February 2, 1962 – Although the Soviet Union’s first underground nuclear test actually occurred on October 11, 1961, on this date the first Soviet underground nuclear explosion was detected by U.S. military authorities.  Initially considered a clandestine way to hide the exact specifications of test warheads, underground nuclear testing by both the U.S. and Soviet Union became accepted and even promoted as an alternative to space-based and particularly atmospheric nuclear testing which spread radioactive strontium-90 over the entire surface of the planet and was found as a contaminant in the teeth of children worldwide.  The Limited Test Ban Treaty negotiated by President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, which entered into force on Oct. 10, 1963, relegated nuclear tests solely to underground sites.  Comments:  The testing of over 2,050 nuclear devices over the last seven decades by the nine nuclear weapons states has inflicted extremely harmful short- and long-term health impacts to global populations especially native peoples.  Increased cancer rates, groundwater contamination, destruction of land and ocean ecosystems, and other detrimental health and environmental impacts still plague large numbers of people today due to nuclear testing.  Since an ever growing global network of hundreds of extremely sensitive seismic monitoring stations has made nuclear test cheating impossible, President Trump should recommend that the Senate ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) at the earliest possible opportunity.  (Sources:  Jack Mendelsohn and David Grahame, editors.  “Arms Control Chronology.”  Washington, DC:  Center for Defense Information, 2002, p. 10 and Thomas B. Cochran, William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, and Milton M. Hoenig.  “Nuclear Weapons Databook, Volume IV.”  National Resources Defense Council, Inc.  Cambridge, MA:  Ballinger Publishing Co., 1987, p.5.)

February 10, 2015 – An article published on this date in the Rutland Herald newspaper authored by Susan Smallheer, was titled, “Strontium-90 Detected in Vermont Yankee Well Water.”  The article noted that test results by the Vermont Department of Health in conjunction with The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Oak Ridge Laboratory confirmed that the volatile cancer-causing isotope strontium-90 was detected in water wells at the Entergy Corporation’s Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in the underground plume between the reactor building and the Connecticut River, a water source that had been previously contaminated with radioactive tritium in 2010.  Although the water test samples were taken in August before the plant was shut down permanently in December of 2014 and the commissioner of the state health department, Dr. Harry Chen, claimed the presence of 3.5 pico curies per liter of strontium-90 was less than half the drinking water standard of eight pico curies per liter per day and NRC Spokesman Neil Sheehan claimed that new tests showed only one pico curie per liter, there is little doubt that a number of dangerous radioactive toxic contaminants have been and are now definitely leaking from not only Vermont Yankee but also from most if not all of the operating or recently decommissioned global civilian nuclear reactors of which there are over 400.  The bad news for Vermont Yankee reactor neighbors is that the entire facility will not be completely dismantled and decontaminated for as long as five decades from now according to Dr. Chen.  Comments:  In addition to the dangerous risk of nuclear reactor accidents like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, the tremendously out-of-control civilian and military nuclear waste sequestration, remediation, and permanent storage conundrum as well as the terrorist targeting potential, the economic unsustainability of civilian nuclear power, and the potential for nuclear proliferation points logically to an accelerated phase-out of global civilian nuclear power plants over the next decade.  President Donald Trump should embrace this proposal and announce it publicly in his first 100 days in office along with a strong commitment to reduce and eliminate coal and other fossil fuel energy sources that increase global warming while subsidizing accelerated government and corporate green energy solutions in order to combat climate change.  (Source:  http://www.recorder.com/home/15625872-95/strontium-90-detected-in-vt-yankee-well-water accessed Jan. 15, 2017.)

February 14, 1967 – A treaty prohibiting the research, development, and production of nuclear weapons in Latin America, the Treaty of Tlatelolco, was signed on this date.  Eventually all 33 nation-states in the region, including Cuba, acceded to the treaty which entered into force on April 22, 1968.  The treaty included two protocols that allowed both nuclear weapons states and those countries with territories in the region to participate in the regime.  In effect, this treaty created a nuclear-weapons-free-zone (NWFZ) in the region as did later agreements in other areas of the world such as the August 6, 1985 Raratonga Treaty, which established a South Pacific NWFZ, the December 15, 1995 Bangkok Treaty, which mandated a Southeast Asia NWFZ, and the April 11, 1996 Pelindaba Treaty, which created an African NWFZ, and hundreds of municipal NWFZs in a number of global cities including several in the United States.  Comments:  The growing global campaign to significantly reduce and eliminate nuclear arsenals, which has helped expand an ever-growing zone of nuclear-weapons-free regions, suffered a symbolic setback recently when President Donald Trump not only argued for expanding and growing the U.S. nuclear weapons inventory but also expressed the desire to see non-nuclear states such as South Korea and Japan develop their own doomsday weapons.  In addition, hoped for NWFZs in the Mideast and Southwest/Southern Asia became less likely due to Donald Trump’s rhetoric, agreed to by Republican leaders in the newly sworn in 115th Congress, about terminating the Iran nuclear deal.  (Source:  Jack Mendelsohn and David Grahame, editors.  “Arms Control Chronology.”  Washington, DC:  Center for Defense Information, 2002, pp. 1-4.)

February 20, 2016 – A team of U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command airmen from the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota and the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt, AFB, Nebraska aboard the Airborne Launch Control System, in coordination with the 576th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS), launched an unarmed LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBM equipped with a test reentry vehicle, that would in wartime carry one or more nuclear weapons, from Vandenberg AFB, California 4,200 miles to impact the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands despite the long standing opposition of the government of that territory led by Foreign Minister Tony de Brum to continued violations of their sovereignty by such tests and consistent with a series of Nuclear Zero lawsuits filed in the International Court of Justice in The Hague starting in October 2014 by that government against the nuclear weapons states to convince those nations to end the nuclear arms race.by committing to nuclear disarmament as they agreed to in Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  One week later, the U.S. conducted yet another such nuclear test launch.  Comments:  The official U.S. rationale for decades of continuing tests of its ICBM-based nuclear arsenal as representing, “a visible message of national security which serves to assure our partners and dissuade potential aggressors,” as stated by the 576th FLTS commander Colonel Craig Ramsey, rings quite hollow when we consider that the U.S. itself has never enacted a policy of No First Use of nuclear weapons.  Therefore, regular ICBM testing ensures that a U.S. nuclear first strike remains a viable offensive capability – making nuclear warfare a more likely eventuality.  The same is true for Russia, China and the other nuclear weapons states.  (Source:  “Minot Tests Minuteman III.” U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command – Office of Public Affairs, Feb. 22, 2016 http://www.af.mil/News/ArticleDisplay/tabid/223/Article/670572/minot-tests-minuteman-iii accessed Jan. 13, 2017.)

February 23, 1981 – Despite rhetoric by right-wing Cold Warriors including representatives of the Committee on the Present Danger like President Reagan’s U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and ultra-conservative scholars in the late 1970s and early 1980s such as Leon Sloss, Richard Pipes, and others that believed that the Soviet Union planned to fight and win a nuclear war with the United States, the comments that Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev made at the 26th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party argued against such irrationality, then and now, “To try and outstrip each other in the arms race or to expect to win a nuclear war is dangerous madness.”  Comments:  Nonetheless, Russia, China, other nuclear powers, the U.S., and its nuclear-armed allies, especially the administration of President Donald Trump, building on a decision made by former President Barack Obama, have announced plans to spend trillions of dollars, pounds, rubles, etc., to modernize their nuclear arsenals and prevail in a nuclear arms race.  Madness, indeed.  (Sources:  Marilyn Bechtel, David Laibman, and Daniel Rosenberg, editors.  Full Text of “Peace, Plan and Progress:  The 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.”  A New World Review Collection.  New York:  NWR Publications, Inc., 1981.  https://archive.org/Stream/PeacePlanAndProgress/Peace%20and%20Progress_djvu.txt accessed Jan. 19, 2017 and Jerry Wayne Sanders.  “Peddlers of Crisis:  The Committee on the Present Danger and the Politics of Containment.”  Cambridge, MA:  South End Press, 1983.)

February 26, 1950 – Manhattan Project physicist, Hungarian-born Leo Szilard informed listeners at a University of Chicago Roundtable broadcast on NBC Radio for the first time about a potential doomsday scenario that scientists might one day construct – a global arsenal of very large naval ship-sized cobalt-60 nuclear weapons that could irradiate the world and wipe out the human race.  Comments:  While there is no evidence that such a doomsday weapon (dramatized in the Stanley Kubrick black comedy film Dr. Strangelove) was ever constructed, the Soviet Union did create a system known as Perimeter or Dead Hand which became operational in the early to mid-1980s to ensure that if Soviet leadership was suddenly, like a bolt out of the blue, decapitated, killed in a surprise nuclear attack on the Kremlin, that the entirety of the Soviet nuclear arsenal could still be launched automatically either by subordinate commanders or by an automated electronic command and control system.  Comments:  This set of facts only strengthens the argument that during the Cold War, and unfortunately also today during Cold War II, humanity has been extremely fortunate that a nuclear war has not been triggered due to inadvertent, accidental, unintentional, or irrational circumstances.  Before our species’ luck runs out, it is imperative that all nine nuclear weapons states drastically reduce and eliminate global nuclear arsenals at the earliest date possible.  (Sources:  Samuel Upton Newtan.  “Nuclear War I and Other Major Nuclear Disasters of the 20th Century.  Bloomington, Indiana:  Author House, 2007, pp. 37-38 and Nicholas Thompson. “Inside the Apocalyptic Soviet Doomsday Machine.”  Wired.  Sept. 21, 2009.  https://www.wired.com/2009/09mg-deadhand/ accessed Jan. 19, 2017.)