Nuclear weapons

Nonviolent Protest Groups Placed on Anti-Terrorism List

Last week it was revealed by the Groaniad that the environmentalist group, Extinction Rebellion, had been put on a list of extremist organisations, whose sympathisers should be treated by the Prevent programme. Extinction Rebellion are, in my view, a royal pain, whose disruptive antics are more likely to make them lose popular support but they certainly aren’t violent and do keep within the law. For example, in one of their protests in Bristol last autumn, they stopped the traffic for short periods and then let some cars through before stopping the traffic again. It was a nuisance, which is what the group intended, and no doubt infuriating to those inconvenienced by it. But they kept within the law. They therefore don’t deserve to be put on an anti-terrorism watch list with real violent extremist organisations like Islamist and White fascist terror groups such as the banned neo-Nazi group, National Action.

But Extinction Rebellion aren’t the only nonviolent protest group to be put on this wretched list. Zelo Street put up a piece yesterday revealing that the list also includes Greenpeace, the campaigners against sea pollution, Sea Shepherd, PETA, Stop the Badger Cull, Stop the War, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, CND, various anti-Fascist and anti-racist groups, as well as an anti-police surveillance group, campaigners against airport expansion, and Communist and Socialist parties.

I can sort of understand why Greenpeace is on the list. They also organise protests and peaceful occupations, and I remember how, during the ‘Save the Whale’ campaign, their ship, the Rainbow Warrior, used to come between whalers and their prey. I also remember how, in the 1980s, the French secret service bombed it when it was in port in New Zealand, because the evil peaceful hippies had dared to protest against their nuclear tests in the Pacific. From this, and their inclusion on this wretched list, it seems they’re more likely to be victims of state violence than the perpetrators of violence themselves.

Greenpeace’s John Sauven said

“Tarring environmental campaigners and terrorist organisations with the same brush is not going to help fight terrorism … It will only harm the reputation of hard-working police officers … How can we possibly teach children about the devastation caused by the climate emergency while at the same implying that those trying to stop it are extremists?”

And Prevent’s independent reviewer, Alex Carlile, said:

“The Prevent strategy is meant to deal with violent extremism, with terrorism, and XR are not violent terrorists. They are disruptive campaigners”.

Zelo Street commented that this was all very 1960s establishment paranoia. Which it is. You wonder if the list also includes anyone, who gave the list’s compilers a funny look once. And whether they’re going to follow the example of Constable Savage in the Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch and arrest gentlemen of colour for wandering around during the hours of darkness wearing a loud shirt. This is a joke, but the list represents are real danger. It criminalises any kind of protest, even when its peaceful. About a decade ago, for example, Stop the War held a protest in Bristol city centre. They were out there with their banners and trestle tables, chanting and speaking. Their material, for what I could see where I was, simply pointed out that the invasion of Iraq had claimed 200,000 lives. They were on the pavement, as I recall, didn’t disrupt the traffic and didn’t start a fight with anyone.

As for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, this is a knee-jerk attempt to link pro-Palestinian activism with terrorism. But wanting the Palestinians to be given their own land or to enjoy equal rights with Israelis in a modern, ethnically and religious diverse and tolerant state, does not equate with sympathy for terrorism or terrorism itself. Tony Greenstein, Asa Winstanley and Jackie Walker are also pro-Palestinian activists. But as far as I know, they’re all peaceful, nonviolent people. Walker’s a granny in her early 60’s, for heaven’s sake. They’re all far more likely to be the victims of violence than ever initiate it. In fact, Tony was physically assaulted in an unprovoked attack by an irate Israeli, while one woman from one of the pro-Israel organisations was caught on camera saying how she thought she could ‘take’ Jackie.

I realise the Stop the Badger Cull people have also physically tried to stop the government killing badgers, but this is again disruption, not violence. And one of those against the cull is Brian May, astrophysicist and rock legend. Apart from producing some of the most awesome music with Freddy Mercury and the rest of Queen, and appearing on pop science programmes with Dara O’Brien showing people round the Jodrell Bank radio telescope, he has not, not ever, been involved in political violence.

This shows you how ludicrous the list is. But it’s also deeply sinister, as by recommending that supporters of these organisations as well as real terrorist groups should be dealt with by Prevent, it defines them as a kind of thoughtcrime. Their members are to be rounded up and reeducated. Which is itself the attitude and method of suppression of totalitarian states.

Zelo Street pointed the finger for this monstrous shambles at Priti Patel. As current Home Secretary, she’s ultimately responsible for it. The Street wanted to know whether she knew about it and when? And if she didn’t, what’s she doing holding the job? But there’s been no answer so far. And a police spokesperson said it was unhelpful and misleading to suggest the nonviolent groups on the list had been smeared.

The Street said it was time for Patel to get her house in order, but warned its readers not to bet on it. No, you shouldn’t. This is an attempt to criminalise non-violent protest against capitalism and the actions of the authorities and British state. It’s the same attitude that informed the British secret state’s attempts to disrupt and destroy similar and sometimes the same protest movements in the 70s and 80s, like CND. And it will get worse. A few years ago Counterpunch published a piece reporting that the American armed services and police were expecting violent outbreaks and domestic terrorism in the 2030s as the poverty caused by neoliberalism increased. They were therefore devising new methods of militarised policing to combat this. We can expect similar repressive measures over this side of the Atlantic as well.

This list is a real threat to freedom of conscience, peaceful protest and action. And the ultimate responsibility for it is the Tories. Who have always been on the side of big business against the rest of society, and particularly the poor and disadvantaged.

They’re criminalising those, who seek peaceful means to fight back.

English History through the Broadside Ballad

A Ballad History of England: From 1588 to the Present Day, by Roy Palmer (London: BT Batsford 1979).

From the 16th century to the 20th, the broadside ballad was part of the popular music of British working people. They were written on important topics of the day, and printed and published for ordinary people. They would be sung by the ballad sellers themselves while hawking their wares. This book is a collection of popular ballads, assembled and with introductory notes by the folklorist Roy Palmer. It begins with the song ‘A Ioyful New Ballad’ from 1588 about the Armada, and ends with ‘The Men Who Make The Steel’ from 1973 about the steelworkers’ strike. Unlike the earlier songs, it was issued as a record with three other songs in 1975. The ballads’ texts are accompanied by sheet music of the tunes to which they were sung. Quite often the tunes used were well-known existing melodies, so the audience were already familiar with the music, though not the new words which had been fitted to them.

The ballads cover such important events in English and wider British history as a Lincolnshire witch trial; the draining of the fens; the Diggers, a Communist sect in the British Civil War; Oak Apple Day, celebrating the narrow escape of Charles II from the Parliamentarians in 1660; the defeat of the Monmouth Rebellion; the execution of Jacobite rebels in 1715; the South Sea Bubble; Dick Turpin, the highwayman; the Scots defeat at Culloden; emigration to Nova Scotia in Canada; Wolfe’s capture of Quebec; the enclosures; the Birmingham and Worcester Canal; the 18th century radical and advocate for democracy, Tom Paine; the mechanisation of the silk industry; the establishment of income tax; the death of Nelson; the introduction of the treadmill in prison; the Peterloo Massacre and bitter polemical attacks against Lord Castlereagh; Peel’s establishment of the police; body snatching; the 1834 New Poor Law, which introduced the workhouse system; poaching; the 1839 Chartist meeting at Newport; Queen Victoria’s marriage to Albert; Richard Oastler and the factory acts; the repeal of the Corn Laws; Bloomers; the construction of the Oxford railway; Charles Dickens‘ visit to Coketown; the Liverpool Master Builders’ strike of 1866; agitating for the National Agricultural Union of farmworkers; the introduction of the Plimsoll line on ships; an explosion at Trimdon Grange colliery in County Durham; a 19th century socialist song by John Bruce Glasier, a member of the William Morris’ Socialist League and then the ILP; the Suffragettes; soldiers’ songs from the Boer War and the First World War; unemployed ex-servicemen after the War; the defeat of the General Strike; the Blitz; Ban the Bomb from 1958; and the Great Train Robbery. 

It also includes many other songs from servicemen down the centuries commemorating the deaths of great heroes and victories; and by soldiers, sailors and working people on land protesting against working conditions, tax, and economic recessions and exorbitant speculation on the stock markets. Some are just on the changes to roads, as well as local disasters.

This is a kind of social history, a history of England from below, apart from the conventional point of view of the upper or upper middle class historians, and shows how these events were viewed by tradesmen and working people. Not all the songs by any means are from a radical or socialist viewpoint. The ballad about Tom Paine is written against him, though he was a popular hero and there were also tunes, like the ‘Rights of Man’ named after his most famous book, celebrating him. But nevertheless, these songs show history as it was seen by England’s ordinary people, the people who fought in the navy and army, and toiled in the fields and workshops. These songs are a balance to the kind of history Michael Gove wished to bring in a few years ago when he railed against children being taught the ‘Blackadder’ view of the First World War. He’d like people to be taught a suitably Tory version of history, a kind of ‘merrie England’ in which Britain is always great and the British people content with their lot under the benign rule of people like David Cameron, Tweezer and Boris. The ballads collected here offer a different, complementary view.

Head of Asgardia Space Nation Attacks Trump’s Attempt to Set Up Space Force as Threat to Peace

One of the other stories that caught my eye last week was an article by Michael Day in the I reporting that the head of the international space nation, Asgardia, Igor Ashurbeyli, had attacked Trump’s decision to set up a military space force. Asgardia is an international organisation devoted to space colonisation. It’s intent on establishing itself as a new, internationally recognised nation out there on the High Frontier. The article in the edition for Wednesday, 16th October 2019, entitled ‘New US Space Command ‘puts the planet at risk”, runs

The billionaire head of the Asgardia “space nation” said that US President Donald Trump has effectively declared war on the 1967 Out Space Treaty, and risks creating a “Wild West” beyond Earth’s orbit.

The international agreement, banning weapons in space, was supposed to form the basis of law to guarantee peace beyond Earth’s orbit. But Igor Raufovich Ashurbeyli, told I that, in announcing a new Pentagon Space Command unit, Mr Trump has effectively torn it up – and put the planet at risk. 

“After the recent US statement that it will not respect international agreements in space, the situation is very worrying,” said Mr Ashurbeyli, the former head of a Russian state-owned defence contractor.

“In fact, the situation is worse than this, given that only 20 states on Earth have any sort of access to our space.”

Ram Jakhu, professor at the Institute of Air and Space Law, at McGill University in Canada, said the “increasing militarisation and weaponisation” in space appeared to be a prelude to serious conflict between superpowers.

“Currently, an intense race to the Moon and asteroids is going on, mainly for exploration and natural resources,” he added.

“There’s potential for geopolitical conflicts.”

Now Ashurbeyli, as the former head of a Russian arms firm, does have an interest, if only psychological, in preventing America establishing a military presence in space. But he’s right. The current treaty outlawing the militarisation of space was put in place partly to prevent the superpowers conducting nuclear tests in the Earth’s atmosphere or outer space. Tests which obviously have the potential for triggering a nuclear holocaust. The legislation has had the effect of preventing certain aspects of space research and new propulsion methods. The journey to Mars and other planets in the solar system could be cut down to a couple of months using nuclear powered rockets, but they’re illegal under the treaty. And while that’s a problem in the colonisation and commercial exploitation of space, I’m happy for it if it keeps the peace. If you want a Science Fictional illustration of the potential of the militarisation of space to create a nuclear war, see Kubrick and Clarke’s 2001. In the book and the film, the superpowers have established nuclear missile platforms in space, and the international situation between the two blocs is on the point of all-out war. The spacecraft you see gliding past before the camera fixes on the spaceplane Orion are these weapon platforms. However, it’s not obvious what they are because Kubrick didn’t want people seeing them and thinking that the movie was going to be another Cold War nuclear farce like Dr. Strangelove. In the book, but not the film, after Bowman’s journey through the stargate and his transformation into the Star Child, the crisis point has been reached and the superpowers launch their weapons. These are destroyed by the  Star Child when he re-enters Earth’s space. There is still the problem of the armed conflict, but the book concludes ‘He would think of something.’ Trump’s space command raises the spectre of such a conflict, but there would be no Star Child to save us from the resulting war.

It’s certainly possible that armed conflict could result through the competition by the space nations for the resources out there. The late NASA space scientist and advocate of space colonisation, Dr. Gerard O’Neill, believed that there could be real space pirates. These would be rogue ships seeking to steal the ores being brought back to Earth from mining the asteroids. I think we’re a few decades away from that, if not centuries, but the possibility is there nonetheless.

There have been a number of SF stories written about a possible war in space fought between the superpowers, including one by John Wyndham, the creator of the triffids. It’s certainly possible that war could break out through different nations establishing colonies on and claiming the same piece of extra-terrestrial real estate. There’s a parallel here to the wars the European nations fought against each other to claim territory in the New World. They attempted to prevent these wars coming home to Europe through an agreement that limited such conflicts to beyond the Line, the imaginary boundary marking off the Americas from the Old World. Conceivably, something like this could be put in place to stop wars on the Moon, Mars or elsewhere, from spreading to Earth itself. But I wouldn’t like to bet on any such treaty being agreed, or even being effective if it was.

I also remember the controversy and panic there was when I was at school during the New Cold War of the 1980s, when Thatcher and Reagan seemed to be spoiling for a fight with the USSR. One wretched element of this was Reagan’s Space Defence Initiative, dubbed ‘Star Wars’. Reagan wanted to place military satellites in orbit as part of its defence programme against the Soviet military threat. Such satellites would have weapons like ‘pop-up’ lasers. The satellites would carry nuclear bombs, which would explode, destroying the satellite. However, the energy from the explosion would be channelled into the lasers they also carried to destroy an incoming Soviet nuclear missiles. But the Russians were also afraid that these satellites would also strike at Earth itself. They had their own, official disarmament magazine, Gonka Vooruzhenie, which I think translates as ‘Disarmament People’. This carried illustrations of the threats to the Russian forces and people from Reagan’s space weapons. Trump’s Space Command threatens a repeat of this same episode from the Cold War. That ended with the USSR collapsing, partly because they couldn’t afford to keep up with American arms expenditure. We cannot depend on a similar outcome this time. 

Ashurbeyli is right. Trump’s decision to militarise the High Frontier threatens us all with nuclear Armageddon once again. 

Nuclear Promises, by Tilman Ruff

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/10/2019 - 10:26am in

In 2006 the Howard government commissioned nuclear enthusiast and former chair of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation Ziggy Switkowski to undertake a review of nuclear power for Australia. On 1 June 2010 Switkowski made an extraordinary statement about matters nuclear on the ABC’s World Today:

I think the association with asbestos is deliberately provocative and reckless. A couple of the best-studied consequences of excessive nuclear-radiation exposure followed the Second World War and the communities in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We now have 65 years of data and there’s no suggestion there that there are continuing or enduring consequences.

Insult to the hibakusha notwithstanding, a starker untruth would be hard to find. A similar whitewash of the overwhelming evidence of health harm from any exposure to ionising radiation underpins the Japanese government’s ongoing willingness to expose people affected by the Fukushima disaster to twenty times the usual maximum permissible level of radiation.

Switkowski’s review recommended twenty nuclear power stations up and down the east coast of Australia. Perhaps mostly intended as a political wedge for Labor and a distraction, proposed postcodes were not forthcoming from the government. At the first shadow cabinet meeting just weeks after its 2007 loss to Labor, the Coalition quickly and quietly dropped the nuclear-power dalliance that had proved distinctly unpopular.

So why are there currently four inquiries under way federally, in New South Wales and Victoria, looking for prospects to resurrect a decomposing corpse? If there were a level playing field, nuclear power would have been cremated a long time ago. The findings of recent inquiries and decisions in Australia and internationally underline this point.

A July 2019 report by the German Institute for Economic Research found no role for nuclear power in battling the climate catastrophe, given nuclear power’s innate connection with nuclear weapons: ‘…nuclear energy can by no means be called “clean” due to radioactive emissions, which will endanger humans and the natural environment for over one million years’. All nuclear energy production, it went on to say, ‘harbors the high risk of proliferation’. Its survey of the 674 nuclear power plants built between 1951 and 2017 showed that,

private economic motives never played a role. Instead military interests have always been the driving force behind their construction… In countries such as China and Russia, where nuclear power plants are still being built, private investment does not play a role either.

The study found that, even ignoring the expense of dismantling nuclear power plants and the long-term storage of nuclear waste, private investment in nuclear power plants would result in significant losses: ‘investing in a new nuclear power plant leads to average losses of around five billion euros’. It concluded that ‘nuclear energy is not a relevant option for supplying economical, climate-friendly, and sustainable energy in the future’.1

A December 2018 report by CSIRO and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) found that the cost of power from small modular nuclear reactors would be more than twice as expensive as power from wind and solar PV with some storage costs included (two hours of battery storage or six hours of pumped hydro storage).2 In testimony on 29 August 2019 to the House of Representatives inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia, Alex Wonhas, AEMO’s chief system design and engineering officer, said:

What we find today at current technology cost is that unfirmed renewables in the form of wind and solar are effectively the cheapest form of energy production. If we look at firmed renewables, for example wind and solar firmed with pumped hydro energy storage, that cost, at current cost, is roughly comparable to new build gas or new build coal-fired generation. Given the learning rate effect…our expectation is that renewables will further decrease in their cost, and therefore firmed renewables will well and truly become the lowest cost of generation for the NEM.3

In 2016 the highly pro-nuclear South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission found that nuclear power was not economically viable.4 While most recently, in January 2019, the Climate Council, comprising Australia’s leading climate scientists and other policy experts, issued a statement arguing that nuclear power reactors ‘are not appropriate for Australia and probably never will be’:

Nuclear power stations are highly controversial, can’t be built under existing law in any Australian state or territory, are a more expensive source of power than renewable energy, and present significant challenges in terms of the storage and transport of nuclear waste, and use of water.5

So what’s going on? Objectively, nuclear power is uniquely associated with a litany of profound dangers. Now that it is already at least twice as expensive as solar and wind power plus storage, each with negligible downsides, a natural death should have occurred long ago.

The current flurry of promotion of nuclear power in Australia seems to have several drivers. It is a convenient distraction for a government beholden to vested fossil-fuel interests, with no serious energy policy, overseeing still-ballooning Australian greenhouse-gas emissions. It is a sop to ideologues claiming credit for bringing the Coalition unexpectedly back to power. And it is a little nod to the goblins that keep alive the potential need for Australia to acquire its own nuclear weapons, recently given a fillip by Hugh White and a large amount of airplay.

So it is necessary to remind ourselves of some of the reasons that the most hazardous way to boil water to make electricity has no place here, or anywhere.

Nuclear power fuels nuclear proliferation

It was recognised way back in 1977 by the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry, which preceded the expansion of commercial uranium mining in Australia, that nuclear power contributes to an increased risk of nuclear war, and that ‘this is the most serious hazard associated with the industry’.6 Any uranium-enrichment plant can be used to produce not only reactor-grade uranium but weapons-grade uranium. Currently, fourteen nations have such plants.7 Laser-enrichment technology, initially developed in Australia, could make enriching uranium more compact and concealable.8 Highly enriched uranium (HEU, containing more than 20 per cent U-235) is one of the two fissile materials used to build nuclear weapons. The other is plutonium, inevitably produced inside nuclear reactors as uranium atoms absorb neutrons. Plutonium contained in spent nuclear fuel can then be chemically extracted at some future time.

South Africa, Pakistan and North Korea have primarily used the HEU route to build nuclear weapons, India and Israel primarily a plutonium route. All have used facilities and fuel that were ostensibly for peaceful purposes. Both France and the United Kingdom have used reactors that also produced electricity to produce plutonium and tritium for nuclear weapons.9

Australian history underscores the inseparable ‘Trojan horse’ consequences. The government of Prime Minister John Gorton commenced construction of Australia’s first nuclear power reactor at Jervis Bay in New South Wales in the late 1960s, largely to accelerate Australia’s capacity to build its own nuclear weapons. Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC) chair J. P. Baxter spoke of ‘the indissoluble connection between the peaceful and military uses of nuclear materials’. A briefing to the minister for the interior in 1969 stated: ‘From discussions with the AAEC officers it is understood that in establishing the Australian nuclear power industry it is desired to provide for the possibility of producing nuclear weapons…’.10 Gorton later admitted: ‘We were interested in this thing because it could provide electricity to everybody and it could, if you decided later on, it could make an atomic bomb’.11

Nuclear weapons, depending on their size and technical sophistication, contain several kilograms of plutonium, and/or about three times as much HEU. US nuclear weapons on average contain 4 kilograms of plutonium and 12 kilograms of HEU.12 Current global stockpiles of fissile materials—1340 tons of HEU and 520 tons of separated plutonium13—are sufficient to build around 200,000 nuclear weapons. Thus ending production of fissile materials, keeping current stocks extremely securely, preferably under international control, and eliminating these materials wherever possible will be crucial to achieving and sustaining a world free of nuclear weapons.

As the costs of nuclear power have risen to become more than twice as expensive as either wind or solar power with storage, it has become increasingly obvious that some governments maintain civilian nuclear infrastructure and workforce expertise principally to support their nuclear-weapons programs and naval propulsion, including nuclear missile–carrying nuclear-powered submarines. Such governments include those of France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.14

Nuclear reactors create enormous radiological hazards over geological time

Every phase of the nuclear fuel chain from the mining of uranium to radioactive waste disposal emits radiation and involves risks to health and the biosphere. In seventy years, no deep geological repository or other final disposal solution for highly radioactive waste from nuclear reactors is operating. The capacity of any repository to effectively and reliably isolate waste from the biosphere for a million years and keep it secure from use in radiological weapons over periods orders of magnitude longer than the longevity of any previous human institution cannot be sure. And this is a significant impost on future generations.

In addition to many near-misses, at least fifteen accidents have occurred involving fuel or core damage, with substantial risk of uncontrolled radioactive release, in a variety of reactor types in Canada, Germany, Japan, Slovakia, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and the United States. The historical frequency of such accidents overall is one in 1300 years of reactor operation. For boiling-water reactors similar to those at the damaged Fukushima plant, the frequency is twice that. Where there is a high density of reactors, such as in the northeastern United States, much of Western Europe and Japan, the risk of a reactor accident resulting in cesium-137 contamination is over 2 per cent each year.15

Nuclear reactors and their spent fuel pools contain large amounts of radioactivity that is more long-lived than that produced by nuclear weapons. Both require continuous cooling. Unlike the several layers of engineered containment around nuclear reactors, spent fuel pools have no containment other than a simple roof over them. At the Fukushima Daiichi plant severely damaged in the 2011 nuclear disaster, 70 per cent of the total radioactivity at the site was in the spent fuel pools.

What happened in Fukushima because of poor design, governance failure and a large earthquake and tsunami could equally happen because of commandos or terrorists, especially with insider help, disrupting the power or cooling water supply for reactors and/or spent fuel pools for long enough—only a matter of minutes—to cause meltdown and/or explosions. Such an event could also occur because of cyberattack, or as a result of electricity-supply and electronic-equipment failure caused by the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generated by a single high-altitude nuclear explosion, which could simultaneously disrupt nuclear reactors across a whole continent.

Nuclear attack on nuclear reactors or spent fuel storages would massively increase the resulting radioactive fallout.16 While radioactive releases from nuclear reactors subject to attack have not been documented, this is largely fortuitous. A number of attacks on nuclear reactors have taken place: between Iran and Iraq during their 1980–88 war, Israel’s destruction through airstrikes of nuclear reactors under construction in Iraq (in 1981) and Syria (in 2007), the South African ANC attack on the Koeberg nuclear power plant with mines while it was under construction, the 1991 US attacks on various Iraqi nuclear facilities, and Iraq’s firing of Scud missiles at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor.

Each of the 417 operating nuclear power reactors in thirty-one countries, spent fuel storage facilities, reprocessing plants, and other large nuclear facilities are effectively massive pre-positioned radiological weapons (or ‘dirty bombs’). Many are located in or near large population centres. Attacks on or other disruption of these could cause severe and extensive radioactive contamination requiring the long-term evacuation of large areas.

*       *         *

The web of links between nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors, and the materials that power both are deep and inextricable. Nuclear power cannot solve our climate crisis, and it aggravates the existential danger posed by nuclear weapons. Jumping out of the climate-crisis frying pan and into the fire of radioactive incineration, nuclear ice age and famine is a lose-lose dalliance with extinction. Promotion of nuclear power as a claimed climate-friendly energy source is a lose-lose proposition. As noted in 2010 by the board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, ‘Nuclear war is a terrible trade for slowing the pace of climate change’.17 Nuclear power is pushed along because of powerful vested interests and a desire to keep powder dry for nuclear weapons. The twin concurrent existential threats of climate disruption and nuclear war demand win-win solutions. A healthy and sustainable future for life on earth requires that we rapidly transition to renewable energy systems and net zero carbon emissions, and that we prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons, with the utmost urgency.

1 <>.

2 <


4 South Australian Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report, May 2016, <>.

5 <>

6 Commonwealth of Australia, Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry: First Report, Canberra, AGPS, 1977, p. 185.

7 International Panel on Fissile Materials, ‘Facilities: Enrichment plants’, updated 12 February 2018, <>.

8 <>; Ryan Snyder, ‘A Proliferation Assessment of Third Generation Laser Enrichment Technology’, Science & Global Security, vol. 24, no. 2, 2016, pp. 68–91.

9 Harold Feiveson, Alexander Glaser, Zia Mian and Frank von Hippel, Unmaking the Bomb, Boston, MIT Press, 2014.

10 Lachlan Clohesy and Phillip Deery, ‘The Prime Minister and the Bomb: John Gorton, W.C. Wentworth and the Quest for an Atomic Australia’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 2015, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 217–32.

11 Pilita Clark, ‘PM’s Story: Very Much Alive…and Unfazed’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 January 1999.

12 International Panel on Fissile Materials, ‘Appendix 1: Fissile Materials and Nuclear Weapons’, Global Fissile Material Report 2015.

13 International Panel on Fissile Materials, Fissile Material Stocks, January 2017, 12 February 2018, <>

14 Andy Stirling and Phil Johnstone, A Global Picture of Industrial Interdependencies between Civil and Military Nuclear Infrastructures, <>.

15 J. Lelieveld, D. Kunkel and M. G. Lawrence, ‘Global Risk of Radioactive Fallout after Major Nuclear Reactor Accidents’, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, no. 12, 2012, pp. 4245–58.

16 Joseph Rotblat, Nuclear Radiation in Warfare, SIPRI, Taylor and Francis, London, 1981, pp. 125–30.

17 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, ‘It is 6 Minutes to Midnight’, 14 January 2010.

Nuclear War: Just Another Day

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/10/2019 - 2:37am in

Colin Todhunter Catastrophic events that send the world into turmoil happen on ‘just another day’. The atom bomb that exploded over Hiroshima took place while thousands of ordinary folk were just going about their everyday business on ‘just another day’. A missile attack on a neighbourhood in Gaza or a drone attack on unsuspecting civilians …

Aussies Want Nuclear Weapons Ban - NFP Report

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/12/2014 - 7:00am in