Nuclear Weapons

I find it hard to understand why you did not find room on the 34 pages you devoted to news on Monday (Dec 10) to the ceremony in Oslo awarding the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), despite having reported the award when it was originally announced two months. In that report, you noted that the Nobel peace prize award [to ICAN) has “so far been shunned by Britain and the other atomic weapon powers.” Sadly, this continued at the ceremony itself, when the UK declined to send its Ambassador to Norway or its International disarmament ambassador, based in Geneva, to the ceremony, despite ICAN having a very active British chapter.

David Lowry’s Blog 11th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Nuclear Weapons

The destruction of humankind is one “impulsive tantrum away”, the Australian-founded winner of the Nobel peace prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, warned overnight on Sunday as the United States and North Korea exchange threats over Pyongyang’s nuclear testing regime.

Guardian 10th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 11 December 2017

Nuclear Weapons

As Ican accept the Nobel Peace Prize this weekend, it’s time the Government finally took a meaningful stand against nuclear weapons.

Independent 9th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 December 2017

Nuclear Weapons

Letter NFLA, CND etc: The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) will receive the Nobel peace prize in Oslo on Saturday for focusing the world’s attention on the damage that nuclear weapons do, and for its work to persuade states to negotiate the UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, whose adoption the majority of the world’s states have supported. Nuclear weapons cause indiscriminate death, unimaginable, long-lasting suffering and irreparable environmental damage. No responsible state with respect for human life can justify retaining them. However, the UK government has not only refused to sign the treaty, but has remained actively hostile to it – despite the government’s stated commitment to a world free from nuclear weapons. There are no safe hands for unsafe weapons. As UK partners of Ican, we call on the government to work towards joining this treaty as soon as possible.

Guardian 8th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 9 December 2017

Nuclear Weapons

A Yatton woman’s life at Greenham Common and opposing nuclear weapons has been revealed in a new book. Righteous Anger: One Woman’s Action For Peace 1983-1993 sheds light on Juley Howard’s life and she believes fighting for just causes has never been more applicable with the world ‘facing an uncertain future’.

North Somerset Times 3rd Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 3 December 2017

Nuclear Weapons

Breaking with tradition, nearly all ambassadors of the world’s nuclear powers will not attend this year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony which honours efforts to ban atomic weapons, the Nobel Institute said Thursday. “We are disappointed that the ambassadors from the United Kingdom, the United States and France won’t be there,” the head of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Beatrice Fihn told AFP. “They claim to be committed to a world without nuclear weapons, and they should be celebrating civil society’s work on the issue,” she said, regretting their “defensive” position, yet noting that it “shows that this treaty and the campaign is already having an impact on them”.

The Local 1st Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 2 December 2017

Weapons Convoys

Letter George Wilson: ON Monday afternoon a Ministry of Defence nuclear weapons convoy snaked its way across Scotland, through East Lothian and the Borders along the A1. If fact, unbeknown to many of us, this has been a regular occurrence for around 30 years. Much has been written about the huge risk involved in road transportation of weapons of mass destruction, especially near our urban centres. Indeed, the MoD itself confirms this in emergency planning instructions to local authorities and emergency services. Specifically, in relation to nuclear weapon road convoys, it prescribes measures relating to “threat to life” further to the release of “radioactive material”, including an “evacuation zone” of 600 metres and downwind shelter zone” of five kilometres. With the wind in central Scotland and on the A1 you can imagine the area might be far larger in reality! All local authorities have a legal health and safety duty to assess any risks to the public and inform us about them. As part of that, they are legally bound tell us what to do in an emergency. Nukewatch.org.uk has recently written a report about the risks from the nuke road convoys and the “alarming lack of any risk assessments” by Scottish councils. A nuclear warhead is plutonium and high explosive together. My own council, East Lothian, has a statement on its website relating to “emergency planning” and “man-made … major disaster” such as “travel-related, toxic hazards or as a result of terrorism”. It simply notes: “… if the worst happens, it is essential that local authority services are maintained, that those affected are properly cared for, and that the community is provided with the best possible support to re-establish normality.” It helpfully provides us, in addition, with the emergency services telephone number 999! If there were a serious accident (and we are talking A1 here), are we confident that we would be warned in time to ensure our families and children were inside so that they did not breathe in plutonium particles? As noted, the MoD indicates that it could happen. Would we be evacuated, provided with iodine tablets to counter radiation, and access to appropriate medical support at home etc? Other local authorities are likewise reticent in their public statements. In relation to East Lothian, maybe the council has undertaken in-depth risk assessment and has a detailed, emergency plan (one exists in relation to Torness). However, it is not of much use if no-one knows about it. My concern is that, more broadly, our councils do not appear to be meeting their minimum legal obligations to protect and inform us in relation to these regular nuclear convoys and the grave risk that they entail. For the sake of our families and communities, I say it is time for all our councils to come clean on nuclear convoy risk assessment and emergency planning!

The National 21st Nov 2017 read more »

Posted: 22 November 2017

Trident

UK Government plans for the next generation of Trident submarine reactors are under threat from staff shortages and spending cuts, according to an expert report for the Ministry of Defence. The report criticises the MoD’s nuclear submarine programme as “introspective”, “somewhat incestuous” and warns it’s facing a “perfect storm” of problems. It also urges the MoD to work more closely with the civil nuclear power industry. Critics warn that the MoD is putting public safety at risk by cutting corners, and that nuclear defence could be “cross-subsidised” by the civil industry.

Herald 19th Nov 2017 read more »

The new class of Trident nuclear submarines planned by the UK government for the Clyde are to be called Dreadnought. Is that a sensible name? Is it wise to ‘fear nothing’? Surely there are some things we should all be afraid of – like making hugely costly mistakes. A nuclear war, for example, would kill millions, and is likely to be seen by survivors – assuming there are some – as unforgivable mass murder. A nuclear accident would be regarded as a terrible, and brutal, blunder.

Herald 19th Nov 2017 read more »

Posted: 20 November 2017

Nuclear Proliferation

In its initial report released today, the Working Group on Climate, Nuclear, and Security Affairs, chaired by the Center for Climate and Security, has articulated a first-of-its kind framework for understanding and addressing the complex connections between climate change, security, and nuclear issues. The report arrives as the 23rd Conference of the Parties concludes its meeting in Bonn, Germany to plan implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and in the aftermath of President Trump’s tour of Asia, during which nuclear weapons issues featured prominently. Countries such as Nigeria, Jordan, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia are dealing with numerous internal climatic, economic, security, demographic, and environmental pressures as they pursue nuclear energy. The Working Group noted the importance of these countries considering how these issues might influence one another—and raised concerns that Russia may be a dominant nuclear supplier to such countries.

Climate & Security 15th Nov 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 November 2017

Nuclear Proliferation

Climate change and nuclear threats are closely linked and must be tackled together, US experts say. The warning comes from a working group chaired by the Center for Climate and Security (CCS), a non-partisan policy institute of security and military experts (many of them high-ranking former members of the armed forces), in a report which offers a framework for understanding and addressing the distinct problems together. The report is published as this year’s UN climate summit draws to a close in Bonn in the aftermath of President Trump’s tour of Asia, during which nuclear weapons issues featured prominently. Professor Christine Parthemore, a former adviser to the US defence department, co-chairs the working group. She told the Climate News Network: “Simultaneous effects of climate change, tough social or economic pressures, and security challenges could increase the risk of conflict among nuclear weapon-possessing states, even if that conflict stems from miscalculation or misperception. India and Pakistan are major concerns. “They are grappling with water stress, deadly natural disasters, terrorism, and numerous other pressures. At the same time, the types of nuclear weapons they are developing and policies on command of those weapons are raising tensions between them.

Climate News Network 16th Nov 2017 read more »

In an August 2017 report, former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz argues for federal subsidies to prop up the US nuclear power industry on the novel grounds that the industry is vital to our national security. One of his principal conclusions is that to have an effective nonproliferation policy we need to be selling lots of reactors internationally. The conclusion is dead wrong but, unfortunately, it’s also influential. The current energy secretary, Rick Perry, picked up the argument. In October 12 testimony, he told Congress that “we have to support this industry,” because, among other things, it is important to the success of our nonproliferation policy. What kind of reactor exports might this entail? The Energy Department’s acting assistant secretary for nuclear energy, Edward McGinnis, told an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference in Abu Dhabi on November 1 that the United States wants “to spur exports of nuclear energy plants and equipment, including to the conference’s host nation UAE and Saudi Arabia.” That, after all, is where the export opportunities are—in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, among countries taking their first steps into nuclear energy. Most don’t have the required financial resources and would need massive loans. Some, like Saudi Arabia, or perhaps Turkey, appear to have more on their mind than electricity generation. The trouble is that power programs based on the most common type of nuclear power plant, the light water reactor, give a country a large leg up on creating a nuclear weapons option if that is what it wants. As a result, more nuclear reactors in more countries increase proliferation risks. Whatever the advantages of this technology, nonproliferation is not one of them.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 16th Nov 2017 read more »

Posted: 17 November 2017