacefully and verifiably prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

That would lead to the end of international inspections and monitoring of Iranian nuclear facilities and leave Iran free to restart its program. It would “lead to the unraveling of the international sanctions regime against Iran, and deal a devastating blow to America’s credibility as a leader of international diplomacy,” the White House said.

Republicans have the votes to pass this bill in the House. It will be more interesting to see how it fares in the Senate, where prominent Republicans expected to face strong Democratic challengers this year, like Mark Kirk of Illinois and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, have been strong backers of previous efforts to sabotage the agreement.

What opponents don’t get is that the nuclear deal is already proving itself. The Iranians have moved faster than most experts believed would happen to fulfill their part of the agreement. Notably, they shipped 25,000 pounds of low-enriched uranium to Russia, leaving them without enough material for a bomb.

“This step is vital because it is irreversible, since the low-enriched uranium is never coming back and would instead need to be produced again,” said Ilan Goldenberg, who directs the Middle East security program at the Center for a New American Security, writing in The National Interest.

The Iranians have also removed centrifuges as required and allowed intrusive inspections of its facilities, as laid down by the JCPOA. And now they are rendering the Arak plant harmless.

It will soon be time for the United States and its partners to live up to their side of the agreement. Once the designated international authorities confirm that Iran has met its obligations, the international community must begin to lift sanctions originally imposed because of Iran’s nuclear program.

Opponents can be expected to continue their campaign to kill the agreement one way or another. That’s why supporters, and all those who believe in diplomatic solutions to tough international problems, must remain vigilant, ready to take political action whenever needed to preserve this important breakthrough.

January 13, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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