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It kills slowly, painfully – A Nagasaki survivor speaks about nuclear radiation

Nagasaki nuclear bomb survivor warns , calls for negotiation



It kills slowly, painfully’: Nagasaki atomic explosion survivor has a message for US, North Korea

Nobu Hanaoka was only 8-months-old when the US dropped Fat Man — a Plutonium bomb — on the Japanese city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Sep 25, 2017  HT Correspondent  Hindustan Times, New Delhi 

“Does he have all five fingers?” This was a Nagasaki atomic bomb survivor’s first question to the doctor when his son was born.Nobu Hanaoka, 73, says he was relieved when the doctor replied that his son was in perfect health. “I had hoped that the radiation did not affect the child,” Hanaoka told Al Jazeera.

Hanaoka was only eight months old when the US dropped ‘Fat Man’ — a Plutonium bomb — on the Japanese city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, killing about 74,000 people. Three days before, ‘Little Boy’ — the first-ever atomic bomb, dropped on Hiroshima — had claimed 140,000 lives.

Hanaoka — clad in a simple, grey coat, has a message for the United States and North Korea as tensions escalate between the two countries over the possibility of a nuclear war.

“This is the kind of weapon that doesn’t just kill. It kills indiscriminately. It kills slowly and painfully.”

“And it shouldn’t be allowed on the surface of the Earth,” the survivor says after a pause.

“We were not even in the city of Nagasaki. We were outside. And yet the radiation that came from the bombing went far beyond the city limits,” Hanaoka said, before explaining the three ways an atomic bomb can kill.

Hanaoka’s mother and sister died due to radiation when he was six, he says, adding that he overheard the doctor telling his father the boy wouldn’t live to see his 10th birthday. “So I knew that I was not going to live long,” Hanaoka says in the video.

The atomic bomb survivor says he was always concerned for his health and feared he was dying when he got a simple cold. He also had survivor’s guilt, a mental condition in which a person feels remorse for surviving a traumatic event when others did not. “Why did my sister and mother, who were wonderful people… beautiful and smart and gentle, and they had to die.”

“And yet, I, who am not unworthy, am still alive?”

“I want all nations to come together and start finding a way of eliminating nuclear weapons altogether,” Hanaoka tells Al Jazeera after warning that there will be millions of casualties if either the US or North Korea is attacked with radioactive weapons.

North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho told the United Nations General Assembly last week that targeting the US mainland with its rockets was inevitable after “Mr Evil President” Donald Trump called Pyongyang’s leader a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.

Trump, too, dialled up the rhetoric against North Korea over the weekend, warning Ho that he and its leader Kim Jong Un “won’t be around much longer” as Pyongyang staged a major anti-US rally.

The North had threatened to “sink” Japan into the sea and fired two missiles over the northern island of Hokkaido in the space of less than a month. Pyongyang said this month it had carried out an underground test on a hydrogen bomb estimated to be 16 times the size of the US bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. It was its sixth and largest nuclear test.

Survivors of Hiroshima-Nagasaki — the only two nuclear attacks in the history of mankind — warned of the threat of atomic weapons in a photo essay by the Time magazine last month. It quoted another survivor Fujio Torikoshi (86) as saying all he wanted was to forget the bombing. “We cannot continue to sacrifice precious lives to warfare. All I can do is pray – earnestly, relentlessly – for world peace.”


August 8, 2019 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | 9 Comments

Russia’s planned dangerous expansion into the Arctic with nuclear icebreakers, Rosatom in control, increasing climate change

Russia to build two more nuclear icebreakers

Russia has said it will build two new nuclear icebreakers in a bid to make a rapidly melting trade route through the Arctic accessible to shipping traffic on a year round basis.  August 7, 2019 by Charles Digges

August 8, 2019 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change, Russia, technology | Leave a comment

America’s nuclear-weapons policy isn’t what you think—it’s much worse

The US Strategic Command, which was created in the post-Cold War period to manage US nuclear strike capabilities, has even brought back the Orwellian motto of its predecessor, the Strategic Air Command: “Peace is our Profession.” 

many experts consider missile defense destabilizing: It doesn’t get you defense—it gets you a new arms race. 

Where does this path lead? If history is a guide: nowhere good.

The best-case scenario is that we get out of this era without any nukes going off, having spent our money and resources on weapons that forever sat in silos. That’s money we won’t be able to spend on improving the social safety net, on improving medical care, on basic scientific and medical research, on energy security, on infrastructure upgrades, or on mitigating climate change.

America’s nuclear-weapons policy isn’t what you think—it’s much worse, By Alex Wellerstein August 6, 2019

  In the chaos that currently makes up the day-to-day of American foreign policy—a trade war here, tearing up international agreements and treaties there—it can be easy to miss the larger developments.

One of these, which occasionally rears its head in a frightened headline, is that there is a new nuclear arms race well under way.

In the United States, we typically get this in the form of news about the capabilities of other countries: Russia is developing a “doomsday torpedo,” China is developed “hypersonic missiles,” and so on. Whether these specifics are real or hype (experts are divided about the reality of the “doomsday torpedo”), they are part of a broader reality:

We’re back in an arms race. But it’s not a new one. Continue reading

August 8, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Strategies for nuclear weapons and waste

Strategies for nuclear weapons and waste

It is essential that Europe does not become the arena for a build-up of nuclear weapons, writes Catherine West MP. 

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How the viewing public was ‘protected’ from seeing what the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombing did to people

Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the cutting room floor By Thomas Gaulkin, August 5, 2019 Seventy-four years after nuclear weapons were first and last used in war, it can be challenging to conceive of the devastation they cause. But even in the immediate months after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, news accounts offered a view of ingenuity and destruction that often elided the human cost.

The newsreels below [on original] were mainly screened to audiences in 1946 and 1947 and detail the destructive force of the explosions almost entirely through excited accounts of the structural damage to the cities.  There’s occasional mention of the lost city populations and the scientific knowledge to be gained from studying their casualties, but hardly any description of what people actually suffered, let alone personal accounts. It’s instructive to look at and listen to these reports today, and contemplate what is missing.

The 12-minute reel below was produced by the US War Department in 1946. “Tale of Two Cities” makes selective use of film that was confiscated from a Japanese filmmaker, Akira Iwasaki—though you wouldn’t know that from the narration, which boasts that “army cameramen have found and filmed pictorial evidence that tells in twisted steel and stone the effect of death-dealing atomic power.” (Some twenty years later, historian Eric Barnouw obtained more of Iwasaki’s footage and produced a remarkably different narrative that documented the horrible physical impact of the attacks on Hiroshima’s citizens.)

Contrasted with the triumphant tone of the news/propaganda made for 1940s audiences, silence changes everything. Made public only decades later, the two films below —one beginning with footage of wounded victims, the other, a full-color glimpse of survivors picking up the pieces of the ruined city—report what those above do not, without a single word.

Nagasaki And Hiroshima (1945)

Harrowing Accounts from Hiroshima Survivors

August 8, 2019 Posted by | civil liberties, history, media, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hiroshima nuclear bombing, and the birth of the Doomsday Clock

August 8, 2019 Posted by | history, Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The saga of Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant AND what happened to the Grand Jury documents??

Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant Closed Long Ago, but Is Still a Hot Topic,  | AUGUST 7, 2019

Colorado almost had its own Chernobyl.

That’s what then-congressman Jared Polis told the U.S. House of Representatives on May 12, 2009, the fortieth anniversary of a fire at what was then called the Rocky Flats National Munitions Plant, sixteen miles upwind of Denver.

“I rise today to commemorate one of the most fateful days in the history of the State of Colorado, the day the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant outside of Boulder nearly became America’s own Chernobyl, some thirty years before that terrible accident in the Ukraine,” Polis told his colleagues. “On Mother’s Day of that year, a fire broke out amid the glove boxes in Building 776, where plutonium spheres were being manufactured for use as cores for some of the most powerful weapons in human history. The fire quickly spread throughout the facility, as many of the fire alarms had been removed to make room for more production. It is estimated that between 0.14 and 0.9 grams of plutonium 239 and 240 were released before a heroic band of perhaps forty firefighters were able to control and eventually douse the fire. Those firefighters faced the immense decision of whether to battle the blaze with water, which could have set off a chain reaction, with the resulting explosion literally contaminating the entire Denver metropolitan area. Luckily for us all, they chose correctly.

“Still, plutonium was released into the environment from that accident, through the air vents in the roof of the building and via firefighters extinguishing it. Thousands of Coloradans were exposed, although how many we’ll never know. The firefighters, of course, were exposed most severely, and everyone nearby faced greatly increased risks of serious disease. Indeed, many of those involved have since contracted and died from cancers and other conditions tied to radiation exposure.”

Unlike Chernobyl, the site of a massive nuclear explosion on April 26, 1986, that exposed at least half a million Russians to radiation, decimated the land for miles around and inspired HBO’s Chernobyl that educated a new generation to collateral damages of the nuclear age, Rocky Flats was not a nuclear power plant. In fact, Colorado’s only nuclear-generating facility, Fort St. Vrain near Platteville, had its own problems from when it  began generating electricity in 1976 and was shut down entirely in 1989.

By then, what became known as the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant had been in operation for almost three decades; it was a manufacturing facility that created plutonium triggers for this country’s nuclear arsenal. But it still dealt with one of the most toxic elements on the planet, one with a half-life of 24,000 years, as well as many deadly chemicals. By the time of the 1969 Rocky Flats fire, the plant had been manufacturing those triggers for sixteen years, largely in secret.

Rocky Flats was not Chernobyl. But what happened there was bad enough — though just how bad may never be known. Documents about the plant, like some of the plutonium that was processed there, have a way of disappearing.\


“Good News Today,” the Rocky Mountain News trumpeted on March 23, 1951, when the Atomic Energy Commission (now the Department of Energy) announced that it had chosen a site near Denver for a $45 million federal facility that had gone by the code name Project Apple. The 6,500-acre-plus spot was on a high plateau near the foothills, with stunning views, some ranching, creeks running through the land, and not much else. The announcement didn’t get into many details — the site-location team had warned the AEC that there might be an “undesirable reaction of the public” if it learned of the project’s secret mission — but it was bringing jobs to the area, and those jobs paid well. It wasn’t until June 1957 that the Denver Post dropped the bombshell that handling plutonium was a routine part of the job, a detail shared by the plant after two employees were injured in an explosion and fire at the facility; they’d been handling radioactive materials in building 771. Three months later, there was another fire at the plant, when filters over the glove boxes designed to keep plutonium from escaping caught fire. Firefighters turned on the ventilation fans, which spread the flames; seven days later, monitors showed that smokestack emissions still contained levels of radioactive elements 16,000 times greater than the standards of the day.

By then, scientists had realized that they’d misread the wind patterns when siting Rocky Flats; they’d relied on measurements taken at Stapleton Airport northeast of Denver, without accounting for how winds shifted as they came over the mountains and through the canyons. Rather than being safely out of the path of any plutonium release, Denver was at ground zero, sixteen miles downwind. Even so, residents were not warned of potential dangers after the fires.

Then came another fire, in 1969, which again started in glove boxes in buildings 775 and 776; it triggered the costliest industrial accident in the United States up until that time. Firefighters managed to contain the fire, and the government and plant operator Dow Chemical contained the fallout from more revelations of the work being done at Rocky Flats.
But word did slowly leak out. In 1975, the year that Rockwell International took over operations at Rocky Flats, nearby landowners sued the government for contamination problems they were finding on their property. Workers at the plant were also complaining about significant health problems. And demonstrators regularly gathered outside the gates, though they were usually protesting against nuclear weapons in general, not the environmental problems that the manufacturing of those weapons might create.
By 1978, Rocky Flats was regularly exploding in the headlines as those demonstrations grew larger. That fall, Daniel Ellsberg — yes, the Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame — went on trial in Jefferson County, along with nine other members of a group that had been accused of trespassing and obstruction outside the plant seven months earlier. Using Colorado’s choice-of-evils statute, which suggested they could break the law if they were pushing for a greater public good, the defendants decided to put Rocky Flats itself on trial, arguing that it was a public health hazard to nearby residents and also threatened world security by increasing nuclear stockpiles. But on November 20, 1978, Judge Kim Goldberger ruled that the defendants could not use the choice-of-evils defense. While the dangers at Rocky Flats were “real and continuing,” the judge said, “the courts may not be used as political or legislative forums.” After an eleven-day trial, the protesters were found guilty.

At the time, Dr. Carl Johnson, head of the Jefferson County health department, was revealing his own concerns about the evils of Rocky Flats. He released studies suggesting that Denver’s overall cancer rates were higher than expected, and the rates around Rocky Flats higher still. Property near the plant set for the development of 10,000 homes exceeded the state’s plutonium soil contamination standard by a factor of seven, he reported. As a result, federal housing officials directed realtors to warn prospective homebuyers who wanted government loans in order to purchase houses in the area that there could be potential liabilities.

In 1981, Johnson was fired by Jefferson County. The feds soon removed its directive to realtors.

The protests continued. So did the production of nuclear triggers at Rocky Flats.


On June 6, 1989, more than seventy FBI agents raided Rocky Flats, the first-ever raid of one federal agency by another. Led by FBI agent Jon Lipsky, the raid was based on more than two years of investigations inspired by information leaked by whistleblowers, including Jim Stone, an engineer laid off from the plant in 1986 whose case against Rockwell eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Stone had given a 1986 DOE memo to Lipsky noting that some of the hazardous waste treatment facilities at Rocky Flats were “patently illegal,” and that the plant was “in poor condition generally in terms of environmental compliance.” Stone warned that proper permitting measures weren’t being filed, waste was being improperly stored, and some plutonium was even missing. Along with an investigator from the criminal enforcement division of the EPA, Lipsky looked into all of the allegations, then prepared an affidavit that guided the raid. Agents took such a staggering amount of material during their three weeks at the plant that U.S. District Court Judge Sherman Finesilver decided to impanel the state’s first-ever special grand jury to focus on this single case.

In the first week of August 1989, two dozen citizens from across Colorado were sworn in as members of Special Grand Jury 89-2. The grand jurors met for a week every month for over two years, and after hearing from dozens of witnesses and going through hundreds of boxes of documents, they were prepared to consider charges not just for workers at the plant, but for their federal overseers. “We didn’t care who they were or how high up the chain of command they were,” one grand juror later told Westword.

Ultimately, they decided that eight individuals should be indicted for environmental crimes — five from Rockwell and three from the DOE. But in November 1991,then-U.S. Attorney for Colorado Mike Norton told the jurors that he wouldn’t sign any indictment naming a DOE or Rockwell employee. A month later, prosecutors told the grand jurors that they were done presenting evidence, and that the grand jury’s work was essentially over.  On December 30, 1991, grand jury foreman Wes McKinley, a rancher from the very southeastern corner of Colorado, sent a note to Finesilver’s clerk, asking for a final session so that the grand jurors could do their duty, fulfilling the obligation that Finesilver had charged them with more than two years before, “to look out for the best interests of the people of Colorado and the national interest.”
That winter, the grand jurors had one last official meeting in Denver, when they drafted three documents: an indictment charging DOE and Rockwell officials with specific crimes (the document Norton had said he wouldn’t sign); a “presentiment” outlining the proposed indictments, which they hoped Finesilver would release even if the indictment itself never saw the light of day; and a report outlining their investigation and their findings of non-criminal conduct that they felt the public had a right to know. Nineteen of the grand jurors gathered to sign these documents, which they placed in a vault. And then they were sent home, with reminders that all grand jury work is done in secrecy; if they broke confidentiality, they could be charged with contempt of court, fined and even jailed.
There was hot stuff in that report, including this: “The Department of Energy, its contractors — Rockwell International, Inc., EG&G, Inc. — and many of their respective employees have engaged in an on-going criminal enterprise at the Rocky Flats Plant, which has violated federal environmental laws. This criminal enterprise continues to operate today…and it promises to continue operating into the future unless our government, its contractors and their respective employees are made subject to the law… .” Instead, in March 1992, Norton announced a deal with Rockwell, in which the company pleaded guilty to assorted environmental crimes and was fined $18.5 million. Norton noted that it was the largest fine ever collected by the federal government for violations of hazardous waste disposal laws, but it was about $3.8 million less than the bonuses Rockwell had been paid to operate the plant during the time it was, by its own admission, knowingly breaking those laws. No individuals were named in the settlement. In fact, the deal assured that none would be charged later, and the company was protected from future legal fees.
That June, Finesilver signed off on the settlement after rejecting a request to release the report the grand jury had written. But the grand jurors concerns didn’t stay secret. The result was Bryan Abas’s “The Secret Story of the Rocky Flats Grand Jury,” published September 30, 1992, in Westword.

It wasn’t Chernobyl, but the story about Rocky Flats exploded just the same.


After the raid, Rocky Flats never made another nuclear trigger. The feds and Rockwell agreed to an early termination of the Rockwell management contract in September 1989, the day after the company filed a civil suit against the DOE, the EPA and the Department of Justice, arguing that the feds had failed to provide proper waste-disposal sites for radioactive materials. A week later, Rocky Flats was named a Superfund site, and EG&G signed a contract to operate the facility starting January 1, 1990.  By then, the focus had been changed from nuclear-materials production to cleanup, and most of the 5,000-plus employees stayed on to do the job. Among other things, nearly 3,600 containers of pondcrete and saltcrete — 4.3 million pounds of low-level solidified waste that had been packaged like barrels, until they started to crumble and leak (the grand jurors had heard considerable testimony about that failed system) — were moved, and the solar ponds where waste had been stored were drained. Plutonium located in the ducts, which Stone had warned about, was removed.

As the story of the Rocky Flats grand jury became national news, Congress held hearings to determine whether justice had been denied. The hearings made headlines, but secured nothing more than a promise of more transparency from the DOE. Foreman McKinley even ran for Congress, in hopes that he’d be able to tell the full story from the floor of the House of Representatives. (Although that attempt failed, he ultimately served in the Colorado Legislature and co-authored a book titled The Ambushed Grand Jury…and thus far has avoided any contempt-of-court charges.)

In 1995, EG&G staff and the DOE held a Rocky Flats Summit with 150 community activists, regulators, state officials and members of citizen oversight committees to discuss cleanup plans, including reducing the risk of plutonium to site workers and the public, and deferring some environmental restoration and cleanup in order to reduce that risk. When EG&G declined to sign up for a second round, Kaiser-Hill took over the project. The draft Rocky Flats Vision and Rocky Flats Cleanup Agreement were released in March 1996, four years after the Justice Department had made its deal with Rockwell; Governor Roy Romer signed them that June. What had been predicted to be a cleanup project that would take decades and tens of billions of dollars was put on the fast track.

After nearly ten years and $7.7 billion, the remediation job was declared complete in 2005. More than 800 structures had been decontaminated and demolished, including five major plutonium facilities and two major uranium facilities. While much of the low-level radioactive waste was shipped to other disposal sites, the most contaminated rubble was buried far below the ground in the Central Operable Unit: 1,308 acres at the center of the facility, where most of the manufacturing had been done, which would be declared off-limits forever. The 5,000-plus acres around the COU, in the Peripheral Operable Unit, were turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2007 to revamp into a wildlife refuge, much as the Rocky Mountain Arsenal had been two decades earlier.

Even though the grand jurors were still silenced, the secrets of Rocky Flats seeped out in other ways. Workers who’d become sick sued the government, and public officials took up their cause. Nearby homeowners who’d suffered bad health and other losses filed a class-action suit against Rockwell and Dow; their case was finally heard in U.S. District Court Judge John Kane’s courtroom, where former FBI agent Lipsky testified as to what he’d found at the plant. Despite the testimony about problems on those properties, houses were popping up along the southern border of Rocky Flats, and some new homeowners started to wonder if they’d bought more than they bargained for. And as plans to finally complete the northwest segment of the beltway around Denver progressed, municipalities began questioning whether construction of the Jefferson Parkway, set to go along the east side of Rocky Flats, would really be safe.

As the date of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge’s opening neared, activist groups filed suit to keep the gates closed. Last September, Congressman Polis made a last-second request to Ryan Zinke, then-secretary of the Department of the Interior, which oversees Fish and Wildlife, to consider “my constituents’ request that the DOI complete further testing of air, water, and soil at the Refuge site by March 2019, and that until further testing has been completed, the Refuge site remain unopened to the public.”

Although Polis never heard from Zinke, he got his answer: The refuge opened to the public on September 15, 2018 (the suits filed to prevent its opening are still pending). But even those who have no concerns about the refuge’s safety were taken aback last November when a British company proposed fracking alongside Rocky Flats: While cleanup experts had considered the effects of water runoff, and burrowing animals, and even prairie fires, they’d never considered that drilling operations would bore down and then up into the property from the sides. The proposal was pulled, and last month Representative Joe Neguse, who took over the first congressional seat when Polis was elected governor, introduced legislation that would prohibit oil, gas and mineral drilling beneath federally owned Superfund sites, such as Rocky Flats.

Meanwhile, the debate over whether the surface is really safe continues.

In January, attorney Pat Mellen decided to try a different tack. On behalf of seven groups — the Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups, Rocky Flats Downwinders, Candelas Glows/Rocky Flats Glows, Environmental Information Network, Rocky Flats Neighborhood Association, Rocky Flats Right to Know and the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center — she filed a motion asking that materials considered by Colorado’s first-ever special grand jury be released. “The documents gathered by the Grand Jury and now under seal are a unique resource that provides the detailed evidence of whether specific locations or hot spots of unremediated or undiscovered hazardous substances must outweigh a site-wide ‘safe’ determination made for other purposes,” she argued.


And then on July 24, Mellen received an email from Kyle Brenton, assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s office where Mike Norton had negotiated the Rockwell deal thirty years before, that the grand jury documents were missing.  “Can you imagine that?” says McKinley. “The Justice Department has a long history of losing stuff. They lost all kinds of stuff…plutonium, reports.”

And some things never change, he notes. When the grand jury was sent home back in 1992 and its files first sealed, the head of the Department of Justice was William Barr. Today, Barr is again the attorney general.

Lipsky, who was transferred to the FBI’s Los Angeles gang unit not long after his investigation of Rocky Flats, is now a private investigator who continues to push for the release of the real story about Rocky Flats. When he heard that the documents were missing, “the only thing I could do was laugh,” he says. Brenton’s email estimates that “60-some boxes are not physically in our office space now.” Lipsky’s agents filled many times that many boxes with documents seized during the raid at Rocky Flats.

According to Brenton, his office had custody of the requested documents until at least 2004. He’s now going through boxes of documents from linked cases, such as whistleblower Stone’s suit against Rockwell, and the Cook class-action litigation that finally found victory and a $375 million settlement in Kane’s courtroom, to see if they were misfiled.

“It is incidents like this that continue to foster uncertainty and fear within the communities that are the most impacted,” Polis’s office says of the missing grand-jury documents. “Our administration is committed to government transparency and public access to information. That’s why our Department of Public Health and Environment recently requested that these records be unsealed for the public.”

For a time, there was a stash of grand jury documents at U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch’s courtroom. At one point, the grand jurors had petitioned Matsch to allow them to tell their story; that request was denied, and Matsch passed away this spring. Judge Finesilver had relevant documents, too; before he died in 2006, he gave 180 boxes of records to the Denver Public Library, with the stipulation that they be kept closed until 2009.
That August, a librarian began cataloguing the contents, then ran across two boxes holding various forms of the grand jury report marked “Not for public release.” He called the clerk of the U.S. District Court to ask if the documents could be made public. Instead, the clerk picked up the boxes and demanded that anything else that surfaced involving Rocky Flats be sent to the court. The missing grand jury materials are not the only documents devoted to Rocky Flats, of course. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment still has voluminous files, including a giant binder detailing all the different chemicals once used at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. For a time, Front Range Community College hosted a Rocky Flats Reading Room, though much of the materials are now in the University of Colorado archives, which has a “wealth of information,” according to David Abelson, executive director of the Rocky Flats Stewardship Council. “Walling off these documents from public view creates an impression that there’s a lack of information regarding management of the site.”

That impression is misguided, he thinks: His group includes representatives from most of the local governments around Rocky Flats, all but one of which supports recreation at the refuge. Still, in June the council passed a resolution against allowing fracking near the plant, and it’s keeping an eye on three studies being done of environmental conditions at the refuge, the results of which are due this fall. The current samples will be compared to historic samples…if those can be found.

For now, Mellen is drilling down into the case of the missing documents. On July 31, she filed a motion asking the judge to give the U.S. Attorney’s Office thirty days to find them. “I actually believe it’s a bigger number of boxes than that,” she says of Brenton’s estimate. “But right now, I’d be happy with that.”

Rocky Flats isn’t Chernobyl, but this could still blow up.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | environment, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Malaysian President urges Japan to lead the world in rejection of nuclear weapons

In Japan, Dr M urges Tokyo to turn its back on nuclear weapons August 2019, BY JUSTIN ONG  The US is the first and only country to have deployed nuclear weapons offensively, bombing Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and Nagasaki three days later.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Japan, Malaysia, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Catholic peace activists may face 25 years’prison, for breaking into a nuclear submarine base

These Catholics broke into a nuclear base. Now they’re asking a judge to drop the charges. Religion News Service, by Yonat Shimron, August 7, 2019  — Seven Catholic peace activists who broke into a nuclear submarine base in Kings Bay, Ga., last year stood before a federal judge Wednesday (Aug. 7) to argue that the charges against them should be dismissed.

The activists, known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, are charged with three felonies and a misdemeanor and face up to 25 years in prison each for trespassing on the U.S. Navy base that houses six Trident submarines carrying hundreds of nuclear weapons.

A crowd of about 100 people that included the actor Martin Sheen packed the three-hour hearing in Brunswick, Ga., as the seven and their lawyers made their case before U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood.

The defendants, mostly middle-aged or elderly, are residents of Catholic Worker houses, a collection of 200 independent houses across the country that feed and house the poor. As the hearing began, several were in the middle of a four-day liquid-only fast to mark the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The Kings Bay 7 are part of a 39-year-old anti-nuclear movement called Plowshares, inspired by the pacific prediction of the biblical prophet Isaiah that the nations of the world shall “beat their swords into plowshares.” Its activists have made a signature of breaking into nuclear weapons bases to hammer on buildings and military hardware and pour human blood on them. …….

The group individually and through its lawyers are using a novel defense: the Religion Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 federal law that says the government may not burden the faith practices of a person with sincerely held religious beliefs……

Three of the defendants, the Rev. Steve Kelly, Elizabeth McAlister and Mark Colville, have been in jail since the break-in last year. They declined to accept the conditions of the bail — an ankle monitor and $50,000 bail — and have remained in the Glynn County Detention Center.

Ira Lupu, professor emeritus of law at the George Washington University Law School, said he had great respect and admiration for the Plowshares’ actions but suspected they would not win a dismissal of their charges……

The judge is expected to issue an opinion in a few weeks on whether the case should proceed to a trial.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Legal, opposition to nuclear, Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Putin And Trump are ‘normalising’the increasing numbers, and the use, of nuclear weapons

The more that Putin and Trump revalidate the role of nuclear weapons in strengthening national security, the more they normalise the discourse of nuclear weapons use and embolden calls for nuclear weapon acquisition in other countries. 

A nuclear world in disarray 7 Aug 2019, Ramesh Thakur  We are in a uniquely dangerous period in the atomic age. Geopolitical tensions have spiked in Europe, in the Middle East, on the subcontinent and in East Asia. The nuclear arms control architecture is fraying and crumbling, but no negotiations are underway to reduce global nuclear stockpiles.

A hostile international security environment, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the emergence of new space, cyber and AI technologies have increased the risk of accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons. The growing strategic risks and uncertainty in turn fuel the vicious cycle of renewed interest among US allies in a nuclear deterrent as a hedge against receding US primacy and reliability.

At the conclusion of a United Nations conference on 7 July 2017, 122 states parties of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty adopted a new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. All nine countries that possess the bomb (China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the UK and the US) boycotted the conference and rejected the treaty. They have done their very best since then to invalidate the concerns behind the drive to adopt it.

The 2018 US nuclear posture review will guide the Trump administration’s nuclear decision-making, modernisation, targeting and signalling. With an expansive vision of the role of nuclear weapons, its threefold effect is to enlarge the US nuclear arsenal, lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, and broaden the contingencies in which the threat of nuclear weapons can be wielded as a tool of diplomatic coercion.

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal established a robust dismantlement, transparency, inspections and consequences regime. Last year, President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement and reimposed sanctions on Iran, despite its still being in compliance with its obligations. That put Washington in breach of the multilaterally negotiated and UN-endorsed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Trump’s decision will have reconfirmed North Korea’s belief that the one thing standing between its security and a US attack is the bomb. It has also caused the recent surge in tensions in the Persian Gulf.

On 1 February, Trump decided to suspend US participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces  Treaty—an arms control agreement with Russia that contributed to the end of the Cold War and underpinned European strategic stability for three decades. It lapsed on 2 August. Trump has also rebuffed Russian overtures to discuss a five-year extension of New START beyond 2021. His second summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in Februarycollapsed without agreement and Pyongyang now seems to be expanding its nuclear arsenal. Still, at least the US and North Korea are engaged in high-level and working-level discussions and the fear of an imminent war has faded.

The altered US nuclear posture will have cascading effects on the arsenals, doctrines and deployments of other nuclear-armed states. On 1 March 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted of a new array of invincible nuclear weapons that can penetrate any defences anywhere in the world. He noted the US had not heeded Russian warnings when it pulled outof the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty in 2002. ‘You didn’t listen to our country then. Listen to us now’, he said. Putin’s language was reminiscent of the Cold War.

After the US–Russian suspensions of the INF Treaty, Putin warned that Russia could place hypersonic nuclear weapons on submarines deployed near US waters to match the time in which US missiles based in Europe could strike Russia. He also warned of a radioactive tsunami that could be triggered in densely populated coastal areas by a new nuclear-powered underwater drone dubbed ‘Poseidon’.

The more that Putin and Trump revalidate the role of nuclear weapons in strengthening national security, the more they normalise the discourse of nuclear weapons use and embolden calls for nuclear weapon acquisition in other countries. In Australia, this debate has been restarted most recently by Hugh White.

Meanwhile, the official newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army has called for China to strengthen its nuclear deterrence and counterstrike capabilities to match the US’s and Russia’s developing nuclear strategies. China is upgrading its relatively small nuclear arsenal. It rejected Germany’s request to save the INF Treaty by agreeing to trilateralise it, emphasising that its warheads in the low hundreds cannot be compared with US and Russian arsenals in the several thousands.

India and Pakistan are enlarging, modernising and upgrading stockpiles, while investing in battlefield tactical nuclear weapons and systems to counter them. The INF Treaty was the first disarmament agreement of the nuclear age. In an unwelcome symmetry, on 26 February we witnessed the first airstrikes by one nuclear-armed state against another, and the two engaged in a deadly dogfight above the skies of Kashmir the next day. Another India–Pakistan war is a question of when, not if.

The US, described by former Canadian disarmament ambassador Paul Meyer as ‘the high priest of nuclear orthodoxy’, has left its allies looking rather foolish. Washington had led them in dismissing the nuclear weapon ban treaty as impracticable virtue-signalling, instead extolling the decades-long efforts at step-by-step measures to advance the cause of nuclear disarmament that had seen global stockpiles plummet by over two-thirds from their Cold War peak.

When unkind critics noted that the only steps that were visible were leading backwards, Washington responded by launching a new initiative on ‘creating the conditions for nuclear disarmament’. Lest some conditions be specified and met, however, Washington suddenly embraced the more nebulous and inherently subjective language of ‘creating an environment for nuclear disarmament’.

During the Cold War, Soviet citizens who kept to the straight path as the communist party veered sharply to the left or right were denounced as ‘deviationists’. For decades, US allies have been singing from the same hymn book, joining it in the insistence that the step-by-step, progressive approach was the only realistic path to nuclear disarmament. Instead of embracing the new orthodoxy from their fallible high priest, they should do a hard-nosed analysis of the merits of the changing risk–reward calculus of integrating more deeply with the nuclear alliance structure or joining the majority of countries in trying to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment