Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Tension rises in Khalil during Sukkot celebrations

International Solidarity Movement | September 21, 2013

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Sukkot is a joyful festival in Judaism; however its impact upon day-to-day life in Khalil has only caused greater problems for the Palestinians. Many residents of Khalil have commented that it is during this holiday period every year where daily life in the city becomes all the more difficult.

Last week soldiers began preparations for taking over a house next to the container checkpoint 209 (Quatoum/Abu Rish), which belongs to a Palestinian family. The family received a military order informing them that this house would be occupied by the Israeli army until Tuesday 24th September, the end of Sukkot. Due to the large number of Jewish tourists visiting Hebron during Sukkot, reinforcement brigades have been sent to Hebron, and due to lack of accommodation for these additional soldiers, the army decided to take over this Palestinian house and use it as a military base for the duration of the holiday. Residents of this area have stated that since the soldiers began occupying the house, child detainment and arrests have increased, and there are further concerns that checkpoint 209 may be moved in an attempt to increase control in the surrounding area.

Today, Saturday 21st September, several clashes and attacks took place between settler youth and Palestinian children and teenagers in Tel Rumeida. Additionally, as on every Shabbat, settlers invaded the roof of the Abu Shamsiyeh family and verbally attacked international activists who, at the request of the family, were monitoring the entrance to the roof as it is often entered without family permission. In the past, settlers have attacked the family by throwing stones, spitting at, beating members of the family and urinating into their garden.

On Friday 20th September, clashes erupted in the afternoon as Palestinian youths threw stones at checkpoint 56. After the PA (responsible for this area of Hebron which is part of H1) chased away the stone-throwers, the clashes moved into the OldCity and souq of Hebron, which is part of H2 and thus under Israeli military control. Throughout Friday evening and most of Saturday, Palestinian youths were throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, whilst Israeli soldiers responded with sound grenades, teargas and rubber-coated steel bullets. International activists witnessed border police shooting teargas canisters directly at protesters, as opposed to shooting it in an arch as they are supposed to under Israeli army regulations. Further clashes are expected tomorrow as settlers and Jewish tourists invade area H1.

On Sunday 22nd and Monday 23rd September, tens of thousands of Jewish tourists are expected to descend upon Hebron for Sukkot celebrations. On important Jewish holidays, there is a tradition of the settler community, alongside Jewish tourists, visiting a house in H1 (the Palestinian-controlled part of Hebron) which they claim used to be the home of a rabbi and thus holds religious significance. The Israeli military has ordered the closure of the road outside checkpoint 56 leading to Yatta between 10am and 3pm on Sunday 22nd September. The house that the settlers and Jewish tourists pilgrim to is located on said road, however it is the first time ever that the Israeli military has formally ordered the closure of the road and the shops located there. This order is a clear violation of the Hebron Agreement, signed in 1997 by the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government, which divided the city into areas H1 and H2 under Palestinian and Israeli military control respectively.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Strike over civilian killings shuts down Indian Kashmir

pirhayati20130921170107457

Press TV – September 21, 2013

Shops, businesses, and schools have been closed with public transport off the roads in the Indian-controlled Kashmir after a pro-independence group called for a strike to protest recent civilian killings in the mountainous Himalayan region.

On Saturday, the shutdown was observed across the disputed territory following a call given by the leader of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference is a political front formed as an alliance of 26 political, social and religious organizations in Kashmir.

Contingents of Indian police and paramilitary soldiers were deployed to Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar and other major towns on Saturday to prevent people from holding anti-India demonstrations.

Most of the pro-independence leaders, including Geelani, chairman of the Awami Action Committee Mohammad Umar Farooq and chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Mohammad Yasin Malik, also remained under house arrest.

The pro-independence leaders were placed under house arrest on Friday after they called for a march to the southern town of Shopian to protest against the killing of five people.

Shopian has been under curfew for two weeks, following the killing of five people in two paramilitary shootings.

Four people were killed on September 7 when Indian paramilitary forces opened fire on them in Shopian, situated about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Srinagar. Paramilitary troops killed another person in the same town on September 11.

Kashmir lies at the heart of more than 60 years of hostility between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim the region in full but each only has control over a section of the territory.

Over the past two decades, the conflict in Kashmir has left over 47,000 people dead by the official count, although other sources say the death toll could be as high as 90,000.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On the Fallacy of ‘Engaging’ with the Israeli Academy

Should Oral Historians Meet in an Occupied Land in 2014?

By HAIM BRESHEETH and SHERNA BERGER GLUCK | CounterPunch | September 20, 2013

A standard argument against BDS – the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against the Israeli occupation – and especially the academic boycott- has been the “‘need to engage” with Israelis. In fact, during the 46 years of the occupation, numerous efforts to ‘engage’ have been made repeatedly, all of which are warmly embraced by Israel and its academic institutions.

The most recent example is an “International Oral History” conference being organized by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, featuring renowned Italian oral historian Alessandro Portelli. The conference topics included trauma studies, holocaust studies and conflict studies and assiduously avoiding any reference to the Nakba.

Such typical elision has become an iconic political battle-zone between the supporters of Palestinian rights and pro-Israelis, who promote ‘dialogue’ and ‘engagement’; Nor is it surprising that the Hebrew University avoids the topic, given its own complicity in the ongoing Palestinian trauma. The recently passed Nakba Law in Israel bans even the commemoration of the Nakba, so this avoidance is part of a larger project of Israeli denial.

Private efforts to dissuade the two scheduled speakers failed, and it became clear that they firmly subscribed to the value of ‘engagement,” even with an institution like Hebrew University whose complicity in the violation of Palestinian rights and international law we fully documented. Following this exchange, the original webpage for the conference was replaced, and an elliptical reference seemed to open the door for some discussion of the unmentioned Nakba.

The issues involved in this planned conference go beyond the ill-informed and misguided participation of the featured speakers; A public call to boycott the conference signed by 72 international academics was issued in August. Now, in just over a month, there are more than 250 signatories, of whom one third are oral historians from 19 countries, including South Africa, Brazil, Spain and India.

Because the further discussion of boycott was shut off on the US listserv where the conference was initially announced, a message posted by the conference organizer was the last substantive comment on the issue.  In it, she claims boycotting the Hebrew University “only serves as a disservice to many individuals, organizations and communities who dedicate their professional and personal life to finding a just resolution to the conflict.” [i] Thus, the argument for “engagement” was permissible, but the US academic community was denied access to the compelling evidence for boycott. In effect, they were given a response to a question not yet publicly debated.

The dispute playing out among academics, and the timidity of those in the US compared to other internationals, is not new. Furthermore, it represents a conflict that goes much deeper, touching on the very question of “engagement”.

The Folly of Engagement

Academics have been going to conferences in Israel, especially in Jerusalem, for five long decades of occupation, engaging with their Israeli counterparts. It’s bad enough that these engagements have resulted in nothing positive, but to make matters worse, they have become part and parcel of Israeli political strategy: more engagement, discussions, meetings, negotiations between the sides ad infinitum. The current phase of such fruitless exercises recently initiated by US Secretary of State John Kerry will  likely join the others in the dustbin of history

Worse yet, under the guise of continuing discussions and negotiations – a delaying tactic developed by PM Shamir in the 1980s – Israel has managed to add 700,000 illegal settlers in the Occupied Territories of Palestine and Syria. This is almost the number of Palestinian refugees who were forcibly driven out of Palestine in 1948 by the Israeli forces and never allowed back, despite numerous UN resolutions.

In over six decades of its existence, Israel has defied the UN on the most crucial resolutions passed on the rights of the Palestinians; it illegally settled the territories it occupied; it defied the Geneva Convention on numerous counts, including its failure to look after the population under occupation. Among other things, it has refused to grant Palestinian universities a license to operate, and closed the existing institutions for long periods.  During this time, not once did Israeli faculty unions or the university senates call for reopening of Palestinian universities, or for the restitution of academic freedom in Palestine. Israeli universities have themselves been directly complicit in Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights and international laws, and all have collaborated in some way with the military occupation, including assisting the military-security-industrial complex.[ii]  In the case of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, its Mt. Scopus campus was expanded onto illegally occupied and confiscated land.

Yet, in contrast to South African apartheid, most academics throughout the world remained silent for years, mounting little opposition to Israel’s crimes. Only in 2005, following the PACBI call for an academic boycott, did the BDS and academic boycott campaign start in earnest in the UK.  Since then, BRICUP (British Committee for Universities in Palestine) has been involved in numerous successful actions, including the recent withdrawal of leading physicist Stephen Hawking from the Presidential conference of 2013 – an action that galvanized scientists and academics elsewhere[iii].

Four years after the founding of BRICUP, and in response to Operation Cast Lead, campaigns in both the US (USACBI) and France (AURDIP) were initiated. [iv] While short of the success of Hawking’s repudiation, both campaigns have been very active. In the US, perhaps the most significant success on the academic front was the passage of an academic boycott resolution at the Asian American Studies Conference in May 2013. AURDIP, while being severely hampered by the repressive policies initiated by Sarkozy, fully applied under Hollande, remains an important clearinghouse on the academic boycott, regularly using public events showcasing cooperation between French and Israeli academic institutions as a platform to promote BDS.

Today, there are active boycott campaigns in Spain (PBAI), Berlin (BAB) and India (IncACBI), all of which were initiated in 2010[v], and in Ireland – AFP (Academics for Palestine) was created in 2012[vi]. Perhaps the most important development was the development of a BDS movement inside Israel – Boycott from Within. Recently, these boycott campaigns have garnered increasing support, often from some of the most notable scholars in their countries, like Josep Fontana, the prestigious Spanish (Catalan) historian. The boycott groups in Spain, India and the US are currently organizing against partnerships being forged with Israel’s Technion.  Even in Germany, where any criticism of Israel is highly suspect, the BAB is challenging a funded cooperation agreement between the Free University and the Hebrew University.

Quite obviously, the message is spreading, gradually penetrating academic institutions everywhere. In response, Israel and the Zionist movement have devoted tremendous efforts to counter the boycott campaign, funded by government Ministries. The long-term policy that was devised initially prioritized the UK. A number of Israeli task forces drawn from Israeli universities, arrived in Britain to ‘explain’ the need for ‘engagement’ and ‘dialogue’. The same professors who for years disengaged from any support of the human and civic rights of Palestinians, including their right to education, were now globe-trotting in support of the ‘real victim’ – Israel – promoting ‘engagement’ with the occupation forces under the banner of dialogue. The latest, but surely not last iteration, is the government campaign to use Israel’s students against the boycott. Recent revelations exposed the creation of covert units at Israeli universities, designed to work with the Israeli National Student Union, using social media.

Whatever else one might think about Israeli universities, they could never be accused of being liberal or supportive of human rights. A few months before the Gaza incursion in December 2008, a petition for academic freedom in the Occupied Territories was circulated to over 10,000 Israeli academics. This mild petition, merely requesting the government to allow Palestinians the same freedom enjoyed by Israeli academics, was signed by only 407 Israeli academics – 4% of the total.  The Academic Staff unions in Israel never even discussed or acted on the matter. Although Tel Aviv University is by far the most ‘liberal’ of all, with 155 faculty signing the said petition, in 2012, Shlomo Sand felt compelled to castigate his colleagues in the history department for concealing the problematic history of their own university, built on the former Palestinian village of Sheikh Muwanis[vii].

Israeli academics continually ignore calls of Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel’s aggressive occupation, arguing instead for  ‘dialogue’ with Israeli colleagues. In fact, the Hebrew University conference is promoted as a “participatory site in which ‘difficult dialogues’ on memory and perspectives will be discussed.”  As usual, instead of promoting dialogue with Palestinian academics, the best that the conference organizers can muster is a reference to “the issues that this country and region face.” One wonders – is the occupation such an issue?

What could possibly be wrong with dialogue, you might ask? Instead, perhaps the appropriate question might be: “is it moral to collaborate with a militarized, racist, colonial state, in order to cleanse its crimes?” Doesn’t this mean that crimes continue and newer ones are perpetrated? Indeed, evidence clearly demonstrates that continuing ‘engagements’ have not led to resolution, but instead served to numb the sensibilities of international academia to the realities of occupied Palestine. In the case of South Africa, it was clear to all academics that there was no way to ‘engage’ with apartheid by speaking to its representatives; the only way to deal with apartheid was to oppose it – to boycott, divest and apply sanctions; to deny South African institutions any support and dialogue; and to follow the advice of the ANC.

Though not yet on the same scale as the South African campaign, the BDS campaign has been successful. Many academics worldwide are now sensitized to becoming complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation, its settler-colonial policies and its apartheid practices and have stopped participating with Israeli institutions. The campaign to boycott the Hebrew University “international” oral history conference is part of the growing world wide effort to honor the Palestinian call for an academic boycott of Israel.

Because so many oral historians view their work as a means of giving voice to the oppressed and silenced, boycotting this conference should be a no-brainer. Indeed, for the internationally-minded oral historians, it is just that, even as so many US practitioners have basically buried their heads in the sand, following their government’s lead.

We wonder what the two advocates of engagement solicited for keynotes will do, and especially how the Hebrew University will respond. Will it, for instance, throw generous travel stipends to participants, rendering them party to the Israeli propaganda machine? We hope, instead, that oral historians around the world will heed the call not to cross the Palestinian picket line, thereby honoring the basic ethical/moral foundation of the historian’s work. [viii]

Haim Bresheeth and Sherna Berger Gluck are part of an international group that initiated this  boycott campaign and which includes Sami Hermez, Nur Masalha, Ilan Pappe, Rosemary Sayigh and Lisa Taraki, among others. Bresheeth is Professor of Film Studies at SOAS London and active in BRICUP; Gluck is Director Emerita of the Oral History Program at California University, Long Beach and one of the founders of the US Academic and Cultural Boycott Campaign of Israel

Notes.

[i]Dr. Sharon Kangisser Cohen posted on HOralHIST listserv August 5, 2013: http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-Oralhist&month=1308&week=c&msg=29F8Sr%2BcGUQuYBM5ggshvw.

[ii] Keller, U. (2009) the Academic Boycott of Israel and the Complicity of Israeli Academic Institutions in Occupation of Palestinian Territories. The Economy of the Occupation: A Socioeconomic Bulletin: Alternative InformationCentre. http://www.alternativenews.org/images/stories/downloads/Economy ofthe_occupation_23-24.pdf

[iii] See “Stephen Hawking’s message to Israeli elites: The occupation has a price”

[iv]  AURDIP – Association Universitaire pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine

[v] PABI – La Plataforma para el Boicot Académico a Israel; BAB – Berlin AB; InCACBI – Indian Campaign ACBI

[vi] Started with the successful passage on November 9th, 2012, of an Academic Boycott motion at the academic union TUI (Teachers Union of Ireland),  in early 2013, see “TUI Dublin Colleges Branch AGM passes motions in support of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions; recognises Israel’s apartheid nature”

[vii] Sand, S in concluding chapter of  The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland, Verso, London, (2012) pp. 259-281

[viii]  The letter in English, French, Portugese and Spanish can be accessed at: http://www.aurdip.org/Call-to-Boycott-the-Oral-History.html and usacbi.org

This is not a general petition but is intended as an open letter to international academics and oral historians. If you fit this bill, please send your relevant information to: hebrewUconferenceboycott@gmail.com

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela Rejects U.S. Version of Maduro Airspace Prohibition Dispute

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | September 20, 2013

Mérida – Venezuela has rejected the United States’ version of events in the dispute over President Nicolas Maduro’s passage through U.S. airspace last night.

The diplomatic fallout reached media attention when Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua told reporters yesterday that President Maduro had been denied permission to fly through U.S. airspace.

According to Venezuelan officials, the presidential flight was prohibited from passing over Puerto Rico, with President Maduro considering changing the flight path to reach Paris, France. However after hurried diplomatic talks permission was eventually granted for the flight to pass through U.S. airspace.

The flight’s final destination is Beijing, China, where Maduro will conduct a state visit.

U.S. statement

In a diplomatic statement emitted today by the United States Embassy in Caracas, the U.S. denied prohibiting the Venezuelan president’s passage through its airspace, and blamed any delays in granting passage on the Venezuelan government for not “properly submitting” the flight request.

The statement said that Venezuela had only submitted the international flight request with one day’s notice, when three are required. Further, the U.S. diplomats argued that approval was delayed because “the [presidential] plane in question was not a state aircraft, which is required for diplomatic clearance”.

“We advised Venezuela on the correct way to get the clearance and notified their authorities last night that permission was granted,” the statement read.

Response

Venezuela’s top diplomat in Washington, Calixto Ortega, rejected the U.S. version of events, affirming in a call to state channel VTV that the U.S. had indeed denied Maduro’s passage through its airspace.

“The permission was denied. I have the denial in writing. We had to have a series of conversations [to gain clearance for the flight],” he said.

Ortega also disagreed with the arguments put forward for the delay in granting permission to enter U.S. airspace, explaining that the plane, route and flight request were exactly the same as in June when Maduro passed over Puerto Rico en route to Italy for a diplomatic tour of Europe.

“It’s the same plane, with the same crew, and exactly the same route made, [and in June] a permission request [was] immediately approved,” he explained.

The Venezuelan diplomat argued that Venezuela would need to keep “very aware” of the possibility such moves by the U.S. in the future, saying that “they took us by surprise”. He also criticised press in Europe for favouring the U.S. version of events in the dispute.

In addition, Ortega voiced concerns that the U.S. would repeat last night’s action next Wednesday 25 September, when Maduro will travel to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

Venezuela has further accused the U.S. of denying visas to members of its delegation to the U.N. gathering.

Samuel Moncada, Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.N., today wrote a letter to U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki Moon requesting that the U.N. ensure that the U.S. “strictly fulfills its international obligations”.

In the letter, Moncada accused the U.S. government of “deliberately delaying the approval of entry permits” to members of Maduro’s diplomatic team, and of trying to “create logistical barriers…to his [Maduro’s] visit”.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf denied the accusation, stating to journalists, “No visa has been denied to the Venezuelan delegation to the United Nations General Assembly this year”.

International concern

The apparent denial of President Maduro’s request to fly through U.S. airspace has generated criticism from Venezuela’s regional allies.

Bolivian president Evo Morales requested an “emergency meeting” of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), saying that he would propose that all member states of the bloc withdraw their ambassadors from the U.S. in protest. CELAC brings together every state in the Western Hemisphere with the exception of the U.S. and Canada.

“If it’s with Maduro, it’s with everyone. The United States must know that if it messes with Maduro, it messes with the whole Latin American people…because this is about the unity and sovereignty of our peoples,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez called U.S. conduct “unjustifiable, arbitrary and unfriendly, which offends the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean”.

Rodriguez said that CELAC member states were discussing the issue, and would bring it up at the U.N. General Assembly meeting. Cuba is currently the pro tempore president of the CELAC.

The fallout comes after Evo Morales’ presidential plane was denied airspace access by four European countries in July, under supposed suspicions that the flight harboured ex-NSA intelligence leaker Edward Snowden.

Further, this week Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff cancelled her scheduled state visit to the U.S. in October, apparently due to concerns over the U.S. spying activities toward Brazil revealed by Snowden’s leaks.

Venezuelan relations with the U.S. have remained distant, and the two countries have not had an exchange of ambassadors since 2010. The brief attempt to improve relations following Maduro’s election in April was brought to a close by Venezuela in July, after the U.S.’s new ambassador to the U.N. made “unacceptable and unfounded” comments about the Venezuelan government.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , , | 1 Comment

Chemical Weapons: a Quiz

By GARY LEUPP | CounterPunch | September 20, 2013

1. Which of the following is the most accurate statement?

1. chemical weapons were first used during the First World War

2. chemical weapons were invented and first used in the 19th century

3. chemical weapons have been around since prehistoric people first put poisons on arrowheads

4. the first real chemical weapon was “Greek Fire” invented by the Byzantines in the 7th century

5. chemical weapons were first produced in the 18th century, based on formulae found in Leonardo da Vinci’s rediscovered writings

2. An international conference in 1899 produced the Hague Treaty, which bans the use of projectiles containing poison gas in warfare. Only one country’s representative dissented. What country was this?

1. Russia

2. U.S.

3. United Kingdom

4. Japan

5. Union of South Africa

3. In the First World War, what percentage of fatalities were due to chemical weapons?

1.  4%

2. 12%

3. 39%

4. 51%

5. 59%

4. In April 1917, British forces used poison gas against German and Ottoman forces in

1. Turkey

2. Germany

3. Austria

4. Libya

5. Palestine

5. Who made the following comment in May 1919, regarding the use of mustard gas against Mesopotamian Arabs?

“I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas…I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes… It is not 
necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.”

1. Benito Mussolini

2. Winston Churchill

3. Georges Clemenceau

4. Woodrow Wilson

5. Ibn Saud

6. Mustard gas was invented in 1917 by a scientist in

1. U.S.

2. Austria

3. Norway

4. Germany

5. Japan

7. During the First World War, Germany was the largest producer of chemical weapons. What country was number two?

1. U.K.

2. U.S.

3. Japan

4. Italy

5. France

8. 88,000 people died due to chemical weapons during the First World War. 56,000 of these were in one country. What was it?

1. Russia

2. Japan

3. China

4. Germany

5. France

9. At the Washington Arms Conference of 1922 which country opposed inclusion in a treaty of an article banning chemical weapons?

1. France

2. U.S.

3. U.K.

4. Russia

5. Japan

10. Over 60 U.S. merchant seamen were killed by mustard gas in an Italian port in December 1943. Why did this happen?

1. The ship was accidently attacked by a British submarine, with torpedoes armed with mustard gas

2. German troops attacked with gas

3. Italian guerrillas attacked with gas

4. The gas was aboard their ship and released when German forces bombed it

5. None of the above

11. How many tons of chemical weapons material did the U.S. at peak inventory?

1. The U.S. never built or stockpiled such weapons

2. 10,000 tons

3. 30,000 tons

4. 50,000 tons

5. 110,000 tons

12. Napalm was invented

1. by the ancient Greeks

2. by a Swedish scientist in 1876

3. by scientists at Harvard University in 1943

4. by Dow Chemical Corp. during the Vietnam War

5. by the Japanese military during World War II

13. Which president announced that the U.S. would not be the first to use chemical weapons?

1. Wilson

2. Eisenhower

3. Kennedy

4. Nixon

5. Carter

14. Napalm is:

1. A mix of petroleum plus a gelling agent that sticks to skin and causes severe burns when ignited

2. A gas that causes asphyxiation

3. A type of explosive bullet

4. An invisible gas released at low altitude by helicopters

5. A kerosene-based jet fuel used in firebombs

15. Over 2 million tons of napalm were used in World War II. Between 1965 and 1973 how many tons of napalm were dropped on Vietnam by U.S. forces?

1. 1 million

2. 2 million

3. 5 million

4. 8 million

5. 15 million

16. Up to March 1992, according to a Senate study, the U.S. licensed export of anthrax and VX nerve gas to which country among the following?

1. Zimbabwe

2. South Africa

3. United Kingdom

4. Iraq

5. Canada

17. In March 1988 Iraqi forces attacked Kurds in northern Iraq with chemical weapons, killing over 3000. How did the U.S. react?

1. The State Department stated its belief that Iran was behind the attacks

2. Pres. Reagan declared Iraq in violation of international law and asked Congress for permission to punish it

3. U.S. officials openly argued that since Saddam Hussein was a firm ally against Iran the U.S. had to overlook his war crimes

4. The U.S. placed Iraq back on its list of terror-sponsoring nations

5. The U.S. halted military cooperation with Iraq in its war with Iran

18. Which of the following countries are believed to possess stockpiles of chemical weapons?

1. Russia, China, France, U.K., Russia, Syria

2. Egypt, Israel, Syria, North Korea, Russia, U.S.

3. Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, China, France, Russia, U.S.

4. Iran, Syria, Russia, U.S., India, Egypt

5. Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, Russia, U.S., Germany

19. The U.S. claims that Syria possesses about 1000 tons of chemical weapons. How many tons does the U.S. still possess?

1. 500

2. 1000

3. 2000

4. 2500

5. 3000

20.  What countries continue to refuse to ban chemical weapons?

1. Syria, Israel, Zimbabwe, South Korea, North Korea

2. Angola, Egypt, North Korea, South Sudan

3. Syria, Israel, U.S., Russia, China

4. Syria, Iran, Zimbabwe, North Korea

5. Angola, Syria, Egypt, North Korea, South Sudan

Bonus question:

The Chemical Weapons Convention approved by the UN General Assembly that bans use of chemical weapons was first signed by participating nations in what year?

1. 1945

2. 1968

3. 1974

4. 1993

5. 2003

Answers:

1. 3 (Salon of Athens poisoned the Spartan water supply. Henry III used quicklime against the French. In 1675 the French and Germans agreed to stop using poisoned bullets. Chemical warfare is not only modern.)

2. 2 (The U.S. representative wanted no curbs on U.S. inventiveness.)

3. 1 (Remarkably small proportion.)

4. 5 (Mostly British versus Germans, with the latter winning.)

5. 2 (Churchill the consummate colonialist.)

6. 4 (Germany’s chemical industry led the world.)

7. 5 (The U.K. and U.S. produced chemical weapons too, but France was far ahead.)

8. 1 (Compare 9000 Germans, 8000 French, 8000 British Empire, 1500 U.S.)

9.1 (Not surprising, since France was then the world’s leading manufacturer of chemical weapons.)

10.  4 (News of this was hushed up.)

11. 3 (Now down to 3000.)

12. 3 (The scientists were doing war-related research. Napalm was soon used; on March 9, 1945 napalm dropped on Tokyo killed over 87,000 people.)

13. 4 (Nov. 25, 1969 statement.)

14. 1 (From naphthenic palmitic acids.)

15. 4

16. 4 (As part of cooperation during the Iran-Iraq War.)

17. 1 (At the same time anonymous government officials opined that there was no law preventing someone from using weapons of mass destruction on his own people.)

18. 2 (Israel argues that its chemical weapons serve as a deterrent to Syrian attack.)

19. 5 (Russia has about 9000 and plans to destroy it all by next year.)

20. 2 (Now that Syria has signed the treaty, just four countries remain outside it.)

Bonus: 4 (There are now 189 signatories.)

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can Washington Reciprocate Iran’s “Constructive Engagement”?

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett  | Going to Tehran | September 20th, 2013

As New York prepares for the annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly next week, the volume of Western media speculation about the prospects for a U.S.-Iranian diplomatic breakthrough is mounting to impressive levels.  Predictably, much of this speculation amounts to little more than wondering how many concessions the Islamic Republic’s new president, Hassan Rohani, is willing and will be able to make, especially on the nuclear issue.

As usual, we prefer looking at facts and authoritative statements of official positions over the speculation of journalists and pundits.  In this spirit, we want to highlight a few passages from President Rohani’s much noted Op-Ed in the Washington Post earlier this week, see here.

Three passages seem especially relevant for understanding Tehran’s position on the nuclear issue.  The first presents Rohani’s definition of “constructive engagement” (emphasis added):

“It is—or should be—counterintuitive to pursue one’s interests without considering the interests of others.  A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rightsIt means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives.  In other words, win-win outcomes are not just favorable but also achievable.  A zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss.”

The explicit reference to not relinquishing one’s rights is, of course, very much of a piece with Rohani’s statements, during his presidential campaign and since his election, that he is not about to surrender Iran’s right—as a sovereign state and as a non-weapons state party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—to enrich uranium under international safeguards.  Unfortunately, there is no concrete indication that the Obama administration is prepared to acknowledge this right.  In fact, one can find multiple statements from administration officials over the last five years publicly denying that there is such a right.  (This is, among other things, a legally and intellectually dishonest reading of the NPT.)

The second passage from President Rohani’s Op-Ed that we want to highlight here explains with admirable clarity why the Islamic Republic is not about to compromise its right to safeguarded enrichment (again, emphasis added):

“We must also pay attention to the issue of identity as a key driver of tension in, and beyond, the Middle East.  At their core, the vicious battles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are over the nature of those countries’ identities and their consequent roles in our region and the world.  The centrality of identity extends to the case of our peaceful nuclear energy program.  To us, mastering the atomic fuel cycle and generating nuclear power is as much about diversifying our energy resources as it is about who Iranians are as a nation, our demand for dignity and respect and our consequent place in the world.”

President Rohani goes on to note, “Without comprehending the role of identity, many issues we all face will remain unresolved.”  Indeed.  Unfortunately, it remains far from clear that the Obama administration understands how tightly the matter of Iran’s nuclear rights is linked to fundamental questions of identity (like independence and control of the country’s energy resources) for Iranians who supported Imam Khomeini’s revolution and continue to support the political order it produced.

The third passage from President Rohani’s Op-Ed that we want to highlight discusses the requirements for diplomatic progress (yet again, emphasis added):

“To move beyond impasses, whether in relation to Syria, my country’s nuclear program or its relations with the United States, we need to aim higher.  Rather than focusing on how to prevent things from getting worse, we need to think—and talk—about how to make things better.  To do that, we all need to muster the courage to start conveying what we want—clearly, concisely and sincerely—and to back it up with the political will to take necessary action.  This is the essence of my approach to constructive interaction.”

President Rohani certainly is not the first Iranian leader to want the United States to clarify its ultimate intentions vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic.  Unfortunately, it remains far from clear that the Obama administration is or will be prepared to lay out a clear and positive end game for nuclear talks with the Islamic Republic—for this would require the United States to acknowledge Iran’s aforementioned right to safeguarded enrichment as an essential pillar of any negotiated solution to the nuclear issue.

So, going into UNGA next week and looking beyond UNGA to renewed nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, the relevant question is not how much is Iran’s leadership prepared to concede on the nuclear issue.  Rather, the relevant question is whether Washington is prepared to abandon a strategic approach to the Middle East that has done profound damage to America’s own position in this vital region—in no small part, by rendering productive diplomacy with the Islamic Republic impossible.

This was very much the theme of an interview that our colleague, Seyed Mohammad Marandi from the University of Tehran, gave earlier this week to Russia Today, see here.  We append the interview, titled “Iran’s position strengthening while US in decline,” below, along with Russia Today’s editorial precede:

“Iran’s vow to never develop nuclear arms appeared to be an olive branch extended America’s way.  But it is Washington, and not Tehran who needs all the friends it can get these days, Professor Seyed Mohhamad Marandi from the University of Tehran told RT.

On Wednesday, Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani said of the Islamic Republic, ‘under no circumstances would we seek any weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, nor will we ever.’

Underscoring Rouhani’s concerted efforts to kick start negotiations over its controversial uranium enrichment program with the West, US President Barack Obama and Rouhani exchanged letters.  This followed recent elections in Iran and the two leaders may meet on the margins of the UN general assembly next week.  Rouhani, who took office in August, also ordered the release of Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian human rights lawyer, and a number of other political prisoners on the eve of a visit to the United Nations.

The White House has thus far reacted positively towards these overtures, with White House spokesman Jay Carney saying there is an opportunity for diplomacy when it comes to the issues that have presented challenges to the United States and our allies with regards to Iran.

Professor Marandi says that while the onus has been put on Tehran to return to the Western fold, it is Washington who needs Iran to help fix the mess it’s made in the region.

RTIran has always said that it would not construct nuclear weapons.  So why the apparently enthusiastic reaction from the US now?

Seyed Mohhamad Marandi:  It’s hard to say, it really should be asked why the United States didn’t respond earlier because this is what the Iranians have been saying all along.  But still I think the Iranians are quite willing to see if the apparent enthusiasm will lead to any change in US policy; that’s the important thing.  What the Iranians are doing right now is saying ‘look, we are going to preserve our sovereign rights as an independent country, we will continue with our peaceful nuclear program, we’ve never disregarded international law, there’s no evidence of that, but we are willing to create a new favorable environment for negotiations.’  So basically what the Iranians have done is put the ball firmly in the American’s court, where it’s been for quite a while, but they’re doing this basically for the international community to see, and it’s now for the United States to respond.

So far the United States has responded negatively.  As soon as Mr Rouhani became president [Washington] slapped on new sanctions, now they are taking a building that is linked to the Iranian community in the United States.  These are not positive signs, so the Iranians are waiting to see over the next few days and weeks whether the United States is going to rethink its previously irrational approach toward Iran.

RT: You mentioned peaceful energy purposes.  Will the US ever accept that?

SMM:  That’s up to the United States.  Iranians are not going to wait for US acceptance.  The Iranian position has been strengthened over the past few months, recent Iranian elections have shown Iran’s strength; the high turnout has shown there is a great deal of legitimacy in the Iranian electoral process.  The reason why some of these people in prison were released was not because of any human rights work that they did, but because after the previous elections (which they deemed fraudulent), they were helping to create unrest in the country.  But after this election, President Rouhani and many reformists and people from all backgrounds in the political establishment have said that there never was fraud and that basically this has strengthened Iran’s position.  Right now, while the rest of the region is in uproar and there’s increasing instability thanks to the United States, Iran is the only country that is completely stable and with a high turnout in the political process in the country.

On the other hand the United States has isolated itself by threatening Syria; the international community has moved against the United States, and even within the United States Obama and the political establishment has lost popularity and support over their proposed aggression against Syria.  So Iran feels that its position is much stronger today, and America’s position is much weaker.

RT: Could Iran’s new efforts to improve relations with the West be seen as a sign that sanctions have actually worked?

SMM:  Sanctions are working in the sense that some people have died because of a lack of medicine because Americans have basically tried to shut down the Iranian central bank, along with their allies.  But that has created anger among Iranians.  But at the same time, President Rouhani has said specifically that Iran is very willing to resolve questions that exist with regards to the Iranian nuclear program in the West as long as Iran’s rights are preserved.  But when the United States threatens countries, invades countries and imposes sanctions on ordinary Iranians, creating a lack of medicine for cancer patients for example, then that does not help resolve the situation.  The Iranians are not going to kneel to the United States.  Iran is a sovereign and independent country, that’s what the revolution was about 34 years ago, for Iran to gain its independence and overcome American hegemony.  It’s not a client regime like Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Jordan.  So if the United States comes to respect Iran, then we can have rapprochement.  The United States needs Iran, because thanks to its own policies, its destabilized the whole region, the United States has allowed Al-Qaeda to thrive through Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other oil rich dictatorships.  In order to salvage the situation, it needs a strong, powerful, secure and stable country like Iran to help resolve the current mess that they’ve created in the region.”

We will be spending time in New York over the next week, monitoring developments and meeting with senior members of the Islamic Republic’s UNGA delegation.  Whatever happens, it is likely to be an interesting—and potentially very revealing—week.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Syrian chemical weapons counter Israel’s nuclear threat, says Putin

MEMO | September 20, 2013

Syria has chemical weapons, claims Vladimir Putin, in order to counter Israel’s nuclear threat. The Russian president raised this point in a discussion with Western leaders on Thursday.

After admitting that he could not be 100 per cent certain that the Syrian regime would disclose all information about its chemical weapons, Putin suggested that Israel does not need nuclear weapons because of its “technical supremacy” in other areas.

The Russian president said that he does not oppose a military strike on Syria because of perceived Russian interests there; in fact, he does not want to see an international organisation like the United Nations misused for such an action.

“We do not have some exclusive interests in Syria which we would seek to protect by defending the current government,” he insisted. “We are striving to preserve the principles of international law.”

Putin asked his counterparts in the West about the opposition rebels affiliated to Al-Qaeda. In the absence of any reply, he asked, “What sense does it make to launch a strike if you do not know how it will end?”

Blaming rebels for the use of chemical weapons, Putin claimed that there is “every reason” to believe that it was done as a provocation

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Conservative Canadian Contradiction: Claiming to be for Democracy and Monarchy

By Yves Engler | Dissident Voice | September 20th, 2013

Harper’s Conservatives have a thing for monarchy, the more absolute the better, it seems.

At home they’ve put up portraits of Queen Elizabeth II and added the moniker “royal” to the Canadian Navy and Air Force while in the Middle East they’ve strengthened Canada’s ties to kingdoms from Morocco to Saudi Arabia.

Jordan’s pro-US/pro-Israel King Abdullah II has been the focus of significant attention with the Conservatives signing a free trade and military cooperation agreement with that country last year. Now the Conservatives are strengthening Canada’s ties to a monarchy confronted by an influx of Syrian refugees, volatile regional geopolitics and popular protests. Even the aid the Conservatives are sending to Jordan for Syrian refugees is largely designed to bolster the country’s monarchy.

Over the past year Jordan has become a central staging ground for Syrian rebel groups. Weapons from the Gulf monarchies and the US are flowing through Jordan and the CIA is training Syrian rebels there. According to France’s Le Figaro, Jordan has opened its airspace to armed Israeli drones monitoring Syria while the Financial Times reports that the US has 1,000 troops and a number of F-16 fighter jets in the country.

While Jordanian officials say they will not let their country be used as a launchpad for any Western military intervention against Syria, they recently allowed the US (and others) to conduct war games near that country’s border. And three weeks ago Jordan hosted the military chiefs from the main opponents of Bashar al-Assad — the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, France, Canada etc. — to discuss the conflict.

Not surprisingly, the Syrian regime is unhappy with its southern neighbour. Syrian officials have said Jordan was “playing with fire” in allowing the US and others to train and arm its opponents, which includes many jihadists who could end up turning on Jordan’s regime. While King Abdullah II likely doesn’t trust the Syrian rebels and is fearful of retaliation from his larger neighbour, Jordan is under significant pressure from Ryadh and Washington to back Syria’s opposition.

As it contributes to instability in Syria, Jordan is also a victim of the conflict. At least 600,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into the country of 6.3 million people. This has added to the pressure on a Jordanian monarchy that’s faced a series of pro-democracy protests over the past two years. Additionally, the US military’s growing presence in the country is not popular.

Worried about the Jordanian monarchy’s ability to survive this volatile political climate, Canada has worked to bolster the regime. Under the guise of helping Syrian refugees, Ottawa (alongside Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the US) has made a series of major aid announcements over the past year. $6.5 million for Syrian refugees in Jordan in August 2012, then another $13 million in March and in June Ottawa announced a three-year $100-million aid package to Jordan.

Buried in Ottawa’s announcements about the Syrian refugee crisis is the fact that much of the money on offer is for “security programming”. Foreign Affairs explains: “Canada is providing equipment and vehicles to the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF) to assist in their efforts to transport Syrian refugees from the border to registration centres. Canada will also provide equipment and infrastructure support to the Public Security Directorate (PSD), the Gendarmerie Forces (GF) and the Civil Defence Directorate, which provide security and other essential services within new and expanding refugee camps.

“This [$25 million in] support builds upon a previous Canadian contribution … $9.5 million in material support was provided to the JAF to respond to initial transportation needs of Syrian refugees coming across the border, and $2 million in material support was provided to the PSD and the GF in their efforts to manage security within Zaatari refugee camp.”

On top of this $36.5 million in support for Jordan’s security forces, Ottawa is working “to mitigate the threat posed by Syria’s stockpile of weapons of mass destruction”, which will include more “equipment, infrastructure, technology and training to the JAF, the Civil Defence Directorate, the Ministry of Health and other relevant ministries.”

Ottawa isn’t openly admitting that its aid to Jordan for Syrian refugees is designed to prop up the monarchy, but it’s obvious. In June the Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson noted, “Ottawa is concerned that Syrian violence could infect and endanger neighbouring countries, especially the Hashemite Kingdom [Jordan], with which Canada has good relations.”

But there isn’t equal concern for “neighbouring countries”. For instance, there is a striking incongruence in the amount of aid Ottawa has allotted to Jordan versus Lebanon. Though it hosts 20% more Syrian refugees and is only 65% of Jordan’s population, Lebanon has received much less Canadian aid for Syrian refugees. (It should be noted that Lebanon is wealthier than Jordan, but nonetheless the World Bank is estimating that “Syria’s conflict will cost Lebanon $7.5 billion in cumulative economic losses by the end” of 2014)

Ottawa’s aid to Jordan is part of a series of efforts to back the monarchy. In 2012 the Conservatives voted into law a free-trade accord, which Foreign Affairs noted “shows Canada’s support for Jordan as a moderate Arab state that promotes peace and security in the Middle East.”

In addition to the trade accord, the Jordanian military has benefited from Canadian military support. Canada and Jordan signed a defence co-operation memorandum of understanding in the spring of 2012. At the end of last month the Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen. Tom Lawson, met his Jordanian counterpart and, according to the Jordan Times, “discussed ways to boost cooperation and coordination between the two countries’ armed forces.” This meeting followed on the heels of another meeting between the heads of the two countries militaries in April and Canada’s participation in a military exercise with 17 other “friendly” countries, Eager Lion 2013, hosted by Jordan’s armed forces.

Foreign minister John Baird has visited Jordan three times since last August to discuss “the ongoing turmoil in Syria” among other issues. What Baird and Jordanian officials almost certainly don’t talk about is the country’s pro-democracy struggles, which have flared up over the past two and a half years. The Conservatives were silent when thousands of Jordanians marched against the monarchy and for better social conditions in March and April 2011. A handful of protesters were killed and hundreds arrested in a country that prosecutes individuals for “extending one’s tongue” (having a big mouth) against the King.

A few months after the “Arab Spring” protests Foreign minister Baird claimed: “King Abdullah II in Jordan has really expedited reforms they were already working on.” But Baird’s positive portrayal of Jordan’s reforms doesn’t withstand scrutiny. Labour unions and independent media are heavily restricted while elections mean little. In short, Jordan remains an absolute monarchy with power concentrated in the hands of a ruling clique.

Just the way Harper’s Conservatives like it.

~

Yves Engler is the author of Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt. His latest book is The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s foreign policy.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

Wounded Canadian veterans pressed to not criticize military on social media

RT | September 21, 2013

The Canadian Armed Forces requires physically and mentally wounded service members to sign a form agreeing to not criticize senior officers or demoralize other troops on social media sites.

The form is given to wounded soldiers transferred to the Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU), which oversees support centers for troops across Canada. The JPSU has received public scrutiny in recent months, as soldiers and staff have been vocal about the lack of resources and dysfunctional support centers.

Service members gave the social media policy form to the Ottawa Citizen, expressing dissatisfaction over what they saw as a threat to their right to voice criticism of the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) for lackluster care.

The JPSU told the Ottawa Citizen that the policy was not made to defer criticism of officials, but rather “to educate our members and personnel on what constitutes the appropriate and inappropriate use of social media and the possible ramifications for a CAF member.”

The “policy on proper comments on social media” forbids posting secret information on websites or forums, but also advises military personnel to avoid disparaging senior officers or CAF members.

In addition, the policy tells service members not to “write anything that might discourage others or make them dissatisfied with their conditions or their employment,” nor to offer “your views on any military subject.”

The policy form indicates that violating the social media rules could damage public trust in the CAF and “destroy team cohesion.”

The form, only six months old, mentions that soldiers in the JPSU can also be held responsible for social media content of friends they have “tagged” on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs and other sites.

While the CAF has a general social media policy for all service members, the Ottawa Citizen said that all personnel they interviewed were never made to sign a form like the one given to JPSU soldiers.

The CAF responded to questions about the form, saying the policy is issued to all JPSU members. However, the spokesperson could not offer specific examples of improper social media use.

“It is important for all CAF members to understand and follow the policies, rules, regulations and standards of conduct that apply to members of the CAF, including the policy on the use of social media,” public affairs officer Navy Lt. Michèle Tremblay wrote to the Ottawa Citizen.

Members of the Canadian military “are encouraged to communicate publicly about their own experiences and expertise, in accordance with the Government of Canada and DND/CAF policy,” Tremblay noted.

If a service member refuses to sign, JPSU staff will note that the individual has been briefed about the unit’s social media policy. Various units have their own way of notifying personnel about CAF protocols, Tremblay said.

“The difference being that the JPSU is asking members to indicate that they have read and understood the policy by signing the form,” she said.

Former CAF officers see the form as a way to intimidate members who were injured for speaking up about substandard treatment.

“It’s not illegal but it’s obviously a threat,” said Ottawa lawyer and former military officer Michel Drapeau, who has represented injured soldiers seeking benefits from the Canadian government. “The criticism about the leadership’s failure to take care of the wounded is obviously hitting home.”

He said that personnel likely feel compelled to sign, and that it would certainly be used against them if they violated the policy.

Retired air force officer Sean Bruyea said the CAF has the right to steer service members’ behavior on social media, but says the JPSU effort goes too far.

“This is right out of something you would see during the Soviet era,” said Bruyea, a critic of how the military and government assists wounded personnel. “This is way over the top.”

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Air Force once dropped live hydrogen bomb on North Carolina – report

sheidayi20130920081811333

RT | September 20, 2013

The US Air Force inadvertently dropped an atomic bomb over North Carolina in 1961. If a simple safety switch had not prevented the explosive from detonating, millions of lives across the northeast would have been at risk, a new document has revealed.

The revelation offers the first conclusive evidence after decades of speculation that the US military narrowly avoided a self-inflicted disaster. The incident is explained in detail in a recently declassified document written by Parker F. Jones, supervisor of the nuclear weapons safety department at Sandia National Laboratories.

The document – written in 1969 and titled “How I Learned to Mistrust the H-bomb,” a play on the Stanley Kubrick film title “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” – was disclosed to the Guardian by journalist Eric Schlosser.

Three days after President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, a B-52 bomber carrying two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs departed from Goldsboro, North Carolina on a routine flight along the East Coast. The plane soon went into a tailspin, throwing the bombs from the B-52 into the air within striking distance of multiple major metropolitan centers.

Each of the explosives carried a payload of 4 megatons – roughly the same as four million tons of TNT explosive – which could have triggered a blast 260 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that wiped out Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

One of the bombs performed in the same way as those dropped over Japan less than 20 years before – by opening its parachute and engaging its trigger mechanisms. The only thing that prevented untold thousands, or perhaps millions, from being killed was a simple low voltage switch that failed to flip.

That hydrogen bomb, known as MK 39 Mod 2, descended onto tree branches in Faro, North Carolina, while the second explosive landed peacefully off Big Daddy’s Road in Pikeville. Jones determined that three of the four switches designed to prevent unintended detonation on MK 39 Mod 2 failed to work properly, and when a final firing signal was triggered that fourth switch was the only safeguard that worked.

Nuclear fallout from a detonation could have risked millions of lives in Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York City, and the areas in between.

“The MK Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne alert role in the B-52,” Jones wrote in his 1969 assessment. He determined “one simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe…It would have been bad news – in spades.”

Before Schlosser brought the document to light through a Freedom of Information Act request, the US government long denied that any such event ever took place.

“The US government has consistently tried to withhold information from the American people in order to prevent questions being asked about our nuclear weapons policy,” he told the Guardian. “We were told there was no possibility of these weapons accidentally detonating, yet here’s one that very nearly did.”

In “Command and Control,” Schlosser’s new book on the nuclear arms race between the US and the Soviet Union, the journalist writes that he discovered a minimum of 700 “significant” accidents involving nuclear weapons in the years between 1950 and 1968.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment