Tag Archives: nuclear weapons

The glaring problem with a recent multinational pledge against nuclear war

Five of the world’s most powerful countries took a stand against nuclear weapons. So why are they modernising and increasing their stockpiles?

By Paul Rogers.  Published 1-8-2022 by openDemocracy

A ballistic missile and launcher in a military parade, North Korea, 2013 | Stefan Krasowski, CC BY 2.0

Last Monday, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, Russia, China, France and the UK – signed a joint pledge to reduce the risk of nuclear war. The pledge states that:

“We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.  As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons—for as long as they continue to exist—should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.  We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented.” Continue reading

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UN fails to agree on ‘killer robot’ ban as nations pour billions into autonomous weapons research

Humanitarian groups have been calling for a ban on autonomous weapons.
Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images

James Dawes, Macalester College

Autonomous weapon systems – commonly known as killer robots – may have killed human beings for the first time ever last year, according to a recent United Nations Security Council report on the Libyan civil war. History could well identify this as the starting point of the next major arms race, one that has the potential to be humanity’s final one.

The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons debated the question of banning autonomous weapons at its once-every-five-years review meeting in Geneva Dec. 13-17, 2021, but didn’t reach consensus on a ban. Established in 1983, the convention has been updated regularly to restrict some of the world’s cruelest conventional weapons, including land mines, booby traps and incendiary weapons. Continue reading

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An autonomous robot may have already killed people – here’s how the weapons could be more destabilizing than nukes

The term ‘killer robot’ often conjures images of Terminator-like humanoid robots. Militaries around the world are working on autonomous machines that are less scary looking but no less lethal.
John F. Williams/U.S. Navy

James Dawes, Macalester College

Autonomous weapon systems – commonly known as killer robots – may have killed human beings for the first time ever last year, according to a recent United Nations Security Council report on the Libyan civil war. History could well identify this as the starting point of the next major arms race, one that has the potential to be humanity’s final one.

Autonomous weapon systems are robots with lethal weapons that can operate independently, selecting and attacking targets without a human weighing in on those decisions. Militaries around the world are investing heavily in autonomous weapons research and development. The U.S. alone budgeted US$18 billion for autonomous weapons between 2016 and 2020. Continue reading

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UN Chief Warns Humanity Is ‘Unacceptably Close to Nuclear Annihilation’

“Now is the time to lift the cloud of nuclear conflict for good,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said ahead of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-26=2021

ICAN campaigners protest outside the permanent mission of Japan to the United Nations at Geneva, during the May session of the UN open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament in May 2016. Photo: ICAN/flickr/CC

In remarks ahead of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on Sunday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that humankind remains “unacceptably close to nuclear annihilation,” with roughly 14,000 atomic bombs stockpiled across the globe.

“Now is the time to lift the cloud of nuclear conflict for good, eliminate nuclear weapons from our world, and usher in a new era of trust and peace,” said Guterres, who observed in a statement last week that hundreds of nuclear bombs are just a “pushed button away from being launched.” Continue reading

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Arms Expert Warns of ‘Reckless and Unnecessary Escalation’ After Pentagon Tests Missile Banned by INF Treaty That Trump Ditched

The move could “exacerbate tensions with Russia, China, and North Korea—all of whom would be in range of this type of missile.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-13-2019

The Pentagon conducted a flight test of a prototype conventionally-configured ground-launched ballistic missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Dec. 12. (Photo: Vandenberg Air Force Base)

Arms experts warned of negative global implications after the Pentagon on Thursday test-launched a second missile that would have been banned under a Cold War-era treaty that U.S. President Donald Trump ditched in early August.

Trump ignored concerns about the impacts on global security and formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty after suspending U.S. obligations under the deal in February and giving Russian President Vladimir Putin six months to destroy weapons that the U.S. government and NATO deemed noncompliant with the bilateral agreement. The deal outlawed land-launched missiles with a range of 500–5,500 kilometers or about 310–3,400 miles. Continue reading

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Why the US has nuclear weapons in Turkey – and may try to put the bombs away

A B-61 bomb, like the ones stored at the US Incirlik Airbase in Turkey. Flickr/Kelly Michals, CC BY-SA

Miles A. Pomper, Middlebury

As the Syrian crisis pits Turkish troops against former U.S.-allied Kurdish forces, Pentagon officials have been reviewing plans to remove 50 nuclear bombs stored at a U.S air base in Turkey.

A congressional directive to the Pentagon to quickly assess alternative homes for U.S. “personnel and assets” currently stationed at Incirlik Air Base is part of a broader bipartisan bill, still being debated, that proposes sanctions against Turkey. President Donald Trump has been forced to issue public reassurances that the weapons are secure. Continue reading

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In Wake of Nuclear Treaty Collapse, Putin Says if US Pursues Previously Banned Missiles, Russia Will Also

“The collapse of the INF Treaty last Friday opens up a Pandora’s Box of dangerous possibilities.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-5-2019

Photo: moi 84/flickr

Days after the U.S. ditched a Cold War-era weapons treaty with Russia, President Vladimir Putin on Monday said his country would move to develop new intermediate-range nuclear missiles if the U.S. did so first.

“If Russia obtains reliable information that the United States has finished developing these systems and started to produce them,” Putin said in a statement, “Russia will have no option other than to engage in a full-scale effort to develop similar missiles.” Continue reading

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On Earth Day, Remembering the US Military’s Toxic Legacy

The DoD produces more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined.

By Whitney Webb. Published 4-22-2019 by MintPress News

Staff Sgt. Lorenzo Hernandez, right, practices attaching and removing a second stage regulator on his mask during practical application exercises as part of a hazardous waste operations and emergency response course at Camp Foster, Okinawa. Photo: Stephen D. Himes/USMC

Media outlets gave minimal attention to recent news that the U.S. Naval station in Virginia Beach spilled an estimated 94,000 gallons of jet fuel into a nearby waterway, less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean. While the incident was by no means as catastrophic as some other pipeline spills, it underscores an important yet little-known fact – that the U.S. Department of Defense is both the nation’s and the world’s, largest polluter.

Producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined, the U.S. Department of Defense has left its toxic legacy throughout the world in the form of depleted uranium, oil, jet fuel, pesticides, defoliants like Agent Orange and lead, among others. Continue reading

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‘Extremely Concerned’ World Leaders and Experts Implore Trump and Putin to Preserve Nuclear Treaty

Alongside warnings withdrawal from INF would be “stupid and reckless,” one signatory to open letter said conflict “should be resolved through the treaty, not by abandoning it.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-30-2019

Photo: kremlin.ru

Elected officials and experts from more than 40 countries have sent an open letter to U.S. President Donald, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and various other world leaders imploring them to preserve the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, from which the Trump administration has said it plans to withdraw, despite warnings that doing so “would be stupid and reckless.

While welcoming progress on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, the letter (pdf) emphasizes alarm over the “erosion” of the INF Treaty; war games and nuclear weapons development the United States ditching the Iran nuclear deal; and “unresolved conflicts between Russia and the West including over Crimea and Syria and between nuclear armed states in other regions including South Asia and the South China Sea.” Continue reading

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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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