Margaret Harrington, host of "Nuclear-Free Future Conversation" on Channel 17/Town Hall Meeting Televsion in Burlington, VT, interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps on the Iran Nuclear Deal announced on July 14th, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing 70th anniversaries on Aug. 6th & 9th, and the Japanese Abe administration's restart of an atomic reactor at Sendai post-Fukushima, despite overwhelming popular opposition. A major theme of the conversation is how nuclear power and nuclear weapons are flipsides of the same coin. (Note: there appears to be "dead air" and a black screen at the 29:00 to 30:00 minute mark of the interview, but it resumes after that).
Nuclear power was the failed answer to the horrors of the atomic bomb - the so-called "Peaceful Atom." However, the two technologies are inextricably linked. Countries such as India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea clandestinely developed nuclear weapons using the infrastructure, technology and know-how of their "civilian" nuclear programs. Contained expansion of nuclear power across the globe only increases the chances of nuclear weapons development and is counterproductive to disarmament.
Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (photo, left), has prepared the following backgrounder in response to the Reuters article, reprinted at Voice of America, about the the arrest of the longtime head of Brazil's nuclear energy utility, Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva. A retired admiral, Pinheiro da Silva was arrested on corruption charges on Tuesday for allegedly taking 4.5 million reais ($1.35 million) in bribes from engineering firms working on the long-delayed Angra 3 nuclear power plant. The arrest could disrupt a plan to revive Brazilian nuclear ambitions whose roots go back to its atomic-bomb program in the 1980s.
Beyond Nuclear board of directors member Karl Grossman (photo, left) has published a blog at The Times of Israel entitled "Obama, the Iran Deal, and Plutonium." Quoting Amory Lovins, L. Hunter Lovins, and Jacques Cousteau, Grossman illuminates how "there’s no 'peaceful nuclear power,'" and that "Nuclear weapons and nuclear power are two sides of the same coin."
Drawing on his 45 years of investigative reporting, and his authorship of six books -- much of it focused on the covers ups, deceptions, and hypocricies of nuclear power -- Grossman describes how India acquired nuclear weapons through Eisenhower's so-called "Atoms for Peace" path.
He warns that the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency's schizophrenic mandate -- to promote nuclear power, while curbing nuclear weapons proliferation -- risks other countries likewise obtaining "The Bomb." This includes Iran, even under the current "Iran Nuclear Deal," hammered out by the likes of the "great booster of nuclear power," U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
Grossman's blog was published on July 16, 2015 -- 70 years to the day after the U.S. detonation of "Trinity" in the New Mexico desert. The Manhattan Project plutonium bomb "test" led to the annihilation of Nagasaki, Japan just over three weeks later.
As reported by Reuters, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have seized 88 pounds of nuclear material from a university in Mosul, Iraq. The Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations has reported the theft to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and called on the UN for assistance in the nuclear material's recovery.
Reuters reports that Iraq's U.N. Ambassador, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, wrote in his July 8 letter:
"Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state," Alhakim wrote, adding that such materials "can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction."
"These nuclear materials, despite the limited amounts mentioned, can enable terrorist groups, with the availability of the required expertise, to use it separate or in combination with other materials in its terrorist acts," said Alhakim.
He warned that they could also be smuggled out of Iraq.
"The Republic of Iraq is notifying the international community of these dangerous developments and asking for help and the needed support to stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad," Alhakim wrote.
The incident is reminiscent of the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, when unguarded nuclear facilities were systematically looted.
The New York Times editorial board has cited "Measured Progress on Nuclear Security," given Japan's pledge to turn over a small fraction of its potentially weapons-usable plutonium and highly enriched uranium to the U.S. for "disposal."
But as the Center for Public Integrity and Truthout have warned in an article by Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith entitled "The World Awash in Nuclear Explosive?", we have a frighteningly long way to go in our attempts to put the nuclear weapons proliferation genie back in the bottle.
Specifically, and ironically enough, Japan's bid to open the Rokkasho reprocessing facility could open the way for catastrophic nuclear weapons proliferation, warns NRDC's Tom Cochran.