Beyond Nuclear International

Radioactive sea spray is dosing communities

Governments want to cover it up

By Tim Deere-Jones

I am taking a walk along the path at Manorbier on the south Pembrokeshire coast in Wales. The tomb of King’s Quoit is still in its midwinter shadow. It gets no direct sunlight for 28 days either side of the solstice. And yet the first daffodils and pink campions are already in bloom.

A visit to the tomb on the first day when light returns is a truly amazing sight. It is perched by fresh running water, on the edge of cliffs, just above the sea. You can smell the salt in the air, and feel the mist of sea spray blown in by the prevailing onshore winds.

king's quoit by andrew

The idyllic King’s Quoit on the Welsh coast may hide something more sinister. (Photo: Andrew for Creative Commons/Flickr)

And yet in some coastal areas such a moment may not be as idyllic as it seems.

It is clear from the available empirical data that coastal populations impacted by prevailing onshore winds and living next to sea areas contaminated with liquid radioactive effluents from nuclear sites, are annually exposed to dietary and inhalation doses of man-made marine radioactivity.

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A return to Greenham Common?

Putin and Lockheed Martin are the winners as Trump withdraws US from INF Treaty

By Rebecca Johnson

Rebecca Nobel

Author Rebecca Johnson with the Nobel Peace Prize. (Photo: Ari Beser)

On 1 February the White House announced US “suspension” of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev signed in 1987. A day later Vladimir Putin announced Russia would suspend as well.  Freed of the Treaty’s restraints, Russia is now poised to deploy a new generation of medium-range nuclear weapons on its territory again.

Once again, Donald Trump has played into Putin’s hands, to the detriment of US and European security.  Unless wiser heads prevail in the next six months, the Putin-Trump team is set to destroy this successful Treaty that halted the US-Soviet arms race,  pulled Europe away from the brink of nuclear war, and paved the way for the cold war to end.

Trump’s excuse for suspending US compliance is Russia’s apparent violation of the Treaty with tests on a new ground-launched cruise missile – designated 9M729.  Moscow denies that the missile violates the prohibited range of 500-5,500 km, and counter claims that “Aegis Ashore” US missile defences in Romania could be adapted in the future to violate the treaty and threaten Russian cities.  There are legitimate security concerns attached to both allegations.  And both the US and Russia are worried about China’s arsenal of intermediate-range missiles, which are currently exempt from the INF constraints that apply across Europe.

Instead of giving Putin what he wants by suspending the Treaty, a sensible US Government would have piled on the pressure diplomatically.  If reconvening the Treaty’s “Special Verification Commission” is not enough to resolve the problems – which as former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev noted in 2017 were more political than technical – there are other constructive ways to address the compliance challenges, rebuild confidence and develop a process to resolve and prevent future problems.

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The Green New Deal goes to Washington

Now the battle is on to keep nuclear power out of it

By Linda Pentz Gunter

To be clear, there is no “the” in the Green New Deal. It’s a concept that is yet to become an actual bill here in Washington, DC, and the term has been appropriated — and misappropriated — by a number of different entities, each of which defined the Deal somewhat differently.

This continues to cause consternation among some in the anti-nuclear movement who feared at the outset that what might end up going to Capitol Hill would include at least vague references to “clean energy,” often code for nuclear power, if not overt demands that nuclear be included.

That confusion hasn’t entirely gone away.

A non-binding Green New Deal Resolution, was introduced on February 7 by the dynamic new Democratic Congresswoman from New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the US House of Representatives, and by Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.,) in the Senate. News outlets covering the rollout began to report that, in a Green New Deal (GND) fact sheet FAQ provided by Ocasio-Cortez’s office on her website, nuclear power was specifically referred to as a non-starter. Posted to the National Public Radio website, the fact sheet stated:

“The Green New Deal will not include investing in new nuclear power plants and will transition away from nuclear to renewable power sources only.”

The quote was picked up by Bloomberg as well. But then Ocasio-Cortez’s website posted a redacted version, with no mention of nuclear power. And then the fact sheet disappeared altogether.

SM webinar

Leaders of the Sunrise Movement invited author Naomi Klein to their webinar who told the activists “to make them do it” when asking Members of Congress to support the Green New Deal.

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A planet worth saving

Multi-visual Bella Gaia delivers a perspective on the beauty — and human-caused tragedy — of Planet Earth

By Linda Pentz Gunter

This week, Karl Grossman’s story reminds us that dangerous political leaders like Donald Trump, choose to see space as a venue for warfare. As an antidote, therefore, we also bring you a powerful reminder of why that must never happen.

Several years ago I attended a performance of Bella Gaia. Performance is really the wrong word. Immersion would be closer, transformative experience even better. Bella Gaia is the inspiration of New York violinist Kenji Williams, and his inspiration came in turn from astronauts who went to outer space and experienced the “overview effect,” a quasi-religious epiphany that occurred on seeing planet Earth from afar and in the context of its home within the vast universe.

kenji bella gaia

Violinist, Kenj Williams, creator of Bella Gaia, in performance. (Photo: Christopher Altman/Creative Commons.)

Despite his collaboration with NASA, whose breathtaking images he uses, Williams has not put together just another planetarium show. It is a multi-media experience, combining music, dance, other-worldly vocals and a lesson in just how dangerous and damaging our ever worsening human behavior is becoming for Bella Gaia (Beautiful Earth). 

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Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars

“Provocative and destabilizing and basically insane”

By Karl Grossman

Beginning to fill in his declaration of last year about turning space into a war zone and establishing a U.S. Space Force, President Trump was at the Pentagon on January 17 promoting a plan titled “Missile Defense Review.”

As The New York Times said in its headline on the scheme:: “Plans Evoke 1983 ‘Star Wars’ Program.”  Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, called it “provocative and destabilizing and basically insane.”

As Trump stated at the Pentagon: “We will recognize that space is a new war-fighting domain with the Space Force leading the way. My upcoming budget will invest in a space-based missile defense layer technology. It’s ultimately going to be a very, very big part of our defense and obviously of our offense.”

The new United States space military plan comes despite the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 that designates space as a global commons to be used for peaceful purposes. The U.S., the United Kingdom and then Soviet Union worked together in assembling the treaty. It has been ratified or signed by 123 nations. The release of the 100-page “Missile Defense Review” follows the Trump announcement, also at the Pentagon, in June, that he is moving to establish a U.S. Space Force as a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces. He stated then: “It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space.”

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Why preserving the INF Treaty matters

US decision to abandon treaty makes nuclear war more likely

On Saturday, February 2 the United States is expected to formally withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. The implications of this are extremely serious. The Basel Peace Office, Mayors for Peace Europe, Mayors for Peace North America, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament and World Future Council explain why it’s important to preserve the treaty.

Mayors, parliamentarians, policy experts and civil society representatives from forty countries – mostly Europe and North America – have sent an open letter, the Basel Appeal for Disarmament and Sustainable Security, to Presidents Putin and Trump and to the leaders of the Russian and US legislatures, calling on them to preserve the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, prevent a new nuclear arms race in Europe and undertake measures to reduce the risk of a nuclear conflict and support global nuclear disarmament. (Appeal also available in French, German, Russian and Spanish).

The INF Treaty is an historic agreement reached in 1987 between the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers, and to utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification of the agreement.

Following President Trump’s 20 October, 2018 announcement of his intent to withdraw the United States from the INF Treaty, the State Department has signaled that the US will suspend implementation of the treaty beginning 2 February 2019 and commence the six-month withdrawal process. If the Treaty is dissolved it would further stimulate the current nuclear arms race. In particular, it would open the door for intermediate-range, ground-based nuclear-armed missiles returning to Europe and for US deployment of such missiles in Asia.

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