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Hinkley Point’s nuclear weapons connection

peaceful-nukeHinkley’s Hidden History , 18 Aug 2016 Morning Star 
With the government decision over the new reactor at Hinkley postponed, text-relevantnuclear historian DAVID LOWRY reveals how the British nuclear power and weapons programmes were born together – and have yet to be separated  
THE first nuclear power plant on the Hinkley Point site in Somerset was built in the 1960s.

At the time, the United States, was intimately involved in the planning. Why was this?

The first public hint is to be found in a statement by the Ministry of Defence on June 17 1958 on “the production of plutonium suitable for weapons in the new [nuclear] power stations programme as an insurance against future defence needs” in Britain’s first-generation magnox reactor.

By chance, on the same day, France’s president Charles de Gaulle authorised a nuclear test to be held early the next year.

The site chosen was the Reganne oasis 700km south of Colomb Bechar in the Sahara Desert of Algeria.

France also used a magnox-style reactor at Chinon in the Loire Valley to make the plutonium explosives.

A week later in the British Parliament, Labour’s Roy Mason asked why the government had “decided to modify atomic power stations, primarily planned for peaceful purposes, to produce high-grade plutonium for war weapons” and “to what extent this will interfere with the atomic power programme?”

He was informed by paymaster general Reginald Maudling: “At the request of the government, the Central Electricity Generating Board has agreed to a small modification in the design of Hinkley Point and of the next two stations in its programme so as to enable plutonium suitable for military purposes to be extracted should the need arise…….

The headline story in the Bridgwater Mercury, serving the community around Hinkley was: “MILITARY PLUTONIUM To be manufactured at Hinkley.”

The article explained: “An ingenious method has been designed for changing the plant without reducing the output of electricity.”

The CND was reported to be critical, describing this as a “distressing step,” insisting: “The government is obsessed with a nuclear militarism which seems insane.”

Sadly, with the blinkered push to replace Trident today, not much seems to have changed in the 55 years since……

on July 3 1958, Britain and the US signed a detailed agreement on co-operation on nuclear weapons development, after several months of congressional hearings in Washington DC — but, significantly, with no oversight whatsoever in Parliament.

As this formed the basis, within a mere five years, for Britain obtaining the Polaris nuclear WMD system from the US, and some 20-odd years later for Britain to buy US Trident WMD, the failure of Parliament to at least appraise the security merits of this bilateral atomic arrangement was unconscionable……

Following further detailed negotiations, the Ango-American Mutual Defense Agreement on Atomic Energy matters (defence is spelled with an “s” even in the British version of the treaty, demonstrating the origin of the drafts), to give it its full treaty title, was amended on May 7 1959, to permit the exchange of nuclear explosive material for military purposes.
The Times science correspondent wrote on May 8 1959 under the headline: “Production of weapons at short notice” that “the most important technical fact behind the agreement is that of civil grade — such as will be produced in British civil nuclear power stations — can now be used in weapons.”……

And so it may be seen that Britain’s first civil nuclear programme was used as a source of nuclear explosive plutonium for the US military, with Hinkley Point A the prime provider.
Two decades later, Wales national daily, the Western Mail, reported on October 8 1984 that the largest magnox reactor in Britain, at Wylfa on Anglesey, had also been used to provide plutonium for the military.

Plutonium from both reactors went into the British military stockpile of nuclear explosives and could well still be part of the British Trident warhead stockpile today.

Subsequent research by the Scientists Against Nuclear Arms, published in the prestigious science weekly journal Nature, has demonstrated that around 6,700kg of plutonium was shipped to the US under the military exchange agreement, which stipulates explicitly that the material must be used for military purposes by the recipient country.

To put this quantity into context, a nuclear warhead contains around 5kg of plutonium so this is a very significant quantity.

What would Iran and North Korea make of this deliberate intermixing of civil and military nuclear programmes by one of the nuclear weapons superpowers which leads the criticisms of them for allegedly doing this very thing today?

Dr David Lowry is senior research fellow at the Institute for Resource and Security Studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts. http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-dabf-Hinkleys-hidden-history#.V7dqoFt97Gg

August 20, 2016 Posted by | history, Reference, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

President Reagan worked with Russia to defuse the nuclear arms race; time that President Obama did that, too

diplomacy-not-bombsFlag-USAflag_RussiaAn Urgent History Lesson in Diplomacy with Russia, CounterPunch,text-relevant 12 Aug 16 by RENEE PARSONS As prospects for peace appear dim in places like the Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan and now with a renewed bombing of Libya, the President of the United States (and  his heiress apparent) continue to display an alarming lack of understanding of the responsibilities  as the nation’s highest elected officer.  As has been unsuccessfully litigated, Article II of the Constitution does not give the President right to start war; only Congress is granted that authority (See Article I, Section 8).

So for the nation’s Chief Executive Officer to willy-nilly arbitrarily decide to bomb here and bomb there and bomb everywhere in violation of the Constitution might be sufficient standard  for that CEO  to be regarded as a war criminal. Surely, consistently upping the stakes with a strong US/NATO military presence in the Baltics with the US Navy regularly cruising the Black and Baltic Seas, accompanied by a steady stream of confrontational language and picking a fight with a nuclear-armed Russia may not be the best way to achieve peace……

text-historyReagan, who was ready to engage in extensive personal diplomacy, was an unlikely peacemaker yet he achieved an historic accomplishment in the nuclear arms race that is especially relevant today as NATO/US are reintroducing nuclear weapons into eastern Europe……

According to Jack Matlock  who served as Reagan’s senior policy coordinator for Russia and later US Ambassador to Russia in his book, “Reagan and Gorbachev:  How the Cold War Ended,” one of Reagan’s pre-meeting [with Russia’s Mikhail Gorbachev] notes to himself read “avoid any demand for regime change.”  From the beginning, one of Reagan’s goals was to establish a relationship that would be able to overcome whatever obstacles or conflicts may arise with the goal of preventing a thermonuclear war. … 

After a lengthy personal, private conversation, it became obvious that the two men had struck a cord of mutual respect…. At the conclusion of Geneva, a shared trust necessary to begin sober negotiations to ban nuclear weapons had been established. Both were well aware that the consequences of nuclear war would be a devastation to mankind, the world’s greatest environmental disaster.  At the end of their Geneva meeting, Reagan and Gorbachev agreed that “nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.”……

In December of 1987, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev arrived in Washington DC to sign the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (including Short Range Missiles) known as the INF Treaty.  The Treaty eliminated 2,611 ground launched ballistic and cruise missile systems with a range of between 500 and 5500 kilometers (310 -3,400 miles).  Paris is 2,837 (1,762 miles) kilometers from Moscow.

In  May 1988, the INF Treaty was ratified by the US Senate in a surprising vote of 93 – 5 (four Republicans and one Democrat opposed) and by May, 1991, all Pershing I missiles in Europe  had been dismantled. Verification of Compliance of the INF Treaty, delayed because of the USSR breakup, was completed in December, 2001.

At an outdoor press briefing during their last meeting together and after the INF was implemented, Reagan put his arm around Gorbachev.  A reporter asked if he still believed in the ‘evil empire’ and Reagan answered ‘no.”   When asked why, he replied “I was talking about another time, another era.”……..

As the current US President and Nobel Peace Prize winner prepares to leave office with a record of a Tuesday morning kill list, unconscionable drone attacks on civilians, initiating bombing campaigns where there were none prior to his election and, of course, taunting Russian President Vladimir Putin with unsubstantiated allegations, the US-backed NATO has scheduled AEGIS anti ballistic missile shields to be constructed in Romania and Poland, challenging the integrity of INF Treaty for the first time in almost thirty years.

In what may shed new light on NATO/US build-up in eastern Europe, Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov denied US charges in June, 2015 that Russia had violated the Treaty and that the US had “failed to provide evidence of Russian breaches.”  Commenting on US plans to deploy land-based missiles in Europe as a possible response to the alleged “Russian aggression” in the Ukraine, Lavrov warned that ‘‘building up militarist rhetoric is absolutely counterproductive and harmful.’  Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov suggested the United States was leveling accusations against Russia in order to justify its own military plans.

In early August, the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration authorized the final development phase (prior to actual production in 2020) of the B61-21 nuclear bomb at a cost of $350 – $450 billion.  A thermonuclear weapon  with the capability of reaching Europe and Moscow, the B61-21 is part of President Obama’s $1 trillion request for modernizing the US aging and outdated nuclear weapon arsenal.

Isn’t it about time for the President to do something to earn that Peace Prize?  http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/12/an-urgent-history-lesson-in-diplomacy-with-russia/

August 17, 2016 Posted by | history, politics international, Reference, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA had secret plans to place nuclear weapons in Iceland

secret-agent-SmFlag-USAUS Debated Deploying Nuclear Weapons in Iceland, Iceland Review, 16 Aug 16  BY VALA HAFSTAD 

Newly declassified US documents reveal that during the Cold War, US authorities contemplated deploying nuclear weapons in Iceland without alerting Icelandic authorities. The documents, dating back to 1960, show that US Ambassador to Iceland Tyler Thompson opposed all such plans. He expressed his belief that if Icelanders found out about such a deployment, they might leave NATO.

The documents are discussed on the website of the National Security Archive, but until now, they have been classified. On the website, it is noted that this is not the first time clues have been discovered about such plans.

Historian Valur Ingimundarson had previously argued that a weapon storage facility built in Keflavík in the 1950s was intended for nuclear weapons. Furthermore, during the 1980s, historian William Arkin reported that a presidential directive from President Richard Nixon’s period in office treated Iceland as one of several conditional deployment locations for nuclear weapons in the event of war……..http://icelandreview.com/news/2016/08/16/us-debated-deploying-nuclear-weapons-iceland

August 17, 2016 Posted by | history, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

The sun setting on UK’s nuclear industry? Time for clean energy

 The time has come for policymakers to shift their focus to clean energy

The international race toward universal grid parity may see an unsubsidised tipping point next year. Frontrunner Australia is expected to achieve a renewable energy scenario which is cheaper than conventional supply, says a recent report from Deutschebank.

UK nuclear sunset? http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20160814/environment/UK-nuclear-sunset.622012   Anne ZammitIt’s coming up to six years since badgers were relocated to make way for Britain’s next nuclear power station on the Somerset coast. In the pipeline for nearly a decade, plans for Hinkley Point took an unexpected turn in July.

Last month, as Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May was advised by her Chief of Staff to put a contract for the French/Chinese-backed Hinkley Point nuclear power station on hold, subject to review.

Mrs May was barely a year old when Britain’s worst ever nuclear disaster spread radioactive dust across northern Europe.

WindscaleWindscale was built after WWII, to produce plutonium for England’s nuclear weapons programme. A bunker mentality still hung about the facility even after it became a provider of electric power to the public in 1956.

The following year a fire broke out at the plant and burned for three days before it could be contained. In the weeks that followed, milk from cows grazing within a 500 kilometre radius was diluted and destroyed.

Windscale, renamed Sellafield in attempt to erase dark beginnings, was put out of commission in 1973 after a dangerous geograph.org.uk, by Chris Eaton, CC-BY-SA 2.0 Windscale Chimneysleak capped a long history of incidents. The facility switched to reprocessing of nuclear fuel. This drew bitter opposition from Ireland and Scandinavia over dumping of contaminated water into the Irish Sea.

Ireland’s complaint to the UN was verified by a UK government study which found traces of radioactive substances in salmon bred at fish farms near the plant.

Sellafield was shut down completely in 2005 after uranium and plutonium spilled from a broken pipe. (Since then an American-led multinational corporation has been overseeing the closure process which could drag on into the next century.)

That same year, advisors to Tony Blair urged that emissions targets would best be met with more nuclear power stations. This ran contrary to the UK government stance taken three years earlier when energy efficiency and renewables were tagged as the most cost efficient path to meet immediate energy priorities.

text Hinkley cancelledCommenting on Mrs May’s decision to put the Hinkley Point contract on hold, energy economist Tooraj Jamasb of Durham University noted that the new government has not had time to develop a new coherent energy policy.

A 2002 review of UK energy policy veered away from further government subsidies and passed the baton to the private sector. As the UK government gave the go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power stations to be built, environmentalists alleged unlawful State aid for the nuclear power industry in Britain, filing a complaint with the European Commission. Scotland made it clear that it would not accept any new power stations on Scottish soil.

UK-subsidy 2016The time has come for policymakers to shift their focus to clean energy
 Campaign group Energy Fair said that an unlevel playing field was being created where government funded the costs of insurance, decommissioning, protection against terrorist attack and disposal of nuclear waste – without providing equal levels of support for renewable technologies.

After the 2011 Fukushima power plant disaster France vowed to scale down the share of electricity from nuclear sources and Germany announced a phase out of nuclear power by 2022.

Germany’s Federal Environment Agency has declared that the technology to make the switch to 100 per cent renewable energy is already available but requires that electricity is produced and used more efficiently. Meeting climate change targets can be done without nuclear if there are stronger efforts toward demand reduction and lifestyle changes.

The international race toward universal grid parity may see an unsubsidised tipping point next year. Frontrunner Australia is expected to achieve a renewable energy scenario which is cheaper than conventional supply, says a recent report from Deutschebank.

Viewed as covert factories for materials to build apocalyptic weapons, nuclear power stations also face resistance from groups such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. As pointed out by CND-UK the cost of nuclear power has continued to rise as the cost of renewable energy has fallen sharply.

A 2006 review by the Office of Nuclear Regulation, which led to assessment of reactor designs ahead of choosing sites, was challenged in court by Greenpeace as “seriously flawed”. Key details of the economics of nuclear power were not published until well after the review was final.

Hinkley Point nuclear power station has undergone a number of reincarnations since the first phase was built in 1956. Reactors on Hinkley Point ‘A’ were shut down permanently after an inspectorate found defects too expensive to fix in 1999. De-commissioning of a successor, Hinkley Point ‘B’ (built 1967) should have happened this year but has been extended to 2023.

The Hinkley Point C proposal by Électricité de France (EDF) and Chinese investors commits British consumers to pay more for nuclear-generated electricity than it costs to buy electricity from offshore windfarms.

Yet a study by Britain’s National Audit Office published last month cited calculations from the National Infrastructure Commission which show that if five per cent of current peak demand were met by demand flexibility then power saved would be equal to a new nuclear power station.

Households and businesses could use electricity more flexibly, using less during times of peak demand and more during times of low demand. Cutting down on use of electricity at peak times reduces the megawatt capacity needed.

The NAO also noted that the expected subsidy for Hinkley Point C has doubled to £37 billion in the past three years.

It is not just the economics of nuclear which now plague decision makers at Whitehall. As former Home Secretary and overseer of MI5, Theresa May approaches the nuclear question from a security perspective.

computer-spy-nukeSecurity experts have expressed concern that the Chinese could use their role in the project to build weaknesses into computer systems allowing them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will.

Fears that China could engage in cyber-sabotage may have been overblown. The bomb of public subsidy running into billions is the real gremlin in the Hinkley Point contract.

A cross-party Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee fears that failure to build new nuclear capacity by 2025 would mean greater reliance on imported gas in the medium term. This would affect energy security and force a review of how UK carbon emission targets are to be met.

On the other hand, the committee identified risk factors which could jeopardise proposals like Hinkley Point C. Sudden policy changes by the UK government, an inconsistent approach, poor transparency and lack of long-term vision have created uncertainty for investors.

Delaying or cancelling the Hinkley Point project threatens Britain’s relations with China and France. Joel Kenrick, a former advisor to the Energy Secretary, believes that the contract for Hinkley Point C will go ahead come autumn. However, he expressed doubt over whether it would actually be built with EDF’s poor track record in delivering big
projects.

poster renewables not nuclearCorporate finance leader at EY Global Power & Utilities and RECAI editor Ben Warren believes that the time has come for policymakers to shift their focus to clean energy. “Market access, fair play, technology improvements and cost curves will lead to a level of renewables deployment not even imagined,” says Mr Warren.  www.energypost.eu/renewable-energy-versus-nuclear-dispelling-myths

August 15, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, history, politics | Leave a comment

In 1967, nuclear war was almost set off due to a giant solar storm

exclamation-SmA giant solar storm nearly triggered a nuclear war in 1967, Business Insider DAVE MOSHER AUG 10, 2016 Cold War history is rife with close calls that nearly led to nuclear holocaust.

In September 1983, for example, sunlight reflecting off a patch of clouds fooled a Soviet missile-warning system into detecting the launch of five US intercontinental ballistic missiles that never were. A colonel in a bunker ignored the alarm on a 50/50 hunch, narrowly averting a nuclear holocaust.

Two months later, US forces staged “Able Archer 83” — a massive nuclear-strike drill on the doorstep of the USSR. Soviet commanders panicked at the show of force and nearly bathed America in thermonuclear energy. Once again, an act of human doubt saved the planet.

Now scientists have one more event to add to the history books: The “Great Storm” of May 1967.

“The storm made its initial mark with a colossal solar radio burst causing radio interference … and near-simultaneous disruptions of dayside radio communication,” a group of atmospheric scientists and military weather service personnel wrote in a new study, published August 9 in the journal Space Weather.

Hours later, high frequency communications dropped out near US military installations in and near the Arctic — one of the closest places to station nuclear weapons and launch them at a Cold War-era Soviet Union.

“Such an intense, never-before-observed solar radio burst was interpreted as jamming,” the study authors wrote. “Cold War military commanders viewed full scale jamming of surveillance sensors as a potential act of war.”……

While The Washington Post wrote up the 1967 story as “City Gets Rare Look at Northern Lights,” top US military commanders sounded the alarms.

The Air Weather Service (AWS) — a relatively new branch of the Air Force — had warned military leadership about the possibility of a solar storm, but US commanders believed the Soviet forces were jamming NORAD systems designed to detect threatening planes and missiles.

As the Strategic Air Command warmed up the engines of bombers and taxied toward the runway, the decision to go airborne was kicked all the way up to the “highest levels of government,” which would imply President Lyndon B. Johnson was involved.

“Just in time, military space weather forecasters conveyed information about the solar storm’s potential to disrupt radar and radio communications,” according to a press release from the American Geophysical Union. “The planes remained on the ground and the U.S. avoided a potential nuclear weapon exchange with the Soviet Union.”………http://www.businessinsider.com.au/cold-war-geomagnetic-storm-radio-disruption-2016-8?r=US&IR=T

August 10, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, incidents | Leave a comment

Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – America’s immoral sleep goes on

Hiroshima-landscape

Hiroshima: the Crime That Keeps on Paying, But Beware the Reckoning, CounterPunch ,by DIANA text-historyJOHNSTONE , AUGUST 5, 2016“……..The decision to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a political not a military decision. The targets were not military, the effects were notmilitary. The attacks were carried out against the wishes of all major military leaders. Admiral William Leahy, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in his memoirs that “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender…” General Eisenhower, General MacArthur, even General Hap Arnold, commander of the Air Force, were opposed. Japan was already devastated by fire bombing, facing mass hunger from the US naval blockade, demoralized by the surrender of its German ally, and fearful of an imminent Russian attack. In reality, the war was over. All top U.S. leaders knew that Japan was defeated and was seeking to surrender.

The decision to use the atom bombs was a purely political decision taken almost solely by two politicians alone: the poker-playing novice President and his mentor, Secretary of State James F. Byrnes…….

the U.S. atom bombs got full credit for ending the war.

But that is not all.

The demonstrated possession of such a weapon gave Truman and Byrnes such a sense of power that they could abandon previous promises to the Russians and attempt to bully Moscow in Europe. In that sense, the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki not only gratuitously killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. They also started the Cold War.

Hiroshima and the Cold War

A most significant observation on the effects of the atomic bomb is attributed to General Dwight D. Eisenhower. As his son recounted, he was deeply depressed on learning at the last minute of plans to use the bomb. Shortly after Hiroshima, Eisenhower is reported to have said privately:

“Before the bomb was used, I would have said yes, I was sure we could keep the peace with Russia. Now, I don’t know. Until now I would have said that we three, Britain with her mighty fleet, America with the strongest air force, and Russia with the strongest land force on the continent, we three could have guaranteed the peace of the world for a long, long time to come. But now, I don’t know. People are frightened and disturbed all over. Everyone feels insecure again.”[2]

As supreme allied commander in Europe, Eisenhower had learned that it was possible to work with the Russians. US and USSR domestic economic and political systems were totally different, but on the world stage they could cooperate. As allies, the differences between them were mostly a matter of mistrust, matters that could be patched up.

The victorious Soviet Union was devastated from the war: cities in ruins, some twenty million dead. The Russians wanted help to rebuild. Previously, under Roosevelt, it had been agreed that the Soviet Union would get reparations from Germany, as well as credits from the United States. Suddenly, this was off the agenda. As news came in of the successful New Mexico test, Truman exclaimed: “This will keep the Russians straight.” Because they suddenly felt all-powerful, Truman and Byrnes decided to get tough with the Russians.

Stalin was told that Russia could take reparations only from the largely agricultural eastern part of Germany under Red Army occupation. This was the first step in the division of Germany, which Moscow actually opposed.

Since several of the Eastern European countries had been allied to Nazi Germany, and contained strong anti-Russian elements, Stalin’s only condition for those countries (then occupied by the Red Army) was that their governments should not be actively hostile to the USSR. For that, Moscow favored the formula “People’s Democracies” meaning coalitions excluding extreme right parties.

Feeling all-powerful, the United States sharpened its demands for “free elections” in hope of installing anti-communist governments. This backfired. Instead of giving in to the implicit atomic threat, the Soviet Union dug in its heels. Instead of loosening political control of Eastern Europe, Moscow imposed Communist Party regimes – and accelerated its own atomic bomb program. The nuclear arms race was on.

“Have Our Cake and Eat It”……..

The bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki plunged the United States leadership into a moral sleep from which it has yet to awaken. http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/05/hiroshima-the-crime-that-keeps-on-paying-but-beware-the-reckoning/

August 8, 2016 Posted by | history, Japan, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

71 years ago in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

flag-japanA look at first ever use of nuclear weapons in wartime http://tinyurl.com/zjmex46 Jul 31, 2016 text-relevant On August 6, 1945, the US dropped the first ever nuclear bomb on Hiroshima.

Three days later, another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. President Harry Truman called for Japan’s surrender, warning them to “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”Here are a few facts about the first ever use of nuclear weapons in wartime:   The uranium gun-type atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was called Little Boy and Nagasaki was nuked by a plutonium implosion-type bomb called Fat Man.  In order to make Little Boy, the US used 141 pounds of uranium, basically all of the processed uranium that was then in existence. The US dropped about 49 practice bombs nicknamed “pumpkin bombs” that killed 400 and injured 1,200, before nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

oleander is the official flower of the city of Hiroshima because it was the first thing to bloom after the bombings.Japan has burned the Flame of Peace in Hiroshima, since 1964, in honour of the victims; it will be extinguished only when all nuclear weapons are removed from the world and the earth is free from nuclear threat.

skulls Hiroshima 1945

August 1, 2016 Posted by | history, Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

No room for wives in BBC’s staff nuclear cold war bunker

atomic-bomb-lBBC staff offered chance to survive nuclear holocaust – but wives left at men onlyhome http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/23/bbc-staff-offered-chance-to-survive-nuclear-holocaust—but-wive/ Telegraph Reporters 23 JULY 2016 

BBC employees were offered the chance to survive a nuclear holocaust by broadcasting from an underground bunker, but they could not tell their wives, newly released files reveal.

The broadcaster secretly drew up plans during the Cold War for how it would run a Wartime Broadcasting System in the event of a major disaster.

Early versions of the plan – known as the ‘War Book’ – say that staff were “assigned” or “designated” to go underground, but later editions suggest they were “invited”. Chosen workers were informed not to tell their wives or bring them to the bunker, the files released by the BBC reveal.

“My clearest memory is of a discussion about whether people with spouses could bring them along,” Bob Doran, an experienced editor in Radio News in the 1980s, who attended a civil service seminar in Yorkshire said. The answer was no.
BBC bosses planned to set up 11 protected bunkers – known as ‘Regional Seats of Government’ – spread across the UK, each with a studio and five staff from nearby local radio stations.

A bunker at the Engineering Training Department at Wood Norton in Worcestershire would be a headquarters staffed by 90 BBC staff including engineers, announcers, 12 news editors and sub-editors.

The output would be controlled by the government, but the BBC made a collection of cassette tapes of old radio comedies to entertain the public.

Shows chosen to amuse listeners during Armageddon included the Goon Show, Just a Minute and Round the Horne.

July 25, 2016 Posted by | history, media, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

BBC reveals its plans for nuclear war during the Cold War period

atomic-bomb-lflag-UKThe BBC’s detailed plans for nuclear war, BBC News 23 July 2016  For the first time, the BBC has given detailed access to the plans it drew up in the Cold War for a Wartime Broadcasting System to operate in the event of nuclear war. Paul Reynolds, a former BBC diplomatic and foreign correspondent, has been studying the secrets of what was known as the “War Book”.

The War Book reveals a world of meticulous BBC planning. The Wartime Broadcasting System (WTBS) – referred to in the book as “Deferred Facilities” – would have operated from 11 protected bunkers spread across the UK.

Known as “Regional Seats of Government”, these would also have sheltered government ministers and staff from government departments during what is termed a “nuclear exchange”. The BBC had a studio in each, usually with five staff drawn mostly from nearby local radio stations.

The BBC’s headquarters would have been a bunker at the Engineering Training Department at Wood Norton in Worcestershire, where 90 BBC staff would have been assembled, including engineers, announcers, 12 news editors and sub-editors and ominously “two nominations from Religious Broadcasting”. Output would have been controlled by the government…….http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-36865345

July 25, 2016 Posted by | history, media, UK, weapons and war | 1 Comment

The beginnings of the Nuclear Age

doomsday's pic copyAwakening the Nuclear Beast

The cadaverous face of nuclear energy was revealed right from the start. Marie Curie, who discovered the radioactive elements radium and polonium, was fascinated with the peculiar luminosity emitted by the salts of uranium and radium. Her decades-long work with these elements was, however, invisibly accompanied by a slow and silent destruction of the blood-forming cells in her bone-marrow. This eventually led to her death from aplastic anaemia in 1934. Curie’s notebooks written over a century ago are stored in lead-lined boxes. Present-day researchers who wish to examine them are required to wear protective clothing.

The US military was among the first to realise the possibilities of glow-in-the-dark radium salts. Towards the end of World War I, it commissioned the painting of watch-dials and other instruments with radium. The idea became more widely popular and the United States Radium Factory was set up in New York in 1917. Over the following decade, 70 young women were employed to paint watch-dials with radium salts using fine camel hair brushes. They were instructed by their supervisors to keep the brush tips sharp by rolling them between their lips or on their tongues. Their inevitable fate is recounted in Eleanor Swanson’s powerful but harrowing poem The Radium Girls.

Ernest Rutherford’s work with uranium during the early years of the twentieth century led him to develop the first coherent model of the structure of the atom. Danish physicist Neils Bohr worked in his laboratory for a short time in 1912. Soon after, Bohr had refined Rutherford’s theory and formulated the idea that electrons moved in fixed orbits around a central nucleus and that, by absorbing or emitting energy, they could instantaneously change their orbits. His theory formed the core around which a more complete understanding of quantum mechanics could develop over the next decade.

Things then began to move very quickly. The development of particle accelerators enabled physicists to routinely transmute one element into another by the 1930s. In December 1938, the German chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann observed that bombarding uranium with neutrons resulted in the formation of lighter, rather than the heavier elements that they expected. Hahn was mystified by the results and communicated the findings to his former colleague Lise Meitner who had taken refuge in Sweden because of Hitler’s anti-Jewish policies. She was visited soon after by her nephew Otto Frisch, a physicist at Neils Bohr’s laboratory in Copenhagen, and spoke with him about Hahn’s letter. In the discussions that followed, they realised that Hahn had unwittingly described the phenomenon of nuclear fission – the breaking apart of atoms of uranium. Together, they pieced together a plausible account of the process and submitted a short paper outlining their theory to the scientific journal Nature. It was published in February 1939.

The Human Chain Reaction

Continue reading

July 23, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, history | Leave a comment

Sad loss of a man of integrity, Michael Mariotte

Michael Mariotte, a Leading Antinuclear Activist, Dies at 63, NYT, By SAM ROBERTS MAY 23, 2016 Michael Mariotte, a leading national opponent of nuclear power and an advocate for alternative, sustainable sources of energy, died on May 16 at his home in Kensington, Md. He was 63.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, his wife, Tetyana Murza, said.

As executive director and president of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service in Takoma Park, Md., for three decades, Mr. Mariotte was at the forefront of two successful landmark efforts: to prevent the repeal of a federal ban on interstate shipment of radioactive waste, and to bar the construction of new nuclear plants in Maryland and Louisiana.

He also organized antinuclear campaigns in Eastern Europe after the fatal power plant catastrophe in 1986 at Chernobyl, in what was then the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. And his information service acted as a clearinghouse for groups that opposed nuclear power, both in the United States and overseas.

In 2014, Mr. Mariotte (pronounced like the hotel chain) received a lifetime achievement award from Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate, on behalf of a dozen environmental groups, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Public Citizen and the Sierra Club.

He had earlier been a co-founder of an alternative weekly newspaper in the nation’s capital, which became Washington City Paper, as well as a drummer in a punk-rock band……

He joined the Nuclear Information and Resource Service in 1985, became executive director the next year and began publishing a newsletter called Groundswell, now known as Nuclear Monitor. The organization mobilized antinuclear groups, testified before Congress and enlisted celebrity endorsements.

Notably, it helped defeat a proposed reactor in Calvert Cliffs, Md.; a uranium processing plant in Louisiana; and legislation that would have lifted curbs on the transportation of radioactive waste. Mr. Mariotte said the measure had posed the threat of a “mobile Chernobyl.”

He resigned as executive director at the end of 2013 because of his illness. He was subsequently named president and ran the organization’s website, its GreenWorld blog and other programs.

Mr. Mariotte remained convinced that nuclear power would become obsolete and be replaced by clean, renewable energy sources and greater energy efficiency.

“It is no longer a question of whether these 21st-century technologies can replace nuclear power and fossil fuels,” he said when he stepped down as executive director of the information service. “The question is when. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/24/us/michael-mariotte-a-leading-antinuclear-activist-dies-at-63.html?_r=0

May 30, 2016 Posted by | history, USA | Leave a comment

Obama’s Hiroshima Visit Is a Reminder that Atomic Bombs Weren’t What Won the War

highly-recommendedThe World Post, Gar Alperovitz Author, Political Economist, Historian05/24/2016 U.S. Book Decision to use Atomic BombPresident Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to Hiroshima offers an opportunity to reconsider some of the myths surrounding the historic decision to use the atomic bomb. Such reconsideration also helps focus attention on how we can avoid any future use of weapons that are now thousands of times more powerful than the ones used in 1945.

A good place to start is with an unusual and little-noticed display at The National Museum of the United States Navy in Washington. A plaque explaining an exhibit devoted to the atomic bombings declares: “The vast destruction wreaked by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the loss of 135,000 people made little impact on the Japanese military. However, the Soviet invasion of Manchuria on 9 August — fulfilling a promise made at the Yalta Conference in February — changed their minds.”

Though the surprising statement runs contrary to the accepted claim that the atomic bombs ended World War II, it is faithful to the historical record of how and why Japan surrendered. The Japanese cabinet — and especially the Japanese army leaders — were not, in fact, jolted into surrender by the bombings. Japan had been willing to sacrifice city after city to American conventional bombing in the months leading up to Hiroshima — most dramatically in the March 9 firebombing of Tokyo, an attack that cost an estimated 100,000 lives.

What Japan’s military leaders were focused on was the Red Army, which was poised to take on the best of Japan’s remaining army in Manchuria. The historical record also makes clear that American leaders fully understood this. Indeed, before the atomic bomb was successfully tested, U.S. leaders desperately sought assurances that the Red Army would attack Japan after Germany was defeated. The president was strongly advised that when this happened, Japan was likely to surrender with the sole proviso that Japan be allowed to keep its emperor in some figurehead role.

Nor was this deemed a major problem. The U.S. military had long planned to keep the emperor in such a role to help control Japan during the postwar occupation. Once the atomic bomb was successfully tested, however, assurances for the emperor that were included in the 1945 Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender were eliminated, making it certain Japan would continue to fight. As the Navy museum plaque also accurately explains: “Truman’s political advisors overrode the views of the military leaders and foreign policy makers, insisting that Americans would not accept leniency towards the emperor.”

Although it goes on to suggest this was done for political, not military reasons, there are unresolved questions about this judgment. ……

early postwar critics pointed out that there is considerable evidence that diplomatic reasons concerning the Soviet Union — not military reasons concerning Japan — may have been important. For instance, after a group of nuclear scientists met with Truman’s chief adviser on the atomic bomb, U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes, onereported that, “Mr. Byrnes did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war … Mr. Byrnes’ … view [was] that our possessing and demonstrating the bomb would make Russia more manageable.”……..

Gar Alperovitz is the author of two major studies of the atomic bombings: “Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam“ and “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” where references to the key documentary sources in this piece can also be found. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gar-alperovitz/obama-hiroshima-bomb_b_10067434.html

May 27, 2016 Posted by | history, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hiroshima survivors tell of that day on 6th August 1945

Hiroshima-landscape

‘I still hate the glow of the sun’: Hiroshima survivors’ tales, https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/31704344/i-still-hate-the-glow-of-the-sun-hiroshima-suvivors-tales/  May 26, 2016, Hiroshima (Japan) (AFP) – For survivors of the world’s first nuclear attack, the day America unleashed a terrible bomb over the city of Hiroshima remains seared forever in their minds.

Though their numbers are dwindling and the advancing years are taking a toll, their haunting memories are undimmed by the passage of more than seven decades.

On the occasion of Barack Obama’s offering of a floral tribute on Friday at the cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park — the first ever visit by a sitting US president — some of them share their stories with AFP.

Emiko Okada

Emiko Okada, now 79, was about 2.8 kilometres (1.7 miles) from ground zero and suffered severe injuries in the blast. Her sister was killed.

“All of a sudden a flash of light brightened the sky and I was slammed to the ground. I didn’t know what on earth had happened. There were fires everywhere. We rushed away as the blaze roared toward us.

“The people I saw looked nothing like human beings. Their skin and flesh hung loose. Some children’s eyeballs were popping out of their sockets.

“I still hate to see the glow of the setting sun. It reminds me of that day and brings pain to my heart.

“In the aftermath, many children who had evacuated during the war came back here, orphaned by the bomb. Many gangsters came to Hiroshima from around the country and gave them food and guns.

“President Obama is a person who can influence the world. I hope that this year will be the beginning of knowing what actually happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki under the mushroom clouds.”

Keiko Ogura

Keiko Ogura, now 78, has devoted her life to keeping alive the memory of the devastating day. Continue reading

May 27, 2016 Posted by | history, Japan, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

One of the world’s oldest nuclear plants helped build the Jewish state’s secret nuclear arsenal

Israel’s atomic angst http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21699046-one-worlds-oldest-nuclear-plants-helped-build-jewish-states-secret May 21st 2016

A textile factory with a differenceOne of the world’s oldest nuclear plants helped build the Jewish state’s secret nuclear arsenal

Dimona Israel Nuclear

WITH its cupola dully glinting in the sun across kilometres of an exclusion zone in the Negev Desert, the nuclear reactor near the Israeli town of Dimona has for decades been the subject of intense speculation. Its bland official name, the Centre for Nuclear Research, belies a martial purpose. Foreign intelligence services, atomic scientists and a former Israeli employee claim that it is the source of fissile material used to make Israel’s nuclear weapons.

The country’s atomic secrets have always been closely guarded, so little is known about the plant at Dimona. However, officials at the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) admitted at a scientific conference last month that the reactor is showing its age. An ultrasound inspection of the aluminium core found 1,537 small defects and cracks, they said. The lifetime of such a reactor is usually around 40 years. At 53, Dimona is one of the world’s oldest operating nuclear plants.

The reactor, which was supplied by France, was switched on 15 years after the establishment of the state of Israel. The embattled country’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, insisted that Israel needed a nuclear deterrent. The programme was spearheaded by his assistant, Shimon Peres, and the main components were first activated in 1963. The government claimed that Dimona was a “textile plant”.

Many of the ancillary systems in the reactor have been renewed or replaced, but the core itself cannot be swapped out. The flaws that have been detected are closely monitored and there is no serious suggestion that the reactor is unsafe. Yet in most other countries it would have been deactivated long ago. Safety concerns will only increase with time.

Israel has never used its reactors for generating electricity. Along with the United States, France, Russia and China, it is one of the few countries believed to have acquired the nuclear “triad”. It can deliver nuclear weapons as bombs dropped from an aircraft, as warheads on a land-launched missile (since the 1970s) and on missiles fired from submarines.

The third leg of the triad is thought to have been added in 1999, when Israel received the first of six planned submarines. These were built and largely paid for by Germany. If, as reported, they can launch nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, this would give Israel a “second-strike” capability, allowing it to retaliate even if an enemy were to destroy its air bases and missile silos in a nuclear “first strike”. In January Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “Our submarine fleet will act as a deterrent to our enemies who want to destroy us.”

Nuclear experts estimate that Israel has between 80 and 200 warheads, more than enough to deter would-be attackers. The dilemma facing Israel is whether to close the ageing reactor that helped make them. If it does, it would be unlikely to get the materials needed to build a new one, since it has never signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Yet Uzi Even, a former member of the IAEC and Dimona scientist, argues that the reactor should be shuttered. (A smaller and older reactor, supplied by America in 1960 for research purposes, is scheduled to be deactivated in 2018 and replaced by a particle accelerator.)

Dimona’s defenders say it has both symbolic value (as a reminder that Israel will defend itself fiercely) and practical uses, too. It is a source of materials needed to maintain nuclear warheads, such as tritium (which decays, but could theoretically be produced or procured by other means). It is also the centre of a “secret kingdom” of scientists whose capabilities the government is loath to give up.

For nearly six decades, Israel’s policy of “nuclear opacity” has served it well. Its Arab neighbours are convinced it is a nuclear power, but Israel clings to the ambiguous formulation that it “will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the region”, neither acknowledging nor denying its capabilities. With powerful neighbours still openly advocating its destruction, the Jewish state will keep its doomsday weapons. But its ageing reactor? Perhaps not.

May 20, 2016 Posted by | history, Israel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Adolf Hitler’s secret NUCLEAR BOMBS found – claims engineer

Engineer claims he has found Adolf Hitler’s secret NUCLEAR BOMBS in a German cave and warns ‘if they decay we could have another Chernobyl on our hands’ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3594579/Engineer-claims-Adolf-Hitler-s-secret-NUCLEAR-BOMBS-German-cave-warns-decay-Chernobyl-hands.html
German pensioner claims to have found ‘Nazi nuclear bombs’
Peter Lohr, 70, says he’s found five metallic objects in Nazi tunnels
Using radar and 3D he claims he can prove two are atom bombs
By SARA MALM FOR MAILONLINE, 18 May 2016 A pensioner claims he has found Adolf Hitler’s secret atom bombs inside tunnels dug by the Nazis underneath a mountain valley in central Germany.

Peter Lohr, 70, claims to have found five large metal objects in a cave in the Jonas Valley in Thuringia state, of which at least two are ‘atomic bombs’.

Mr Lohr is certain that the objects are weapons of mass destruction manufactured by the Nazis towards the end of the Second World War.

‘The metal’s been lying there for 71 years. At some point it will decay and then we will have a second Chernobyl on our hands’ he said.

The centre of the Jonas Valley was a scene of secret military construction towards the end of the Second World War, with thousands of concentration camp prisoners forced to dig tunnels under the mountains.

It is not known what purpose the tunnels were meant to have as it was never completed.

The tunnel system stretches for miles underneath the mountain, with thousands of caves, bunkers and storerooms, and it is believed that it was intended to be the Alamo of the Third Reich leadership.

The Jonas Valley was liberated by American troops in April 1945, and US authorities have since classified all 1945 documents relating to Ohrdruf for a minimum of 100 years.

This is not the first time rumours of a Nazi nuclear bomb has surfaced.

Last year, a documentary called The Search for Hitler’s Atom Bomb,’ quotes sealed records from Russia and America said to prove the Nazis were close to creating a weapon of mass destruction.

The programme quoted interrogation reports of Nazi scientists, eyewitness account and the records left behind by researchers, many of which were shipped to America after the war.

May 18, 2016 Posted by | Germany, history, weapons and war | Leave a comment