June 1, 1952 – “George,” the seventh of eight atmospheric nuclear test blasts in a series conducted from April 1 to June 5, 1952 designated Operation TUMBLER-SNAPPER took place at the Nevada Test Site under the auspices of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The nuclear device exploded on top of a 300-foot high tower yielded a blast of approximately 15 kilotons – equivalent roughly to the August 6, 1945 Hiroshima atomic bomb.  Phase One, the TUMBLER blasts provided U.S. nuclear weapons makers with a more comprehensive description of nuclear blast phenomena and provided vital information about the dust “sponge” effects and the relationship of dust to radiation.  The purpose of the Phase Two SNAPPER tests, which included “George,” was to test potential warhead designs for inclusion in the nuclear stockpile and to study techniques to be used in future nuclear test series.  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 and veterans (over 10,000 U.S. soldiers participated in this test series).  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. (Source:  Thomas B. Cochran, William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris, and Milton M. Hoenig. “Nuclear Weapons Databook, Volume II, Appendix B.”  National Resources Defense Council, Inc.  Cambridge, MA:  Ballinger Publishing Co., 1987, pp. 152-153.)

June 8, 2016 – An article by Edward Kee, the CEO of the Nuclear Economics Consulting Group, in the online World Nuclear News, “Carbon Pricing Not Enough to Help Nuclear Power,” was published on this date.  The article is written from the nuclear industrial complex perspective that mistakenly believes that nuclear energy is “zero carbon electricity,” that there are no significant global warming impacts from nuclear power generation.  This is technically true during the thirty years or longer that a nuclear plant is operating, but patently wrong when we assess the huge carbon signature of nuclear power plants during their entire life cycle.  Significant greenhouse emissions are the result of mining, transporting, processing, and mitigating harmful environmental impacts before uranium fuel is loaded into a reactor.  Then there are the emissions resulting from the construction and maintenance of large nuclear complexes including waste removal, sequestration, and very long term storage (potentially requiring thousands or even tens of thousands of years), not to mention decommissioning, decontaminating, and restoring a nuclear site to the public commons.  The nuclear industrial complex also fails to factor into the equation the long-term environmental and public health costs as well as the terrorist attack or blackmail threat and the dangerous risk of nuclear proliferation when considering the creation, operation, and decommissioning of a nuclear power plant.  CEO Kee argues that a tax on carbon is not likely to provide long-term revenue to support existing or new nuclear power plants and argues that other subsidies or investments are needed to “drive investments in new nuclear power plants.”  A May 2, 2017 article in the same publication points out that even the drill-drill-drill-forget about climate change-oriented American Petroleum Institute is lobbying in some states to “reject legislation that would subsidize nuclear power.”  Comments:  It is clear that both the nuclear and fossil fuel industries have focused on optimizing huge profits in current and future dirty energy generation projects rather than working toward reversing climate change or preventing inevitable nuclear power plant accidents and meltdowns like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.  Decades of judicial, legislative, and executive decisions, on all levels, have unfortunately reinforced the corporate mindset that environmental damage and public health impacts are mere externalities that only governments or charities are charged with mitigating and resolving.  This has to change and change quickly if our species is to survive and prosper on this fragile Pale Blue Dot.  The nuclear threat and the climate change crisis must be addressed in a New Paradigm that over the next decade or so accelerates the phase-out of these catastrophically harmful energy extraction technologies and substitutes community-based and large-scale government-subsidized green renewables on a global scale even at the risk of running large spending deficits.  Global corporate, military, and profit-making entities should be forced to convert to greener alternatives before it is too late. (Sources: Edward Kee. “Carbon Pricing Not Enough to Help Nuclear Power.” World Nuclear News. June 8, 2016      http:/www.world-nuclear-news.org/V-Carbon-pricing-not-enough-to-help-nuclear-power-10061601.html and “Gloves Are Off in Fossil Fuel Fight Against Nuclear.”  World Nuclear News. May 2, 2017 http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/V-Gloves-are-off-in-fossil-fuel-fight-against-nuclear-0205171.html both accessed May 15, 2017.)

June 15, 2017 – After decades of pressure by activists, citizens, politicians, religious authorities, and scientists and in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution A/RES/71/258 initiated by a core group of six nations (Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa) and adopted by 113 nations on December 23, 2016, an international conference, with the participation and contributions of not only government leaders but also international organizations and civil society representatives, will meet at U.N. Headquarters in New York City from this date through July 7th to negotiate “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”  This conference will build on earlier negotiations that took place March 27-31 of this year which saw more than 2,000 scientists, including many Americans, sign an open letter endorsing these U.N. talks.  Also in that same month, Pope Francis expressed support for this global effort to eliminate nuclear arsenals. In addition, over the last few decades countless individuals and organizations in wide-ranging fields including academia, government, the military, and the nonprofit world have supported the effort.  One of many examples is the International Red Cross which stated at the third humanitarian conference on the impact of nuclear conflict in 2014, “Nuclear weapons can only bring us a catastrophic and irreversible scenario that no one wishes and to which no one can respond in any meaningful way.”  The nuclear weapons ban is an initiative to prohibit the use, possession, development, testing, deployment, and transfer of nuclear weapons under international law just as other weapons of mass destruction have been banned by treaty such as biological and chemical weapons as well as other unconscionable weapons such as anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions.  Nine nations possess an estimated 14,900 nuclear weapons led by Russia with 7,000 and the United States with 6,800.  Unfortunately none of these nine nation-states are participating in this conference.  However, since this potential treaty is not subject to approval by the U.N. Security Council, no veto by any or all of the five nuclear-armed permanent members of this council can block the agreement.  The legal construct and rationale for such a nuclear ban rests on these two concrete foundations:  First, as a consequence of their destructive power and radioactive fallout, nuclear weapons inherently violate several articles of the Geneva Conventions meant to protect the victims of international conflicts.  Second, many non-nuclear countries and disarmament proponents believe that nations possessing nuclear weapons have been unwilling to pursue good faith disarmament negotiations mandated by Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).  Comments:  Success in these negotiations could prove the beginning of the end of the nuclear threat.  Failure is clearly not an option. (Sources:  International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. “Nuclear Ban Treaty Negotiations.” March 2017 http://www.icanw.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ican-2017.pdf and The Nuclear Threat Initiative. “Proposed Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.” http://www.nti.org/learn/treaties-and-regimes/proposal-nuclear-weapons-ban-treaty/ both accessed May 15, 2017.)

June 16, 1976 – After decades of leaked information revealed numerous U.S. nuclear weapons accidents, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) begrudgingly issued a press release on this date quoting Lieutenant General William Young Smith, an assistant to the Chairman of the JCS, which stated that, “There has been a total of 33 accidents involving nuclear weapons throughout the period that the U.S. has had these weapons although none has resulted in a nuclear detonation.”  Comments:  Over the last forty years, a plethora of Freedom of Information Act requests by journalists, anti-nuclear activists, and nonprofit organizations, along with more leaks by retired U.S. military personnel, have revealed dozens of other nuclear accidents until the total of Broken Arrows and related nuclear incidents now number in the hundreds.  And that total is just for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.  Journalistic accounts and other authorized and unauthorized releases of information about military nuclear accidents in the other eight nations that possess nuclear weapons are also quite numerous.  Accidents have happened, are happening and will continue to happen and relying on luck to avoid a nuclear catastrophe has its limits.  This represents an additional reason why global nuclear arsenals should be drastically reduced in the short-term and eliminated completely by 2025. (Sources:  Louis Rene Beres. “Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics.” Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press, 1980 and Eric Schlosser.  “Command and Control:  Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Incident, and the Illusion of Safety.” New York:  Penguin Press, 2013.)

June 20, 1963 – Learning the shockingly frightening lessons of near-nuclear war after the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, one of which was how antiquated the high-level U.S.-Soviet communication links were (during the standoff, official diplomatic messages between Washington and Moscow typically took six or more hours to deliver), the U.S. and Soviet Union negotiated, signed, and entered into force a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Geneva to establish a direct communications link or “hot line” between the two governments for use in the event of crisis.  The “Hot Line Agreement” was updated in 1971, again in 1984, and made into a modern secure computer link in 2008 in which messages are exchanged by email.  Similar hot lines have been set up between the U.S. and China (1998), India and Pakistan (2004), South Korea and China (2008), and China and India (2010).  Comments:  It is hoped that increased communication in times of crisis will help circumvent genocidal conflicts and prevent unauthorized, accidental, or unintentional nuclear war.  An additional essential step for lessening the odds of a nuclear Armageddon is the de-alerting of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, as well as the nuclear forces of other nations.  The 45th President of the U.S. ought to publicly announce the de-alerting on one squadron of land-based ICBMs and encourage Russia to reciprocate and de-alert more squadrons in concert with the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Command.  After several days or a week or so, both nations’ entire hair-trigger arsenals will be removed from alert status, giving each side at least 72 hours to think about it before being able to launch World War III.  This is just one of several steps (including the President recommending that the Senate ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty [CTBT]) necessary to reduce the global risk of nuclear war. (Sources:  Jack Mendelsohn and David Grahame, editors. “Arms Control Chronology.” Washington, DC:  Center for Defense Information, 2002, pp. 28-29 and “Memorandum of Understanding Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Regarding the Establishment of a Direct Communications Link.” U.S. Department of State.  http://www.state.gov/isn/4785.htm and “Hot Line Agreements.”  Arms Control Association. https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Hotlines both accessed May 15, 2017.)

June 25, 1950 – The Korean War began when a force of approximately 75,000 soldiers of the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea, invaded the U.S.-backed Republic of Korea, South Korea, by crossing the 38th Parallel.  By July, soldiers sent from the U.S. occupation force in Japan entered the war on behalf of South Korea.  Other Western allies joined the fighting as part of a U.N. military force.  Chinese leader Mao Zedong (1893-1976) warned the U.N. forces, commanded by World War II hero U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, not to approach China’s border with North Korea but an allied counteroffensive did reach that border at the Yalu River, which triggered a massive attack by Chinese forces invading southward.  After direct Chinese involvement, General MacArthur appealed to President Harry Truman to use nuclear weapons against China but Truman refused and fired MacArthur.  Later in the war, after the election of President Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, nuclear threats by the newly sworn-in president were seen by some experts as one of the major reasons why the North Koreans, Chinese, and Soviets relented on several sticking points holding up the armistice agreement.  It should be noted that the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff pre-planned the deployment of nuclear weapons for use against China if it sent troops or bombers into Korea or against the Soviet Union if they came to the aid of the North Koreans, although America’s European allies opposed such escalation fearing that the Soviets would retaliate by invading Western Europe.  The fighting lasted over three years until the July 27, 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement was signed by both sides.  Five million people died in the conflict, over half of which were civilians.  Almost 40,000 Americans were killed and more than 100,000 wounded.  Comments:  Today, the Korean War is technically still being fought as the armistice does not represent a permanent peace treaty ending the conflict.  Negotiating such a treaty should be one of the top priorities of the 45th President and 115th Congress but this isn’t even considered a talking point by mainstream news media, the Pentagon, and State Department. The growing risk of a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula makes ending the war an imperative priority not only for the U.S. and both Koreas but also for the global community of nations.  (Sources:  “Korean War.”  History.com. http://www.history.com/topics/korean-war, “Korean War 1950-53.” Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/event/Korean-War, and David W. Brown.  “10 Facts About the Korean War.” MentalFloss.com. http://mentalfloss.com/article/4972/10-things-you-might-not-know-about-korean-war all accessed on May 15, 2017.)

June 29, 1918 – One of the founders of the nongovernmental, nonprofit organization the Center for Defense Information, Admiral Gene Robert La Rocque (pronounced la-ROCK), was born on this date in Kankakee, Illinois.  After attending the University of Illinois, he joined the U.S. Navy, survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and fought in over a dozen battles in the Pacific winning the Bronze Star and many other citations during his distinguished 32-year naval career which included serving as one of the top strategic planners for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  In the early 1950s, La Rocque refused to sign a loyalty oath during the height of McCarthyism. When he was teaching at the Naval War College, he insisted that his students read not only the American Constitution but also The Communist Manifesto.  After a 1968 visit to Vietnam, he filed a report critical of the U.S. mission in Indochina.  In a 1986 profile in The New Yorker, he explained that, “Fundamentally, I couldn’t find anyone to tell me why the United States was in Vietnam and what it was we were trying to accomplish.”  Passed over for promotion because of rocking the boat, he retired and joined other like-minded retired military officers like Rear Admiral Eugene J. Carroll, Jr. (1923-2003) and navy captain Arthur D. Berliss, Jr. (1914-2010) in establishing the Center for Defense Information (CDI), an arm of the Fund for Peace in April of 1972.  CDI’s early thrust was to avert a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, end the Vietnam War, and monitor-critique the military-industrial-congressional complex.  Over the three-plus decades of the organization’s existence, until it operated under the umbrella of Dr. Bruce Blair’s World Security Institute and then merged with the Project on Government Oversight in 2012, its mission statement expanded accordingly, “The Center for Defense Information believes that strong social, economic, political, and military components and a healthy environment contribute equally to the nation’s security.  CDI opposes excessive expenditures for weapons and policies that increase the dangers of war.”  During the Cold War, Admiral La Rocque and his senior aides, CDI’s staff of a few dozen academics, retired soldiers, and former Congressional aides, joined by tens of thousands of supporters, embraced strong opposition to the threat of nuclear annihilation, opposed excessive global deployment of U.S. forces, and advocated the dissolution of not only the Soviet Warsaw Pact but the western NATO Alliance as well.  He told The New Yorker, “There are unfortunately some in the United States who believe that the Soviets are the enemy that we must defeat by war.  I think the enemy is nuclear war.”  His intelligent, well-reasoned rhetoric was at odds with mainstream military and political views that such a war could be won.  “If we are to have a nuclear war, we can’t win it.  Can we survive it?  I don’t know.  Nobody knows.  That’s the tragedy of it – nobody knows.  Anybody that tells you that this many people are going to be killed and this many are going to survive doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”  Admiral La Rocque passed away at the age of 98 on October 31, 2016.  (Sources:  Miles D. Wolpin. “Alternative Security and Military Dissent.”  San Francisco: Austin & Winfield Publishers, 1994, pp. 130-145 and Anita Gates.  “Gene La Rocque, Decorated Veteran Who Condemned Waste of War, Dies at 98.”  New York Times. November 4, 2016.  https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/05/gene-la-rocque-decorated-veteran-who-condemned-waste-of-war-dies-at-98.html?_r=0 accessed May 16, 2017.)