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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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Thursday
Dec292016

Hacking Into Future Nuclear Weapons: The US Military’s Next Worry 

Wednesday
Dec282016

Contradicting his own aides, Trump welcomes nuclear ‘arms race’

Tuesday
Dec272016

Rick Perry, as Energy Secretary, May Be Pressed to Resume Nuclear Tests

A New York Times article by James Glanz has raised the specter that pro-nuclear weapons testing advocates in the U.S. will lean heavily on President-Elect Donald J. Trump's nominee for Energy Secretary, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, to resume nuclear weapons testing. The advocates will very likely lobby Perry, if he's confirmed by the U.S. Senate, that "stockpile stewardship" -- a guarantee that nuclear weapons will work, if called upon, in order to assure MAD (mutually assured destruction)/deterrence against nuclear armed enemies -- requires full-scale nuclear weapons testing.

The last full-scale nuclear weapons test blast conducted by the U.S. took place in September 1992 at the Nevada Test Site, under the George H.W. Bush administration. (However, "sub-critical" tests -- the use of high explosives and plutonium to generate data for use in supercomputers to test stockpile stewardship, and even to potentially advance nuclear weapons designs, has continued since 1992 in Nevada. The most recent "sub-critical test" took place there on Dec. 7, 2012, under the Barack Obama administration.)

The Nevada Test Site, where 928 full-scale nuclear weapons test blasts have taken place between 1951 and 1992, is located on Western Shoshone Indian land, against their will. This is a violation of the "peace and friendship" Treaty of Ruby Valley, signed by the U.S. government in 1863.

100 of those blasts were above-ground. But around one-third of the 828 under-ground nuclear weapons test blasts in Nevada "vented" -- leaked radioactivity -- into the atmosphere, according to revelations unearthed by the National Security Archives in 2013.

The New York Times article contained withering criticism of Trump and Perry:

The current way of certifying the stockpile, called science-based stockpile stewardship, is not only costly but also enormously complex, said John Pike, the director of the think tank GlobalSecurity.org and one of the most experienced security analysts in the field.

“There’s no end of mischief they could cause for the stockpile,” Mr. Pike said, referring to Mr. Trump and Mr. Perry, and pointing to the confusion and concern that followed the Twitter post by the president-elect.

Mr. Pike was withering in his criticism of Mr. Perry’s ability to act as a knowledgeable counterweight to Mr. Trump. “Perry’s got no idea which end the bullet comes out of,” he said. “He’s not somebody who’s going to say no to the president.”

Saturday
Dec242016

World War Three, by Mistake

Harsh political rhetoric, combined with the vulnerability of the nuclear command-and-control system, has made the risk of global catastrophe greater than ever. By Eric Scholosser, in the New Yorker.

Friday
Dec232016

UN General Assembly approves historic resolution seeking to abolish nuclear weapons

Press release from Physicians for Nuclear Responsibility:

PSR lauds UN nuclear weapons vote as antidote to toxic nuclear posturing by Trump and Putin.   United Nations, "as if to reply," moves to negotiate treaty banning nuclear weapons

More information:

Ira Helfand, MD, IPPNW Co-president & PSR Board  ihelfand@igc.org   cell 413 320-7829

Martin Fleck, PSR Security Program Director    mfleck@psr.org   202 587-5242

Washington, DC    In an historic victory for nuclear disarmament advocates, a large majority of nations voted today in the General Assembly to convene negotiations in 2017 for a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination. Resolution L.41 won by a vote of 113 for, 35 against, with 13 abstentions.

“In the last two days, President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Donald Trump have made irresponsible statements about nuclear weapons, harking back to the worst days of the Cold War. As if to reply, UN nations declared today--with an overwhelming 70% vote--that it’s time to prohibit nuclear weapons. The UN majority offers an alternative to the dangerous saber rattling of Putin and Trump,"  -- said Martin Fleck, PSR Security Program Director.

"Nuclear weapons do not contribute to our security.  Rather, they are the greatest threat to our survival.  We cannot be comfortable or complacent that ‘wise hands’ will be in charge of these weapons.  We need to move with speed and determination toward elimination before our luck runs out and they are used again,”   -- said Ira Helfand, MD, PSR Security Committee co-chair and Co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

“It’s not wishful thinking to expect that humanity can completely rid the world of nuclear weapons.  It’s wishful thinking to imagine that we can continue along the current path without an eventual humanitarian catastrophe. Even 100 nuclear bombs exploding in India and Pakistan can unleash world famine,”  -- said PSR Executive Director Catherine Thomasson, MD.    

In a joint statement in May, 2016, the World Medical Association, the World Federation of Public Health Associations, the International Council of Nurses and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War -- representing more than 15 million health professionals worldwide -- declared, "A proper understanding of what nuclear weapons will do invalidates all arguments for continued possession of these weapons. . . . The only way to prevent the use of nuclear weapons is to ban and eliminate them." 

L.41 mandates that the UN will “convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading toward their total elimination” The conference will convene on March 27, 2017.

PSR, a member organization of over 30,000, seeks to address the gravest threats to human health and survival.  The group’s motto is “Prevention is the only cure.” PSR’s international federation, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, received the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.

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The International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons has reported on this story.