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Tragically, Biden continues same nuclear weapons ”modernization” budget as Trump’s

Biden’s Nuclear Weapons Commitments: Dangerous Continuities Tragically, despite widespread high hopes for change, in the existential realm of potentially omnicidal nuclear war preparations, the Biden administration has signaled more continuity than change.

Common Dreams, JOSEPH GERSONSeptember 18, 2021   ”…………………………….. The sad and dangerous truth is that the nuclear weapons budget President Biden submitted to Congress differs little from Trump’s nuclear weapons “modernization” commitments. Despite Biden’s election year and earlier statements that the “sole use” of nuclear weapons that he could imagine was in response to a nuclear attack against the United States, the budget he submitted to Congress includes funding to replace the country’s entire arsenal of first-strike—use them or lose them—ground based ICBMs. So too the budget Congress will be voting on includes funding to produce 80 plutonium pits (the fissile core of a nuclear warhead) per year—each one of which with the destructive capability to devastate cities as large as Shanghai, Karachi and Moscow. Biden and his Pentagon also expect to win funding for the extremely destabilizing “more usable” tactical (roughly Hiroshima sized) B-61-12 bound for Europe, the nuclear air-launched cruise Long Range Standoff Weapon, and new warheads for submarine launched missiles, all designed to hold China hostage to a U.S. first-strike attack. 

What is driving China’s anticipated increase in the size of its nuclear arsenal and fears that it might abandon its no first use doctrine? The answer is those standoff cruise missiles and U.S. missile defenses that are being deployed along China’s periphery that Chinese officials and analysts fear could make first-strike nuclear war fighting attractive to U.S. leaders.

Days prior to the Congressional budget debate and on the eve of the launching of the Biden administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, the Defense Intelligence Agency stoked elite panic with the release of photographs which convincingly demonstrate that Beijing has initiated construction of 250 missile silos for Chinese land-based strategic intercontinental nuclear missiles. 


Yet,former lead U.S. arms control negotiator and Deputy NATO Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller warns that the silo holes being dug in northern China are a simply a “great distraction”.  As an arms controller, he is committed to nuclear deterrence and strategic stability and unwilling to press for what Noam Chomsky calls the “obvious solution” to the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons: “getting rid of them.”  She is willing to concede that China’s nuclear buildup is designed to reinforce its “second strike deterrence posture”, which is threatened by U.S. nuclear and missile defense forces. Rather than panicking and wasting limited U.S. resources, she urges policymakers to remember that even if China quadruples the size of its nuclear arsenal by placing an ICBM armed with multiple warheads in each of those silos, it will still have fewer nuclear weapons than the United States or Russia. She urges lawmakers to focus on economic and technological competition and not to be panicked into funding the Pentagon’s wish list of Strangelovian nuclear weapons     former lead U.S. arms control negotiator and Deputy NATO Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller warns that the silo holes being dug in northern China are a simply a “great distraction”.  As an arms controller, he is committed to nuclear deterrence and strategic stability and unwilling to press for what Noam Chomsky calls the “obvious solution” to the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons: “getting rid of them.”  She is willing to concede that China’s nuclear buildup is designed to reinforce its “second strike deterrence posture”, which is threatened by U.S. nuclear and missile defense forces. Rather than panicking and wasting limited U.S. resources, she urges policymakers to remember that even if China quadruples the size of its nuclear arsenal by placing an ICBM armed with multiple warheads in each of those silos, it will still have fewer nuclear weapons than the United States or Russia. She urges lawmakers to focus on economic and technological competition and not to be panicked into funding the Pentagon’s wish list of Strangelovian nuclear weapons  former lead U.S. arms control negotiator and Deputy NATO Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller warns that the silo holes being dug in northern China are a simply a “great distraction”.  As an arms controller, he is committed to nuclear deterrence and strategic stability and unwilling to press for what Noam Chomsky calls the “obvious solution” to the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons: “getting rid of them.”  She is willing to concede that China’s nuclear buildup is designed to reinforce its “second strike deterrence posture”, which is threatened by U.S. nuclear and missile defense forces. Rather than panicking and wasting limited U.S. resources, she urges policymakers to remember that even if China quadruples the size of its nuclear arsenal by placing an ICBM armed with multiple warheads in each of those silos, it will still have fewer nuclear weapons than the United States or Russia. She urges lawmakers to focus on economic and technological competition and not to be panicked into funding the Pentagon’s wish list of Strangelovian nuclear weapons.

At the policy making level there are four theaters of political struggle: 1) Congress and its debates over Biden’s $634 ten-year nuclear weapons funding proposal and No First Use legislation; 2) the Biden administration’s Nuclear Posture Review; 3) January’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the U.N., and 4) the March 2022 governmental First Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in Geneva.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has called out the Biden administration for failing to propose a nuclear weapons spending that “does not reflect your longstanding efforts to reduce our reliance on nuclear weapons.” They oppose funding for new submarine launched nuclear warheads, to maintain the B83 gravity bombs with an explosive yield of up to 100 times the Hiroshima A-bomb, and for the Long-Range Standoff Weapon described above. And, while not calling for the total elimination of first-strike land-based ICBMs, they oppose funding for the creation of a new generation of these omnicidal weapons. They also urge that the Biden Nuclear Posture Review, which will be conducted with little public or Congressional input by the Pentagon and senior administration “national security” officials, mandate reduction of the nation’s reliance on nuclear weapons. 

Internationally, pressure for nuclear weapons abolition will manifest itself at the NPT Review Conference and TPNW First Meeting early in the new year. With the world’s nuclear powers upgrading, and in many cases expanding,  their nuclear arsenals, there is little hope that progress will be made to fulfill the nuclear powers’ Article VI Treaty commitment to engaging in good faith negotiations for the complete elimination of their nuclear arsenals. And, with the Biden administration’s embrace of Israel’s new right-wing (and racist) government, it is unlikely that it will voice support for or take action to implement Washington’s earlier NPT commitment to co-convene an international conference for the creation of a Middle East Nuclear and WMD-Free Zone.  

Dim as prospects are for a successful NPT Review, it remains important for activists and international civil society to press as hard as we can for the full implementation of this seminally important treaty. Silence, being consent, would leave the nuclear powers with an open field. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2021/09/18/bidens-nuclear-weapons-commitments-dangerous-continuities

September 21, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Poland’s nuclear folly

Government pursues six reactors while blocking opportunities for renewables

Alternatives in the form of citizen energy projects struggle within a capitalistic scheme based on nuclear energy or offshore energy sourcing. Despite the enormous potential of solar and wind energy, the Polish government blocked developing this infrastructure in 2016 – the so-called Distance Act was adopted.  The law stipulates that wind turbines with a capacity of more than 40 kW can only be built at a distance of at least 10 times their height (including the rotor with the blades) from residential and mixed-use buildings, as well as areas of high environmental value. In effect, only large, off-shore wind farms can be built on the Baltic sea. There is a hope in increasing interest in solar citizen energy, with the government starting the “My electricity” programme, financing photovoltaic installations.

The European Green Deal is also concerned with energy security and independence. Although it does not include the aspect of nuclear energy in decarbonisation, an official letter to Ursula von der Leyen was recently written as part of an initiative by several countries, including Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Malta and Poland, to include nuclear and gas in green investments as a strategy for fighting global warming.

In Poland, it is hard to break through to the public discussion with anti-nuclear arguments. The government maintains its willingness to invest in nuclear energy despite its unprofitability, high costs, risks and lack of public support in order to replace coal-fired power plants with nuclear ones. 

Few people in Poland are interested in discussing the sourcing of the uranium and connect this problem with energy security. Few people care about radioactive waste. We need more discussions, focusing not only on the costs and time of building a nuclear power plant, but also energy security, the consequences of failure and the non-sustainability of uranium. We need anti-nuclear rhetoric. Will we learn our Chernobyl lessons?


P
oland’s nuclear folly,  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2021/09/20/polands-nuclear-folly/ Refusing to learn the lessons from Chernobyl, Poland embarks on a rash nuclear power program

By Beata Cymerman,

It was April 28, 1986, early morning in Poland. The radiation monitoring station in Mikołajki, Mazury area (north-eastern region of Poland) showed that the radioactivity in the air was 550,000 times higher than the day before. The radioactive cloud from Chernobyl had travelled to Poland. The story of the catastrophe began here.

The Chernobyl disaster in Poland

The government of Poland didn’t immediately release an official statement regarding the catastrophe. Poland was a satellite state of the Soviet Union. After the day of the explosion, April 26, no information was presented by the Polish media. One of the first people informed about the catastrophe was Prof. Jaworowski – Chairman of the Scientific Council of the Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection (CLOR) in Warsaw. He obtained information about the catastrophe from BBC radio and connected it to the unusual measurements from the Mikołajki station.  

Together with the President of Polish National Atomic Agency, he set out to monitor the situation. After taking several more measurements on the same day, it became clear that they were dealing with a high radiation risk. Despite the obstacles presented by the Soviet bureaucratic system and with the help of Jaworski’s wife, who was affiliated with the Polish Academy of Science, they managed to directly inform the Prime Minister of their findings.

Continue reading

September 21, 2021 Posted by | EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

UK’s nuclear industry decline is a permanent process

Cash-strapped nuclear industry has no answers to Britain’s energy shortages. While the issues limiting the UK’s nuclear power plant capacity may be temporary, its broader pattern of decline is not. As power
prices spike to record levels this week, one vital corner of Britain’s energy supply is failing to operate at full tilt. A nuclear reactor at Hartlepool has been floundering over an issue with a gas turbine, while another at Heysham 1 is offline after a forced outage last month.

Overall, the capacity of Britain’s ageing nuclear fleet of reactors is down by about one-third (5.2GW compared to 8GW) this week amid planned maintenance and unexpected problems. It is only adding to pressure on officials attempting to balance the electricity system as gas prices soar to record highs on a supply crunch, and wind output drops as weather calms.

But while the issues limiting nuclear power plant capacity may be temporary, its broader pattern of decline is not. The industry, which produces about 18pcof UK power annually, sits at a crossroads amid a rapidly evolving energy system. Most of the ageing nuclear fleet is set to shut down by the end of
the decade and several within the next few years.

Whether and how it will be replaced is uncertain, with industry critics accusing the Government of
dragging its feet at a time when Britain needs low carbon power to fill gaps in wind and solar generation. In a bid to help the flailing sector, ministers are set to bring forward a new finance mechanism which supporters believe can help reduce the costs of large nuclear projects. Consumers
would pay for the projects upfront while they are being built.

This,however, is sure to be a much tougher sell this winter given the soaring wholesale costs likely to boost bills. Whitehall is aiming to bring forward at least one large-scale nuclear project this parliament, and is puttingsome money into developing the next generation of technology: Advanced Modular Reactors and small modular reactors (SMRs).

So, does it matter if more nuclear power is not developed? Many experts say yes, given the stable
role they can provide. But that doesn’t mean it should be at any cost……….

 Telegraph 15th Sept 2021

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/09/15/cash-strapped-nuclear-industry-has-no-answers-britains-energy/

September 21, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Don’t Let Presidents Start Nuclear Wars on Their Own

Don’t Let Presidents Start Nuclear Wars on Their Own

In the U.S., one person has vast, essentially unchecked power to launch a nuclear strike. The country needs stronger guardrails to protect against a catastrophic miscalculation.  Bloomberg, By Editorial Board 20 September 2021 In the final days of Donald Trump’s administration, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered some very unusual instructions to senior military officials. If they received orders to launch an attack, up to and including the use of nuclear weapons, they were to “do the process” of consulting with him first. The general asked all of the officers to verbally signal their assent, which he reportedly considered “an oath.”

That’s according to a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. Milley had become so alarmed at Trump’s addled behavior, the authors say, that he felt the added safeguards were necessary to forestall a calamity……..

.. highlight a longstanding but largely unresolved danger: the lack of guardrails to prevent a reckless or unstable president from starting a nuclear war.

Following the latest revelations, Republicans have accused Milley of everything from insubordination to treason. But whether he acted improperly is debatable.

…… As it happens, there’s no evidence that Trump was contemplating using nukes. But that doesn’t mean the world is safe from future presidents in a similar situation…… https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-09-20/milley-trump-controversy-shows-need-for-nuclear-guardrails

September 21, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Czech government will subsidise nuclear power

Czech lawmakers approve nuclear support, WNN, 17 September 2021

The Czech Republic’s support framework for nuclear investment has been approved by the lower house of parliament. The Low Carbon Act should come into effect from 1 January 2022, the energy ministry said. “Currently, there are no market incentives for investment in new nuclear or other emission-free energy sources,” noted Tomáš Ehler, the deputy minister of industry and trade, saying, “These market failures have been confirmed by the European Commission itself.”

The new law, approved by large majority in the Chamber of Deputies yesterday, seeks to address this by allowing for a state-owned company to purchase electricity from new nuclear plants at a fixed rate for at least 30 years with the possibility of extension. …. The new law, approved by large majority in the Chamber of Deputies yesterday, seeks to address this by allowing for a state-owned company to purchase electricity from new nuclear plants at a fixed rate for at least 30 years with the possibility of extension. ……. https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Czech-lawmakers-approve-nuclear-support

September 21, 2021 Posted by | EUROPE, politics | Leave a comment

#ScottyFromMarketing’s propaganda triumph -nuclear submarines

September 19, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, marketing of nuclear, politics, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australian Greens blast nuclear submarine deal


Floating Chernobyls: : Greens blast sub deal  
https://www.perthnow.com.au/politics/floating-chernobyls-greens-blast-sub-deal-c-3978289, Matt CoughlanAAP, September 16, 2021

The Greens have warned Australia acquiring nuclear-powered submarines will create “floating Chernobyls” in the heart of major cities.

The UK and US will give Australia access to top secret nuclear propulsion technology for a fleet of new submarines to be built in Adelaide through new security pact AUKUS.

Greens leader Adam Bandt believes the move increases the prospect of nuclear war in the region and puts Australia in the firing line.

“It’s a dangerous decision that will make Australia less safe by putting floating Chernobyls in the heart of our major cities,” he told the ABC on Thursday.

It’s a terrible decision. It’s one of the worst security decisions in decades.”

Mr Bandt said the Greens would fight the decision and urged Labor to do the same.

“The prime minister needs to explain what will happen if there’s an accident with a nuclear reactor now in the heart of one of our major cities?” he said.

“How many people in Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth, will die as a result of it? What is going to happen if there is a problem with one of the nuclear reactors?”

It is understood the submarines will not require a civilian nuclear capability but rather will have reactors and fuel which will last the life of the vessel.

Independent senator and former submariner Rex Patrick wants an urgent parliamentary inquiry to report before the next federal election.

Senator Patrick, who has been a vocal critic of the $90 billion French submarine deal that is now over, said scrutiny was crucial.

We have to be careful we don’t move from one massive procurement disaster into something else that hasn’t been thought through properly,” he said.

The government has sunk $2.4 billion on the French program and is negotiating on other compensation, which remains commercial in confidence.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese and three senior frontbenchers received a briefing ahead of the announcement on Thursday morning.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran appoints harsh critic of the nuclear deal to the Foreign Ministry

Crucial changes at Iran’s foreign ministry ahead of nuclear talks

Iran has appointed a staunch critic of the nuclear deal to a position that will have a significant impact on its future.    Aljazeera,  By Maziar Motamedi, 15 Sep 21,

Tehran, Iran – Shortly before talks resume in Vienna around restoring Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, its foreign ministry has made some changes that may well prove critical.

Hardline diplomat Ali Bagheri Kani has been appointed as the new deputy for political affairs, replacing veteran diplomat Abbas Araghchi, who led six rounds of nuclear talks in Vienna up to late July – when talks stopped to allow Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi to form his administration.

Araghchi, a career diplomat and senior member of the team that negotiated the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) during the tenure of President Hassan Rouhani, is now an adviser to Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, which may mean he has not been fully sidelined

If the nuclear file stays with the foreign ministry – as opposed to the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) – Bagheri Kani, for years a staunch opponent of the nuclear deal, could become the new chief nuclear negotiator.

But even if he does not lead the negotiations, he is expected to play a significant role in pushing for a stricter stance on the lifting of unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States after it left the deal in 2018.

Bagheri Kani’s appointment was reportedly pushed for by Saeed Jalili, another opponent of the JCPOA and an ultraconservative senior member of the SNSC who ran for president in the June elections………….

The path ahead

The appointments come as Iran and the US, China, Russia, and European powers are expected to return to the Austrian capital at a critical stage for the JCPOA.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman on Monday said the Vienna talks would happen “in the near future”.

Another crisis looming over the resumption of the talks was avoided on Sunday when Iran and the global nuclear watchdog reached an agreement struck in Tehran…………… https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/9/15/crucial-changes-at-irans-foreign-ministry-ahead-of-nuclear-talks

September 16, 2021 Posted by | Iran, politics, politics international | Leave a comment

Texas to fight on against dumping of spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County

In a statement before the NRC’s announcement this week, Hadden said opponents would “keep fighting” even if the new license were issued. She said legal challenges remain, and she expressed hope that Texas’ attorney general would fight to protect people. A county commissioners’ body in Andrews County, Texas, also backed a resolution against high-level nuclear waste storage this year, local CBS affiliate KOSA reported

Nuclear waste in the oil patch? Feds spark clash with Texas  E and E News, By Edward Klump | 09/15/2021 A site in West Texas now has a federal license to store spent nuclear fuel, setting up a potential showdown with state leaders who oppose the prospect of attracting high-level radioactive waste from across the country.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the license for Interim Storage Partners LLC to build and operate an interim storage facility in Andrews County, Texas, on Monday — just days after Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill seeking to restrict nuclear waste storage in the state.

Yesterday, Abbott tried to use the new license in the Permian Basin oil patch to hammer President Biden, though an application for the site was filed in 2016, and the Trump administration didn’t kill the project.

“The Biden Admin. is trying to dump highly radioactive nuclear waste in west Texas oil fields,” Abbott said on Twitter. “I just signed a law to stop it. Texas will not become America’s nuclear waste dumping ground.”

David McIntyre, an NRC spokesperson, declined to comment on the governor’s criticism but said in a statement this week that the “licensing decision was made according to the applicable federal statutes and regulations after thorough, multi-year technical and environmental reviews.”

The drama is being watched by the electricity sector, as nuclear power plants continue to store spent fuel on-site without a permanent U.S. repository. Yucca Mountain in Nevada has failed to garner enough sustained support to be an option (E&E Daily, July 22). In the meantime, backers of the Interim Storage Partners, or ISP, site in West Texas and a separate project in eastern New Mexico from Holtec International have pursued interim storage proposals that could last for decades.

The NRC said this is the second license it has issued for a consolidated storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. The first was in 2006 for a different facility that wasn’t built. A decision on Holtec’s application for a site in Lea County, N.M., is expected in January, according to the nuclear safety regulator. Opposition to Holtec’s plan has been bubbling up in New Mexico, as well.

It remains to be seen how the West Texas proposal will proceed from here. ISP could directly challenge Texas’ stance, or it could take a more conciliatory, wait-and-see approach before seeking to move ahead.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, in response to a question from E&E News yesterday, said its “role is to NOT issue authorizations under TCEQ purview as directed in the bill language” if permits are requested for a high-level radioactive waste facility in the state such as the ISP site.

In a statement yesterday, ISP noted that the “proposed facility would be located adjacent to Waste Control Specialists’ existing low-level nuclear materials disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas.” ISP is a joint venture of Waste Control Specialists and Orano USA, along with some support from a technology provider called NAC International. A revised license application was submitted in 2018.

ISP said the federal authorization was based on a through, multiyear review. The venture didn’t indicate its next move or provide responses to questions posed by E&E News.

“The extensive analyses concluded that this facility’s commercial interim storage and transport operations satisfy all environmental, health, and safety requirements without negative impact to nearby residents or existing industries,” ISP said in its statement.

Critics have noted safety worries for people who live in West Texas, as well as concerns about transporting nuclear waste across the country.

“There were no surprises in NRC’s announcement, by Twitter, about approving the license for deadly nuclear waste storage in Texas,” Karen Hadden, executive director of the Sustainable Energy & Economic Development Coalition, said in a statement to E&E News. “There was no acknowledgement of the overwhelming opposition throughout Texas. Just the federal government steamrolling our state to benefit a private company.”

‘Really interesting times’

In a statement before the NRC’s announcement this week, Hadden said opponents would “keep fighting” even if the new license were issued. She said legal challenges remain, and she expressed hope that Texas’ attorney general would fight to protect people. A county commissioners’ body in Andrews County, Texas, also backed a resolution against high-level nuclear waste storage this year, local CBS affiliate KOSA reported……….  https://www.eenews.net/articles/nuclear-waste-in-the-oil-patch-feds-spark-clash-with-texas/

September 16, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

North Korea, nuclear proliferation and why the ‘madman theory’ is wrong about Kim Jong-unç

North Korea, nuclear proliferation and why the ‘madman theory’ is wrong about Kim Jong-unç  https://theconversation.com/north-korea-nuclear-proliferation-and-why-the-madman-theory-is-wrong-about-kim-jong-un-167939, Colin Alexander, Lecturer in Political Communications, Nottingham Trent University 15 Sep 21,  The two missile tests conducted by North Korea in recent days have reopened discussions about the country, its leadership, its foreign policy, its perception around the world and the use (and usefulness) of nuclear weapons as an option within global politics.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency announced on September 12 that it had test-fired a new long-range cruise missile, believed by analysts to be the country’s first missile with the capacity to carry a nuclear warhead.

Three days later the South Korean military said the North had launched “two unidentified ballistic missiles” into the Sea of Japan, prompting Japan’s outgoing prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, to order his country’s defence agencies to investigate.

North Korea usually makes grand nuclear statements like the ones we have seen in recent days during early September to mark the founding of the DPRK on September 9 1948. As such, these tests are as much about domestic propaganda and internal regime prestige as they are about threat to the outside world.

More broadly though, North Korea’s advance of its nuclear weapons technology – off and on since the 1950s – has made its integration with the rest of the international community much less likely. This is primarily on account of its development coming at considerable cost and sacrifice to the small nation.

No moral high ground

It can be argued that, given the indiscriminate barbarity of the destruction that a nuclear attack would cause, no state has a moral right to nuclear weapons over that of another state. But countries which already have a nuclear arsenal will often push the line that while it’s OK for them to have a nuclear stockpile, other countries do not necessarily have that right. These communications often rely on a manufactured sense of who is responsible and stable-minded and who is irresponsible and unstable. In short, it is an attempt to create a polarised world of good and evil.

This simplistic polarisation is encouraged through government communications regarding foreign policy. But they also depend on wider more implicit perception management strategies. These include harnessing the agendas of global mainstream news media and exporting popular culture products, films, television programmes and the like, that seek to encourage certain worldviews and to marginalise ones that are undesirable to the world’s most powerful nations.


It should always be remembered that the United States is the only state to have used nuclear weapons as an act of war (twice during 1945). Yet it declares North Korea to be a nuclear threat based on its “madness” (Donald Trump repeatedly called Kim Jong-un “mad”). But if we are to believe revelations from the upcoming book Peril by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, America’s top military personnel had to take action in the final months of the Trump administration to limit any risks of a nuclear showdown with China.

It’s probably true to say that few aspiring candidates for high office are going to say that they would never use their country’s nuclear capability in any circumstance. But it could also be said that any head of government who boasts of their readiness to use nuclear weapons is demonstrating their lack of fitness to govern. But, as the first part of this paragraph suggests, no candidate is likely to make this assertion.

Madman’ theory wrong

There is no evidence that the previous leaders of North Korea, Kim Il-sung or Kim Jong-il, were assessed by psychologists and found to be suffering from mental ill health. This is also true of Kim Jong-un, the country’s current leader – in fact before Kim’s summit with Trump in 2018, a former State Department psychiatrist, Kenneth Dekleva, who creates psychological profiles of foreign leaders, told America’s National Public Radio that: “I think the madman theory was wrong.”

I would say he’s smart, that he’s a very, very savvy diplomat, a leader with a sense of gravitas. He wants to be a player on the world stage.

For Simon Cross, a colleague of mine at Nottingham Trent University, “madness” is an imprecise term and a cultural construct that does not require a trained medical professional to identify it, but it resonates with ease with audiences when uttered by someone they trust. Stephen Harper at the University of Portsmouth, says our perception of what represents “madness” is based on uncritical interpretations of the past and fantasies and inclinations within the human mind towards what he calls “self-haunting”. These tropes are perpetuated, confirmed and even encouraged at the persuasion of powerful individuals reinforced by mainstream media content.

So, for example, the Hollywood films Team America: World Police (2004) and The Interview (2014), despite being satires of North Korea’s leaders, promote this idea of the North Korean leader and his senior advisers as mad.  And Trump kept hammering at this with his regular references to Kim as a “madman”, as “crazy” and as a “little rocket man”.

North Korea’s prevailing international image of being mad is thus predominantly the creation of hostile external parties. But Pyongyang has also played up to it at times when it has been deemed useful – as the psychologist Dekleva said earlier in this article, it could be a useful tool of diplomacy. This is a theme explored by Niccolo Machiavelli in his book The Prince in 1517.

That said, what is perhaps most interesting is the extent to which recent US administrations and their allies appear to have come to believe the madness story – despite the fact that they are largely responsible for it. This has been the case with successive US administrations – but whether they genuinely believe it, or perpetuate it because it is convenient to their wider foreign policy ambitions to do so, remains to be seen.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | culture and arts, North Korea, politics, psychology - mental health | Leave a comment

Illinois nuclear stations kept alive as Senate approves Bill to subsidise Exelon

Illinois Senate approves bill designed to keep three nuclear power plants running Chicago Sun Times, 14 Sept 21,

The Illinois Senate carried a massive piece of energy legislation over the finish line Monday, sending the bill to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk just in time to avoid the shuttering of an Exelon nuclear plant.

In a 37 to 17 vote — with three voting present — state senators passed the legislation, which Pritzker said he plans to sign “as soon as possible.”

A spokesman for Exelon said in a statement the energy company plans to refuel its Byron and Dresden nuclear plants “as a result of the action taken by the Illinois legislature to enact a comprehensive energy bill.”

The Byron plant was slated for defueling and closure beginning Monday. The Dresden plant was slated to be taken off line in November………. https://chicago.suntimes.com/2021/9/13/22672372/illinois-senate-advances-energy-legislation-pritzker-exelon-byron

September 14, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Responses to Candidate Questionnaire: Radioactive Waste in the Ottawa Valley — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

September 13, 2021 We asked federal candidates from all parties in 13 ridings in West Quebec, Eastern Ontario and Ottawa the following questions: Will you oppose the current plans for a radioactive waste disposal facility at Chalk River and reactor entombment at Rolphton, Ont.? Will you ensure that decisions on radioactive waste disposal in the […]

Responses to Candidate Questionnaire: Radioactive Waste in the Ottawa Valley — Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and Area

September 14, 2021 Posted by | Canada, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

29 Democrats demand Biden cut exorbitant spending on new nuclear weapons

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL LEADS DEMOCRATS IN URGING BIDEN TO LIMIT NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Twenty-nine Democrats call out the president’s embrace of Trump-initiated nuclear weapon programs as the White House creates sweeping new policy.
The Intercept, Sara Sirota September 11 2021,  CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., is leading a group of Democrats in pushing back on President Joe Biden’s plans to continue spending exorbitant sums on an expanding nuclear arsenal.

“We write today to express our grave concern that your Fiscal Year 2022 budget proposal for nuclear weapons does not reflect your longstanding efforts to reduce our reliance on nuclear weapons,” Jayapal and 28 Democratic colleagues wrote Biden today in a letter obtained by The Intercept. (In 2010, Biden led the White House’s efforts to convince the Senate to approve the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The treaty, which passed with a bipartisan majority, reduces the U.S. and Russia’s deployment of nuclear weapons.)

Their letter comes months after Biden caused alarm among progressives and the arms control community by proposing a defense budget that funded nuclear weapon programs initiated by the Trump administration that the Obama administration had deemed unnecessary. The budget also increased funding to develop highly controversial missiles started under President Barack Obama.

The stakes couldn’t be higher as the U.S. continues to grow its nuclear arsenal with an array of new warheads, bombs, cruise missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and delivery vehicles, which activists warn increase the risk of nuclear war. Meanwhile, as Democrats face accusations of hiking the deficit to fund significant investments in health care, family benefits, and clean energy, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated Biden’s FY-22 budget proposal would result in costs of $634 billion over 10 years.

Jayapal and her colleagues see an opening for Biden to reverse course as the president works on crafting a nuclear weapons strategy to replace the Trump administration’s. “We respectfully urge you to use the forthcoming Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) to set a nuclear strategy that aims to limit the role of nuclear weapons in our national security, reduces unnecessary spending, and sets the stage for progress towards your recent agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin to pursue additional arms control and risk reduction measures,” they wrote.

They specifically call out Biden for his administration’s request for funds to develop a new high-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead known as the W93 that Donald Trump greenlighted and for his plans to maintain the B83 gravity bomb, which has an explosive yield up to 100 times larger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The Obama administration had opposed these initiatives, they note, but Biden is now continuing them. (Obama Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz pledged to retire the B83 since the government is replacing it with the B61-12 bomb.)………………..  https://theintercept.com/2021/09/10/nuclear-weapons-spending-democrats/

September 11, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

How America’s war machine is bankrupting us, both financially and morally

“Napoleon said that it’s not necessary to censor the news. It’s more efficient to delay it until it no longer matters. In terms of the dead, it no longer matters.”

Norman Solomon on what the media won’t say: “The American people live in a warfare state” by Chauncey DeVaga — Rise Up Times

Author and activist Norman Solomon on how America’s war machine is bankrupting us, both financially and morally, By CHAUNCEY DEVEGA  Salon  September 8, 2021 ” …………….. America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan is now technically over.

…………………The Afghanistan war cost the American people at least $2 trillion. That amount will increase significantly from the interest paid on the massive debt incurred by the war over the next few decades.

America’s ugly withdrawal from Afghanistan leaves behind many “what ifs” that will haunt the nation’s collective memory for years to come. For example, what if the terrorist attacks of 9/11 had been treated as a law enforcement problem and not a military crisis that led to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq? (Especially since the latter nation had no connection to al-Qaida or the 9/11 attacks.)

What role did the War on Terror and its thousands of U.S. casualties (disproportionately concentrated in the Rust Belt and the American South) play in the election of Donald Trump and the rise of American neofascism? Would Trump ever have become president if there had been no endless war in the Middle East?

The withdrawal from Afghanistan also illustrates how poorly America’s collective memory reflects facts and history. Too many members of the media and political classes, still haunted by the ghosts of Vietnam, the Afghan retreat is being invoked as somehow equivalent to the fall of Saigon in 1975. It is not.

………. These first drafts of history about America’s retreat from Afghanistan are very much works in progress.

As writer and cultural critic Gore Vidal once observed, “We are the United States of Amnesia, we learn nothing because we remember nothing.” To that point, the American people will not be asked to make sense of Afghanistan and the War on Terror in the context of a much larger history. (And if they were asked, would not generally be able to answer, or interested in doing so).

Here is the central question that is being avoided: What does all this illustrate or exemplify? The answer: America is addicted to war. Since the end of World War II, the country has been involved in dozens of conflicts and interventions around the world. In that sense, America’s war in Afghanistan is part of a much older and much longer story.

To discuss both that longer story and the one before us now, I recently had a conversation with author, activist and journalist Norman Solomon (a frequent contributor to Salon). He is the author of many books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death” and “Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State.” Solomon is the national director and co-founder of the online activist initiative RootsAction.org and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy,

In this conversation, Solomon explains how he believes the American people are propagandized into supporting war by political leaders, the mainstream news media and other elites. He also reflects on how Afghanistan, Iraq and the larger War on Terror have been counterproductive on their own terms — leaving the American people less safe and less secure — as well as profoundly immoral and ruinously expensive.

He explains how human rights and justice demand that the American people learn to practice radical empathy for the Afghan people and others around the world who have suffered immeasurably from American military power. Toward the end of this conversation, Solomon explains that the lives of average Americans could be greatly improved if the U.S. did not spend vast sums of money on a military machine used almost entirely for destructive ends.

As a whole, the news media and the pundit class are generalists and professional “smart people.” They have little specific policy expertise on America’s forever wars or the Middle East, yet are presented as authoritative voices on that subject and too many others. How does the business of “expertise” and “punditry” actually work?

The qualification is largely that you have some type of institutional credential or be in a powerful position in Washington. You also have to stay more or less within the parameters of the bipartisan consensus about American politics, especially in terms of foreign policy.

What is verboten in such conversations?

In terms of U.S. foreign and military policy, there is a type of mass media housekeeping seal of approval. It is not completely monolithic. There are cracks in the wall. However, just because there are cracks does not somehow mean that the wall no longer exists.

The essence of propaganda is repetition. I believe there is a paradigm, a rule where there’s terrain that the corporate media tends to be very comfortable having discourse and debate on and within. Essentially, the mass media are part of the war-making apparatus.

How do you make sense of this public rehabilitation project for the likes of George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, two of the most prominent figures who made the decisions that led to these disastrous wars?

Consider all the praise, for example, that was visited on the late Donald Rumsfeld during his obituary period. There were so many members of the mainstream American news media who just basically licked Rumsfeld’s boots when he was giving his daily briefings during the war. Top journalists in the United States, on camera, were saying to Rumsfeld that he was like a “rock star,” that he was a “stud,” because he was articulating U.S. policy so well during those first weeks of the bombing of Afghanistan. I think of that spectacle all the time, where the media bows down to the warmakers in this country………..

The press is supposed to help the public understand current events so they can make better decisions about government, policy and leadership. But relatively few in the mainstream news media gave extensive coverage to the “Afghanistan Papers,” which were leaked not long ago and extensively documented that the war in Afghanistan had been lost for years. There is much fake surprise about the sudden end of the war and the Taliban taking over so quickly. The United States government knew of this highly probable outcome some time ago.

There is tremendous conformity-pressure. Being ahead of the discernment curve is very rarely a career enhancement. Whereas going with the herd, or being a little ahead of the curve but not going too far out on a limb, is a winning strategy for so many people who have risen through the ranks in mass media — and for that matter in government.

Napoleon said that it’s not necessary to censor the news. It’s more efficient to delay it until it no longer matters. In terms of the dead, it no longer matters. The last mistake is chalked up as in fact being just an error. But people who are going deeper in the analysis are saying, “There’s a fundamental dynamic here.”

We, the American people, live in a warfare state. As President Dwight Eisenhower warned as he was leaving office, we have a military-industrial complex. It’s striking how rarely we even hear that term being uttered by a prominent Democratic or Republican leader in Washington. It’s almost verboten………..

How do we better explain to the American people the role of profiteering by private interests and big business in the country’s wars?

When we hear that the war in Afghanistan was a “failure,” it really depends on what vantage point one is talking about. Every war is a colossal success for the military-industrial complex and huge numbers of Pentagon contractors. We call it the “defense industry.” That is a benign term.

I’m not against a defense budget. Too bad we don’t have one! We have a military budget that’s so much larger than a genuine defense budget would be. The profit-taking is enormous.

Where does the $700-something billion a year from the Pentagon go? Add in nuclear weapons and other items that are outside the Pentagon budget, and the number rises to $1 trillion. So much of that money is just going to these huge corporations. How often do we see a serious examination in the mainstream news media of the corporations that are making a killing, literally and figuratively, from the misery and death that’s part of the U.S. warfare state?

How has war been sold to the American people by the country’s leaders? What narratives are used to propagandize them into supporting American empire and war-making?………

Has the mainstream news media ever seen a war they didn’t like?

If there’s a deep division on Capitol Hill within or between the two parties, then the mass media, to some significant extent, might be against it. Again, war is framed around the question, “Is it winnable?”

Ultimately, that is the wrong question. Even now there are critics of the Afghanistan war saying, “It was a terrible idea. It could have never been won.” I can reasonably conclude that the seven-year-old girl I met with one arm didn’t really care if the U.S. won or lost. She didn’t care that Barack Obama was a Democrat overseeing the air war that took one of her arms.  https://riseuptimes.org/2021/09/09/norman-solomon-on-what-the-media-wont-say-the-american-people-live-in-a-warfare-state-by-chauncey-devaga/

September 11, 2021 Posted by | media, politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Dispute in U.S, Congress over costly nuclear weapons modernisation

Lawmakers set for battle over next-gen nuclear missile, Defense News, By Joe Gould  10 Sept 21, WASHINGTON ― Nuclear modernization opponents and defenders are gearing up to fight again over the next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile and other efforts.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., and a skeptic of nuclear spending on the House Armed Services Committee, confirmed he plans to offer nuclear-themed amendments when the annual defense bill receives House floor consideration later this month. One aims to pause the Air Force’s nascent Ground Based Strategic Deterrent in favor of maintaining the missile it would replace, the Minuteman III; another would zero out funds for the GBSD’s warhead, the W87-1.

…………  For the land-based missile, the stakes are high for Northrop Grumman, which received a $13.3 billion contract last year to develop GBSD. Last month, Northrop executives cut the ribbon on a $1.4 billion facility in Colorado Springs dedicated to GBSD and other strategic weapons programs.

………. Skeptics have argued modernization plans are dangerously escalatory, exceed what’s necessary for a credible nuclear deterrent and waste money that would be better spent on domestic programs. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., proposed a bill earlier this year to divert $1 billion from the GBSD program to fight the coronavirus……….. https://www.defensenews.com/congress/budget/2021/09/09/lawmakers-set-for-battle-over-next-gen-nuclear-missile/

September 11, 2021 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment