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A new dangerous period of nuclear weapons rivalry

The Coming Nuclear Crises, Nov 18, 2019 RICHARD N. HAASS   We are entering a new and dangerous period in which nuclear competition or even use of nuclear weapons could again become the greatest threat to global stability. Less certain is whether today’s leaders are up to meeting this emerging challenge.
NEW YORK – Until just a few years ago, it looked as if the problem posed by nuclear weapons had been successfully managed, if not solved. American and Russian nuclear stockpiles had been reduced substantially from their Cold War highs, and arms-control agreements were in place that limited both intermediate- and long-range systems. But all of this now could come undone.
Progress over the last generation was not limited to the United States and Russia. Libya was persuaded to abandon its nuclear ambitions, Israel thwarted Iraqi and Syrian nuclear development, and South Africa relinquished its small nuclear arsenal. Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which constrained its ability to acquire many of the essential prerequisites of nuclear weapons. Most recently, the UN Security Council imposed tough sanctions aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its still modest and comparatively primitive nuclear weapons program, clearing the way for high-level talks between North Korean and US officials. And, of course, no nuclear weapon has been used in combat for three-quarters of a century, since the US dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan to hasten the end of World War II.

This past summer, however, the US withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty after it concluded Russia had violated the INF’s terms. The treaty limiting longer-range US and Russian nuclear weapons will expire in 2021 unless it is extended, and it is not clear that it will be: both countries are committing substantial resources to modernize their existing arsenals.

Moreover, by exiting the JCPOA the US has heightened the risks stemming from Iran. The accord, concluded in 2015, was imperfect. In particular, many of its most significant constraints would last only 10-15 years, and the agreement did not limit Iran’s ballistic-missile development. But it did place a ceiling on Iranian nuclear activity and allowed for international inspections. By all accounts, Iran was honoring its provisions.

Now, however, Iran has begun a slow but steady process of getting out from under many of the agreement’s limits. It may be doing this to persuade the US and Europe to ease economic sanctions. It may also be calculating that these steps could dramatically reduce the time it would need to produce nuclear weapons without being attacked. But it is at least as likely that Iran’s actions will lead the US, or more probably Israel, to undertake a preventive strike designed to destroy a significant part of its program.

Such a strike could lead several other regional powers, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, to develop or acquire nuclear weapons of their own. Turkey, increasingly estranged from many of its allies, has suggested that it may choose to develop nuclear weapons regardless of what Iran does.
North Korea is far ahead of Iran: it already has several dozen nuclear weapons and missiles, has tested missiles that can reach the US, and is developing submarine-launched nuclear weapons. The notion that North Korea will agree to give up its weapons and “denuclearize” is fanciful. Its leader, Kim Jong-un, believes that only nuclear weapons can ensure his regime’s survival, a belief understandably strengthened by the experience of Ukraine, which accepted security guarantees in exchange for giving up the nuclear weapons it inherited from the Soviet Union, only to be invaded by Russia 25 years later.
One risk is that North Korea will over the next few years come to possess a significant arsenal that will pose a meaningful threat to the US. Another is that North Korea’s neighbors, including South Korea and Japan, will determine that they, too, need nuclear weapons given the North Korean threat and their diminished confidence in the reliability of the US and its guarantees to protect them with its nuclear forces.
The danger in both regions is that a race to acquire nuclear weapons could trigger a preventive war. Even if such a war were avoided, the presence of multiple nuclear arsenals would increase the temptation for one or more countries to strike first in a crisis. “Use them or lose them” has the potential to become a recipe for instability and conflict when capabilities are not sufficiently robust to absorb an attack and still be able to mete out the sort of devastating retaliation essential for effective deterrence.
As if all this were not enough, India and Pakistan, two countries with a long history of bilateral conflict, are both nuclear powers. Nuclear deterrence cannot be assumed. It is all too easy to imagine a Pakistani-supported terrorist attack leading to Indian retaliation, which in turn could prompt Pakistan to threaten using nuclear weapons, because its conventional military forces cannot compete with those of India. There is also the possibility that the command and control of weapons could break down and one or more devices could find their way into the hands of terrorists. 
It is close to 60 years since a young presidential candidate named John F. Kennedy predicted that as many as 20 countries could achieve nuclear-weapons capability by the end of 1964. Fortunately, Kennedy was proven wrong, and the number of countries with nuclear weapons is still nine. The 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has proven quite robust, in part because it is buttressed by efforts to prevent the export of critical technologies, arms control, sanctions, and the strength of alliances, which reduces the need for countries to become self-reliant.
But with nuclear technology increasingly available, arms control unraveling amid renewed great power rivalry, weakened alliances as the US pulls back from the world, and fading memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we are entering a new and dangerous period. Nuclear competition or even use of nuclear weapons could again become the greatest threat to global stability. Less certain is whether today’s leaders are up to meeting this emerging challenge.

November 18, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Confusion in UK over Jeremy Corbyn’s nuclear weapons policy

What is Jeremy Corbyn’s nuclear weapons policy? The Week, Nov 18, 2019   Labour leader has been quizzed again on future of Trident. Jeremy Corbyn’s position on nuclear weapons is back in the headlines after he refused to rule out scrapping Trident as part of a post-election deal with the Scottish National Party.

Asked on The Andrew Marr Show whether he would scrap Trident, the Labour leader said: “I think the SNP would actually agree with me… that the priority has to be giving realism to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, giving realism to the six-party talks in Korea, giving realism to the whole question of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

Pressed further on the matter, he replied: “Obviously if you went into non-proliferation treaty discussions then clearly every country’s nuclear weapons go into that equation.” …….

November 18, 2019 Posted by | politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The “Plutocene” danger – nuclear war, radioactive pollution, global heating

if we don’t take urgent action to defend our planet, life as we know it will not be able to continue. 

Why are these two facts related? Because they illustrate the two factors that could transport us beyond the Anthropocene—the geological epoch marked by humankind’s fingerprint on the planet—and into yet another new, even more hostile era of our own making.

My new book, titled The Plutocene: Blueprints for a post-Anthropocene Greenhouse Earth, describes the future world we are on course to inhabit, now that it has become clear that we are still busy building nuclear weapons rather than working together to defend our planet.

have coined the term Plutocene to describe a post-Anthropocene period marked by a plutonium-rich sedimentary layer in the oceans. The Anthropocene is very short, having begun (depending on your definition) either with the Industrial Revolution in about 1750, or with the onset of nuclear weapons and sharply rising greenhouse emissions in the mid-20th century. The future length of the Plutocene would depend on two factors: the half-life of radioactive plutonium-239 of 24,100 years, and how long our CO2 will stay in the atmosphere—potentially up to 20,000 years.

During the Plutocene, temperatures would be much higher than today. Perhaps they would be similar to those during the Pliocene (2.6 million to 5.3 million years ago), when average temperatures were about 2℃ above those of pre-industrial times, or the Miocene (roughly 5.3 million to 23 million years ago), when average temperatures were another 2℃ warmer than that, and sea levels were 20 to 40 meters (65-131ft) higher than today.

Under these conditions, population and farming centres in low coastal zones and river valleys would be inundated, and humans would be forced to seek higher latitudes and altitudes to survive—as well as potentially having to contend with the fallout of nuclear conflict. The most extreme scenario is that evolution takes a new turn—one that favors animals best equipped to withstand heat and radiation.

Climates past

While we have a range of tools for studying prehistoric climates, including ice cores and tree rings, these methods do not of course tell us what the future holds.

However, the basic laws of physics, the principles of climate science, and the lessons from past and current climate trends, help us work out the factors that will dictate our future climate.

Broadly speaking, the climate is shaped by three broad factors: trends in solar cycles; the concentration of atmospheric greenhouse gases; and intermittent events such as volcanic eruptions or asteroid impacts.

Solar cycles are readily predicted, and indeed can be seen in the geological record, whereas intermittent events are harder to account for. The factor over which we have the most control is our own greenhouse emissions.

CO2 levels have previously climbed as high as 2,000 parts per million (ppm), most recently during the early Eocene, roughly 55-45 million years ago. The subsequent decline of CO2 levels to just a few hundred parts per million then cooled the planet, creating the conditions that allowed Earth’s current inhabitants (much later including humans) to flourish.

But what of the future? Based on these observations, as reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), several projections of future climates indicate an extension of the current interglacial period by about 30,000 years, consistent with the longevity of atmospheric CO2.

If global warming were to reach 4℃, as suggested by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, chief climate advisor to the German government, the resulting amplification effects on the climate would pose an existential threat both to nature and human civilization.

Barring effective sequestration of carbon gases, and given amplifying feedback effects from the melting of ice sheets, warming of oceans, and drying out of land surfaces, Earth is bound to reach an average of 4℃ above pre-industrial levels within a time frame to which numerous species, including humans, may hardly be able to adapt. The increase in evaporation from the oceans and thereby water vapor contents of the atmosphere leads to mega-cyclones, mega-floods and super-tropical terrestrial environments. Arid and semi-arid regions would become overheated, severely affecting flora and fauna habitats.

The transition to such conditions is unlikely to be smooth and gradual, but may instead feature sharp transient cool intervals called “stadials.” Increasingly, signs of a possible stadial are being seen south of Greenland.

A close analogy can be drawn between future events and the Eocene-Paleocene Thermal Maximum about 55 million years ago, when release of methane from Earth’s crust resulted in extreme rise in temperature. But as shown below, [ diagram on original] the current rate of temperature rise is far more rapid—and more akin to the planet-heating effects of an asteroid strike.

Mounting our defense

Defending ourselves from global warming and nuclear disaster requires us to do two things: stop fighting destructive wars, and start fighting to save our planet. There is a range of tactics we can use to help achieve the second goal, including large-scale seagrass cultivationextensive biochar development, and restoring huge swathes of the world’s forests.

Space exploration is wonderful, but we still only know of one planet that supports life (bacteria possibly excepted). This is our home, and there is currently little prospect of realising science fiction’s visions of an escape from a scorched Earth to some other world.

Yet still we waver. Many media outlets operate in apparent denial of the connection between global warming and extreme weather. Meanwhile, despite diplomatic progress on nuclear weapons, the Sword of Damocles continues to hang over our heads, as 14,900 nuclear warheads sit aimed at one another, waiting for accidental or deliberate release.

If the clock does strike nuclear midnight, and if we don’t take urgent action to defend our planet, life as we know it will not be able to continue. Humans will survive in relatively cold high latitudes and altitudes. A new cycle would begin.

Andrew Glikson is an Earth and paleo-climate scientist at the Australian National University.

November 18, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, environment, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Jeremy Corbyn could scrap UK’s nuclear weapons, in deal with Scottish National Party

November 17, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

49 USA universities get lots of money for helping to develop nuclear weapons

‘Schools of Mass Destruction’: Report Details 49 US Universities Abetting Nuclear Weapons Complex “Why would an institution of higher learning support weapons that cause terrible humanitarian consequences?”

Nearly 50 universities across the United States are abetting the “nuclear weapons complex” with involvement that is at times “direct and unabashed.”

That’s according to a new report released Wednesday by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), “Schools of Mass Destruction: American Universities in the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex.” The report calls out 49 educational institutions, describes their direct and indirect involvement, and recommends steps the universities, students, and faculty can take to address the issue.

The report names prestigious universities including Stanford, Georgetown, and MIT. The cited universities have reportedly engaged in four different avenues of complicity in nuclear weapons production, defying their own mission statements and international law.

In return, the report says, “universities receive funding, access to research facilities, and specific career opportunities for students.”

The complicity, according to ICAN, falls into one of four categories: direct management, institutional partnerships, research programs and partnerships, and workforce development programs.

From the report’s profiles on Georgetown University and the University of Nevada – Reno:

In return, the report says, “universities receive funding, access to research facilities, and specific career opportunities for students.”

The complicity, according to ICAN, falls into one of four categories: direct management, institutional partnerships, research programs and partnerships, and workforce development programs.

From the report’s profiles on Georgetown University and the University of Nevada – Reno:

  • Georgetown is listed as a university partner on the website of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. According to administration at Georgetown, the university has a formal agreement with the laboratory and collaborates in the areas of neuroscience, physics and cancer, with the lab hosting graduate students for summer internships. The Lawrence Livermore lab provides design and engineering for several nuclear warhead types and conducts simulated experiments to evaluate warheads.
  • The University of Nevada – Reno developed a new Graduate Certificate in Nuclear Packaging in partnership with the Department of Energy. A Nevada National Security Site engineer was the first to complete the program. The Nevada National Security Site is the location of nearly 1,000 tests of nuclear weapons in past decades, leading to serious health impacts for nearby residents and participating military personnel. Currently, staff at the site conduct simulated experiments to test the reliability and performance of nuclear weapons. The site also hosts “subcritical experiments” that allow for the evaluation of nuclear weapons materials under certain conditions, but do not cause a “self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.”

Those universities are not the “most complicit.” That dubious honor goes to the University of California,  Texas A&M University, Johns Hopkins University, and University of New Mexico. In a Twitter thread, ICAN highlighted those schools’ involvement:

#1 The state of California supports a ban of #nuclearweapons,but  the @UofCalifornia has continuously managed the primary #nuclearweapons labs for the US since WWII. When will UC stop supporting weapons that pose a catastrophic threat to our existence?

#2 @TAMU administration has publicly stated its “commitment to the #nuclearweapons industry.”  Why would an institution of higher learning support weapons that cause terrible humanitarian consequences?

#3 @JohnsHopkins’ applied physics lab is directly involved in #nuclearweapons production. It receives more than twice as much funding from the US @DeptofDefense than any other U.S. university. @JHUPress @JHUNewsLetter

#4 More than 3,800 New Mexicans have suffered serious illness or death as a result of US nuclear weapons tests  So why does the @UNM University of New Mexico wants its faculty and students to collaborate with #nuclearweapons lab scientists?

The report comes as Trump administration policies have given rise to fears of a new arms race. As the report notes,

In the United States, the Trump administration has expanded plans to upgrade the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Over the next ten years, the Congressional Budget Office estimates U.S. taxpayers will pay nearly $500 billion to maintain and modernize its country’s nuclear weapons arsenal, or almost $100,000 per minute.

Also noted in the publication is the administration’s withdrawal earlier this year from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia and its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which calls for “diversifying” the country’s nuclear arsenal.

That gives greater urgency to the call for the schools to sever their partnerships—and the clear support for the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, ICAN says, should be seen as an opportunity for action.

U.S. universities must reconsider connections to the nuclear weapons complex due to the devastating humanitarian and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons and because current U.S. policies make their use more likely,” says the report.

A first step is for schools to be more transparent about their involvement in the nuclear weapons complex but that’s not enough. “Universities would not willingly participate today in research enabling the production of chemical and biological weapons. Nuclear weapons are morally equivalent to these other weapons of mass destruction.”

Students and faculty can take action as well. ICAN suggests sharing the report to increase awareness, demanding the institutions make their research transparent, and calling on the schools to become part of the effort to  ban nuclear weapons by dropping their involvement.

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Education, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

A long-term continuing resolution -damaging to America’s nuclear weapons development

November 14, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The United States’ Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Weapons Are Dangerously Entangled

November 14, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The climate crisis is tied up in the dangers of nuclear weapons in ways that nobody predicted

The Climate Crisis Just Went Nuclear   In the Marshall Islands, local residents are reaping what the United States sowed—which includes tons and tons of nuclear and biological waste from Cold War testing.BY CHARLES P. PIERCE

The climate crisis is the one issue that touches all the other issues. For example, the climate crisis is tied up in the dangers of nuclear weapons in ways that nobody predicted, but that the Los Angeles Times spent some time and money examining. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the United States set off 67 nuclear bombs in and around the Marshall Islands. This had predictable results: there were now lagoons where there were none before; some islands simply aren’t there any more, and there was a lot of deadly stuff left behind. Which brings us to the climate crisis.

Here in the Marshall Islands, Runit Dome holds more than 3.1 million cubic feet — or 35 Olympic-sized swimming pools — of U.S.-produced radioactive soil and debris, including lethal amounts of plutonium. Nowhere else has the United States saddled another country with so much of its nuclear waste, a product of its Cold War atomic testing program.

U.S. authorities later cleaned up contaminated soil on Enewetak Atoll, where the United States not only detonated the bulk of its weapons tests but, as The Times has learned, also conducted a dozen biological weapons tests and dumped 130 tons of soil from an irradiated Nevada testing site. It then deposited the atoll’s most lethal debris and soil into the dome. Now the concrete coffin, which locals call “the Tomb,” is at risk of collapsing from rising seas and other effects of climate change. Tides are creeping up its sides, advancing higher every year as distant glaciers melt and ocean waters rise.

When people talk about environmental justice, this is what they’re talking about.

Officials in the Marshall Islands have lobbied the U.S. government for help, but American officials have declined, saying the dome is on Marshallese land and therefore the responsibility of the Marshallese government. “I’m like, how can it [the dome] be ours?” Hilda Heine, the president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, said in an interview in her presidential office in September. “We don’t want it. We didn’t build it. The garbage inside is not ours. It’s theirs.” … They blame the United States and other industrialized countries for global climate change and sea level rise, which threaten to submerge vast swaths of this island nation’s 29 low-lying atolls.

The history behind all this is as tawdry as you might have expected it to be—an endless litany of lies, deception, and bureaucratic three-card monte, all of it designed to dodge any responsibility for the nightmares past, present, and future.

Over the last 15 months, a reporting team from the Los Angeles Times and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism made five trips to the Marshall Islands, where they documented extensive coral bleaching, fish kills and algae blooms — as well as major disease outbreaks, including the nation’s largest recorded epidemic of dengue fever. They interviewed folk singers who lost their voices to thyroid cancers and spent time in Arkansas, Washington and Oregon, where tens of thousands of Marshallese have migrated to escape poverty and an uncertain future.

Over the last 15 months, a reporting team from the Los Angeles Times and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism made five trips to the Marshall Islands, where they documented extensive coral bleaching, fish kills and algae blooms — as well as major disease outbreaks, including the nation’s largest recorded epidemic of dengue fever. They interviewed folk singers who lost their voices to thyroid cancers and spent time in Arkansas, Washington and Oregon, where tens of thousands of Marshallese have migrated to escape poverty and an uncertain future.

One example: The United States did not tell the Marshallese that in 1958, it shipped 130 tons of soil from its atomic testing grounds in Nevada to the Marshall Islands. U.S. authorities also didn’t inform people in Enewetak, where the waste site is located, that they’d conducted a dozen biological weapons tests in the atoll, including experiments with an aerosolized bacteria designed to kill enemy troops. U.S. Department of Energy experts are encouraging the Marshallese to move back to other parts of Enewetak, where 650 now live, after being relocated during the U.S. nuclear tests during the Cold War. But many Marshallese leaders no longer trust U.S. assurances of safety.

Can’t imagine why they’d think that.

Adding to the alarm is a study published this year by a team of Columbia University scientists showing levels of radiation in some spots in Enewetak and other parts of the Marshall Islands that rival those found near Chernobyl and Fukushima. Such discoveries could give Marshallese leaders fresh ammunition to challenge the 1986 compact, which is up for renegotiation in 2023, and also to press the United States to honor property and

health claims ordered by an international tribunal. The tribunal, established by the two countries in 1988, concluded the United States should pay $2.3 billion in claims, but Congress and U.S courts have refused. Documents show the U.S. paid just $4 million.

And what in the hell was this?

A decade later, in 1968, teams from the Department of Defense set up a new experiment. This time, they were testing biological weapons — bombs and missiles filled with bacteria designed to fell enemy troops. According to a 2002 military fact sheet and Ed Regis, the author of “The Biology of Doom,” U.S. government scientists came to Enewetak with “their boats and monkeys, space suits and jet fighter planes” and then sprayed clouds of biologically enhanced staphylococcal enterotoxin B, an incapacitating biological agent known to cause toxic shock and food poisoning and considered “one of the most potent bacterial superantigens.” The bacteria were sprayed over much of the atoll — with ground zero at Lojwa Island, where U.S. troops were stationed 10 years later for the cleanup of the atoll.

I don’t know what happens when the dome gives way, but I feel confident in saying a) it won’t be good, and b) we won’t hear about it for a couple of years, at least. 


November 12, 2019 Posted by | climate change, environment, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A UK Labour govt would make ‘collective’ decision over use of nuclear weapons?

November 12, 2019 Posted by | politics, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Entire world wants nuclear weapons-free Middle East — except for USA and Israel

US and Israel were lone votes against UN resolutions opposing space arms race, nuclear Middle East, Cuba embargo, The United States and Israel were the only countries that voted against UN General Assembly draft resolutions calling for a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, measures to stop an arms race in outer space, and an end to the blockade of Cuba. THE GRAYZONE, By Ben Norton, 11 Nov 19,

Important breakthroughs have arrived at the United Nations seeking to prevent an arms race in outer space and create a nuclear weapons-free Middle East. There are just two main obstacles: the United States and Israel.

While Washington and corporate media outlets portray China and Russia as aggressive warmongering rogue states, their votes at the UN show which nations are actually expanding dangerous militarism into new frontiers.

China and Russia joined dozens of other countries in sponsoring resolutions at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) that sought to prevent armed conflict in space. Most of the international community supported these historic peace measures. The only consistent outliers were the US and Israel.

Beijing and Moscow have been leading global efforts to stop the use of weapons in space. Meanwhile, Washington has unilaterally blocked the international consensus on preventing the deadly space race.

Moreover, as nearly all UN member states have united in calling for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, the US and Israel have singlehandedly undermined their peace efforts.

This roguish behavior predates the election of President Donald Trump.

At the UNGA on November 7, almost every country in the world also voted to end the US embargo against Cuba. This was the 28th year in row that the international community united in calling for the American noose to be taken off the neck of the Cuban people.

While 187 member states supported the resolution demanding an end to the blockade, the US, Israel, and Brazil’s far-right government were the lone nations to oppose it. American allies Colombia and Ukraine abstained.

Washington’s UN votes show who truly is a rogue state.

Entire world wants nuclear weapons-free Middle East — except for USA and Israel

The UNGA’s First Committee, which oversees disarmament and international security, voted on November 1 to overwhelmingly approve a draft resolution entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East.”

A staggering 172 countries voted in support of this resolution. Only two nations voted against it: the US and Israel. Just two more countries abstained: the United Kingdom and Cameroon.

At the same meeting, the First Committee approved a draft resolution on “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East,” which called for the region to abide by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Given Israel is the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, the UNGA resolution called on Tel Aviv to join the NPT (Israel has long refused to sign the treaty), and demanded that Israeli nuclear facilities be overseen by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

The draft resolution was also overwhelmingly approved, with 151 votes in support and a mere six votes against — from the US, Israel, and Canada, along with the tiny island nations of Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands, which function as vassals of Washington at the UN.

American and Israeli votes against resolutions to prevent an arms race in outer space…….

November 11, 2019 Posted by | Israel, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Big boys and their nuclear toys – Hello, omnicide

A Tight Grip On Our Nuclear Toys, Hello, omnicide. Anti 
by Robert Koehler  November 08, 2019

“Everyone wants to play with the big boys, and the only way to become one of the big boys is to have nuclear toys.”

Attention Planet Earth! Attention Planet Earth! It is time to grow up.

The words are those of Mohamed ElBaradei, then director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, from a 2005 interview, several months before he and the agency were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. They remain eerily relevant in 2019, summing up as they do the puerile recklessness that is in the process of regaining its grip on geopolitics. Nuclear weapons treaties are withering on the vine and proliferation threatens a triumphant return.

Hello, omnicide. We may not be as lucky as we were in the Cold War era, when the consequences of nuclear accidents and political brinkmanship were relatively contained and the victims of nuclear development were limited to the people who lived near test areas like the Marshall Islands, Kazakhstan or the Nevada Test Site in the western United States. Nuclear stockpiles have shrunk, not grown, and nuclear-armed nations number nine.

This is still insane, of course. That number should – must – find its way to zero, as declared by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was passed by a United Nations vote of 122-1 in 2017 but still awaits actual ratification by 50 countries (32 have ratified it so far). Hope-inspiring as that treaty is, the big boys – who boycotted the U.N. vote two years ago – still control the game, and led by the USA, they are pulling out of the treaties that constrain them. ……..

lobal leadership is adolescent in nature. Big boys rule and lust for power takes control of the brain, especially power in a competitive context. If you represent the interests of a nation-state, you could easily become consumed by the hostile environment in which those interests are trying to establish themselves. And the interests of the planet as a whole (e.g., survival, a future) could easily disappear as anything but idealistic, ignorable abstractions. Disarmament? Give me a break. Not when regional powers, as Erlanger also writes, are “challenging American hegemony.”

Add to this the transnational, corporate interest in militarism. There’s no money in peace, which is seen mostly as a black hole, the lull between wars. Money doesn’t start to flow until the bullets and the bombs start to fly. If you’re opposed to war, the real enemy isn’t Russia or China’ it’s the military-industrial complex (which can smell, for instance, the trillion-plus-dollars earmarked for an upgraded nuclear arsenal).

So what we have right now is a world in which the public’s natural desire for peace is diverted to the status of impossible, at least until we destroy our enemies and secure our hegemony; and the growing global peace movement remains utterly marginalized. How much time do you think will be devoted to the issue of denuclearization, let us say, in the looming presidential race?

All of which leads me back to the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, the seven courageous peace activists who were arrested last year after they cut through the fencing around the Kings Bay Naval Base, in St. Mary’s, Ga., the Atlantic home port of the country’s Trident nuclear missile-carrying submarines, and entered the base without permission. There, they poured out vials of blood (their own) on the grounds, hung up signs and issued an indictment of the U.S. military for violating the 1968 UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Their trial, during which they were not allowed to present their case on the global danger of nuclear weapons, recently ended. To no one’s surprise, they were found guilty and await sentencing.

“. . . and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

And Isaiah 2:4, the 3,000-year-old cry for peace, remains irrelevant.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at or visit his website at Reprinted with permission from PeaceVoice

November 9, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA’s intercontinental ballistic missiles- epitome of nuclear corruption


November 7, 2019 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Deadline looms for nuclear veterans and descendants study

A Mururoa Nuclear Veterans Group is encouraging veterans and their families to come forward to take part in a study before the deadline closes.  In August, the group put out newspaper advertisements, wanting all veterans who were deployed to Mururoa Atoll in 1973 and their families, to be part of a study which closes at midnight today.

The study lead by University of Otago associate professor David McBride will look into the connection between nuclear veterans and their children, who may have been affected by their parents’ exposure to radiation.

So far only 166 people had signed up, according to Mururoa Nuclear Veterans president Gavin Smith.

Mr Smith implored more to join, saying about 500 people went to the Christmas Island and were exposed to nuclear tests in the 1950s and about 500 went to Mururoa during the 1970s.

“Everyone who has a veteran father or grandfather that served there and has maybe deceased or may be living but mentioned nothing of it, I urge them to contact the University of Otago,” he said.

He said the study was crucial because veteran’s children may have been affected by their parents’ exposure to radiation, which could make their offspring more susceptible to conditions like leukaemia and auto-immune diseases.

“Our study is open to all nuclear veterans. If we don’t do it in our generation, it’s going to be an even bigger battle for the next generation.”

The group, which was established in 2013 to press the government to help families with nuclear related illnesses, had 135 members who served at the protest.

Of those, 56 had children or grandchildren with unexplained medical conditions.

Testing would begin next week at the University of Otago, with a timeframe and details on the study yet to be confirmed.

November 7, 2019 Posted by | children, New Zealand, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The human species at threat of wipeout – nuclear war in space

 Bruce Gagnon ‘War in Space’ interview

Nuclear space war ‘would wipe out humans in days with Earth becoming Hiroshima’   A fierce critic of the Space Force says the Earth would “burn” and turn into a Hiroshima-style landscape should a nuclear war erupt,  By  Katy Gill, Video News Reporter, 3 NOV 2019, 

A nuclear war in space would be catastrophic for the human civilisation as Earth would transform into a Hiroshima-style landscape with humans being wiped out in a matter of days.

That’s according to Bruce Gagnon, the co-founder and coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he is hoping to create the sixth branch of the US military – the Space Force – in 2020 to, among other things, protect satellites in space from other nations.

There are those that believe new fleets of military craft are already being built, pointing to various UFO sightings across the US in recent months.

But Bruce thinks it could open the doors for a new domain of warfare – with the consequences being devastating.

He explained to Daily Star Online that if a nuclear war erupted above Earth, “everything would burn”.

“The cities are burning, the forests are burning, the planet is burning,” he added.

“There’s no food, you can’t grow anything, everything poison, everything radioactive, we all die.” Bruce spoke of how food production will immediately halt because of the atmosphere burning up and affecting crops.

This will lead crowds of people to raid their local supermarkets.

“How long is that going to last? How long do we have after that?” he asked.

“Probably a few days. Not much longer than that. It’s going to happen fast.Who wants to be alive when the whole world looks like Hiroshima?”

Bruce said after the fire’s smoke and debris floods into the atmosphere it will block the sun.

This would eventually see the Earth freeze because the sun is no longer visible to the planet.

“So the Earth freezes and you have whatever is left after this nuclear war is finished,” he added.

In the past, Bruce told the site that USAF is “creating a new generation of space soldiers by indoctrinating kids“.

November 4, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A Global Review : Threats o f Nuclear Conflict:

Threats of Nuclear Conflict: A Global Review – Part 1, Global Policy

By Scott L. Montgomery and Thomas Graham, Jr. – 31 October 2019 

Beginning with South Asia, Scott L. Montgomery and Thomas Graham, Jr. introduce a two-part essay taking stock of contemporary prospects of nuclear conflict.

Our world in the second decade of the 21st century approaches the abandonment of cooperation in the realm of nuclear arms control. We have entered a new era of threat that is real, growing, and not in the least accidental. Nor is it due to the dark gods of human nature or the unfavorable fate of having freed the nuclear genii from its bottle.

The new era must be counted part of a deteriorating international order. Within the past five years, this situation has tended to elevate conflict above collaboration, risk above security, and, above all, new weapons above arms agreements. Rising hostility between the U.S. and Russia, the U.S. and China, Russia and NATO, Pakistan and India, North Korea and its neighbors, has effectively brought the risk of nuclear conflict to its highest level in many decades. Efforts by warhead states today to strengthen their arsenals on their own nationalist terms are proving not to dissuade but encourage thoughts of proliferation elsewhere.

Greatly adding to this troubling climate have been actions by the Trump Administration, which has withdrawn and threatened to withdraw from alliances around the world and from multiple non-proliferation treaties. This global retreat has torn holes in what was once considered an essential nuclear umbrella for Europe and parts of East Asia. Most of all, though, open hostility among warhead states makes the world fearful, less secure, and more likely to find reasons for nuclear “self-protection.” After 25 years of post-Cold War progress in reducing nuclear weapons, warhead states are altering course. Ignoring a look in the mirror, they perceive the global landscape as more menacing and are therefore making it so.

Facts and Numbers

At present, the world has approximately 13,890 nuclear warheads. Of these, 9,300 are in military stockpiles, with perhaps 3,600 deployed by operational forces. Half of these are kept on high operational alert.

Though still large, these figures represent an immense reduction from Cold War numbers, whose total went as high as 70,000 in the late 1980s. Such reduction happened because of arms control agreements, mainly between Russia and the U.S., but also involving the post-Soviet nations of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, all of which gave up the weapons that remained on their territory after dissolution of the USSR. One example of a successful agreement was the Megatons to Megawatts program, which, between 1995 and 2013, recycled fuel for as many as 20,000 Soviet weapons so it could be burned in U.S. nuclear power plants. Similarly, the New START treaty between Russia and the U.S., signed by Presidents Obama and Medvedev in 2010, continued reductions into 2019.

The hopeful message of such programs was, and is, crystal clear: though built for reasons of security, nuclear weapons are a massive threat to human life and society. Reducing their number defines the only true path to increased security in a world where such weapons exist.

Yet that lesson now appears to be unheard. Efforts to continue scaling back the size and lethality of arsenals have ceased. They have even begun to reverse. This is a direct result of nations having launched programs to “upgrade” and “modernize” their weapons. Such are terms that tend to sanitize work that will replace older bombs and missiles with more reliable and precise versions, while adding new, low-yield nuclear weapons that risk lowering the threshold of actual use, especially in battlefield situations. Russia and the U.S., with over 90% of the global stockpile, have been the target of related media attention in the past two years. But a focus here can hide similar efforts underway in China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and France.

Yet the rationality here can, and should, be reversed. At higher reliability and accuracy, significantly fewer weapons are needed, not an equal or greater number. Such would be a potentially effective step toward still further reductions and a less threatening global environment. As non-proliferation experts have long argued—and as President Reagan and Soviet Premier Gorbachev both agreed at their 1986 Reykjavik arms control meeting—nuclear weapons are misunderstood as purely a deterrent, being instead the makers of an endangered world where such protection can seem legitimate. 

Working directly against such thinking, however, the U.S. in August 2019 officially walked away from one of the most important arms control treaties in existence. This was the Intermediate Nuclear-Forces Treaty (INF) between the U.S. and Soviet Union signed in 1987, eliminating all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 km. Destruction of these weapons was a major achievement, eliminating an entire class of nuclear weapons for the first time and marking a real improvement in security for both European and Soviet-Warsaw Pact countries……….

It is not only the U.S., therefore, that is driving the new era of nuclear insecurity. Though the Trump Administration is especially outstanding in raising the level of hostility and uncertainty, it is not alone in doing so. ……..

South Asia

India and Pakistan sit at the top of concerns about nuclear conflict. The countries have fought three major wars since partition in 1947 and have come close to others at least a dozen times. It is no exaggeration to say that mutual fear and hatred bind these nations as much as separating them. Tensions have continued to rise, especially since the deadly 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which were followed by a string of other attacks by Islamic militants, killing many hundreds of Indians and wounding thousands. Antagonism has also grown with the rise to power of the Hindu nationalist BJP party and election of its candidate, Narendra Modi, as prime minister. While Modi sought talks with Pakistan in his first term, these were derailed by the terrorist attack at Pathankot airbase in 2016 and simultaneous assault on India’s consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Confrontation intensified in 2019, when a suicide bombing in Kashmir killed at least 40 Indian security personnel and ignited a military exchange involving air strikes and a dogfight, with an Indian plane shot down and its pilot captured (later released unharmed by Pakistan).  Several months later, tens of thousands of Indian troops entered Kashmir and established what amount to martial law, placing a number of opposition political leaders under house arrest. The government of Prime Minister Modi then announced it was ending the special, semi-autonomous status of Kashmir and adjacent Jammu, revoking nearly all of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and therefore claiming the two disputed territories as part of India. This was done without any negotiation involving Pakistan, which reacted with outrage and threats of violence.


Recent study shows Pakistan has been increasing its nuclear stockpile very rapidly. This is partly due to a “domino” situation that involves China expanding its weapons capability, with India responding to this increase, thus adding a sense of urgency in Pakistan. Neither South Asian country has been forthcoming about how much fissile material it actually has, posing questions about safeguards. Pakistan is known to have  four heavy-water plutonium-producing reactors, three of which have been built since 2009. It also now has two reprocessing plants for removing plutonium from spent civilian reactor fuel.

……. India

India, meanwhile, is countering nuclear build-up on two fronts and building new plutonium production reactors for the purpose. Like Pakistan’s facilities, India’s are not under international safeguards, as the country is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. According to officials at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, as many as six new fast-breeder reactors will come online by the early 2030s, greatly increasing the country’s ability to produce weapons-grade fuel……

Though confidential, India’s long-range plans might well involve doubling its current stockpile of 130-140 warheads to create what it considers a reliable deterrent to both Chinese and Pakistani nuclear forces…………


South Asia can thus be described as a delicate imbalance with regard to nuclear threat. While a potential nuclear exchange between the U.S. and Russia continues to be a nexus of attention, India and Pakistan must be viewed as being in a far greater state of tension and risk………

Today is a new era of political conflict, arms races, and growing tension around the globe. It is an era in which defense officials speak in terms of “usability” and “escalate to deescalate” with respect to nuclear weapons on the battlefield. As we know, however, modern battlefields are not in distant, isolated places. Military bases and facilities, including those with nuclear weapons, are rarely far removed or somehow shielded from populated areas. And, as studies have repeatedly shown, any exchange that involves the destruction of buildings, towns, or cities, would have massive environmental impacts for the entire globe.

A greatly weakened environment for nuclear arms control should be a concern to everyone. At a time when nation-states are becoming less cooperative with one another, more typified by both internal and external political conflicts, the possibility for miscalculation rises no small amount. While Pakistan and India are the focus of related worry at present, they are only part of a larger landscape of nuclear uncertainty whose outlines have again grown dark.

November 4, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment