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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. We also cover nuclear weapons issues on our international site, Beyond Nuclear International.

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Monday
Aug232010

Iran Opens Its First Nuclear Power Plant

Thirty-six years after construction began under the shah, Iran finally opened its first nuclear power plant at a ceremony on Saturday. Although Iran denies that it is using its civilian nuclear program to mask a plan to build a bomb, many Western countries are dubious. The New York Times.

Monday
Aug232010

Big Bang Big Boom

An extraordinary video - Big Bang Big Boom - from the artist, Blu, traces the evolution of life from the Big Bang to the ultimate Big Boom ending as humans destroy the world using nuclear weapons.

Friday
Aug202010

Nuclear Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons

This harrowing book by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark (2007, Walker and Company) lays bare the myth that "atoms for peace" and nuclear weapons are -- or can ever be -- kept separate. This comprehensive telling of the story of A.Q. Khan follows Pakistan's "Father of the Bomb" from his initial obscurity, to stealing "civilian" uranium enrichment centrifuge blueprints from his Dutch workplace in the early 1970s, to developing the key part of the Islamic Republic's secret atomic weapons infrastructure (unveiled to the world in nuclear test blasts in 1998), to his central role in the Pakistani government's and military's extensive nuclear weapons blackmarket. This worst ever proliferation ring involved, at various times, the likes of Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, and Libya, as well as Western European, North American, Middle Eastern, and Malaysian suppliers; despite Khan's downfall in 2004, tentacles of this network may still be in operation! 

A recurring theme in the book -- very little reported, and perhaps even less appreciated -- is that, in addition to the U.S.-Pakistani military/political alliance (first aimed against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and for the past decade against the Taliban and Al Qaeda), which led to the U.S. government, at the highest levels, "looking the other way" as Pakistan first developed "the Muslim bomb," then sold it or gave it away for its own mercenary or even more sinister reasons, there was the commercial nuclear power dynamic. U.S. atomic firms had wares to sell in such places as China and North Korea. Such "atoms for peace" commerce led to the necessity of pretending not to know how out of control the bizarre atomic weapons bazaar had grown.

An especially egregious chapter occurred during the White House reign of Bush Sr., with Dick Cheney as Secretary of "Defense." To clear the way for an F-16 jet fighter sale to Pakistan's military -- worth several billions to such firms as General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin -- Cheney Pentagon and State Dept. henchmen, including Paul Wolfowitz and "Scooter" Libby, and their bureaucratic underlings, ruined the career and life of the top federal intelligence officer monitoring Pakistan's nuclear weapons capabilities. They did so to block him from doing his job and interferring with the executive branch's false mantra, that not only did Pakistan not have nuclear weapons, but the F-16 could not be adapted to launch Pakistan's non-existent nuclear weapons. The opposite, in fact, was true. Pakistan's arch nemisis, India, for one, knew better, although the U.S. Congress was kept in the dark, greasing the skids for approval of the F-16 transfer, despite U.S. laws prohibiting such sales to nuclear weapons rogue states like Pakistan.

Another frightening area this book covers is the very close ties between the likes of Osama Bin Laden, and numerous other Islamic terrorists at work in such places as Afghanistan and Kashmir, and the highest echelons of the Pakistani military and ISI (Inter Services Intelligence directorate, its secret police). But more frightening still are the documented instances of such ties involving the Pakistani atomic weapons establishment, including A.Q. Khan himself.

Nuclear Deception should not be confused with The Nuclear Power Deception: U.S. Nuclear Mythology from Electricity "Too Cheap to Meter" to "Inherently Safe" Reactors, another excellent must read by Arjun Makhijani and Scott Saleska (Apex Press, 1999).

Monday
Aug162010

Iranian regime announces 10 new uranium enrichment sites

Aggravating U.S., U.K., and Israeli concerns about its potential for manufacturing nuclear weaponry, the Iranian regime has announced it will site 10 new uranium enrichment facilities, in addition to those it already operates. Presumably, the new facilities will enrich uranium to a "low level" of 3 to 5% Uranium-235, for use as reactor fuel. This many uranium enrichment facilities is reported to be necessary to fuel 20,000 megawatts of electricity -- the equivalent of 20 1,000 megawatt-electric atomic reactors. However, enrichment to levels of 20% has also been announced, for use in a nuclear medicine reactor. This would bring Iran's enrichment levels significantly closer to the 90% weapons-grade that its critics fear. As described in Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark's harrowing Nuclear Deception: The Dangerous Relationship Between the United States and Pakistan, the primary source of Iran's uranium enrichment technology is Pakistan's government, military, and A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories, secretly beginning in 1987, long known about -- but not acted upon -- by Western intelligence agencies and governments.

Saturday
Jul242010

Kevin Kamps receives Josephine Butler Nuclear-Free Future Award for 2010

The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National Capitol Area has given its 2010 Josephine Butler Nuclear-Free Future Award to Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps. The award reads: "Through his work with Beyond Nuclear, Kevin tirelessly opposes nuclear power and nuclear weapons. His community work for Justice and Peace carries on the priceless legacy of Josephine Butler." The award was presented by John Steinbach and Everett Foy of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee at the Josephine Butler Parks Center of Washington, D.C. on July 16th -- the anniversary of the Trinity atomic bomb blast at Alamogordo, New Mexico in 1945. Past award recipients have included Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, atomic veteran AC Byrd, and Downdwinders Dennis and Denise Nelson.

The Committee plans its annual Hiroshima Commemoration and Memorial Candle Lantern Float on Thursday, August 5, 6:30pm, at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool: a moment of silence at 7:15pm will be followed by the candle lantern float at 8:30pm at Constitution Gardens. The Committee plans its annual Nagasaki Candlelight Vigil on Sunday, August 8, 9:45pm on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of White House, with a moment of silence at 10:02pm. For more information, contact John Steinbach at 703-822-3485 or johnsteinbach1@verizon.net. A flyer about the commemorations is here.