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Nuclear test veterans: ‘My dad was treated like a guinea pig’

Nuclear test veterans: ‘My dad was treated like a guinea pig’, By Chris Wood, BBC News 30 May 21,  When David Purse was sent to Australia, he thought it would be a “wild adventure” in a little-explored place.

However, the RAF flight lieutenant’s posting to a remote area called Maralinga was to test atomic weapons.

Son Steve, 47, from Prestatyn in Denbighshire, puts his own “unique” condition down to “a rare genetic mutation” caused by radiation.

The Ministry of Defence said three large studies found no link between the tests and ill health.

But a study at Brunel University is currently looking at the possibility genetic damage from the tests has affected the children of personnel.

“Flying through mushroom clouds or watching”, Steve believes men were “treated like guinea pigs” and wants recognition for them, adding: “It wasn’t an act of God but an act of government.”

In all, about 40,000 British personnel took part in the testing of atomic and hydrogen bombs in the 1950s and 1960s.

Most were in the Pacific – the biggest being Operation Grapple, where about 22,000 people oversaw the exploding of bombs in 1957.

Maralinga, in South Australia, saw the first test launches of atomic weapons from aircraft in 1962.

“He was told at short notice and was looking forward to visiting a warm country, a relatively unexplained place, and having a wild adventure,” Steve said of his father.

However, he was “close enough to ground zero to see sand to turn to glass” during tests, with no protective equipment.

Steve added: “There was a rope saying ‘do not enter’ but radiation was in the sand and would blow into food, into their face.

“They would swim in the lagoon, and catch fish that contained highly toxic radiation.”……………..

Steve describes his condition as “unique”, with doctors unable to diagnose it exactly, but says it is a form of short stature, similar to that of actor Warwick Davis.

He believes it is because of a “rare genetic mutation” as a result of the nuclear tests, and part of the “roulette” future generations must live with.

Steve is worried his baby son, Sascha, could also develop problems as he grows older.

“That’s the sad thing, it probably won’t die with veterans,” he said………

The possibility that children of personnel could be affected was first raised in a study at New Zealand’s Massey University in 2007.

Al Rowlands, who led the investigation at the university, said results were “unequivocal” that veterans had suffered genetic damage as a result of radiation.

Support group Labrats estimates there are 200,000 descendants of those who took part in British tests – and says the UK is the only nuclear state not to properly recognise its veterans and support them.

It conducted a health survey with 123 people who took part in tests, 76 from the UK.

“Many [problems experienced by descendants] tend to be autoimmune diseases, but if there are problems, they tend to be severe,” said founder Alan Owen.

“There are bone problems, teeth problems, eye sight. Issues that are meant to affect one in 1,000 – we talked to 10 descendants, four were affected.

“They have developed cancer, heart problems, a wide range of diseases.”

He described talking to veterans about their fears, adding: “When a grandchild is born, they don’t ask if it’s a boy or a girl, but if it’s okay. It’s quite sad they’re living with that now.”

Mr Owen’s father was involved at Operation Dominic, where the United States conducted 31 tests in the Pacific in 1962.

The American government has paid compensation to British personnel present and Mr Owen wants recognition by UK authorities.

He believes there are about 1,500 British nuclear veterans still alive, adding: “All they want is for the government to say ‘we did wrong, it was the 1950s’.

“No prime minister has ever met nuclear veterans. Anthony Eden was warned about the consequences and his reply was ‘it’s a pity but we can’t help it’…………

A number of veterans have already called for an apology, linking their cancer to the testing.

The Ministry of Defence responded by saying: “The National Radiological Protection Board has carried out three large studies of nuclear test veterans and found no valid evidence to link participation in these tests to ill health.”

The Brunel University study has been carried out with those involved in British nuclear tests and their children, with results due soon.

“We anticipate that our findings will have a lasting benefit for the broader nuclear community by providing scientific evidence that will resolve current uncertainties and speculation about potential adverse health effects in nuclear test veterans and their families,” said chief investigator Rhona Anderson.

May 31, 2021 Posted by | health, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Secrecy and connivance between UK’s coal and nuclear lobbies in Cumbria

There are high-level omissions in all the reporting and I fear that our
Government are only too happy for the focus to be myopically on climate
rather than the blatant cronyism of the coal mine boss having been
appointed to ADVISE the government on nuclear dump plans.

How on earth can
the forthcoming public inquiry be impartially decided upon by a government
minister when the most powerful tier of government, the Dept of Business,
Energy and Industrial Strategy is taking advice from the coal mine boss,
Mark Kirkbride? Not only that but the Coal Authority (who are under BEIS)
are deferring to the coal boss’s wish not to place the new Coal Authority
licence applications in the public domain. Again how on earth can there be
a public inquiry in which the public don’t know what the developer has

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole 28th May 2021

May 31, 2021 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, UK | Leave a comment

The USA-UK nuclear cabal

A toxic relationship that could destroy the world

The USA-UK nuclear cabal — Beyond Nuclear International The USA-UK nuclear cabal
  May 30, 2021 by beyondnuclearinternational   
A “special relationship” in nuclear collusion
By Leonard Eiger On March 16th the United Kingdom announced (in its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Foreign Policy and Development titled Global Britain in a Competitive Age) that it will increase the limit on its nuclear arsenal for the first time in decades. Instead of maintaining a cap of 180 warheads (as it had previously stated), the UK will increase its stockpile cap to 260 warheads — a 40% increase. The review also broadens the role of nuclear weapons to include the possible use of nuclear weapons to address emerging technologies (cyber attacks). This is shocking and unacceptable! Indeed, it seems the British Empire is flexing its imperial muscles as it breaks away from the rest of Europe.

The announcement comes at a precarious time. A new nuclear arms race is brewing. The US and Russia, the two largest nuclear powers (with some 93 percent of global nuclear warheads) are failing to lead the world away from reliance on nuclear weapons, and other nations are following their lead. At a time when most nations are calling for an end to nuclear weapons (UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons), rather than setting a positive example and supporting the treaty, the UK is instead fanning the flames of proliferation. And, it is getting loads of help along the way.

Just prior to the announcement a spokesperson for the UK Ministry of Defence reiterated the longstanding claim that the “UK is committed to maintaining its independent nuclear deterrent, which exists to deter the most extreme threats to our national security and way of life.” The British have been claiming their nuclear weapons systems to be “independent” for so long that the world seems to have accepted this fraudulent claim. In fact, the UK’s nuclear forces are anything but independent, and there is ample evidence to disprove the governments claim. To more fully understand the situation, we need to study a bit of history.

Although the US declared its independence when the original 13 American colonies severed their political connections to Great Britain, the two countries have since found it mutually beneficial to develop a strong alliance; what has become known as the “Special Relationship,” an unofficial term used to describe certain aspects of their relationship including political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, and military.
And nowhere has their relationship been quite as special as is the case involving nuclear weapons. The two countries signed the Mutual Defence Agreement (MDA) in 1958, a secretly negotiated bilateral treaty on nuclear weapons cooperation under which both countries agreed to exchange classified information to develop their respective nuclear weapon systems. 

The treaty permits “the transfer between the United States and the United Kingdom of classified information concerning atomic weapons; nuclear technology and controlled nuclear information; material and equipment for the development of defence plans; training of personnel; evaluation of potential enemy capability; development of delivery systems; and the research, development, and design of military reactors.”
The MDA was last amended in 2014. In 2018, officials from the UK and US met to celebrate the 60-year anniversary of the MDA. The official statement from the US State Department referred to “promoting peace to fighting terrorism” and “advancing each nations’ mutual understanding of the safety, security, and reliability of their respective nuclear weapon stockpiles,” while making no mention of the direct transfers of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems (missiles) currently deployed on British Trident submarines.

The MDA only came about after the UK developed its own thermonuclear weapons, and the US then agreed to supply delivery systems, and designs and nuclear material for British warheads. Both countries’ ballistic missile submarines are commonly referred to as “Trident” due to the missiles they both carry, which are the Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile manufactured by Lockheed Martin Aerospace, a US-based corporation.

The UK leases the Trident missiles, deployed on its four Trident submarines, from the US government. Those submarines return regularly to the US Trident submarine base in King’s Bay, Georgia, for the maintenance and replacement of the missiles. As of 2017, the UK paid an annual contribution of approximately $16.7 million towards the operations cost of Kings Bay. 

Both the Trident missile’s navigation and guidance systems are the same on both US and UK versions, and utilize US software. The US Navy supplies weather and gravity data to both US and UK submarines, which is vital to ensuring missile accuracy. Both hardware and software for the fire control system (used to assign targets to warheads) are produced by US companies. The hardware is produced by General Dynamics, a US-based corporation. 

All test launches of Trident missiles from British Trident submarines are conducted off the Florida coast and under US supervision. The test data is analyzed by the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) at Johns Hopkins University and by the Charles Stark Draper Laboratories.

The UK’s warheads are what the UK calls “Holbrook”, and are mounted on Trident II D5 missiles carried on British Vanguard-class “Trident” nuclear submarines. The “Holbrook” thermonuclear warhead is nearly identical to the US W76 warhead deployed on those same Trident II D5 missiles on US OHIO-class “Trident” submarines. Is this a case of plagiarism or just an all-too cozy, mutually beneficial relationship between two nuclear-armed nations?

According to the British government, their nuclear warheads are designed, manufactured and maintained by the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in the UK. AWE has been managed since 2000 by AWE Management, of which US-based Lockheed Martin Corporation is a partner, holding a 51 percent stake in the operation. It was announced in late 2020 that the British government will regain direct control of operations and development of AWE as of June 2021. 

A UK Ministry of Defence fact sheet states that their warheads are “designed and manufactured in the U.K.” However, a declassified U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) document obtained by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) under the Freedom of Information Act directly links the warhead designs on U.S. and U.K. Trident missiles. Alas, the British nuclear warheads are not so British (if at all)……………

Looking into the future, both the US and UK are engaged in programs to build the next generation of ballistic missile submarines to replace their current fleets. Both new subs will incorporate the US-built Common Missile Compartment. There has been talk about a replacement missile for the D5, and a new warhead called the W93 is already being planned, and the British government is engaged in extensive lobbying for it.

The evidence is abundantly clear. The British Trident system is dependent on and, in many ways controlled by, the US in essentially every aspect. It is by no means an “independent nuclear deterrent,” even if you believe in deterrence theory. And this has deeply important meaning under international legal norms.

Article I of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), to which the US and UK are both signatories, explicitly prohibits the “transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly…” Under international law the NPT should take precedence over the the US-UK mutual defence agreement, and therefore the agreement would be in violation of the NPT. 

The US and UK have, for decades, undermined both the letter and intent of the NPT through their special nuclear relationship. They have found ways to make their nuclear arsenals more effective and continue to modernize in the name of deterrence and national security. And now, the UK has announced an increase in its nuclear warhead cap. While the UN and a number of countries have chimed in with grave concerns about the UK’s announcement, the US has been noticeably silent. Might the US be pondering such an increase? After all, aren’t treaties meant to be broken (as we saw in the prior US administration)?

sn’t it time to end the special nuclear relationship? Isn’t it time to re-think “deterrence” theory and “national security”? Isn’t it time to recognize that so long as nuclear weapons exist, humanity teeters on the brink of disaster?

And speaking of history, we need to learn the lessons of the past. We have come close to the nuclear precipice far too many times, and the (Doomsday) clock is still ticking. We can’t stop the Clock until we abolish nuclear weapons. Empires come and empires go, yet humanity has only one chance. As for the US and UK, it is time for citizens of both nations to come together to pressure our governments to end the special nuclear relationship, and sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, showing real leadership towards a world free of the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Leonard Eiger is a student and practitioner of nonviolence, working for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. He coordinates media and outreach for Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and the NO To NEW TRIDENT Campaign.

Headline photo by Nicholas Raymond/Creative Commons/

May 31, 2021 Posted by | Legal, politics international, Reference, UK, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK’s Sizewell B nuclear complex continues to be offline for safety reasons

East Anglian Daily Times 29th May 2021 , Sizewell B will not generate electricity for three months to enable
essential repairs – and EDF will have to submit a “robust safety case” to
regulators before it is switched back on. The nuclear power station – which
supplies electricity for 2.5million homes and businesses – has already been
offline for six weeks for regular maintenance and refuelling and it was
hoped it would be working again next week.

However, signs of wear have been
found on a thermal sleeve – and the repairs needed will mean keeping the
complex offline until August 30. The problem was anticipated and EDF
engineers worked with specialists to assess the issue.

May 31, 2021 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Despite the Small Nuclear Reactor push from Bill Gates and the rest of the nuclear lobby, we already have the technologies to decarbonise our global economy.

Dave Elliott: The International Energy Institute’s new Global Energy
Roadmap sets a pathway to net zero carbon by 2050, with, by 2040, the
global electricity sector reaching net-zero emissions. It wants no
investment in new fossil fuel supply projects, and no further final
investment decisions for new unabated coal plants. And by 2035, it calls
for no sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars. Instead it
looks to ‘the immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and
efficient energy technologies, combined with a major global push to
accelerate innovation’.

For its part, on that issue, the IEA report
summary says ‘most of the global reductions in CO2 emissions between now
and 2030 in the net zero pathway come from technologies readily available
today. But in 2050, almost half the reductions come from technologies that
are currently only at the demonstration or prototype phase’. So it says
‘this demands that governments quickly increase and reprioritise their
spending on research and development – as well as on demonstrating and
deploying clean energy technologies – putting them at the core of energy
and climate policy.

. Progress in the areas of advanced batteries,
electrolysers for hydrogen, and direct air capture and storage can be
particularly impactful’. U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry had already
relayed the suggestion that ‘50 percent of the reductions we have to make
to get to net zero are going to come from technologies that we don’t yet
have.’ And Bill Gates had claimed that that solar, wind and batteries
were not enough, so we need ‘miracle technologies’ to decarbonize our
global economy.

Commenting on this issue, Prof Mark Jacobson from Stanford
University said it all depends on what you mean by ‘new’. Yes, we need
to improve wind, solar, storage and transmission systems, but what was
really being hinted at in these statements was that we need other
completely new technologies- such as Small Modular Reactors, Carbon Capture
systems and such like. He says we don’t need them: ‘we have 95% of the
technologies we need today and the know-how to get the rest’:

Renew Extra 29th May 2021

May 31, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

Further outages at UK’s Dungeness nuclear power plant: its future in doubt

Nasdaq 28th May 2021, EDF Energy has extended outages at the two nuclear reactors at its
Dungeness B nuclear power plant in Britain to next year, company data
showed. The Dungeness B-21 reactor is expected to restart on June 6, 2022
instead of Aug. 2 this year and the Dungeness B-22 reactor is expected to
restart on May 27, 2022 instead of July 23 this year. The reactors have
been offline since 2018. The company previously said Dungeness B has a
number of unique, significant and ongoing technical challenges that
continue to make the future both difficult and uncertain.

May 31, 2021 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

Ain’t it lovely to see USA Democrats and Republicans in full agreement – on spending $squillions in unnecessary nuclear weapons, of course.

Jill Hruby to lead the National Nuclear Security Administration

Biden nuclear nominee would continue Trump-era plutonium pit production plans, Defense News, By: Joe Gould
 WASHINGTON ― President Joe Biden’s nominee to oversee nuclear warhead development, Jill Hruby, said Thursday the U.S. should continue plans to ramp up production of plutonium cores, a key component in nuclear weapons, by using two sites.

Federal officials, under President Donald Trump, set a deadline of 2030 for increased production of the plutonium cores or pits, with work split between Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina ― which is 25 percent into a refit.

At stake are jobs and billions of federal dollars to upgrade buildings or construct new factories, and it’s been an open question whether Biden would review those plans.

Hruby, who would lead the National Nuclear Security Administration, said at her Senate confirmation hearing that expanding pit production is the “biggest issue” facing the agency. While Los Alamos is on track to produce 30 pits per year by 2026, plans to produce 50 pits per year at Savannah River have slipped, pushing the 80-pit target to “somewhere between 2030 and 2035,” she said.

As Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., described it, nuclear modernization efforts ― which include five warhead programs and facility recapitalizations ― are fueling NNSA’s highest workload since the 1980s. The organization is a semiautonomous agency of the Energy Department.

Senate Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Angus King, I-Maine, prompted Hruby to affirm that the 80-pit goal is part of nuclear maintenance and modernization vital for deterrence and peace.

“The number of pits that are projected to be needed are a minimum of 80 pits per year. That’s a significant capability at Los Alamos. If we were to do it all there, it would require much more infrastructure investment,” Hruby said, adding that the expansion at Savannah River “allows us to have a cost-effective program, use the talents across the NNSA complex.”

The panel’s top Republican, Sen. Jim Inhofe, whose support for an NNSA budget increase in 2019 fueled one of several clashes with then-Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, recounted Thursday that he’d personally intervened with then-President Trump. In a sign Hruby’s nomination is in good shape, Inhofe said he agrees with her priorities around weapons programs, infrastructure and the workforce ― and he elicited her agreement to keep him informed of her progress.

However, one lawmaker was critical of the rising costs of nuclear weapons. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren pointed to a “staggering” 29 percent increase in NNSA’s newly projected costs for sustaining and modernizing warheads over the next 25 years to $505 billion. Calling this “out of control,” Warren worried that overruns would crowd out the Energy Department’s important nonproliferation budget……..

May 31, 2021 Posted by | politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Biden’s Budget Proposal Funds Most of the World’s Dictators 

Biden’s Budget Proposal Funds Most of the World’s Dictators MAY 27, 2021 BY DAVIDSWANSON

There’s nothing new about this, which is why I know it’s there before having seen the new budget proposal. The United States funds most of the world’s most oppressive militaries, sells them weapons, and trains them. It has done so for many years. But if you’re going to propose an enormous budget that relies on deficit spending, and you’re going to claim that a gargantuan military budget (bigger than the Vietnam War budget that derailed LBJ’s domestic priorities) is somehow justified, then I think you ought to have to stand and justify every bit of it, including the 40% or so of U.S. foreign “aid” that’s actually money for weapons and militaries — first and foremost for Israel.

May 31, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment