September 6, 2007 – On the same day that Israeli warplanes bombed a site near al-Kibar, Syria where an allegedly not yet operational uranium-fueled nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium for nuclear weapons and supposedly modeled on North Korea’s Yongbyon facility was located, in another part of the world renewed Cold War tensions were flaring.   Eight Russian Tu-95 nuclear-capable bombers flew from the Barents Sea into the north Atlantic Ocean shadowed by 20 NATO fighter aircraft, some of which flew within 20 feet of the wingtips of the Russian planes.  Comments:  Most Americans and many Europeans mistakenly believe that the possibilities of a large-scale nuclear war are long past.  Unfortunately this is wishful thinking.  However, concrete steps including a Nuclear Weapons Convention, Senate ratification of the U.S.-signed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, negotiating a fissile material cut-off treaty, an international arms sale prohibition agreement, and a permanent two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace accord will go far toward decreasing tensions and circumventing an increasingly likely 21st century nuclear apocalypse.  (Source:  Jack Mendelsohn and David Grahame, editors.  “Arms Control Chronology.” Washington, DC:  Center for Defense Information, 2002, p. 17.)

September 14, 1987 – A long-respected and admired Canadian military figure – Major General Leonard Johnson – a veteran of World War II, a 1966 graduate of the U.S. Armed Forces Staff College, and commandant of the Canadian National Defense College, joined with representatives of the Group of 78 nonaligned nations in releasing a letter that called for the creation of a nuclear war prevention center, the dissolution of NATO and NORAD, establishment of a Nordic nuclear-weapons-free-zone, and the promotion of global security through increased Allied nations’ support of U.N. disarmament actions.  After retiring from the military, Major General Johnson served as Chairman of the Board of Project Ploughshares from 1989-94.  (Sources:  Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. “The Untold History of the United States.”  New York:  Gallery Books, 2012 and publications/len-johnson-a-general-for-peace, accessed August 8, 2014.)

September 18-19, 1980 – At nuclear launch complex 374-7 located near Little Rock Air Force Base, in Southside, a few miles north of Damascus, Arkansas, a maintenance accident involving a Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) resulted in three separate explosions that caused a W53 nine megaton nuclear warhead to be thrown several hundred feet from its silo.  A technician from the 308th Strategic Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force, while manipulating an airborne disconnect pressure cap, accidentally dropped a socket wrench which fell 70 feet and ricocheted off the Titan II missile causing a fuel leak that later triggered the explosions that killed or injured several airmen.  Thankfully fail-safe devices on the warhead prevented an unintended nuclear explosion.  Comments:  Hundreds of nuclear incidents including Broken Arrow accidents, involving many armed nuclear devices, have occurred over the decades despite some innovative safety measures pushed on the Pentagon by U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories and nongovernmental experts.  Nevertheless, the safest long-term solution to preventing an accidental or unintentional nuclear war is the total or near-total global elimination of these weapons of mass destruction.  (Source:  Eric Schlosser.  “Command and Control:  Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Incident, and the Illusion of Safety.”  New York:  Penguin Press, 2013.)

September 20, 1963 –  At a speech before the United Nations General Assembly in New York, his last, President John F. Kennedy pronounced, “The science of weapons and war has made us all one world and one human race with one common destiny.  We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world or to make it the last.”  Comments:  Fifty one years later, the 35th President’s speech still resonates in a world today suffering from a reborn Cold War II, renewed sectarian religious-ethnic-political strife, Israeli-Palestinian struggles, a continuing number of civil wars raging in many regions such as the Ukraine, and, critically, a world that includes global arsenals of thousands of nuclear weapons!  (Sources:  Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick.  “The Untold History of the United States.”  New York:  Gallery Books, 2012 and accessed August 8, 2014.)

September 23, 2007 – Journalists Walter Pincus and Joby Warrick published an article in The Washington Post, “Missteps in the Bunker,” which reported that four years previously half of U.S. Air Force Strategic Command units responsible for nuclear weapons command and control failed their safety inspections despite being notified 72 hours in advance of such inspections.   Comments:  An increase in recent U.S. military nuclear safety incidents has reportedly occurred during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations convincing many arms control and deterrence experts that excessive secrecy has insulated the military not only from justified criticism but from receiving vital constructive suggestions regarding the need to improve nuclear weapons handling and safety.   (Sources:  Press reports from mainstream media such as the Washington Post and New York Times as well as alternative media such as Democracy Now.)

September 24, 1996 – Almost four years to the day (September 23, 1992) after the United States conducted its last nuclear weapons test, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature.  U.S. President Bill Clinton was the first head of state to sign, followed by the other four declared nuclear powers, and a number of other nonnuclear states.  However, in October 1999, the U.S. Senate rejected treaty ratification over concerns that the prohibition of nuclear testing could not be reliably verified.   Comments:  Over the last several years, a number of journalists (see Joby Warrick. “Built to Detect Nuclear Test, System Has Knack for Science.”  Washington Post, January 7, 2014) and arms control experts (see pronouncements by Thomas Muetzelburg, a CTBTO spokesperson, and Dr. Rose Gottemoeller, the U.S. State Department’s assistant secretary for arms control, verification, and compliance) have noted that the evolution of an extensive International Monitoring System involving over 270 global detection sites, which detected North Korea’s secret nuclear tests in 2006 and 2013 along with other related nuclear incidents such as the Fukushima nuclear accident’s massive radiation release beginning in March 2011, justifies the Senate and other governmental agencies reversing their earlier opposition to the ratification and implementation of the paramountly important CTBT.  (Source:  Jack Mendelsohn and David Grahame, editors.  “Arms Control Chronology.”  Washington, DC:  The Center for Defense Information, 2002, pp. 4, 15.)

September 27, 1991 – President George H. W. Bush announced a Presidential Nuclear Initiative (PNI) calling for the unilateral U.S. withdraw from overseas bases and operational deployment of all land- and sea-based tactical nuclear weapons.   Weeks later, the Soviet Union responded with unilateral nuclear reductions of its own.   Comments:  Today President Obama could enact similar unilateral initiatives to de-alert a portion of U.S. land-based ICBMs and challenge the Russians to meet or exceed those initiatives expanding de-alerting, over a period of weeks or months, to require a minimum of 72 hours or more for either side to fire nuclear weapons in anger.  Other possibilities include U.S. unilateral moves to publicly call for Israel to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and announce their nuclear weapons stockpile, as well as accelerating moribund negotiations to establish a two-state Mideast peace treaty that includes a nuclear-free-zone in the region  (Source:  Jack Mendelsohn and David Grahame, editors.  “Arms Control Chronology.”  Washington, DC:  The Center for Defense Information, 2002, p. 3.)

September 29, 1957 – A massive explosion, equivalent to 70-100 tons of TNT, at the Mayak nuclear weapons processing facility in central Russia, at the Chelyabinsk-65 site, which impacted a plutonium weapons production reactor and nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, resulted in the release of 20MCi of radioactive products into the environment, severely contaminating the hundreds of thousands of residents in the region centered on the nearby town of Kyshtym.  (Source:  Craig Nelson.  “The Age of Radiance:  The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era.”  New York:  Scribner, 2014.)