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Thousands Held Arbitrarily – increasing numbers in Detention Without Trial in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia: Thousands Held Arbitrarily, Dramatic Increase in Detention Without Trial  Human Rights Watch , 6 May 18, (Beirut) – Saudi Arabia is detaining thousands of people for more than six months, in some cases for over a decade, without referring them to courts for criminal proceedings. Saudi Arabia’s attorney general should promptly charge or release all criminal defendants and stop holding people arbitrarily.

Human Rights Watch analyzed data from a public online Interior Ministry database, which revealed that authorities have detained 2,305 people who are under investigation for more than six months without referring them to a judge. The number held for excessively long periods has apparently increased dramatically in recent years. A similar Human Rights Watch analysis in May 2014 revealed that only 293 people had been held under investigation for that period.

“If Saudi authorities can hold a detainee for months on end with no charges, it’s clear that the Saudi criminal justice system remains broken and unjust, and it only seems to be getting worse,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

“It seems that MBS’s ‘Vision2030’ plan better describes the length of detentions without charge than an aspirational time horizon for reforms.”

Saudi Arabia’s use of arbitrary detention has faced increasing scrutiny since the November 4, 2017 mass arrest of 381 people on corruption allegations. The arrests raised human rights concerns and appeared to take place outside of any recognizable legal framework, with detainees forced to trade financial and business assets for their freedom.

…….Human Rights Watch analyzed the data on April 2, which was updated through March 31. Of the 5,314 people in the database, 3,380 had been held for over six months without a conviction or their “case file under judicial review,” including 2,949 for more than a year and 770 for over three years. The database indicated Saudi authorities were holding 2,305 people “under investigation” for more than six months, 1,875 for more than a year, and 251 for over three years.

Saudi authorities have held one Saudi citizen without a conviction since September 2003 and another “under investigation” since December 2006. Of the 251 held “under investigation” for over three years, 233 are Saudis.

“We’ve reverted to a Saudi version of Kafka when authorities detain citizens for over a decade without charge because they are ‘under investigation’,” Whitson said. “This effectively means that Saudi authorities can detain and jail anyone they want by claiming they are  investigating them, however endless the investigation.”………..

Extended detention without charge or trial or without an appearance before a judge is arbitrary, and violates both Saudi law and international human rights standards.

“Mohammad bin Salman’s promises to modernize and strengthen the rule of law mean very little when the authorities can lock away thousands of people for years and throw away the key,” Whitson said.  https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/05/06/saudi-arabia-thousands-held-arbitrarily

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May 28, 2018 Posted by | civil liberties, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

Yes, there are concerns, but North Korea’s dismantling of the nuclear weapons site is a positive step

N Korea’s Destroyed Nuke Site Lays Basis for Denuclearization Talks – Expert  https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201805261064829259-north-korea-site-destruction-talks-prospect/ WASHINGTON 27 May 18,  – North Korea’s dismantling of its nuclear weapons test site should be seen as a positive step towards resolving the crisis on the Korean peninsula, Institute for Science and International Security President David Albright said in a statement on Friday.

“North Korea’s action should not be trivialized but viewed as an important step to reduce tensions and lay the basis for denuclearization negotiations,” Albright said. “It is not fair to portray it as part of an effort to hide or disguise its nuclear weapons capabilities.”

North Korea’s action, he added, is even better than a freeze because it represents a permanent disabling of the site. Three minutes of film footage taken by a journalist makes it clear that major buildings and tunnel entrances were destroyed, according to Albright.

But like many disabling steps, North Korea could likely resume nuclear weapons tests within a few months by digging tunnels in nearby mountains, Albright said. Moreover, the action does not affect North Korea’s existing stockpile of nuclear bombs and its ability to make additional weapons, even if the lack of a test facility could inhibit the nation’s ability to field reliable and deliverable warheads, according to the release.

On Friday, Trump signaled that the meeting with Kim may actually go forward after the US president received a “warm” letter from Pyongyang. In comments published by North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA, Kim said on Friday that he wanted the United States to know Pyongyang wants to sit down at “any time” to solve problems with Washington.

Before founding the institute, Albright worked with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1992 to 1997 and was the first non-governmental inspector of the Iraqi nuclear program. He was also a Senior Staff Scientist at the Federation of American Scientists.

May 28, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

It’s dangerous that Donald Trump does not understand that nuclear negotiations are not like Reality TV

White House–watchers feared a move toward the “preventive war” National Security Adviser John Bolton is on the record favoring. And war on the peninsula, with a predicted 300,000 Korean casualties in the opening days alone, even if nuclear weapons were not used — plus the deaths of American soldiers, plus the prospect of a nuclear launch — is decidedly real life, not a movie. 

What Happens When You Treat Nuclear Diplomacy Like a Reality-TV Show http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/05/trump-nuclear-diplomacy-is-like-a-reality-tv-show.html   Recently, a reader asked why my columns often compare Trump administration moves to TV shows. The reason is simple — Trump’s actions often seem inexplicable or counterproductive if viewed through a traditional national security lens. Seeing them as moves to promote a media narrative often makes them easier to understand — and offers a way to predict what comes next. Trump’s reality-TV approach to foreign and domestic policy has served him well — getting him elected and keeping his base closely enough bound to him that members of his own party do little to challenge him. Continue reading

May 28, 2018 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Senator Ed Markey points out the absurdity of John Bolton’s suggesting the “Libya model” for negotiating with North Korea

The $100 billion dollar man Senator Ed Markey wants to slash nuclear weapons spending and get the US back to the negotiating table with North Korea By Linda Pentz Gunter

May 28, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

28 May – deadline day for Hitachi over whether or not to proceed with UK Horizon nuclear power plant

Deadline day for Japan’s Hitachi over Wales £15bn Horizon nuclear plant  Sunday Times, 27 May 18   The fate of a £15bn-plus nuclear power station is set to be decided this week — and with it the future of Britain’s atomic renaissance.

The Japanese industrial giant Hitachi is due to decide tomorrow whether to proceed with Horizon, a twin-reactor plant on Anglesey, north Wales.

Hitachi’s decision has huge implications for industrial collaboration between Britain and Japan and the country’s nuclear power industry. The project hinges on winning financial support from Westminster.

This weekend, ministers are expected to set out their offer to Hitachi in a letter ahead of the crucial meeting. The proposal is expected to include UK taxpayers taking a direct stake in the plant, alongside Hitachi and the Japanese state, as well as guaranteeing loans.

In return, Westminster wants Hitachi…(subscribers only) https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/deadline-day-for-japans-hitachi-over-wales-15bn-horizon-nuclear-plant-mdxhnj9x8

May 28, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

International governments now realising that waves of climate refugees will be happening

The Coming Wave of Climate Displacement https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/climate-change-global-compacts-migration-refugees-by-kumi-naidoo-2018-05, 

Not since 1951 has the international community produced a treaty to protect the legal status of the world’s refugees. Now, two agreements are currently under discussion at the United Nations, and each offers a rare opportunity to protect global migrants from the biggest source of displacement today.

JOHANNESBURG – Governments around the world are engaged in a series of talks that could fundamentally alter how the movement of people across borders is managed. One dialogue is focused on the protection of refugees; the other on migration.

These discussions, which are being led by the United Nations, will not re sult in legally binding agreements. But the talks themselves are a rare chance to forge consensus on contemporary migration challenges. And, most importantly, they will offer the international community an opportunity to plan for the impact of climate change, which will soon become a key driver of global displacement and migration

At last count, there were some 258 million migrants worldwide, with 22.5 million people registered as refugees by the UN Refugee Agency. These numbers will be dwarfed if even the most modest climate-related predictions are borne out. According to the International Organization for Migration, climate change could displace as many as one billion people by 2050. And yet no international treaty covers climate-induced migration – a gap that must be addressed now.

Not since 1951 have international standards for refugee protection received so much attention. That year, with more than 80 million people displaced after World War II, UN member countries ratified a comprehensive framework to standardize their treatment of refugees. The Global Compact on Refugees that is currently under discussion builds on this framework with strategies to empower refugees and assist host governments. Most significantly, it would commit signatories to protecting “those displaced by natural disasters and climate change.”

The second agreement is even more consequential for the management of climate-induced displacement. There has never been a global treaty governing migration, and past bilateral efforts have focused almost exclusively on violence and conflict as root causes of displacement. The proposed Global Compact for Migration goes beyond these factors, and notes that climate change is among the “adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin.”

This type of regulatory language reaffirms what at-risk populations around the world already know: droughts, natural disasters, desertification, crop failure, and many other environmental changes are upending livelihoods and rendering entire communities uninhabitable. In my country, South Africa, a record drought is forcing major cities to consider water rationing. If water shortages persist, migration is certain to follow.

Resource scarcity is particularly dangerous in politically unstable states, where climate change has already been linked to violent conflict and communal upheaval. For example, disputes over fertile land and fresh water fueled the war in Darfur, and even the current crisis in Syria – one of the greatest sources of human displacement today – began after successive droughtspushed Syrians from rural areas into cities. It is not a stretch to predict that climate change will produce more bloodshed in the coming years.

The two UN frameworks could serve as a basis for planning how to manage the coming climate-induced migrations. With scientific modeling to guide decision-making, states could draft orderly, dignified, and equitable relocation strategies. This is certainly a smarter approach than the ad hoc responses to date.

But history tells us that governments are reluctant to seek out collective solutions to forced migration. This failure is visible today in the haunting and inexcusable plight of refugees around the world.

As we enter the final months of the Compact talks, what should we expect of those negotiating the global plan for managing unprecedented movements of people? The causes and consequences of climate change demand close attention. Displaced people must be able to get on with their lives in dignity. The test of world leaders will be whether the global compacts on refugees and migrants can achieve this.

May 28, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Workers at Waste Isolation Pilot project evacuated due to a container problem

Container problem spurs evacuation at nuclear waste site http://www.kristv.com/story/38282972/container-problem-spurs-evacuation-at-nuclear-waste-site
May 26, 2018 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Workers had to evacuate the U.S. government’s only underground nuclear waste repository after finding a container of waste misaligned inside its packaging, but officials confirmed Friday that no radiation was released.

    It marked another problem for the New Mexico facility where a drum of radioactive waste leaked in 2014 and shut down operations for nearly three years. The leak highlighted safety concerns and resulted in a costly recovery and sweeping changes in the way low-level nuclear waste destined for the dump is treated and handled.

In the latest incident, the contractor that runs the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant activated its emergency operations center after discovering the misaligned container Thursday night. Officials later determined conditions were stable and deactivated emergency operations.

Donavan Mager, a spokesman with Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC, said Friday that officials are investigating how the problem occurred.

In disposing the waste, seven 55-gallon drums are wrapped together in a tight formation to go deep inside the ancient salt formation where the repository is located. The idea is that the shifting salt will eventually entomb the waste.

Workers found one drum wasn’t aligned with the six others that made up the waste package. Work was immediately halted.

Procedures call for officials to develop a plan to re-enter the underground portion of the repository to deal with the pack of drums. It was not immediately known how long that would take.

“The plan is developed with extreme conservatism to ensure workers are protected,” Mager said.

Shipments to the repository resumed in 2017 following the lengthy closure stemming from the container of waste that was improperly treated at Los Alamos National Laboratory, also in New Mexico.

The repository has been receiving several shipments a week of waste that includes gloves, clothing, tools and other debris contaminated by plutonium and other radioactive elements. The Cold War-era waste was generated over years of bomb-making and nuclear weapons research.

The shipments are coming from Los Alamos lab and installations in Idaho, Tennessee, South Carolina and Texas.

May 28, 2018 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

South Carolina suing the USA govt over closure of MOX fuel reprocessing program

South Carolina sues federal government over end of nuclear fuel program  http://www.wrdw.com/content/news/South-Carolina-sues-federal-government-over-end-of-nuclear-fuel-program-483786421.html May 26, 2018 AIKEN, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina is suing the federal government after the Energy Department announced it was stopping construction of a plant to turn plutonium used in nuclear weapons into fuel for nuclear reactors.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s lawsuit filed Friday says Energy Secretary Rick Perry didn’t consult Governor Henry McMaster before ending construction at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

The lawsuit also says the Energy Department didn’t perform an analysis of how to store the plutonium already at SRS.

Instead of creating mixed oxide fuel, or MOX, the National Nuclear Security Administration suggests SRS make new plutonium pits for nuclear weapons.

Wilson called the decision to end MOX another chapter in the long, tortured history of broken promises by the federal government.
The Energy Department didn’t immediately respond.

May 28, 2018 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Grand Canyon – too important, too majestic, to be ruined by uranium mining

Renewed uranium mining is an unconscionable threat to the Grand Canyon   Chicago Sun Times, Thomas Frisbie, 05/26/2018,  @thomasfrisbie | email

The spectacular and majestic Grand Canyon, eons in the making, needs our help. Some Republican members of Congress want President Donald Trump to overturn a ban on new uranium mining nearby, along with other conservation measures. We need to urge Congress to protect this national jewel.

Some six million people arrive each year to view the vast, multi-hued and intricate canyon, though most don’t venture far from the rim. For them, it’s an inspiring and breath-taking sight. But hardy trekkers who explore remote trails might see something else: signs warning them they are entering an area of the canyon tainted by radioactivity spewed years ago from uranium mines. National Geographic reports uranium leaching from old mines has rendered 15 springs and five wells inside the canyon unsafe to drink. We don’t need more of that.

Uranium pollution is no way to treat an immense and ancient panorama of stunningly varied rock that has been called one of the seven wonders of the natural world. Recently, I had an opportunity to backpack with intrepid family members from the rim to the bottom and camp along Bright Angel Creek, near where it flows into the Colorado River. The ever-changing vista along the rocky trails was magnificent. Unafraid mule deer browsed just a few feet from us. A rare condor flew overhead. Bold rock squirrels waited for a chance to gnaw and rummage through any backpacks absent-mindedly left on the ground.

….. We now have a president who last year ordered federal agencies to review anything that could interfere with domestic energy production. In response, the Forest Service in November recommended reopening land near the Grand Canyon for uranium mining. In March, groups representing the mining industry asked the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the ban on new uranium mining on public land bordering the Grand Canyon National Park.

Uranium mining is extremely risky for the environment. Mining releases radioactive dust into the air and contaminates the land and water with radioactive and toxic substances.

“Uranium mining has left a toxic trail across the West — including at the Grand
Canyon itself,” the environmental group Environment America wrote in its April report update, “Grand Canyon at Risk: Uranium Mining Threatens a National Treasure.”

The waste rock and dirt left behind can remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years and also contain toxic chemicals such as arsenic that can contaminate the surrounding environment and make the mines themselves permanently hazardous, the report says.

Steve Blackledge, Environment America’s conservation program director, says, “Some places are too majestic, too important to ruin. At a time of energy abundance and the remarkable growth of clean renewables, messing with the Grand Canyon to turn on a few more light bulbs is beyond absurd.”……https://chicago.suntimes.com/working/renewed-uranium-mining-is-an-unconscionable-threat-to-the-grand-canyon/

May 28, 2018 Posted by | environment, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

China’s nuclear weapons – many less than USA’s and Russia’s

China’s Nuclear Weapons: Everything You Always Wanted to Know National Interest,    Steve Weintz, 25 May 18, 

With its first nuclear test on October 16, 1964, China joined the other victorious allies of World War II in the nuclear club, both cementing and unsettling the postwar order. Hard experience of the American nuclear threat during the Korean War and the divorce from the Soviet Union, propelled China towards the bomb in ways familiar to those observing North Korea’s current quest. Mao Zedong himself said in 1956, “…if we don’t want to be bullied, we have to have this thing.”

But China for all its size has made itself a limited nuclear power. It has demonstrated its ability to build very big bombs but chose to test and make few of them. The size of China’s arsenal is a highly guarded state secret, but estimates put it in the several hundreds, not thousands. Beijing can hold armies and cities at risk, but not make the rubble bounce several times over…………

One H-bomb test nearly went horribly wrong. When test pilot Yang Guoxiang lined up his Q-5A fighter-bomber for its drop maneuver and pulled the weapon release, the bomb failed to drop. After three attempts Yang returned to base with a live hydrogen bomb slung beneath his plane. The whole airbase – all 10,000 crew – sheltered in underground tunnels while a lonely Yang carefully climbed out of his cockpit and awaited assistance. All ended well this time and Yang later successfully carried out his mission.

China’s last big blast, a one-megaton warhead test in October 1980, ended the era of atmospheric testing. No nuclear-weapons state has tested above ground since. But nuclear testing never ends, really, not when they were conducted not far from populated areas. As with natives to the Pacific atolls and Russian steppes, the Gobi Desert and its peoples will bear the long-term impact of radiation from those nuclear tests for a long time.  http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/chinas-nuclear-weapons-everything-you-always-wanted-know-25980

 

May 28, 2018 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Drug use among security troops on U.S. Nuclear Missile Base

Security Troops on US Nuclear Missile Base Took LSD Reader Supported News, By Robert Burns, Associated Press, 25 May 18  ne airman said he felt paranoia. Another marveled at the vibrant colors. A third admitted, “I absolutely just loved altering my mind.”

Meet service members entrusted with guarding nuclear missiles that are among the most powerful in America’s arsenal. Air Force records obtained by The Associated Press show they bought, distributed and used the hallucinogen LSD and other mind-altering illegal drugs as part of a ring that operated undetected for months on a highly secure military base in Wyoming. After investigators closed in, one airman deserted to Mexico.

“Although this sounds like something from a movie, it isn’t,” said Capt. Charles Grimsley, the lead prosecutor of one of several courts martial.

A slipup on social media by one airman enabled investigators to crack the drug ring at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in March 2016, details of which are reported here for the first time. Fourteen airmen were disciplined. Six of them were convicted in courts martial of LSD use or distribution or both.

None of the airmen was accused of using drugs on duty. Yet it’s another blow to the reputation of the Air Force’s nuclear missile corps, which is capable of unleashing hell in the form of Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs. The corps has struggled at times with misbehavior, mismanagement and low morale.

Although seen by some as a backwater of the U.S. military, the missile force has returned to the spotlight as President Donald Trump has called for strengthening U.S. nuclear firepower and exchanged threats last year with North Korea. The administration’s nuclear strategy calls for hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending in coming decades.

The service members accused of involvement in the LSD ring were from the 90th Missile Wing, which operates one-third of the 400 Minuteman 3 missiles that stand “on alert” 24/7 in underground silos scattered across the northern Great Plains.

Documents obtained by the AP over the past two years through the Freedom of Information Act tell a sordid tale of off-duty use of LSD, cocaine and other drugs in 2015 and 2016 by airmen who were supposed to be held to strict behavioral standards because of their role in securing the weapons.

“It’s another black eye for the Air Force — for the ICBM force in particular,” says Stephen Schwartz, an independent consultant and nuclear expert.

In response to AP inquiries, an Air Force spokesman, Lt. Col. Uriah L. Orland, said the drug activity took place during off-duty hours. “There are multiple checks to ensure airmen who report for duty are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and are able to execute the mission safely, securely and effectively,” he said.

Airman 1st Class Tommy N. Ashworth was among those who used LSD supplied by colleagues with connections to civilian drug dealers.

“I felt paranoia, panic” for hours after taking a hit of acid, Ashworth said under oath at his court martial. He confessed to using LSD three times while off duty. The first time, in the summer of 2015, shook him up. “I didn’t know if I was going to die that night or not,” he said as a witness at another airman’s drug trial. Recalling another episode with LSD, he said it felt “almost as if I was going to have like a heart attack or a heat stroke.”

Airman Basic Kyle S. Morrison acknowledged at his court martial that under the influence of LSD he could not have responded if recalled to duty in a nuclear security emergency.

In prosecuting the cases at F.E. Warren, the Air Force asserted that LSD users can experience “profound effects” from even small amounts. It said common psychological effects include “paranoia, fear and panic, unwanted and overwhelming feelings, unwanted life-changing spiritual experiences, and flashbacks.”

It’s unclear how long before being on duty any of the airmen had taken LSD, which stands for lysergic acid diethylamide. The drug became popularized as “acid” in the 1960s, and views since then have been widely split on its mental health risks. Although illegal in the U.S., it had been showing up so infrequently in drug tests across the military that in December 2006 the Pentagon eliminated LSD screening from standard drug-testing procedures. An internal Pentagon memo at the time said that over the previous three years only four positive specimens had been identified in 2.1 million specimens screened for LSD.

Yet Air Force investigators found those implicated in the F.E. Warren drug ring used LSD on base and off, at least twice at outdoor gatherings. Some also snorted cocaine and used ecstasy. Civilians joined them in the LSD use, including some who had recently left Air Force service, according to two officials with knowledge of the investigation. The Air Force declined to discuss this.

Airman 1st Class Nickolos A. Harris, said to be the leader of the drug ring, testified that he had no trouble getting LSD and other drugs from civilian sources. He pleaded guilty to using and distributing LSD and using ecstasy, cocaine and marijuana.

He acknowledged using LSD eight times and distributing LSD multiple times to fellow airmen at parties in Denver and other locations from spring 2015 to early 2016.

……. In all, disciplinary action was taken against 14 airmen. In addition, two accused airmen were acquitted at courts martial, and three other suspects were not charged. https://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/50275-security-troops-on-us-nuclear-missile-base-took-lsd

May 28, 2018 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment

End the silence on nuclear weapons, and the targeted plans for nuclear megadeaths in the Middles East

Netanyahu, How Many People Will Die in a Nuclear War in the Middle East? https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-bibi-how-many-people-will-die-in-a-nuclear-war-in-the-middle-east-1.6118136  Ehud Ein-Gil 

In the early 60s, the U.S. estimated that the number of victims in a nuclear war against the Soviet Union and China would total some 600 million. Twenty years ago, ‘Doomsday Machine’ author Daniel Ellsberg posed a similar question about the Mideast, 

May 28, 2018 Posted by | Israel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The double standard over Israel’s nuclear weapons

ISRAEL AND DENUCLEARIZATION: NECESSARY PARADOX OR HYPOCRISY IN ACTION? Jerusalem Post,  While Israel maintains nuclear ambiguity, the Jewish state is believed to possess up to 200 atomic weapons.
BY BENJI FLACKS/THE MEDIA LINE MAY 26, 2018   

Although Israel maintains a policy of ambiguity regarding its possession of nuclear weapons, the Jewish state is known to have a sizeable atomic arsenal. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, established with the help of France a covert nuclear program in the 1950s to combat against what was widely viewed as an existential military threat posed by Arab neighbors. Ever since, information has from time-to-time been leaked regarding the size and potency of Israel’s atomic capabilities, although no independent body has confirmed specific figures.Against this backdrop, the United States—which has the world’s second-largest nuclear stockpile after Russia—is actively promoting global non-proliferation. To this end, President Donald Trump is slated to hold a summit with North Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un to discuss the Peninsula’s denuclearization; and the US leader recently withdrew Washington from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear accord), which, in his estimation, would not have prevented Tehran’s acquisition of the bomb over the long-term.

For many, a clear dichotomy—if not double-standard—emerges when these policies are juxtaposed against the world’s hush-hush approach to—if not tacit approval of—Israel’s nuclear arms program.

According to Shannon Kile, head of the Nuclear Weapons Project at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Israel exists in a sort of legal limbo given that it is not a party to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which codified into international law regulations governing nuclear development. By contrast, he explained to The Media Line, “the United States has the moral and legal right to pressure North Korea and Iran [in ways that are] set out in the binding treaty.

“The NPT legally recognized legitimate nuclear nations and in the treaty, North Korea and Iran were barred from making nuclear weapons,” Kile elaborated, while qualifying that Pyongyang did pull-out of the NPT in 2003, blaming its decision on “U.S. aggression.”

Nevertheless, Kile noted, there is “a long-running international dispute over [Israel’s] nuclear program. NPT countries, particularly Egypt, have argued for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East that would include Israel. This notion,” he continued, “was a key pillar in the extension of the treaty in 1995. But not all countries seem willing to force Israel to sign up.”
More broadly, Kile believes that there “needs to be a commitment for all nuclear states to fulfill their obligation to denuclearize, as this would bolster the norm against atomic weapons. All NTP signatories have committed to abolishing their nuclear arms yet we see no real progress on that, even in the United States.” …….
https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israel-and-denuclearization-Necessary-paradox-or-hypocrisy-in-action-558401

 

May 28, 2018 Posted by | Israel, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UN chief launches new disarmament agenda ‘to secure our world and our future’

 https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/05/1010551  The United Nations chief announced a bold new vision for global disarmament on Thursday, to help eliminate nuclear arsenals and other deadly weapons from a world that is just “one mechanical, electronic and human error away” from destruction.

“The United Nations was created with the goal of eliminating war as an instrument of foreign policy,” Secretary-General António Guterres said, unveiling his new agenda, entitled, Securing Our Common Future, at the University of Geneva, in Switzerland.

“But seven decades on, our world is as dangerous as it has ever been,” he warned.

“Disarmament prevents and ends violence. Disarmament supports sustainable development. And disarmament is true to our values and principles,” he explained.

The launch comes at a time when “arms control has been in the news every day, sometimes in relation to Iran and Syria, sometimes the Korean Peninsula,” said the UN chief.

The new Agenda focuses on three priorities – weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons, and new battlefield technologies.

First, he stressed that disarmament of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons could “save humanity,” noting that some 15,000 nuclear weapons remain stockpiled around the world and hundreds are ready to be launched within minutes.

“We are one mechanical, electronic or human error away from a catastrophe that could eradicate entire cities from the map,” he warned.

Mr. Guterres said the States that possess nuclear weapons have the primary responsibility for avoiding catastrophe. In that regard, he appealed to Russia and the US to resolve their dispute over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty; to extend the New START treaty on strategic offensive arms, which is due to expire in just three years; and to take new steps towards reducing nuclear stockpiles.

Disarmament prevents and ends violence. Disarmament supports sustainable development. And disarmament is true to our values and principles – UN chief Guterres

Second, he said disarmament of conventional weapons, which include small arms, light weapons and landmines,  could “save lives,” in particular those of civilians who continue to bear the brunt of armed conflict.

The UN chief said that beyond the appalling numbers of civilians killed and injured, conflicts are driving record numbers of people from their homes, often depriving them of food, healthcare, education and any means of making a living.

At the end of 2016, more than 65 million people were uprooted by war, violence and persecution, he said.

“My initiative will have a strong basis in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the world’s blueprint for peace and prosperity on a healthy planet,” he said, noting that excessive spending on weapons drains resources for sustainable development.

In fact, more than $1.7 trillion dollars was spent last year on arms and armies – the highest level since the fall of the Berlin Wall. That is around 80 times the amount needed to meet the humanitarian aid needs of the whole world, he said.

Third, he said that new technologies, when used maliciously, could help start a new arms race, endangering future generations.

“The combined risks of new weapon technologies could have a game-changing impact on our future security,” he said.

Disarmament – including arms control, non-proliferation, prohibitions, restrictions, confidence-building and, where needed, elimination – is “an essential tool to secure our world and our future,” said the UN chief.

“The paradox is that,” he added, “when each country pursues its own security without regard for others, we create global insecurity that threatens us all.”

New impetus needed to achieve a safer and more secure world

The cover of the Agenda, a 73-page document, depicts Orizuru, an origami paper crane. Its significance is that Japanese legend has it that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes, will have their wish granted by the gods.

In her hospital bed, Sadako Sasaki – a survivor of the atomic bomb explosion at Hiroshima in 1945 – folded more than a thousand paper cranes, praying that she would recover from the deadly leukaemia caused by the blast.

She died at the age of 12, but her story spread around the world and origami cranes have since become symbols of peace.

In the final paragraph of the Agenda, Mr. Guterres quotes the late Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, saying “in this field, as we well know, a standstill does not exist; if you do not go forward, you do go backward”.

The Agenda concludes with an appeal to all “to use every opportunity to carry forward momentum for disarmament where it exists, and to generate new impetus where it is needed, in order to achieve a safer and more secure world for all.”

May 28, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

MS Tûranor PlanetSolar – huge solar-powered ship

Business Insider 26th May 2018, This huge seacraft is developed by Swiss company PlanetSolar, who wanted to
create a vessel which was environmentally friendly and produced
zero-emissions. Developed in 2010, the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar is the
largest solar-powered boat ever built. Its 500 solar panels can provide 120
kilowatts of energy, allowing the ship to travel around 5 knots.
http://uk.businessinsider.com/this-huge-seacraft-is-entirely-powered-by-solar-energy-planet-solar-2018-5

May 28, 2018 Posted by | renewable, Switzerland | Leave a comment