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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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Friday
Aug022013

The Limited Test Ban Treaty - 50 Years Later: New Documents Throw Light on Accord Banning Atmospheric Nuclear Testing

State Department Officials Pointed to Soviet "Technical Violations" but "Gentlemen's Agreement" Spared Both Superpowers Public Criticisms over Possible Breaches

Secret Pentagon Programs to Monitor French Atmospheric Nuclear Tests Worried State Department about a U.S. Violation of 1963 Treaty

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 433

Posted - August 2, 2013

For more information contact:
William Burr -
202/994-7000 or nsarchiv@gwu.edu



The 8,000 foot-high cloud of radioactive dust produced by the infamous Baneberry underground nuclear test on 18 December 1970. The test device was hundreds of feet below the surface but the explosion created a 315 foot-long fissure 60 feet from ground zero, which produced a major venting of radioactive particles and gases. Of the hundreds of workers that had to be evacuated, 86 were exposed to radiation and had to be decontaminated; moreover, radioactive particles drifted across the Canadian border, which Canadian authorities detected.

Credit: Armscontrolwonk.com

Washington, D.C., August 2, 2013 – The United States and Soviet Union conducted underground testing that sometimes produced significant "venting" of radioactive gases and particles which crossed international borders, even after signing the Limited Test Ban Treaty fifty years ago, in August 1963. That posed potential health hazards, but also created problems for U.S.-Soviet relations, according to documents recently uncovered through archival research. To minimize the problem, both superpowers tacitly agreed to keep their disagreements secret. A State Department document, published today for the first time by the National Security Archive, indicates that both superpowers followed a tacit "gentleman's agreement against publicizing venting incidents" in order to depoliticize the issue and to avoid public criticisms of nuclear testing in general, although that was more important to Washington than to Moscow.[1]

The United States might also have violated the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) through a Defense Department program of monitoring France's atmospheric tests in the Pacific, according to the State Department in 1972. The Pentagon's objectives included tracking France's capabilities and collecting information about nuclear weapons effects, but even though State Department officials objected that the program — labeled NICE DOG — was tantamount to "participation" alongside France National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger overruled them and allowed the monitoring to proceed.

Fifty years ago, on 5 August 1963, the foreign ministers of the United States, the USSR, and the United Kingdom met in Moscow to sign the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) outlawing nuclear testing in the atmosphere, under water, and in space. On the 40th anniversary, ten years ago, the National Security Archive published a collection of documents on the Treaty's origins amid the drive for a comprehensive test ban (CTB). Today, the Archive re-posts that collection with new documents relating to the LTBT, some recently declassified, others found at the National Archives, all published here for the first time. They cover such issues as intelligence monitoring, treaty violations, and Chinese and French defiance of the treaty, and debate during the 1970s over a comprehensive test ban treaty...

The ventings posed potential health hazards, but also created problems for U.S.-Soviet relations, according to documents recently uncovered through archival research. To minimize the problem, both superpowers tacitly agreed to keep their disagreements secret. A State Department document, published today for the first time by the National Security Archive, indicates that both superpowers followed a tacit 'gentleman's agreement against publicizing venting incidents' in order to depoliticize the issue and to avoid public criticisms of nuclear testing in general, although that was more important to Washington than to Moscow.

More.

Friday
Aug022013

"Monodrama puts spotlight on man who survived A-bomb, Fukushima accident"

Masahiro Endo was twice exposed to radiation, in Hiroshima and in Fukushima. (The Asahi Shimbun As reported by the Asahi Shimbun:

'A survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima who later became an evacuee from the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is the subject of a monodrama being performed at Haiyuza Theater in Tokyo.

Masahiro Endo had the misfortune of twice being exposed to high levels of radiation in his lifetime. Actor Hiroshi Kamiyama, 80, who has been performing one-person shows, is telling Endo’s life and story on stage. The show runs through Aug. 4.

“Aug. 6 and March 11. The two never-to-be-forgotten dates have been carved into my body and my life,” Endo, 87, said in an interview near his current residence in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture...

...He wrote about his life and his thoughts--that he has not been to Hiroshima after 1945 because he did not want to remember the horrors of the aftermath of the atomic bomb; his involvement in a campaign to attract a nuclear power plant; and the campaign in which he tried to convince landlords to support a plant, saying, “Nuclear power is a peaceful industry, unlike the atomic bomb. As a hibakusha, I understand the horrors of radioactivity. We guarantee safety.”

Yamaguchi learned in June that Endo had been greatly affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident. She and Kamiyama visited Endo and interviewed him. The hibakusha accepted her request to write a script for a monodrama based on the interview.

“As I had believed that Japan would win the war, I believed that nuclear power is safe,” Endo said. “I feel ashamed.”

He said he will see the monodrama in Tokyo.

“I would be happy if my experience will be of any help for peace,” he said.

Endo also said he would like to visit Hiroshima, to come to grips with his experience from nearly 70 years ago.'

Thursday
Aug012013

Attend Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorations in your area

The ruins around the Industrial Promotion Hall, now known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, in Hiroshima, Japan. Source: National ArchivesNext week marks the 68th year since the U.S. atom bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, killing hundreds of thousands quickly, while dooming large numbers more to eventual early death from their exposure to hazardous ionizing radiation.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing commemorations are being organized across the country and world. For example, the following announcement below of events was put out by John Steinbach, coordinator for the Washington, D.C. Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee. Please seek out and attend Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemoration events in your area.

The Washington D.C. Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee has invited Beyond Nuclear staff to provide an overview and update on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe at the Japanese American Memorial in Washington, D.C. next Monday. We will be honored and privileged to join again with Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, who has been appointed by the Government of Japan as Special Communicator for a World Without Nuclear Weapons. Setsuko gave powerful testimony last December, at the "Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High: Ending the Nuclear Age" conference in Chicago, marking the 70th year since Enrico Fermi achieved the first nuclear chain reaction, and generated the first high-level radioactive waste, in the Manhattan Project's race to atom bomb Japan.

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps was honored by the Washington D.C. Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee with the Josephine Butler Nuclear-Free Future Award in July, 2010.

"Dear Friends,

Please notice that the August 5 Hiroshima commemoration ceremony has been moved from the Lincoln Memorial to the Japanese American Memorial located at Louisiana Avenue and D Street, NW SWashington, DC.

For the past 32 years, the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National Capital Area has been organizing for the abolition of nuclear weapons and power, and in support of nuclear victims. We believe that if the world is to avoid repeating the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we must strive to keep alive the memory of the bombings.

This August we welcome Setsuko Thurlow. Setsuko was 13 years old when she was close to the hypocenter of the atomic blast that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945. She remembers vividly the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and the hardships she and many survivors endured physically and mentally. As a survivor of the atomic bombing, she is strongly committed to tell the story of Hiroshima. Setsuko has been appointed by the Government of Japan as Special Communicator for a World Without Nuclear Weapons.

2013 Hiroshima/Nagasaki Events Calendar
Monday, August 5, 6:30pm
Hiroshima Peace Commemoration,
Survivor Testimony, Children’s Program, Candlelantern Building
Japanese American Memorial, Louisiana Avenue and D Street, NW WDC (Near Union Station)

Tuesday, August 6, 6pm
Baltimore Hiroshima Commemoration
6pm Potluck Supper & Program
Homewood Friends Meeting, 3107 N. Charles Street.
Sponsored by Baltimore Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee

Thursday, August 8, 9:45pm,
Nagasaki Candlelight Vigil-
(Moment’s Silencel at 10:02) in front of the White House

Friday, August 9, 7pm,
Frederick, Md Nagasaki Commemoration
Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ
15 West Church Street Frederick, MD 21701.
Sponsored by Frederick Women in Black

Contact John Steinbach 703-822-3485  <johnsteinbach1@verizon.net>"

Wednesday
Jul312013

Underground fire burns ever closer to buried radioactive wastes near St. Louis drinking water intakes

As covered by regional and even national media, Beyond Nuclear board member, Kay Drey, has been actively concerned, as are many others, about the risk of a "nuclear fire" due to an underground landfill fire, inching ever closer to a decades-old radioactive waste dump at West Lake Landfill, just upstream from St. Louis drinking water intakes. The radioactive waste came from the processing, by Mallinkrodt Chemical Works in St. Louis, of Belgian Congo uranium ore during the Manhattan Project race to drop atomic bombs on Japan.

The crisis continues to garner headlines on a regular basis, as government officials at all levels, under pressure from area residents, struggle with what to do on this, the 40 year mark of radioactive waste first being buried there (the 70 year old wastes were stored elsewhere before being dumped in the West Lake Landfill). Kay has long led efforts to have the radioactive wastes removed from the Missouri River floodplain.

Tuesday
Jul092013

Paducah uranium enrichment facility suffers radioactive contamination incident 4 weeks after permanently shutting down

Paducah (uranium enrichment) Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Photo credit: U.S.E.C./U.S. Department of EnergyDespite being permanently shutdown on June 1st, the Paducah facility experienced a radioactivity contamination accident on June 28th, according to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) incident report dated July 2nd. The radioactivity contamination accident stemmed from a water leak. Given the mountain of radioactive materials at Paducah, such radioactive contamination risks to the facility, the environment beyond, and the people who live there (some directly across dirt roads from the fence line, in a community already showing signs of significantly elevated cancer incidence and death rates) will continue far into the future, despite the facility's welcome permanent shutdown.

Paducah had operated since the 1950s. In its early years, enriched uranium from Paducah supplied the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. In a very real sense, the entire Paducah complex is now a giant radioactive waste -- and toxic chemical -- site that needs to be dealt with.