April 3, 2016 – In an interview on this date on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace followed up on statements presidential candidate Donald Trump made previously when he indicated it might be a good idea for U.S. allies like Japan and South Korea to develop nuclear weapons by asking the candidate, “You want to have a nuclear arms race on the Korean peninsula?” The future 45th president replied, “In many ways the world is changing. Right now, you have Pakistan and you have North Korea and you have China and you have Russia and you have India and you have the United States and many other countries have nukes. It’s not like, gee whiz, nobody has them.” Comments: This is just one of many uneducated, irresponsible, and reckless statements the future president made about the nuclear threat, mischaracterizing long-term U.S. and international arms control efforts to limit and prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Currently, with thousands of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert status, the world was a dangerous enough place before the Nov. 8, 2016 election that threw an inexperienced but manipulative flim-flam man into the White House with his unstable hands on the nuclear button. The recent moving of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock to 2 ½ minutes to Midnight signaled that other responsible U.S. and world leaders and, most importantly, an educated anti-nuclear global citizenry needs to step up and strengthen greatly efforts to reverse the new Cold War II and the revived nuclear arms race before it is too late. (Source: Judd Legum. “9 Terrifying Things Donald Trump Has Publicly Said About Nuclear Weapons.” ThinkProgress.org, Aug. 4, 2016. https://thinkprogress.org/9-terrifying-things-donald-trump-has-publicly-said-about-nuclear-weapons-99f6290bc32a#.I44ys3h17 accessed March 17, 2017.)
April 4, 1949 – After a communist coup in Czechoslovakia and the Berlin Blockade-Airlift, twelve nations including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the U.K., and U.S. signed the North Atlantic Treaty creating a military alliance, NATO, against the Soviet Union and its communist bloc Eastern European allies. The U.S.S.R. responded on May 14, 1955 with the creation of the eight-nation Soviet-led Warsaw Pact mutual defense agreement. Two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolutions that overthrew pro-Soviet communist governments in Eastern Europe, and eight months before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the Warsaw Pact alliance broke up on April 1, 1991. Nevertheless, NATO expanded from its Cold War era membership of 16 nations to include the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland in July of 1997. Senator Dale Bumpers (D-AR), a future president of the nonprofit Pentagon watchdog anti-nuclear organization, the Center for Defense Information, prophetically stated after the Senate approved this round of NATO expansion on April 30, 1998 that Russia felt (and today this is even more true) increasingly threatened by a nuclear-armed adversarial military alliance along its western borders. Bumpers stated that, “We’re forcing them to rely more and more heavily on nuclear weapons. And the more you rely on nuclear weapons, the lower the hair trigger for nuclear war.” After adding more Baltic and Eastern European countries in 2004 and 2009, NATO has expanded to its current size of 28-member nations today. Comments: More and more arms control experts and a concerned global citizenry are urging the U.S. to bring home tactical nuclear weapons from Europe, allowing NATO to move to a safer, more secure non-nuclear means of deterring Russian military adventures as occurred during the recent Crimea-Ukraine Crisis. For example, Steve Andreasen and Isabelle Williams, two analysts with the Global Nuclear Policy Program at the Nuclear Threat Initiative organization in Washington, DC, recently noted that, “Even taking into account what some perceive to be more “usable” (nuclear) weapons (the B61-11 bomb or its follow-on B61-12), it is hard to envision the circumstances under which a U.S. President would initiate nuclear use for the first time in 70 years with a NATO dual-capable aircraft flown by non-U.S. pilots delivering a U.S. B61 nuclear bomb,” and its seems unlikely that any such mission would go forward “given the political and operational constraints involved.” It is imperative that the U.S. and other nuclear weapon states not only drastically reduce and eliminate tactical nuclear weapons but all such doomsday devices including obviously strategic nuclear warheads and their accompanying launch platforms. (Sources: Jack Mendelsohn and David Grahame, editors. “Arms Control Chronology.” Washington, DC: Center for Defense Information, 2002, pp. 117, 125, 132-33 and Steve Andreasen and Isabelle Williams. “Bring Home U.S. Tactical Nuclear Weapons from Europe.” In “Ten Big Nuclear Ideas for the Next President,” edited by Tom Z. Collina and Geoff Wilson, Ploughshares Fund, November 2016.)
April 6, 1993 – A pressure buildup inside a 34 cubic meter stainless steel reaction vessel buried under a building of the radiochemical works at Tomsk-7, Siberian Chemical Enterprise plutonium and uranium processing facility, led to a powerful conventional explosion that blew a hole in the building’s roof. The vessel contained 8,757 kilograms of uranium and 449 grams of plutonium along with a mixture of radioactive waste from a previous extraction cycle. This serious atmospheric release of deadly radioactive contaminants affected an area of at least 120 square kilometers causing entire villages to be evacuated. 160 on-site workers, 2,000 cleanup workers, and tens of thousands of nearby inhabitants were exposed to radiation levels two and a half times the maximum allowed. Comments: Although the Tomsk explosion happened almost 25 years ago, it highlights a continuing, growing global nuclear problem. Paul Brown of Ecologist.org pointed out last year that worldwide stockpiles of plutonium are on the rise with hundreds of tons of the most toxic metal ever produced in current global inventories. A mere spec or microgram of plutonium, if inhaled, can trigger a fatal dose of cancer. Brown points out that, “there is no commercially viable use for this toxic metal and there is increasing fear that plutonium could fall into the hands of terrorists or that governments could be tempted to use it to join the nuclear arms race,” – a prophetic statement as virtually all nine nuclear weapon states plan to spend trillions of dollars in the next 30 years to build more sophisticated and usable doomsday weapons. Brown notes that civilian uses of plutonium, supposedly to address global warming by cutting fossil fuel energy production in favor of nuclear power in fast breeder and commercial reactors, have so far failed to keep pace with the amounts of this highly radioactive metal being produced by approximately 15 nations that run uranium-fueled nuclear power plants. He also points out that, “the small amounts of plutonium that have been used at conventional and fast breeder reactors have produced very little electricity – at startling high costs.” (Sources: “Too Much of a Bad Thing? World Awash With Waste Plutonium.” Paul Brown. TheEcologist.org. Jan. 24, 2016. www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up/2986959/too_much_of_a_bad_thing_world_awash_with_plutonum.htm and Timeline: Nuclear Plant Accidents. BBC News, July 11, 2006 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2hi/science/nature/5165736.stm both accessed March 18, 2017 and other information available on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s website, https://www.iaea.org)
April 11, 1862 – Henry Adams (1838-1918), a U.S. historian, journalist, and educator who was related to two former U.S. Presidents, after reading the press reports of the terrible slaughter at the Civil War battle of Shiloh, wrote a letter to his brother with this dire prediction, “I firmly believe that before many centuries more, science will be the master of man. The engines he will have invented will be beyond his strength to control. Someday, science will have the existence of mankind in its power and the human race commit suicide by blowing up the world.” Comments: 155 years later, some seventy-plus years since Trinity, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, Adams’ prophetic glimpse into the future seems unfortunately a most accurate assessment of humanity’s present and future living under a Nuclear Sword of Damocles. The choice for Homo sapiens is pure and simple, renounce war and eliminate global nuclear arsenals now and forever or our civilization, our species, and perhaps all higher forms of life on the Earth are on an inevitable slide towards doomsday. Omnicide or nuclear abolition is humanity’s paramount decision to make. (Source: Alfred Kazin. “The Fascination of Henry Adams.” New Republic. August 1, 1983. https://newrepublic.com/article/104616/the-fascination-henry-adams accessed March 17, 2017.)
April 18, 1959 – The radioactive threat posed by naval nuclear weapons and nuclear reactor accidents is a continuing and grave environmental and public health concern over the last seventy years. One of many international examples of this threat is one such incident that occurred on this date when the U.S. Navy responded to a serious nuclear reactor accident by dumping a damaged sodium-cooled liquid metal reactor vessel and other reactor plant components of the submarine U.S.S. Seawolf into the 9,000 feet deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean about 120 miles off the Delaware-Maryland coastline. Comments: In the Atomic Age, eight nuclear submarines, six of them Soviet/Russian and the other two American, have sunk with dozens of nuclear ballistic missiles also lost at sea. Some of the nuclear reactors and warheads in these and other military vessels or aircraft lost at sea are leaking highly radioactive toxins affecting not only the flora and fauna of the deep, but the health and well-being of millions of people. (Source: William Arkin and Joshua Handler. “Neptune Papers II: Naval Nuclear Accidents at Sea.” Greenpeace International, 1990. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/Global/International/planet-2/report/2006/2/naval-nuclear-accidents-arkin.pdf accessed March 20, 2017.)
April 26, 2016 – An article by Kurt Nimmo, “U.S. Plans First Use of Nuclear Weapons Against North Korea,” was published on this date on the Infowars.com website. It quoted Robert Einhorn, a former special advisor for nonproliferation and arms control at the U.S. Department of State, “The U.S. has said that it is prepared, if necessary, to use nuclear weapons first, whether in Europe or in East Asia, to support South Korea and Japan –this remains U.S. policy.” Unfortunately, this opinion is entirely consistent with the long history of U.S. threats to use nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula (and elsewhere) from presidents Eisenhower to Clinton and now to include the 45th President who once during the election campaign horrified the entire planet with the query, “Why can’t we use nukes?” But was this just hypothetical nuclear saber-rattling? Whatever it was, it has been going on for some time. Last October, even the usually diplomatically-focused Council on Foreign Relations advocated using military force to cause regime change in North Korea. More recently, President Trump’s newly confirmed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson mentioned the possible use of U.S. military force against North Korea. In a speech in Seoul, South Korea while standing alongside South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Secretary Tillerson proclaimed, “The policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, and economic measures. All options (in regards to North Korea) are on the table. If they elevate the threat of their (nuclear) weapons program to a level that we believe requires (military) action, then that option’s on the table.” Adding fuel to this fire is that fact that the Pentagon has, over the last couple decades, publicly discussed (albeit sometimes in a low key manner after an unauthorized leak) using tactical, low-kiloton, ground-penetrating nuclear weapons, like the B-61, to attack Quaddafi’s underground chemical weapons factories in Libya in 1996, to strike Al Qaeda cave bunkers in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan weeks after the 9-11 terrorist attack, and to take out Saddam Hussein’s deep underground WMD and leadership bunkers in the 2003 Iraq War. A strike against “high value” leadership and WMD targets in nuclear-armed North Korea is an even more frightening possibility because of the horrendous resulting fatalities and the tremendous health and environmental impacts on the Korean peninsula and Japan of a so-called “small-scale” nuclear conflict, not to mention the globally catastrophic precedent of breaching the nuclear threshold for the first time since 1945. And it is not too far-fetched to believe that any such supposedly “limited” nuclear war could also precipitate or trigger a larger-scale nuclear Armageddon. (Sources: Prof. Michel Chossudorsky. “Remember Hiroshima: No Danger of Nuclear War? The Pentagon’s Plan to Blow Up the Planet.” Global Research. Oct. 10, 2016. http://www.globalresearch.ca/there-is-no-danger-of-nuclear-war-or-is-there/5500276 and Bill Chappell. “Tillerson Says ‘All Of The Options Are On The Table’ In Dealing With North Korea.” NPR.org. March 17, 2017. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/17/520515168/tillerson-says-all-of-the-options-are-on-the-table-in-dealing-with-north-korea both accessed March 19, 2017.)
April 30, 2015 – “Former U.S. Commander: Take Nuclear Missiles Off High Alert,” an article by Robert Burns that was published in Air Force Times on this date sent some significant shock waves into the foundation of long-held nuclear deterrence theory. This article reported that retired General James Cartwright, who served as the former commander of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) from 2004-07 and later served as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before retiring in 2011, chaired a study panel that concluded that the 450 land-based Minuteman III ICBMs did not need to remain on a decades-long hair-trigger, launch-on-warning alert status. He and his military colleagues proposed that the missiles’ command-and-control system be adjusted to require that it should take at least 24 to 72 hours to prepare the missiles to achieve launch status – thereby giving America (and Russia, if they agreed to reciprocate in this vital task) a breathing space to avoid launching an irreversible, globally catastrophic, possibly species-ending, nuclear war, especially one triggered due to accidental, unauthorized, or unintentional circumstances.