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Posted - August 11, 2010 - Government Officials Since Eisenhower Have Seen Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban as Vital for Curbing Nuclear Proliferation, According to Declassified Documents
Craters from underground nuclear tests at the Nevada Test site. According to the Department of Energy's caption: "Most subsidences leave saucer-shaped craters varying in diameter and depth, depending upon the yield, depth of burial, and geology. This is the north end of Yucca Flat. Most tests have been conducted in this valley." The current U.S. moratorium on underground tests would be confirmed by ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Photo from National Nuclear Security Administration, Nevada Site Office.
By Harvey Wasserman
Stewart Brand has become a poster boy for a "nuclear renaissance" that has just suffered a quiet but stunning defeat. Despite $645 million spent in lobbying over the past decade, the reactor industry has thus far failed to gouge out major new taxpayer funding for new commercial reactors.
In an exceedingly complex series of twists and turns, no legislation now pending in Congress contains firm commitments to the tens of billions reactor builders have been demanding. They could still come by the end of the session. But the radioactive cake walk many expected the industry to take through the budget process has thus far failed to happen.
The full story is excruciatingly complicated. But the core reasons are simple: atomic power can't compete, and makes global warming worse.
by Darwin BondGraham, MR Zine
No medium of propaganda is as powerful and effective as film. Think of the classics, the most notorious efforts to sway the public with the electrifying and collective passion of cinema: racial apartheid was justified in the US with Birth of a Nation. The Soviets glorified their revolution with The Battleship Potemkin. Then there was Triumph of the Will.
This year marks the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which occurred in 1945 on August 6th and 9th respectively. We need your help now to eliminate once and for the all the unthinkable threat that a nuclear weapon will ever again be detonated.
After 65 years, its time we retired the bomb!
The horrific nuclear detonations on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, now estimated to have killed up to 250,000 people, are the only two deployments of nuclear weapons in war. It has been estimated that 60% of the casualties died from flash or flame burns, 30% from falling debris and 10% from other causes.
The 23000 nuclear weapons in existence today are a much more powerful variety than those used in 1945.
We are helping to promote the new anti-nuke movie "Countdown To Zero" that is debuting on July 23 in Washington, DC at the E Street Cinema. This is a must see film produced by the same folks who brought us "Inconvenient Truth." The movie focuses on the threat of nuclear weapons and what must be done to counter that threat. Check out the website and trailer here.
Our friends at Justice Through Music have made hundreds of free tickets available to our members for the opening weekend, July 23-25. These tickets will go fast so if you want to attend, go to http://www.jtmp.org/ctzdctickets and reserve your ticket now. JTM will have a table set up at each screening where you can pick up your reserved ticket.
UPDATE: I've been advised this movie attacks Iran and whitewashes Israel, so view at your own risk.
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE TO MEET THURSDAY, JULY 15
WILL CONSIDER SPENDING BILL THAT INCLUDES $25 BILLION OF TAXPAYER MONEY FOR NEW REACTOR CONSTRUCTION LOANS
ACT NOW! TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE ONE MORE TIME: NO TAXPAYER SUBSIDIES FOR NUCLEAR POWER!
July 13, 2010
We have to act again, and we have to act now.
A House Appropriations Subcommittee plans to hold another meeting to try to pass an energy budget for Fiscal Year 2011 on Thursday (July 15) afternoon.
Sutyagin Freed in "Spy" Swap
COUNTDOWN TO ZERO traces the history of the atomic bomb from its origins to the present state of global affairs: nine nations possessing nuclear weapons capabilities with others racing to join them, with the world held in a delicate balance that could be shattered by an act of terrorism, failed diplomacy, or a simple accident. Written and directed by acclaimed documentarian Lucy Walker (The Devil’s Playground, Blindsight), the film features an array of important international statesmen, including President Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pervez Musharraf and Tony Blair. It makes a compelling case for worldwide nuclear disarmament, an issue more topical than ever with the Obama administration working to revive this goal today. The film was produced by Academy Award® winner and current nominee Lawrence Bender (Inglourious Basterds, An Inconvenient Truth) and developed, financed and executive produced by Participant Media, together with World Security Institute. Participant collaborated with Magnolia on last year’s Food, Inc., recently nominated for an Academy Award®, and the upcoming CASINO JACK and the United States of Money. Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Bruce Blair and Matt Brown are the film’s executive producers.
Where to see it first:
His face wracked by age and his voice rasping after decades of chain-smoking coarse tobacco, the former longtime Russian minister of nuclear energy and veteran Soviet physicist Viktor Mikhailov knows just how to fix BP's oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
"A nuclear explosion over the leak," he says, nonchalantly puffing a cigarette as he sits in a conference room at the Institute of Strategic Stability, where he is a director. "I don't know what BP is waiting for, they are wasting their time. Only about 10 kilotons of nuclear explosion capacity and the problem is solved."
A nuclear fix to the leaking well has been touted online and in the occasional newspaper op-ed for weeks now. Washington has repeatedly dismissed the idea, and BP executives say they are not considering an explosion--nuclear or otherwise. But as a series of efforts to plug the 60,000 barrels of oil a day gushing from the sea floor have failed, talk of an extreme solution refuses to die.
For some, blasting the problem seems the most logical answer in the world. Mikhailov has had a distinguished career in the nuclear field, helping to close a Soviet Union program that used nuclear explosions to seal gas leaks. Ordinarily he's an opponent of nuclear blasts, but he says an underwater explosion in the Gulf of Mexico would not be harmful and could cost no more than $10 million. That compares with the $2.35 billion BP has paid out in cleanup and compensation costs so far. "This option is worth the money," he says. Read more.
Heinonen Pushed Dubious Iran Nuclear Weapons Intel
Analysis by Gareth Porter | IPS
Olli Heinonen, the Finnish nuclear engineer who resigned Thursday after five years as deputy director for safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was the driving force in turning that agency into a mechanism to support U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran.
Heinonen was instrumental in making a collection of intelligence documents showing a purported Iranian nuclear weapons research programme the central focus of the IAEA's work on Iran. The result was to shift opinion among Western publics to the view that Iran had been pursuing a covert nuclear weapons programme.
But his embrace of the intelligence documents provoked a fierce political struggle within the Secretariat of the IAEA, because other officials believed the documents were fraudulent.
Heinonen took over the Safeguards Department in July 2005 - the same month that the George W. Bush administration first briefed top IAEA officials on the intelligence collection.
The documents portrayed a purported nuclear weapons research programme, originally called the "Green Salt" project, that included efforts to redesign the nosecone of the Shahab-3 missile, high explosives apparently for the purpose of triggering a nuclear weapon and designs for a uranium conversion facility. Later the IAEA referred to the purported Iranian activities simply as the "alleged studies". Read more.
Take Action: Can "emergency" new nuke loans be stopped despite cover of war?
By Harvey Wasserman | July 1, 2010
Amidst a grassroots uproar over funding for the military, the nuclear power industry has again forced $9 billion in loan guarantees onto an "emergency" war appropriations bill for Afghanistan and Iraq.
Citizen opposition helped delay a similar vote scheduled last month. Now green energy advocates are again asked to call Congress immediately.
The move comes as part of a larger push for federal funding for a "new generation" of reactors.
Because independent investors won’t fund them, the reactor industry has spent some $645 million in the last decade lobbying Congress and the White House for taxpayer money.
This $9 billion is for two new reactors proposed for the South Texas site, on the Gulf of Mexico, and another at Calvert Cliffs, Maryland.
Continued operations of the two reactors now at South Texas are threatened by oil gushing from BP’s Deepwater Horizon. Calvert Cliffs is just 40 miles from the nation’s capital.
French and Japanese companies are among the leading candidates to profit from the loans. "Nearly all the major parts that would go into new reactors will be built overseas," says the Nuclear Information & Resource Service.
Spending and Redirect Funds to Meet the Needs of Cities Mayors for Peace congratulates the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) for unanimously adopting a groundbreaking resolution, Supporting U.S. Participation in Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and Redirection of Nuclear Weapons Spending to Meet the Needs of Cities, at the conclusion of its 78th annual meeting in Oklahoma City on June 14, 2010.
Noting that “cities have been hard hit by the recent recession which has left them with rapidly rising unemployment and declining revenues, forcing them to make severe cuts in critical public services such as police officers, fire fighters, teachers, medical and emergency workers and bus drivers,” the resolution provides that: “The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on the U.S. Congress to terminate funding for modernization of the nuclear weapons complex and nuclear weapons systems, to reduce spending on nuclear weapons programs well below Cold War levels, and to redirect funds to meet the urgent needs of cities.”
The resolution also “calls on the U.S. Senate to ratify the new START treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty without conditions and without delay,” and “calls on President Obama to work with the leaders of the other nuclear weapon states to implement the U.N. Secretary-General’s Five Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament forthwith, so that a Nuclear Weapons Convention, or a related set of mutually reinforcing legal instruments, can be agreed upon and implemented by the year 2020, as urged by Mayors for Peace.”
Noting that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “has announced that he will visit Hiroshima on August 6, 2010, the anniversary of the day the first atomic bomb was dropped, stating: ‘There I will say, once again, we stand for a world free of nuclear weapons’,” the resolution additionally “encourages President Obama, members of the Cabinet and Congress to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the earliest possible date.
No Nukes/No Empire: The Abolition of Nuclear Weapons Requires the End of the U.S. Empire
By Robert Jensen
[A version of this essay was delivered to the “Think outside the Bomb” event in Austin, TX, on June 14, 2010.]
If we are serious about the abolition of nuclear weapons, we have to place the abolition of the U.S. empire at the center of our politics.
That means working toward a world free of nuclear weapons demands we not only critique the reactionary wing of the U.S. power structure, the Bushes and Cheneys and Rumsfelds -- call them the reckless hawks. A serious commitment to a future free of nuclear weapons demands critique of moderate wing, the Obamas and Bidens and Clintons -- call them the reasonable hawks. The former group is psychotic, while the latter is merely cynical. After eight years of reckless reactionary psychotics, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security by reasonable moderate cynics. But we should remember that a hawk is a hawk.
The next step is asking whose interests are advanced by the hawks. Even though in the post-World War II era the hawks have sometimes differed on strategy and tactics, they have defended the same economic system: a predatory corporate capitalism. Let’s call those folks the vultures. Different groupings of hawks might be associated with different groupings of vultures, giving the appearance of serious political conflict within the elite, but what they have in common is much more important than their differences. The political empire of the contemporary United States serves the corporate empires that dominate not only the domestic but the global economy, and it all depends on U.S. military power, of which the nuclear arsenal is one component.
George W. Bush was the smirking frat-boy face of the U.S. empire. Barack Obama is the smiling smart-guy face of the U.S. empire. Whoever is at the helm, the U.S. political/economic/military empire remains in place, shaky at the moment, but still the single greatest threat to justice and peace on the planet. Any serious project to rid the world of the particular threat of nuclear weapons has to come to terms with the more general threat of the empire.
Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites
By Hugh Tomlinson | Times Online
Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.
In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.
To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.
“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”
Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.
The four main targets for any raid on Iran would be the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, the gas storage development at Isfahan and the heavy-water reactor at Arak. Secondary targets include the lightwater reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete. Read more.
Over a period of time highly radioactive waste from the Dimona Nuclear Facility has been dumped primarily at two locations. One being close to Hebron and the other in central Gaza. When one adds to this the dumping of human waste, domestic waste, industrial waste and hazardous waste we are looking at a very lethal cocktail of underground contamination. One can also add to this hospital waste which can be extremely dangerous to humans....Approximately 4.3 million cubic meters of wastewater are generated per year from Jewish settlements in the West Bank. A large amount is dumped, untreated, on Palestinian land, creating a health hazard for many communities....Finally we have to add to this the fact that nuclear waste from Dimona was dumped in the Palestinian Hebron area and also in the Gaza Strip east of the Al Bareij refugee camp and the town of Deir El Balah. Another crisis also looms in the future with the fact that the Dimona Reactor is living on borrowed time.
We have seen the decades of suffering by the Palestinian people at the hands of the apartheid government of Israel and yet little has been said about another unseen problem that lies buried beneath the ground.
Over a long period of time the Israeli Government has secretly been dumping highly radioactive waste from their Dimona Nuclear Facility on Palestinian land. What is ironic is the basis as to why they have dumped their waste at such locations. Read more.
Iranian state television showed a video Monday of a man it identified as a missing nuclear scientist, who said he had been abducted and taken to the United States.
The scientist, Shahram Amiri, disappeared while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in June 2009. U.S. media reports in March said he defected to the U.S. and is assisting the CIA in efforts to undermine Iran's nuclear program. Iran has repeatedly said Amiri was abducted by the U.S.
The U.S. State Department did not immediately responded to a request for comment Monday.
The man in the video was wearing headphones and appeared to be speaking through a webcam on the Internet. The television showed the video next to a photograph of Amiri and the man bore a close resemblance. He said the video was recorded on April 5 in Tucson, Arizona.
He claimed Saudi intelligence cooperated with U.S. intelligence in his abduction. He said Saudi intelligence officers abducted him in the city of Medina on June 3, 2009, and took him to an unknown location and injected him with a tranquilizer.
"When I became conscious, I found myself in a plane on the way to the U.S.," he said. "Since I was abducted and brought to the U.S., I was heavily tortured and pressured by U.S. intelligence," he said. Read more.
Fuel Swap Shakes Sanctions Draft, Prods U.S. on New Iran Talks
Analysis by Gareth Porter | IPS
Although the Barack Obama administration continued to dismiss the May 17 Iranian fuel swap agreement Friday, there are indications that Iran's move has shaken the agreement among U.N. Security Council members on sanctions, and is bringing Russian diplomatic pressure on the United States to participate in new talks with Iran on the swap arrangement - something the administration clearly wished to avoid.
In a hastily arranged conference call with reporters Friday afternoon, three "senior administration officials" assailed the new swap agreement, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, for failing to address what was described as Iran's decision to continue enrichment of uranium to 20 percent, the increase in Iran's low-enriched uranium (LEU) stocks since last October, or U.N. Security resolutions demanding a suspension of all enrichment.
In a telltale sign that the Iranian move has shaken the previous unity among the permanent Security Council members on sanctions, however, one of the officials sidestepped a question about the present stance of Russia and China on sanctions.
Far from expressing confidence that the agreement still held, the official would only say, "We've been working with the full Council to resolve any outstanding issues." Read more.
Will an "Emergency" Military Vote Tomorrow Fund More Nukes?
By Harvey Wasserman
As oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, a shocking vote tomorrow (Thursday, May 27) may rush $9 billion worth of taxpayer guarantees into building three new nuclear power plants---two of them on that already tortured Gulf of Mexico.
Environmental groups (NIRS.org, PSR.org) are posting alerts and circulating at least one letter asking House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) to stop the handout. The public is being urged to contact Obey and other Representatives on the committee and in the House (202-225-3121). Shrouded in murky haste, the vote is currently scheduled for 5pm.
The bailout may be attached to an emergency appropriations bill meant to provide funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. How that "emergency" relates to building new nuclear power plants remains a mystery.
US/Israel Challenged on Iran
By Ray McGovern
The times may be a-changin’ – at least a bit – with the United States and Israel no longer able to dictate to the rest of the world how crises in the Middle East must be handled, though the new reality has been slow to dawn on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her neocon friends in Congress and the U.S. media.
They may think they are still in control, still the smart ones looking down at upstarts like the leaders of Turkey and Brazil who had the audacity to ignore U.S. warnings and press ahead with diplomacy to head off a possible new war, this one over Iran.
On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced success in persuading Iran to send roughly 50 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for higher-enriched uranium that would be put to peaceful medical uses.
The tripartite agreement parallels one broached to Iran by Western countries on Oct. 1, 2009, which gained Iranian approval in principle but then fell apart.
That Monday’s joint announcement took U.S. officials by surprise betokens a genteel, ivory-tower-type attitude toward a world that is rapidly changing around them, like old British imperialists befuddled by a surge of anti-colonialism in the Raj or some other domain of the Empire.
Tellingly, U.S. officials and their acolytes in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) could not bring themselves to believe that Brazil and Turkey would dare pursue an agreement with Iran after Clinton and President Barack Obama said not to.
However, the signs were there that these rising regional powers were no longer willing to behave like obedient children while the United States and Israel sought to take the world for another ride into a Middle East confrontation.
Perhaps I still have a bit too much of that "hopey-changey" Kool-Aid in my system, but I read the White House statement in response to the Iran-Turkey-Brazil announcement as saying to Iran: "We acknowledge that you moved. We're still ready to deal, and we'll see you in Geneva."
The White House statement is here:
I think it's fair to assume that a good deal of thought went into crafting this statement. Robert Gibbs did not come up with these words on his own. The folks in the Obama Administration who run nuclear diplomacy chose these words.
So what words did they choose, and what should we infer from them?
1. "We acknowledge the efforts that have been made by Turkey and Brazil."
This is positive. Regardless of what the Obama Administration said before the President of Brazil went to Iran, what the Obama Administration is saying now is: "Mazl Tov! Parabens! Tebrikler!" This is good. If you want a deal, the role of Brazil and Turkey is positive, not negative. Clearly, the involvement of Brazil and Turkey is raising the comfort level of the Iranians with the fuel swap deal. That's a good thing that should be encouraged. If you want a deal, you want the other side to be comfortable with the deal. Plus, now Brazil and Turkey have skin in the game. If Iran reneges, it's going to make Brazil and Turkey look bad. That's good. We are now in a situation where it's not "P5+1" on one side of the table and Iran on the other, but P5+1 on one side of the table and Iran +2 on the other. If your goal is to isolate Iran, that's bad. But if your goal it's to get a deal, that's good. The more signatures there are on the paper, the stronger the deal is.
2. "The proposal announced in Tehran must now be conveyed clearly and authoritatively to the IAEA before it can be considered by the international community." Read more.
"Gooaal!" for Lula Against Western Push for Iran Sanctions
By Robert Naiman | Truthout | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Sao Paulo, Brazil - If I were in Washington, I would run down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to Congress with a big Brazilian flag, as the young Brazilians run down the Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo during the futebol match, shouting, "Gooaal!"
Because with the news that Iran has agreed to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey that could "deflate a US-led push" for new sanctions against Iran, the president of Brazil has scored a goal against the neocons in the West who want to gin up confrontation with Iran toward a future military conflict.
AP reported: Iran agreed Monday to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal that could ease the international standoff over the country's disputed nuclear program and deflate a US-led push for tougher sanctions.
The deal was reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey, elevating a new group of mediators for the first time in the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities. The agreement was nearly identical to a U.N.-drafted plan that Washington and its allies have been pressing Tehran for the past six months to accept in order to deprive Iran - at least temporarily - of enough stocks of enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon.
If the deal is "nearly identical" to the plan that the US has been pressing, then we should all be celebrating, right? Read more.
BP's nuke-powered liability cap
By Harvey Wasserman | Solartopia | May 17, 2010
As BP destroys our priceless planet, its lawyers gear up to save the company from paying for the damage. The same will happen---only worse---with the next atomic reactor disaster.
By law, BP may be liable for only $75 million of the harm done by the Deepwater Horizon.
Ask yourself why the federal government would adopt legislation that limits the liability of an oil driller for the damage it does to us all.
Ask the same question---on another order of magnitude---about nuclear power plants.
Some lawmakers have tried to raise this cap so BP could be made to pay for the wounds they have not yet stopped inflicting.
By any calculation, BP did more than $75 million in harm during the first hour of this undersea gusher. That sum won't begin to cover even the legal fees, let alone the tangible damage to our only home.
But "free market" Republicans have resisted raising the limit. So BP will walk away virtually scot free. All this will be tax deductible. So will the millions they'll spend changing the name of the company, and dumping all those pathetic "Beyond Petroleum" pamphlets.
Now imagine a melt-down alongside the blow-out. See the Deepwater Horizon as a nuclear power plant. Think of the rickety Grand Gulf, a bit to the north, or the two decaying reactors at South Texas, a ways to the west.
Imagine that apocalyptic plume of oil ravaging our seas as an airborne radioactive cloud.
Iran to resume uranium enrichment despite Turkey deal
By the CNN Wire Staff | CNN
Iran appeared to make a concession in its long-running dispute with the international community Monday, only to throw a potential spoiler into the mix soon after.
Tehran said it had agreed to send thousands of pounds of low-enriched uranium, which was produced in Iran, to Turkey in exchange for highly-enriched uranium.
But then Iran said it intended to continue enriching uranium to the level that can sustain nuclear reactions, a move the United States and its allies do not want Tehran to make.
"We are not planning on stopping our legal right to enrich uranium," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told CNN by telephone.
The deal between Iran and Turkey had been designed to answer international concerns that Iran was secretly trying to build nuclear weapons -- a charge it has long denied.
Mehmanparast said the United States and its allies should accept the proposal. Read more.
Not long after the administration finalized an arms reduction treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, President Obama is now seeking $80 billion in funding for nuclear weapons.
According to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the money would be spent to “rebuild and sustain America’s aging nuclear stockpile.”
The US has one of the two largest arsenals on the planet, some 5,113 warheads, a holdover from the Cold War arms race with the former Soviet Union.
Despite very public efforts to declare himself an advocate of total nuclear disarmament, President Obama has made no secret of his ambitions for an updated nuclear stockpile, ostensibly for “safety” reasons.
But in reality, an arsenal capable of wiping out much of the life on the planet is never really safe, and questions about the military’s handling of the arsenal are nothing new. Likewise it is difficult to argue, in a post Cold War world, that the US truly needs such an enormous arsenal merely for “deterrence.” Read more.