Tag Archives: nuclear arms

131 House Dems Help GOP Pass Massive Pentagon Budget That Includes Billions for Expanded Nuclear Arsenal

“Instead of a blueprint for peace and security, this NDAA continues the practice of endless war with no input or oversight from our congressional leaders,” lamented Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-24-2018

More than 100 House Democrats joined with Republicans to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2019. (Photo: David B. Gleason/flickr/cc)

While the world responds with alarm over President Donald Trump’s spontaneous decision to cancel diplomatic talks with North Korea scheduled for next month—which aimed to ease rising nuclear tensions—131 Democrats in the U.S. House joined with the overwhelming majority of Republicans to pass a $717 billion Pentagon spending bill that includes massive expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2019 authorizes the development of new low-yield submarine-launched nuclear warheads that the Trump administration demanded in its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which was released in February and denounced by disarmament advocates as “radical” and “extreme.” Continue reading

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Injured Nuclear Workers Finally Had Support. The Trump Administration Has Mothballed It.

An advisory board of scientists, doctors and worker advocates helped ensure that nuclear workers exposed to toxins received proper compensation. The terms of nearly all board members expired last February — and no new members have been appointed.

By Rebecca MossThe Santa Fe New Mexican. Published 3-9-2018 by ProPublica

The most contaminated nuclear site in the country: the old Hanford site in Washington. . (Photo: Tobin/flickr/cc)

Nearly three years ago, President Barack Obama responded to long-standing concerns that workers exposed to toxic chemicals at the country’s nuclear weapons labs were not receiving proper compensation.

Obama created an advisory board to be composed of scientists, doctors and worker advocates. Their recommendations have led to significant changes, including the repeal of a rule that made it more difficult for workers who’d been injured in the last two decades to get compensation. Continue reading

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‘Nixonian’: To Kill Iran Deal, Trump Camp Hired Israeli Spy Firm to Dig Up Dirt on Obama Officials

This “is a chillingly authoritarian thing to do.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-6-2018

Photo: YouTube

An ethics expert is declaring the Trump team “out of control” following a bombshell report by the UK’s Observer that aides for the sitting president hired Israeli spies to dig up dirt on two officials in the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal.

“The idea,” said an unnamed source familiar the campaign, “was that people acting for Trump would discredit those who were pivotal in selling the deal, making it easier to pull out of it.” Continue reading

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Proving Eager to ‘Get the War Started,’ Pompeo Ramps Up Anti-Iran Rhetoric in Israel and Saudi Arabia

“Less than three years after Iran signed the Iran Deal and began dramatically cutting back its nuclear program, Israel, Saudi, and the U.S. are fast coordinating a military attack on Iran.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-30-2018

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, April 29, 2018. Photo: US State Department

Wasting no time confirming fears that he would would bring his disdain for diplomacy and zeal for war to the world stage if confirmed as Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo used his first official visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel this weekend to escalate the Trump administration’s anti-Iran rhetoric while ignoring the horrific atrocities currently being committed by America’s key Middle East allies.

Speaking alongside Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh on Sunday, Pompeo claimed Iran is “the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world” and said the Trump administration is “determined to make sure it never possesses a nuclear weapon.” Continue reading

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With Deadline Approaching, 500+ European Lawmakers Tell Congress to Stop Trump From Ripping Up Iran Nuclear Deal

“The message to Trump/Pompeo/Bolton is clear: You do this and you’re on your own.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 4-19-2018

An Iranian man reads a copy of Iranian daily newspaper Arman with a picture of US President Donald Trump on its front page with the title in Persian that reads ‘Crazy Trump and logical JCPOA’ on display in Tehran, Iran. (Photo: EPA)

As analysts warn that U.S. President Donald Trump could be planning to abandon the Iran nuclear accord as early as next month—particularly with national security adviser and war “fanatic” John Bolton whispering in his ear—more than 500 parliamentarians from the U.K., France, and Germany published an open letter on Thursday calling on Congress do all it can to keep the agreement alive and “protect the fruits of successful diplomacy.”

“Together, Europeans and Americans have proved that a strong and united transatlantic partnership can bring about a coalition extending to Russia and China, endorsed by the international community,” the lawmakers write. “But this coalition is now at risk, as the U.S. government moves towards abandoning the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] without any evidence of Iran not fulfilling its obligations.” Continue reading

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As Trump Threats Stir Global Arms Race, New Report Details the Nuclear War Profiteers

“If you have been wondering who benefits from Donald Trump’s threats of nuclear war, this report has that answer.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-7-2018

The new report “names those that are still okay with trying to make a profit from producing nuclear weapons.” (Photo: ippnw Deutschland/flickr/cc)

A new report offers a comprehensive look at who’s profiting from the new nuclear arms race.

“If you have been wondering who benefits from Donald Trump’s threats of nuclear war, this report has that answer,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.

ICAN, along with Netherlands-based peace group Pax, released the report, entitled “Don’t Bank on the Bomb,” on Wednesday. It shows that 329 financial institutions in 24 countries invested $525 billion into the top 20 companies involved in the production, maintenance, and modernization of nuclear weapons from January 2014 through October 2017. Continue reading

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Before the US approves new uranium mining, consider its toxic legacy

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Warning sign at Kerr-McGee uranium mill site near Grants, N.M., December 20, 2007. AP photo/Susan Montoya Bryan

Stephanie Malin, Colorado State University

Uranium – the raw material for nuclear power and nuclear weapons – is having a moment in the spotlight.

Companies such as Energy Fuels, Inc. have played well-publicized roles in lobbying the Trump administration to reduce federal protection for public lands with uranium deposits. The Defense Department’s Nuclear Posture Review calls for new weapons production to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which could spur new domestic uranium mining. And the Interior Department is advocating more domestic uranium production, along with other materials identified as “critical minerals.”

What would expanded uranium mining in the U.S. mean at the local level? I have studied the legacies of past uranium mining and milling in Western states for over a decade. My book examines dilemmas faced by uranium communities caught between harmful legacies of previous mining booms and the potential promise of new economic development. Continue reading

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Pence Wins Gold for Hypocrisy: Calls Trump Military Parade Chance to ‘Celebrate’ But North Korea’s a ‘Provocation’

A new poll finds that 89 percent of Americans are opposed to a potential U.S. military parade

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-9-2018

Photo: Twitter

Vice President Mike Pence applauded the Trump administration’s plans for a potential military parade on Friday seconds before denouncing North Korea’s showing of its military might a day earlier.

With no apparent sense of irony, the vice president told reporters in Pyeongchang, South Korea that President Donald Trump’s possible parade would be an opportunity “to celebrate the men and women of the Armed Forces,” while the parade held by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was a “provocation.”

Watch: Continue reading

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Doomsday Clock Now ‘2 Minutes to Midnight’ as Trump Drives Up Nuclear and Climate Threats

“It’s always sobering to be reminded just how close humanity is to destroying itself with nuclear weapons.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-25-2018

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced on Thursday it has moved up the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight. (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists/Facebook)

In response to rising nuclear tensions and concerns about inadequate action to address the climate crisis, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced Thursday the hands of the Doomsday Clock have been moved and it is now just two minutes midnight, a signal to the world that international scientists and policy experts are increasingly worried about the likeliness of global catastrophe.

“In 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago—and as dangerous as it has been since World War II,” said a statement from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Continue reading

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Is it time for a 21st-century version of ‘The Day After’?

Marsha Gordon, North Carolina State University

 

Screenshot from ‘The Day After’.

It’s beginning to feel like the 1980s all over again.

Already this year, we’ve seen Donald Trump tweeting provocative nuclear threats about North Korea. A terrifying (but false) incoming missile alert set Hawaiians on edge, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention planned (and then postponed) a nuclear attack preparedness session. The Pentagon has also proposed a policy of possible nuclear retaliation for cyberattacks.

As a teenager, I remember being horrified about the possibility of nuclear war. I watched daily news reports about the nuclear arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and listened to music about “what might save us, me and you,” as Sting’s 1985 song “Russians” put it (the answer: “If the Russians love their children too”).

But I especially remember the television event of 1983: “The Day After,” a fictional, made-for-TV movie that imagined a nuclear attack on American soil. The debates and discussions the film spurred make me wonder if a similar sort of high-profile cultural event would serve the country well today.

The water cooler event of the decade

At my junior high school in Southern California, “The Day After” was what everyone was talking about leading up to (and following) the night it aired on ABC on Nov. 20, 1983.

By all measures, it was a major media event. An estimated 100 million viewers tuned in. The White House phone lines were jammed and ABC headquarters in New York received more than 1,000 calls about the movie during its East Coast broadcast.

“The Day After” imagines a scenario in which America’s policy of deterrence fails. It depicts a nuclear attack through the experiences of Midwesterners – doctors, students, children, the pregnant and the engaged – followed by an extended (and, though grim, fairly unrealistic) consideration of post-blast repercussions.

Leading up to the attack, there is quotidian normality, followed by localized shock at the terrifying sight of missiles being launched out of the ground from Kansas missile silos. Panicked anticipation of an incoming nuclear attack follows, replete with period novelties such as huge lines at pay phones.

Although dated and artless in many ways, the representation of the blast remains horrific, if only by virtue of what it forces us to consider: the fire, wind and chaos; the widespread damage and suffering; the desperate need for medical care; and the futile desire for order and assistance.

Society as the characters in the movie knew it – just a day before – was a thing of the past.

Political television

“The Day After” was controversial even before it aired, with critics like Tom Shales of The Washington Post deeming it “the most politicized entertainment program ever seen on television.” Reverend Jerry Falwell organized a boycott against the show’s advertisers, and Paul Newman and Meryl Streep both tried (unsuccessfully) to run anti-nuclear proliferation advocacy ads during the program.

In the text that scrolls at the end of the film, “The Day After” declares its intention to “inspire the nations of this earth, their people and leaders, to find the means to avert the fateful day” – to, in essence, scare some sense into anyone tuning in.

Pro- and anti-nuclear groups used the film as a rallying cry for their positions. An Oct. 4, 1983 LA Times article (“‘The Day After’ Creating a Stir”) detailed a “conservative counteroffensive” that attempted to “discredit the film and write it off as a media conspiracy against Ronald Reagan’s strong defense posture.” Reagan supporters also hoped to defuse potential public backlash against American nuclear missile proliferation in Europe.

After the film aired, two simultaneous events at the epicenter of the film’s setting, the University of Kansas, are telling. A Los Angeles Times article titled “‘The Day After’ Viewed Amid Debate, Fear” described how a candlelight vigil in support of nuclear disarmament was joined by counterdemonstrators who “urged peace through military strength.”

As The New York Times’s John Corry wrote, “Champions of the film say it forces us to think intelligently about the arms race; detractors say it preaches appeasement.”

A trigger for serious reflection

Outside of partisan lobbying, “The Day After” opened the door for public debate about nuclear weapons.

Immediately after the movie’s broadcast, Ted Koppel moderated a riveting discussion that featured a formidable group of pundits, including Henry Kissinger, Elie Wiesel, William F. Buckley, Carl Sagan and Robert McNamara. During this special edition of “Viewpoint,” Secretary of State George Shultz also appeared to tell audiences that “nuclear war is simply not acceptable.”

After the movie aired, Ted Koppel moderated a discussion that featured an all-star cast of public intellectuals and politicians.

 

The most prescient and horrifying questions from the audience and responses from the panelists on “Viewpoint” anticipate a future that’s eerily indicative of where we are today – a time of multi-state nuclear capability, where one unstable leader might trigger nuclear catastrophe.

In the weeks after the broadcast, schools and community centers around the country held forums during which people could discuss and debate the issues the film raised. Psychologists and communication scholars were also eager to study the movie’s impact on viewers, from how it influenced their attitudes about nuclear weapons, to its emotional consequences, to whether they felt empowered to try to influence America’s nuclear policies.

That was then, this is now

In the early 1980s, of course, it was the Soviet Union that posed the nuclear threat to America.

Today’s adversaries are more diffuse. The world’s nuclear situation is also much more volatile, with greater destructive potential than “The Day After” imagined.

A modern-day remake of “The Day After” would have to reckon with this bleaker scenario: a world in which there may be no day after.

The bellicose posturing that prevails in the White House today resonates, in some ways, with the public bickering between Soviet Head of State Yuri Andropov and Ronald Reagan in the months leading up to the broadcast of “The Day After.” After the film’s release, New York Times columnist James Reston hoped “the two nuclear giants” would “shut up for a few weeks” – that “some civility or decent manners” might prevail in the wake of public concern about the consequences imagined in ABC’s somber nuclear fable.

But as then-Secretary of State George Shultz pointed out in the Koppel interview, the aim of the Reagan administration was to never have to use nuclear weapons. It was to deter our nuclear adversary and to reduce our nuclear storehouse. Shultz’s words of assurance are a contrast to today’s rhetoric of nuclear one-upmanship that is totally removed from the devastating reality of nuclear war.

Trivializations of nuclear warfare on the order of “my button’s bigger than yours” undermine the grave reality of nuclear cataclysm. Such rhetoric is no longer the domain of farce, as in Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove,” in which erratic, incompetent leaders bumble their way into the apocalypse.

Perhaps some modernized version of “The Day After” could function as a wake-up call for those who have no real context for nuclear fear. If nothing else, “The Day After” got people talking seriously about the environmental, political and societal consequences of nuclear war.

The ConversationIt might also remind our current leaders – Trump, foremost among them – of what modern nuclear war might look like on American soil, perhaps inspiring a more measured stance than has prevailed thus far in 2018.

Marsha Gordon, Professor of Film Studies, North Carolina State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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