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Thermonuclear Monarchy and Revolution

So now we (or at least the 0.03% of us who care to hunt for it) discover that U.S. military spending is not actually being cut at all, but increasing. Also going up: U.S. nuclear weapons spending.  Some of the new nukes will violate treaties, but the entire program violates the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which requires disarmament, not increased armament.  The U.S. policy of first-strike and the U.S. practice of informing other nations that "all options are on the table" also violate the U.N. Charter's ban on threatening force.

But do nuclear weapons, by the nature of their technology, violate the U.S. Constitution? Do they violate the basic social contract and all possibility of self-governance?  Thus argues a new book called Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom by Elaine Scarry.  It's not unheard of for people to see out-of-control nuclear spending as a symptom of out-of-control military spending, itself a symptom of government corruption, legalized bribery, and a militaristic culture.  Scarry's argument suggests a reversal: the root of all this evil is not the almighty dollar but the almighty bomb.

The argument runs something like this.  The primary purpose of the social contract is to create peace and prevent war and other injury.  The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8, clause 11) bans the making of war without the approval of both houses of Congress.  This approval was to be required not just for an existing military to attack another country, but for a military to be raised at all -- standing armies not being anticipated.  And it was understood that an army would not be raised and deployed into war unless the citizen-soldiers went willingly, their ability to dissent by desertion not needing to be spelled out (or, let us say, their ability to dissent by mass-desertion, as desertion in the war that led to the Constitution was punished by death). 

And yet, because this point was so crucial to the entire governmental project, Scarry argues, it was in fact spelled out -- in the Second Amendment.  Arms -- that is 18th century muskets -- were to be freely distributed among the people, not concentrated in the hands of a king.  "Civilian" control over the military meant popular control, not presidential. The decision to go to war would have to pass through the people's representatives in Congress, and through the people as a whole in the form of soldiers who might refuse to fight.  By this thinking, had the Ludlow Amendment, to create a public referendum before any war, passed in the 1930s, it would have been redundant.

Before the 1940s were over, in Scarry's view, a Ludlow Amendment wouldn't have been worth the paper it was written on, as the existence of nuclear weapons erases Constitutional checks on war.  With nuclear weapons, a tiny number of people in a government -- be it 1 or 3 or 20 or 500 -- hold the power to very quickly and easily kill millions or billions of human beings, and other species, and very likely themselves in the process.  "We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both," said Louis Brandeis.  We may have democracy, or we may have thermonuclear bombs, but we can't have both, says Elaine Scarry. 

Each of the series of presidents beginning with Truman and running up through Nixon is known to have repeatedly come close to choosing to use nuclear bombs, something the public has learned of, each time, only decades after the fact.  No more recent president has said he didn't come close; we may very well learn their secrets on the usual schedule.  When you add to that insanity, the long string of accidents, mistakes, and misunderstandings, the damage of the testing and the waste, and the repeated ability of ploughshares activists (and therefore anybody else) to walk right up to U.S. nuclear weapons to protest them, it's amazing that life exists on earth.  But Scarry's focus is on what the new ability to kill off a continent at the push of a button has done to presidential power.

While wars since World War II have been non-nuclear, apart from depleted uranium weapons, they have also been endless and undeclared.  Because presidents can nuke nations, they and Congress and the public have assumed that a president on his or her own authority can attack nations with non-nuclear weapons too.  Now, I suspect that the military industrial complex, corrupt elections, and nuclear thinking all feed off each other.  I don't want a single person who's trying to clean up election spending or halt fighter-jet production to stop what they're doing.  But the possible influence of nuclear thinking on U.S. foreign policy is intriguing.  Once a president has been given more power than any king has ever had, one might expect some people to do exactly what they've done and treat him like a king in all but name. 

Scarry believes that we're suffering from the false idea that we're in a permanent emergency, and that in an emergency there's no time to think.  In fact, the Constitutional constraints on war were intended precisely for emergencies, Scarry argues, and are needed precisely then.  But an emergency that can be dealt with by raising an army is perhaps different from an emergency that will leave everyone on earth dead by tomorrow either with or without the U.S. government having the opportunity to contribute its measure of mass-killing to the general apocalypse.  The latter is, of course, not an emergency at all, but an insistence on glorified ignorance to the bitter end.  An emergency that allows time to raise an army is also different from an emergency involving 21st century "conventional" weapons, but not nearly as different as we suppose.  Remember the desperate urgency to hit Syria with missiles last September that vanished the moment Congress refused to do it? The mad rush to start a war before anyone can look too closely at its justifications does, I think, benefit from nuclear thinking -- from the idea that there is not time to stop and think.

So, what can we do? Scarry believes that if nukes were eliminated, Congress could take charge of debates over wars again.  Perhaps it could.  But would it approve wars? Would it approve public financing, free air time, and open elections? Would it ban its members from profiting from war?  Would people killed in a Congressionally declared war be any less dead?

What if the Second Amendment as Scarry understands it were fulfilled to some slight degree, that is if weapons were slightly more equitably distributed as a result of the elimination of nukes?  The government would still have all the aircraft carriers and missiles and bombs and predator drones, but it would have the same number of nukes as the rest of us.  Wouldn't compliance with the Second Amendment require either the madness of giving everybody a missile launcher or the sanity of eliminating non-nuclear weapons of modern war-making along with the nuclear ones?

I think the historical argument that Scarry lays out against the concentration of military power in the hands of a monarch is equally a case either for distributing that power or for eliminating it.  If large standing armies are the greatest danger to liberty, as James Madison supposed on his slave plantation, isn't that an argument against permanently stationing troops in 175 nations with or without nukes, as well as against militarizing local police forces at home? If unjustified war and imprisonment are the greatest violations of the social contract, must we not end for-profit mass incarceration by plea bargain along with for-profit mass-murder?

I think Scarry's argument carries us further in a good direction than she spells out in the book.  It's a thick book full of extremely lengthy background information, not to say tangents.  There's a wonderful account of the history of military desertion.  There's a beautiful account of Thomas Hobbes as peace advocate. Much of this is valuable for its own sake.  My favorite tangent is a comparison between Switzerland and the United States.  Switzerland decided that air-raid shelters would help people survive in a nuclear war.  While opposing and not possessing nuclear weapons, Switzerland has created shelters for more than the total number of people in the country.  The United States claimed to have concluded that shelters would not work, and then spent more on building them exclusively for the government than it spent on all variety of needs and services for the rest of us.  The nuclear nation has behaved as a monarchy, while the non-nuclear nation may preserve a remnant of humanity to tell the tale.

Scarry ends her book by stating that Article I and the Second Amendment are the best tools she's found for dismantling nuclear weapons, but that she'd like to hear of any others.  Of course, mass nonviolent action, education, and organizing are tools that will carry any campaign beyond the confines of legal argumentation, but as long as we're within those confines, I'll throw out a proposal: Comply with the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  It is far newer, clearer, and less ambiguous than the Constitution.  It is, under the Constitution, unambiguously the Supreme Law of the Land as a treaty of the U.S. government.  It applies in other nations as well, including a number of other nuclear weapons nations.  It clarifies our thinking on the worst practice our species has developed, one that will destroy us all, directly or indirectly, if not ended, with or without nuclear: the practice of war.

The treaty that I recommend remembering bans war.  When we begin to think in those terms, we won't see torture as the worst war crime, as Scarry suggests, but war itself as the worst crime of war.  We won't suggest that killing is wrong because it's "nonbattlefield," as Scarry does at one point.  We might question, as Scarry seems not to, that Hawaii was really part of the United States in 1941, or that U.S. torture really ended when Obama was elected.  I'm quibbling with tiny bits in a large book, but only because I want to suggest that the arguments that best reject nuclear weaponry reject all modern war weaponry, its possession, and its use.

President Requests Unprecedented Spending on Nuclear Weapons Maintenance, Design, Production

Spending Requested Exceeds Reagan’s 1985 Maximum, Goes Up from There

Efficiency of Warhead Complex at Record Low as Billions Are Wasted in Failed Projects, Extreme Salaries, Contractor Subsidies

Greg Mello
Los Alamos Study Group

Albuquerque, NM – Today’s Department of Energy (DOE) budget request for fiscal year (FY2015) includes a requested $8.315 Billion (B) for nuclear “Weapons Activities” in the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-autonomous component of DOE.  This does not include pro-rata administrative costs for NNSA’s warhead program, which come to about $293 million (M).  Total warhead spending is thus $8.608 B, not including $504 M in potential additional warhead spending (see below).  

This is a 7% increase from the current year (FY2014).  The request is far higher, in constant dollars, than the $8.13 B spent in 1985 for comparable work at the height of President Reagan’s surge in nuclear weapons spending, which was also the highest point of the Cold War.  (See graph, below.)  

Nota bene: An earlier edition of this press release said that “[a]lmost the entire increase in Weapons Activities funding ($504 M out of $534 M) [see slide 14 of Secretary Moniz budget rollout briefing] is to come from the President’s new “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative” (OGSI).”  This was an error, and I am grateful to John Fleck of the Albuquerque Journal for chasing the truth down.  

Instead, OGSI would provide an additional $504 M in Weapons Activities, if it is fully enacted.    

OGSI is a $56 B budget augmentation above the spending caps set by the December 2013 two-year bipartisan budget agreement, which is to be split evenly into defense and non-defense spending. According to the White House, “The [OGSI] will be paid for with a balanced package of tax loophole closers and spending reforms.”  This requires new legislation.  According to Science,

The new money is essentially contingent on Congress making changes to the tax code and spending priorities that aren’t likely to happen this fiscal year…One-half of the $56 billion would come from imposing new taxes on retirement funds owned by the wealthy; the other half from changes to politically sensitive crop insurance, unemployment, telecommunications, and airport security programs. Although many of these ideas have champions in Congress, each would spark major debate if lawmakers pushed them forward. And that is unlikely to happen with elections looming in November, and the broad outlines of a spending agreement already in place for the 2015 fiscal year (the result of last year’s government shutdown and budget face-off).”


Today’s budget request also includes $5.328 B for defense environmental cleanup, a 6.6% increase over FY14.  Correction (thanks to Staci Matlock, Santa Fe New Mexican): site splits for environmental management programs are given (p. 40 in “DOE Budget Highlights”).  Of local interest, LANL cleanup funds are flat year-on-year, at $225 M.

Site splits for other programs, totals for each state, and program details have not yet been released.  That is slated to occur on March 11.  

Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation (DNN) would fall 20.4% to $1.954 B in the president’s request, in part because the Administration proposes to place the Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF), an $8 B facility that is approximately two-thirds completed, into cold standby while DOE reevaluates plutonium disposition options.  

Notably absent from today’s budget request is any mention of the W78/W88 Life Extension Program (LEP), which was to be the first of three “interoperable” warheads in a new stockpile modernization paradigm.  As we noted on December 7, this LEP has been indefinitely deferred – that is, cancelled.  Neither is there any mention of a W78 LEP to replace its Air Force component.  Speakers at the recent annual Deterrence Summit confirmed reports we are hearing on Capitol Hill that current surveillance indicates no near-term need for such a program.  

The proposed new nuclear cruise missile warhead is now expected to go into production only in the FY25-27 timeframe.  The latter part of this window concurs with other reports and would be a three-year delay from the Administration’s plan of June, 2013.  


Today’s budget confirms prior reports that the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF), an $11 to $19 B facility that was to be built at the Y-12 site in Tennessee, which has been under design for a decade, is now to be reconfigured and down-scoped.  


There is no mention of design or construction of underground plutonium “modules” at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  Some design is currently underway using leftover funds from the now-cancelled Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF).  Upon information and belief, the Nuclear Weapons Council has not endorsed design and construction of these modules, as required in sections 3117 and 3123 of the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  


NNSA’s budget is now partly subsidized by DoD’s willingness to transfer some of its own budget authority to NNSA.  Today’s budget summary notes that DoD expects to contribute $1.44 B to NNSA in FY2016, $1.60 B in 2017, $1.67 B in 2018, $1.70 B in FY2019, and a total of $15.51 B from 2016 to 2024.  The budget summary tables also note (at p. 205) uncertainty about NNSA’s outyear needs: “DOD and NNSA are reviewing NNSA’s outyear requirements and these will be included in future reports to the Congress.”


Study Group Director Greg Mello: “Today’s budget request is a snapshot of an agency that is retrenching in multiple ways.  One highly-touted warhead program is absent; another is delayed.  Big construction projects are being downscaled and mothballed, while others remain in apparent limbo while requirements are reexamined.  Congress will probably whittle the top numbers back a bit and tweak the details, with a net result being no net growth in nuclear weapons, especially in real terms. 


"Should OGSI be funded, this would be a truly 'exploding' budget.  There is no way NNSA could spend such huge sums effectively.  


“While proposed warhead spending for design, maintenance, and production is higher than ever before, spending is not as high as once was projected, and meanwhile costs are higher than ever.  Without termination, delay, and downscaling of key projects, which Secretary Moniz and Acting Administrator Held are wisely choosing, NNSA would fail further.  


“With these changes, an important workload ‘gap’ or ‘breather’ begins to open up in the 2020s at the weapons labs.  We believe the weapons labs are even now greatly oversized for their missions, and today’s budget, with the changes noted, advances the possibility of a gradual downsizing of overall warhead effort, even without the stockpile shrinkage that is long overdue.  


“In New Mexico, it is a big mistake to depend on Cold War weapons programs as a prop for our economy, let alone as a source of growth.  There just isn't going to be significant growth in those programs, ever, and eventually there will be decline in real terms.  Even when there has been growth, the record shows New Mexico has not benefitted as a result.  Nuclear weapons are an economic and political liability for the state, along with our severe inequality, poverty, and our poor educational outcomes. 


“The plutonium industry, if it were to expand, would be particularly negative for Santa Fe and the region. 

“Here in New Mexico we've got to focus on building a new economy that capitalizes on what is now very much a new environmental era.  There are tremendous business opportunities in this new economy, but we haven't yet seen government responding enough.  Government at all levels needs to open new markets for these high-growth, high-employment renewable energy businesses, and remove the few remaining financial barriers that stand in the way of what would otherwise be very sound new, climate-friendly, water-saving energy investments for businesses and households.  Energy-efficient urban and rural transportation are other big potential growth areas, in which we must invest in order to remain competitive. 

“Today's federal budget shouldn't be looked at as a basis of growth as much as a maintenance program to keep us going while we build out our locally-owned new energy economy, with the educational system to support it.  We will prosper if we can set aside our political loyalties to “The Bomb” and make the new trends our friends.”


In the graph below, the green line shows the effect of 1% inflation for FY14 and uses a 2% inflation model thereafter.  The proper legend is not copying into this email at the moment. 
 




 

The Power of Parliamentarians in Abolishing Nuclear Weapons

Address by Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., to Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, "Climbing the Mountain" Conference, Washington, D.C., February 26, 2014

At first glance, the elimination of nuclear weapons appears to be a hopeless case.  The Conference on Disarmament in Geneva has been paralyzed for many years.  The Non-Proliferation Treaty is in crisis.  The major nuclear weapons states refuse to enter into comprehensive negotiations for nuclear disarmament and are even boycotting international meetings designed to put world attention on the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of the use of nuclear weapons. The nuclear weapons states are giving the back of their hand to the rest of the world.  Not a cheery outlook.

But look a little deeper.  Two-thirds of the nations of the world have voted for negotiations to begin on a global legal ban on nuclear weapons.  Two weeks ago, 146 nations and scores of academics and civil society activists assembled in Nayarit, Mexico to examine the staggering health, economic, environment, food and transportation effects of any nuclear detonation – accidental or deliberate.  A UN High-Level International Conference on nuclear disarmament will be convened in 2018, and September 26 every year from now on will be observed as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

The march of history is moving against the possession, not only the use, of nuclear weapons by any state. The nuclear weapons states are trying to block this march before it acquires any more momentum.  But they will fail.  They can stall the nuclear disarmament processes, but they cannot obliterate the transformation moment in human history now occurring.

The reason that the nuclear disarmament movement is stronger than it appears on the surface is that it stems the gradual awakening of conscience taking place in the world.  Driven forward by science and technology and a new understanding of the inherency of human rights, an integration of humanity is occurring. Not only do we know one another across what used to be great divides, but we also know that we need one another for common survival. There is a new caring for the human condition and the state of the planet evident in such programs as the Millennium Development Goals.  This is the awakening of a global conscience.

 This has already produced a huge advance for humanity:the growing understanding in the public that war is futile. The rationale and appetite for war are disappearing. That would have seemed impossible in the 20th century, let alone the 19th. The public rejection of war as a means of resolving conflict – seen most recently in the question of military intervention in Syria – has enormous ramifications for how society will conduct its affairs. The Responsibility to Protect doctrine is undergoing new analyses, including the threat posed by the possession of nuclear weapons, to determine the circumstances when it can be properly used to save lives.

I am not predicting global harmony. The tentacles of the military-industrial complex are still strong. Too much political leadership is pusillanimous. Local crises have a way of becoming catastrophic. The future cannot be predicted. We have lost opportunities before, notably the singular moment when the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended, that prescient leaders would have seized on and begun to build the structures for a new world order. But I am saying that the world, soured on the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, has finally righted itself and is on course to make inter-state wars a relic of the past.

Two factors are producing better prospects for world peace: accountability and prevention. We never used to hear much about governments accounting to publics for their actions on the great questions of war and peace. Now, with the spread of human rights, empowered civil society activists are holding their governments accountable for participation in the global strategies for human development. These global strategies, apparent in diverse fields, from genocide prevention to the involvement of women in mediation projects, foster the prevention of conflict.

This higher level of thinking is bringing a new potency to the nuclear disarmament debate. Increasingly, nuclear weapons are seen not as instruments of state security but as violators of human security.  More and more, it is becoming apparent that nuclear weapons and human rights cannot co-exist on the planet.  But governments are slow to adopt policies based on the new understanding of the requirements for human security.  Thus, we are still living in a two-class world in which the powerful aggrandize unto themselves nuclear weapons while proscribing their acquisition by other states. We face the danger of the proliferation of nuclear weapons because the powerful nuclear states refuse to use their authority to build a specific law outlawing all nuclear weapons, and continue to diminish the 1996 conclusion of the International Court of Justice that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is generally illegal and that all states have a duty to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons.

This thinking is feeding a movement now building up across the world to commence a diplomatic process for nuclear weapons abolition even without the immediate cooperation of the nuclear powers. The Nayarit conference and its follow-up meeting in Vienna later this year, provide and impetus to commence such a process..  Governments seeking comprehensive negotiations for a global legal ban on nuclear weapons must now choose between starting a diplomatic process to outlaw nuclear weapons without the participation of the nuclear weapons states or constrain their ambitions by working solely within the confines of the NPT and the Conference on Disarmament where the nuclear weapons states are a constant debilitating influence.

My experience leads me to choose starting a process in which like-minded states begin preparatory work with the specific intention of building a global law. This means identifying the legal, technical, political and institutional requisites for a nuclear weapons free world as the basis for negotiating a legal ban on nuclear weapons.It will undoubtedly be a long process, but the alternative, a step-by-step process, will continue to be foiled by the powerful states, which have connived to block any meaningful progress since the NPT came into force in 1970. I urge parliamentarians to use their access to power and introduce in every Parliament in the world a resolution calling for immediate work to begin on a global framework to prohibit the production, testing, possession and use of nuclear weapons by all states, and provide for their elimination under effective verification.

Advocacy by parliamentarians works. Parliamentarians are well placed not only to lobby for new initiatives but to follow through on their implementation. They are uniquely placed to challenge present policies, present alternatives and generally hold governments accountable.  Parliamentarians hold more power than they often realize.

In my early years in the Canadian parliament, when I served as chairman of Parliamentarians for Global Action, I led delegations of parliamentarians to Moscow and Washington to plead with the superpowers of the day to take serious steps toward nuclear disarmament.  Our work led to the formation of the Six-Nation Initiative. This was a cooperative effort by the leaders of India, Mexico, Argentina, Sweden, Greece and Tanzania, who held summit meetings urging the nuclear powers to halt production of their nuclear stocks.  Gorbachev later said the Six-Nation Initiative was a key factor in the achievement of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, which eliminated a whole class of medium-range nuclear missiles.

Parliamentarians for Global Action developed into a network of 1,000 parliamentarians in 130 countries and branched out on an expanded list of global issues, such as fostering democracy, conflict prevention and management, international law and human rights, population, and environment. The organization was responsible for getting the negotiations started for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and supplied the muscle to get many governments to sign onto the International Criminal Court and the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty.

In latter years, a new association of legislators, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, has been formed and I am proud to have been its first Chairman.  I congratulate Senator Ed Markey for assembling in Washington today this important gathering of legislators.  Under the leadership of Alyn Ware, PNNDhas attracted about 800 legislators in 56 countries. It collaborated with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a huge umbrella group of parliaments in 162 countries, in producing a handbook for parliamentarians explaining the non-proliferation and disarmament issues. This is a form of leadership that doesn’t make headlines but is extremely effective. The development of associations like Parliamentarians for Global Action and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament is contributing significantly to expanded political leadership.

The voice of parliamentarians may in the future become stronger if the Campaign for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly takes hold. The campaign hopes that some day citizens of all countries would be able to directly elect their representatives to sit in a new assembly at the UN and legislate global policies. This may not happen until we reach another stage of history, but a transitional step could be the selection of delegates from national parliaments, who would be empowered to sit in a new assembly at the UN and raise issues directly with the Security Council. The European Parliament, in which direct election of its 766 members takes place in the constituent countries, offers a precedent for a global parliamentary assembly.

Even without waiting for future developments to enhance global governance, parliamentarians today can and must use their unique position in government structures to push for humanitarian policies to protect life on earth. Close the rich-poor gap.  Stop global warming.  No more nuclear weapons. That is the stuff of political leadership.

Megan Rice’s allocution

From TransformNowPlowshares

Here is the prepared statement Megan Rice read to the court on Tuesday, February 18, 2014:

PART I

 

            As I sat observing the facial expressions of participants present in the hearing on January 28th, I sensed a clear sense of a shared mental reaction during the arguments on this restitution evidentiary Table submitted by the Prosecution (identification…) (display my Exhibit I)

I think we felt something of a Master’s compassionate consternation with the hypocrisy at his accusers.  (Luke 6:5-11  Mark 4:20-30)

I was stunned that 8 months had elapsed with apparently no prior conversations, out of court, between the opposing sides and the court in this case, and would have imagined it had been resolved by negotiation during those delays, and relegated to where it deserved to be disposed. – unworthy of evidence in any court of law.

This very document [hold up Exhibit 1] is self-incriminating evidence for all the world to see.  It represents in microcosm an enormous cloud of deception, exaggerated expenditures in time, energy and cost under which Y-12 has hidden these 70 years since its inception.  It reveals but a sample of the extortion by unaccounted for or unaccountable profiteering and blatant miscalculation over Y-12’s entire evolution till today. – Draconian extortion of the hard-earned labor of the people in this country over the last 70 years, and perhaps before.

It provides evidence why we are in deep trouble today. – A perfect analogy to what Greg spoke of as “Emperor’s new clothes.”

Why can we not call a spade a spade?

Why can we not admit the bare truth, and just get on with what is humanly possible: transforming this humanly constructed horrific monstrosity, an entity which has, effectively un-impeded, evolved into risks of perilous portent to the very existence of this sacred Planet and life as we have known it; for whose transformation we all readily long to give our lives.

Who or what is capable of naming, and being heard to name,

this Emperor’s new clothes?

(if not already named in countless ways and forms.)

When will we be willing to listen,

and to face the truth?

PART II

 

Good morning!  Thank you, Judge Thapar, and each of you, in this Beloved Community.  We are so grateful this morning, in the depths of our hearts.  Grateful to each of you for gracing us from your very busy lives, to be here once again.  Your coming here from Kentucky, your honor, and up from New Orleans, Bill and Anna.  Down form Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Anabel and David, faithfully giving time, and so much zesty, passionate energy and legal expertise in popular education for tru­th and justice’s sake on current status of international and domestic law; and here, also from a crowded date book at Yale’s Schools of Divinity and of Forestry and the Environment, Dr. Mary Evelyn Tucker, to witness on behalf of our entire Planet.  A Beloved Community joins us in Spirit, from the four corners of the Earth, speaking truth from people in places like Seychelles, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Denmark, Finland, France, Belgium, Qatar, Bolivia, Alaska, Africa, Scotland, Ireland, Montenegro, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Britain, and many places in between.  These messages from the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers came by post for this court. May I deliver them now?

It is indeed fitting as the issue here before us today has touched with perilous risk, for 70 years, the very existence of our sacred, lovely home, which we all share and try to treasure – our Planet Earth, which many of us revere as Mother!  So thank you.  We treasured the time all you gave in attending the trial in one way or another.

This trial has exposed, quite gratuitously, in the evidence, thanks to the prosecution’s witnesses, the truth about what is happening.  That this one facility is part, of what Kristen Iversen says, the U.S. has become: one, huge, bomb factory, of which Y-12 is but one very significant part.

We are all grateful, as Anabel Dwyer points out, with the Defense team of Lawyers, that the details of the goings-on at Y-12 were revealed by the witnesses for the government, details kept mostly secret, over nigh to 70 years – the specific warheads being “enhanced” and “modernized” – the enormous quantities of highly enriched uranium material (HEUM) produced and stored there, in the very building we were able, almost unknowingly, to reach, to touch, and to label with statements and symbols of truth.   This alerted Y-12 workers to what has been kept secret for nearly 70 years.

The secrecy began in 1943, when worker women, by thousands, could not tell fellow workers or family.  Still now, secrets are kept between workers, officials, and managers.  The secrecy prevailed to try relentlessly to turn these United States into a “super power,” an empire.  As Germany tried to be under the Third Reich.  When I was growing up, to our generation, these were very evil terms.  Has any empire, or aspiring super-power not declined, not fallen apart from exceptionalism into decadence?  So we had to come to this facility to call it to transformation.  Thank you for revealing these secrets as evidence.

Many who were here on Jan. 28th had attended plowshares trials around the country, your honor, from the most recent in Tacoma, WA – the Disarm Now Plowshares (seniors also, I allege, aged from 84-60: One Sacred Heart Sister, Anne Montgomery of happy memory, 2 Jesuits Frs. Bill Bicshel and Steve Kelly, and 2 grandmothers, Susan Crane and Lynne Greenwald.)  In many of these earlier trials, even the words, nuclear weapons, have been called “classified” and denied to be alluded to.  Despite being components for weapons of mass destruction, contrary to the Non-Proliferation and other treaties and laws, to which the U.S. is legally bound, and for which crimes we citizens bear shared responsibility by law to expose and oppose as crimes, when we know they are being committed.

And still we have more room and reasons for gratitude, you honor.  Because recent laws, by the U.S. congress, gave you distress, you felt that you had to keep these jury-convicted, conscience-bound peace-makers as “violent saboteurs,” felons accused of “seriously damaging the national defense of the U.S.” in detention while awaiting sentencing.  Detention in a privately-contracted, for profit, rendition warehouse, which punishes and tortures unsentenced people, partly because of the enormously overcrowded courts and prisons in this country.       These facilities are not effectively overseen nor accountable.  Because of our experience of the ill-equipped conditions and inadequately trained personnel in those for-profit warehouses, we now know how U.S. citizens and non-citizens are treated for nonviolent crimes of “conspiracy” and other medical, drug laws as they exist.  Crimes engendered by the failed socio-economic situation which prevails today in a national security state.  The direct fall-out from gross misspending to maintain a nuclear industrial complex – of ten trillions of dollars over these last 70 years.  An economic system devoid of any outcome other than death, poverty for the masses in a debt-ridden country, with obscene wealth for the less than 1% of the people – individuals wealthier than the GNP of entire countries and I would ask, from war-profiteering?

We thank you, Judge Thapar, for giving us this time to become inspired by truly great human beings, so patiently enduring flagrantly inhuman conditions.  We can now report to you and the general public, who are the government, of the conditions where people are experiencing punishment and torture as unsentenced, awaiting changing court dates, or places in federal prisons today.  We have seen how this far-profit detention contract system fails to accomplish any kind of restorative justice or rehabilitation.  Women and men who are the victims of a nation, impoverished by the violence and cost of an economy based on manufacturing WMDs and war-making – inhumanly separated by distance and poverty, managerial incompetence; inordinately separated from contact with loved ones and families.

I am grateful also for what Daniel Berrigan called in a letter to me in Danbury Prison in 1998, “my time under federal scholarship.”  We have tried to make the most of it.  (Have learned enough for 2 or 3 Masters degrees, and written and received letters to and from enough to do a doctoral dissertation!)  We are activated by the people who suffer under disempowering conditions of detention.  Activated to invite U.S. prison reform, which calls for transformation of minds and hearts from violence.  Violence of profiteering from the “fall out” of constant, unending war-making, by a military industrial complex.  Those engaged in the production of ever more massively powerful, death-dealing weapons, – nuclear, chemical, biological, unmanned weapons, which rob the poor and sabotage and pollute all of life and creation on this Planet.  Imagine the profit accrued by charges like mine: $15 for one 10 minute call to Washington DC from Knoxville Detention Facility.  TN instate calls can be close to $3.00 each for 10 minutes.  Or a sick call, which can cost an inmate $15 to obtain a dropped, previously sanctioned prescription for a nightly Claritin tablet for controlling an allergy condition.  Medical records denied to be passed on from facility to facility as inmates are moved along to prisons.

We are energized to call for life-enhancing alternative projects: like disarmament, depleting radioactive isotopes and toxins, and those which meet real needs – social, cultural, spiritual and environmental: restoration, healing, harmony, balance and peace in non-violence.

May I close with a prayer?  A rendition of an ancient Hebrew country song – PS 98 (according to Nan Merrill) as again we thank you, Judge Thapar, honorable jurors, our defense team, lawyers on behalf of the government (whose crimes, we as law-abiding citizens attempt to disclose, oppose, and heal), and for each of you, you in this most honorable Beloved Community, a prophetic peace-making remnant, from whom we receive hope and inspiration and encouragement to carry on as grateful participants in your noble pursuits:

Let us sing to the Beloved a new song.

For Love has done marvelous things!

By the strength of Your Indwelling Presence, (Your right hand)

We, too, are called to do great things;

We are set free through Love’s Forgiveness and Truth.

Yes, for Your steadfast Love and Faithfulness

are ever-present gifts

in our lives.

All the ends of the earth have seen

the glory of Love’s Eternal Flame.

Make a joyful noise to the Beloved,

all the Earth;

Break forth into grateful song

and sing praises! [-Sacred the Land, Sacred the Water, Sacred the Sky, holy and true!]

Yes, sing songs of praise extolling

Love’s way;

Lift up your hearts with gratitude and Joy!

Let the voices of all people blend in harmony,

in unison let the peoples magnify the Beloved!

Let the waters clap their hands!

Let the hills ring out with joy!

Before the Beloved who radiates Love to all the earth.

For Love reigns over the world

with truth and justice,

bringing order and balance, [harmony]

to all Creation!

In keeping with all that is just and Fair.

and may we go forth

as Your holy right hand, to do great things, in Love!

(MK 3: LK 7)

 

Megan then asked the judge if it would be all right to sing a song. He agreed, then was taken aback as she turned to the audience and they rose to join her in singing “Sacred the Earth.”

Sr. Megan Rice, SHCJ, February 18, 2014

U S Federal Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN

Memo to Judge: Really?

By Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance

We’ve heard it from the bench in Oak Ridge city courtrooms and from state judges in Clinton, Tennessee. And on February 18 we heard it from a federal judge—there are two variations. The first: There are plenty of ways for you to protest and deliver your message without breaking the law. The second: If you people would just put this time and energy into working for the change you want in the political system, you might get the change you seek.

Both sentiments are either disingenuous or naïve.

I. There are plenty of ways for you to protest and deliver your message without breaking the law.

As one who has spent hundreds of hours in nonviolent protests outside the gates of the Y12 nuclear weapons complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where workers are, right now, making thermonuclear cores for W76 warheads, the judges who lecture us—and who have never so far as I know troubled themselves to protest in any way at all from the security of the bench—have no clue. Sure, you can go to Y12 and protest all day long to the wind. It’s the preferred option of everyone who wants to maintain the status quo, second only to “Why don’t you shut up and leave us alone to do our dirty business.”

There is no sign at all that it is effective. We don’t do it because we think President Obama will drive by one Sunday evening and notice us and say, “Wait a minute! Didn’t I say something in a speech in 2009 about how we are committed to a world without nuclear weapons? Then why am I spending nineteen billion dollars on a new bomb plant? And we promised the world in 1968 that we would disarm? Gosh, these protesters are right!”

Not gonna happen, judge, and I suspect you know that. But we do those legal protests anyway.

We do it because it is important not to be silent whether anyone is listening or not. We do it because a commitment to nonviolent social change includes being present to say “No” when the government is preparing for crimes against humanity and crimes against creation. There is an old story activists tell of an old man who day after day goes out to the sidewalk with a protest sign to hold a lonely vigil. One day a young man stops. “Man, I’ve seen you out here for months. What in the world are you doing? You’re never going to change the government this way.” The old man smiles. “I’m not out here to change them. I’m out here to keep them from changing me.”

I go out every Sunday to stand for peace because I have two daughters to answer to and “I was too busy to do anything,” is not an acceptable excuse.

There have been times, at demonstrations I have attended, where hundreds of people came out to protest and the media ignored it. No TV cameras , no newspapers. The next day, it was as if nothing happened. But I have also been at demonstrations where people got arrested for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. Guess what—front page of the paper. Lead story at 11:00. When the first goal is to raise awareness, to provide people with information the government would like to keep secret, media coverage is essential. And with only a few exceptions, most media require the drama of arrests before they will cover a story that includes criticisms of the regions largest economic powerhouse.

So to judges and prosecutors who say, “You can protest all you want as long as you keep it legal,” at least be honest enough with yourself and us to say, “even though—or especially though—it means no one will know you are there.”

Of course, that is one of the fundamental tenets of nonviolent direct action, a truth that was lost on the last judge who lectured us, in federal court. The judge said he was “obviously” a fan of Gandhi—but he’s like a fan that cheers for Derek Jeter but has no clue how hard it is to field a hard, low one-hop line drive just outside the baseline behind third base, turn, and deliver the ball on target to first base. The fan admires the pure beauty of it, knows it was hard as hell, knows he could never do it, but that’s as deep as the understanding goes.

Gandhi knew, and Martin Luther King, Jr. after him, that the point of nonviolent direct action is to confront injustice in a way that can not be ignored. When the powers and institutions that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo react by punishing good people for their audacity—breaking a little law to expose a greater crime, or ignoring an unjust injunction—it is a question posed to the rest of society who, seeing good people being punished, is awakened to ask, “Wait—dogs and firehoses? On children?” or “What is going on here that these good people are going to prison?”

II. Channel this energy into working to change policy—make democracy work.

The second suggestion, offered by Judge Amul Thapar from the bench in federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee, was even more tortured. He praised the defendants before him for their intellect and clarity of thought. He noted that they had legions of supporters because he had gotten hundreds of letters and thousands of signatures on a petition. “Channel this energy toward changing policy in Washington, DC,” he said, implying they could not help but be effective.

Only two problems with that, Judge. One: without the Transform Now Plowshares action, there wouldn’t be hundreds of letters and thousands of signatures. The action was the stimulus which created the response. That’s how nonviolence works—it’s a dynamic and unpredictable thing. “Extraordinary,” Gandhi said, “and then it becomes a miracle.”

Second problem: Really? Do you really think smart, articulate people have not written hundreds of letters to Congress, haven’t signed petitions, haven’t gone to the nation’s capital to press the case? I’ve met with three different Secretaries of Energy and dozens of other officials; I’ve done briefings on Capitol Hill with former Arms Control Ambassadors and the President of the Union of Concerned Scientists. I’ve served on state and federal advisory committees. I’ve spoken at scores of public hearings, written op-eds in the local newspaper, penned letters to the editor, been quoted in a dozen major national newspaper and magazines, been interviewed hundreds of times, done radio and TV for half a dozen international media outlets. And I’m here to tell you, judge, it doesn’t work that way.

Maybe you can ring up Mitch McConnell and get put through to the Senator, but I have to shame our local Senator into even sending a staff person to meet me outside—they refuse to allow more than three people to visit in their office at one time. I’ve gone to DC to meet with a Representative for an appointment and instead had a five minute meeting in the hallway with his aide who, for most of the time, found the woman down the hall behind me far more worthy of his attention. I’ve talked to dozens and dozens of Congressional staffers, most of whom have this issue in their portfolio, and the level of ignorance is stunning. I don’t blame them—they have a million things to keep track of. But when I take a Department of Energy document to them, open it and show them where it says the new bomb plant will cost 2,400 jobs, and they insist on denying it—well, it doesn’t encourage me to put a lot of faith in your way.

I tell you what might work, though, Judge. If you called up the prosecutor and said, “Let’s look into this business about the Nonproliferation Treaty and the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. It might be nothing, but we did take an oath to uphold the Constitution, and these people are intelligent. And Ramsey Clark says there’s something to it.”

Or, another thing I am pretty sure would work, because I’ve studied a little on how things get done in Washington: How about if we just give some major campaign donations to our Senators—it would only take half a million dollars, I bet, to outbid Babcock & Wilcox, Lockheed Martin and Bechtel. Then my eight page letter to Lamar Alexander would probably warrant more than a form letter with a paragraph inserted about nuclear energy (though I wrote about nuclear weapons) and a machine signature. I’d go in the “first name file.” They have those, you know. One summer, I helped a friend who was interning file the first name file letters for a Congressman from South Carolina. That’s how democracy works, Judge, in case you don’t know. The chance of Michael Walli getting an appointment with a Senator or Representative are zero or less (those DC people don’t actually have a real one of either, you know).

What I’m equally sure won’t work is 16,000 signatures on a petition. The White House requires 100,000 signatures before it will take a petition seriously enough to read it. Nuclear weapons are not a hot enough issue to inspire that many signatures—partly because they are so horrific people don’t want to think about them and partly because they sound so technical people don’t think they can do anything about them and partly because some people are afraid to say they might not be safe without them, but mostly because the fix is in—the money fix, the fear fix, and the politics fix. There is no conversation (without something like a Transform Now Plowshares action to create one) about nuclear weapons these days. About our nuclear weapons, I mean. Lots of talk about Iran’s.

Don’t take my word for it. Set aside this case you drew and ask yourself: how many times in the last year, two years, decade, have you given any serious thought or any thought at all to US nuclear weapons production? How many times have you wondered how many warheads and bombs we have? How many times has the nuclear nonproliferation treaty crossed your mind? Even when you heard a news story about North Korea or Iran’s nuclear ambitions, how many times have you questioned our own nuclear practices? See what I mean?

Martin Luther King, Jr. said nonviolent direct action seeks to create a kind of crisis in a community, to make a space for a creative tension that challenges the status quo or even makes it untenable, and opens a space for a new reality. That’s the point, Your Honors. The discomfort you feel, looking at these people in front of you who are among the best and brightest in your community, having to sentence them or fine them as though they are bad people or have done something wrong—that’s the tension. That’s one of the reasons we are there, in front of you.

Nonviolent direct action has as its fundamental goal shaking things up. It is an honorable tradition. In this country it goes back at least to the Boston Tea Party (though if you consider property sacred you might argue about the nonviolent part of that party). It’s not your normal kind of crime, not committed by your typical criminal. The law can’t take that into account very well, though. Because the law loves order and the beautiful clarity that it brings. The law doesn’t so much like dynamic things like nonviolence when it is loosed in the world or the courtroom.

But when things are really messed up, really—like a nation that preaches nonproliferation to others but is busy building bombs and bomb plants—and no one in power wants to do anything about it, and most people in power actually have disincentives to do anything about it—what is a responsible citizen to do? If the mess up is obvious enough, and distant enough, and done by someone else—trains full of Jews heading for Dachau, for instance—we know what a responsible citizen is to do, and judges and prosecutors, too. We wrote the Nuremberg Code, we the US. But God help the citizen in the United States who sees a terrible wrong being done by the government and tries to raise the alarm.

Some years ago, in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the country of Belarus voluntarily relinquished the nuclear weapons that ended up on its sovereign soil, the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, praised them and welcomed them into the community of nations. I remember thinking, “Really? That’s the entry card into the community of nations—renouncing nuclear weapons? So what is Clinton doing there? Is he the doorkeeper? Because if that’s the entry card, we sure aren’t in the community of nations.”

I could go on, but I think my point is clear. Nonviolent direct action is required of us because the government responds to nothing less. It is required of us because our consciences and our unborn grandchildren—and yours—insist we do all we can on behalf of the planet and the future. It is required of some because they feel a divine imperative; the God they follow requires them to beat swords to plowshares and blesses peacemakers. It doesn’t seek an end in itself—it seeks to open a conversation, to encourage jurists, prosecutors, defense attorneys, the public, to search themselves to see what they can do and what they should do.

Of course there is a price to be paid. That’s why Ramsey Clark said the main thing it took was courage—more than most of us have. But to those rare few who listen to voices; who don’t throw caution to the winds but carefully, thoughtfully, gently lay it down and then pick up a hammer; to those who find themselves surprised to be doing courageous things and go on and do them, we owe a debt of great gratitude. We may even owe them the future.

Nuclear Weapons Spoilers Sentenced to Long Prison Terms

By John LaForge

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee —Three anti-war activists who easily snuck into what is touted as one of the country’s most secure nuclear weapons facilities were sentenced to long terms in federal prison Tuesday, Feb. 18.

The three were convicted last May on felony charges of depredation of property and sabotage for their nonviolent action called Transform Now Plowshares at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The convictions carried possible maximum sentences of 30 years in prison.

Federal District Judge Amul R. Thapar sentenced both Greg Boertje-Obed, 58, of Duluth, and Michael Walli, 65, of Washington, DC, to five years and two months in prison (“62 months,” in the parlance of the federal court) plus three years of heavily supervised probation.  Sr. Megan Rice, 84, of New York, NY, was sentenced to 35 months in prison plus three years of probation.

Megan, Michael and Greg entered Y-12 in the wee hours of the morning on July 28, 2012, cutting four fences and traversing a “lethal-force-authorized” zone, arriving at the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, the country’s warehouse of weapons-grade uranium. They poured blood on the walls and spray painted “Woe to an Empire of Blood” and “The Fruit of Justice is Peace.” They also chipped a corner of the concrete wall with a small hammer, a symbolic act reflecting the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah who said, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.”

The judge also ordered the three to collectively pay $52,900 in restitution for what prosecutors said was materials and overtime costs to fix the openings in four wire fences and paint over the slogans. Defense attorneys for the three have indicated that the grossly exaggerated repair costs would be challenged on appeal.

At Tuesday’s hearing, each of the nuclear resisters spoke, reminding the court of the central purpose of their action ¾to call the court’s attention to the ongoing US violation of the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) at the Y-12 plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn. In testimony at hearings before trial, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark called the production of nuclear weapons components at Y-12 “unlawful” —and the work there “a criminal enterprise” —because the NPT obliges the US government to pursue good faith negotiations for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

Ignoring each of the defendant’s direct appeals to the government’s binding legal obligations under the NPT and the Constitution (which holds that treaties are the “Supreme law of the land”) Judge Thapar repeatedly accused the three of showing “complete disrespect for law.”

Judge Thapar’s accusation of “lawlessness” was plainly dishonest and likely designed for the press, especially in view of his pre-trial orders forbidding the defendants from presenting legitimate law-based defenses. The defense of necessity —that unlawful government actions may be interfered with by citizens acting in the spirit of crime prevention —was also disallowed by Judge Thapar, who ruled before trial that the question of whether nuclear weapons production is unlawful was not relevant to the case and would confuse the jury. What the judge did not say was that when juries are allowed to consider evidence of the outlaw status of nuclear weapons, they regularly find protesters not guilty by reason of justification.

Assistant US District Attorney Jeffery Theodore had recommended much longer sentences for all three: At least 92 months for Michael; 78 months for Greg; and 70 months for Sr. Megan. But Judge Thapar challenged the prosecutor on his claim that the three had “harmed the national defense.” When Mr. Theodore asserted that the protesters “did not just monetary harm” but much more, the judge flatly disagreed. “What is the other harm —beyond the property damage —harm to pride? What is the real harm to the security of the United States?” the judge asked. Mr. Theodore merely noted the sworn testimony of a General Johnson who said that break-in had destroyed the “mystique” of robust security around nuclear weapons factories.

Speaking for himself in reply to the judge’s characterization of the action as “disrespectful of law,” Michael Walli, said in part, “I’m offended by the notion that Auschwitz had a legal right to exist. The gas ovens, the crematoria, fences and buildings there all had a purpose that was not legal or just. The name of the law used by the US to protect the criminal state terrorism going on at Y-12 is preposterous. … The law codified in the Nuremberg Principles forbids complicity in ongoing crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes” such as the planning a preparation of mass destruction.

The statement issued by the three at the time of their action said Y-12 was chosen for the action because of its plans for a multi-billion dollar H-bomb factory there —the Uranium Processing Facility. The sole purpose of the UPF (price tag now $19 billion) is to produce thermonuclear cores for gravity H-bombs and ballistic missile warheads. Y-12 is a weapons production facility where workers today perform so-called “Life Extension Upgrades” on the W76 warhead and potentially the B-61 gravity H-bomb.

John LaForge is a co-director of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, edits its Quarterly, and writes for PeaceVoice.

62- and 35-Month Sentences for Protesting WMDs

KnoxNews.com:

In the end, U.S. District Judge Amul R. Thapar showed some leniency to the Y-12 protesters, handing out lower-than-recommended sentences to the three, but he emphasized Tuesday that no matter how much he admired their conviction to ridding the world of nuclear weapons, the law comes first.

Talk Nation Radio: Gareth Porter: Iran Has Never Had a Nuclear Weapons Program

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talknationradio-20140212

Gareth Porter discussed his new book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

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The Trillion Dollar Road to Armageddon

By Ira Helfand and Robert Dodge, MD

In March of last year the Norwegian government convened a gathering of 129 nations in Oslo for a two-day Conference on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear War.  This week there will be a follow up meeting in Mexico to further examine the scientific data now available documenting the devastating global impact of even a very limited use of these weapons.

The United States and the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council, who together possess 98% of the world’s nuclear weapons, boycotted the Oslo meeting and have not yet indicated if they will attend the meeting in Mexico.  In a joint statement issued before the Oslo meeting, the P5, as they are called, said that a conference that examined what will actually happen if nuclear weapons are used would somehow “distract” them from their efforts to reduce the nuclear danger.

The administration has expressed particular concern that these conferences will somehow endanger the 1968 Non Proliferation Treaty, which makes it illegal for states which do not possess nuclear weapons to build them.  But Article VI of the NPT also requires the existing nuclear powers to engage in good faith negotiations to eliminate their own nuclear arsenals.  

A recent statement by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sheds light on the real threat to the NPT. Speaking after a tour of nuclear weapons facilities in Albuquerque earlier this month, Hagel called for the US to 'upgrade' its nuclear warheads and the submarines, bombers and missiles that deliver them.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated in late December these plans would cost $355 billion over the next decade. The Center for Nonproliferation Studies predicts the new weapons will cost $1 trillion over 30 years.

Meanwhile, the Russians are in the middle of a similar major upgrade of their nuclear forces.

So while asking the non-nuclear weapons states to respect the NPT and refrain from building nuclear weapons, the two main nuclear powers are ignoring their responsibilities under the treaty and expending vast sums of money they cannot afford to make sure they have thousands of nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future. 

And this is the problem: the system of nuclear apartheid, where some nations possess nuclear weapons and others are forbidden to have them, is increasingly unacceptable to the non-nuclear weapons states.  These nations do not want to build nuclear weapons of their own.  They want the nuclear powers to stop holding them hostage and putting the safety of the whole world at risk with the weapons they already possess.

This concern has indeed been fueled by the growing understanding of the actual effects of nuclear weapons, particularly the recent reports that have shown that even a very limited, regional nuclear war would have catastrophic weather, contamination, crop loss, and famine consequences worldwide, likely killing billions of people.  The weapons on a single US Trident submarine can produce this global catastrophe; we have 14 of them.

The US and Russia claim the world does not have to worry about their nuclear weapons—they will never be used.  Around the world, it is an argument that persuades few.  If there is no chance these weapons will ever be used, why would we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on them? Even if they are not used deliberately, there exists the very real threat of an accidental war.  We know of at least five occasions in the last 35 years when either Moscow or Washington prepared to launch a nuclear war in the mistaken belief that it was itself under attack.  And a terrorist cyber attack could lead to the unauthorized launch of these weapons. 

We are at a fundamental decision point with respect to nuclear weapons.  We can begin negotiations with the other nuclear powers to eliminate our nuclear arsenals and prevent the proliferation of these weapons across the planet.  Or we can spend a trillion dollars to extend our nuclear arsenal and send a clear message to the rest of the world that they should build nuclear weapons, too. 

The US should stop insisting that the non-nuclear nations trust us and do as we say and not do as we do. We need to lead by example and seek the security of a world without nuclear weapons. The US should attend the Mexico meeting and give leadership to the growing international movement to negotiate a treaty to eliminate these weapons once and for all.

 

Ira Helfand is co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and a past president of the organization’s U.S.affiliate, Physicians for Social Responsibility (www.psr.org). He is the author of the new report “Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk?”

Robert Dodge is a member of Physicians for Social Responsibilities Security Committee, is syndicated by PeaceVoice, and is on the Board of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org)

Climbing the Mountain: Legislators collaborating on bilateral, plurilateral and global measures towards a secure nuclear-weapons-free world

 February 25-27, 2014

Washington, United States

 

Honorary Chair US Senator Ed Markey

Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament

 

Organised by Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament  and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (Foundation)

Supported by The Simons Foundation and the Kazakhstan Embassy to the United States

  

Inspiring speakers including:

·         Senator Ed Markey, Member US Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Co-founder of the US Nuclear Freeze Movement

·         Senator Nan Grogan Orrock, President of the US Women Legislators' Lobby

·         Karipbek Kuyukov, Second generation victim of Soviet nuclear tests, acclaimed armless painter

·         Angela Kane, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

·         Senator Alena Gajduskova, Vice-President of the Senate of the Czech Republic

·         Anita Friedt,US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance

·         Saber Chowdhury MP,President of the Inter Parliamentary Union Standing Commission on Peace and International Security

·         Senator Richard Tuheiava, Member of the French Senate Defense Committee, Senator from Polynesia – French nuclear testing region

·         US Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton, Author of the US House of Reps Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act

·         Tadatoshi Akiba, Chair of the Middle Powers Initiative,former Mayor of Hiroshima, former President of Mayors for Peace

·         Donald L. Plusquellic, Mayor of Akron, Executive Member Mayors for Peace, Past-President of the US Conference of Mayors

·         Ira Helfand,International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War

·         François Stamm, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) – Washington Delegation

·         Ambassador Richard Burt, U.S. Chair of Global Zero

·         Paul Walker, Green Cross International

 

Climbing the Mountain:

In 2007, four high-level US statesmen advanced the vision of a nuclear-weapons-free world as a goal that must be sought collectively to reverse nuclear proliferation and achieve security, but noted that such a goal was like an extremely high mountain that would take some effort to climb. Since then, the goal of a nuclear-weapons-free world has been endorsed by President Obama, leaders of other nuclear-weapon-States and their allies and by the collective membership of the United Nations. But action by governments to implement this commitment has been lack-lustre at best.

 

In 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon contacted every legislature in the world reminding parliamentarians of their key roles in responding to unprecedented global challenges, ensuring sustainable global security and working ‘now on the legislative agendas needed to achieve and sustain the objective of nuclear disarmament.’

 

This conference will bring together legislators from across the political spectrum and from around the world in order to facilitate dialogue, enhance understanding and build parliamentary engagement in practical measures to advance nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The conference will focus particularly on engagement between US legislators and legislators from key countries where progress is required to build cooperative security, phase-out the reliance on nuclear weapons and establish the framework for a secure nuclear-weapons-free world.

 

Special attention will be given to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons as an imperative to achieve their abolition.

 

PNND Assembly: Climbing the Mountain

Program outline

 

Day 1:              Tuesday February 25:          18:30 – 21:00

Alan Cranston Award dinner. Co-hosted by Green Cross International and the Global Security Institute

                               

Day 2:             Wednesday February 26:        9:30 – 17:30

                                PNND Conference:  Climbing the mountain – part I

Session 1:       Steps and measures by nuclear-armed States                                                    

Session 2:       From nuclear deterrence to cooperative security                         

Session 3:       Regional security mechanisms- Nuclear Weapon Free Zones

Session 4:       Building the framework for a Nuclear Weapons Free World

 

Day 3:              Thursday February 27:            9:00 – 12:30

PNND Conference:  Climbing the mountain – part II

Session 5:        Special session on Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons

Session 6:       Building cross-party and inter-parliamentarycooperation  

Session 7:       National measures and exemplary policies        

 

PNND Council Meeting:                  13:30 – 17:00

Session 1:        Program reports and partnerships

Session 2:        Discussion on PNND draft program for 2014-2015

Session 3:        Organization and outreach

 

Closing reception:                        18:30 – 20:30

Ending the terror of nuclear weapons

Kennedy Caucus Room. US Senate Russell Building

Co-hosted by Senator Markey, PNND and the Kazakhstan Embassy to the United States

Featuring Karipbek Kuyukov, Second generation victim of Soviet nuclear tests, acclaimed armless painter

 

 For further information and to register contact info@pnnd.org

 

*******************************************************************************


PNND (Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament)is a global network of legislators

working on a range of initiatives to prevent nuclear proliferation and to achieve a nuclear weapons free world.

www.facebook.com/pnndglobal                           

www.pnnd.org

info@pnnd.org

 

Head office:

Basel Peace Office

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Justice gets the shaft when it involves Mumia: Sen. Toomey and Philly DA Williams Slam Obama Rights Nominee for Seeking Justice

The latest from ThisCantBeHappening!:

 

Justice gets the shaft when it involves Mumia:

Sen. Toomey and Philly DA Williams Slam Obama Rights Nominee for Seeking Justice


By Dave Lindorff


U.S. “Dismantling” Rhetoric Ignores Iran’s Nuclear Proposals

 

John Kerry's rhetoric of “dismantlement” serves to neutralise the Israel loyalists and secondarily to maximise U.S. leverage in the approaching negotiations.  Credit: US Mission/Eric Bridiers

By Gareth Porter

John Kerry's rhetoric of “dismantlement” serves to neutralise the Israel loyalists and secondarily to maximise U.S. leverage in the approaching negotiations. Credit: US Mission/Eric Bridiers

WASHINGTON, Jan 25 2014 (IPS- Iran’s pushback against statements by Secretary of State John Kerry and the White House that Tehran must “dismantle” some of its nuclear programme, and the resulting political uproar over it, indicates that tough U.S. rhetoric may be adding new obstacles to the search for a comprehensive nuclear agreement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto Wednesday, “We are not dismantling any centrifuges, we’re not dismantling any equipment, we’re simply not producing, not enriching over five percent.”

When CNN’s Fareed Zakaria asked President Hassan Rouhani, “So there would be no destruction of centrifuges?” Rouhani responded, “Not under any circumstances. Not under any circumstances.”

Those statements have been interpreted by U.S. news media, unaware of the basic technical issues in the negotiations, as indicating that Iran is refusing to negotiate seriously. In fact, Zarif has put on the table proposals for resolving the remaining enrichment issues that the Barack Obama administration has recognised as serious and realistic.

The Obama administration evidently views the rhetorical demand for “dismantling” as a minimum necessary response to Israel’s position that the Iranian nuclear programme should be shut down. But such rhetoric represents a serious provocation to a Tehran government facing accusations of surrender by its own domestic critics.

Zarif complained that the White House had been portraying the agreement “as basically a dismantling of Iran’s nuclear programme. That is the word they use time and again.” Zarif observed that the actual agreement said nothing about “dismantling” any equipment.

The White House issued a “Fact Sheet” Nov. 23 with the title, “First Step Understandings Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program” that asserted that Iran had agreed to “dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%.”

That wording was not merely a slight overstatement of the text of the “Joint Plan of Action”. At the Fordow facility, which had been used exclusively for enrichment above five percent, Iran had operated four centrifuge cascades to enrich at above five percent alongside 12 cascades that had never been operational because they had never been connected after being installed, as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had reported.

The text of the agreement was quite precise about what Iran would do: “At Fordow, no further enrichment over 5% at 4 cascades now enriching uranium, and not increase enrichment capacity. Not feed UF6 into the other 12 cascades, which would remain in a non-operative state. No interconnections between cascades.”

So Iran was not required by the interim agreement to “dismantle” anything. What Zarif and Rouhani were even more upset about, however, is the fact that Kerry and Obama administration spokespersons have repeated that Iran will be required to “dismantle” parts of its nuclear programme in the comprehensive agreement to be negotiated beginning next month.

The use of the word “dismantle” in those statements appears to be largely rhetorical and aimed at fending off attacks by pro-Israel political figures characterising the administration’s negotiating posture as soft. But the consequence is almost certain to be a narrowing of diplomatic flexibility in the coming negotiations.

Kerry appears to have concluded that the administration had to use the “dismantle” language after a Nov. 24 encounter with George Stephanopoulos of NBC News.

Stephanopoulos pushed Kerry hard on the Congressional Israeli loyalist criticisms of the interim agreement. “Lindsey Graham says unless the deal requires dismantling centrifuges, we haven’t gained anything,” he said.

When Kerry boasted, “centrifuges will not be able to be installed in places that could otherwise be installed,” Stephanopoulos interjected, “But not dismantled.” Kerry responded, “That’s the next step.”

A moment later, Kerry declared, “And while we go through these next six months, we will be negotiating the dismantling, we will be negotiating the limitations.”

After that, Kerry made “dismantle” the objective in his prepared statement. In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Dec. 11, Kerry said the U.S. had been imposing sanctions on Iran “because we knew that [the sanctions] would hopefully help Iran dismantle its nuclear programme.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed Zarif’s comment as “spin” on Iran’s commitments under the Joint Plan of Action “for their domestic political purposes”.

He refused to say whether that agreement involved any “dismantling” by Iran, but confirmed that, “as part of that comprehensive agreement, should it be reached, Iran will be required to agree to strict limits and constraints on all aspects of its nuclear programme to include the dismantlement of significant portions of its nuclear infrastructure in order to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon in the future.”

But the State Department spokesperson, Marie Harf, was much less categorical in a press briefing Jan. 13: “We’ve said that in a comprehensive agreement, there will likely have to be some dismantling of some things.”

That remark suggests that the Kerry and Carney rhetoric of “dismantlement” serves to neutralise the Israel loyalists and secondarily to maximise U.S. leverage in the approaching negotiations.

Kerry and other U.S. officials involved in the negotiations know that Iran does not need to destroy any centrifuges in order to resolve the problem of “breakout” to weapons grade enrichment once the stockpile of 20- percent enriched uranium disappears under the terms of the interim agreement.

Zarif had proposed in his initial power point presentation in October a scheme under which Iran would convert its entire stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium into an oxide form that could only be used for fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor.

U.S. officials who had previously been insistent that Iran would have to ship the stockpile out of the country were apparently convinced that there was another way to render it “unusable” for the higher-level enrichment necessary for nuclear weapons. That Iranian proposal became the central element in the interim agreement.

But there was another part of Zarif’s power point that is relevant to the remaining problem of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium: Iran’s planned conversion of that stockpile into the same oxide form for fuel rods for nuclear power plants as was used to solve the 20-percent stockpile problem.

And that plan was accepted by the United States as a way of dealing with additional low-enriched uranium that would be produced during the six-month period.

An element included in the Joint Plan of Action which has been ignored thus far states: “Beginning when the line for conversion of UF6 enriched up to 5% to UO2 is ready, Iran has decided to convert to oxide UF6 newly enriched up to 5% during the 6 month period, as provided in the operational schedule of the conversion plant declared to the IAEA.”

The same mechanism – the conversion of all enriched uranium to oxide on an agreed time frame — could also be used to ensure that the entire stockpile of low-enriched uranium could no longer be used for “breakout” to weapons-grade enrichment without the need to destroy a single centrifuge. In fact, it would allow Iran to enrich uranium at a low level for a nuclear power programme.

The Obama administration’s rhetoric of “dismantlement”, however, has created a new political reality: the U.S. news media has accepted the idea that Iran must “dismantle” at least some of its nuclear programme to prove that it is not seeking nuclear weapons.

CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo was shocked by the effrontery of Zarif and Rouhani. “That’s supposed to be the whole underpinning of moving forward from the United States perspective,” Cuomo declared, “is that they scale back, they dismantle, all this stuff we’ve been hearing.”

Yet another CNN anchor, Wolf Blitzer, who was an official of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee before becoming a network journalist, called Zarif’s statements “stunning and truly provocative,” adding that they would “give ammunition” to those in Congress pushing for a new sanctions bill that is clearly aimed at sabotaging the negotiations.

The Obama administration may be planning to exercise more diplomatic flexibility to agree to solutions other than demanding that Iran “dismantle” large parts of its “nuclear infrastructure”.

But using such rhetoric, rather than acknowledging the technical and diplomatic realities surrounding the talks, threatens to create a political dynamic that discourages reaching a reasonable agreement and leaves them unresolved.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His new book “Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare”, will be published in February 2014.

The Endless Arms Race: Despite Great Power Promises, New Nuclear Weapons Are On the Way

It’s heartening to see that an agreement has been reached to ensure that Iran honors its commitment, made when it signed the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to forgo developing nuclear weapons.

But what about the other key part of the NPT, Article VI, which commits nuclear-armed nations to “cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament,” as well as to “a treaty on general and complete disarmament”?  Here we find that, 44 years after the NPT went into force, the United States and other nuclear powers continue to pursue their nuclear weapons buildups, with no end in sight.

On January 8, 2014, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced what Reuters termed “ambitious plans to upgrade [U.S.] nuclear weapons systems by modernizing weapons and building new submarines, missiles and bombers to deliver them.”  The Pentagon intends to build a dozen new ballistic missile submarines, a new fleet of long-range nuclear bombers, and new intercontinental ballistic missiles.  The Congressional Budget Office estimated in late December that implementing the plans would cost $355 billion over the next decade, while an analysis by the independent Center for Nonproliferation Studies reported that this upgrade of U.S. nuclear forces would cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years.  If the higher estimate proves correct, the submarines alone would cost over $29 billion each.

WHAT’S WORSE THAN A NUCLEAR WAR?

By Kent Shifferd

What could be worse than a nuclear war?  A nuclear famine following a nuclear war.  And where is the most likely nuclear war to break out?  The India-Pakistan border.  Both countries are nuclear armed, and although their arsenals are “small” compared to the U.S. and Russia, they are extremely deadly.  Pakistan has about 100 nuclear weapons; India about 130.  They have fought three wars since 1947 and are contending bitterly for control over the Kashmir and for influence in Afghanistan.  While India has renounced first use, for whatever that is worth, Pakistan has not, declaring that in the event of an impending defeat by India’s overwhelming conventional forces it would strike first with nuclear weapons.

Saber rattling is common.  Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that a fourth war could take place if the Kashmir issue wasn’t resolved, and the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh replied that Pakistan “will never win a war in my lifetime.” 

A nuclear China already hostile to India could also quickly become involved in a conflict between the two enemies, and Pakistan is on the brink of becoming a failed state¾a development unknown and thus highly risky for a nuclear weapons nation-state.

Experts predict a nuclear war between India and Pakistan would kill about 22 million people from blast, acute radiation, and firestorms.  However, the global famine caused by such a “limited” nuclear war would result in two billion deaths over 10 years.

That’s right, a nuclear famine.  A war using fewer than half their weapons would lift so much black soot and soil into the air that it would cause a nuclear winter.  Such a scenario was known as far back as the 1980s, but no one had calculated the impact on agriculture. 

The irradiated cloud would cover vast portions of the earth, bringing low temperatures, shorter growing seasons, sudden crop-killing extremes of temperature, altered rainfall patterns and would not dissipate for about 10 years. Now, a new report based on some very sophisticated studies reveals the crop losses that would result and the number of people who would be put at risk for malnutrition and starvation. 

The computer models show declines in wheat, rice, corn, and soybeans. Overall production of crops would fall, hitting their low in year five and gradually recovering by year ten. Corn and soybeans in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri would suffer an average of 10 percent and, in year five, 20 percent.  In China, corn would fall by 16 percent over the decade, rice by 17 percent, and wheat by 31 percent.  Europe would also have declines.

Making the impact even worse, there are already almost 800 million malnourished people in the world.  A mere 10 percent decline in their calorie intake puts them at risk for starvation.  And we will add hundreds of millions of people to the world population over the next couple of decades.  Just to stay even with we will need hundreds of millions more meals than we now produce.  Second, under the conditions of a nuclear war-induced winter and severe food shortages, those who have will horde.  We saw this when drought depressed production a couple of years ago and several food exporting nations stopped exporting.  The economic disruption to the food markets would be severe and the price of food will go up as it did then, placing what food is available out of reach for millions. And what follows famine is epidemic disease.   

“Nuclear Famine: Two Billion People at Risk?” is a report from a world-wide federation of medical societies, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Nobel Peace Prize recipients, 1985) and their American affiliate, Physicians for Social Responsibility.  It’s online at http://www.psr.org/resources/two-billion-at-risk.html    They have no political axe to grind.  Their sole concern is human health.

What can you do?  The only way to assure ourselves this global disaster will not happen is to join the global movement to abolish these weapons of mass destruction. Start with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (http://www.icanw.org/).  We abolished slavery.  We can get rid of these terrible instruments of destruction.

+   +   +

Kent Shifferd, Ph.D., (kshifferd@centurytel.net) is an historian who taught environmental history and ethics for 25 years at Wisconsin’s Northland College.  He is author of From War to Peace: A Guide to the Next Hundred Years (McFarland, 2011) and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Fukushima Backs Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons

From Japan Council against A & H Bombs (GENSUIKYO) http://www.antiatom.org/

Fukushima Prefectural Assembly unanimously adopted a "Recommendation Calling for Decision and Action for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons" to the government of Japan.  This petition was made by Fukushima Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo).   It was discussed and adopted on December 17, 2013.  Fukushima people and the Japanese peace movements are much encouraged by this result.

The recommendation is as follows:

December 17, 2013

To:
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Speaker of the House of Councilors
Prime Minister
Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Recommendation Calling for Decision and Action for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons

The NPT Review Conference of May 2010 agreed to “achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” and declared, “all States need to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.”

 
With the 2015 NPT Review Conference approaching, all the governments and civil society across the world must take actions in unison to bring this goal to a reality.  So far, although three years have elapsed since then, the path to reach this goal is not yet in sight.

True, a certain number of nuclear weapons, including those dealt between the U.S. and Russia, were cut down, but still some 19,000 nuclear warheads are stockpiled or deployed.  Even such moves as developing nuclear weapons are continuing, as seen in the current tension on the Korean Peninsula.  Whether intentional or accidental, the danger of nuclear weapons actually being used remains real.
 
The only way to get out of the current situation and to eliminate nuclear weapons is to totally prohibit them through the united agreement by the international community. The  International Court of Justice declared that the use of nuclear weapons is “contrary to the rule of international law …, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law”.  As the only country to have suffered the nuclear devastation in the world, Japan has moral grounds and heavy responsibility to appeal the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and call for banning them.
 
If the nuclear weapon states make a decision, the U.N. Security Council or the General Assembly can confirm in consensus the need to totally ban nuclear weapons.  Based on that, negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention can be launched.
 
In the midst of increasing military tension over North Korea’s nuclear development, it will   be a great contribution to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the promotion of peace and security of Japan and East Asia if Japan takes action for banning and eliminating nuclear weapons, standing on its Constitution that renounces the use and threat of force as means to resolve international disputes.  We must point out that any further delay in this decision and actions is tantamount to neglecting the danger of causing a second or third Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
 
We sincerely call on the government of Japan to take initiatives to achieve an agreement for a total ban on nuclear weapons in the sessions of international organizations such as the NPT and the UN, so that the 2015 NPT Review Conference will become a place to launch actions for definitely attaining the “peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
 
We hereby submit this recommendation in accordance with Article 99 of the Local Autonomy Act.
 
Hiraide Takao
Speaker
Fukushima Prefectural Assembly
 

European Leaders Call for a New Approach to Security

The statement is also available in German, French, Italian, RussianSpanish and Turkish.

Overplaying Its Hand, Israel Still Holds Plenty of U.S. Cards

By Norman Solomon and Abba A. Solomon

More than ever, Israel is isolated from world opinion and the squishy entity known as “the international community.” The Israeli government keeps condemning the Iran nuclear deal, by any rational standard a positive step away from the threat of catastrophic war.

In the short run, the belligerent responses from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are bound to play badly in most of the U.S. media. But Netanyahu and the forces he represents have only begun to fight. They want war on Iran, and they are determined to exercise their political muscle that has long extended through most of the Washington establishment.

While it’s unlikely that such muscle can undo the initial six-month nuclear deal reached with Iran last weekend, efforts are already underway to damage and destroy the negotiations down the road. On Capitol Hill the attacks are most intense from Republicans, and some leading Democrats have also sniped at the agreement reached in Geneva.

A widespread fear is that some political precedent might be set, undercutting “pro-Israel” leverage over U.S. government decisions. Such dread is inherent in the negative reactions from Netanyahu (“a historic mistake”), GOP lawmakers like House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers (“a permission slip to continue enrichment”) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (“we’ve let them out of the trap”), and Democratic lawmakers like Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Robert Menendez (“this agreement did not proportionately reduce Iran’s nuclear program”) and Senator Charles Schumer (“it does not seem proportional”).

Netanyahu and many other Israelis -- as well as the powerhouse U.S. lobbying group AIPAC and many with similar outlooks in U.S. media and politics -- fear that Israel’s capacity to hold sway over Washington policymakers has begun to slip away. “Our job is to be the ones to warn,” Israel’s powerful finance minister, Yair Lapid, told Israeli Army Radio on Sunday. “We need to make the Americans to listen to us like they have listened in the past.”

This winter and spring, the Israeli government and its allies are sure to strafe U.S. media and political realms with intense barrages of messaging. “Israel will supplement its public and private diplomacy with other tools,” the New York Times reported Monday from Jerusalem. “Several officials and analysts here said Israel would unleash its intelligence industry to highlight anticipated violations of the interim agreement.” Translation: Israel will do everything it can to undermine the next stage of negotiations and prevent a peaceful resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.

Looking ahead, as a practical political matter, can the U.S. government implement a major policy shift in the Middle East without at least grudging acceptance from the Israeli government? Such questions go to the core of the Israeli occupation now in its 47th year.

Israel keeps building illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank; suppression of the basic human rights of Palestinian people continues every day on a large scale in the West Bank and Gaza. There is no reason to expect otherwise unless Israel’s main political, military and economic patron, the United States, puts its foot down and refuses to backstop those reprehensible policies. They can end only when the “special relationship” between the USA and Israel becomes less special, in keeping with a single standard for human rights and against military aggression.

Such talk is abhorrent to those who are steeped in the notion that the United States must serve as a reliable enabler of Israel’s policies. But in every way that those policies are wrong, the U.S. government should stop enabling them.

The longstanding obstacles to such a halt stand a bit less tall today, but they remain huge. No less than before, as William Faulkner said, “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” This certainly applies to the history of gaining and maintaining unequivocal U.S. support for Israel.

Today’s high-impact American groups such as AIPAC (which calls itself “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby”), Christians United for Israel (“the largest pro-Israel organization in the U.S., with more than a million members,” according to the Jerusalem Post) and similar outfits have built on 65 years of broad and successful Israel advocacy in the United States.

Baked into the foundation of their work was the premise of mutuality and compatibility of Israeli and American interests. Until the end of the Cold War, routine spin portrayed aid to Israel as a way to stymie Soviet power in the region. Especially since 9/11, U.S. support for Israel has been equated with support for a precious bulwark against terrorism.

Ever since the successful 1947 campaign to press for UN General Assembly approval of Palestine partition, Israel’s leaders have closely coordinated with American Jewish organizations. Israeli government representatives in the United States regularly meet with top officers of American Jewish groups to convey what Israel wants and to identify the key U.S. officials who handle relevant issues. Those meetings have included discussions about images of Israel to promote for the American public, with phrases familiar to us, such as "making the desert bloom" and “outpost of democracy.”

As any member of Congress is well aware, campaign donations and media messaging continue to nurture public officials cooperative and sympathetic to Israel. For the rare officeholders and office seekers who stand out as uncooperative and insufficiently sympathetic, a formulaic remedy has been applied: withholding campaign donations, backing opponents and launching of media vilification. Those political correctives have proved effective -- along the way, serving as cautionary tales for politicians who might be tempted to step too far out of line.

The mainstream American Jewish Committee decided in 1953 that for its pro-Israel advocacy, “To the utmost extent, non-Jewish and non-sectarian organizations should be used as spokesmen.” Such a strategic approach has borne fruit for the overall Israel advocacy project in the USA. It is time-tested and mature; broadly distributing messages through organizations of most political flavors; and adept at touching almost all sizable media.

This year, Israeli leaders have intensified their lurid casting of Iran as the next genocidal Third Reich, and Israel as the protector absent for Jews during the Holocaust. For some, the theme is emotionally powerful. But it must not be allowed to prevent a diplomatic resolution of the nuclear dispute with Iran.

From now till next summer, the struggle over talks with Iran will be fierce and fateful. All signs point to determined efforts by Israel -- and its many allies in the United States -- to wreck prospects for a peaceful solution.

________________________________

Norman Solomon is the founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Abba A. Solomon is the author of “The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein’s Speech ‘The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews,’ Given to the Baltimore Chapter American Jewish Committee, February 15, 1948.”

In Front of UN, NGO Leaders to Call for Global Supervision of Fukushima Spent Fuel Removal Before TEPCO Starts Work

Petition With 150,000 Signatures Demanding Global

Oversight To Be Delivered To UN Secretary General

 

WHAT?  There will be a gathering and press availability with NGO leaders and advocates at 1pm on November 7 at Dag Hammerskjold Plaza, shortly before they deliver a petition calling for UN oversight of the removal of spent fuel from Fukushima’s Unit 4 fuel pool to the UN Secretary -General’s office.  Unit 4 is severely damaged and highly vulnerable to continuing earthquakes (two earthquakes hit Fukushima prefecture in the last few days) and to other dangers.  TEPCO  is scheduled to begin removal in mid-November.   The first round of the petition attracted 150,000 signatures in a month.  It states:

"At Fukushima Unit 4, the impending removal of hugely radioactive spent fuel rods from a pool 100 feet in the air presents unparalleled scientific and engineering challenges. With the potential for 15,000 times more fallout than was released at Hiroshima, we ask the world community, through the United Nations, to take control of this uniquely perilous task."

As petition organizer Harvey Wasserman wrote recently, "Japan's Prime Minister Abe has finally asked for global help in dealing with Fukushima's water problems. US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has offered America's help.  But nothing short of a full-on global presence will do. The bring-down of the fuel rods from Unit Four is a terrifying unknown. There's no precedent for an operation of this scope, precision or potential fallout.  At very least it demands fullest possible attention from all the world's best scientists and engineers."

Speakers will announce a second round of petitions calling for a focused, global scientific review of how the spent fuel will be brought down and secured from Unit 4 before work starts.  The task is extremely delicate, the fuel is intensely radioactive, and more mistakes, mishaps and/or misinformation from TEPCO in removing it would have severe global consequences.  Significant quantities of radioactive material from Fukushima have already been found off Alaska and hundreds of tons of radioactive contamination from Fukushima plant continue to pour into the ocean daily.  

WHO?  The following speakers will address the gathering at Dag Hammerskjold Plaza and are available for side interviews on request:

Harvey Wasserman, executive director of nukefree.org senior advisor to Greenpeace USA and the Nuclear Information Resource Service,  a distinguished  investigative reporter and among the most prominent opponents of nuclear power in the US (as well as a prominent  renewable energy proponent and author of Solartopia).  

Jill Stein, MD, physician and Green Party nominee for President of the United States in 2012.  She currently serves as President of the Green Shadow Cabinet.

Margaret Flowers, MD,  physician, Congressional Fellow with Physicians for a National Health Program, Health Secretary of the Green Shadow Cabinet, and an advocate for global oversight of Fukushima.

WHERE & WHEN?  These speakers will gather with other advocates and supporters at from 1 - 2pm on Thursday, November 7 at Dag Hammerskjold Plaza, located at East 47th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues.  They are also available for side interviews on request and have a room reserved for that purpose at 1 UN Plaza.  To request an interview or for more information, please call or email the contacts above.

__._,_.___

An International Conference in Israel "For a Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East" – December 5th-6th 2013

The question of nuclear policy and the need to discuss it openly has become a cardinal issue worldwide as well as in Israel. Paradoxically, the focus of the government of Israel and its various apparatuses on Iran’s nuclear policy has raised the issue of nuclear policy in the Middle East as a whole, including that of Israel itself.

The international community has recognized that the nuclear issue, as well as the issue of weapons of mass destruction generally, is not an internal affair of any state but has implications that reach beyond national and geographic borders, and hence it requires international attention. Different international initiatives for abolishing nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction derive from such insights. For example:

1 - The great progress in the issue of dismantling the arsenal of chemical weapons in Syria and the commitment to implement the Security Council resolution through cooperation with the Syrian government.

2 - The new moderate official Iranian discourse on Iran's nuclear policy, and the Iranian president Ruhani's commitment to cooperate with the international community to promote a nuclear free zone in the Middle East.

Those two developments have created favorable conditions for an effort to breach the wall of indifference erected by the Israeli establishment to block public discussion on the nuclear and WMD issue inside Israel.

There is a broad international support, including among the peoples of the Middle East and among the progressive forces inside Israel, for the immediate implementation of the UN general assembly resolution from May 2010. That resolution called to hold an international conference in Helsinki under the auspices of the UN to promote the creation of a nuclear free zone in the Middle East, which is based on having all the countries of the region – inncluding Israel – joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the treaty on thee banning of chemical weapons.

Israel was the only party in the ME that decided to boycott the Helsinki conference. Consequently, the conference was cancelled. In an alternative international conference, which was organized by the peace organizations in Finland last December, and attended by the Finnish foreign minister, the representative of the Haifa based Emil Touma Institute concluded: "If official Israel will not come to Helsinki, it remains the task of the peace and progressive forces, in Israel and abroad, to bring Helsinki to Israel". Hence, the idea of an international conference in Israel was born, aimed at strengthening the demand for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East. Such a conference would be a continuation of many years of activism towards this goal. 

The coming together of peace and human rights organizations from abroad, and the widening support among peace and progress forces within Israel, could turn such conference into a landmark in the struggle for nuclear disarmament in the Middle East. It could be a real and viable alternative to the war plans, and to the calls for a disastrous attack against Iran.

Believing that now is the time to step up the Israel-based campaign for WMD disarmament in the region, we have rallied together a broad spectrum of activists and representatives from peace forces, human rights groups and civil society organizations. Believing that now is the time to intensify the campaign in Israel on matters of Nuclear Weapons and WMD disarmament, and believing that the security of the citizens of Israel and the peoples of the region will not be met by the stockpiling of nuclear bombs and WMDs, and not by disastrous wars - but rather by disarmament, and just peace, we have announced the formation of a preparatory committee for an International Conference in Israel proper (Haifa) with the title "For a Middle East Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction".

A preparatory committee for the conference composed of prominent figures in Israeli civil society has been assembled.

The committee decided to hold the conference in Haifa, on December 5th-6th, 2013 in English and Hebrew with simultaneously translation.In addition a possibility of a second session on December 7th, to be held in Ramallah, where Palestinian and Arab organizations from all over the region could take part, is being considered. A detailed program will follow in due time. We have initiated contact with several well-known figures to attend this event or to address it via video. These include Nobel Prize winner Prof. Ada Yonath, Prof. Noam Chomsky, President Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The policy of the preparatory committee regarding speakers and participants is to be as inclusive as possible and will embrace any Israeli or international figure who supports disarmament of WMD in the Middle East regardless of their political orientation. We have issued a call for peace and human rights organizations, members of the anti-nuclear movement and all those who oppose WMD in the world in general and in Israel in particular, to support the conference and to participate it. We take these steps out of grave concern for the security and the future of all the peoples of the region, including all citizens of Israel.

So far, the response has been heartening. We have already succeeded to bring together a wide range of peace activists and representatives of civil society organizations as well as  known public figures and Israeli academicians who expressed their willingness to participate in the preparatory committee of this international conference and in the conference itself.

We would be more than glad if your organization could be an active and integral partner in    the preparations of this conference and help us meet some of the great expenses involved in the process.

With appreciation and best wishes,

Issam Makhoul                                                   Avraham Burg                                
Chairperson of Emil Touma Institute                        Former Speaker of the Knesset                                           
For Palestinian and Israeli studies                          - Former MK

Issam_makhoul@yahoo.com                           avrumburg@gmail.com

 
On behalf of the preparatory Committee for the International Conference in Israel "For a Nuclear Weapons and Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East":

MK Dr. Dov Khenin , former MK Pr. Naomi Chazan , Pr. Colman Altman, Dr. Ruchama Marton, head and founder of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR I), Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh,(PHR I), Gideon Spiro, journalist and veteran activist for a ME free of nuclear , chemical and biological weapons ,Aida Touma,director of Women Against Violence(WAV), editor of chief of Al Etihad newspaper,  Sharon Dolev, activist in nuclear disarmament organization , Dr. Dani Filc, Dr. Ahmad Masarweh, (PHR I), Dr. Asher Davidi , Dr. Ofer Cassif , Dr. John Assi,( international Law), Michael Warshivsky,  former MK Mossi Raz, former Speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg  and former MK Issam Makhoul , Chairperson of Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian and Israeli Studies.  

Robert Stone must film Fukushima now

By Harvey Wasserman

We are in desperate need of documentary filmmakers at Fukushima. 

The Japanese government is about to pass a national censorship law clearly meant to make it impossible to know what’s going on there. 

Massive quantities of radioactive water have been flowing through the site since the 3/11/11 earthquake/tsunami. 

At thousand flimsy tanks hold still more thousands of tons of radioactive water which would pour into the Pacific should they collapse. 

An earthquake and two typhoons have have just hit there, flushing still more radioactive water into the sea. 

The corrupt and incompetent Tokyo Electric Power Company will soon try moving 400 tons of supremely radioactive rods from a damaged Unit Four fuel pool, an operation that could easily end in global catastrophe. The rods contain 14,000 times as much radioactive cesium as was released at the bombing of Hiroshima. 

Nobody knows the exact location of the melted cores from Units One, Two and Three or whether they are still fissioning. 

Reuters and others report criminal involvement, slashed wages, inhuman working conditions, serious shortages and lack of training in what has become an extremely dangerous labor crisis. 

Intensely radioactive hotspots have turned up throughout Japan, including some that threaten human life in Tokyo and make cast a pall on the upcoming Olympics. 

At least one report indicates a massive dead zone in the Pacific apparently caused by radiation pouring in from the site. Tuna contaminated with radiation from Fukushima have been caught off the California coast, and there are widespread reports other marine life disappearing throughout the Pacific. 

With the information flow from Fukushima apparently about to go dark, the presence of independent media and researchers has become more critical than ever. 

Petitions with more than 140,000 signatures asking for a global takeover of the Fukushima site will be delivered to the United Nations November 7The ask is for a transnational team of world’s best scientists and engineers to guarantee that all necessary resources are available to deal with this crisis

Robert Stone has made a high budget dis-infomercial sponsored by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen, whose cohort Bill Gates has bet heavily on new nukes. Called “Pandora’s Promise,” Stone’s promoters have refused to send us a review copy. We’re told it mocks industry opponents without actually interviewing them, while downplaying the killing power of atomic radiation. It’s scheduled to air on CNN without a balancing point of view

A trip to Fukushima might change Stone’s mind. He’s worked in the past with Michael Moore, one of our greatest investigative documentarians. Using Michael’s aggressive techniques, we want him to bring back critical information that could make a difference. 

At very least we desperately need to know more about the11,000 intensely radioactive fuel rods on site, the three missing reactor cores, the proposed bring-down of the Unit Four fuel rods, the potential for still more explosions, the labor crisis, the unending flow of potentially lethal radiation into the biosphere, and much more. 

The fate of the Earth may now hang at the mercy of a widely distrusted corporation and far-right government intent on blacking out that site. 

Dr. James Hanson, an important climate scientist, has expressed his support for atomic energy, and would make a fitting co-worker on this trip. 

Along the way, Mr. Stone, you might check out Japan’s massive new offshore wind turbines whose promise is to replace all the reactors this disaster has forced shut. 

But as a hired industry gun, you need above all to tell us what’s happening at Fukushima...before the lights go out. 

Our future could well depend on how honestly you undertake this critical task. Please report back as soon as possible. 

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Harvey Wasserman edits Nuke Free. He is author of SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH and hosts the “Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show” atPM

124 states condemn unacceptable effects of nuclear weapons

Very survival of humanity depends on nuclear weapons never being used

NEW YORK – A joint statement on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons was delivered by New Zealand today at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Expressing deep concern for the catastrophic consequences that any use of nuclear weapons would entail, as well as for their uncontrollable destructive capability and indiscriminate nature, the New Zealand statement was signed by 123 other member states. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a campaign coalition with more than 300 members in 80 countries welcomes the statement and the initiative shown by non-nuclear-weapon states including some nuclear-umbrella states to drive a new discourse around the global humanitarian threat posed by nuclear weapons, a discourse that can only conclude with the decision to make these weapons illegal once and for all.

In 2013 alone the number of states and international organizations compelled by the undeniable evidence of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons to express deep concern about the limited progress of nuclear disarmament has grown exponentially. In March 2013, the conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons held in Oslo concluded that no international response plan could effectively be put in place to respond to a nuclear detonation. In September the first high–level meeting on nuclear disarmament convened by the UNGA, despite resistance from nuclear-armed states, showed a strong focus on the humanitarian approach and numerous calls to ban nuclear weapons. Building on this momentum, Mexico announced a conference to continue the discussion around the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, to be held next February in Nayarit.

“The humanitarian focus on nuclear weapons has again proven to be successful. A growing number of states are showing concern about the unacceptable harm that these weapons of mass destruction threaten to unleash. This debate strengthens our confidence and resolve that there is a credible way forward towards the prohibition of nuclear weapons,” says Beatrice Fihn, member of ICAN’s International Steering Group.

A single nuclear weapon detonation in an urban area would kill hundreds of thousands immediately and leave hundreds of thousands more in desperate need. A wider use of nuclear weapons could cause climatic changes that would impair global crop production and lead to a mass famine among the world’s most vulnerable populations. Study upon study has pointed to the inability to prevent or care for civilian casualties on a mass scale. Mitigation is simply impossible.

“The 124 governments that have co-sponsored this important statement on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons are putting the security of their people above the militarist justifications for some states to have nuclear weapons," said Dr Rebecca Johnson, Co-Chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. "Diplomatic action to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons will be the best way to prevent a nuclear catastrophe in the future.

About ICAN

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a global campaign coalition working to mobilize people in all countries to inspire, persuade and pressure their governments to initiate negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. It has 300 partner organizations in 80 countries, and was launched in 2007.

Netanyahu Thinks You're an Idiot and a Coward

Israeli Claim of Iranian ICBM Exploits Biased U.S. Intel

By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON, Oct 11 2013 (IPS- In an effort to provoke any possible opposition in U.S. political circles to a nuclear deal with Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has returned to exploiting an old claim that Iran is building intercontinental ballistic missiles that could hit the United States.

The Netanyahu claim takes advantage of the extreme position that has been taken on the issue by Pentagon and Air Force intelligence organisations but goes even further.

In an Oct. 1 interview with Bob Schieffer of CBS News, Netanyahu said Iranians are “building ICBMs to reach…the American mainland within a few years”. And in an interview with Charlie Rose a week later, he said the Iranians “are developing ICBMs – not for us, but for you.”

Netanyahu added, “The American intelligence agency knows as well as we do that Iran is developing ICBMs.”

Independent specialists on the issue say, however, that no evidence supports Netanyahu’s claim.

Michael Elleman of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, the author of an authoritative study on Iran’s missile programme, told IPS, “I’ve seen no evidence of Iranian ICBM development, let alone a capability.”

Elleman said Iran would need to test a missile at least a half dozen — and more likely a dozen times — before it would have an operational capability for an ICBM.

Thus far, however, Iran has not even displayed, much less tested, a larger version of its existing space launch vehicle that would be a necessary step toward an ICBM, according to David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Programme at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Iran has only tested a space launch vehicle that can put a very small satellite into orbit, Wright told IPS.

“The fact that it’s not happening suggests something is holding them back,” said Wright. “Clearly we’re not seeing them moving very fast in that direction.”

The highly politicised nature of U.S. intelligence assessments on the Iranian ballistic missile programme has given Netanyahu the opportunity to make the claims of an incipient Iranian ICBM without fear of being called out.

Pentagon and industry interests pushing the idea of an Iranian ICBM threat to get support for spending on a missile defence system have long had a deep impact on intelligence assessments of the issue.

Netanyahu actually began warning of Iranian ICBMs targeting the United States 15 years ago, after a commission on foreign ballistic missile threats led by Donald Rumsfeld had warned in mid-1998 that Iran and North Korea “could” threaten the United States with ICBMs within five years.

The Rumsfeld Commission, which was organised to pressure the Bill Clinton administration to approve a national missile defence system, arrived at its five-year timeline by inviting the four major military contractors to suggest how Iran might conceivably succeed in testing an ICBM.

It also rejected the normal practice in threat assessment of distinguishing between what was theoretically possible and what was likely.

Since 2001, the U.S. intelligence community has been saying that Iran “could” have the capability to test an ICBM by sometime between 2012 and 2015, if it was given enough foreign – meaning Russian – assistance.

But it was generally recognised that the Russian government was unlikely to assist Iran in building an ICBM. And as the report on the issue published by the National Intelligence Council in December 2001 explained, “We judge that countries are much less likely to test as early as the hypothetical ‘could’ dates than they are by our projected ‘likely’ dates.”

In other words, “could” actually meant “is unlikely to”. But that fact was never covered in news articles, so it remained unknown except among a few policy wonks.

By 2009, it had become obvious to most of the intelligence community that the 2015 date could no longer be defended, even with the misleading “could” formulation. A National Intelligence Estimate that year, which was never made public, reportedly said Iran couldn’t achieve such a capability until sometime between 2015 and 2020.

Intelligence organisations connected with the Pentagon and the Air Force, however, never gave up the 2015 date. The Air Force’s National Air and Space intelligence Centre and the Defence Intelligence Agency published a paper that repeated the mantra: “With sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States by 2015.”

In April 2010, the Pentagon quoted that statement word for word in a report to Congress.

When Netanyahu wanted to turn the heat up on the Iran nuclear issue in February 2012, his close allies cited that military estimate in support of an even more extreme claim. Strategic affairs minister Moshe Yaalon said Iran was developing a missile with a 6,000-mile range, which would allow it to reach the east coast of the United States.

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz went even further. “We estimate,” he said, “that in two or three years they will have the first ICBMs that can reach the east coast of America.”

Steinitz said the Israeli assessment was in line with the assessment of the Pentagon. But even the military estimate doesn’t say that Iran would have such an ICBM. It said only that Iran could test an ICBM, which would still leave Iran several years away from having an operational ICBM.

In July 2013, the Air Force National Air and Space intelligence Centre, DIA and Office of Naval Intelligence issued a new report on “Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat” that states flatly, “Iran could develop and test an ICBM capable of reaching the United States by 2015.”

That language omitted any reference to foreign assistance, which had always been a key element in the formula that had been adopted to satisfy missile defence interests.

But those interests were obviously pressing for even stronger language. Missile defence advocates have been pressing Congress to approve a missile defence site on the East Coast, making an Iranian ICBM threat even more important politically.

Iran, meanwhile, has said it is not interested in ICBMs at all. Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said in April 2010 that Iran “has no plans to build such a missile”.

And Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Aerospace Division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which has guided Iran’s missile programme for decades, said in 2011 that Iran had no intention of producing missile with ranges beyond 2,000 km.

Iran was only interested in missiles that targeted U.S. bases in the region, Hajizadeh said.

Iran had a good strategic reason for its disinterest in an ICBM, according to a team of U.S. and Russian specialists who analysed the Iranian missile programme in May 2009. Iran would have to use rocket motor clusters, the U.S.-Russian team observed, and longer-range missiles based on that technology would have to be launched from above ground.

It would take days to prepare for launch and hours to fuel – all of which would be clearly visible to spy satellites, according to the team.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

The demand for a global take-over at Fukushima has hit critical mass

By Harvey Wasserman

More than 48,000 global citizens have now signed a petition at www.nukefree.org asking the United Nations and the world community to take charge of the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant. Another 35,000 have signed at www.rootsaction.org . An independent advisory group of scientists and engineers is also in formation. 


The signatures are pouring in from all over the world. By November, they will be delivered to the United Nations. 

The corporate media has blacked out meaningful coverage of the most critical threat to global health and safety in decades. 

The much-hyped “nuclear renaissance” has turned into a global rout. In the face of massive grassroots opposition and the falling price of renewable energy and natural gas, operating reactors are shutting and proposed new ones are being cancelled. 

This lessens the radioactive burden on the planet. But it makes the aging reactor fleet ever more dangerous. A crumbling industry with diminished resources and a disappearing workforce cannot safely caretake the decrepit, deteriorating 400-odd commercial reactors still licensed to operate worldwide. 

All of which pales before the crisis at Fukushima. Since the 3/11/2011 earthquake and tsunami, the six-reactor Daichi site has plunged into lethal chaos. 

For decades the atomic industry claimed vehemently that a commercial reactor could not explode. When Chernobyl blew, it blamed “inferior” Soviet technology. 

But Fukushima’s designs are from General Electric (some two dozen similar reactors are licensed in the US). At least four explosions have rocked the site. One might have involved nuclear fission. Three cores have melted into the ground. Massive quantities of water have been poured where the owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), and the Japanese government think they might be, but nobody knows for sure. 

As the Free Press has reported, steam emissions indicate one or more may still be hot. Contaminated water is leaking from hastily-constructed tanks. Room for more is running out. The inevitable next earthquake could rupture them all and send untold quantities of poisons pouring into the ocean. 

The worst immediate threat at Fukushima lies in the spent fuel pool at Unit Four. That reactor had been shut for routine maintenance when the earthquake and tsunami hit. The 400-ton core, with more than 1300 fuel rods, sat in its pool 100 feet in the air. 

Spent fuel rods are the most lethal items our species has ever created. A human standing within a few feet of one would die in a matter of minutes. With more than 11,000 scattered around the Daichi site, radiation levels could rise high enough to force the evacuation of all workers and immobilize much vital electronic equipment. 

Spent fuel rods must be kept cool at all times. If exposed to air, their zirconium alloy cladding will ignite, the rods will burn and huge quantities of radiation will be emitted. Should the rods touch each other, or should they crumble into a big enough pile, an explosion is possible. By some estimates there’s enough radioactivity embodied in the rods to create a fallout cloud 15,000 times greater than the one from the Hiroshima bombing. 

The rods perched in the Unit 4 pool are in an extremely dangerous position. The building is tipping and sinking into the sodden ground. The fuel pool itself may have deteriorated. The rods are embrittled and prone to crumbling. Just 50 meters from the base is a common spent fuel pool containing some 6,000 fuel rods that could be seriously compromised should it lose coolant. Overall there are some 11,000 spent rods scattered around the Fukushima Daichi site. 

Dangerous as the process might be, the rods in the Unit Four fuel pool must come down in an orderly fashion. Another earthquake could easily cause the building to crumble and collapse. Should those rods crash to the ground and be left uncooled, the consequences would be catastrophic. 

Tepco has said it will begin trying to remove the rods from that pool in November. The petitions circulating through www.nukefree.org and www.moveon.org , as well as at rootsaction.org and avaaz.org, ask that the United Nations take over. They ask the world scientific and engineering communities to step in. The Rootsaction petition also asks that $8.3 billion slated in loan guarantees for a new US nuke be shifted instead to dealing with the Fukushima site. 

It’s a call with mixed blessings. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency is notoriously pro-nuclear, charged with promoting atomic power as well as regulating it. Critics have found the IAEA to be secretive and unresponsive. 

But Tepco is a private utility with limited resources. The Japanese government has an obvious stake in downplaying Fukushima’s dangers. These were the two entities that approved and built these reactors. 

While the IAEA is imperfect, its resources are more substantial and its stake at Fukushima somewhat less direct. An ad hoc global network of scientists and engineers would be intellectually ideal, but would lack the resources for direct intervention. 

Ultimately the petitions call for a combination of the two. 

It’s also hoped the petitions will arouse the global media. The moving of the fuel rods from Unit Four must be televised. We need to see what’s happening as it happens. Only this kind of coverage can allow global experts to analyze and advise as needed. 

Let’s all hope that this operation proves successful, that the site be neutralized and the massive leaks of radioactive water and gasses be somehow stopped. 

As former Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata has put it: full-scale releases from Fukushima “would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.” 

----------------------

Harvey Wasserman is senior editor of the Columbus Free Press and www.freepress.org. He edits www.nukefree.org, where all factual material in this article can be linked. He hosts the Solartopia Green Power & Wellness radio show at www.prn.fm, and is author of Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth (Harvey Wasserman).

The Crisis at Fukushima 4 Demands a Global Take-Over

By Harvey Wasserman

We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focussed on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4. 

Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own. 

Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima. 

The one thing certain about this crisis is that Tepco does not have the scientific, engineering or financial resources to handle it. Nor does the Japanese government. The situation demands a coordinated worldwide effort of the best scientists and engineers our species can muster. 

Why is this so serious? 

We already know that thousands of tons of heavily contaminated water are pouring through the Fukushima site, carrying a devil’s brew of long-lived poisonous isotopes into the Pacific. Tuna irradiated with fallout traceable to Fukushima have already been caught off the coast of California. We can expect far worse. 

Tepco continues to pour more water onto the proximate site of three melted reactor cores it must somehow keep cool.Steam plumes indicate fission may still be going on somewhere underground. But nobody knows exactly where those cores actually are. 

Much of that irradiated water now sits in roughly a thousand huge but fragile tanks that have been quickly assembled and strewn around the site. Many are already leaking. All could shatter in the next earthquake, releasing thousands of tons of permanent poisons into the Pacific. Fresh reports show that Tepco has just dumped another thousand tons of contaminated liquids into the sea ( http://www.alternet.org/environment/ ).  

The water flowing through the site is also undermining the remnant structures at Fukushima, including the one supporting the fuel pool at Unit Four. 

More than 6,000 fuel assemblies now sit in a common pool just 50 meters from Unit Four. Some contain plutonium. The pool has no containment over it. It’s vulnerable to loss of coolant, the collapse of a nearby building, another earthquake, another tsunami and more. 

Overall, more than 11,000 fuel assemblies are scattered around the Fukushima site. According to long-time expert and former Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, there is more than 85 times as much lethal cesium on site as was released at Chernobyl

Radioactive hot spots continue to be found around Japan. There are indications of heightened rates of thyroid damage among local children. 

The immediate bottom line is that those fuel rods must somehow come safely out of the Unit Four fuel pool as soon as possible. 

Just prior to the 3/11/11 earthquake and tsunami that shattered the Fukushima site, the core of Unit Four was removed for routine maintenance and refueling. Like some two dozen reactors in the US and too many more around the world, the General Electric-designed pool into which that core now sits is 100 feet in the air

Spent fuel must somehow be kept under water. It’s clad in zirconium alloy which will spontaneously ignite when exposed to air. Long used in flash bulbs for cameras, zirconium burns with an extremely bright hot flame. 

Each uncovered rod emits enough radiation to kill someone standing nearby in a matter of minutes. A conflagration could force all personnel to flee the site and render electronic machinery unworkable. 

According to Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with forty years in an industry for which he once manufactured fuel rods, the ones in the Unit 4 core are bent, damaged and embrittled to the point of crumbling. Cameras have shown troubling quantities of debris in the fuel pool, which itself is damaged. 

The engineering and scientific barriers to emptying the Unit Four fuel pool are unique and daunting, says Gundersen. But it must be done to 100% perfection. 

Should the attempt fail, the rods could be exposed to air and catch fire, releasing horrific quantities of radiation into the atmosphere. The pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and possibly explode. The resulting radioactive cloud would threaten the health and safety of all us. 

Chernobyl’s first 1986 fallout reached California within ten days. Fukushima’s in 2011 arrived in less than a week. A new fuel fire at Unit 4 would pour out a continuous stream of lethal radioactive poisons for centuries

Former Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata says full-scale releases from Fukushima “would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.” 

Neither Tokyo Electric nor the government of Japan can go this alone. There is no excuse for deploying anything less than a coordinated team of the planet’s best scientists and engineers. 

We have two months or less to act

For now, we are petitioning the United Nations and President Obama to mobilize the global scientific and engineering community to take charge at Fukushima and the job of moving these fuel rods to safety
 
 
If you have a better idea, please follow it. But do something and do it now. 

The clock is ticking. The hand of global nuclear disaster is painfully close to midnight

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Harvey Wasserman is Senior Editor of the Columbus Free Press and www.frepress.org, where this was originally published. He edits www.nukefree.org. where the petition for global intervention at Fukushima is linked.

Eliminating Nuclear Weapons is Just as Important as Eliminating Chemical Weapons

The apparent employment of chemical weapons in Syria should remind us that, while weapons of mass destruction exist, there is a serious danger that they will be used.

That danger is highlighted by an article in the September/October 2013 issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.  Written by two leading nuclear weapons specialists, Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris of the Federation of American Scientists, the article provides important information about nuclear weapons that should alarm everyone concerned about the future of the planet.

Nobel Laureate president defends unprovoked war against Syria: Obama Offers No Evidence Assad Ordered Syria Poison Gas Attack

By Dave Lindorff


In what NPR called “perhaps President Obama’s last best chance” to make his case for launching a war against Syria, the president tellingly didn’t make a single effort to present hard, compelling evidence to prove that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad had been behind the alleged Sarin Aug. 21 attack on residents of a suburb of Damascus.


Not one piece of evidence.

Declaration of the 2013 World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs

The 2013 World Conference against A and H Bombs ended successfully on Aug. 9 in Nagasaki with the participation of about 7000 people coming from across Japan, which included 89 overseas representatives from 20 countries (representing 39 national organizations and 6 international/regional organizations, plus 7 national governments).
 
The following is the Declaration of the International Meeting adopted on August 5 in Hiroshima.  This is the common will of overseas and Japanese participants in the International Meeting.  We express our deep gratitude for your support for the success of the Conference.

Declaration of the International Meeting
       

Harry Truman and Memory of Mass Murder

Harry Truman spoke in the U.S. Senate on June 23, 1941: "If we see that Germany is winning," he said, "we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible."

Did Truman value Japanese lives above Russian and German?  There is nothing anywhere to suggest that he did.  Yet we debate, every August 6th or so, whether Truman was willing to unnecessarily sacrifice Japanese lives in order to scare Russians with his nuclear bombs.  He was willing; he was not willing; he was willing.  Left out of this debate is the obvious possibility that killing as many Japanese as possible was among Truman's goals.

A U.S. Army poll in 1943 found that roughly half of all GIs believed it would be necessary to kill every Japanese person on earth. William Halsey, who commanded the United States' naval forces in the South Pacific during World War II, thought of his mission as "Kill Japs, kill Japs, kill more Japs," and had vowed that when the war was over, the Japanese language would be spoken only in hell. War correspondent Edgar L. Jones wrote in the February 1946 Atlantic Monthly, "What kind of war do civilians suppose we fought anyway? We shot prisoners in cold blood, wiped out hospitals, strafed lifeboats, killed or mistreated enemy civilians, finished off  the enemy wounded, tossed the dying into a hole with the dead, and in the Pacific boiled flesh off enemy skulls to make table ornaments for sweethearts, or carved their bones into letter openers."

On August 6, 1945, President Truman announced: "Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T.  It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British 'Grand Slam' which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare."Hiroshima was, of course, a city full of people, not an Army base. But those people were merely Japanese. Australian General Sir Thomas Blamey had told the New York Times: "Fighting Japs is not like fighting normal human beings. The Jap is a little barbarian…. We are not dealing with humans as we know them. We are dealing with something primitive. Our troops have the right view of the Japs. They regard them as vermin."

Some try to imagine that the bombs shortened the war and saved more lives than the some 200,000 they took away. And yet, weeks before the first bomb was dropped, on July 13, 1945, Japan sent a telegram to the Soviet Union expressing its desire to surrender and end the war. The United States had broken Japan's codes and read the telegram. Truman referred in his diary to "the telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace." Truman had been informed through Swiss and Portuguese channels of Japanese peace overtures as early as three months before Hiroshima. Japan objected only to surrendering unconditionally and giving up its emperor, but the United States insisted on those terms until after the bombs fell, at which point it allowed Japan to keep its emperor.

Presidential advisor James Byrnes had told Truman that dropping the bombs would allow the United States to "dictate the terms of ending the war." Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal wrote in his diary that Byrnes was "most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians got in." Truman wrote in his diary that the Soviets were preparing to march against Japan and "Fini Japs when that comes about." Truman ordered the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6thand another type of bomb, a plutonium bomb, which the military also wanted to test and demonstrate, on Nagasaki on August 9th. Also on August 9th, the Soviets attacked the Japanese. During the next two weeks, the Soviets killed 84,000 Japanese while losing 12,000 of their own soldiers, and the United States continued bombing Japan with non-nuclear weapons. Then the Japanese surrendered.

The United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that,"… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated."  One dissenter who had expressed this same view to the Secretary of War prior to the bombings was General Dwight Eisenhower. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy agreed: "The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender."

Whatever dropping the bombs might possibly have contributed to ending the war, it is curious that the approach of threatening to drop them, the approach used during a half-century of Cold War to follow, was never tried.  An explanation may perhaps be found in Truman's comments suggesting the motive of revenge:

"Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, and against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international law of warfare."

Truman doesn't say he used the bomb to shorten the war or save lives.  He says he used the bomb because he could. "Having found the bomb we have used it."  And he provides as reasons for having used it three characteristics of the people murdered: they (or their government) attacked U.S. troops, they (or their government) brutalized U.S. prisoners, and they (or their government) -- and this is without any irony intended -- oppose international law.

Truman could not, incidentally, have chosen Tokyo as a target -- not because it was a city, but because we (or our government) had already reduced it to rubble. 

The nuclear catastrophes may have been, not the ending of a World War, but the theatrical opening of the Cold War, aimed at sending a message to the Soviets. Many low and high ranking officials in the U.S. military, including commanders in chief, have been tempted to nuke more cities ever since, beginning with Truman threatening to nuke China in 1950. The myth developed, in fact, that Eisenhower's enthusiasm for nuking China led to the rapid conclusion of the Korean War. Belief in that myth led President Richard Nixon, decades later, to imagine he could end the Vietnam War by pretending to be crazy enough to use nuclear bombs. Even more disturbingly, he actually was crazy enough. "The nuclear bomb, does that bother you? … I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes," Nixon said to Henry Kissinger in discussing options for Vietnam.

I just want you to think, instead, about this poem:

Hiroshima
by Sherwood Ross

I am the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto
A graduate of Emory College, Atlanta,
Pastor of the Methodist Church of Hiroshima
I was in a western suburb when the bomb struck
Like a sheet of sunlight.
Fearing for my wife and family
I ran back into the city
Where I saw hundreds and hundreds fleeing
Every one of them hurt in some way.
The eyebrows of some were burned off
Skin hung from their faces and hands
Some were vomiting as they walked
On some naked bodies the burns had made patterns
Of the shapes of flowers transferred
From their kimonos to human skin.
Almost all had their heads bowed
Looked straight ahead, were silent
And showed no expression whatever.
Under many houses I heard trapped people screaming
Crying for help but there were none to help
And the fire was coming.
I came to a young woman holding her dead baby
Who pleaded with me to find her husband
So he could see the baby one last time.
There was nothing I could do but humor her.
By accident I ran into my own wife
Both she and our child were alive and well.
For days I carried water and food to the wounded and the dying.
I apologized to them: "Forgive me," I said, "for not sharing your burden."
I am the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto
Pastor of the Methodist Church of Hiroshima
I was in a western suburb when the bomb struck
Like a sheet of sunlight.

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