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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.

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Saturday
Jan062018

How U.S. Intelligence Agencies Underestimated North Korea

A major article in the New York Times by David E. Sanger and William J. Broad.

The article reports that in the long view, over the course of years and even decades, U.S. intelligence agencies could foresee the potential for North Korea to build a nuclear weapons arsenal capable of threatening the continental United States.

However, in more recent months and even years, those same U.S. intelligence agencies underestimated the speed with which North Korea could achieve this capability, the article concludes.

Friday
Jan052018

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Risen faced prison under Bush & Obama administrations for revelations of CIA nuclear leaks to Iran

Host Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! has conducted an extensive interview of James Risen, former New York Times reporter who know writes for The Intercept.

Risen won the Pulitzer for his New York Times reporting on the illegal George W. Bush National Security Agency domestic spying program.

The interview was prompted by Risen's 15,000 word article just published in The Intercept, entitled "My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on Terror."

In the second half of the Goodman-Risen interview, the discussion turns to revelations Risen made in his 2006 book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. (The New York Times had refused to publish the revelations, under pressure from the Bush administration.)

 As Risen explains to Goodman, in his book he revealed that the Bush CIA had undertaken a covert scheme to introduce flaws into the Iranian nuclear program, supposedly in hopes of disrupting it.

The CIA worked with a Russian man, who obtained nuclear blueprints from Russia, and provided them to the CIA. The CIA introduced flaws into the blueprint designs. The Russian man was then ordered by the CIA to pose as greed-driven nuclear black marketeer, hoping to make a lot of money by selling these flawed nuclear blueprints to the Iranian nuclear establishment.

The Russian warned the CIA that the flaws were too flagrant, and obvious, in the blueprints, and would be detected by the Iranian nuclear officials. However, the CIA insisted the program go forward anyway, as is.

The Russian ended up himself alerting his Iranian contacts about the flaws in the nuclear blueprint designs.

The flaw in the CIA's program, the fear was, was that the Iranian nuclear establishment could then use the good, accurate parts of the Russian nuclear blueprint designs, while disregarding the CIA's obviously introduced flaws, in order to advance the Iranian nuclear program, compliments of the CIA!

Risen explained to Goodman that Bush administration National Security Council director Condoleeza Rice, and CIA chief George Tenet, met with him and the New York Times bureau chief at the White House. It was the Bush officials' over the top demand that these revelations never see the light of day, that pressured the New York Times to back down, and override Risen, preventing publication of his revelations.

Risen broke the story anyway, in his 2006 book.

Both the Bush and then Obama administrations then prosecuted Risen for many years on end, charging him with violation of the Espionage Act for supposedly revealing classified information without authorization to do so. In effect, they were demanding he reveal his source(s), or else face prison time himself. Invoking fundamental Bill of Rights/freedom of the press protections, principles, and arguments, Risen refused to reveal his source(s), despite the very real threat of imprisonment. In the end, the Obama administration blinked at the last second, and the charges against Risen were dropped.

Goodman's interview of Risen continued in a web exclusive Part 2. Part 2 delves into the case of Wen Ho Lee, the Chinese American scientist at Los Alamos National Lab who was the primary suspect in an espionage scandal. Wen Ho Lee ended up spending a year in prison, before all but minor charges of mishandling classified evidence were dropped for lack of evidence. Goodman plays an interview with former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, including confronting him about rumors that he himself was the source of leaks used to persecute Wen Ho Lee, allegations Richardson denied. Risen admits that he made serious mistakes in his coverage of the Wen Ho Lee case. He was not skeptical enough of government claims, and allowed too much of the government's unsubstantiated passion to prosecute Wen Ho Lee into this coverage. Risen said the bad experience made him a better reporter afterwards.

Democarcy Now!'s Part 2 also delves into the story of a CIA agent, Jeffrey Sterling, who spent years in prison for revealing classified information re: the CIA scheme to smuggle intentionally (but obviously) flawed Russian nuclear blueprints into Iran, as described above. Although it was widely believed that Sterling was a source for Risen's revelations, Risen to this day refuses to discuss his sources at all, in order to defend their confidentiality and the freedom of the press.

(The Intercept has an article, by Peter Maass, about Sterling's persecution, prosecution, and conviction, entitled "The Whistleblower's Tale: How Jeffrey Sterling Took on the CIA--and Lost Everything."

In fact, this theme -- of the government persecuting and even prosecuting reporters, in order to get their hands on the government officials -- whistleblowers -- who leaked revelations of government wrongdoing -- is a major one in Risen's stories, and in the Goodman and Scahill interviews. A point Risen makes is that if the leaker or mishandler of classified information is powerful and connected enough, such as CIA chiefs David Petraeus of John Deutch, they will be let off with a slap on the wrist. But lower level, less powerful whistleblowers or government officials, without those connections, like Wen Ho Lee or Jeffrey Sterling, have the book thrown at them, and are even imprisoned.)

At the end of the Risen article at The Intercept, there is a "BONUS: All the News Unfit to Print; James Risen on His Battles with Bush, Obama, and the New York Times." Intercepted pod cast host Jeremy Scahill (himself a former Democracy Now! correspondent and author of books on national security issues) conducts an interview with Risen for over an hour. Although Risen's revelations about the CIA-Iran story covered above were only touched on briefing in this Intercepted pod cast interview, other nuclear-related subject matter covered in this Intercepted interview include the Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson affair, in which top leadership in the Bush/Cheney administration outed an undercover CIA agent (Plame), in order to exact revenge on her husband (Wilson), for revealing that Bush/Cheney administration claims that Iraq's Saddam Hussein regime sought uranium yellowcake from Niger for nuclear weapons purposes were false.

Tuesday
Dec192017

What North Korea told a U.N. envoy trying to prevent war 

An opinion column by David Ignatius in the Washingtion Post.

On Nov. 28th, Ignatius emceed a panel discussion at the Washington National Cathedral re: nuclear weapons risks, including between the U.S. and North Korea. The panel and event -- held in honor of Ignatius's parents -- featured former Obama administration Secretary of State John Kerry. The event also featured former Clinton administration Defense Secretary William Perry.

Thursday
Dec142017

Retired military leaders urge Trump to choose words, not action, to deal with North Korea

Friday
Dec082017

U.N. Secretary General on Korean de-nuclearization

CNN's Fareed Zakaria interviewed United Nations Secretary General Guterres on the chances for de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula, despite U.S. President Trump's provocative tweets.