The Golden Rule anti-nuclear sailboat, crewed by US veterans and friends, has successfully completed an historic voyage to Cuba. The 34-foot wooden ketch, which in 1958 was sailed toward the Marshall Islands to interfere with US nuclear testing, is owned by Veterans For Peace, and carries out an important part of its mission, “to end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.” Five crew, including several members of Veterans For Peace, sailed the Golden Rule from Key West, Florida and, after 22 hours at sea, arrived at Havana’s Marina Hemingway on December 31, just in time to celebrate New Years and the 62nd anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. The Golden Rule was sailed to Havana under a General License issued by the US Treasury Dept. that allows US residents to travel to Cuba for educational and people-to-people purposes.
While nuclear weapons governments and their bomb-making industries are criminally sleepwalking into what could mean the end of our planet’s life, many others – scientists, high-level military, citizens and whole countries – are countering the weapons holders’ political idiocy with principled intelligence. At their 40th reunion in Los Alamos, New Mexico, 70 of 110 physicists who worked on the atomic bomb signed a statement supporting nuclear disarmament. When have the brightest scientists of their day ever admitted that their most notable work was a colossal mistake? On February 2, 1998 retired General George Butler, former Commander of US Strategic Air Command addressed the National Press Club: "The likely consequences of nuclear weapons have no…justification. They hold in their sway not just the fate of nations but the very meaning of civilization." Sixty other retired generals and admirals joined him calling for nuclear weapons abolition.
The historic Golden Rule anti-nuclear sailboat is on its way to Cuba. The storied wooden boat, which was sailed toward the Marshall Islands in 1958 to interfere with US nuclear testing, set sail from Key West, Florida on Friday morning, and will arrive at the Hemingway Marina in Havana on Saturday morning, New Years Eve day. The 34-foot ketch belongs to Veterans For Peace, and implements its mission “to end the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.” The five crew members will be joined by Veterans For Peace members who are flying to Havana to participate in an educational Arts & Culture program coordinated by the Proximity Cuba tour agency. The veterans will also be visiting communities that suffered great damage from the recent Hurricane Ian, which destroyed thousands of homes in Pinar del Rio province in western Cuba. They are carrying humanitarian aid for people who lost their homes.
Benton County, Washington - The most polluted place in the United States — perhaps the world — is one most people don’t even know. Hanford Nuclear Site sits in the flat lands of eastern Washington. The facility — one of three sites that made up the government’s covert Manhattan Project — produced plutonium for Fat Man, the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki during World War II. And it continued producing plutonium for weapons for decades after the war, helping to fuel the Cold War nuclear arms race. Today Hanford — home to 56 million gallons of nuclear waste, leaking storage tanks, and contaminated soil — is an environmental disaster and a catastrophe-in-waiting. It’s “the costliest environmental remediation project the world has ever seen and, arguably, the most contaminated place on the entire planet,” writes journalist Joshua Frank in the new book, Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America.
In 1980, in my book Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power published that year, I wrote: “What about fusion? This has been held out by the nuclear establishment as a somewhat cleaner form of nuclear power—as the hydrogen bomb, a fusion device, is somewhat cleaner in fall-out than an atomic bomb. Somewhat.” “Fusion is theoretically supposed to get its power from fusing nuclei together,” I continued. “This would be the opposite of fission, which blasts the nuclei apart. But to start the process, extremely high temperatures are required—100 million degrees Centigrade, more than six times the estimated temperature of the sun’s interior.” “Although Dwight Eisenhower, when he was President, suggested that the AEC keep the public ‘confused about fission and fusion,’ fusion is a dirty, radioactive process, too.
Dec. 8 marked the 35th anniversary of the signing of the intermediate nuclear forces (INF) treaty. This landmark arms control event was the byproduct of years of hard-nose negotiations capped off by the political courage of U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev who together signed the treaty and oversaw its ratification by their respective legislatures. The first inspectors went to work on July 1, 1988. I was fortunate to count myself among them. In August 2019, former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the INF treaty; Russia followed shortly thereafter, and this foundational arms control agreement was no more. The termination of the INF treaty is part and parcel of an overall trend which has seen arms control as an institution — and a concept — decline in the eyes of policy makers in both Washington and Moscow.
As Western countries are floating the theory that Russia could escalate its conflict with Ukraine to a nuclear war, many Western governments continue to turn a blind eye to Israel’s own nuclear weapons capabilities. Luckily, many countries around the world do not subscribe to this endemic Western hypocrisy. “The Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction” was held between Nov. 14-18, with the sole purpose of creating new standards of accountability that, as should have always been the case, be applied equally to all Middle Eastern countries. The debate regarding nuclear weapons in the Middle East could not possibly be any more pertinent or urgent. International observers rightly note that the period following the Russia-Ukraine war is likely to accelerate the quest for nuclear weapons throughout the world.
The vast majority of countries on Earth voted in the United Nations General Assembly to condemn the Israeli apartheid regime for having nuclear weapons, in flagrant violation of international law. Israel is the only country in West Asia that has nukes. Tel Aviv has not officially acknowledged its possession of the planet-destroying weapons, but experts estimate it has at least 90 nuclear warheads, and perhaps hundreds. On October 28, a staggering 152 countries (79% of all UN member states) adopted a resolution that called on Israel to give up its atomic bombs, join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to supervise its nuclear facilities. Just five countries voted against the measure: the United States and Canada, the small island nations of Palau and Micronesia, and apartheid Israel itself.
Perhaps the fates (or the laws of probability) are having a bit of fun at our expense, or maybe this is their way of providing yet another warning, but the possibility of nuclear war is once again in the air, as it was 60 years ago this month during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Trying to understand today’s problems through the lens of history and historical example is always fraught. Circumstances change with the times; today is not yesterday. Still, human beings are more or less the same. The biases, impulses, and hubris that influenced decision-making in 1962 are alive and well despite the species’ best efforts. So what can the Cuban Missile Crisis tell us about today’s nuclear dangers? First, it reveals lessons that were obvious then and that have stood the passage of time. But it can also tell us something today that could not have been understood in the moment or even years later.
Released today, the Biden administration’s unclassified Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is, at heart, a terrifying document. It not only keeps the world on a path of increasing nuclear risk, in many ways it increases that risk. Citing rising threats from Russia and China, it argues that the only viable U.S. response is to rebuild the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal, maintain an array of dangerous Cold War-era nuclear policies, and threaten the first use of nuclear weapons in a variety of scenarios. This NPR does not reflect the sensible steps President Biden proposed as a candidate to reduce the nuclear threat. Instead, the document says the United States has no choice but to build all-new nuclear weapons, despite science-based findings that the current warheads in the arsenal will be reliable for decades to come with only modest maintenance efforts.
In the span of a few hours on Sunday, the senior-most Russian defense authorities — Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and General Gennady Gerasimov — called their counterparts in the U.S., U.K., France, and Turkey, with the same message — Ukraine is preparing to detonate a so-called “dirty bomb”— high explosive-wrapped radiological material, designed to contaminate large areas with deadly radioactive isotopes. Russia is not only concerned about the immediate impact of Ukraine detonating such a devise in terms of the harm that would be done to people and the environment, but also about the potential for such an event to be used by Ukraine’s western allies to directly intervene militarily in the ongoing conflict, similar to what occurred in Syria when allegations about the use of Sarin nerve agent by the Syrian government against civilians were used by the U.S., U.K., and France to justify an attack on Syrian military and infrastructure targets.
In Vienna, China’s permanent mission to the United Nations has been rather exercised of late. Members of the mission have been particularly irate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and its Director General, Rafael Grossi, who addressed the IAEA’s Board of Governors on September 12. Grossi was building on a confidential report by the IAEA which had been circulated the previous week concerning the role of nuclear propulsion technology for submarines to be supplied to Australia under the AUKUS security pact. When the AUKUS announcement was made in September last year, its significance shook security establishments in the Indo-Pacific. It was also no less remarkable, and troubling, for signalling the transfer of otherwise rationed nuclear technology to a third country.
Nancy Pelosi’s recent trip to Taiwan to try to start a proxy war with China helped remind a lot of Americans that our “leaders” do not have our best interests at heart and, in fact, willfully push us all toward nuclear Armageddon. Of course, this is just the latest moment when the U.S. empire has nearly caused a doomsday scenario. Here are some of the other greatest hits over the past 70 years. One night in 1961, the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on North Carolina! A B-52 crashed in the middle of the night in Faro, North Carolina, but it was more than just a downed aircraft. As National Geographic magazine reported, “…somewhere out there in the winter darkness lay… the remains of two 3.8-megaton thermonuclear atomic bombs.
When it comes to U.S.-Russian arms control, sometimes history should repeat itself President Joe Biden recently called for Russia to resume arms control negotiations aimed at keeping the existing New START treaty, scheduled to expire in 2026, viable. Russia responded by suspending all inspection activity related to New START, declaring that the United States was seeking unilateral advantage by denying Russia access to inspection sites in the US, while demanding that Russia permit American inspectors access to sites in Russia. Arms control, once the cornerstone of U.S.-Russian relations, appears to be on life support, and with it the future of international peace and security. My new book, Disarmament in the time of Perestroika: Arms Control and the End of the Soviet Union, provides an historical precedent which gives hope that the current negative trend in relations between the U.S. and Russia could be reversed if both parties were willing and able to recapture the spirit of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which entered into force on July 1, 198
Approximately 40 people were present on August 5th at a flash mob demonstration against Trident nuclear weapons at the Bangor submarine base. The demonstration was in the roadway, and blocked traffic entering the Main Gate of the Trident nuclear submarine base during rush hour traffic. Thirteen demonstrators were detained and cited by authorities. Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor is homeport to the largest concentration of deployed nuclear warheads in the U.S. The nuclear warheads are deployed on Trident D-5 missiles on SSBN submarines and are stored in an underground nuclear weapons storage facility on the base. Activists gathered early Monday morning on August 8th at the the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo to remember the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 77 years ago and to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.