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From:Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
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Subject:Sunflower e-Newsletter: Nuclear Weapons Could Go Off "Like Popcorn" & Much More
Date:Wednesday, July 02, 2008 8:19:54 PM
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Issue #132 - July 2008

The Non-Proliferation Treaty Turns Forty by David Krieger
Debating Article VI by David Krieger
A Powerful Peace by Jonathan Schell
No Nuclear Weapons: An Interview with George Shultz by Sarah van Gelder
US Nuclear Policy
The US-India Deal: Why It Will Fail
Nuclear Proliferation
Mofaz Declares Attack on Iran “Unavoidable”
New International Disarmament Group Announced
North Korea on the Right Track
Nuclear Insanity
National (In) Security: Air Force Reports on Inadequate Security of US Nuclear Arsenal
British Warheads Could Accidentally Explode
2008 Global Peace Index
The Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World
America in Peril
Foundation Activities
NAPF Appeal Endorsed by Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash
Think Outside the Bomb in Boston: August 14-17
L.A.-Area Nuclear Disarmament Coalition Conference

The Non-Proliferation Treaty Turns Forty
by David Krieger

July 1, 2008 marked the 40th anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) being opened for signatures. The true purpose of this treaty has always been two-fold: to prevent nuclear proliferation and to achieve nuclear disarmament; in other words, to create a level playing field in which there are no nuclear weapons. In the preamble to the treaty, the parties declare their “intention to achieve at the earliest possible date the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to undertake effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament.”

The treaty recognized five states as nuclear weapons states: the United States, Soviet Union (now Russia), United Kingdom, France and China. Three countries never joined the Treaty – Israel, India and Pakistan – and all three have subsequently developed nuclear arsenals. One country, North Korea, withdrew from the treaty and tested a nuclear device in 2006.

To read more, visit:

Debating Article VI
by David Krieger

Christopher Ford’s article, “Debating Disarmament, Interpreting Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,” (Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 14, No. 3, November 2007), ends with a disclaimer, “The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of the State Department or the US government.” Ford’s views, however, seem extremely closely aligned with those of the State Department, which he joined in 2003 and where he currently serves as the United States Special Representative for Nuclear Nonproliferation.

Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) states: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” This article is the principal tradeoff in the NPT, in which the non-nuclear weapon states are given the promise that the playing field will be leveled by “negotiations in good faith on...nuclear disarmament.”

To read more, visit:

A Powerful Peace
by Jonathan Schell

If the nuclear powers wish to be safe from nuclear weapons, they must surrender their own.

With each year that passes, nuclear weapons provide their possessors with less safety while provoking more danger. Possession of nuclear arms provokes proliferation. Both nourish the global nuclear infrastructure, which in turn enlarges the possibility of acquisition by terrorist groups.

The step that is needed to break this cycle can be as little doubted as the source of the problem. The double standard of nuclear haves and have-nots must be replaced by a single standard, which can only be the goal of a world free of all nuclear weapons.

To read more, visit:

No Nuclear Weapons: An Interview with George Shultz
by Sarah van Gelder

George Shultz was there when nuclear disarmament slipped through our fingers. Today, he says, action is even more urgent. Sarah van Gelder, of Yes! Magazine, interviews George Shultz, former Secretary of State.

Sarah: Can the United States be secure without its nuclear stockpile?

Shultz: You’re going to be more secure if there are no nuclear weapons in the world, because if you achieve this goal, you won’t be risking having nuclear weapons blow up in one of our cities.

At the conferences abroad I’ve been attending, it was certainly borne in on me that the notion of a two-tiered world—where some countries can have nuclear weapons and others can’t—is getting less and less acceptable.

The Nonproliferation Treaty in Article 6 says that those who don’t have nuclear weapons will have access to nuclear power technology and they won’t try to get nuclear weapons, and those who do have nuclear weapons will phase down their importance eventually to zero. People are looking for governments to live up to that treaty.

To read more, visit:

US Nuclear Policy
The US-India Deal: Why It Will Fail
Introduced in 2005, the US-India Deal proposes to trade US atomic fuel and technology to India to be used for civilian nuclear energy in an attempt to strengthen bilateral political ties as well as India’s economy. The IAEA would be allowed to inspect civilian nuclear facilities, but not military nuclear facilities.

On June 25, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) General Secretary Karat again signaled to Prime Minister Singh that he did not want the US-India nuclear deal to go forward. Karat met with Singh’s External Affairs Minister Mukherjee, rejecting any compromise on the nuclear deal. Earlier that week, Karat threatened to call for midterm elections if Singh did not abandon the US-India Deal. Singh has not yet capitulated to Karat, but future meetings with the CPI-M will be scheduled.

As the prominent force of the Left Wing, CPI-M has influence over 60 seats in India’s Lower House, and thus power to affect Singh’s election. CPI-M’s ideology of Indian independence from the US has often conflicted with Singh’s National Congress Party policies.

President Bush is determined to take the deal to the next level before he leaves office by consulting with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to waive India’s restrictions on engaging in nuclear commerce. In December 2006, Bush reasoned that the NSG was an international body with no jurisdiction over US law and its rules were thus “advisory.” This marks a three-decade break from past US policy, which has been in accordance with international nuclear law, specifically the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The NPT calls upon states to end nuclear proliferation, disarm current arsenals, and secure compliant states’ rights to peaceful nuclear energy. Article III prohibits nuclear commerce between a nuclear state (US, UK, France, China, and Russia) and a non-nuclear state unless proper safeguards are effected. Since India is absent from the 188 signatories to the NPT and is now a nuclear state, it is questionable whether this Article would prohibit the US-India Deal. However, it is clear that the NPT did not intend for a signatory state to reward a non-signatory nuclear state with nuclear trade. According to British columnist George Monbiot, the US-India Deal may destroy the NPT regime with the result being a world “more vulnerable to the consequences of proliferation than it has been for 35 years.” On the other hand, Singh argues that India is a democracy and can be trusted with nuclear capacity. Stemming from fears of Pakistan and China, Singh believes that nuclear weapons are essential for national security.

Although Singh is unlikely to actively use nuclear weapons, the US-India Deal sets a precedent for the US to pick which countries can and cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons.

“An Opportunity in a Deal's Demise,” Financial Times, June 25, 2008.

David R. Sands, “Left Parties Block Nuclear Deal with US: Allies to Meet in New Delhi,” Washington Times, June 25, 2008.

“No Progress After Indian Leaders Meet on Future of Controversial US Nuclear Deal,” Associated Press, June 25, 2008.

Nuclear Proliferation
Mofaz Declares Attack on Iran “Unavoidable”
On June 6, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz declared that if the Iranians continue their nuclear program, an Israeli attack would be “unavoidable.” Mofaz has been accused of making such statements for political gain. Sincere or not, his comments rattled the international community politically and economically, serving as a reminder of why a military strike might be worth avoiding.

Since Mofaz is the Minister of Transportation and not the Minister of Defense (though he held the post until 2006), it is unlikely that his statements reflected a change in Israeli policy. However, the Deputy Prime Minister’s words have largely been blamed for the recent $11 spike in international oil prices- a result which, ironically, benefits Iran and its oil industry.

However, the escalating international tension surrounding Iran’s nuclear program is not merely rhetorical. In mid-June, Israel performed a recent defense drill in the Mediterranean that simulated an attack on Iran’s Natanz site. The drill was to remind Iran that Israel could strike its nuclear facilities, destroying the technology it is using for its energy program. The strategy behind such showboating is that an actual attack would be so destructive that Iran would avoid it at all costs.

Unfortunately, this same logic leads Iran to conclude that Israel would not attack Iran because its consequences would be even more disastrous. Since the Iranian nuclear program is spread throughout the country, with much of it underground, it is highly unlikely that an Israeli attack would be able to destroy it in one strike. Numerous Iranian editorials have argued that, while an attack would not dramatically change Iran’s nuclear capabilities, it would fundamentally change the goals of that technology to admittedly less peaceful ones. Additionally, Iran has threatened to retaliate with its conventional arsenal against Israel, as well as against the 150,000 American soldiers in Iraq.

Director General of the IAEA Mohamed Elbaradei stated in a recent interview with Al-Arabiyya that a strike on Iranian facilities would turn the Middle Eastern region into “a ball of fire.” With other diplomatic avenues still on the table, it seems retribution for an Israeli (or for that matter, American) attack on Iran is the only outcome that would be truly unavoidable.

Dan Williams, “Israel Attack on Iran ‘Unavoidable’ - Olmert Deputy,” Reuters, June 6, 2008.

New International Disarmament Group Announced
On June 9, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd heralded a newly formed international nuclear disarmament body. The International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament will be headed by former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans and a co-chair selected by Rudd and Japanese Prime Minister Fukada later this month.

Rudd made the announcement during a speech in Kyoto just hours after visiting the city of Hiroshima. There, he toured the museum dedicated to preserving the memory of the 1945 nuclear attack by the United States; the Prime Minister laid a wreath to commemorate the victims, later calling on “the world community to resolve afresh that all humankind must exert their every effort for peace in this 21st century.”

The International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament will take the place of the now defunct Canberra Commission, which then-Prime Minister Paul Keating established in 1995. The Commission is expected to report to the 2009 preparatory meeting for the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

Australia’s position on nuclear weapons during the Rudd government has been remarkably consistent and optimistic. Though the country has vast uranium deposits, Rudd aims to simultaneously maintain a healthy economy and the integrity of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Prime Minister recently responded to a question about the US-India deal by reiterating Australia’s policy of not selling uranium to India, a NPT non-signatory.

Matthew Franklin, “PM Kevin Rudd’s New Mission to Ban Nuclear Weapons,” The Australian, June 10, 2008.

North Korea on the Right Track
On June 26, North Korea submitted reports of its capabilities in nuclear power and weapons to Chinese negotiators for outside inspection. Almost immediately, the US responded that it would remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism within 45 days.

Then, on June 27, North Korea symbolically blew up the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear reactor. The next step is for Pyongyang to dismantle and abandon its weapons.

This marks the beginning of North Korea’s reintegration with the rest of the world and its ability to receive US aid and assistance. Under its current leader Kim Jong-il, North Korea has experienced international isolation and widespread starvation.

Critics say the US was too soft in dealing with North Korea. However, Condoleezza Rice and the Bush Administration maintain that quantifying North Korea’s production of plutonium is critical to US national security. North Korea may have produced enough plutonium to make six bombs.

Further six-party talks (between China, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Russia, and US) will focus on areas that North Korea’s declaration do not address. These include the nuclear weapons already produced by North Korea, an alleged secret uranium enrichment program (that started the 2002 controversy), and ties with Syrian nuclear development.

Norimitsu Onishi and Edward Wong, “US to Take North Korea Off Terror List,” New York Times, June 27, 2008.

Nuclear Insanity
National (In) Security: Air Force Reports on Inadequate Security of US Nuclear Arsenal
The Federation of American Scientists has released a partially declassified version of a report by the Defense Science Board, entitled the Air Force Blue Ribbon Review on Nuclear Weapons Policies and Procedures, which carries serious implications for nuclear weapons and national security. While the Review centers around US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe, other Air Force-related events involving nuclear weapons security lead one to question just how secure such weapons make America today.

Shortly after the report was released, it was announced that the US has removed its 110 nuclear weapons from the Lakenheath base in the United Kingdom.

Detailing security concerns regarding US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe, the Review cites a lack of experience amongst Air Force personnel charged with supervising nuclear weapons storage sites in Europe, in addition to facilities in desperate need of repair and mandatory advance notice of site inspections. Other recent security lapses involve six nuclear-tipped missiles flown accidentally from North Dakota to Louisiana, and electric fuses for ballistic missiles shipped to Taiwan unnoticed until 17 months later.

When the newly appointed Strategic Posture Commission convenes this month, one of its mandates is to evaluate US nuclear infrastructure, as well as military capabilities to support the infrastructure as it stands today. The Commission will likely view the most recent Air Force report as critical in judging whether the military is capable of properly supporting and securing arsenals of US nuclear weapons both domestically and abroad.

The above events are especially alarming when faced with the threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons. Not only is the threat of nuclear terrorism very real, but it seems that the people in charge of securing US nuclear weapons are not doing a very good job. Think about it – a plane loaded with nuclear missiles was able to travel from North Dakota to Louisiana undetected! Imagine if the people flying the plane had not been Air Force pilots? Furthermore, it was recently reported by the Financial Times that hundreds of nuclear missile components have gone missing from the US arsenal. Even if hundreds of nuclear missile components are merely blips on the radar, the lack of attention being paid to nuclear weapons security is evident.

With hundreds of nuclear missile components missing and other components being shipped overseas without authorization, it appears that the nuclear weapons and weapons components in the US arsenal are only making Americans less safe and secure. If arsenals aren’t properly protected, arguments for nuclear weapons being a means of protection against external threats are moot. The American people are left vulnerable. It is now time to consider that nuclear weapons may actually be compromising US national security.

Hans Kristensen, “USAF Report: ‘Most’ Nuclear Weapon Sites in Europe Do Not Meet US Security Requirements,” Federation of American Scientists, June 19, 2008.

Demetri Sevastopulo, “US N-Weapons Parts Missing, Pentagon Says,” Financial Times, June 19, 2008.

British Warheads Could Accidentally Explode
Last month, the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) warned in a declassified manual that some British warheads could set off a popcorn-like chain reaction.

On Thursday, the New Scientist repeated the findings of the MoD that had been declassified in a manual one month ago: A design flaw in some British warheads could set off a chain explosion, “like popcorn,” if dropped. The “popcorn effect” is when one weapon explodes causing another to explode and so on. Current defense companies claim this won’t happen because the warheads are “singe-point safe,” meaning a sudden knock at a single point should not detonate the plutonium core. However, the MoD manual suggests that being “single-point safe” does not protect against “popcorning.”

The MoD recommends that warheads be multiple-point safe and that the highly sensitive explosives surrounding their plutonium cores be replaced. Less sensitive explosives would be heavier and bulkier, meaning the warheads would have to be redesigned.

The US National Nuclear Security Administration agrees that the MoD’s recommendations would “enhance” security, but maintains that current warheads “were, are and continue to be assessed as safe.”

A typical Trident missile contains three to six warheads and submarines can carry up to 24 missiles. Although the MoD admits that “popcorning” is only theoretically possible, it predicts that the worst case scenario could kill people a kilometer away.

Duncan Gardham, “Nuclear Missiles Could Blow Up ‘Like Popcorn’,” Daily Telegraph, June 27, 2008.

2008 Global Peace Index
The 2008 edition of the Global Peace Index was launched recently and gained significant attention in government and media.

The Global Peace Index is a ground-breaking milestone in the study of peace. It is the first time that an index has been created that ranks the nations of the world by their peacefulness and identifies some of the drivers of that peace.

Visit to read the report and to see where your country ranks on the peace index.

The Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World
The Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World (CNWFW) is a consortium of national, international and local organizations advocating practical steps to eliminate the nuclear threat. CNWFW works to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, end the pursuit of new warheads, and ensure that existing stockpiles are verifiably and irreversibly dismantled. The campaign is endorsed by 74 Coalition Partners representing a broad spectrum of non-governmental organizations in 23 US states.

For more information, visit:

America in Peril
America in Peril by Bob Aldridge (Pasadena: Hope Publishing Company, 2008). Available at by clicking here.

Bob Aldridge, a longtime Associate of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, is a man of conscience. For more than 30 years he has tried to awaken America and the world to the perils of nuclear weapons. He has written such books as The Counterforce Syndrome: A Guide to US Nuclear Weapons and Strategic Doctrine (1978); First Strike: The Pentagon’s Strategy for Nuclear War (1979); and Nuclear Empire (1989).

His latest book, America in Peril (2008), takes a broader look at what America has become under an administration that seems to place little value on the Constitution, democracy, honesty, transparency, international law or human rights. The book recounts in page after fact-filled page the degradation of America’s most cherished values by the Bush administration. It is a painful book to read, but one that should be read by everyone who cares about restoring justice and decency in America and repairing its tattered image in the world.

The book brings together information on US torture, secrecy, official lies, attacks on due process, covert propaganda and, unfortunately, much more. It is a book that can help awaken Americans from their complacency to raise their voices against the secretive, bullying and aggressive nation that America has become during two terms of executive branch abuse by the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Foundation Activities
NAPF Appeal Endorsed by Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has received the support of musicians Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Graham Nash for the Appeal to the Next President, calling for US leadership for a nuclear weapons-free world.

These three principled musicians have joined the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and thousands of others around the world in calling on the next US President to provide leadership for a world free of nuclear weapons.

The Foundation is seeking one million signatures on the Appeal before the next President takes office in January 2009. Please help by spreading the word to everyone you know.

To read and sign the Appeal, visit

Think Outside the Bomb in Boston: August 14-17
Each year the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation hosts a national youth conference called Think Outside the Bomb, which brings together dedicated young people from all over the US to learn, collaborate and renew their inspiration for a world free of nuclear weapons.

This year's conference will be held in Boston at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from August 14-17.

For more information about Think Outside the Bomb, visit

To apply for the August conference, visit

L.A.-Area Nuclear Disarmament Coalition Conference
Save the date: Saturday, September 6 from 1:00 - 5:00 pm, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation President David Krieger will speak at the “Building a Local Nuclear Disarmament Coalition with Global Aims” conference in Los Angeles, hosted by the Unity and Diversity General Assembly.

The intent is for this to be a working conference. The general public is welcome, but the key result here will be for existing organizations to get to know each other better and take concrete steps towards making the coalition a reality.

For more information, contact Rev. Leland Stewart at or (310) 391-5735, or Roger Eaton at or (310) 390-5220. See for conference details as the time approaches.

“I hope the explosion of the cooling tower will make a contribution to peace, not only for the Korean peninsula but for the whole world.”

-- Lee Yong-ho, Director of Safeguards at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear plant, after the plant’s cooling tower was voluntarily destroyed on June 27, 2008.

“If this Bush nuclear deal moves forward [between the US and Saudi Arabia], Saudi Arabia's petrodollars could flow to the dangerous expansion of nuclear technologies in the most volatile region of the world.”

-- Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Why Is Bush Helping Saudi Arabia Build Nukes?”

“To the extent that they [Russia] rely more and more on their nuclear capabilities, as opposed to what historically has been a huge Russian conventional military capability, it seems to me that it underscores the importance of our sustaining a valid - a nuclear deterrent - a modern nuclear deterrent.”

-- US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Editorial Team
Chloe Brown
David Krieger
Sheena Nayak
Nick Roth
Vicki Stevenson
Laura Thom
Rick Wayman

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