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President Obama met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on Monday and agreed to cut American and Russian nuclear stockpiles by at least one quarter and as much as one third. We speak with veteran journalist and leading nuclear disarmament advocate, Jonathan Schell.
* Vietnam War Architect Robert McNamara Dies at 93: A Look at His Legacy With Howard Zinn, Marilyn Young & Jonathan Schell *
Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara has died at the age of 93. McNamara was one of the key architects of the Vietnam war, which killed at least three million Vietnamese, around one million Cambodians and Laotians, and 58,000 American soldiers. We take a look at McNamara’s legacy with two pre-eminent historians: Howard Zinn and Marilyn Young. We also speak with Jonathan Schell, who covered Vietnam as a reporter in 1967 and met with McNamara in a secret Pentagon meeting.
By Guy Faulconbridge, Reuters
MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev on Monday agreed a target of cutting vast Cold War arsenals of deployed nuclear warheads by around a third from current levels to 1,500-1,675 each.
The pledge by Obama and Medvedev puts the world's two biggest nuclear powers further along the path to finding a replacement for the landmark 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1) which expires on December 5.
But the cuts announced on Monday only take the United States and Russia 25 operationally deployed warheads below a range of 1,700-2,200, which both sides had already committed to reach by 2012 under the 2002 Moscow Treaty.
After the cuts -- which have to be made within seven years of a new treaty taking force -- the United States and Russia will still have enough firepower to destroy the world several times over. Many hurdles remain to finding a replacement to START by December.
By VOA News
The United States and Russia have signed an agreement committing the two countries to sharply reduce the number of their nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles.
U.S. President Barack Obama says he and his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev had reset U.S.-Russian relations on the first day of their Moscow summit.
The two leaders signed a statement instructing negotiators to finalize a replacement for the Strategic Arms limitation treaty that expires in December. The agreement provides for a reduction of warheads from 2200 to a range of 1500 to 1675 and of launch vehicles from 1600 to a range of 500 to 1100.
Mr. Medvedev said the meeting covered all items on the agenda including a backlog of problems and called the discussions useful, open and sincere.
We lecture and threaten Iran and North Korea about the evils of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). But the US routinely tests our own WMD's from Vandenberg Air Force Base in southern California. And there will soon be another "test firing" of a Minuteman III nuclear missile from that base.
A protest is planned at the time of the next launch of a Minuteman III from Vandenberg. The target of the rocket will be the Ronald Reagan missile test range, Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Reviewing F. William Engdahl's "Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order:" Part I
Reviewing F. William Engdahl's "Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order:" Part I
By Stephen Lendman
For over 30 years, F. William Engdahl has been a leading researcher, economist, and analyst of the New World Order with extensive writing to his credit on energy, politics, and economics. He contributes regularly to business and other publications, is a frequent speaker on geopolitical, economic and energy issues, and is a distinguished Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.
Engdahl's two previous books include "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order" explaining that America's post-WW II dominance rests on two pillars and one commodity - unchallengeable military power and the dollar as the world's reserve currency along with the quest to control global oil and other energy resources.
North Korea may fire a long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii in early July, a Japanese newspaper said Thursday, amid escalating tensions between the communist country and the United States over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
The missile, believed to be a long-range Taepodong-2 with a range of up to 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers), would be launched from North Korea's Dongchang-ni site on the northwestern coast, said the Yomiuri daily, Japan's top-selling newspaper. The report cited an analysis by the Japanese Defense Ministry and intelligence gathered by U.S. reconnaissance satellites.
The Yomiuri said the Taepodong-2 could fly over Japan and toward Hawaii, but that it would not be able to hit the main islands of Hawaii, which lie about 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers) from the Korean peninsula.
The missile launch could come between July 4 and 8, the paper said. It noted that North Korea had fired its first Taepodong-2 missile on July 4, 2006. Also, July 8 is the anniversary of the 1994 death of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung. Read more.
The Iranian government would be unlikely to give any nuclear weapons to the militant groups it supports—Hamas and Hezbollah—because it paid much money to develop the warheads, and because if the groups used the weapons, it would invite sure catastrophic retaliation against Iran if traced back there. Like all autocratic rulers, Iran’s fundamentalist leadership’s most important objective is staying in power, and getting nuked into cinders does not facilitate that goal.
The real reason that the U.S. government is so concerned about Iran is not its threat to the United States but its threat to Israel—both nuclear and non-nuclear through support for the militant groups. But frankly, that should not be the U.S. taxpayer’s problem. The American Constitution allows for the U.S. government to “provide for the common defense” of the United States, not to provide a defense for Israel.
One election in Iran will not significantly change U.S.-Iran relations—only a change in U.S. thinking and policy will do so.
Historically, the U.S. government, under both Republican and Democratic presidents, has painted relatively poor third world regimes that don’t toe the empire’s line as “evil”—Moammar El-Gadhafi’s Libya in the 1980s, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the 1990s, North Korea’s Hermit Kingdom since the 1950s, and Islamist Iran since the Iranian Revolution in 1978. Most of these faraway lands haven’t provided—or will be unlikely to provide—much of an actual threat to U.S. territory or Americans in it. But during and after the demise of the Soviet Union, to justify the bloated U.S. world-girdling empire and bloated military establishment, these minor autocratic regimes had to be demonized and their threats elevated.
Roughly half of Israelis support bombing Iran's nuclear facilities if international efforts fail to stop the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons, according to a Hebrew University poll released Sunday.
Some 52 percent of Israelis say the country should bomb Iran's nuclear reactor, while 35 percent are against, the poll found. The margin of error in the poll of Israelis is 4.5 percentage points.
Palestinians are somewhat more evenly divided, with 43 percent saying a nuclear Iran would be good for the Arab world and 33 percent saying it would be bad, according to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, which conducted the poll along with Hebrew University. The margin of error for the Palestinian sample is 3 percentage points. Read more.
Russia must keep at least 1,500 nuclear warheads after talks with the United States on a new arms treaty, Interfax news agency quoted the commander of Russia's Strategic Nuclear Forces as saying Wednesday.
If Moscow's final position reflects Colonel-General Nikolai Solovtsov's view, it would mean Russia is not willing to cut its stockpiles by more than a few hundred strategic warheads - far less than some arms control bodies had hoped....
Russia and the United States are in talks on a new nuclear arms treaty that aims to reduce stockpiles below the 1,700-2,200 figure both sides already agree must be reached by 2012. Read more.
President Barack Obama reiterated that Iran may have some right to nuclear energy — provided it takes steps to prove its aspirations are peaceful.
In a BBC interview broadcast Tuesday, Obama also restated plans to pursue direct diplomacy with Tehran to encourage it to set aside any ambitions for nuclear weapons it might harbor.
Iran has insisted its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity. But the U.S. and other Western governments accuse Tehran of seeking atomic weapons.
"Without going into specifics, what I do believe is that Iran has legitimate energy concerns, legitimate aspirations. On the other hand, the international community has a very real interest in preventing a nuclear arms race in the region," Obama said.
The comments echo remarks Obama made in Prague last month in which he said his administration would "support Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy with rigorous inspections" if Iran proves it is no longer a nuclear threat.
Iranian state television described the news as Obama recognizing the "rights of the Iranian nation," a phrase typically used to refer to Iran's nuclear program. Read more.
U.S. Releases Secret List of Nuclear Sites Accidentally
By William J. Broad | NYTimes
The federal government mistakenly made public a 266-page report, its pages marked “highly confidential,” that gives detailed information about hundreds of the nation’s civilian nuclear sites and programs, including maps showing the precise locations of stockpiles of fuel for nuclear weapons.
The publication of the document was revealed Monday in an online newsletter devoted to issues of federal secrecy. That set off a debate among nuclear experts about what dangers, if any, the disclosures posed. It also prompted a flurry of investigations in Washington into why the document had been made public.
On Tuesday evening, after inquiries from The New York Times, the document was withdrawn from a Government Printing Office Web site.
Several nuclear experts argued that any dangers from the disclosure were minimal, given that the general outlines of the most sensitive information were already known publicly.
“These screw-ups happen,” said John M. Deutch, a former director of central intelligence and deputy secretary of defense who is now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s going further than I would have gone but doesn’t look like a serious breach.”
But David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, said information that shows where nuclear fuels are stored “can provide thieves or terrorists inside information that can help them seize the material, which is why that kind of data is not given out.” Read more.
U.S. says will not accept N.Korea as nuclear state
By Neil Chatterjee | Reuters
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Saturday the United States would not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea and he warned Pyongyang against transferring nuclear material overseas.
A South Korean newspaper reported that Pyongyang was preparing to move an intercontinental ballistic missile from a factory near the capital to a launch site on the east coast.
In a speech to the Asia Security Conference in Singapore, Gates said the threat from North Korea, which this week detonated a nuclear device and launched a series of missiles, could start an arms race in Asia.
"We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region or on us," he said. "We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state."
North Korea -- one of the world's last remaining Communist states -- has said it was no longer bound by the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. It threatened further actions in response to any U.N. censure. Read more.
On April 5, 2009, before a crowd gathered at Hradcany Square in Prague, President Barack Obama declared “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” With these words, Obama implicitly endorsed Global Zero—a movement founded in December 2008 by some 100 political leaders from around the world to ban nuclear weapons.
Obama’s speech calls to mind the warning of President John F. Kennedy almost half a century ago. Without international agreement on preventive action, he said, there could be 15 to 25 nuclear states in the world by the 1970s, resulting in “the greatest possible danger.” President Johnson, heeding Kennedy’s alert of a dangerous “tipping point,” provided strong U.S. support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, signed in 1968.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) classifies all signatories as either “nuclear weapons states”—those who tested a nuclear explosive before January 1, 1967—or “non-nuclear weapons states”—everyone else. Coincidentally, all the nuclear weapons states are the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and the United States.
At the heart of the NPT is a bargain between these two categories of states. The non-nuclear states agreed not to acquire nuclear weapons. In return, to prevent a permanent disparity in military power, the nuclear states committed “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures” to work toward nuclear disarmament. Read more.
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S Iran policy has, in all likelihood, already failed. On its present course, the White House’s approach will not stop Tehran’s development of a nuclear fuel program — or, as Iran’s successful test of a medium-range, solid-fuel missile last week underscored, military capacities of other sorts. It will also not provide an alternative to continued antagonism between the United States and Iran — a posture that for 30 years has proved increasingly damaging to the interests of the United States and its allies in the Middle East.
This judgment may seem both premature and overly severe. We do not make it happily. We voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and we still want him to succeed in reversing the deterioration in America’s strategic position. But we also believe that successful diplomacy with Iran is essential to that end. Unless President Obama and his national security team take a fundamentally different approach to Tehran, they will not achieve a breakthrough. Read more.
U.S. says aid won't go to Pakistan nuclear program
By Arshad Mohammed and Susan Cornwell | Reuters India
The Obama administration is confident that Pakistan will not use a planned sharp increase in U.S. aid to strengthen its nuclear arsenal, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.
The New York Times this week reported U.S. lawmakers were told in confidential briefings that Pakistan is rapidly adding to its nuclear capability while fighting a Taliban insurgency, stoking fears in Congress about diversion of U.S. funds.
Militant violence in Pakistan has surged over the past two years, raising doubts about its stability and anxieties about the security of its nuclear arsenal, which is believed to comprise at least 25 to 50 warheads. Read more.
Pakistan said Tuesday it was racing to help refugees fleeing a military offensive against the Taliban in its northwest — an exodus of some 1.5 million with a speed and size the U.N. said could rival the displacement caused by Rwanda's genocide.
The humanitarian challenge comes as the military said its troops are fighting street battles against insurgents in key towns in Pakistan's Swat Valley and amid government denials that the country is expanding its nuclear stockpile.
Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed, who leads a group tasked with dealing with the uprooted Pakistanis, told reporters that the government had enough flour and other food for the displaced but said it needed donations of fans and high energy biscuits. He also said the refugees would get money and free transport when it was safe enough to return.
A "camp is not a replacement for home," Ahmed said, adding there are at least 22 relief camps operating.
Members of Congress have been told in confidential briefings that Pakistan is rapidly adding to its nuclear arsenal even while racked by insurgency, raising questions on Capitol Hill about whether billions of dollars in proposed military aid might be diverted to Pakistan’s nuclear program.
Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed the assessment of the expanded arsenal in a one-word answer to a question on Thursday in the midst of lengthy Senate testimony. Sitting beside Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, he was asked whether he had seen evidence of an increase in the size of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.
“Yes,” he said quickly, adding nothing, clearly cognizant of Pakistan’s sensitivity to any discussion about the country’s nuclear strategy or security.
Inside the Obama administration, some officials say, Pakistan’s drive to spend heavily on new nuclear arms has been a source of growing concern, because the country is producing more nuclear material at a time when Washington is increasingly focused on trying to assure the security of an arsenal of 80 to 100 weapons so that they will never fall into the hands of Islamic insurgents.
Ten people blocked the entrance to Trident nuclear submarine base at Bangor WA, where the U.S. military operates the nuclear weapons, and plans and prepares the nuclear incineration of millions of people. Since we think mass murder is wrong, we're obviously "out of step" with America. But we resist.
Narration by Ray McGovern starts a few minutes in, asking: Where are the Raging Grandpas?
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general says Israel would be making a 'completely insane' move, should it stage a war on Iran.
Head of the UN nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei advised officials in Tel Aviv to exercise restraint and allow the diplomatic approach of the Obama White House on the Iranian nuclear issue to proceed.
ElBaradei's comments, made in an interview with Der Spiegel released on Saturday, came as Israel is increasingly preparing the ground for a military strike on the Islamic Republic.
Like a modern-day Cain, Mordechai Vanunu walks the streets of East Jerusalem in search of a place to spend the night. He has no permanent address, and because of a cash shortage he moves from one cheap hostel to the next. He is forbidden to talk with foreigners. With Israelis he does not wish to speak. The Arabs in East Jerusalem do not try to befriend him, fearing trouble. He is a difficult and complicated man. His belief in his principles is stern and dogmatic, but is also cause for bewilderment. Even his family and most of his few supporters abroad have cut off contact.
His financial situation as well as his physical and mental health is deteriorating. But Israel, to paraphrase Gene Pitney, is "a state without mercy." The security authorities and the courts, which back them almost automatically, are time and again after him. This is a vindictive, closed system that intends to apply the law as severely as possible. This week Home Front Command, one of the authorities dealing with Vanunu's case, called in his attorneys Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard to tell them that the warrants restricting Vanunu's freedom of movement and speech will remain unchanged. A similar announcement will be made by the Interior Ministry. Moreover, Vanunu still faces a four-month prison term for violating the restrictions - because he tried to enter Bethlehem on Christmas and spoke with foreign reporters. He has appealed to the Supreme Court.
Thus Vanunu, who was released from prison in 2004, entered his sixth year as a "Prisoner of Zion." During that time we have had three prime ministers, four justice ministers and three defense ministers; Israel exchanged prisoners with Hezbollah; spies were released from prison and murderers' sentences were shortened. But the state is adamant that Vanunu be punished repeatedly for his original sin.
The authorities consider him a traitor, even though he did not betray secrets to enemy countries, a terrorist organization or foreign security organizations. He exposed Israel's nuclear secrets to the British Sunday Times. Even if we accept the state's stance that this makes him a spy and a traitor, he was neither the worst nor the most dangerous. There have been and there are worse traitors than Vanunu.
By Sue Sturgis | Facing South
It was April Fool's Day, 1979 -- 30 years ago this week -- when Randall Thompson first set foot inside the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Middletown, Pa. Just four days earlier, in the early morning hours of March 28, a relatively minor problem in the plant's Unit 2 reactor sparked a series of mishaps that led to the meltdown of almost half the uranium fuel and uncontrolled releases of radiation into the air and surrounding Susquehanna River.
It was the single worst disaster ever to befall the U.S. nuclear power industry, and Thompson was hired as a health physics technician to go inside the plant and find out how dangerous the situation was. He spent 28 days monitoring radiation releases.
Today, his story about what he witnessed at Three Mile Island is being brought to the public in detail for the first time -- and his version of what happened during that time, supported by a growing body of other scientific evidence, contradicts the official U.S. government story that the Three Mile Island accident posed no threat to the public.
"What happened at TMI was a whole lot worse than what has been reported," Randall Thompson told Facing South. "Hundreds of times worse."
The Israeli military is preparing itself to launch a massive aerial assault on Iran's nuclear facilities within days of being given the go-ahead by its new government.
Among the steps taken to ready Israeli forces for what would be a risky raid requiring pinpoint aerial strikes are the acquisition of three Airborne Warning and Control (AWAC) aircraft and regional missions to simulate the attack.
Two nationwide civil defence drills will help to prepare the public for the retaliation that Israel could face.
“Israel wants to know that if its forces were given the green light they could strike at Iran in a matter of days, even hours. They are making preparations on every level for this eventuality. The message to Iran is that the threat is not just words,” one senior defence official told The Times.
Officials believe that Israel could be required to hit more than a dozen targets, including moving convoys. The sites include Natanz, where thousands of centrifuges produce enriched uranium; Esfahan, where 250 tonnes of gas is stored in tunnels; and Arak, where a heavy water reactor produces plutonium.
The distance from Israel to at least one of the sites is more than 870 miles, a distance that the Israeli force practised covering in a training exercise last year that involved F15 and F16 jets, helicopters and refuelling tankers.
The possible Israeli strike on Iran has drawn comparisons to its attack on the Osirak nuclear facility near Baghdad in 1981. That strike, which destroyed the facility in under 100 seconds, was completed without Israeli losses and checked Iraqi ambitions for a nuclear weapons programme.
Sometimes, reading about the Middle East, or at least about Israel, Iran, and nuclear weapons, feels like your most basic broken-record phenomenon. As New York Times op-ed columnist Roger Cohen reminded readers recently, there's nothing new about Israeli predictions that Iranian "madmen" -- or rather, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of a rather extreme new government, put it recently, "a messianic apocalyptic cult" -- would soon have nuclear weapons in their hands. The charges and predictions of the imminent arrival of the Iranian bomb go back well into the 1990s and yet, despite Iran's growing nuclear enrichment program, we still don't know what the true predilections of its leaders are on the basic issue of weaponization. (They might, for instance, be planning to opt for the Japan "solution," not weaponizing, but simply being capable of doing so relatively quickly.)
The other part of that broken-record phenomenon concerns Israel's nuclear arsenal, which I wrote about at TomDispatch back in 2003, since which time remarkably little has changed. One of the genuinely strange aspects of just about anything you can read here in the U.S. on nuclear weapons and the Middle East is this: all fear and much print (and TV time) is focused on whether the Iranians may someday, in the near or far future, get a nuclear weapon; that is, we're focused on a weapon that doesn't yet exist and, for all we know, may never exist.
Transforming the U.S. Strategic Posture and Weapons Complex For Transition to a Nuclear Weapons-Free World
WASHINGTON (April 8, 2009) -- The Nuclear Weapons Complex Consolidation Policy (NWCC) Network, a collaboration of six national and regional groups, released a study today that provides the roadmap for a large and swift reduction in the nation’s nuclear weapons and the sprawling government complex that develops and produces them. The study outlines the case for a tenfold reduction in the nation’s active nuclear weapons stockpile, to 500 deployed nuclear warheads by 2015, supported by a weapons complex reduced from the current eight sites in seven states to just three sites in two states, Texas and New Mexico.
Pakistan could collapse within six months in the face of the snowballing insurgency, a top expert on guerrilla warfare has said.
The dire prediction was made by David Kilcullen, a former adviser to top US military commander General David Petraeus.
David Kilcullen is the best known practitioner of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations and had advised Gen Petraeus on the counter-insurgency programme in Iraq. Few experts understand the nature of the insurgency in Af-Pak as well and he is now advising Petraeus in Afghanistan.
Petraeus also echoed the same thought when he told a Congressional testimony last week that the insurgency could "take down" Pakistan, which is home to nuclear weapons and al-Qaida.
A friend wrote this morning, "The headline should read - Obama talks peace and plans for war."
At the 60th anniversary NATO celebrations President Obama begged for more troops in Afghanistan from alliance member nations. They urged him forward but few countries offered help.
Then in Prague Obama called for the world to get rid of its nuclear weapons. Very commendable.
The Washington Post reported this morning that, "For those worried about a unilateral American disarmament, Obama promised that the country would keep enough nuclear weapons to defend itself and its allies as long as the weapons existed in other nations....He also reiterated his pledge to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe as long as Iran poses a possible nuclear threat to the region."
Help Stop Pro-Nuke Budget Amendments NOW! | Press Release | March 31, 2009
They're at it again! And we have to act again--now!
The U.S. Senate is currently debating President Obama's FY 2010 budget on the Senate floor.
A small group of Senators, led by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), is preparing to introduce a number of pro-nuclear amendments intended to support still more subsidies to the nuclear industry. Other Senators involved are Crapo, Brownback, Voinovich, and Vitter.
[Um, Wouldn't this interfere in the president's "constitutional" power to make treaties without congress? --DS]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, said on Friday he had begun laying the groundwork for Senate ratification of a global pact banning nuclear tests.
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was rejected by the Senate a decade ago. President Barack Obama said during his campaign that he would seek to get it ratified. But ratification is up to the Senate, where two-thirds approval is required.
"We are very close ... We don't have that many votes to win over to win," Kerry told a conference on U.S. policy toward Russia. "But they are serious folks and we are going to have to persuade them."
Kerry said his committee would hold hearings on the treaty. A vote by the full Senate is unlikely before next year, the Massachusetts Democrat said.