September 2, 1981 – On this date, Dr. Alice Stewart (1906-2002), a distinguished epidemiologist who possessed recognized expertise on radioactivity in the environment which resulted in her winning the Right Livelihood Award in 1986, was interviewed in Birmingham, England by Robert Del Tredici (or one of his representatives or assistants), author of the 1987 book “At Work in the Fields of the Bomb.”  In the interview, Dr. Stewart expressed very serious concerns about not only the long-term health and environmental impacts of nuclear bomb tests (over 2,000 of which were conducted between 1945 and the mid-1990s) but also of the continued use of civilian nuclear power plants, “…the (nuclear) bomb tests have had a measurable effect because you can measure it in your own bones.  And if we allow every nation in this world to become dependent on nuclear energy for its electricity – you’re literally going to set the clock back.  It could come to a point where biosphere development, which has taken millennia to produce human beings, will be put slowly into reverse, and humans won’t be the first to go…(the) amoebae and the things that feed on them, then the next, and the next, and the next…and then us.”  Her warnings about the frightful impact of contamination from nuclear weapons production, storage, deployment, and accidents as well as from utilizing nuclear energy in today’s 400 global nuclear power plants is as relevant in 2016 and beyond as it was at the time of this interview 35 years ago, “Radioactive waste is bound to increase not only the population load of cancers, but more importantly the population load of congenital defects of future generations of the human race…studies of low-dose effects…(including) a study of nuclear workers in America…show(ed) the effects of age on the risk, the effects of latency on the risk, and the effects of dose level on the risk.  The key finding here is that the lower the dose, which in practice means the slower the delivery of radiation to the public, the more cancer risk there is per unit dose.  In other words, it doesn’t make it safer to deliver the radiation slowly; it in fact makes it more dangerous…By relying on the technology of (nuclear) fission, we’re going against the very processes that make life possible.”

September 11, 1974 – At a Congressional hearing, former CIA director and then Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger testified on the safeguards and protections afforded to Americans in the event of a counterforce attack (aimed only at U.S. military facilities not civilian population centers) to minimize the impact of a nuclear strike on the United States.  Much of the information presented was at least partially classified with specific details denied to the American public.  But the reply by Secretary Schlesinger or one of his assistants to a question inquiring about the effect on our nation’s medical infrastructure of such a nuclear attack as “slight,” triggered a news media backlash.  Comments:  Numerous studies by global medical experts and those with first-hand knowledge of the impact of exposure to a nuclear explosion (studied extensively at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and elsewhere by the 1950 Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, other U.S. bodies, and subsequent independent, nongovernmental scientific and medical entities) have concluded that even one very limited nuclear attack on the wealthiest country on the planet, the U.S., would have devastatingly horrendous impacts on our medical response.  Burns, radiation and related casualties numbering at least in the hundreds of thousands would dramatically overtax the capabilities of our nation’s extensive medical infrastructure. This represents yet another critical reason why global nuclear weapons arsenals should be substantially reduced and eliminated as soon as possible.  (Sources:  Louis Rene Beres.  “Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics.”  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 1980, p. 162; Ira Helfand, MD; Lachlan Forrow, MD; Michael McCally, MD, PhD: and Robert K. Musil, MPH, PhD, Physicians for Social Responsibility, “Projected U.S. Casualties and Destruction of U.S. Medical Services From Attacks by Russian Nuclear Forces.”  Medicine and Global Survival. Vol. 7, No. 2, February 2002,, and Solomon F. Marston, editor, “The Medical Implications of Nuclear War.”  Washington, DC:  National Academies (U.S.) Press, 1986, both accessed August 16, 2016.)

September 17, 1966 – After years of Cold War-fueled bluff and bluster (that began in the late 1950s and continued in 1964 with statements by then Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev boasting of a “fantastic new weapon” and “a monstrous new terrible weapons,” respectively), it was determined later that on this date, the Soviet Union had, in fact, begun a series of nearly a dozen tests on the Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) which continued through late 1967.  The FOBS was a nuclear-armed, de-orbital satellite that would be undetectable by early warning radars built in Canada and facing northward.  Because of their low orbits, there would be less time to detect the orbiting H-Bombs as they came in from a southern trajectory as compared to nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles that had to travel thousands of miles over the Arctic Circle to reach U.S. targets.  This threat convinced nuclear strategists and scientists to consider countering Soviet FOBS with similar U.S. orbital H-Bombs.  Thankfully, it was determined that orbiting systems didn’t have the payload capacity or accuracy of weapons launched in a ballistic trajectory.  And the 1967 Outer Space Treaty prohibited Cold War nuclear arms racing in outer space or on celestial bodies such as the Moon.  Comments:  Unfortunately with renewed Cold War II tensions apparent today, FOBS may be just one area of nuclear weapons development that may be considered in the future, despite their illegality in international law.  More likely is the threat of FOBS development by a rogue nation such as North Korea.  Another related threat has recently been uncovered by the news media.  Both the U.S. and Russia are planning to develop hypersonic nuclear weapons platforms that could strike earthbound targets from above the atmosphere.  A few weeks ago, Colonel General Sergei Karakayev, Russian Commander of the Strategic Missile Forces (SMF), confirmed statements made earlier by Lt. Col. Aleksei Solodovinikov to the Russian news media that the SMF Academy is developing a hypersonic strategic bomber capable of striking with nuclear weapons from outer space.  This state of affairs represents yet another reason why these doomsday weapons should be sharply reduced immediately and eliminated completely as soon as possible.  (Sources:  John Pike, Eric Stambler, Christopher Bolckom, Lora Lumpe, David C. Wright, and Lisabeth Gronlund.  “Chicken Little and Darth Vader:  Is the Sky Really Falling?”  Federation of American Scientists, Oct. 1, 1991, pp. 6-7 and “New Russian Bomber to be Able to Launch Nuclear Attacks From Outer Space.”  Sputnik News.  July 13, 2016, accessed August 16, 2016.)

September 19, 2004 – On this date, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Dr. Bruce Blair, a former Minuteman nuclear missile launch control officer, Brookings Institution nuclear policy analyst, and president of the Center for Defense Information/World Security Institute in Washington, DC.   Titled, “The Wrong Deterrence:  The Threat of Loose Nukes is One of Our Own Making,” the piece noted that, “Even the U.S. nuclear control apparatus is far from fool-proof.  For example, a Pentagon investigation of nuclear safeguards conducted several years ago made a startling discovery – terrorist hackers might be able to gain back-door electronic access to the U.S. naval communications network, seize control of radio towers such as the one in Cutler, Maine, and illicitly transmit a launch order to U.S. Trident ballistic missile submarines armed with 200 nuclear weapons apiece.  This exposure was deemed so serious that Trident launch crews had to be given new instructions for confirming the validity of any launch order they receive.  They would now reject certain types of firing orders that previously would have been carried out immediately.  Both countries (the U.S. and Russia) are running terrorist risks of this sort for the sake of an obsolete deterrent strategy.  The notion that either the U.S. or Russia would deliberately attack the other with nuclear weapons is ludicrous, while the danger that terrorists are plotting to get their hands on these arsenals is real.  We need to kick our old habits and stand down our hair-trigger forces.”  Comments:  Dr. Blair’s point is still valid today twelve years after he wrote this op-ed although U.S.-Russian relations have worsened due to the Crimea-Ukraine Crisis, NATO expansion, and the deployment of military forces, including nuclear weapons, by both sides along their common borders in Europe.  In fact, it is even more valid in an era when cyberattacks have increased exponentially by all the major nuclear powers and by non-state actors, and terrorist groups.   Andrew Fuller’s recent Arms Control Today article points out that, “Top military and defense officials in the U.S. are currently contemplating plans to use cyberattack capabilities against enemy missile and command-and-control systems as part of a new push for full-spectrum missile defense.”  There is clearly a growing danger that leaked documents including procedures or methodologies regarding cyberattack successes may serve as a road map for terrorists to facilitate their hacking into nuclear launch systems.   Another concern is that messing around with other nuclear powers’ command-and-control systems might inadvertently trigger an accidental, unintentional, or inadvertent nuclear missile attack, especially if that power perceives that their early warning system is being interfered with or shutdown by a nation that may be about to launch a first strike.  All these issues speak to the importance of not only working toward global zero nuclear forces but to immediately instituting global de-alerting of all nuclear arsenals.  (Source:  Andrew Fuller.  “The Danger of Using Cyberattacks to Counter Nuclear Threats.”  Arms Control Today.  July/August 2016, accessed August 16, 2016.)

September 25, 1959 – A U.S. Navy P-5M antisubmarine aircraft carrying an unarmed nuclear depth charge developed mechanical problems but was unable to reach land to make an emergency landing and crashed into the Puget Sound near Whidbey Island, Washington.  The nuclear weapon was never recovered despite an extensive search.  Comments:  While it is very unlikely that a long-lost and probably corroded nuclear warhead would detonate, there remains deadly serious concerns about the very long-term radioactive contamination from this incident and hundreds of other similar Broken Arrows.  These nuclear threats can impact human and other species virtually forever unless such devices are found and disposed of properly.  After all, the radioactive isotopes found in nuclear weapons or in the reactor cores of naval surface ships, submarines, and in the payload bays of aircraft lost at sea since 1945 possess an extremely long half-life of decay – 713 million years for uranium-235 and 4.5 billion years for uranium-238!  (Source:  Richard Halloran.  “U.S. Discloses Accidents Involving Nuclear Weapons.”  New York Times.  May 26, 1981.)

September 29-30, 2015 – After Jeremy Corbyn won a landslide leadership vote to head the British Labour Party, he stated publicly his opposition to spending over 100 billion pounds to replace Britain’s current Trident force with a new generation of nuclear submarines.  Not only that, he won the renewed support of countless numbers of global antinuclear politicians, activists, and citizenry by going further, “187 countries don’t feel the need to have a nuclear weapon to protect their security, why should those five (U.S., Russia, Great Britain, France, and China) need it themselves?”  He also noted that, “nuclear weapons didn’t do the U.S.A. much good on 9/11,” and even more impressively he shocked some of his own party members by saying on BBC Radio on September 30th that if he was elected prime minister, he would never press the nuclear button.  Corbyn concluded that interview by saying, “I am opposed to the use of nuclear weapons.  I want to see a nuclear-free world.  I believe it is possible…I think we should be promoting an international nuclear weapons convention which would lead to a nuclear-free world.”  Comments:  Unfortunately the ultra-powerful, entrenched British Military-Industrial-Parliamentary Complex viciously responded to Corbyn’s optimistic views on ending the nuclear arms race with personal attacks and appeals to the so-called logic and reasonableness of seventy flawed years of nuclear deterrence theory.  Even a Labour Party MP John Woodcock fueled the firestorm of attacks by hypocritically claiming that, “Mr. Corbyn’s position would make the grotesque horror of a nuclear holocaust more likely.” As the weeks and months passed since Corbyn’s brave pronouncements, more and more British MPs and other spokesmen and women of the status quo fell into line and last month on July 18, 2016 members of the House of Commons including the entire ruling Conservative Party and a majority of opposition Labour Party members cast their vote (472-117) to spend at least the equivalent of up to 250 billion U.S. dollars by 2036 to build new strategic nuclear submarines.  New Conservative Party Prime Minister Theresa May was wholeheartedly behind heightening Britain’s participation in a renewed global nuclear arms race by adding she would be willing and able to order a nuclear attack anytime it was necessary.  The only ray of light was the bloc voting support of the Scottish National Party MPs who voted with the minority against upgrading the British nuclear arsenal.  (Sources:  “Jeremy Corbyn Row After ‘I’d Not Fire Nuclear Weapons’ Comment.” BBC.  Sept. 30, 2015, and Dan De Luce.  “British Parliament Votes to Spend Big on Nukes.” Foreign Policy. July 18, 2016, both accessed on August 16, 2016.)