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.



Opposition mounts to moving atomic bomb material across the country

Nuclear watchdogs are fighting a proposal to ship tons of plutonium to the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico, including the cores of nuclear warheads. The plutonium "pits," as they are known,  would be dismantled at the aging and structurally questionable lab atop an earthquake fault zone. A raging wild far also threatened the boundaries of the lab last year blackening surrounding hills. The US Department of Energy is currently holding hearings over the proposal to transport plutonium from the Savannah River Site nuclear weapons center in South Carolina to Los Alamos, almost clear across the country. Some of the waste may also be dumped at the WIPP plant in Carlsbad, NM. The "surplus" plutonium would then be shipped back across the country to a proposed MOX fuel fabrication plant where is would be mixed into civilian reactor fuel. This not only crosses the line between the military and civilian nuclear sectors but presents safety and disposal risks. No US reactor is designed to use the radiologically hotter MOX fuel and there is no current disposal site at all, let alone one adapted to taking waste fuel from MOX reactors. At a recent action around the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Days commemorations, six activists were arrested at the gates of the lab. (Pictured, l to r: Benjamin Abbott, Catherine Euler and Cathie Sullivan.


Declaration of Independence from proposed Fermi 3 new atomic reactor: "No indoctrination without representation!" regarding Fermi 1 meltdown history 

A cover on the 1975 non-fiction book by John G. Fuller, "We Almost Lost Detroit," about the 1966 meltdown at the Fermi 1 experimental plutonium breeder reactor in Monroe, MichiganBeyond Nuclear and its allies in the intervention against the proposed new Fermi 3 atomic reactor in Monroe, Michigan have filed their 25th contention opposing the proposed new atomic reactor, citing a violation of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). NRC, Detroit Edison and the State of Michigan have finalized a NHPA mitigation Memorandum of Agreement about the demolition of the Fermi 1 containment shell, despite its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, in order to make room for the construction of Fermi 3, a General Electric-Hitachi so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR) . However, the decisions were made without even notifying -- let alone involving -- the public, a violation of NHPA. The coalition has issued a media release.

The intervenors have cited Atomic Energy Commission, Nuclear Power Development Corporation (Dow Chemical, Detroit Edison, et al.), U.S. congressional testimony, and documentation on how close the Fermi 1 meltdown of October 5, 1966 came to a "terrifying," catastrophic radioactivity release. The coalition's attorney, Terry Lodge of Toledo, has argued that the Fermi 1 archive must include documentation of the experimental plutonium breeder reactor's original goal of generating weapons-grade plutonium for U.S. hydrogen bombs, as well as materials for radiological ("dirty bomb") weaponry. "The 'official' narrative of this 20th century failure must not be hijacked for use as pro-industry promotion by the 21st century nuclear industry," Lodge said.

"The story of Fermi 1's nearly catastrophic failure offers a large window into the history of commercial nuclear power, an institutional void of safety culture within the primary regulatory agency, and nuclear power’s inherent weapons connection," said Keith Gunter of Livonia, Michigan, a launch partner of Beyond Nuclear and an official intervenor against Fermi 3. "After all, as John G. Fuller's book and Gil Scott-Heron's song titles put it, 'We Almost Lost Detroit,' not to mention Monroe, Toledo, and beyond," Keith Gunter added. (see image, above left)


"A Nuclear Clash Could Starve the World"

Mushroom cloud rising above Hiroshima in aftermath of U.S. atomic bombing of Japan, August 1945As described in an op-ed posted at CNN, "A Nuclear Clash Could Starve the World," Jayantha Dhanapala and Ira Helfand report on the findings of a new PSR/IPPNW report, NUCLEAR FAMINE: A BILLION PEOPLE AT RISK.

Among the findings: even a limited nuclear war, as between Indian and Pakistan, involving less than half of 1% of the world's nuclear arsenals, would cause climate disruption that could set off a global famine; 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs (see photo, left) exploded in a war between India and Pakistan would lead to the starvation of an estimated 1 billion people, one-sixth of the human race, over the following decade; each U.S. Trident nuclear submarine can destroy 100 cities and produce the global famine described in the study (the United States has 14 Tridents). 

Jayantha Dhanapala is a former ambassador to the United States from Sri Lanka, U.N. under-secretary general for disarmament and chairman of the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference. Ira Helfand is the past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and current North American vice president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).


April action in Oak Ridge: The Folly of Icarus (Nuclear Weapons and the Pursuit of Security)

The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance has put out the following call to action:

"Join us on April 21 in Oak Ridge [Tennessee] as we explore the folly of using nuclear weapons to pursue security. The day will feature a march from Alvin K Bissell Park in Oak Ridge to the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex where we will have a rally, a drama, music and action.

We will gather at 12:30pm at Bissell Park and, after a stop by the Friendship Bell, we will walk to Y12. There we will be joined by the Emancipators for music, and the OREPA puppetistas for a dramatic adaptation of the Daedalus/Icarus myth with an action for disarmament to follow.

OREPA actions are nonviolent in tone as well as action. Everyone is welcome. No drugs or alcohol."

See the OREPA website for more information.


Beyond Nuclear debates Russian nuclear power establishment proponent on Voice of Russia Radio

Last Thursday, Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear debated Victor Murogov, the Head of the International Nuclear Education Center and Professor at the National Research Nuclear University in Moscow. The debate was aired on the Voice of Russia Radio. The discussion revolved around the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, which President Obama recently attended.