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Nuclear Weapons

Beyond Nuclear advocates for the elimination of all nuclear weapons and argues that removing them can only make us safer, not more vulnerable. The expansion of commercial nuclear power across the globe only increases the chance that more nuclear weapons will be built and is counterproductive to disarmament.

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Monday
Mar312014

Karl Grossman -- "Give Light and the People Will Find Their Own Way"

Karl GrossmanThe March 25, 2014 issue of The Independent, Antioch College's alumni publication, features Beyond Nuclear board member Karl Grossman (Antioch class of 1964). The interview gives a good overview of Karl's distinguished career of investigative journalism, authorship, and teaching.

Karl first entered the field of journalism as a copyboy, during an Antioch College co-op placement at the Cleveland Press. The Press was the first newspaper started by E.W. Scripps, "quite the crusading publisher, highly active during the Muckraking Era," accoring to Karl. At age 18, Karl was inspired by the inscription above the entrance: “Give Light and the People Will Find Their Own Way.”

Karl has gone on to shed much light around the world, with a focus on the issues of nuclear power and weapons, not only on Earth, but in space. His books include Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power, The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program's Nuclear Threat to Our Planet and Weapons in Space.

Karl's 1993 EnviroVideo documentary Three Mile Island Revisited serves as an important milestone by which to remember the disaster, now 35 years on, especially considering the still-unfolding health consequences. Karl's investigation of nuclear catastrophes continues to the present day with his work in the aftermath of the triple meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi.

Asked what he's most proud of accomplishing, Karl pointed to "my journalism that helped in stopping the Shoreham nuclear power plant—the first of seven to 11 nuclear plants planned for Long Island—from going into commercial operation. I wrote hundreds of articles, did TV programs, broadcast on radio and wrote a book on this, Power Crazy. And Shoreham, although it was finished and ready to start operating, was stopped. The additional nuclear plants were never built, and Long Island is now nuclear-free."

For that and other investigative journalism, Karl has been named to the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame. Karl says this "is quite a kick particularly because among the other 22 persons named is Walt Whitman who founded the Long Islander newspaper in Huntington." Karl's wife of 53 years, Janet, is originally from Huntington.

Tuesday
Mar252014

"Measured Progress on Nuclear Security," or a "World Awash in Nuclear Explosive?"

The Nuclear Genie, as depicted in Walt Disney's 1950s pro-nuclear propaganda book "Our Friend the Atom"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.

Tuesday
Mar112014

Chomsky: From Hiroshima to Fukushima, Vietnam to Fallujah, State Power Ignores Its Massive Harm

Noam ChomskyAs reported by Democracy Now! on the Pacifica Radio Network:

World-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and MIT Professor Noam Chomsky traveled to Japan last week ahead of the three-year anniversary of the Fukushima crisis. Chomsky, now 85 years old, met with Fukushima survivors, including families who evacuated the area after the meltdown. "[It’s] particularly horrifying that this is happening in Japan with its unique, horrendous experiences with the impact of nuclear explosions, which we don’t have to discuss," Chomsky says. "And it’s particularly horrifying when happening to children — but unfortunately, this is what happens all the time."

Chomsky also addresses the radioactive contamination of Iraq due to the U.S. military's use of depleted uranium weapons, as well as the lingering health impacts from the Vietnam War due to the U.S. military's use of chemical poisons there.

Wednesday
Feb262014

60th anniversary of "Castle Bravo" H-bomb disaster, March 1, 1954

Castle Bravo was the code name given to the first U.S. test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb device (the first practical deliverable hydrogen bomb in the U.S. nuclear arsenal), detonated on March 1, 1954 at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, as the first test of Operation Castle. Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States (and just under one-third the energy of the most powerful ever detonated), with a yield of 15 megatons, about 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima or Nagasaki atomic bombs.

A several mile-wide fireball erupted within seconds, visible 250 miles away. A Lucky Dragon fishing boat crew member described the sight as the Sun rising in the west. The crater formed was 6,500 feet in diameter and 250 feet deep. A mushroom cloud 47,000 feet high (nearly 9 miles high) and 7 miles in diameter formed within a minute. The mushroom cloud grew to 130,000 feet high (nearly 25 miles high) and 62 miles in diameter in less than 10 minutes, expanding at 100 meters per second (or 220 miles per hour).

That yield, far exceeding the expected yield of 4 to 6 megatons (due to a theoretical physics error), combined with other factors, led to the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever caused by a United States nuclear weapon test. Fallout from the detonation — intended to be a secret test — poisoned the islanders who had previously inhabited the atoll and returned there afterwards, as well as the crew of Daigo Fukuryū Maru ("Lucky Dragon No. 5"), a Japanese fishing boat, and created international concern about atmospheric thermonuclear testing.

The cloud contaminated more than 7,000 square miles of the surrounding Pacific Ocean, including dangerous levels of radioactive fallout over an area hundreds of miles long, including surrounding inhabited islands like Rongerik, Rongelap (100 miles downwind), and Utirik (300 miles downwind). Downwind Marshall Islanders suffered doses as high as 200 Rems, and thus immediate -- as well as latent -- health impacts, including radiation poisoning, and later birth defects and thyroid tumors (children on Rongelap later suffered 90% thyroid tumor rates, beginning just a decade later). In 1964, the U.S. government admitted responsibility and provided some compensation.

Some attribute the radiological incident to moving Nevil Shute to write the 1957 novel On the Beach.

As described on the Wikipedia site for Godzilla, "With the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Lucky Dragon 5 incident still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons."

The American magazine Consumer Reports began warning about atmospheric bomb tests’ Strontium-90 fallout contaminating milk supplies.

The documentary film Nuclear Savage chronicles the experience of Marshall Islands under U.S. nuclear weapons testing: "a Pacific island paradise...until the United States tested nuclear weapons and conducted secret human radiation experiments. Experiments that would remain top-secret for decades..."

As Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps described in his "70 Years of Radioactive Risks in America and Japan," presented at Helen Caldicott's conference, Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, held at the NY Academy of Medicine on the second anniversary of the beginning of the Fukushima catastrophe, the death of a Lucky Dragon #5 crew member, as well as the sale and consumption of radioactive tuna throughout Japan, outraged the Japanese people, less than 9 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Unprecedented, large protests followed. The U.S. and Japanese governments were concerned that Japan would "go communist." The U.S. CIA was deployed to Japan, to sell "Atoms for Peace" to the Japanese people, in an effort to calm the protests. The CIA recruited an agent, Shoriki, a Class A War Criminal, owner of Japan's biggest newspaper and t.v. station, to sell "Atoms for Peace" to the Japanese people. He was wildly successful. This is how the Nuclear Village, and the Nuclear Safety Myth, were born in Japan, ultimately leading to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. See Kevin's Power Point presentation, slides 12 to 16 (including the accompanying notes), for more information.

Friday
Feb212014

Unbowed and unrepentant, "Transform Now Plowshares" sentenced

Unbowed and unrepentant, Sister Megan Rice, Greg Boertije-Obed and Michael Walli of the “Transform Now Plowshares” were sentenced on February 18, 2014 by U.S. District Court Judge Amul Thaper. They are to serve 3 to 5 years in federal prison and pay $53,000 in restitution for their July 2012 call for disarmament action by cutting through multiple perimeter fences to enter onto the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, splashing their blood and spray painting on a silo containing nuclear weapons grade uranium.

The protesters against the preparation for thermonuclear annihilation remained resolute in their charge that the production and possession of these weapons of mass destruction is a crime against humanity in violation of international law that includes the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty, the Geneva Protocols, the United Nations Charter and U.N Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

In fact, modern civilization has devolved to make real the ancient and cruelest wish of Caligula, “Would that the Roman people had but one neck.”

It was President Richard Nixon who said, “I can go into my office, pick up the phone and in 25 minutes 70 million people will be dead.” He was describing the minimal effort it takes to initiate a tight chain of command to annihilate entire societies with the “first use” of nuclear weapons. It would be decades after his shamed departure as America’s Chief of State before it was disclosed that Nixon had contemplated using nuclear weapons no less than four times in “the madman” strategy. President Truman had already demonstrated America’s indiscriminate “first use” policy twice with the 1945 atomic bombings on human populations in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. President Eisenhower contemplated initiating nuclear strikes in 1954 in the Taiwan Straits and against the Soviet Union over Berlin in 1959. President Kennedy considered launching an all out nuclear war in 1962 against the former Soviet Union over Cuba and two other undisclosed lands. President Johnson considered a pre-emptive nuclear attack on China to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons. President Reagan would deploy hundreds of first strike nuclear weapons to the European borders of the former Soviet Union entrenching the hair trigger policy of “launch on warning” that precariously persists to this day.

Never before have so few had so much power to exterminate so many, so quickly.  Where an obedient German people under the Third Reich brought a captive people to the crematoria, today we as a society are poised to bring unimaginable crematoria to the people of entire countries with a more dispassionate and efficient system of command and control.

The courageous actions and self sacrifice of Rice, Boertije-Obed and Walli to begin nuclear disarmament here in the United States give us the glimmer of hope that there is also a global future beyond nuclear weapons.