Beyond Nuclear International

“We were rich in uranium, and we have been sacrificed”

Native Tribes try once again to stop uranium mining at sacred Mt. Taylor

By Linda Pentz Gunter

It’s a tale almost as old as time, except that the “White Man” has not been around as long as that. But long enough to massacre, expel, plunder, desecrate, abandon, repeat.

It’s the story Native Americans know all too well — a Trail of Tears that never really ended. Sacred places and burial sites disrespected, traditions ignored, the health and well-being of people dismissed, while the fundamental civil rights of indigenous populations in the United States continue to be trampled on by the US government and its friends in industry.

It would be tempting to say that the current battle over resumption of uranium mining at the sacred Mount Taylor, which sits atop one of the richest known uranium ore reserves in the country, is just the latest in this long and shameful saga. But it is not alone. There are stories like this everywhere in Indian Country — Bears Ears would be just one more example.

Mt. Taylor art

Mt. Taylor by Fred Harvey. New York Public Library.

Read More

MOX got nixed. Now it could be the pits

US could use canceled plutonium fuel plant to make new nuclear weapons

By Linda Pentz Gunter

After wasting $7.6 billion on a plan to manufacture a fuel that no commercial US nuclear reactor is designed to use, the US Department of Energy finally indicated last week that it will cancel the facility still under construction. That’s the (only partially — given the vast expense) good news. The bad news is that the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) would instead like to use the site to make nuclear weapons.

What got canceled was a long-overdue, vastly over-budget and totally unneeded MOX fuel fabrication plant (pictured above the headline in a photo by High Flyer © 2018.) The now abandoned MOX plant would have combined surplus US weapons plutonium left over from the Cold War with uranium extracted from irradiated commercial reactor fuel, into mixed-oxide or MOX fuel. The fuel was slated to be used in commercial reactors. (Technically, the MOX plant will only be officially canceled 30 days after the May 10 submission of the waiver letter to Congress. But there is little doubt there will be any change in the decision.)

The new proposal would turn one boondoggle — that at least had an albeit flawed non-proliferation agenda — into an overtly dangerous, and some argue unnecessary, proliferation operation. The South Carolina site would be converted into a plutonium pit production facility. Pits are the plutonium cores that trigger nuclear weapons.

“Siting of new factories at SRS or elsewhere to produce the plutonium components of nuclear weapons is a provocative move that will further stimulate a nuclear arms race and result in a host of nuclear waste and toxic waste streams,” said Tom Clements, director of the public interest organization Savannah River Site Watch, in a press statement he released on May 10. Clements however, welcomed the cancelation of the MOX plant.

Read More

“When they called me a ‘germ’ I wanted to die”

But Fukushima boy fought back, helping win a court victory that brought compensation for evacuees from the nuclear disaster

On October 25, 2017, 15-year old former Fukushima resident Natsuki Kusano (not his real name and he has asked not to be pictured) testified before the Tokyo District Court. He was among a number of Fukushima evacuees seeking compensation from Tepco and the Japanese government and asking the court to hold the company and the government responsible for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, on March 16, 2018, the  Tokyo District Court found the central government and TEPCO responsible for contributing to the psychological stress suffered by 42 evacuees and ordered the defendants to pay a total of about 60 million yen ($566,000) in compensation.

The lawsuit was filed by 47 individuals in 17 households who fled from Fukushima Prefecture to Tokyo in the wake of the nuclear disaster. Significantly, 46 of those individuals evacuated voluntarily from areas where no evacuation order was issued by the government.

N mother

Natsuki’s mother (left) cries with joy when she hears the Tokyo court verdict.

When the verdict came down, Natsuki was in Geneva with his mother and other women who were there to urge the Japanese government to abide by the UN recommendation of a 1 millisievert per year radiation exposure level. The Japanese authorities had raised this level to an unacceptable 20 msv per year in order to justify ordering people to return to affected areas or risk losing their compensation.

Read More

Crimes against future generations

We must protect our descendants from the threats of climate change, nuclear war and radioactive waste

By Andreas Nidecker, Emilie Gaillard, and Alyn Ware

As nuclear tensions increase, dangerous times have raised legally-loaded questions about nuclear weapons. What happens now the U.S. is withdrawing from Iran nuclear deal? Does the president have unfettered power to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on North Korea? What’s the legal status of the Trump administration’s intention, telegraphed in the Nuclear Posture Review, to expand U.S. nuclear capabilities and arsenals when the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty supposedly commits us to cutting and eventually eliminating them?

But there’s an even broader legal dilemma looming over production, testing and threatened use of nuclear weapons: how they affect the human rights of future generations. Those threats to the future are also compounded by nuclear energy, which generates radioactive waste we’re manifestly unable to control, and by destabilizing the climate that has enabled and sustained human civilization.

Can such crimes against the future be legal? How can we respect the human rights of future generations in view of them? International symposia at the University of Basel (Switzerland), University of Caen (France) and Charles University in Prague (Czech Republic) recently grappled with those questions. The Basel conference produced a declaration on human rights and trans-generational crimes resulting from nuclear weapons and nuclear energy.

Read More

Haunted by Hiroshima, Rae Street has spent 40 years working for peace

“I broke down in tears at seeing the trike whose rider had been vaporised when the bomb fell. My small grandson was the same age”

By Beth Abbit,  Manchester Evening News, UK

Rae Street has been arrested, travelled the world and camped out on an RAF base — all in the name of peace.

The British campaigner has spent almost four decades fighting to raise awareness of the devastating effects of nuclear weapons.

Former teacher Rae, 80, has protested outside NATO headquarters and embarked on a whistle-stop tour of the U.S to promote a message of nuclear disarmament.

She was even part of the famous Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp — an anti nuclear protest which spanned almost 20 years.

But it was during a visit to Hiroshima — the city where the United States detonated a nuclear bomb during WWII — that Rae was convinced the fight to eradicate nuclear weapons was so vital.

Shin's tricycle

Shin’s tricycle, at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, moved Rae Street to tears

“One visit which deeply moved me above all others was being at the Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorative events,” says Rae, from Littleborough, Rochdale.

“I broke down in tears and collapsed in the dust at seeing the trike whose small rider had been vaporised when the bomb fell. My small grandson was the same age.”

Read More

Melania Trump likes to recycle; Donald Trump prefers the trash

Iran nuclear deal is the latest to go

By Linda Pentz Gunter

Melania Trump has demonstrated a keen interest in recycling — her speech at the Republican National Convention (Michelle Obama); her recent “Be Best” pamphlet (Obama Federal Trade Commission); the inaugural cake (Obama again) and so on.

Her less popular husband, on the other hand, prefers to trash everything — Affordable Care Act, DACA, Paris Climate Agreement, NAFTA (maybe), Trans-Pacific Partnership, Keystone Pipeline cancelation, Endangered Species Act, pretty much any and all environmental regulations. And now the Iran Nuclear Deal. But each time without any plans for an alternative.

The Wrecking Ball in Chief has struck one of his most dangerous blows in pulling the US out of the Iran nuclear deal — known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.  And not only for the most obvious reasons, related to nuclear weapons development in the Middle East.

Read More