Archive for November, 2020

Hibakusha renew their push for the abolition of nuclear weapons

November 28, 2020
Atomic bomb survivors’ renewed push for the abolition of nuclear weapons,   https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1370/   Kita Yusuke
NHK World Correspondent, Yoshida Mayu, NHK World Correspondent, 13 Nov 20,
Today is a big, memorable day for us.”

Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor Abe Shizuko was reacting to the October 24 ratification of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The accord will take effect in January – although none of the world’s nuclear powers are members.

Nevertheless, hibakusha, which is what the atomic bomb survivors are called in Japan, see the treaty as a victory for their cause. “I take pride in the fact that the decision is a result of the united little voices of individual hibakusha,” says 93-year-old Abe.

On August 6th, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb for the first time in human history. Its target was Hiroshima, where 18-year-old Abe was helping to dismantle buildings to prevent the spread of fires caused by air raids during World War Two. Abe was working just 1.5 kilometers away from ground zero. She suffered severe burns on the right side of her body and face, and has been through 18 surgeries.

“The operations were very painful and difficult. There wasn’t enough anesthetic back in those days, so doctors could not give me supplemental relief even if I started feeling pain. I tolerated the pain through a strong hope to restore my body,” Abe recalls.

The bomb left keloid scars on her face and the right side of her body. In photographs from when she was younger, Abe always looks down, or shows only her left side.

A-bomb survivors call the 10-year period following the world’s first atomic bombing “the blank decade.” That is because people who were injured had little to no medical or financial support. At the same time, they were exposed to severe prejudice and discrimination.

Abe says she was once nicknamed “Red Ogre” because of her scars. “My wound did not heal. My body weakened. I was in poverty. Many people stared at me only just to satisfy their curiosity, because they wanted to know what a hibakusha looked like. They did not feel sympathy for me. They bullied me. The suffering that I went through, and the emotional wound, will never go away.”

In 1956, Abe joined other atomic bomb survivors to form a delegation. They traveled to Tokyo to appeal to the then prime minister and government officials to offer relief for victims, and support their call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Those efforts led to the establishment of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organization.

As the Cold War progressed, the hibakusha became disheartened. Even though they were speaking out about the need to eliminate nuclear weapons, the world was not listening. Nuclear experiments were being carried out repeatedly, and the arms race took off.

“It was really a difficult time for our campaign,” Abe remembers. “We felt as if we were yelling out while trying to survive in rough waves on a dark night.”

Abe carried a grudge against the US, but started to feel a change of heart almost 20 years after the bombing. In 1964, she went to the US and Europe for what was known as the Peace Pilgrimage. It was an opportunity for A-bomb survivors to speak about their personal experiences in front of audiences. Abe stayed at a private home with local hosts in the US, and she was deeply touched by their tender-heartedness.

“They listened attentively to my stories and said to me, ‘It must have been very hard for you. You’ve been through a lot. We’re so sorry for you,'” Abe recalls. “I realized we should never let anyone fall victim to nuclear weapons, regardless of what nationality you are. Americans or anybody.”

The voices of the hibakusha spread to all corners of the world, slowly but steadily.

These days, the average age of hibakusha is more than 83 years old, and there are fewer chances to hear their direct accounts. Some of them, like Taniguchi Sumiteru, played a direct role in the recent ratification of the UN treaty that bans nuclear weapons.

Taniguchi died three years ago, but he put the wheels in motion with a campaign that collected signatures to demand an international convention to ban nuclear weapons. He worked on that until the last moment of his life.

Taniguchi was 16 when he was exposed to the second atomic bomb that the US dropped on Japan. He was working as a postman in Nagasaki. A picture that shows the red burned flesh on his back shocked the world.

He delivered an impassioned speech at the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the UN’s New York headquarters: “Please don’t turn your eyes away from me. Please look at me again. I have survived miraculously, but for me, to ‘live’ was to ‘endure the agony’. Bearing the cursed scars of the atomic bomb all over our bodies, we the hibakusha continue to live in pain.”

“For humans to live as humans, not even one nuclear weapon should be allowed to exist on earth. I cannot die in peace until I witness the last nuclear warhead eliminated from this world,” said Taniguchi.

Hibakusha and their supporters gathered at Nagasaki Peace Park shortly after last month’s treaty ratification to share their joy. Among them was Okuma Yuka, a member of an activist group that calls itself “Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Messengers”.

Okuma took part in the signature-collecting campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons after being deeply shocked by the image of a young Taniguchi in the aftermath of the atomic bombing. Her great-grandmother was a hibakusha but didn’t talk much about her experience. The photograph of Taniguchi brought it home to Okuma that suffering had occurred in her own family.

“I believe the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is definitely an important step forward,” Okuma says. “I expect that this will become a good opportunity for us to move toward a world that is completely free of nuclear weapons

Chernobyl’s bumblebees still affected by radiation

November 28, 2020

This new data shows effects on bumblebees are happening at dose rates previously thought safe for insects, and the current international recommendations will need to be re-evaluated.

The nuclear launch authorizer’s guide to staying calm at election times

November 28, 2020

The nuclear launch authorizer’s guide to staying calm on election night, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists By Matt Field | November 3, 2020  Their thumbs are calloused from refreshing Nate Silver’s twitter feed too many times. Their nerves are frayed from too much time spent figuring out what’s going on in places like Lackawanna County. (I know you know where it is.) Americans are heading into this Election Day full of anxiety and stress. For many, the stakes of today’s contest between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden couldn’t be higher. Anxiety-inducing information will be arriving in social media feeds, on TV screens, and on news websites at a furious pace later today. But it’s important for people to take a moment to breathe, a second to ease their worried minds. Perhaps they might consider a few tips from the annals of nuclear weapons history, insights from times when people, through relatively calm rationality, were able to avert the worst in the highest of high stress situations.

A USA Senator reflects on the anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis

November 28, 2020

Now climate change, rising seas, swamping Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, victims of nuclear racism

November 28, 2020

Losing paradise,  Atomic racism decimated Kiribati and the Marshall Islands; now climate change is sinking them, Beyond Nuclear   https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/72759838/posts/29981415891 Nov 20, This is an extract from the Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland report “Nuclear Weapons, the Climate and Our Environment”.

Kiribati.  In 1954, the government of Winston Churchill decided that the UK needed to develop a hydrogen bomb (a more sophisticated and destructive type of nuclear weapon). The US and Russia had already developed an H-bomb and Churchill argued that the UK “could not expect to maintain our influence as a world power unless we possessed the most up-to-date nuclear weapons”.

The governments of Australia and New Zealand refused to allow a hydrogen bomb test to be conducted on their territories so the British government searched for an alternative site. Kiritimati Island and Malden Island in the British Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony in the central Pacific Ocean (now the Republic of Kiribati) were chosen. Nine nuclear weapons tests – including the first hydrogen bomb tests – were carried out there as part of “Operation Grapple” between 1957 and 1958.

Military personnel from the UK, New Zealand and Fiji (then a British colony) and Gilbertese labourers were brought in to work on the operation. Many of the service personnel were ordered to witness the tests in the open, on beaches or on the decks of ships, and were simply told to turn their backs and shut their eyes when the bombs were detonated. There is evidence that Fijian forces were given more dangerous tasks than their British counterparts, putting them at greater risk from radiation exposure. The local Gilbertese were relocated and evacuated to British naval vessels during some of the tests but many were exposed to fallout, along with naval personnel and soldiers.

After Grapple X, the UK’s first megaton hydrogen bomb test in November 1957, dead fish washed ashore and “birds were observed to have their feathers burnt off, to the extent that they could not fly”. The larger Grapple Y test in 1958 spread fallout over Kiritimati Island and destroyed large areas of vegetation.

Despite evidence that military personnel and local people suffered serious health problems as a result of the tests, including blindness, cancers, leukaemia and reproductive difficulties, the British government has consistently denied that they were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation and has resisted claims for compensation.

Like the Marshall Islands, the low-lying Republic of Kiribati is now bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change. Salt water washed in on king tides has contaminated the islands’ scarce freshwater resources. Pits that are used to grow taro plants have been ruined and the healthy subsistence lifestyle of local people is under threat.

It is predicted that rising sea levels will further impact freshwater resources and reduce the amount of agricultural land, while storm damage and erosion will increase. Much of the land will ultimately be submerged. In anticipation of the need to relocate its entire population, the government of Kiribati bought 20km2 of land on Fiji in 2014.

The UK is set to spend £3.4 billion a year on Trident nuclear weapons system between 2019 and 2070. If Trident were scrapped, a portion of the savings could be provide to the Republic of Kiribati in the form of climate finance (see section 1.2.1). Scrapping Trident would also allow money and skills to be redirected towards measures aimed at drastically cutting the UK’s carbon emissions (see section 1.2.2) – action that Pacific island nations are urgently demanding.

The Marshall Islands.  The most devasting incident of radioactive contamination took place 8,000 km from the US mainland during the Castle Bravo test in 1954. The US detonated the largest nuclear weapon in its history at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, causing fallout to spread over an area of more than 11,000km. Residents of nearby atolls, Rongelap and Utirik, were exposed to high levels of radiation, suffering burns, radiation sickness, skin lesions and hair loss as a result.

Castle Bravo was just one of 67 nuclear weapons tests conducted by the US in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958. Forty years after the tests, the cervical cancer mortality rate for women of the Marshall Islands was found to be 60 times greater than the rate for women in the US mainland, while breast and lung cancer rates were five and three times greater respectively. High rates of infant mortality have also been found in the Marshall Islands and a legacy of birth defects and infertility has been documented. Many Marshallese were relocated by the US to make way for the testing.

Some were moved to Rongelap Atoll and relocated yet again after the fallout from Castle Bravo left the area uninhabitable.

Rongelap Atoll was resettled in 1957 after the US government declared that the area was safe. However, many of those who returned developed serious health conditions and the entire population was evacuated by Greenpeace in 1984. An attempt to resettle Bikini Atoll was similarly abandoned in 1978 after it became clear that the area was still unsafe for human habitation.

A 2019 peer-reviewed study found levels of the radioactive isotope caesium-137 in fruits taken from some parts of Bikini and Rongelap to be significantly higher than levels recorded at the sites of the world’s worst nuclear accidents, Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Compounding the injustice of nuclear weapons testing, the Republic of the Marshall Islands is now on the frontline of the climate emergency. The government declared a national climate crisis in 2019, citing the nation’s extreme vulnerability to rising sea levels and the “implications for the security, human rights and wellbeing of the Marshallese people”.

At Runit Island, one of 40 islands in the Enewetak Atoll, rising sea levels are threatening to release radioactive materials into an already contaminated lagoon. In the late 1970s, the US army dumped 90,000 cubic metres of radioactive waste, including plutonium, into a nuclear blast crater and covered it with a concrete cap. Radioactive materials are leaking out of the crater and cracks have appeared on the concrete cap. Encroaching salt water caused by rising sea levels could collapse the structure altogether. The Marshallese government has asked the US for help to prevent an environmental catastrophe but the US maintains that the dome is the Marshall Islands’ responsibility. Hilda Heine, then President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, said of the dome in 2019: “We don’t want it. We didn’t build it. The garbage inside is not ours. It’s theirs.”

The Runit Island dome offers a stark illustration of the ways in which the injustices of nuclear weapons testing and climate change overlap. Marshall Islanders were left with the toxic legacy of nuclear weapons testing conducted on their territory by another state. The country is now being forced to deal with the effects of a climate crisis that they did not create, including the erosion of the Runit dome.

The nations that contributed most to the crisis are failing to cut their emissions quickly enough to limit further global heating, leaving the Marshallese at the mercy of droughts, cyclones and rising seas. A recent study found that if current rates of greenhouse gas emissions are maintained, the Marshall Islands will be flooded with sea water annually from 2050. The resulting damage to infrastructure and contamination of freshwater supplies will render the islands uninhabitable.

If the US scrapped its nuclear weapons programme, it could give a portion of the billions of dollars that would be saved to the Republic of the Marshall Islands to help the country mitigate and adapt to climate disruption (see section 1.2.1 on international climate finance). The US could also use the freed-up funds to invest in its own Just Transition away from a fossil-fuel powered economy.   Read the full report.

 

Plutonium: How Nuclear Power’s Dream Fuel Became a Nightmare

November 28, 2020

Nailing the Coffin of Civilian Plutonium, Plutonium: How Nuclear Power’s Dream Fuel Became a Nightmare, By Frank von Hippel,   Masafumi Takubo, and Jungmin KangSpringer Press, Reviewed by Thomas Countryman, November 2020

Even in the world of speculative investment bubbles, it would be difficult to find a parallel to the business of making plutonium. This “industry” has seen massive investment by private and mostly governmental funds in pursuit of creating the world’s most dangerous material, an investment that has failed to yield a single dollar in returns. Nevertheless, a combination of scientific ambition, bureaucratic inertia, and governmental hubris keeps alive a dream that should have been smothered long ago.

Leave it to three highly experienced specialists to briefly recount the history, clearly explain the physical realities, and precisely pick apart the ever-weakening arguments that have supported reprocessing spent nuclear fuel into a new plutonium-based fuel. Frank von Hippel, Masafumi Takubo, and Jungmin Kang accomplish all of this in Plutonium: How Nuclear Power’s Dream Fuel Became a Nightmare. Its planned translation into Japanese and Korean should help citizens participate in critical upcoming decisions about continuing plutonium projects by governments in Tokyo and Seoul.

The earliest rationale for using plutonium as a nuclear fuel rested on the fact that spent nuclear fuel, the leftover material from civilian nuclear power plants, still contained far more potential energy than had yet been consumed. In the 1970s, uranium was believed to be scarce in the natural environment, and the full utilization of its energy capacity made some engineering, logical, and economic sense. In succeeding decades, the economic rationale has been constantly undermined by the realization that natural uranium is sufficiently plentiful that its price is no longer the primary cost factor in nuclear power generation, by the unanticipated complexity of building advanced reactors optimized to use plutonium as fuel, by the cost of new and necessary safety regulations applicable to all reactors, and most recently by the continued fall in the cost of generating renewable energy.

In the face of these realities, only France, at a substantial economic loss, currently operates a full program for recovering plutonium from spent fuel for use as new nuclear fuel. Russia reprocesses spent fuel and is now testing plutonium in a breeder reactor. Japan has indicated it plans to open one of the world’s largest reprocessing plants in Rokkasho in the next two years, but that two-year time frame has been the boilerplate forecast for each of the past 10 years. India is actively reprocessing civilian spent fuel, and China is constructing a major facility for that purpose. South Korea has announced an end to its nuclear power program, but some officials and experts retain the aspiration to pursue civilian reprocessing.

No other nuclear-powered nation is actively pursuing “closing” the nuclear fuel cycle by reprocessing plutonium for energy generation. The economic and technical realities forced one country after another—Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, then the United States—to end their own efforts.

This weak support highlights the merits of the authors’ arguments. They systematically deconstruct the political and technical arguments in favor of such programs. Crucially, they demonstrate the factual inaccuracy of the primary argument advanced by Japanese and South Korean advocates that reprocessing spent fuel will diminish the volume and danger of nuclear waste that must ultimately be stored in geological repositories. They also knock down convincingly the claim that plutonium that is reactor grade, as opposed to weapons grade, is unusable in an explosive device.

Although it may be the prerogative of sovereign states to spend their own money irrationally, the authors focus also on important externalities, in particular the threat to the world’s security and environment from the continued production of plutonium. A commitment to the closed fuel cycle delays the inevitable decision that must be made by Japan and South Korea concerning permanent safe storage of spent fuels, a decision on which the United States also continues to procrastinate. In addition, it leads to unsafe practices concerning the storage of spent fuel rods destined for reprocessing. The authors describe for the first time how close the world was to a greater disaster in 2011, as overcrowded spent fuel cooling ponds could have led to a much greater radiation release following the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The authors explain that moving the spent fuel to interim dry cask storage would avert such catastrophic risks.

Of still greater concern is the risk that even a sliver of the massive plutonium stockpiles could be acquired by terrorists to use in a nuclear explosive device or a panic-inducing radiological dispersion device. Since plutonium was first fabricated 80 years ago, nations have created more than 500 tons of what is arguably the world’s most dangerous material. The International Atomic Energy Agency defines a “significant quantity” of plutonium, or enough to make a nuclear weapon, as eight kilograms, although even a Nagasaki-size blast could be generated with significantly less plutonium. Thus, the 300 tons of plutonium designated for civilian use would be sufficient to create more than 35,000 warheads.

Continuing to accumulate plutonium is not only a terrorism risk, but also a source of tension between states. There is concern in Beijing that Japan holds greater stocks of separated plutonium than China and in Seoul that South Korea holds none. The authors note briefly but tellingly the normally unstated security considerations that in part motivate civilian reprocessing programs: an intention to sustain a latent weapons capacity.

The authors make a convincing case for the international community to act together to end further production of separated plutonium. The effort to negotiate a fissile material cutoff treaty, which would ban production of plutonium for weapons, remains frozen in a glacier at the Conference on Disarmament. Whether or when it moves ahead, there is a separate compelling need to negotiate a ban on civilian separation of plutonium.

Although less than 200 pages, Plutonium is not light reading. Its economic and scientific arguments are compact, thoroughly documented, and clear even to lay people. For policymakers and the public, it provides a clear picture of a dream whose claimed benefits have all evaporated but whose danger remains ominously present.


Thomas Countryman is the chair of the Arms Control Association Board of Directors. He served 35 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, retiring in 2017 as acting undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

How the marketing of American weapons determines U.S. foreign policy on China

November 28, 2020

Key Pentagon Official Turned China Policy Over to Arms Industry & Taiwan Supporters  October 28, 2020,  The triumph of corporate and foreign interests over one of the most consequential decisions regarding China is likely to bedevil U.S. foreign policy for years to come, writes Gareth Porter. https://consortiumnews.com/2020/10/28/key-pentagon-official-turned-china-policy-over-to-arms-industry-taiwan-supporters/   By Gareth Porter
The Grayzone   

When the United States finalized a set of seven arms sales packages to Taiwan in August, including 66 upgraded F-16 fighter planes and longer-range air-to-ground missiles that could hit sensitive targets on mainland China, it shifted U.S. policy sharply toward a much more aggressive stance on the geo-strategic island at the heart of military tensions between the United States and China.

Branded “Fortress Taiwan” by the Pentagon, the ambitious arms deal was engineered by Randall Schriver, a veteran pro-Taiwan activist and anti-China hardliner whose think tank had been financed by America’s biggest arms contractors and by the Taiwan government itself.  

Since assuming the post of assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs in early 2018, Schriver has focused primarily on granting his major arms company patrons the vaunted arms deals they had sought for years.

The arms sales Schriver has overseen represent the most dangerous U.S. escalation against China in years. The weapons systems will give Taiwan the capability to strike Chinese military and civilian targets far inland, thus emboldening those determined to push for independence from China.

Although no U.S. administration has committed to defending Taiwan since Washington normalized relations with China, the Pentagon is developing the weapons systems and military strategy it would need for a full-scale war. If a conflict breaks out, Taiwan is likely to be at its center.

Returning Favors

Schriver is a longtime advocate of massive, highly provocative arms sales to Taiwan who has advanced the demand that the territory be treated more like a sovereign, independent state. His lobbying has been propelled by financial support from major arms contractors and Taiwan through two institutional bases: a consulting business and a “think tank” that also led the charge for arms sales to U.S. allies in East Asia.

The first of these outfits was a consulting firm called Armitage International, which Schriver founded in 2005 with Richard Armitage, a senior Pentagon and State Department official in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations.

Schriver had served as Armitage’s chief of staff in the State Department and then as deputy sssistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. (Armitage, a lifelong Republican, recently released a video endorsement of Joseph Biden for president).

As a partner in Armitage International, Schriver was paid consulting fees by two major arms contractors — Boeing and Raytheon — both of which hoped to obtain arms sales to Taiwan and other East Asian allies to compensate for declining profits from Pentagon contracts.

Schriver started a second national-security venture in 2008 as president and CEO of a new lobbying front called The Project 2049 Institute, where Armitage served as chairman of the board. The name of the new institution referred to the date by which some anti-China hawks believed China intended to achieve global domination.

From its inception, The Project 2049 Institute focused primarily on U.S. military cooperation with Northeast Asian allies — and Taiwan in particular — with an emphasis on selling them more and better U.S. arms.

Schriver, known as the Taiwan government’s main ally in Washington, became the key interlocutor for major U.S. arms makers looking to cash in potential markets in Taiwan. He was able to solicit financial support for the institute from Lockheed Martin, General Atomics, BAE and Raytheon, according to Project 2049’s internet site, which provides no figures on the amounts given by each prior to 2017.

Equally important, however, is The Project 2049 Institute’s heavy dependence on grants from the government of Taiwan. The most recent annual report of the institute shows that more than a third of its funding in 2017 came either directly from the Taiwan government or a quasi-official organization representing its national security institutions.

Project 2049 received a total of $280,000 from the Taiwan Ministry of Defense and Taiwan’s unofficial diplomatic office in Washington (TECRO) as well as $60,000 from the “Prospect Foundation,” whose officers are all former top national-security officials of Taiwan.  In 2017, another $252,000 in support for Schriver’s institute came from the State Department, at a time when it was taking an especially aggressive public anti-China line.

By creating a non-profit “think tank,” Schriver and Armitage had found a way to skirt rules aimed at minimizing conflicts of interest in the executive branch.

The Executive Order 13770 issued by President Donald Trump in early 2017 that was supposed to tighten restrictions on conflicts of interest barred Schriver from participation for a period of two years “in any particular matter that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients….”

 

However, the financial support for Project 2049 from Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, General Atomics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, and from Taiwanese official and quasi-official bodies were considered as outside that prohibition, because they were not technically “clients.”

Big Wins for Supporters

Brought into the Pentagon at the beginning 2018 to push China policy toward a more confrontational stance, Schriver spent 2018 and the first half of 2019 moving proposals for several major arms sales to Taiwan — including the new F-16s and the air-to-ground missiles capable of hitting sensitive targets in China — through inter-agency consultations.

He secured White House approval for the arms packages and Congress was informally notified in August 2019, however, Congress was not notified of the decision until August 2020. That was because Trump was engaged in serious trade negotiations with China and wanted to avoid unnecessary provocation to Beijing.

Lockheed Martin was the biggest corporate winner in the huge and expensive suite of arms sales to Taiwan. It reaped the largest single package of the series: a 10-year, $8 billion deal for which it was the “principal contractor” to provide 66 of its own F-16 fighters to Taiwan, along with the accompanying engines, radars and other electronic warfare equipment.

The seven major arms sales packages included big wins for other corporate supporters as well: Boeing’s AGM-84E Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM), which could be fired by the F-16s and hit sensitive military and even economic targets in China’s Nanjing region, and sea-surveillance drones from General Atomics.

In February 2020, shortly after Schriver left the Pentagon, the Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen received the lobbyist in her office in Taipei and publicly thanked him for having “facilitated the sale of F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan and attached great importance to the role and status of Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific region.” It was an extraordinary expression of a foreign government’s gratitude for a U.S. official’s service to its interests.

Having delivered the goods for the big military contractors and the Taiwan government, Schriver returned to The Project 2049 Institute, replacing Armitage as chairman of the board.

Neocon Vision

The arms sales to Taiwan represented a signal victory for those who still hoping to reverse the official U.S. acceptance the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate government of all of China.

Ever since the 1982 U.S.-China Joint Communique, in which the United States vowed that it had “no intention of interfering in China’s internal affairs or pursuing a policy of “two China’s” or “one China, one Taiwan,” anti-China hardliners who opposed that concession have insisted on making the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which called for the United States to sell Taiwan such arms “as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability” as keystone of U.S. Taiwan policy.

The neoconservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC) led by William Kristol and Robert Kagan wanted to go even further; it pushed for the United States to restore its early Cold War commitment to defend Taiwan from any Chinese military assault.

Thus a 1999 PNAC statement called on the United States to “declare unambiguously that it will come to Taiwan’s defense in the event of an attack or a blockade against Taiwan, including against the offshore islands of Matsu and Kinmen.”

After leaving the World Bank in 2008 amidst a scandal involving his girlfriend, Paul Wolfowitz – the author of that 1999 statement on East Asia – turned his attention to protecting Taiwan.

Despite the absence of any business interest he was known to have in Taiwan, Wolfowitz was chairman of the board of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council from 2008 to 2018. The Project 2049 Institute was a key member of the council, along with all the major arms companies hoping to make sales to Taiwan.

During the first days of Wolfowitz’s chairmanship, the U.S.-China Business Council published a lengthy study warning of a deteriorating air power balance between China and Taiwan.  The study was obviously written under the auspices of one or more of the major arms companies who were members, but it was attributed only to “the Council’s membership” and to “several outside experts” whom it did not name.

The study criticized both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations for refusing to provide the latest F-16 models to Taiwan, warning that U.S. forces would be forced to defend the island directly if the jets were not immediately supplied.  It also called for providing Taiwan with land-attack cruise missiles capable of hitting some of the most sensitive military and civilian targets in the Nanjing province that lay opposite Taiwan.

The delicacy of the political-diplomatic situation regarding Taiwan’s status, and the reality of China’s ability to reunify the country if it chooses to do so has deterred every administration since George H.W. Bush sold 150 F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan. That was, until Shriver’s provocative “Fortress Taiwan” sale went through.

The triumph of corporate and foreign interests in determining one of the most consequential U.S. decisions regarding China is likely to bedevil U.S. policy for years to come.  At a moment when the Pentagon is pushing a rearmament program based mainly on preparation for war with China, an influential former official backed by arms industry and Taiwanese money has helped set the stage for a potentially catastrophic confrontation.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist who has covered national security policy since 2005 and was the recipient of Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2012.  His most recent book is The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis, co-authored with John Kiriakou, just published in February.

This article is from The Grayzone

Small Nuclear Reactors – the Big New Way – to get the public to fund the nuclear weapons industry

November 28, 2020

so-called “small nuclear reactors”

Downing Street told the Financial Times, which it faithfully reported, that it was “considering” £2 billion of taxpayers’ money to support “small nuclear reactors”

They are not small

The first thing to know about these beasts is that they are not small. 440MW? The plant at Wylfa (Anglesey, north Wales) was 460MW (it’s closed now). 440MW is bigger than all the Magnox type reactors except Wylfa and comparable to an Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor.

Only if military needs are driving this decision is it explicable.

”Clearly, the military need to maintain both reactor construction and operation skills and access to fissile materials will remain. I can well see the temptation for Defence Ministers to try to transfer this cost to civilian budgets,” 

Any nation’s defence budget in this day and age cannot afford a new generation of nuclear weapons. So it needs to pass the costs onto the energy sector.

How the UK’s secret defence policy is driving energy policy – with the public kept in the darkhttps://www.thefifthestate.com.au/energy-lead/how-the-uks-secret-defence-policy-is-driving-energy-policy-with-the-public-kept-in-the-dark/  BY DAVID THORPE / 13 OCTOBER 2020

 The UK government has for 15 years persistently backed the need for new nuclear power. Given its many problems, most informed observers can’t understand why. The answer lies in its commitment to being a nuclear military force. (more…)

Hitler’s quest for nuclear weapons

November 28, 2020

WW2: Hitler’s true nuclear capacity exposed in secret sabotage mission that ‘saved world’

WORLD WAR 2 saw the Allies cooperate to fight Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany but jaw-dropping documents reveal just how close he came to using nuclear weapons. Express UK By CALLUM HOARE Oct 21, 2020   The German nuclear weapons programme was an unsuccessful scientific effort to research and develop atomic weapons during World War 2. It went through several phases but was ultimately “frozen at the laboratory level” with historians and scholars alike generally agreeing it failed on all fronts. With that, Hitler is thought to have focused more on his revolutionary V1 and V2 rockets, but he came terrifyingly close to arming them with nuclear warheads, according to declassified papers unearthed by writer and filmmaker Damien Lewis.

The author of ‘Hunting Hitler’s Nukes’ wrote: “That Hitler’s Germany might win the race to build the world’s first atom bomb was arguably one of Winston Churchill’s greatest wartime concerns and one that was shared with his good friend US president Franklin D Roosevelt.  …….

“The greatest fear was that the Nazis had mastered the technology to fit a nuclear or radiological charge to the V2s, in which case there would be no defence possible.

“Churchill ordered aerial surveys to forewarn of such attacks – dry-run rehearsals to prepare for such an ordeal, and for frontline doctors to be briefed on the symptoms of radiation poisoning.

Such fears were very real. Following German physicist Otto Hahn splitting the atom in December 1938, the Allies believed the Germans to be two years ahead in the race to build the atom bomb.”

In May 1940, German forces struck a further blow in the race for nuclear supremacy after seizing Olen, Belgium, where the largest remaining stock of European uranium was located.

British intelligence reports on Operation Peppermint found by Mr Lewis revealed fears from London.

One read: “Since the fall of Belgium, much of the largest stock of uranium has been available [to Germany] from the refinery.”

The report went on to chronicle how “several hundred tonnes of crude concentrates had been removed from Belgium”.

According to Mr Lewis, its destination was the AuerGesellschaft refinery, at Oranienburg, Germany.

Allied research suggested it would require 20,000 workers, half a million watts of electricity and $150million (£114million) in expenditure to build the world’s first atom bomb.

Hitler, who now controlled most of western Europe, could demand such resources.

And, in concentration camps, he had access to millions of workers.

Mr Lewis noted: “In short, the Fuhrer could harness Germany’s foremost engineering capabilities to its scientific expertise and western Europe’s almost unlimited resources – all of which made an atom bomb a real possibility.”……..

According to Mr Lewis, its destination was the AuerGesellschaft refinery, at Oranienburg, Germany.

Allied research suggested it would require 20,000 workers, half a million watts of electricity and $150million (£114million) in expenditure to build the world’s first atom bomb.

Hitler, who now controlled most of western Europe, could demand such resources.

And, in concentration camps, he had access to millions of workers.

Mr Lewis noted: “In short, the Fuhrer could harness Germany’s foremost engineering capabilities to its scientific expertise and western Europe’s almost unlimited resources – all of which made an atom bomb a real possibility.”

“Details of Operation Peppermint and the measures taken to prepare for a Nazi nuclear strike were revealed in papers that I unearthed from the National Archives.

“This came as a great surprise to me, for I was unaware that the Allied wartime leaders viewed Nazi Germany’s nuclear programme as such a real and present threat.”

However, a top secret heroic mission would lead to a breakthrough……..

Hunting Hitler’s Nukes: The Secret Race to Stop the Nazi Bomb’ is published by Quercus and available to buy herehttps://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1350513/world-war-2-hitler-nuclear-capacity-secret-winston-churchill-operation-peppermint-spt

A history of nuclear weapons accidents

November 28, 2020
THE NUCLEAR  TREATY dividing the World, Byline Times, Stephen Colegrave, 21 October 2020  “……… A History Of Near Accidents  It is easy to be sympathetic with their position when the number of near nuclear weapons accidents are considered.
In early 2009, two nuclear submarines, the French Le Triomphant and British Vanguard, both carrying nuclear weapons, crashed into each other deep in the Atlantic. Fortunately, they were not going fast enough to cause much damage.Two years earlier, the American Air Force lost six nuclear armed cruise missiles for 36 hours when, unknown to anyone, they were fitted to a B-52 bomber and flown completely unauthorised to a base in Louisiana, left unguarded on the runway until anyone worked out what had happened.

In 2000, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten reported that classified documents obtained by a group of former workers at the Thule airbase suggest that one of four hydrogen bombs on a B-52 bomber that crashed there in 1968 was never found.

There are many instances of false alarms and nuclear bombs nearly being launched. One of the most dangerous of these was stopped by little-known hero Lieutenant Colonel Petrov who, in 1983, probably really did save the world. When he was alerted by an early warning system that five nuclear missiles by America were coming towards the Soviet Union, instead of immediately raising the alarm to his superiors who would have ordered retaliation, he instinctively decided that, if there was an attack, more than five missiles would have been launched and rightly decided that the system was faulty.

These incidents seem to have done nothing to dent the UK and America’s insistence that nuclear weapons safeguard and guarantee peace. The old Cold War politics of nuclear deterrents can seemingly do nothing to deter democratic interference on social media or the global impact of COVID-19. Like scary but lumbering dinosaurs, our trident submarines roam the ocean’s depths with enormous fire power – just one missile can kill more than 10 million people – while Russian President Vladimir Putin interferes with democratic elections in the West for less than the price of a non-nuclear fighter jet.https://bylinetimes.com/2020/10/21/the-nuclear-treaty-dividing-the-world/