From Tri-Valley CAREs
From No Nukes California
Beyond Obama’s ‘Nuclear Security’ Hokus POTUS
By James Heddle
April 6. 2016
[ First published on Counterpunch.org ]
‘Nuclear Security’ – The Quintessential Oxymoron?
It ended, with no apparent sense of irony, on April Fools’ Day. Obama’s much-heralded ‘Nuclear Security Summit’ came to a close on April 1st in Washington, D.C., having drawn representatives from about 50 countries…minus Russia, which declined to attend citing a “shortage of mutual cooperation” and the exclusion of some of its allies from the invitation list.
Compared to the lofty vision outlined in Obama’s famous 2009 Prague speech of a ‘world without nuclear weapons,’ the POTUS conference marked a sad measure of how far short of his stated intentions his actual accomplishments have fallen.
To be fair, by no means all of that failure can be said to be Obama’s fault. There are many counter-forces.
There’s a global system that profits handsomely from the combined nuclear energy-weapons-waste economy.
There’s a worldwide elite whose members derive much power and privilege from it.
There’s the domestic ‘deep state’ system of the ‘defense and security’ industry with its revolving door to government, which is heavily invested in the permanent war economy.
Then there are the people the President has chosen to surround himself with, some of whom disagree with him and work to undermine his stated policies.
It remains to be seen if the controversial ‘Iran Deal’ will stand as a signature accomplishment of Obama’s tenure. But the facts remain that, despite his boasts that he has ‘reduced’ the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the actual cuts amount to a mere 5% – from 4,950 operational nuclear warheads to 4,700, according to the Federation of American Scientists. As former Defense Secretary William Perry points out, that’s more than enough to destroy the world many times over.
And, as Perry and other former U.S. officials disapprovingly observe, Obama’s plan to spend over $1 trillion to ‘upgrade’ America’s stockpile of nuclear bombs and their delivery systems not only makes their use more likely, but has also triggered a New Arms Race.
Finally, the President’s ‘all of the above’ energy policy treats nuclear energy generation as ‘clean,’ ignoring the massive carbon footprint of the atomic fuel chain that makes uranium essentially a fossil fuel. It also gives massive funding and support to developing a new generation of nuclear reactors, as well as marketing existing U.S. designs world-wide to such clients as warring Arab oil states. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2015-05-25/nuclear-power-people
12 Unspeakable Realities
Those who advocate for nuclear energy as a response to climate change, or for new nuclear weapons in pursuit of ‘national security,’ must ignore or deny an overwhelming burden of facts from the history and legacy of these nuclear technologies so far.
Here are just a few:
Posted on Beyond Nuclear
Rally for Zero
Nuclear weapons do not equal security
On March 31 & April 1, world leaders are convening right here in DC to talk nuclear security. Not on the agenda: nuclear weapons.
That has to change. There are 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, thousands ready to fire at a moment’s notice. Nuclear weapons jeopardize global security – not strengthen it.
Join us as we rally to show world leaders that 15,000 nuclear weapons ≠ security. It’s time they take action for zero.
Who: Global Zero, the international movement to eliminate nuclear weapons, and you!
What: A rally featuring a life-size inflated nuclear missile and Global Zero movement leaders
When: Friday, April 1st, 12:00pm
Where: McPherson Square
RSVP at: http://www.globalzero.org/protest
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
New investigative reporting from McClatchy has exposed the hidden legacy—and “enormous human cost”—of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, providing “an unprecedented glimpse of the costs of war.”
The reporting, which comes as the nation prepares to upgrade its aging nuclear arsenal to the tune of $1 trillion over the next 30 years, reveals the abundant health and safety risks from radiation exposure at atomic weapons facilities. It’s based on more than 100 interviews at current and former weapons plants and in the towns that surround them, as well as analysis of more than 70 million records in a federal database obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
According to McClatchy, 107,394 Americans have been diagnosed with cancers and other diseases after building the nation’s nuclear stockpile over the last seven decades. And at least 33,480 former nuclear workers who received compensation from a special fund—created in 2001 for those sickened in the construction of America’s nuclear bombs—are dead.
Declaring that “the great push to win the Cold War has left a legacy of death on American soil,” McClatchy notes that the death toll “is more than four times the number of American casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
“Now with the country embarking on an ambitious $1 trillion plan to modernize its nuclear weapons,” the investigation reads, “current workers fear that the government and its contractors have not learned the lessons of the past.”
Among the investigation’s other findings, as per journalists Rob Hotakainen, Lindsay Wise, Frank Matt, and Samantha Ehlinger:
- Federal officials greatly underestimated how sick the U.S. nuclear workforce would become. At first, the government predicted the program would serve only 3,000 people at an annual cost of $120 million. Fourteen years later, taxpayers have spent sevenfold that estimate, $12 billion, on payouts and medical expenses for more than 53,000 workers.
- Even with the ballooning costs, fewer than half of those who’ve applied have received any money. Workers complain that they’re often left in bureaucratic limbo, flummoxed by who gets payments, frustrated by long wait times and overwhelmed by paperwork.
- Despite the cancers and other illnesses among nuclear workers, the government wants to save money by slashing current employees’ health plans, retirement benefits and sick leave.
- Stronger safety standards have not stopped accidents or day-to-day radiation exposure. More than 186,000 workers have been exposed since 2001, all but ensuring a new generation of claimants. And to date, the government has paid $11 million to 118 workers who began working at nuclear weapons facilities after 2001.
McClatchy produced this short video to accompany its piece:
The new reporting adds fuel to the call for global nuclear disarmament, which reverberated across the world on the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki earlier this year.
“This 70th anniversary should be a time to reflect on the absolute horror of a nuclear detonation,” Ann Suellentrop of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Kansas City said at the time, “yet the new Kansas City Plant is churning out components to extend U.S. nuclear weapons 70 years into the future.”
And along with those components, McClatchy‘s exposé suggests, “more unwanted fallout.”
Sign the petition and pass it on
Then let your elected officials know how you feel.
From Roots Action —
To the U.S. Congress, President, Department of “Defense” —
Build no new nuclear weapons. Stop struggling with an aging arsenal and begin dismantling it, as required by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Why is this important?
It is an outrage that the U.S. President is planning to ask the Congress for ONE TRILLION DOLLARS over the next 30 years to perpetuate the nuclear terror by building a new nuclear bomb factory, as well as new nuclear bombs, and their delivery systems — missiles, planes and submarines capable of destroying all life on earth many times over.
We can either eliminate all nuclear weapons or we can watch them proliferate. There’s no middle way. We can either have no nuclear weapons states, or we can have many. As long as some states have nuclear weapons others will desire them, and the more that have them the more easily they will spread to others still. If nuclear weapons continue to exist, there will very likely be a nuclear catastrophe, and the more the weapons have proliferated, the sooner it will come. Hundreds of incidents have nearly destroyed our world through accident, confusion, misunderstanding, and extremely irrational machismo.
Recently nuclear bombs were mistakenly flown to Mississippi from their bases in North Dakota and no one knew they were missing for over 38 hours. And a number of soldiers with their finger on the nuclear button in the missile launch silos were dismissed for drunkeness and cheating on tests, while silo doors were found to be improperly secured.
Possessing nuclear weapons does absolutely nothing to keep us safe, so that there is really no trade-off involved in eliminating them. They do not deter terrorist attacks by non-state actors in any way. Nor do they add an iota to a military’s ability to deter nations from attacking, given the United States’ ability to destroy anything anywhere at any time with non-nuclear weapons. The United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China have all lost wars against non-nuclear powers while possessing nukes.
The elimination of nuclear weapons is globally a widely recognized need, as well as a legally mandated action, and a step toward a world beyond war.