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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Majority of governments at UN vote for 2017 conference on banning nuclear weapons

world-nuclear-weapons-freeflag-UN-SmOverwhelming Majority: Ban The Bomb In
2017,
Huffington Post, Susi Snyder Nuclear Disarmament Programme Manager for Pax in the Netherlands 08/19/2016 A nuclear working group at text-relevantthe UN concluded its work in Geneva today and the majority of governments voted to recommended that the UN General Assembly set up a conference in 2017 to negotiate a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons are the only weapon of mass destruction that are not outlawed by international treaty. But that is about to change.

2017 Conference
After more than twenty years of nothing, this working group just had a breakthrough. 107 governments said they support:

“The convening by the General Assembly of a conference in 2017 open to all states, international organisations, and civil society, to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons leading towards their total elimination”

It was a group of Pacific Island countries that said these exact words first. Diplomats who have personal connections with nuclear weapons- relatives who remember seeing the bombs explode in the distance. Friends that can never go home to what were once islands of paradise, and are now radioactive wastelands.

The 54 member African Group, the 33 member Community of Latin America and Caribbean countries (33) also voiced their support for a conference in 2017. For the first time, the ASEAN grouping (11) added their collective voice to this call for negotiations next year on a new nuclear weapons treaty.

It is now up to the October meeting of the UN General Assembly First Committee to take up this recommendation, and set up a meeting next year to negotiate a new treaty to finally make nuclear weapons illegal.

Putting people first
This breakthrough is result of the new global discourse on nuclear weapons. Since Norway hosted the first conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in 2013, the effect of the weapons on humans and the environment has taken center stage……http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susi-snyder/overwhelming-majority-ban_b_11610606.html

August 26, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kazakhstan to Host Major Nuclear Disarmament Conference

world-nuclear-weapons-freeAstana to Host Major Nuclear Disarmament Conference http://astanatimes.com/2016/08/astana-to-host-major-nuclear-disarmament-conference/ BY AIMAN text-relevantTUREBEKOVA  24 AUGUST 2016

ASTANA – The Kazakh capital will host the international conference “Building a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World,” dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site and commemorating UN International Day against Nuclear Tests at the Palace of Independence Aug. 29, the Senate of the Parliament announced.

The Kazakh Senate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) have co-organised the conference.

It will be addressed by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev and will bring together parliamentarians, representatives of international organisations, civil activists, scholars, mayors and media from around the world.

The event will include a plenary session and four panel sessions: “Security without nuclear weapons or war: Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century”; “A nuclear test ban and the role of the UN in achieving nuclear disarmament;” “National prohibition and nuclear-weapons-free zones. Geography of a sustainable world;” “Initiatives and campaigns – legislators, religious leaders and civil society”.

Conference participants will commemorate victims of nuclear tests, consider current disarmament  issues and make proposals on how to strengthen international security.

According to Speaker of the Kazakh Senate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the 25th anniversary since the closure of the Semipalatinsk Test Site is a date of global significance.

“President Nursultan Nazarbayev is recognised as a leader of the global antinuclear movement. His decision on the full closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site is the first and the only such case in the disarmament history of the world. The idea of complete nuclear disarmament underpins the Manifesto, “The World. The 21st Century.” The anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk Test Site is the best opportunity for the entire world community to consider the paramount importance of establishing sustainable peace on the planet and to propose new common solutions to security problems,” he said on the eve of the event.

On Dec. 2, 2009, at Kazakhstan’s initiative, the UN unanimously declared Aug. 29 the International Day against Nuclear Tests. “For nearly a decade as UN Secretary-General, I have witnessed many of the worst problems in the world, as well as our collective ability to respond in ways that at times seemed impossible. Our ambitious new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change have demonstrated the power of political will to break long-standing deadlocks. On this International Day against Nuclear Tests, I call on the world to summon a sense of solidarity commensurate with the urgent need to end the dangerous impasse on this issue,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a special message on this year’s International Day against Nuclear Tests.

In his message, made public by the UN shortly prior to the date, Ban Ki-moon said, “Today marks a quarter of a century since the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, ground zero for more than 450 nuclear tests. The victims there are joined by others scattered across Central Asia, North Africa, North America and the South Pacific.”

He continued, “A prohibition on all nuclear testing will end this poisonous legacy. It will boost momentum for other disarmament measures by showing that multilateral cooperation is possible, and it will build confidence for other regional security measures, including a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction. When I visited Semipalatinsk in 2010, I saw the toxic damage – but I also witnessed the resolve of the victims and survivors. I share their determination to strive for a world free of nuclear weapons.”

The UN Secretary General went on to urge Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation member states to act now.

“Those states whose ratification is required to bring the treaty into force should not wait for others. Even one ratification can act as a circuit breaker. All states that have not done so should sign and ratify because every ratification strengthens the norm of universality and shines a harsher spotlight on the countries that fail to act,” he said.

Kazakhstan knows well those catastrophic human consequences. The Soviet nuclear weapons tests at the Semipalatinsk site, caused illnesses and premature death to an estimated 1.5 million people and contaminated a huge area.

The Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century,” which was released by Nazarbayev earlier this year, is another contribution to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world and to an end to war. The main idea of the manifesto is to prevent war by utilising common security and international law approaches such as diplomacy, negotiation, mediation, arbitration and adjudication.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Kazakhstan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japan protests, as North Korea fires submarine-launched ballistic missile into Sea of Japan

submarine-missileflag-N-KoreaNorth Korea fires submarine-launched ballistic missile into Sea of Japan, officials say, ABC News 24 Aug 16, text-relevant North Korea has fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile off its east coast, South Korea’s military said, the latest in a string of missile launches by the isolated country in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

Key points:

  • The missile reached Japan’s air defence identification zone
  • Japan President Shinzo Abe slams ‘unforgiveable act’
  • China, Japan and South Korea’s Foreign Ministers were due to meet in Tokyo today

The missile was fired at around 5:30am (local time) from near the coastal city of Sinpo, where satellite imagery shows a submarine base to be located, and flew about 500 kilometres before splashing into the Sea of Japan, US and South Korean officials said.

The projectile reached Japan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), an area of control designated by countries to help maintain air security, according to Japanese and South Korean authorities

“This is the first time a missile from North Korea was launched from a submarine into our country’s air-defence identification zone,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters, adding that Japan had lodged a stern protest………http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-24/north-korea-test-fires-submarine-launched-ballistic-missile/7779612

August 26, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

‘Command and Control ‘Another very real danger from nuclear weapons – accidents

FilmDONALD TRUMP’S GLIB TALK ABOUT NUCLEAR WEAPONS OBSCURES A GREATER text-relevantDANGER, Newsweek BY ON 8/23/16 A nuclear holocaust, like death itself, is something we’d rather not think about. So we don’t, much, except when some figure of note starts talking about using hydrogen bombs to settle a problem. Someone like Donald Trump.

But the shock and outrage over Trump’s recent loose talk about making Japan and South Korea develop their own nukes or dropping a bomb on the Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS, obscures a more prosaic but arguably more imminent danger, according to a new documentary—a warhead going off by accident.

Command and Control, directed by veteran filmmaker Robert Kenner (Food, Inc.) and based on a best-selling book of the same name by Eric Schlosser, aims to widen the discussion about the threat posed by the thousands of nuclear weapons in U.S. hands (and, by extension, other countries’ as well). Developed in concert with PBS’s long-running American Experienceseries but slated for a limited September theatrical debut in New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., the uncommonly gripping documentary focuses more on the frightening number of weapons mishaps than the missteps that could trigger a nuclear war. It skips over near-disasters involving panicky U.S. and Russian radar crews picking up incoming missile “ghosts” and nearly launching massive counterstrike orders. Instead, citing recently declassified Energy Department figures, it burrows into one of the “more than a thousand accidents and incidents involving our nuclear weapons,” including the loss of eight warheads, one still buried somewhere in the soil of North Carolina.

Why any one of these incidents hasn’t ended in a mass disaster is “pure luck,” Schlosser says in the film. “And the problem with luck is it eventually runs out.” Think about your laptop or car, he suggests. “Nuclear weapons are machines,” he says. “And every machine ever invented eventually goes wrong.”……..

Two hydrogen bombs, for example, fell from a B-52 that broke up in flight and was spiraling down over North Carolina in 1961. One of the bombs “went through all of its arming steps to detonate, and when that weapon hit the ground, a firing signal was sent,” Schlosser says in the film. “And the only thing that prevented a full-scale detonation of a powerful hydrogen bomb in North Carolina was a single safety switch.”

Peurifoy describes the switch as not much more than something you might find on a desk lamp. “If the right two wires had touched,” he says, “the bomb would have detonated. Period.” The exploding 4-megaton warhead, about 267 times as powerful as the bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima 71 years ago, would have instantly obliterated much of North Carolina and produced a mushroom cloud and deadly radiation plumes poisoning people and crops as far north as New York……….. http://www.newsweek.com/2016/09/02/command-control-donald-trump-nuclear-weapons-492743.html

August 26, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Resources -audiovicual, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls for eradication of nuclear weapons

flag-UN-largeAt Security Council, Ban calls for eradicating weapons of mass destructiontext-relevant ‘once and for all’, UN News Centre,  23 August 2016 – Recalling that eliminating weapons of mass destruction was one of the founding principles of the United Nations and was in fact the subject of the first resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need to seriously refocus attention on nuclear disarmament.

“I call on all States to focus on one overriding truth: the only sure way to prevent the human, environmental and existential destruction these weapons can cause, is by eradicating [these weapons] once and for all,” said Mr. Ban in his remarks at the Security Council open debate on ‘non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.’

“We – the international community – must ensure the disarmament and non-proliferation framework is universally and completely implemented, and is resilient and versatile enough to grapple with the changing environment,” he added.

In his remarks, Mr. Ban said the success in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction offers some comfort and that multilateral treaties, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, and instruments, including Security Council resolution 1540, are “robust and tested.”

Adopted in 2004, resolution 1540 affirms that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

But the Secretary-General also pointed out that the challenges to the disarmament and non-proliferation architecture are growing. He noted that technological advances have made means of production and methods of delivery of these weapons easier and more accessible.

“Vicious non-State actors that target civilians for carnage are actively seeking chemical, biological and nuclear weapons,” he stressed.

He said that it is particularly disappointing that progress on eliminating nuclear weapons has descended into fractious deadlock, underscoring that arguments justifying nuclear weapons, such as those used during the Cold War, “were morally, politically and practically wrong thirty years ago, and they are wrong now”.

Recalling the Security Council’s convening of the historic summit on non-proliferation and adoption of resolution 1887 (2009) in which it emphasized its primary responsibility to address nuclear threats and its willingness to take action, Mr. Ban said the global community now expects the Council to demonstrate the same leadership on the subject, to build on resolution 1887 and to develop further initiatives to bring about a world free of weapons of mass destruction.

While noting that more needs to be done to “bridge the divide” within the international community, the UN chief said that it was encouraging that all UN Member States agree that the collective efforts must complement and strengthen the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, including the NPT, which is the only treaty-based commitment to nuclear disarmament and has been a strong barrier against nuclear proliferation for nearly 50 years……..http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54738#.V70yNVt97Gh

August 24, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Stuck in the past – America’s nuclear weapons policy


US nuclear policy remains dangerously stuck in the past http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-text-relevantblog/defense/292299-us-nuclear-policy-remains-dangerously-stuck-in-the-past
 By Diana Ohlbaum,August 23, 2016, Republican nominee Donald Trump has been ridiculed for asking “Why can’t we use nuclear weapons?” and castigated for his cavalier attitude toward their use. But he is only restating, albeit less artfully, what is, in fact, the standard orthodoxy: that the United States needs nuclear weapons not only as a deterrent to aggression, but as a plausible option for achieving strategic aims.

Those who grew up in the era of the “Doomsday Clock” and “duck and cover” might assume that the days of mutual assured destruction andlaunch under attack were swept away with the Soviet Union. They would be wrong. America’s nuclear weapons remain on hair-trigger alert, and the commander in chief has not ruled out being the first to use them.

Statue of Liberty Gun

For all his talk about a “nuclear free world,” President Obama has proposed a $1 trillionmodernization of the nuclear arsenal. Republicans, having engineered the demise of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, are intent on ramping up U.S. nuclear defenses. The nuclear “football” still follows the president everywhere, enabling a cataclysmic strike to be launched on a moment’s notice.

Twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War, U.S. policy remains stuck on the same horrifying premise: that U.S. national security depends on its willingness to use nuclear weapons.

The problem is, who but a madman would ever do so?

First, the danger of escalation is simply too great. Whether the United States used nuclear weapons preemptively, or simply responded in kind, could it count on a nuclear power such as Russia or China to stand down and give in? There is no scenario more unimaginable than the United States taking the chance of setting off a chain reaction that ends in total annihilation.

Second, the humanitarian and environmental risks are unacceptable. Seventy-one years after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan,, residents are still developing cancerous tumors that can be linked to radiation exposure. New evidence suggests that a nuclear exchange would produce far more serious harm to public health than previously imagined. The United States has made drones its “weapon of choice” in the war on terror in large part because of its obligation under international law to take “all feasible precautions” to avoid and minimize incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian infrastructure.

Third, the world is in a different place than it was when U.S. nuclear doctrine was conceived. Globalization — for better or worse — has interlocked America’s economic fate with that of its former adversaries. Over the past quarter-century, ideological differences have receded, U.S. trade relations with Russia and China have become normalized, and profound cultural, educational, scientific and human ties have been forged. Climate change, mass migration and pandemic disease have brought wide recognition of the interdependence of the planet. And disastrous U.S. interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have plainly demonstrated the limits of what can be achieved with military power, no matter how shocking or awesome it may be.

Envisioning Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear button helps us to understand how poorly the country is served by its absurd nuclear procedures, which allow a single individual, acting alone and instantaneously, without the benefit of full information or consultation, to order a nuclear attack that could end life as we know it. President Obama has a moral obligation to his country, and the world, to dismantle the “use it or lose it” system designed for a bygone era, and to declare that the United States will never be the first to use nuclear weapons.   Ohlbaum is an independent consultant and a board member of the Center for International Policy.

August 24, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA President’s deadly nuclear “football”

Codes President's nuclearFlag-USAThe ‘nuclear football’ – the deadly briefcase that never leaves the text-relevantpresident’s side
Donald Trump’s views on nukes may be the scariest thing about his candidacy. But how does Potus launch an attack at a moment’s notice? And what happens when you send the codes to the dry cleaners by mistake…
Guardian,   , 22 Aug 16 “……..As for the nuclear football, it comes into active service when the president leaves the White House. It is the nickname for a large leather, aluminium-framed briefcase weighing 20kg which is hefted by a military aide who shadows the US commander in chief.

It is, as former Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs calls it, “the ultimate power accessory, a doomsday machine that could destroy the entire world”. The late Bill Gulley, a former director of the White House Military Office, described what’s inside the nuclear football in his 1980 memoir Breaking Cover. “There are four things in the football. The Black Book containing the retaliatory options, a book listing classified site locations, a manila folder with eight or 10 pages stapled together giving a description of procedures for the Emergency Broadcast System, and a three-by-five inch card with authentication codes.”

The nuclear football has an antenna protruding from it, likely indicating that inside there is a communication system with which the president can maintain contact the Pentagon’s National Military Command Centre which monitors worldwide nuclear threats and can order an instant nuclear response. “The football,” says Dobbs, “also provides the commander-in-chief with a simplified menu of nuclear strike options – allowing him to decide, for example, whether to destroy all of America’s enemies in one fell swoop or to limit himself to obliterating only Moscow or Pyongyang or Beijing.”…….

Why is the briefcase nicknamed the nuclear football? According to former US secretary of defence Robert McNamara, it was so-named because it was part of an early nuclear war plan code-named Operation Drop Kick.

In Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 nuclear black comedy Dr Strangelove, there is also an Operation Drop Kick. It denoted a nuclear exercise that goes wrong when the unhinged US general played by Sterling Hayden orders a first strike on the Soviet Union. All the president’s men strive to recall the bombers to prevent nuclear politics……..

Aides who carry the nuclear football have extensive psychological evaluations to assess whether they’re up to the task. Metzger discloses that he underwent extensive vetting by the Defense Department, the secret service and the FBI before he was given the job. The incoming president, whether it is Trump or Clinton, will undergo no such checks as to their mental stability. There is, though, one consoling thought. Even if Trump did nuke Europe, he’d probably spare part of Aberdeenshire – he wouldn’t want to destroy his golf resort. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/22/nuclear-football-donald-trump

August 24, 2016 Posted by | Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea’s nuclear threats to USA and South Korea

flag-N-KoreaNorth Korea threatens to turn Washington and Seoul into a ‘heap of ash’ AUGUST 24, 2016 Gavin text-relevantFernando news.com.au@GavinDFernando NORTH Korea has issued a fresh warning to Seoul and Washington, threatening a huge nuclear attack if provoked.

The North’s military warned it will turn the cities into “a heap of ash through a Korean-style pre-emptive nuclear strike” if they show any signs of aggression towards their territory, a spokesman for North Korea’s military was quoted as saying by the country’s state media.

This comes as South Korea and the US begin their annual military drills, which South Korea has described as defensive in nature. The allied countries have repeatedly stated they have no intention of invading or taking aggressive action against North Korea capital Pyongyang.

South Korea President Park Geun-Hye responded to the threats saying: “The North Korean regime has been continuously suppressing its people by its reign of terror while ignoring the livelihood of its people.”

She also said the South would “prepare” for any potential attacks by North Korea, adding that the communist country’s nuclear and missile threats are “direct and realistic”.

Relations between the countries are tenser than usual now, following the defection of a senior North Korean diplomat and a US plan to place a hi-tech missile defence system in South Korea.

Earlier this month, it was reported South Korea intends to arm itself with nuclear weapons.The state will develop a nuclear self-defence strategy in defiance of a treaty that has been in place for almost 50 years. “It will become a domino effect and even South Korea will become concerned and develop nuclear weapons, and maybe Japan as well,” a senior official in the Seoul government told Fairfax.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, Australia surprised the world by being the only country to attempt to block an international ban on nuclear weapons.

The Australian government tried — and ultimately failed — to block a United Nations report for a complete international ban on nuclear weapons……http://www.news.com.au/world/asia/north-korea-threatens-to-turn-washington-and-seoul-into-a-heap-of-ash/news-story/f1851e5cde3ef6cf88697b57a8a1f11f

August 24, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA’s National Nuclear Security Administration approves controversial B61-12 nuclear bomb

bomb B61-12Controversial New U.S. Nuclear Bomb Moves Closer to Full-Scale Production http://inewsnetwork.org/2016/08/23/controversial-new-u-s-nuclear-bomb-moves-closer-to-full-scale-production/ By:  The most controversial nuclear bomb ever text-relevantplanned for the U.S. arsenal – some say the most dangerous, too – has received the go ahead from the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

The agency announced on Aug. 1 that the B61-12 – the nation’s first guided, or “smart,” nuclear bomb – had completed a four-year development and testing phase and is now in production engineering, the final phase before full-scale production slated for 2020.

This announcement comes in the face of repeated warnings from civilian experts and some former high-ranking military officers that the bomb, which will be carried by fighter jets, could tempt use during a conflict because of its precision. The bomb pairs high accuracy with explosive force that can be regulated.

President Barack Obama has consistently pledged to reduce nuclear weapons and forgo weapons with new military capabilities. Yet the B61-12 program has thrived on the political and economic clout of defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp., as documented in a Reveal investigation last year.

The B61-12 – at $11 billion for about 400 bombs the most expensive U.S. nuclear bomb ever – illustrates the extraordinary power of the atomic wing of what President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the “military industrial complex,” which has now rebranded itself the“nuclear enterprise.” The bomb lies at the heart of an ongoing modernization of America’s nuclear arms, projected to cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years.

Virtually everyone agrees that as long as nuclear weapons exist, some modernization of U.S. forces is needed to deter other countries from escalating to nuclear weapons during a conflict. But critics challenge the extravagance and scope of current modernization plans.

In late July, 10 senators wrote Obama a letter urging that he use his remaining months in office to “restrain U.S. nuclear weapons spending and reduce the risk of nuclear war” by, among other things, “scaling back excessive nuclear modernization plans.” They specifically urged the president to cancel a new nuclear air-launched cruise missile, for which the Air Force is now soliciting proposals from defense contractors.

While some new weapons programs are farther down the road, the B61-12 bomb is particularly imminent and worrisome given recent events such as the attempted coup in Turkey. That’s because this guided nuclear bomb is likely to replace 180 older B61 bombs stockpiled in five European countries, including Turkey, which has an estimated 50 B61s stored at Incirlik Air Base. The potential vulnerability of the site has raised questions about U.S. policy regarding storing nuclear weapons abroad.

But more questions focus on the increased accuracy of the B61-12. Unlike the free-fall gravity bombs it will replace, the B61-12 will be a guided nuclear bomb. Its new Boeing Co. tail kit assembly enables the bomb to hit targets precisely. Using dial-a-yield technology, the bomb’s explosive force can be adjusted before flight from an estimated high of 50,000 tons of TNT equivalent force to a low of 300 tons. The bomb can be carried on stealth fighter jets.

“If the Russians put out a guided nuclear bomb on a stealthy fighter that could sneak through air defenses, would that add to the perception here that they were lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons? Absolutely,” Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists said in the earlier Reveal coverage.

And General James Cartwright, the retired commander of the U.S. Strategic Command told PBS NewsHour last November that the new capabilities of the B61-12 could tempt its use.

“If I can drive down the yield, drive down, therefore, the likelihood of fallout, etc., does that make it more usable in the eyes of some – some president or national security decision-making process? And the answer is, it likely could be more usable.”

__

Ackland can be reached at lenackland@gmail.com. He wrote this story for Reveal,  from the Center for Investigative Reporting.  

August 24, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Positive international report for nuclear disarmament, despite disruption by Australia

Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), said it was thought that Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, instructed her diplomats to disrupt the international gathering late on Friday afternoon by forcing a vote. While others then joined Australia to vote against the report, Australia was alone in forcing the vote to happen.

The acceptance of the report was seen as a major milestone by anti-nuclear campaigners.

“This is a significant moment in the seven­-decade­-long global struggle to rid the world of the worst weapons of mass destruction,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director Ican. “The UN working group achieved a breakthrough today.”

flag-AustraliaAustralia attempts to derail UN plan to ban nuclear weapons Diplomats force a vote text-relevant
on a report to begin negotiations on a ban in 2017 that had been expected to pass unanimously,
Guardian, , 21 Aug 16, Australia has attempted to derail a ban on nuclear weapons at a UN meeting on disarmament, by single-handedly forcing a vote on a report that had been expected to pass unanimously.

The report, which recommended negotiations begin in 2017 to ban nuclear weapons, was eventually passed by 68 votes to 22. An Austrian-led push for the treaty had reached a milestone on Friday, when the report was presented to representatives of 103 nations in Geneva.

Moves towards a ban have been pursued because many saw little progress under the existing non-proliferation treaty, which obliges the five declared nuclear states to “pursue negotiations in good faith” towards “cessation of the nuclear arms race … and nuclear disarmament”.

The proposal recommended a conference be held next year to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

The text was carefully negotiated, and compromise was attempted on contentious paragraphs.

Anti-nuclear campaigners involved in the process expected the report would pass without objection. But Australia surprised observers by objecting and forcing a vote.

The vote was accepted by an overwhelming majority, with 68 voting in favour, 22 against and 13 abstaining.

The next step will be for the proposal for negotiations to begin in 2017 will be tabled at the United Nations general assembly, after which it is likely formal negotiations will begin.

In an opening statement the Australian diplomat Ian McConville told the meeting: “A simple Ban Treaty would not facilitate the reduction in one nuclear weapon. It might even harden the resolve of those possessing nuclear weapons not to reduce their arsenals.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on its website that it opposed a ban on nuclear weapons because although it “might seem to be a straightforward and emotionally appealing way to de-legitimise and eradicate nuclear weapons,” it would actually “divert attention from the sustained, practical steps needed for effective disarmament”.

But in 2015, documents obtained under Freedom of Information revealed Australia opposed the ban on nuclear weapons, since it believed it relied on US nuclear weapons as a deterrent.

“As long as the threat of nuclear attack or coercion exists, and countries like the DPRK [North Korea] seek these weapons and threaten others, Australia and many other countries will continue to rely on US extended nuclear deterrence,” said one of the briefing notes for government ministers.

The documents revealed however that Australia and the US were worried about the momentum gathering behind the Austrian-led push for a ban nuclear weapons, which diplomats said was “fast becoming a galvanising focus for those pushing the ban treaty option”.

Japan’s ambassador to the UN conference on disarmament expressed disappointment that a vote was required.

“We are deeply concerned that the adoption by voting will further divide the international disarmament community and undermine the momentum of nuclear disarmament for the international community as a whole,” he said.

Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), said it was thought that Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, instructed her diplomats to disrupt the international gathering late on Friday afternoon by forcing a vote. While others then joined Australia to vote against the report, Australia was alone in forcing the vote to happen.

“Australia is resisting the tide of history. A majority of nations believe that nuclear weapons are unacceptable and must be prohibited. And now they are ready to negotiate a ban,” Wright said.

“Australia’s attempt to derail these important disarmament talks was shameful and outrageous. It provoked strong criticism from some of our nearest neighbours in Asia and the Pacific, who believe that the world should be rid of all weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

The acceptance of the report was seen as a major milestone by anti-nuclear campaigners.

“This is a significant moment in the seven­-decade­-long global struggle to rid the world of the worst weapons of mass destruction,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director Ican. “The UN working group achieved a breakthrough today.”

“There can be no doubt that a majority of UN members intend to pursue negotiations next year on a treaty banning nuclear weapons,” said Fihn.

“We expect that, based on the recommendations of the working group, the UN general assembly will adopt a resolution this autumn to establish the mandate for negotiations on a ban on nuclear weapons in 2017.”

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said: “Australia called for a vote on the report as it was the most effective way to register our opposition to a recommendation to start negotiations on a ban treaty. A consensus report was not possible in the circumstances…..https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/21/australia-attempts-to-derail-un-plan-to-ban-nuclear-weapons

August 21, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The case for ending the policy of Pre-emptive Nuclear Strike

apocalypseEnd the First-Use Policy for Nuclear Weapons http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/15/opinion/end-the-text-relevantfirst-use-policy-for-nuclear-weapons.html By JAMES E. CARTWRIGHT and BRUCE G. BLAIRAUG. 14, 2016 Throughout the nuclear age, presidents have allowed their senior commanders to plan for the first use of nuclear weapons. Contingency plans were drawn to initiate first strikes to repel an invasion of Europe by the Soviet Union, defeat China and North Korea, take out chemical and biological weapons and conduct other missions.

After the end of the Cold War, which coincided with revolutionary advances in our nonnuclear military capacities, the range of these missions steadily narrowed to the point where nuclear weapons today no longer serve any purpose beyond deterring the first use of such weapons by our adversaries. Our nonnuclear strength, including economic and diplomatic power, our alliances, our conventional and cyber weaponry and our technological advantages, constitute a global military juggernaut unmatched in history. The United States simply does not need nuclear weapons to defend its own and its allies’ vital interests, as long as our adversaries refrain from their use.

Using nuclear weapons first against Russia and China would endanger our and our allies’ very survival by encouraging full-scale retaliation. Any first use against lesser threats, such as countries or terrorist groups with chemical and biological weapons, would be gratuitous; there are alternative means of countering those threats. Such use against North Korea would be likely to result in the blanketing of Japan and possibly South Korea with deadly radioactive fallout.

But beyond reducing those dangers, ruling out first use would also bring myriad benefits. To start, it would reduce the risk of a first strike against us during global crises. Leaders of other countries would be calmed by the knowledge that the United States viewed its own weapons as deterrents to nuclear warfare, not as tools of aggression.

The policy would also reduce costs by gutting the rationale for retaining the large arsenal of land-based strategic missiles in silos across the Midwest and the tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. Those missiles are mainly for first-use; they are a risky option for second-use because they are highly vulnerable to enemy attack. Eliminating these weapons entirely would be the best option.

Phasing out land-based missiles and shifting to a reliance on submarines and bombers would save about $100 billion over the next three decades. The elimination of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons would save billions more. President Obama could begin the phaseout of land-based missiles before he left office by instructing the Department of Defense to remove 550 weapons from the operationally deployed category and transfer them to long-term storage, thereby reducing the operationally deployed inventory to about 1,000 strategic warheads. These missiles are surplus weapons no longer needed for deterrence.A no-first-use policy would also reduce the risks of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. By scrapping the vulnerable land-based missile force, any need for launching on warning disappears. Strategic bombers can be sent aloft on warning of an apparent incoming attack, which may or may not be a false alarm, and stay up until the situation clarifies. Strategic submarines are extremely survivable and exert no pressure on decision-makers to fire them quickly. They can patrol for months waiting for instructions. Both bombers and submarines are also less vulnerable to cyberwarfare than the strategic missiles on land.

Finally, no-first-use would help ensure that democratically elected officials maintained control over nuclear weapons. Savings from reducing the nuclear force could be invested in fortifying command centers and communications networks, which would better protect the president and ensure the continuity of government during a crisis. This would not only fortify deterrence but also reduce the current possibility of a president’s losing control over nuclear operations at an early stage of conflict.Beyond those benefits, we believe a no-first-use policy could catalyze multilateral negotiations to reduce nuclear arms, discourage nonnuclear states from developing them and reinforce the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Although a no-first-use policy would limit the president’s discretion by imposing procedural and physical constraints on his or her ability to initiate the use of nuclear weapons, we believe such checks on the commander in chief would serve the national interest.

President Obama has an opportunity to further delegitimize nuclear weapons by adopting no-first-use as a core principle of United States security policy on the grounds that first-use is unnecessary and a threat to national survival and humanity itself. We could still maintain a robust nuclear umbrella to protect ourselves and our allies.

China and India adopted this policy long ago, and the American people overwhelmingly support it, according to a recent survey. In that poll, two-thirds say the United States should use nuclear weapons only in response to a nuclear attack or not at all, while just 18 percent think that first-use may be justified sometimes.

President Obama would be wise to follow China’s example. As commander in chief, he can adopt no-first-use overnight and lead the way in establishing it as a global norm among all of the nine countries with nuclear weapons. The next president ought to stay that course. Our nation, our allies and indeed the world will be better and safer for it.

James E. Cartwright, the chairman of the Global Zero Commission on Nuclear Risk Reduction, is a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former commander of the United States Strategic Command. Bruce G. Blair is a research scholar at Princeton, a founder of Global Zero and a former Minuteman launch officer.

August 21, 2016 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | 2 Comments

UN Open-Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament snubbed by nuclear weapons nations

world-nuclear-weapons-freeUN panel seeks push toward nuclear disarmament, WP, By Jameytext-relevant
Keaten | AP August 19 

 GENEVA — A majority of countries on a U.N.-mandated panel on Friday called on the U.N. General Assembly to consider launching multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament, voting in a process that has been boycotted by the world’s nuclear-armed powers.
Thai ambassador Thani Thongthakdi, who chaired the Open-Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament, hailed a “strong signal” but said many countries would have preferred consensus among voting members on an agreement that will have little impact unless nuclear powers are also on board.The panel voted 68 to 22, with 13 abstentions, on Friday on a broad-ranging text that among other things recommends that the General Assembly take up efforts toward launching multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament at its next meeting.

Nuclear-armed powers including Russia, China and the United States have rejected the process. Japan, which is sensitive about nuclear issues after experiencing two atomic bomb strikes in World War II, abstained from the vote……

Alyn Ware, who coordinates the advocacy group Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, said the working group was split in two camps: A “hard- line” faction favoring a treaty that calls for the abolition for nuclear weapons right now, and another preferring “incremental measures.”

Ware called the vote a “good thing,” but said the countries that support a treaty will now face a tough task of convincing nuclear-armed nations to join the process.

“If you just have a treaty adopted by non-nuclear states, the nuclear weapons states and allies could ignore it,” he said, calling for pressure on nuclear-armed powers to adopt “no first use” policies, move toward banning use, cut their arsenals and “give up the idea that you have security by threatening to blow up others.”

In the United States, the Obama administration has been considering instituting a “no first use” policy before Obama leaves office, but has faced criticism in Congress and beyond and isn’t expected to move quickly to institute it. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/un-panel-seeks-push-toward-nuclear-disarmament/2016/08/19/31bee8c6-6644-11e6-b4d8-33e931b5a26d_story.html

August 20, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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

Romania Denies Accepting US Nuclear Weapons

warheads nuclear http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/romania-denies-nuclear-weapons-transfer-on-its-soil-08-18-2016  Bucharest officials have denied media reports that US nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey are being transferred to Romania after the coup attempt against the Ankara government. Marian Chiriac
BIRN Bucharest -The Romanian foreign ministry, MAE on Thursday dismissed claims that the US has started transferring nuclear weapons from Turkey to Romania amid tensions in relations between Washington and Ankara.

“The MAE firmly rejects these pieces of information,” the ministry said in a press release, without elaborating.

Defence Minister Mihnea Motoc said that such media reports were just speculation and “so far there have not been any plans or discussions [among NATO members] on this topic”.

The statements came after website Euractiv reported on Thursday morning that more than 20 B61 nuclear weapons were being moved from Turkey’s Incirlik air base to the Deveselu base in Romania.

According to one of the two anonymous sources quoted by Euractiv, “US-Turkey relations had deteriorated so much following the [recent attempted] coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara to host the weapons”.

US and Turkish officials made no immediate response to Euractiv’s request for a comment.  NATO said however that US allies must ensure that “all components of NATO’s nuclear deterrent remain safe, secure, and effective”.

In Romania, analysts said they doubted whether the transfer would happen. “Such a transfer is very challenging in technical and political terms. I doubt the Alliance would run against its political commitments to cooperation with Moscow, based on the Founding Act of mutual relations and security between NATO and Russia,” said political analist Andrei Tarnea.

The Founding Act, signed in 1997, says NATO allies “have no intention, no plan and no reason to deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new members [such as Romania], nor any need to change any aspect of NATO’s nuclear posture or nuclear policy – and do not foresee any future need to do so”.

Jeffrey Lewis, director of non-proliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, said in a Twitter post that Romania does not have the capacity to store the weapons.  “For one thing, there are no WS3 vaults at Deveselu – or anywhere in Romania – to store the B61s,” Lewis said.

In December 2015, the US Navy formally inaugurated its new missile defence base in Deveselu in southern Romania. The base became operational in mid-May this year.  It is one of two European land-based interceptor sites for a NATO missile shield, a scheme which is viewed with deep suspicion by Russia.

Russia has warned Romania to abandon the anti-missile system that the US is installing at Deveselu. Relations between Bucharest and Moscow are already rocky. Romania has been among the strongest regional backers of the package of Western sanctions imposed on Russia in connection with the crisis in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Romania also hosts another major US military base, at Mihail Kogalniceanu airport, near the Black Sea, which became operational in 2007.

August 19, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Report: U.S. Transfers Nukes From Turkish Airbase to Romania

 http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.737585, 18 Aug 16 
The reported move comes after a U.S.-based think tank said the stockpile, consisting of 50 nuclear bombs, is at risk of being captured by ‘terrorists or other hostile forces.’ The U.S. has started transferring American nuclear weapons stationed at an airbase in southeastern Turkey to Romania, the independent Euractiv website reported on Thursday.
The reported move comes after a U.S.-based think tank said on Monday that the stockpile at Incirlik airbase, which consists of some 50 nuclear bombs, was at risk of being captured by “terrorists or other hostile forces.”
“It’s not easy to move 20 plus nukes,” a source told Euractiv, adding that the transfer to the Romanian base of Deveselu has posed technical and political challenges.
The report noted that the move has especially enraged Russia.
B61 16
The Romanian Foreign Ministry strongly denied that any U.S. nuclear weapons were transferred to Romania.
While critics have long been alarmed about the nuclear stockpile at Incirlik airbase, the aftermath of the failed military coup in Turkey on July 15 has sparked renewed fear.
“Whether the U.S. could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question,” said the Stimson Center report.
Incirlik, located just 110 kilometers (70 miles) from the border with Syria, is a major NATO base and a crucial launching pad for the U.S.-led coalition battling ISIS.
Incirlik hosts aircraft from the United States, Germany, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar involved in the U.S.-led air campaign against ISIS.
In an interview in July, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had appeared to suggest Ankara could open up Incirlik to Russia, a move that could raise concern among Turkey’s NATO partners already using the base.

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

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