Nuclear Proliferation

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.



Satellite photos appear to reveal North Korea building new atomic reactor

Satellite photos published by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) appear to show that North Korea is building a new atomic reactor. While the North Korean regime may claim the small (25 to 30 megawatt-electric) experimental atomic reactor is for "peaceful" electricity generation, questions are swirling as to whether the enriched uranium needed to fuel the reactor will enable North Korea the ability to master enriching uranium to weapons-grade. Another potential risk is that North Korea could extract plutonium from the new reactor's irradiated nuclear fuel, providing another pathway to -- and plutonium supply for -- atomic weaponry. It was this reprocessing path that North Korea took -- extracting plutonium from irradiated nuclear fuel at a research reactor -- to test fire its first two nuclear weapons, in 2006 and 2009. As with the Iranian and North Korean regimes, any government could divert its nuclear power activities -- via enrichment or reprocessing -- into nuclear weapons development.


8 "peace planters" arrested at KC nuke weapons plant groundbreaking ceremony

This just in from Ann Suellentrop, lead organizer for the action and recipient of the 2010 Alliance for Nuclear Accountability activist of the year award:

"Eight peace activists were arrested yesterday at the "Plant Peace, Not Nukes! - Groundbreaking for Works of Mercy, Not Works of War" held at the entrance of the planned site for the new nuclear weapons parts plant in KC MO [Kansas City, Missouri]. It was an alternative ground breaking ceremony to the billion-dollar replacement for the Honeywell nuclear weapon parts plant that was taking place at the same time in which local and national officials touted the new plant's local economic and national strategic importance to 500 guests. The eight peace activists broke off from the larger group of 70 "Peace Planters" and stood or knelt in front of three large VIP buses, as they tried to come onto the site and attend the official ground breaking ceremony. The buses were delayed for about 10 minutes until KC Police were able to arrest the eight activists and clear the entrance so the buses could continue on to the site." See Ann's full report here. See the National Catholic Reporter's coverage of the protest here, including a slideshow of photos.

In this article, the head of the construction company that will build the plant -- and get paid many millions in taxpayer dollars for the job -- tried to justify doing so by saying that "dozens" of countries, including rogue states, already have "the bomb," and thus we must deter their attack. At last count, "only" 9 countries have nuclear weapons (in chronological order, the U.S., Russia, U.K., France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea). Perhaps he should have said "will have" the bomb, as the building of this replacement plant is a clear signal to the world that the U.S. does not intend to live up to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligation to abolish its nuclear weapons arsenal anytime soon -- a sure recipe for further proliferation, as other countries can claim they are seeking to defend themselves against U.S. aggression. "Do as I say, not as I do" is guaranteed to fail as a non-proliferation policy!

Ironically, the Kansas City Plant (which builds the "non-nuclear" parts of nuclear weaponry, such as guidance systems, electronics, structural components, etc.) just so happens to be located right where the 1983 t.v. movie The Day After -- about a catastrophic nuclear war between the U.S. and U.S.S.R -- was set. In non-fiction reality, the bomb making facility all but guarantees that Russian nuclear warheads are still targeting Kansas City.


Nuclear Deception: Pakistan, the U.S., and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons

This harrowing book by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark (2007, Walker and Company) lays bare the myth that "atoms for peace" and nuclear weapons are -- or can ever be -- kept separate. This comprehensive telling of the story of A.Q. Khan follows Pakistan's "Father of the Bomb" from his initial obscurity, to stealing "civilian" uranium enrichment centrifuge blueprints from his Dutch workplace in the early 1970s, to developing the key part of the Islamic Republic's secret atomic weapons infrastructure (unveiled to the world in nuclear test blasts in 1998), to his central role in the Pakistani government's and military's extensive nuclear weapons blackmarket. This worst ever proliferation ring involved, at various times, the likes of Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, and Libya, as well as Western European, North American, Middle Eastern, and Malaysian suppliers; despite Khan's downfall in 2004, tentacles of this network may still be in operation! 

A recurring theme in the book -- very little reported, and perhaps even less appreciated -- is that, in addition to the U.S.-Pakistani military/political alliance (first aimed against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and for the past decade against the Taliban and Al Qaeda), which led to the U.S. government, at the highest levels, "looking the other way" as Pakistan first developed "the Muslim bomb," then sold it or gave it away for its own mercenary or even more sinister reasons, there was the commercial nuclear power dynamic. U.S. atomic firms had wares to sell in such places as China and North Korea. Such "atoms for peace" commerce led to the necessity of pretending not to know how out of control the bizarre atomic weapons bazaar had grown.

An especially egregious chapter occurred during the White House reign of Bush Sr., with Dick Cheney as Secretary of "Defense." To clear the way for an F-16 jet fighter sale to Pakistan's military -- worth several billions to such firms as General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin -- Cheney Pentagon and State Dept. henchmen, including Paul Wolfowitz and "Scooter" Libby, and their bureaucratic underlings, ruined the career and life of the top federal intelligence officer monitoring Pakistan's nuclear weapons capabilities. They did so to block him from doing his job and interferring with the executive branch's false mantra, that not only did Pakistan not have nuclear weapons, but the F-16 could not be adapted to launch Pakistan's non-existent nuclear weapons. The opposite, in fact, was true. Pakistan's arch nemisis, India, for one, knew better, although the U.S. Congress was kept in the dark, greasing the skids for approval of the F-16 transfer, despite U.S. laws prohibiting such sales to nuclear weapons rogue states like Pakistan.

Another frightening area this book covers is the very close ties between the likes of Osama Bin Laden, and numerous other Islamic terrorists at work in such places as Afghanistan and Kashmir, and the highest echelons of the Pakistani military and ISI (Inter Services Intelligence directorate, its secret police). But more frightening still are the documented instances of such ties involving the Pakistani atomic weapons establishment, including A.Q. Khan himself.

Nuclear Deception should not be confused with The Nuclear Power Deception: U.S. Nuclear Mythology from Electricity "Too Cheap to Meter" to "Inherently Safe" Reactors, another excellent must read by Arjun Makhijani and Scott Saleska (Apex Press, 1999).


Presentation by Dominique Lalanne of "Stop Essais" in France: "Nuclear Power is THE Way to Nuclear Weapons"

On May 1, 2010, Beyond Nuclear co-sponsored and conducted a workshop with Dominique Lalanne of "Stop Essais" (Stop Nuclear Weapons Testing) of France, as well as with the Proposition One Committee of Washington DC and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom of the U.S. and Norway. The workshop, held at the Peace and Justice Now counterconference at Riverside Church in New York City during the United Nation's Review Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, was focused on the nuclear weapons proliferation risks of nuclear power. Lalanne's presentation was entitled "Nuclear Power is THE Way to Nuclear Weapons."


EESI briefing on Hill warns of financial and proliferation risks of nuclear power expansion

Victoria Stulgis, graduate intern for Scott Sklar of the Stella Group, Ltd. ( compiled a summary of an EESI (Environmental and Energy Study Institute, briefing on Capitol Hill regarding “Nuclear Power and Proliferation Challenges” held May 20, 2010. The briefing featured Mark Cooper and Peter Bradford of Vermont Law School on financial risks, and Alex Glaser of Princeton Univeristy on nuclear weapons proliferation risks.