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Helsinki: How About a Fresh START?

By Thomas L. Knapp | The Garrison Center | July 11, 2018

As US President Donald Trump heads to Helsinki for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump’s critics continue to inveigh against what they consider an illicitly close relationship between the two, a perspective stemming from the “Russiagate” scandal drummed up by supporters of Hillary Clinton to explain her defeat in the 2016 presidential election.

Russiagate or not, this summit may represent the two countries’ last, best opportunity to halt  or even reverse a decade of backsliding toward frigid Cold War relations. And Trump has a ready template at his disposal for pursuing warmer relations with a formidable, but hopefully former, foe.

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan met with his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, in Reykjavik. As the non-profit Reagan Vision for a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World describes the summit, “[a] proposal to eliminate all new strategic missiles grew into a discussion, for the first time in history, of the real possibility of eliminating nuclear weapons forever. … Reagan even described to Gorbachev how both men might return to Reykjavik in ten years, aged and retired leaders, to personally witness the dismantling of the world’s last remaining nuclear warhead.”

While the full vision didn’t pan out, a year later the US and the Soviets signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Five years later came the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. “New START” arrived in 2010, shortly before relations between the two governments began to deteriorate in a big way.

At this point, the US is working on “modernizing” its existing nuclear arsenal, while Russia touts an advancing hypersonic missile program. We’re moving back toward the days of American schoolchildren practicing “duck and cover” drills under constant threat of nuclear war.

The best possible outcome of the Trump-Putin summit would be a new treaty that I’ll call “Fresh START.” Under such a treaty, the two governments would commit to getting back on the track laid down by Reagan and Gorbachev, actively working to meet their existing obligations under Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT):

“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament …”

Nuclear weapons are weapons of terror and of Mutual Assured Destruction. They’re not militarily useful outside those two ways of thinking. It’s time for the two countries with the largest stockpiles of such weapons to move together toward decommissioning and destroying those stockpiles. We may never again live in a world without nuclear weapons, but we can aspire to a world with as few of them as possible.

If Trump and Putin can deliver a Fresh START toward that goal, their summit will have been a resounding success.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org).

July 11, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

NPT Violated: Russia Raises Issue of Utmost Importance

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 02.03.2018

Speaking at the UN Geneva Disarmament Conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia is threatened by American tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) stationed in Europe and the destabilizing effect of joint nuclear missions (JNM) that NATO forces are being trained for.

The statement is more than propitious. No progress on European security is conceivable without an agreement on what to do with tactical nukes. US TNW are deployed while Russian tactical nukes are all stored. Unlike the US, Russia does not keep them abroad. Its non-strategic delivery means cannot strike the continental US. It makes American TNW in Europe an addition to the strategic potential able to tilt the existing strategic balance.

US instructors train European personnel, the Belgian, German, Italian and Dutch, to use TNW. An example is the yearly exercise Steadfast Noon, a low-profile training event conducted in semi-secrecy. The exercise testifies to the fact that European non-nuclear states (NNS) are involved in nuclear planning. The US trains their military personnel to fight a nuclear war.

It all constitutes a flagrant violation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It prohibits nuclear states from transferring nukes to other recipients (Article I). It also prohibits NNS from receiving TNW (Article II). About half of US air-delivered bombs in Europe to be modernized are earmarked for delivery by aircraft of Europe’s NNS, which are parties to the NPT. In the early 2020s, modernized B61-12 guided nuclear bombs will be delivered by stealth F-35 bombers that many European NATO members are going to acquire thus achieving first strike nuclear capability.

Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey take part in the F-35 program. Belgium will probably purchase the F-35 as a replacement for its aging F-16. Poland, Finland (not a NATO member but a privileged partner) and Germany appear to be on the way to acquire the aircraft. There will probably be others – all of them becoming nations with nukes deployed on their territories and crews trained to use TNW in violation of the NPT.

The nukes are hard to get rid of. In 2010, NATO adopted the Tallinn formula, which stipulates that no member of the alliance can unilaterally withdraw American TNW.

The US 2018 Nuclear Posture Review eulogizes low-yield nuclear weapons (with strength of less than 20 kilotons). It identifies the need for nuclear sea-launched cruise missiles and lower-yield warheads for sea-launched strategic missiles.

If the idea is implemented, the RF won’t be able to distinguish an incoming low-yield munition from a full-blown weapon to trigger a nuclear exchange at strategic level. From Russia’s perspective, the concept presupposes another addition to the strategic arsenal. Very provocative, isn’t it?

NATO’s superiority in conventional weapons also should not be forgotten as well as the nuclear capability possessed by France and the United Kingdom.

Here is another aspect so rarely remembered nowadays. Sea-based TNW are excluded from the US-Russia TNW balance. The undeservedly forgotten Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs) signed in 1991 have so far been complied with. Unlike the INF Treaty, the compliance with the PNIs has never been doubted. Emergence of sea-based TNW means an end to the PNIs that have served both nations so effectively and for so long. The US, in effect, is adding European nuclear arsenals to the Russia-US strategic equation. Moscow will respond. It will also demand that these weapons are taken into consideration in potential arms control talks. It has every reason and right to do it. The problem of TNW will arise in negotiating the future the New START.

As one can see, the US plans undermine European security. They bring to naught the chances of reaching new strategic or non-strategic nuclear US-Russia accords. And it makes the US and European NATO members less secure upping the nuclear threshold. Moscow will not stand idle watching all these war preparations take place. It will respond. And other NPT participants will question the validity of the agreement breached in broad daylight. So may negative things with no silver lining visible. Is it worth it? Evidently not, but that’s what the US is doing. It will be responsible for the consequences. Russia has done its best to avoid the worst. On Feb.28, Sergey Lavrov said something really important. Hopefully, there are enough reasonable people not to make his stern and timely warning fall on deaf ears.

March 2, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 3 Comments

Russia Doesn’t Plan to Join Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – Lavrov

Sputnik – 19.01.2018

UNITED NATIONS – Russia does not plan to join the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday, stressing that Moscow shared a common interest in building a nuclear-weapon-free world but not using the methods, on which the treaty is based.

“Russia is not going to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We proceed from the fact that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is possible only in the context of general and complete disarmament, in conditions of ensuring equal and indivisible security for all, including those who possess nuclear weapons, as stipulated in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons [NPT],” Lavrov said speaking at a UN Security Council meeting.

According to the Russian minister, the provisions of the TPNW are “far from these principles.”

“It [the treaty] also provokes deep disagreements among members of the international community and can have a destabilizing effect on the proliferation regime. I want to emphasize that we share the goal of building a nuclear-weapon-free world but it should not be achieved with such one-sided methods, on which the TPNW is based,” Lavrov underlined.

The TPNW was adopted on July 7 at a UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. It contains a set of prohibitions, including an obligation not to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. So far, the TPNW has been signed by 50 states, and ratified only by three — Guyana, the Holy See and Thailand. The US, Britain and China haven’t also joined the treaty.

In September, Mikhail Ulyanov, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, said that the TPNW was contrary to Russia’s national interests and Moscow’s vision of how to move toward nuclear disarmament.

January 19, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

US, UK and France Denounce Nuclear Ban Treaty

By David Krieger | CounterPunch | July 13, 2017

The US, UK and France have never shown enthusiasm for banning and eliminating nuclear weapons. It is not surprising, therefore, that they did not participate in the United Nations negotiations leading to the recent adoption of the nuclear ban treaty, or that they joined together in expressing their outright defiance of the newly-adopted treaty.

In a joint press statement, issued on July 7, 2017, the day the treaty was adopted, the US, UK and France stated, “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.” Seriously? Rather than supporting the countries that came together and hammered out the treaty, the three countries argued: “This initiative clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment.”  Rather than taking a leadership role in the negotiations, they protested the talks and the resulting treaty banning nuclear weapons. They chose hubris over wisdom, might over right.

They based their opposition on their belief that the treaty is “incompatible with the policy of nuclear deterrence, which has been essential to keeping the peace in Europe and North Asia for over 70 years.” Others would take issue with their conclusion, arguing that, in addition to overlooking the Korean War and other smaller wars, the peace in Europe and North Asia has been kept not because of nuclear deterrence but in spite of it.

The occasions on which nuclear deterrence has come close to failure, including during the Cuban missile crisis, are well known. The absolute belief of the US, UK and France in nuclear deterrence seems more theological than practical.

The three countries point out, “This treaty offers no solution to the grave threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program, nor does it address other security challenges that make nuclear deterrence necessary.” But for the countries that adopted the nuclear ban treaty, North Korea is only one of nine countries that are undermining international security by basing their national security on nuclear weapons. For countries so committed to nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence, is it not surprising and hypocritical that they view North Korea’s nuclear arsenal not in the light of deterrence, but rather, as an aggressive force?

The three countries reiterate their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but do not mention their own obligation under that treaty to pursue negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament. The negotiations for the new nuclear ban treaty are based on fulfilling those obligations. The three countries chose not to participate in these negotiations, in defiance of their NPT obligations, making their joint statement appear self-serving and based upon magical thinking.

If the US, UK and France were truly interested in promoting “international peace, stability and security” as they claim, they would be seeking all available avenues to eliminate nuclear weapons from the world, rather than planning to modernize and enhance their own nuclear arsenals over the coming decades.

These three nuclear-armed countries, as well as the other six nuclear-armed countries, continue to rely upon the false idol of nuclear weapons, justified by nuclear deterrence. In doing so, they continue to run the risk of destroying civilization, or worse. The 122 nations that adopted the nuclear ban treaty, on the other hand, acted on behalf of every citizen of the world who values the future of humanity and our planet, and should be commended for what they have accomplished.

The new treaty will open for signatures in September 2017, and will enter into force when 50 countries have acceded to it. It provides an alternative vision for the human future, one in which nuclear weapons are seen for the threat they pose to all humanity, one in which nuclear possessors will be stigmatized for the threats they pose to all life. Despite the resistance of the US, UK and France, the nuclear ban treaty marks the beginning of the end of the nuclear age.

David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org).  He is the author of Zero: The Case for Nuclear Weapons Abolition

July 13, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Iran calls on international community to force Israel to join NPT

Press TV – May 3, 2017

A senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official says the international community must mount pressure on Israel to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) unconditionally and put its nuclear activities under the surveillance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Gholam-Hossein Dehqani, the director-general for political and international security affairs at Iran’s Foreign Ministry, made the remarks while addressing the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in the Austrian capital city of Vienna on Wednesday.

The Iranian official expressed concern about Israel’s nuclear arsenal, saying the Tel Aviv regime’s nuclear weapons posed a threat to peace and security in the region and the world.

Israel, which pursues a policy of deliberate ambiguity about its nuclear weapons, is estimated to have 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal. The regime has refused to allow inspections of its military nuclear facilities or sign the NPT.

Dehqani also criticized nuclear-armed countries for their failure to comply with their commitments to dismantle their nuclear arsenals.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry official described nuclear-armed countries’ refusal to “fulfill their nuclear disarmament commitments over the past 47 years” as “the main challenge to the implementation of the NPT.”

He underlined the need for countries to meet their obligations under Article VI of the NPT, saying the fulfillment of countries’ nuclear commitments was neither arbitrary nor conditional.

Under Article VI of the NPT, all parties to the treaty undertake to pursue good-faith negotiations on effective measures related to nuclear disarmament and the cessation of nuclear arms race.

The preparatory committee, which opened in Austria on May 2 and will conclude on May 12, is responsible for addressing substantive and procedural issues related to the NPT.

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , | 2 Comments

Iran UN ambassador calls for destruction of all nuclear weapons

Iran’s ambassador to the UN Gholamali Khoshroo
Press TV – March 29, 2017

Iran’s ambassador to the UN Gholamali Khoshroo has called for the total eradication of nuclear weapons.

Khoshroo reiterated Iran’s call during a UN conference aimed at creating a nuclear weapons ban treaty in New York on Tuesday.

“Iran, as a victim of chemical weapons, strongly feels the danger posed by the existence of weapons of mass destruction and is determined to engage actively in international diplomatic efforts to save humanity from the menace of nuclear weapons,” he said.

Khoshroo stressed that Iran is committed to its Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, which include negotiations based on effective nuclear disarmament measures.

He added that several countries continue to ignore international calls and treaties for nuclear disarmament and even continue to increase their nuclear stockpiles. “They do not have political determination to abandon doctrines of nuclear deterrence and nuclear terror,” he went on to say.

Iran’s UN ambassador noted that boycotting the talks by many countries, including the US, shows that the world’s nuclear powers are by no means committed to the eradication of nuclear arms. Britain and France were also among the some 40 countries that did not join the talks.

“We note that prohibition of nuclear weapons must be accompanied by the elimination of such weapons. There can be no doubt that without complete abolition of nuclear weapons, there will be no absolute guarantee against the danger of nuclear war and the use of such weapons,” Khoshroo added.

March 29, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Xi Jinping: Nuclear weapons … should be completely prohibited

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | January 24, 2017

xijinping-e1485272570482IPPNW welcomes the statement by Chinese President Xi Jinping that “nuclear weapons … should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of them.” President Xi’s remarks, made during a speech on January 18 at the United Nations in Geneva, were consistent with China’s long-standing official support for nuclear disarmament, and come as the UN is preparing to convene negotiations on a new treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

China gave a positive signal at the UN General Assembly last month, unlike its other P5 partners, when it abstained from, rather than voting against, a resolution authorizing negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The resolution was carried by a majority of over three to one. China can now show real leadership by declaring its intention to participate in the negotiating conference for the ban treaty opening this March, with the goal of making the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons an unequivocal international norm. By doing so, China would not only take an important practical step toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, it would also send a strong signal to the other eight nuclear-armed states that their objections to the negotiations and their criticisms of the treaty itself are misplaced, and that their massive reinvestments in nuclear warheads, delivery systems, and infrastructure are dangerous and contradictory to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The obligation to achieve that goal is spelled out in Article VI of the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and the International Court of Justice has unanimously said that all States, whether or not they possess nuclear arms, have an obligation under international law to negotiate nuclear disarmament.

IPPNW urges China to act upon President Xi’s timely and important policy statement by sending a delegation to the opening session of the ban treaty negotiating conference in March, with clear instructions to participate in good faith and in cooperation with the non-nuclear-armed states leading this historic process.

January 24, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 2 Comments

Iran urges end to arms sales to S Arabia, Israel

Press TV – October 15, 2016

Iran’s deputy permanent representative to the UN has warned against continued sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia and Israel, which are in violation of other territories as well as humanitarian laws.

“We are deeply concerned about the destabilizing repercussions of the continual entry and export of such weaponry into the region, especially into Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime of Israel,” Gholam-Hossein Dehqani said.

He said both Saudi Arabia and Israel are “engaged in aggression and violation against other countries and in flouting their commitments to international humanitarian laws.”

Dehqani was speaking at the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly’s Disarmament and International Security Committee at the world body’s headquarters in New York, IRNA reported on Saturday.

He said the Saudi regime was using “British and American bombs” against vital Yemeni infrastructure.

Saudi Arabia has been pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an unsuccessful attempt to reinstall a former ally as president. The war has killed more than 10,000, according to UN figures in August.

Dehqani also stressed the need for disarming Israel of its nuclear arsenal and for the regime’s accession to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), saying “the most dangerous weapons are in the hands of the most dangerous regime in the Middle East.”

“The Zionist regime has recurrently perpetrated violations, occupation, genocide, and terrorist activities; and nuclear weapons in the hands of such a regime constitutes the most dangerous threat to NPT signatories in the Middle East,” he said.

Israel, which has refused to sign the NPT or allow inspections of its military nuclear facilities, keeps an estimated stockpile of some 200-400 nuclear warheads.

Separately, Iran’s envoy to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) urged the complete annihilation of chemical weapons stockpiles.

Alireza Jahangiri, addressing the body Executive Council in The Hague, also urged those countries in possession of such weapons to act on their commitments within the framework of the organization’s Chemical Weapons Convention and non-members to join the Convention.

Jahangiri also urged international cooperation to prevent the use of chemical weapons by terrorist groups, a scenario that he said posed a threat to international peace.

He called on member countries of the organization to refrain from providing support, financial and otherwise, to terrorist groups.

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

India, the US, and the Nuclear Suppliers Group

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 08.07.2016

India has failed to achieve membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which is a group of countries seeking «to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons through implementation of two sets of Guidelines for nuclear and nuclear-related exports». Given that members of the NSG already supply India with uranium, New Delhi’s campaign is intriguing, especially as one of the Group’s main requirements is that suppliers of nuclear-associated material may authorise such trade «only when satisfied that the transfer would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons».

It could not be clearer that this international agreement forbids provision of nuclear expertise or material to a country that has not ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which the US State Department describes as «the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime».

But even cornerstones can be undermined, and that process began when President George W Bush started negotiations with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005 to produce a US-India nuclear cooperation agreement. It took considerable effort by both sides to come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement whereby India would have access to nuclear material and technology consistent with the primary US aim of entry to the potentially large Indian market for construction of nuclear power stations.

The commercially-based Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of India concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy of 2007 is known as the 123 Agreement because it was necessary to amend Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act 1954 which governs ‘Cooperation with Other Nations’.

India declined to abide by the Act’s specification that it «must have full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, essentially covering all major nuclear facilities», because this would involve inspection of defence-related establishments, and Washington promptly removed this inconvenient requirement.

The modified Act seemed to clear the way for nuclear collaboration on a major scale, but there has as yet been no commitment by US nuclear plant manufacturers, mainly because they do not want to be held financially responsible for a nuclear accident at a power station which they designed or built.

It is accepted worldwide that national nuclear plant operators are accountable in the event of accidents, but India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010, and Rule 24 of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Rules, 2011, provide for the right of recourse, pursuit of which could involve foreign enterprises, be they suppliers or operators, being held liable for damages. In spite of lobbying by US President Obama during his 2015 visit to India, which was much praised as having achieved a «breakthrough» in removing the liability barriers which India’s parliament strongly supported, there has been no radical change that would encourage US firms to seek major contracts. (The Westinghouse Electric Company, generally thought to be American, which is negotiating to build six nuclear plants in India, has been owned by Japan’s Toshiba since 2006.)

In February 2015 India’s Ministry of External Affairs stated that the Civil Liability Act «channels all legal liability for nuclear damage exclusively to the operator» – but Clause 17 of the Act specifies that operators are permitted to seek financial recourse from suppliers after paying compensation for «patent or latent defects or sub-standard services», which are, naturally, open to legal interpretation in the event of a disaster, which is no doubt being borne in mind by India’s legislators who have not forgotten the 1984 disaster at the Union Carbide chemical plant at Bhopal that killed and maimed many thousands of people.

While there have as yet been no commercial benefits to the US from its nuclear accord with India, there have been other effects, including some that are less than desirable in the context of «proliferation of nuclear weapons» which is condemned by the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The Arms Control Association records that «In September 2008, in a move led by the United States, the Nuclear Suppliers Group eased long-standing restrictions on nuclear trade with India by the group’s members. NSG rules generally forbid the sale of nuclear goods, such as reactors and fuel, to non-NPT countries». Before this ‘easing’ of international constraints, India had been unable to import uranium and was therefore entirely reliant on its own mines, which produce only low-grade ore but are in the long term capable of providing fuel to any number of nuclear facilities, civilian and military. The only drawback is that domestic processing would be enormously expensive. Importing uranium is very much cheaper.

As a result of being excused from the international stipulation requiring its adherence to the NPT before being permitted to import nuclear fuel and technology, India negotiated nuclear cooperation arrangements with eleven nations, including the holder of the world’s largest uranium deposits, Australia, whose government’s 1977 Uranium Export Policy had specified that «customer countries must at a minimum be a party to the NPT and have concluded a full-scope safeguards Agreement with the IAEA». But profit beats morality, and, as noted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, «Australia was the last domino to fall when it created an exception for India to its export policies in December 2011».

Countries involved in nuclear cooperation with India observe similar rules to those of Australia which specifies that its uranium «may only be exported for peaceful non-explosive purposes». And of course it cannot be claimed that foreign-supplied uranium could be used to produce nuclear weapons. These are manufactured at installations using India’s abundant (although process-expensive) indigenous ore which, thanks to the flexibility of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, is no longer needed to fuel civilian nuclear power stations. Quantities, quality and details of application need not be revealed.

Following the US-India nuclear agreement the president of the Federation of American Scientists, Charles D Ferguson, wrote in Arms Control Today that «by granting India access to uranium, the deal allows India to divert its indigenously-mined uranium to military applications without detracting fuel from the civilian program» – and that is the crux of the entire affair.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group, at the urging of the United States, approved a measure that assists India to produce more nuclear weapons more economically. The «cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime» was dealt a massive blow. Although the US Hyde Act of 2006 requires the President to inform Congress of non-compliance with «the provision of nuclear fuel in such a manner as to facilitate the increased production by India of highly enriched uranium or plutonium in unsafeguarded nuclear facilities» it is impossible for the US to certify that this is not taking place because there is no provision for verification. Clever India.

Membership of the NSG remains a major foreign policy goal for India, and US support for its ambition was formally indicated in 2015 joint statement by President Obama and Prime Minister Modi which «committed [them] to continue to work towards India’s phased entry» to the Group. The US has made it clear that it will continue to support India’s efforts to achieve its objective, and that the requirement for «full compliance» with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or other «equivalent international nuclear nonproliferation agreement» is irrelevant so far as India is concerned.

It’s intriguing how international agreements can be reinterpreted, distorted, massaged or just plain ignored when it suits Washington’s policies – and, it seems, the pockets, prosperity and re-election prospects of America’s Legislators.

July 8, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

US Mayors Blast Obama, NATO: War Games on Russia’s Border Endanger Humanity

Sputnik – 02.07.2016

The leaders of America’s towns and cities issued a resolution warning the Obama administration and NATO that continued anti-Russian provocations place humanity at greater risk of nuclear annihilation.

The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), the official non-partisan organization for city leaders administering populations greater than 30,000, moved to condemn NATO’s Anaconda War Games on Russia’s border as increasing the threat of nuclear conflict.

“The largest NATO war games in decades, involving 14,000 US troops, and activation of US missile defenses in Eastern Europe are fueling growing tensions between nuclear-armed giants,” said the USCM warning in the lead up to the military alliance’s summit on July 8-9 in Warsaw, Poland.

The resolution adopted at the USCM’s 84th Annual Conference from June 24-27 in Indianapolis stated: “More than 15,000 nuclear weapons, most orders of magnitude more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, 94% held by the United States and Russia, continue to pose an intolerable threat to cities and humanity.”

The US Conference of Mayors went on to criticize President Obama for capitulating to the defense establishment and “laying the groundwork for the United States to spend one trillion dollars over the next three decades” on the so-called nuclear modernization effort that will result in a net increase in America’s atomic stockpile in contravention to the spirit of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

“The Obama administration has not only reduced the US nuclear stockpile less than any post-Cold War presidency, but also decided to spend on trillion dollars to maintain and modernize its nuclear bombs and warheads, production facilities, delivery systems, and command and control,” read the resolution.

America’s mayors called into the question the development and maintenance of nuclear weapons with yields in excess of 1 megaton, or 75 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb that killed nearly 150,000 people, at a time when “federal funds are desperately needed in our communities to build affordable housing, create jobs with livable wages, improve public transit, and develop sustainable energy sources.”

To underscore the resolution, the USCM acknowledged and apologized for America’s genocidal acts against Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki towards the end of World War II stating that the “US atomic bombings indiscriminately incinerated tens of thousands of ordinary people, and by the end of 1945 more than 210,000 people – mainly civilians, were dead, and the surviving hibakusha, their children and grandchildren continue to suffer from physical, psychological and sociological effects.”

The country’s mayors continue to be a voice of peace and reason in the face of mounting influence by the foreign policy establishment and defense lobbyists having rendered similar resolutions calling for the United States to pursue a less threatening foreign policy for 11 consecutive years.

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

Israel not ready to ratify nuclear test ban treaty: Netanyahu

Press TV – June 21, 2016

Israel, which is widely believed to possess hundreds of atomic bombs, says it is not yet ready to ratify a UN pact on banning nuclear tests adopted nearly 20 years ago.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Lassina Zerbo, the head of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) Organization, on Monday that Tel Aviv’s ratification of the pact is dependent on regional developments.

The treaty, which will ban all nuclear explosions, was signed in 1996, but will only go into effect when it has been ratified by all parties that possessed a nuclear reactor or some nuclear technology.

Israel is widely believed to have between 200 and 400 nuclear warheads, though it refuses to confirm or deny its existence under a policy of deliberate ambiguity.

The regime has also refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), denying international access to its atomic arsenal.

The issue of ratification “is dependent on the regional context and on the appropriate timing,” the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu as saying.

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

The trillion dollar question

By Lawrence Wittner | Peace & Health Blog | March 16, 2016

Isn’t it rather odd that America’s largest single public expenditure scheduled for the coming decades has received no attention in the 2015-2016 presidential debates?

The expenditure is for a thirty-year program to “modernize” the US nuclear arsenal and production facilities. Although President Obama began his administration with a dramatic public commitment to build a nuclear weapons-free world, that commitment has long ago dwindled and died. It has been replaced by an administration plan to build a new generation of US nuclear weapons and nuclear production facilities to last the nation well into the second half of the twenty-first century. This plan, which has received almost no attention by the mass media, includes redesigned nuclear warheads, as well as new nuclear bombers, submarines, land-based missiles, weapons labs, and production plants. The estimated cost? $1,000,000,000,000.00—or, for those readers unfamiliar with such lofty figures, $1 trillion.

Critics charge that the expenditure of this staggering sum will either bankrupt the country or, at the least, require massive cutbacks in funding for other federal government programs. “We’re . . . wondering how the heck we’re going to pay for it,” admitted Brian McKeon, an undersecretary of defense. And we’re “probably thanking our stars we won’t be here to have to have to answer the question,” he added with a chuckle.

Of course, this nuclear “modernization” plan violates the terms of the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires the nuclear powers to engage in nuclear disarmament. The plan is also moving forward despite the fact that the US government already possesses roughly 7,000 nuclear weapons that can easily destroy the world. Although climate change might end up accomplishing much the same thing, a nuclear war does have the advantage of terminating life on Earth more rapidly.

This trillion dollar nuclear weapons buildup has yet to inspire any questions about it by the moderators during the numerous presidential debates. Even so, in the course of the campaign, the presidential candidates have begun to reveal their attitudes toward it.

On the Republican side, the candidates—despite their professed distaste for federal expenditures and “big government”—have been enthusiastic supporters of this great leap forward in the nuclear arms race. Donald Trump, the frontrunner, contended in his presidential announcement speech that “our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work,” insisting that it is out of date. Although he didn’t mention the $1 trillion price tag for “modernization,” the program is clearly something he favors, especially given his campaign’s focus on building a US military machine “so big, powerful, and strong that no one will mess with us.”

His Republican rivals have adopted a similar approach. Marco Rubio, asked while campaigning in Iowa about whether he supported the trillion dollar investment in new nuclear weapons, replied that “we have to have them. No country in the world faces the threats America faces.” When a peace activist questioned Ted Cruz on the campaign trail about whether he agreed with Ronald Reagan on the need to eliminate nuclear weapons, the Texas senator replied: “I think we’re a long way from that and, in the meantime, we need to be prepared to defend ourselves. The best way to avoid war is to be strong enough that no one wants to mess with the United States.” Apparently, Republican candidates are particularly worried about being “messed with.”

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has been more ambiguous about her stance toward a dramatic expansion of the US nuclear arsenal. Asked by a peace activist about the trillion dollar nuclear plan, she replied that she would “look into that,” adding: “It doesn’t make sense to me.” Even so, like other issues that the former Secretary of State has promised to “look into,” this one remains unresolved. Moreover, the “National Security” section of her campaign website promises that she will maintain the “strongest military the world has ever known”—not a propitious sign for critics of nuclear weapons.

Only Bernie Sanders has adopted a position of outright rejection. In May 2015, shortly after declaring his candidacy, Sanders was asked at a public meeting about the trillion dollar nuclear weapons program. He replied: “What all of this is about is our national priorities. Who are we as a people? Does Congress listen to the military-industrial complex” that “has never seen a war that they didn’t like? Or do we listen to the people of this country who are hurting?” In fact, Sanders is one of only three US Senators who support the SANE Act, legislation that would significantly reduce US government spending on nuclear weapons. In addition, on the campaign trail, Sanders has not only called for cuts in spending on nuclear weapons, but has affirmed his support for their total abolition.

Nevertheless, given the failure of the presidential debate moderators to raise the issue of nuclear weapons “modernization,” the American people have been left largely uninformed about the candidates’ opinions on this subject. So, if Americans would like more light shed on their future president’s response to this enormously expensive surge in the nuclear arms race, it looks like they are the ones who are going to have to ask the candidates the trillion dollar question.

[Dr. Lawrence Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany  and the author of Confronting the Bomb (Stanford University Press). He is a regular contributor to the Peace and Health Blog.]

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment