Nuclear Weapons

A prominent anti-nuclear campaigner has died, aged 90. Sarah Hipperson of Wanstead rose to national attention in 1983 after she joined a protest at Greenham Common. She passed away on Wednesday (August 15). The mother-of-five was best known for her role at a women’s camp at the Royal Air Force station in Berkshire to prevent cruise missiles from being stored at the site. She was involved in direct action, such as cutting fences and obstructing vehicles. She served 22 prison sentences, the longest being 28 days, for criminal damage but would proudly boast that she “never paid a fine.”

Walthamstow Guardian 18th Aug 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 August 2018

Israel

Did a secret Israeli nuclear test send radioactive fallout across Australia? A new study by an Aussie expert says YES.

Daily Mail 14th Aug 2018 read more »

Posted: 15 August 2018

Non-Proliferation

In the latest you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up event, Saudi Arabia’s furious campaign of economic retaliation against Canada — in response to Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland’s criticism of the arrest of Saudi women’s rights activists — threatens to dash Westinghouse’s hopes for a lucrative nuclear deal with the Saudis. And, ironically, it may help to preserve tough rules on nuclear exports (“gold standard”) that the Saudi deal might otherwise scuttle. The White House has been working hard for months to negotiate a U.S.-Saudi nuclear cooperation agreement to permit the sale of Westinghouse nuclear power plants to Saudi Arabia. Although headquartered in Pennsylvania, it was until recently owned by Toshiba Nuclear Energy Holdings. But it is headquartered near Pittsburgh and it has over 5,000 US employees in Pennsylvania, an important political state. The Saudis had announced they would start with a twin-unit nuclear plant and claimed they would go on to build a dozen more. That they would do so, and that they would choose Westinghouse was always implausible — it made much more sense for the Saudis to hire a South Korean construction team, and there are cheaper alternatives to nuclear power. Last fall, the White House was reported to be “flexible” on the gold standard, a critical nonproliferation issue. This concerned whether to leave open in the U.S.-Saudi agreement the possibility of the Saudis reprocessing their spent (irradiated) fuel to extract the contained plutonium and, even more importantly, operating uranium enrichment plants. Such enrichment plants could also produce highly enriched uranium. Plutonium and highly enriched uranium are, of course, the basic nuclear explosives in nuclear weapons. Conceding that Saudi Arabia had the right to produce these explosives would be a major setback for US nonproliferation policy. Betting within the Beltway has been that the Trump White House, in its eagerness for the putatively lucrative deal, might soften the nonproliferation rules for the Saudis. Now, however, the Saudi hysterical response to Canadian criticism has upended the betting. The Saudis appear to have left themselves no room for retreat. Nor does it seem that Canada will back down. If that remains so, it should become clear that the Westinghouse option is dead and that it will not help to weaken U.S. nuclear export rules. In that case, the nonproliferation gold standard may be left standing, which would be a clear win for nonproliferation.

The Hill 13th Aug 2018 read more »

Posted: 14 August 2018

Burghfield

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has required immediate safety changes to be made at the UK’s nuclear warhead assembly facility and has said that even with the changes, operations at the site can only continue for a limited period of time. If sufficient progress is not made on reducing risk at the facility, ONR have said that operations may need to stop altogether. The UK’s nuclear warheads are assembled in the Assembly Technology Centre at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), Burghfield, using components manufactured at nearby AWE Aldermaston. The work is carried out in buildings known as ‘Gravel Gerties’ which are designed to collapse inwards and trap radioactive material if there is a partial explosion during the assembly process. Burghfield’s Gravel Gerties are thought to have been built in the 1950s. In May the National Audit Office revealed that a replacement building is six years late and is expected to cost £1.8 billion, an increase of 146 per cent over the £734 million approved for the project in 2011.

Ekklesia 13th Aug 2018 read more »

Posted: 13 August 2018

Nuclear Testing

Researchers: Radioactive Australian sheep bolster nuclear weapon test claim against Israel. Newly uncovered data from radioactive sheep has provided “robust” evidence that a “double flash” detected nearly 39 years ago from a remote island group was a nuclear explosion. The Minister for Arms Control, Winston Peters, has asked officials to brief him on the findings after they were highlighted by Wellington health researcher Professor Nick Wilson. Since soon after the flash was detected by optical instruments from a US “Vela” satellite high above Earth in September 1979, there has been debate about whether it was a nuclear explosion – and speculation that it was a weapon test by Israel. Some believe it was simply a meteoroid hitting the satellite.

New Zealand Herald 13th Aug 2018 read more »

Posted: 13 August 2018

Aldermaston/Burghfield

Safety improvements not happening fast enough at Berkshire nuclear weapon factories. Safety improvements at Berkshire’s two nuclear bomb factories are behind schedule and must be made to ensure the production of the weapons continues. The annual report from the Office for Nuclear Regulation says the improvements need to be made at the antiquated facilities in Aldermaston and Burghfield, some of which date back to the 1950s. AWE says it is in the process of a fully-costed Safety Improvement Programme (SIP) to bring safety measures up to standard, but the report says it is “still behind schedule”.

Get Reading 8th Aug 2018 read more »

Posted: 8 August 2018

Nuclear Submarines

Britain’s new nuclear submarines face glitches as the US boats fitted with same missile tubes have been found to have cracks. Faulty welding found in the missile tubes of the new US Columbia Class nuclear-armed submarines could delay the future deliver of British Dreadnought boats. Seven of 12 tubes on the $122.3 billion programme were found to be in need of repair when delivered to General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB), the lead contractor. An investigation has been launched into the work, carried out by the company BWXT Incorporated.

Telegraph 7th Aug 2018 read more »

Posted: 8 August 2018

Radhealth

A long-anticipated study into the cancer risks of New Mexico residents living near the site of the world’s first atomic bomb test likely will be published in 2019, the National Cancer Institute announced. Institute spokesman Michael Levin told The Associated Press that researchers are examining data on diet and radiation exposure on residents who lived near the World War II-era Trinity Test site, and scientists expect to finish the study by early next year. The study will then be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal and could be available by next spring, Levin said. The announcement comes as descendants of families who lived in nearby communities are pressuring Congress to include them in the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. Descendants say the Trinity Test caused generations of families to suffer from rare cancer and economic hardship. Currently, the law only covers areas in Nevada, Arizona and Utah that are downwind from a different test site. Scientists working in Los Alamos, New Mexico, developed the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project, which provided enriched uranium for the weapon. The secret program also involved facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington.

ABC News 6th Aug 2018 read more »

Daily Mail 6th Aug 2018 read more »

Posted: 7 August 2018

Nuclear Terror

The announcement comes as descendants of families who lived in nearby communities are pressuring Congress to include them in the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. Descendants say the Trinity Test caused generations of families to suffer from rare cancer and economic hardship. Currently, the law only covers areas in Nevada, Arizona and Utah that are downwind from a different test site. Scientists working in Los Alamos, New Mexico, developed the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project, which provided enriched uranium for the weapon. The secret program also involved facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington.

Modern Diplomacy 6th Aug 2018 read more »

Posted: 7 August 2018

Nuclear Weapons

The anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing should encourage the government to sign the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty. Shadow minister for peace and disarmament FABIAN HAMILTON explains how a Labour government would put Britain back onto the world stage as a leader in ethical foreign policy.

Morning Star 6th Aug 2018 read more »

On the 73rd anniversary of the dropping of the Hiroshima bomb, KATE HUDSON looks at how Trump’s volatile and increasingly militaristic presidency is making nuclear war more likely.

Morning Star 6th Aug 2018 read more »

Letter Isobel Lindsay: THE claim that it would take an independent Scotland more than 20 years to get rid of nuclear weapons is both ill-informed and notably deferential to future Westminster governments (“SNP adviser: Trident may stay in Scotland long after independence”, The Herald, August 6). This would not have been true in the past and we now have an even clearer process to rid Scotland of these weapons. The United Nations Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which was formalised in 2017 would offer an independent Scottish state a clear route with international supervision to have these weapons removed if Scotland applied to join the Treaty. The SNP and the Greens support the treaty and after independence so would many Labour members. There would be a strong political majority for this.

Herald 7th Aug 2018 read more »

Posted: 7 August 2018