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Putin And Trump are ‘normalising’the increasing numbers, and the use, of nuclear weapons

The more that Putin and Trump revalidate the role of nuclear weapons in strengthening national security, the more they normalise the discourse of nuclear weapons use and embolden calls for nuclear weapon acquisition in other countries. 

A nuclear world in disarray   https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/a-nuclear-world-in-disarray/ 7 Aug 2019, Ramesh Thakur  We are in a uniquely dangerous period in the atomic age. Geopolitical tensions have spiked in Europe, in the Middle East, on the subcontinent and in East Asia. The nuclear arms control architecture is fraying and crumbling, but no negotiations are underway to reduce global nuclear stockpiles.

A hostile international security environment, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the emergence of new space, cyber and AI technologies have increased the risk of accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons. The growing strategic risks and uncertainty in turn fuel the vicious cycle of renewed interest among US allies in a nuclear deterrent as a hedge against receding US primacy and reliability.

At the conclusion of a United Nations conference on 7 July 2017, 122 states parties of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty adopted a new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. All nine countries that possess the bomb (China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the UK and the US) boycotted the conference and rejected the treaty. They have done their very best since then to invalidate the concerns behind the drive to adopt it.

The 2018 US nuclear posture review will guide the Trump administration’s nuclear decision-making, modernisation, targeting and signalling. With an expansive vision of the role of nuclear weapons, its threefold effect is to enlarge the US nuclear arsenal, lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, and broaden the contingencies in which the threat of nuclear weapons can be wielded as a tool of diplomatic coercion.

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal established a robust dismantlement, transparency, inspections and consequences regime. Last year, President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement and reimposed sanctions on Iran, despite its still being in compliance with its obligations. That put Washington in breach of the multilaterally negotiated and UN-endorsed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Trump’s decision will have reconfirmed North Korea’s belief that the one thing standing between its security and a US attack is the bomb. It has also caused the recent surge in tensions in the Persian Gulf.

On 1 February, Trump decided to suspend US participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces  Treaty—an arms control agreement with Russia that contributed to the end of the Cold War and underpinned European strategic stability for three decades. It lapsed on 2 August. Trump has also rebuffed Russian overtures to discuss a five-year extension of New START beyond 2021. His second summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in Februarycollapsed without agreement and Pyongyang now seems to be expanding its nuclear arsenal. Still, at least the US and North Korea are engaged in high-level and working-level discussions and the fear of an imminent war has faded.

The altered US nuclear posture will have cascading effects on the arsenals, doctrines and deployments of other nuclear-armed states. On 1 March 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted of a new array of invincible nuclear weapons that can penetrate any defences anywhere in the world. He noted the US had not heeded Russian warnings when it pulled outof the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty in 2002. ‘You didn’t listen to our country then. Listen to us now’, he said. Putin’s language was reminiscent of the Cold War.

After the US–Russian suspensions of the INF Treaty, Putin warned that Russia could place hypersonic nuclear weapons on submarines deployed near US waters to match the time in which US missiles based in Europe could strike Russia. He also warned of a radioactive tsunami that could be triggered in densely populated coastal areas by a new nuclear-powered underwater drone dubbed ‘Poseidon’.

The more that Putin and Trump revalidate the role of nuclear weapons in strengthening national security, the more they normalise the discourse of nuclear weapons use and embolden calls for nuclear weapon acquisition in other countries. In Australia, this debate has been restarted most recently by Hugh White.

Meanwhile, the official newspaper of the People’s Liberation Army has called for China to strengthen its nuclear deterrence and counterstrike capabilities to match the US’s and Russia’s developing nuclear strategies. China is upgrading its relatively small nuclear arsenal. It rejected Germany’s request to save the INF Treaty by agreeing to trilateralise it, emphasising that its warheads in the low hundreds cannot be compared with US and Russian arsenals in the several thousands.

India and Pakistan are enlarging, modernising and upgrading stockpiles, while investing in battlefield tactical nuclear weapons and systems to counter them. The INF Treaty was the first disarmament agreement of the nuclear age. In an unwelcome symmetry, on 26 February we witnessed the first airstrikes by one nuclear-armed state against another, and the two engaged in a deadly dogfight above the skies of Kashmir the next day. Another India–Pakistan war is a question of when, not if.

The US, described by former Canadian disarmament ambassador Paul Meyer as ‘the high priest of nuclear orthodoxy’, has left its allies looking rather foolish. Washington had led them in dismissing the nuclear weapon ban treaty as impracticable virtue-signalling, instead extolling the decades-long efforts at step-by-step measures to advance the cause of nuclear disarmament that had seen global stockpiles plummet by over two-thirds from their Cold War peak.

When unkind critics noted that the only steps that were visible were leading backwards, Washington responded by launching a new initiative on ‘creating the conditions for nuclear disarmament’. Lest some conditions be specified and met, however, Washington suddenly embraced the more nebulous and inherently subjective language of ‘creating an environment for nuclear disarmament’.

During the Cold War, Soviet citizens who kept to the straight path as the communist party veered sharply to the left or right were denounced as ‘deviationists’. For decades, US allies have been singing from the same hymn book, joining it in the insistence that the step-by-step, progressive approach was the only realistic path to nuclear disarmament. Instead of embracing the new orthodoxy from their fallible high priest, they should do a hard-nosed analysis of the merits of the changing risk–reward calculus of integrating more deeply with the nuclear alliance structure or joining the majority of countries in trying to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

August 8, 2019 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hiroshima Day – a time to review America’s “presidential first use” nuclear weapons policy

Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and no first use   https://thebulletin.org/2019/08/hiroshima-nagasaki-and-no-first-use/  By Elaine ScarryZia Mian, August 5, 2019  On August 6 and August 9, we again take time to contemplate the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The arrangements that permitted a US president to drop an atomic bomb on tens of thousands of civilians continue to be in place today.

The United States has a “presidential first use” policy which means that President Trump, acting alone, can issue the order for a nuclear strike, even if our own country is not under nuclear attack. This concern has been raised in the Democratic Party presidential primaries for the 2020 election, with some candidates arguing for a shift to a US policy of no first use of nuclear weapons. There is already legislation pending in Congress to this effect.

A conference held at Harvard in 2017, “Presidential First Use of Nuclear Weapons: Is it Legal? Is it Constitutional? Is it Just?” brought together a US congressman, a US Senator, a former missile launch officer, several constitutional law professors, a former secretary of defense, a physicist, and several philosophers to address this question as it applies to the United States, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.

Youtube videos of all their lectures can be found here.    An edited transcript of some of the talks at the conference is available here.

August 6, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

To resuscitate the nuclear industry, USA Dept of Energy promotes yet another gimmick The Versatile Test Reactor

Energy Department wants to build nuclear test “fast” reactor,  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A new nuclear test reactor is needed as part of an effort to revamp the nation’s fading nuclear power industry by developing safer fuel and power plants, the U.S. Department of Energy said Monday.

The federal agency said it will prepare an environmental impact statement as part of the process to build the test reactor in Idaho or Tennessee by the end of 2025. Public comments on the environmental review are being taken through Sept. 4.

The Versatile Test Reactor would be the first new test reactor built in the U.S. in decades and give the nation a dedicated “fast-neutron-spectrum” testing capability. Such reactors are called fast reactors. ……

The Energy Department had a fast reactor, the Experimental Breeder Reactor II, operating in eastern Idaho until it was shut down in 1994 as the nation turned away from nuclear power.

Edwin Lyman, senior scientist and acting director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit, said fast reactors such as the proposed Versatile Test Reactor are less safe than current reactors.

Most nuclear reactors in use now are “light-water” reactors fueled by uranium and cooled with water. Lyman said the test reactor will be cooled with harder to control liquid sodium and likely fueled by plutonium, increasing potential nuclear terrorism risks because plutonium can be used to make nuclear weapons.

“There is nothing good about these reactors,” he said. “I think there is a love of plutonium in the (Energy) Department that is irrational.”…….

Reducing spent nuclear fuel, federal officials say, is also an objective of the new test reactor. The U.S. has no permanent repository for about 77,000 tons (70,000 metric tons) of radioactive spent fuel, stored mainly at the commercial nuclear power plants where they were used to produce electricity.

But Lyman said fast reactors would produce waste even more hazardous and difficult to dispose…….

The Energy Department is considering building the test reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho or the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in eastern Tennessee. …….. https://apnews.com/64194c2125ad4dc6add67d412e9024c5

August 6, 2019 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

Senator Elizabeth Warren causes a stir with her proposal for a “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons

Warren’s pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback, The Hill

Republicans slammed the proposal as sending a dangerous signal to both allies and enemies about a lack of U.S. resolve — previewing a potential attack line from President Trump should the two face off in the general election.

Some Democrats do back the idea. But others say a “no first use” policy like the one Warren proposed is too simplistic for a complex world……

The United States has long reserved the right to be the first country to launch a nuclear weapon in a conflict.

Former President Obama reportedly thought of declaring a no first use policy toward the end of his tenure, but was talked out of it by advisors who argued it would worry allies and embolden adversaries.

“No first use. To reduce the chances of a miscalculation or an accident, and to maintain our moral and diplomatic leadership in the world, we must be clear that deterrence is the sole purpose of our arsenal,” she said in a November foreign policy speech.

Arms control advocates hold that declaring a no first use policy would improve U.S. national security by lowering the risk for miscalculation.

Warren made no first use a key part of her foreign policy early on in her run.

The speech was delivered before she officially jumped in the race but was considered an early sign she was running.

In January, she introduced the Senate version of a bill to make no first use official U.S. policy. The bill has six co-sponsors, including follow presidential contenders Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kirsten Gillibrand

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), a longtime no first use advocate, also introduced the bill in the lower chamber. The House version has 35 co-sponsors, including presidential candidates Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio.).

Only Warren, though, was asked to defend the policy at this week’s Democratic debates.

“We don’t expand trust around the world by saying, ‘You know, we might be the first ones to use a nuclear weapon,’” Warren said Tuesday night from the stage in Detroit.

“That puts the entire world at risk and puts us at risk, right in the middle of this,” she said.

She also noted that Trump’s policies, including pulling out of a nuclear deal with Iran, had gotten the world “closer and closer to nuclear warfare.”

“We have to have an announced policy that is one the entire world can live with,” she concluded……..

n response to criticism of the policy, Warren’s campaign sent The Hill seven tweets and articles from nonproliferation advocates in support of Warren. The support included former Defense Secretary William Perry, who tweeted that “our nuclear arsenal is intended to deter a nuclear attack, not to initiate a nuclear war.”

Warren campaign spokeswoman Saloni Sharma added that “our bill sends a clear signal to the world that deterrence is the sole purpose of our arsenal.” https://thehill.com/policy/defense/456006-warrens-pledge-to-avoid-first-nuclear-strike-sparks-intense-pushback

August 5, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

NuScale’s Small Modular Nuclear power is too risky

NuScale nuclear power is too risky,  [artist’s model above]  https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/letters/2019/08/04/letter-nuscale-nuclear/    By Robert Goodman | The Public Forum, 4 Aug 19, NuScale’s nuclear power project is too much of a financial and environmental risk when there are cleaner energy alternatives.

Not only will NuScale’s virtually untested nuclear technology be an estimated 40% more costly than renewable energy portfolios, the project in Idaho Falls, Idaho, will also likely go exceedingly over budget.

Many recent nuclear projects nationwide have resulted in extreme cost overruns and project cancellations, the burden of which has often fallen on ratepayers. For instance, ratepayers in South Carolina will end up owing more than $6,000, to be paid in monthly installments for the next four decades for a failed nuclear power plant. And just this year, the Department of Energy gave $3.7 billion in taxpayer money to the ailing Southern Co.’s nuclear power project near Waynesboro, Ga.

Yes, UAMPS has promised a rate cap in order to protect ratepayers. But if the new, first-of-a-kind project goes over budget, will that rate cap stay? Will NuScale Power, an Oregon-based LLC, step up and pay the extra expense?

City officials in UAMPS districts should look beyond NuScale Power’s promotional presentations and consider economically competitive, safer and more sustainable energy portfolios through a more transparent, independent and robust procurement process.

August 5, 2019 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | 3 Comments

Bernie Sanders supports Elizabeth Warren’s ‘no first use’ nuclear policy 

Sanders backs Warren after Liz Cheney attacks ‘no first use’ nuclear policy   https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/aug/03/bernie-sanders-elizabeth-warren-liz-cheney-nuclear-no-first-use  

Sanders rejects ‘national security advice from a Cheney’
Congresswoman is daughter of Iraq war architect Dick Cheney  
Lois Beckett @loisbeckett 4 Aug 2019  Bernie Sanders has defended his rival for the Democratic presidential 2020 nomination, Elizabeth Warren, after her policy against pre-emptive use of America’s nuclear weapons was attacked by the daughter of one of the architects of the Iraq war.

Warren reiterated her support for a “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons during the second round of Democratic presidential debates this week.

“It makes the world safer,” the Massachusetts senator said during the debate. “The United States is not going to use nuclear weapons pre-emptively, and we need to say so to the entire world.”

Liz Cheney, a Republican congresswoman from Wyoming, attacked Warren’s policy on Twitter, asking “which American cities and how many American citizens are you willing to sacrifice with your policy of forcing the US to absorb a nuclear attack before we can strike back?”

Cheney is the daughter of former vice-president Dick Cheney, a key advocate of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States and its allies.

The Bush administration’s primary justification for the pre-emptive war, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that his regime presented an escalating threat, was discredited after the invasion.

The war in Iraq, now in its 16th year, has resulted in an estimated 200,000 documented civilian deaths from violence, according to Iraq Body Count, although estimates vary widely, particularly estimates that factor in hundreds of thousands of additional war-related civilian deaths. More than 4,000 members of the US military have been killed.

“Taking national security advice from a Cheney has already caused irreparable damage to our country,” Sanders wrote on Friday, in response to Cheney’s attack on Warren.

The Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was 13 years old when the Iraq war began in 2003, also responded to Cheney’s attack on Warren, criticizing Cheney for offering hawkish foreign policy advice “as if an entire generation hasn’t lived through the Cheneys sending us into war since we were kids”.

August 5, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Significant disappearance of files about Rocky Flats former nuclear weapons plutonium site

U.S. Nuclear Arms Plant Files Reported Missing,more https://www.ecowatch.com/nuclear-arms-plant-files-missing-2639561239.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1 Jul. 31, 2019,

The U.S. Department of Justice won’t turn over 60 boxes of files about a nuclear arms plant in Colorado because it says it can’t find the files. The missing documents were presented to a grand jury during a two-year criminal investigation that looked into environmental crimes committed at Rocky Flats, which produced plutonium triggers for the nation’s nuclear arsenal throughout the Cold War, as the Denver Post reported.

The nuclear plant, just outside of Denver, operated from 1952 to 1989 when it shut down amid the grand jury investigation. While running, it had a history of fires, leaks and spills. Files about the plant, however, have remained a state secret since the grand jury investigation concluded in 1992.

The site was cleaned and opened up last year as a national wildlife refuge. But a coalition of environmental activists, former nuclear workers, nearby residents and public health advocates filed a motion in federal court asking that the files be made public, as the Associated Press reported.

“This is not a quest for guilt,” Patricia Mellen, one of the group’s attorneys said, as the Associated Pressreported. “We need the information to protect the public. That’s the issue.”

The group will file a motion to ask a federal judge on Wednesday to demand that the U.S. Department of Justice find the missing documents within 30 days. They say the documents could show whether the government did enough to clean up the site before turning part of it into a wildlife refuge and opening it to hikers and bicyclists.

Last week the U.S. Attorney’s office wrote in an email that 62 to 65 boxes of documents were last confirmed in the Justice Department’s custody in 2004. He wrote that the boxes were not found in the Denver office or at the federal records center.

“… I have been attempting to reach out to former USAO staff and attorneys who touched the Rocky Flats matter over the years to see whether they have any memory of where the boxes might have ended up,” Kyle Brenton, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Denver, wrote in the email seen by The Denver Post. “That effort is ongoing, but has not yet yielded results.”

In 1992, the grand jury determined that eight individuals, including Department of Energy officials and employees from Rockwell International — the company contracted by the DOE to manage the plant — should be indicted for environmental crimes. The indictments never happened and the Justice Department struck a deal with Rockwell, fining the company $18.5 million. The settlement also covered Rockwell’s legal bills and protected Rockwell executives from further legal action, according to Westword.

Since then, the grand jury foreman ran for Congress on the platform that winning a seat in Congress would give him the legal protections to talk about the evidence he saw. A former FBI agent who led the raid on Rocky Flats has discussed the site since retiring from the FBI. He believes the wildlife refuge is far from safe, even after a $7 billion cleanup effort, as Westword reported.

n addition to concerns about the safety of the current wildlife refuge, the documents could reveal important information for former Rocky Flats employees who may have developed health problems from working there.

“These documents could help individual complainants prove their case,” said Terrie Barrie, from the Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups told The Denver Post. “I am honestly frustrated by this because they are supposed to keep this stuff.”

So far, 11,823 former Rocky Flats workers have filed claims with the U.S. Department of Labor, and 4,290 of those claims had been settled, totaling over $642 million in medical bills paid by the U.S. government, according to The Denver Post.

August 4, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | 3 Comments

US formally withdraws from nuclear treaty with Russia and prepares to test new missile

US formally withdraws from nuclear treaty with Russia and prepares to test new missile

August 3, 2019 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radiation effects on the “downwinders” and others close to nuclear weapons tests

The fallout of uncertainty in nuclear test communities   https://www.hcn.org/articles/nuclear-energy-the-fallout-of-uncertainty-in-nuclear-test-communities  

For downwinders of bomb testing, plans for compensation to redress past harms makes for tricky politics.   Aria Alamalhodaei Aug. 2, 2019,   The atomic bomb was born in the desert. In the early hours of July 16, 1945, after a spate of bad weather, a 20-kiloton plutonium-based nuke referred to as “the gadget” detonated near Alamogordo, New Mexico. Firsthand testimonies of the test, codenamed Trinity, converge on the uncanny axis of awe and dread. The Manhattan Project’s Chief of Field Operations, General Thomas Farrell, wrote that “the strong, sustained, awesome roar … warned of doomsday and made us feel that we puny things were blasphemous.”

The bomb produced a massive cloud column that drifted in several directions, dusting large swaths of the surrounding region with radioactive snow – fallout that settled on buildings, plants, and animals, and that continued to permeate the air as invisible particulate in the weeks and months that followed. Five years later, the Nevada Test Site was established to continue the work that Trinity set alight.
Although the mushroom cloud became the icon of American nuclear activity in the 20th century, the harms of these bombs did not fade with their dimming fireballs. No group in the U.S. understands this better than the downwinders, communities throughout the American Southwest and beyond who were exposed to the fallout of the military’s domestic nuclear test program.
In 1990, the U.S. government passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which provided financial remuneration to downwinders who had contracted cancer or other illnesses linked to radiation exposure. (The law also provided compensation for certain on-site test participants and uranium miners.) As of April 2018, the program had awarded more than $2.2 billion to some 34,370 claimants.
As the law was written, however, only downwinders in specific counties in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada were eligible for compensation. Even residents of New Mexico, the site of the Trinity test, were excluded. Since the law was passed, studies and fallout reconstructions have suggested that the health impacts of the nuclear tests likely extend to areas as far away as Idaho, Montana and Guam. Residents in those far-flung locales have provided vivid testimonies of glowing duststrange maladies befalling livestock, and cancer clusters ravaging whole families.
For more than a decade, civic groups have lobbied lawmakers, unsuccessfully, to open RECA to a broader population of downwinders. That Congress has so far balked at those proposals is a testament to many factors; legislative decisions are informed not only by science but by moral and political calculus. But lawmakers’ inability to come to terms on who suffered, and on who deserves reparations for that suffering, points to a little discussed weak spot of modern politics: its uneasy relationship with uncertainty.
RECA’S COMPACT DELIMITATION OF “affected areas” was based on dose estimates produced by the Department of Energy’s Off-Site Radiation Exposure Review Project — a complicated calculation that drew from atmospheric transport models, reconstructions of fallout patterns, and reports of dosimeters and other radiation recorders. The bill was amended once, in 2000, to include a larger population of uranium workers and to expand the time frame, eligible diseases, and geographic locations covered. Two years later, in response to a congressional mandate, the Health Resources and Services Administration commissioned the National Research Council (NRC) to review the RECA program and determine if additional populations should be covered. Their final report was published in 2005. Based in part on mortality and disease-incidence data on atomic bomb survivors in Japan, uranium miners in the U.S., and Utah schoolchildren exposed to fallout from the Nevada Test Site, the committee concluded that in most cases involving downwinders who had been excluded from RECA, “it is unlikely that exposure to radiation from fallout was a substantial cause to developing cancer.”
But radiation epidemiology is a science of uncertainty, and tracing a person’s illness to a single exposure event can be challenging even in seemingly clear-cut cases. Although high doses of radiation are known to lead to disease and death, the effects of lower doses are far less predictable. Moreover, an individual’s radiation dose — the amount of radiation that he or she internalizes — depends on the person’s age, sex, diet, and pre-existing risk factors; weather conditions; and the characteristics of the nuclear event itself. Extrapolating results from one nuclear event to another, as the NRC study did, is bound to introduce some error.
Consider the Trinity test, which has been consistently ignored by lawmakers. According to the Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment (LAHDRA), conducted in 2010 for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, previous efforts to determine exposures from Trinity ignored the specific characteristics that distinguished it from all other subsequent tests. Unlike tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site, the Trinity “gadget” detonated only 100 feet from the ground. At this height, more organic material would’ve been swept into the explosion and returned to the earth as fallout. Another compounding factor was the relative inefficiency of the device. Of the 13 pounds of fissile material contained in the device, only about 2.6 pounds exploded; the rest was dispersed into the environment, where it remained radioactive.
The LAHDRA report also faulted previous studies for failing to adequately account for internal exposure, caused by the inhalation or ingestion of radioactive material. Research shows that internal exposure is significantly more harmful to the human body than the external exposure that occurs, say, when X-rays or other high-energy radiation penetrate the skin. Internal dosages are influenced by occupation, diet, local environment, and other sociodemographic factors. Any assessment that does not account for those factors is incomplete. And, according to the LAHDRA report, no assessment has properly accounted for the internal radiation dosages experienced by residents near the Trinity site. 
 
In the case of the Trinity test, there’s reason to believe that sociodemographic factors would have been significant. During the 1940s, New Mexican communities were largely agrarian; most people were farmers or ranchers who grew their food, hunted and fished, and drank water collected from cisterns or holding ponds. If those sources were contaminated, residents would likely have been at an increased risk for radiation-linked illnesses.
LAST SUMMER, MEMBERS OF THE NEW MEXICO community organization Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC), along with representatives from the Navajo Nation, argued in a Senate Judiciary hearing for amending RECA. Stated TBDC co-founder Tina Cordova, “The New Mexico downwinders are the collateral damage that resulted from the development and testing of the first atomic bomb.” 
Their appeals appear to have fallen on receptive ears. This March, a bipartisan coalition of U.S. Senators, including New Mexico Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, reintroduced Senate Bill 947 (S. 947), “Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments of 2019.” It is the most recent in a long line of bills that attempt to expand the RECA’s coverage. Among other changes, it seeks coverage for downwinders in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and Guam. A companion was introduced in the House in July.

Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is currently conducting a three-phase study on the diet and lifestyles of mid-century New Mexicans. The models generated in this study may help scientists draw firmer links between present day cancer cases and the Trinity test. In an email, NCI spokesperson Michael Levin confirmed that the results of the study are anticipated to be published in late 2019.

Like other epidemiological studies of its size, the NCI’s study has been expensive to run and frustratingly time-intensive. And time is precisely what many downwinders feel they don’t have. More than 70 years has passed since the Trinity test. Many downwinders have passed away or are battling cancers and other diseases. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to demonstrate that a disease was caused by nuclear fallout rather than, say, cigarettes or bad luck.

The government, meanwhile, plods along at its own pace, unconstrained by the length of a single lifetime or the distressing span between a diagnosis and its terminal conclusion. In response to a news article about S.947 posted to the Idaho Downwinders public Facebook page, one commenter wrote, “The government are just waiting for all of us to die off so they won’t have to be bothered with it.”
In its 2005 review of the RECA law, the National Research Council stated that, although scientific recommendations were meant to inform policy, the “attendant policy decisions must come from the larger body of citizenry” and “applying this new scientific knowledge may require additional societal value-based decisions.” This is particularly true of probability-based information on cancer epidemiology. When there is simply not enough data available to definitively estimate risk, the question of compensating the citizens who live in the long shadow of the nuclear testing era becomes a moral one: How much uncertainty can we stand?

August 3, 2019 Posted by | radiation, Reference, USA | Leave a comment

August 2- The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty expires- new arms race begins

Demise of US-Russian Nuclear Treaty Triggers Warnings, VOA News , By Charles Maynes, July 31, 2019  “………  “Gorbachev and Reagan had the goal of arms reduction and they did not allow themselves to be pushed off track,” Palazhchenko says.

 “[It was] definitely a huge step forward. Two great nations, two nuclear superpowers have finally been able to stop the arms race in at least two categories of nuclear weapons.”

With the agreement, the U.S. and U.S.S.R. formally renounced the development and deployment of ground-launched missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

Both sides were still armed with enough nuclear weapons to destroy one another — and the rest of the planet. But George Shultz says the INF’s elimination of short- and medium-range arsenals made the world infinitely safer in one critical regard — time……….

the short-range weapons also magnified the risks of what some called a potential “Euroshima.”

Where once the Cold War threat consisted of missiles lobbed across oceans, the new quick delivery missiles incentivized a first strike and immediate response. There was little time to verify whether an attack was real — or a false alarm.

Fear of the superpowers stumbling into nuclear Armageddon gripped the European public. Thousands marched in opposition to the U.S. missiles — a factor that increasingly influenced Washington’s own decision-making.

“We were negotiating not only with the Soviets but the European public,” recalls Shultz. “Who would want a nuclear missile on their soil? It makes you a target.”

Indeed, public opposition in Europe — and a desire to grab the moral high ground — drove President Reagan to embrace a concept called the “Zero Option.”

The idea? That when it came to negotiating over intermediate and short-range nukes, Reagan wouldn’t just push for the U.S. and U.S.S.R. to limit their arsenals. They’d demand both sides give up everything.

Russian proverb

Critical to selling the idea to skeptics were intensive inspections — with Reagan often citing an old Russian proverb: doverai no proverai. Trust but verify.

“The INF treaty contains in it the most clear verification provisions — onsite inspections!” Schultz says. “People said we could never get that but we did.”

Over the next three years, inspectors observed as both sides destroyed their arsenals — over 800 missiles by the U.S. and nearly double that from the Soviet side.

Viktor Litovkin, a military journalist who covered the events for the the Soviet daily Izvestia newspaper, remembers watching as Soviet engineers carried out the treaty’s provisions — destroying missile after missile with tears in the eyes.   ………

INF 1987-2019 (RIP)

Today, the Trump administration argues it is the INF Treaty that has now outlived its use.

Last October, President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton, traveled to Moscow to deliver the news: The U.S. would leave the INF agreement amid long-standing U.S. accusations that Russia was violating the treaty………..

Russian President Vladimir Putin soon followed suit — announcing that Russia, too, was leaving the pact.

Barring a last-minute reprieve, the INF treaty expires Aug. 2. Both sides have vowed to develop weapons once banned under the INF. 

A new arms race?

All of this has left Europe, once again, the battleground in a potential new arms race — with tomorrow’s weapons promising shorter warning times….. https://www.voanews.com/usa/demise-us-russian-nuclear-treaty-triggers-warnings

August 1, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Elizabeth Warren proposed “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons

Warren, Bullock spar over ‘no first use’ nuclear policy, The Hill 

In defending the proposed policy, Warren argued for diplomatic and economic solutions to conflict, saying “we should not be asking our military to take on jobs that do not have a military solution.”

But Bullock opposed that proposal, saying, “I don’t want to turn around and say, ‘Well, Detroit has to be gone before we would ever use that.’”

Warren is the lead sponsor of the Senate version of a bill that would make it U.S. policy not to use nuclear weapons first.

It has long been the policy of the United States that the country reserves the right to launch a preemptive nuclear strike.

Backers of a no first use policy argue it would improve U.S. national security by reducing the risk of miscalculation while still allowing the United States to launch a nuclear strike in response to an attack.

During the debate, Warren argued such a policy would “make the world safer.”

“The United States is not going to use nuclear weapons preemptively, and we need to say so to the entire world,” she said. “It reduces the likelihood that someone miscalculates, someone misunderstands.”

Bullock argued he wouldn’t want to take the option off the table, but that there should be negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons……https://thehill.com/policy/defense/455472-warren-bullock-spar-over-no-first-use-nuclear-policy

August 1, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Samantha Smith – a 10 year old who acted to reduce nuclear weapons

Your voice matters in reducing nuclear weapons  https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2019/07/31/your-voice-matters-in-reducing-nuclear-weapons.html

August 1, 2019 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Murky Middle East nuclear deal involving Trump’s billionaire friend

Trump’s friend tried to profit from Middle East nuclear deal, lawmakers say https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/29/tom-barrack-saudi-arabia-nuclear-deal-envoy

Congressional report finds Tom Barrack tried to buy Westinghouse as he sought a related government post

A billionaire friend of Donald Trump pursued a plan to buy Westinghouse Electric Corp – even as he lobbied Trump to become a special envoy and promote the company’s work on nuclear power in Saudi Arabia, a congressional report released on Monday.

While Tom Barrack failed in both efforts, the report provides fresh evidence of the ease with which some corporate and foreign interests have gained access to the US president and other senior members of his administration.

Documents obtained by the Democratic-led House oversight committee raise “serious questions about whether the White House is willing to place the potential profits of the President’s friends above the national security of the American people and the universal objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons”, the report said.

The report is the second from the panel’s investigation into the plan to construct 40 nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. The plan was supported by Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn; Barrack, Trump’s inaugural committee chairman; and a consortium of companies led by retired US military commanders and former White House officials called IP3.

One company was Westinghouse, the only US manufacturer of large reactors, which was bought out of bankruptcy by Brookfield Asset Management last August.

The report comes alongside a number of other investigations into the administration being conducted by the panel chaired by the US representative Elijah Cummings – including into the use of personal texts and emails for official business by Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

Trump attacked Cummings, an African American from Baltimore, in weekend tweets that the president’s critics denounced as racist.

Monday’s report was based largely on thousands of documents provided by unidentified private companies. The White House, the report said, provided no documents, while other federal agencies submitted some.

The committee may subpoena White House documents, it said.

Documents showed that Barrack negotiated with Trump and other White House officials to seek “powerful positions”, including special Middle East envoy, as he took steps to profit from the civil nuclear scheme he advocated.

A previous committee report, published in February, said efforts to advance the nuclear power scheme began during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump officials have continued meeting with IP3 even though White House lawyers in January 2017 instructed staff to cease work on the plan over concerns that Flynn was breaking conflict of interest laws, according to that report. Flynn, fired by Trump in February 2017, advised IP3 while serving on his campaign and transition team, said both reports.

White House lawyers also worried that promoters of IP3’s so-called “Middle East Marshall Plan” sought to transfer US nuclear know-how to Saudi Arabia even as they pushed back on Riyadh’s behalf against certain safeguards, the reports said. Known as the “Gold Standard”, the safeguards are designed to prevent nuclear weapons development. IP3 called the standard a “total roadblock”, Monday’s report said.

A Barrack spokesman said the billionaire had been cooperating with the oversight committee and had provided it with requested documents. Barrack’s investments and business development in the region were for a “better aligned Middle East”, he said. “This is not political, it is essential.“

The White House and IP3 did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

August 1, 2019 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | 1 Comment

 Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts takes step towards Repealing Ohio Nuclear Bailout

August 1, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | 4 Comments

40 Ways Ohio Now Proposes Nuclear Suicide

By Harvey Wasserman, 1 August 19
A bought, gerrymandered Ohio Legislature has just handed a much-hated $150 million/year public bailout to two dinosaur nuke reactors primed to explode.
It also bails out two filthy 50-year-old coal burners and guts programs for increased efficiency.
But a possible repeal referendum could reverse all that—-and have a serious impact on the Trumpsters who pushed it—-in the 2020 election.
Here are some basics:
X  The 42-year-old Davis-Besse reactor near Toledo and 33-year-old Perry, east of Cleveland, are both dangerously crumbling.
X  Neither can compete with wind, solar, gas or increased efficiency.
X   Both would shut immediately in a free market environment.
X  Like all nuke reactors, both emit substantial quantities of heat, radiation and carbon.
X  Both threaten the entire north coast and Great Lakes region with a radioactive apocalypse.
X   Neither can get private disaster insurance.
X   Their owner, FirstEnergy (FE) of Akron, is bankrupt.
X   The utility stands to gain some $150,000,000/year at the expense of ALL Ohio electric consumers, not just those in its territory.  .
X   FE’s top seven execs are paid roughly $25,000,000/year; CEO Chuck Jones gets $9,500,000.
X   In 2003 FE blacked out 50,000,000 people.
X   Davis-Besse’s infamous 2002 “hole-in-the-head” came when boric acid ate nearly all the way through the reactor pressure vessel.
X   In 1986 (as the Challenger blew up) Perry became the first US reactor to be damaged by an earthquake; a 4.0 shock recently hit less than 25 miles away.
X    A state-mandated 1986-7 study showed northern Ohio cannot be evacuated from a melt-down…and certainly not amidst an earthquake.
X     Ohio’s North Coast is flat, blown by constant lake-based winds, criss-crossed with transmission lines and good turbine sites near the cities to be served.
X    Local farmers are desperate for the income the turbines would provide.
X   Some $4.2 billion in private capital is poised to pour into the region for wind farms creating thousands of jobs and lowering electric rates.
X   Turbines in Lake Erie, plus land-based wind and solar farms, enhanced by batteries and efficiency, can provide all Ohio’s electricity far cheaper than from nukes and/or fossil fuels, creating far more jobs.
X   But in 2014, with zero basis in health or environmental protection, FE’s bought legislators put in the Ohio Code a setback clause that has killed wind development in the state.
X   Ohio now has far less installed wind capacity than neighboring Indiana, Michigan, New York or Pennsylvania, which have comparable wind resources but no such set-back clause.
X  Ohio is a national leader in manufacturing wind turbine components, virtually none of which are deployed in Ohio.
X  Perry & DB have been repeatedly bailed out dating back at least to 1999, when FE scammed a $9 billion “stranded cost” give-away.
X   It was called a “stranded cost” bailout because FE complained even then the reactors could not compete in an open market.
X    This latest bailout was directly pushed by Trump, at least one of whose co-conspirators personally lobbied key legislators for it.
X   Ohio is roughly 50/50 Republican/Democrat, but the GOP has heavily gerrymandered majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
X  In 2018 FE targeted a dozen GOP legislative primaries, buying at least 11 bailout votes.
X   This latest bailout bill could not have passed without votes from key corporate Democrats.
X  A strong statewide grassroots movement arose to oppose the bailout.
X   An overwhelming majority of testifiers before the Legislature were opposed.
X   A strong majority of the state’s newspapers was also opposed.
X  All were ignored by Democrats and Republicans alike.
X   Efforts are now underway to put a referendum on the fall 2020 ballot.
X   If filed within 90 days, the bailout will be put on hold until the vote.
X   Polls show a strong majority of Ohioans oppose the bailout.
X  If the bailout is on the 2020 ballot, it could encourage a strong opposition turnout that could hurt Trump and help tip the election in a key swing state.
X   But Trump, FE and the nuke industry will spend unlimited millions to defeat it.
X   It’s been widely known since at least 2004 that Ohio’s registration rolls and voting procedures are heavily rigged to favor the GOP and its corporate owners.
X  The longer Perry and Davis-Besse operate the higher the odds they’ll obliterate Toledo, Cleveland and the entire Great Lakes region.
X  Neither has private disaster insurance.
X  FE can’t handle its radioactive wastes, evacuate the region when disaster strikes or credibly maintain the reactors in their current (deteriorating) state.
Should the referendum get on the ballot, it could help take down Trump and save the region from an apocalyptic catastrophe, as well as economic ruin.  Should it fail, the odds on a major nuclear catastrophe along the shores of Lake Erie are too high to contemplate.
The stakes could not be higher.
—————
Harvey Wasserman is co-author of KILLING OUR OWN:  THE DISASTER OF AMERICA’S EXPERIENCE WITH ATOMIC RADIATION (free on line) and SOLARTOPIA!  OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH at www.solartopia.org.

August 1, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment