This Spring in Nuclear Threat History – 2019

By |2019-04-02T15:11:35-07:00April 2, 2019|

March 23, 1983– President Ronald Reagan, influenced by Manhattan Project scientist Edward Teller and other hawkish Cold Warriors and speaking before a national television audience, announced his dream of making Soviet nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete” by proposing the research, development, and deployment of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), later nicknamed “Star Wars” by news media representatives.  Over $100 billion was spent in the next two decades researching exotic space-based X-ray lasers and other orbital SDI sensors and weapons.  Cost estimates for the program spiraled as high as several trillion dollars as it became clear that a strategic defensive buildup would fuel even more of an offensive nuclear arms race.  This led to the program being downsized in the 1990s to tackle shorter-range missile threats from nations such as Iran and North Korea.  Under President Clinton, the program was renamed National Missile Defense (NMD) in 1996 and focused on using Ground-Based Interceptors to intercept threat missiles in mid-trajectory.  Then, President George W. Bush announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty despite widespread criticism that this move would increase nuclear instability and ratchet up the risk of nuclear war by lifting restrictions on defensive weapons.  In late 2002, the Bush Administration announced the newly named Missile Defense Agency (MDA) would, despite inadequate R&D and a large number of test failures, begin building a Ground-Based Missile Defense (GMD) system.  Today in 2019, with 44 ground-based interceptors deployed in Alaska and California, the program’s price tag is at least $40 billion and possibly as high as $67 billion.  Its test record is poor, oversight of the program has been wholly inadequate, and according to a plethora of defense experts, inside and outside the government, it has no demonstrated ability to stop an incoming missile under real-world conditions.  In recent months, history has unfortunately repeated itself as President Trump has put another dagger into long-held international legal precedent, particularly the 1967 Outer Space Treaty which prohibits militarizing outer space, by advocating the creation of a sixth branch of the U.S. military – a Space Force and the development of space-based missile defenses or “Star Wars – The Sequel” if you will.  Comments:  Once again the 45th President has ignored or purposefully rejected broad-based multilateral scientific and military consensus by releasing a January 2019 “Missile Defense Review” that increases investments in space-based sensors and lasers while also proposing a third site for ground-based interceptors on the East Coast.  This will inevitably fuel the growth of larger and larger numbers of strategic offensive nuclear weapons making the U.S. and the world a tremendously more unstable place where the risks of accidental or unintentional nuclear war will increase dramatically.  Also, the deployment and testing of military weapons including possibly nuclear devices in orbit will fuel an exponential increase in orbital space debris and possibly disrupt e-commerce and communication through the electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) impacts of high altitude nuclear tests.  Even if we somehow avoid most or all of these negative impacts including nuclear war, our nation and others will squander precious resources that could have otherwise have been used to address real problems such as global warming, crumbling infrastructure, the global migrant crisis, international terrorism, hunger, disease, and poverty.  (Sources:  Laura Grego, George N. Lewis, and David Wright.  “Shielded From Oversight:  The Disastrous U.S. Approach to Strategic Missile Defense.”  Union of Concerned Scientists. July 2016. pp. 1, 6, Sarah Kaplan and Dan Lamothe. “Trump Says He’s Directing Pentagon to Create A New Space Force.”  Washington Post. June 18, 2018, Paul Sonne. “Pentagon Seeks to Expand Scope and Sophistication of U.S. Missile Defenses.” Washington Post. Jan. 16, 2019, Deb Riechman and Lolita C. Baldor.  “Trump Says U.S. Will Develop Space-Based Missile Defense.”  AP News. Jan. 17, 2019, and “Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space.”  United Nations. Office of Outer Space Affairs, https://www.unoosa.org accessed Jan. 29, 2019.)

April 4, 1949 – Seventy years ago, 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, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 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.  Despite some assurances to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev made by Western and particularly American leaders that NATO would not expand and thereby threaten Russian security, in actuality, NATO did indeed expand from its Cold War era membership of 16 nations to include the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland in July of 1997.   After adding more Baltic and Eastern European countries in 2004 and 2009, NATO has expanded again to its current size of 28-member nations and there is some support for eventually including Ukraine and Georgia as members of the Alliance.  Another concern is a recent Trump Administration push to increase spending on U.S. Air Force military construction and pre-positioning of strike aircraft close to Russian borders in Estonia, Slovakia, Norway and several other NATO countries.   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 Crimea-Ukraine Crisis.  Russian president Putin has responded by deploying even more nuclear-capable forces near his Western borders with both sides increasing the risks of miscalculation which might trigger a nuclear Armageddon.  Another reason to consider scaling down if not eliminating NATO is that according to many experts like antiwar blogger and author David Swanson, “NATO is used within the U.S. and by other NATO members as a cover to wage war under the pretense that (such actions) are somehow more legal or acceptable…Placing a primarily U.S. war under the banner of NATO also helps to prevent Congressional oversight of that war (including possible use of the 1973 War Powers Resolution).”  He then cites some specific examples, “…NATO has waged aggressive wars far from the North Atlantic bombing Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya.  NATO has added a partnership with Colombia abandoning all pretense of its purpose being (solely) in the North Atlantic.” (Sources: Jack Mendelsohn and David Grahame, editors.  “Arms Control Chronology.”  Washington, DC:  Center for Defense Information. 2002, pp. 117, 125, 132-33, Steve Andreasen and Isabelle Williams. “Bring Home U.S. Tactical Nuclear Weapons from Europe.” Ten Big Nuclear Ideas for the Next President, edited by Tom Z. Collina and Geoff Wilson. Ploughshares Fund. November 2016, Joe Gould. “Poking the Bear: U.S. Air Force Builds in Russia’s Backyard.” Defense News. June 25, 2018 and David Swanson. “Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO.”  Counterpunch.org. Jan. 18, 2019.)

April 14, 1948 – The United States conducted its fourth of an eventual Cold War total of over a thousand nuclear explosive tests at a new location – Enewetak Atoll – detonating a 37 kiloton bomb atop a 200-foot high tower.  It was the first of some forty such tests done in this region of the Central Pacific Ocean which includes Runit and other Marshall Island locations (another 23 atomic tests were staged at nearby Bikini Atoll).  At the time, the native population of these islands were forcibly removed from the test sites.  However some of them were still exposed to nuclear fallout they referred to as “snow.”  A $2.3 billion compensation fund established by the U.S. government has had a minimal impact on the islanders for only a small portion, four million dollars, has actually been distributed to local test victims.  In the late 1970s, U.S. military personnel such as Ken Kasik and Jim Androl worked on cleaning up the radioactive remnants of the nuclear blasts, by bulldozing nuclear waste, including approximately 400 “lumps” of the deadliest substance on Earth, plutonium, onto Runit’s coral atoll.  They then encased the deadly pile beneath a concrete circle which is referred to by locals as “The Dome.”  The soldiers shifted radioactive debris for many months without the benefit of radiation-protective clothing which has resulted in a large number of the men dying from cancers and related diseases.  Unfortunately, the U.S. government ruled that since they were not actually involved directly in witnessing nuclear tests, that they weren’t recognized as “atomic veterans.”   The locals are justifiably upset that it now appears that the Dome is cracking and leaking and that a powerful typhoon might break the entire waste dump apart and spill plutonium and other highly radioactive contaminants into their ecosystem.  The Marshall Islanders led by their Foreign Minister, the late Tony deBrum (1945-2017), filed a lawsuit against all nine nuclear weapons states in April of 2014 at the International Court of Justice and against the United States government in U.S. federal court.  But the former lawsuit was dismissed by the International Court of Justice on October 5, 2016 and the latter action was similarly dismissed by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court Appeals on July 31, 2017.  The Marshallese legitimately feel abandoned, ignored, and disrespected, “We’re disposable. Our lives don’t matter.  War matters.  Nuclear bombs matter,” proclaimed poet and activist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner.  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 hundreds of thousands of military “participants.”  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.  (Sources:  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, page 151, and “The Dome.” ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). December 5, 2017 http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/the-dome/9198340 and “Marshall Islands Lawsuit.”  Nukewatch:  Nuclear Watch New Mexico. https://nukewatch.org/Marshall_Islands_lawsuit.html both accessed Jan. 29, 2019.)

April 23, 30, 2007 – The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was first established in Australia on April 23rd and then formally launched internationally in Vienna during the NPT PrepCom meeting a week later on April 30th.  Campaign coordinator Felicity Hill urged all countries to begin negotiations without delay on a nuclear weapons convention.  During that week, Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams who spearheaded the campaign in the 1990s to prohibit anti-personnel landmines proclaimed, “In a world of increasing nuclear danger, it’s time for an international convention to abolish nuclear weapons.  We are told by some governments that a nuclear weapons convention is premature and unlikely.  Don’t believe it.  We were told the same thing about a landmine ban treaty.”  ICAN, which grew exponentially to encompass a plethora of nongovernmental organizations in 100 nations, including the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, helped rejuvenate a decades-long avalanche of planetary anti-nuclear activism which culminated on July 7, 2017 with a landmark vote in the United Nations General Assembly for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) approved by two-thirds of the world’s nations. Although the nine nuclear weapons states including the United States disavowed the treaty, global support for the convention is growing stronger as time passes.  Comments:  ICAN won a Nobel Peace Prize for its prominent role in the U.N. nuclear weapons prohibition treaty.  Like other successful political movements of the past such as the international effort to end African slavery of the 19th century and the worldwide women’s suffrage and liberation movements of the 19th through 21st centuries, nuclear abolition evolved from the objections of a small group of people – Manhattan Project scientists – to encompass a growing consensus of philosophers and thinkers of the 1950s through 1970s, increasing its popularity among larger and larger numbers of politicians, scientists, celebrities and citizens thanks to SANE/FREEZE, Global Zero and other similar international campaigns in the last forty years to reach a tipping point – the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.  However, at the same time, we’ve entered one of the most dangerous periods in all of human history, a renewed offensive and defensive nuclear arms race fueled by belligerent, unstable, and impulsive leaders and accepted by hundreds of millions of distracted, unaware supporters who erroneously believe that “nuclear deterrence” and “peace through strength” are the only legitimate and safe pathways for centuries to come.  As Albert Einstein warned, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watched them without doing anything.”  The entire citizenry of the planet must redouble their efforts to persuade, cajole, and convince the leaders and populace of the nine nuclear nations that eventually the unthinkable will happen unless humanity joins together to stop it.  Failure is not an option.  (Sources:  International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.  https://www.ican.org/campaign/campaign-overview/campaign-milestones-2007/ accessed Feb. 2, 2019 and other alternative news media websites.)

May 8, 2018 – President Donald Trump unilaterally, and against the advice of several of America’s strongest European allies (France, Germany and the U.K.) who were also parties to the deal, signed a presidential memorandum to withdraw the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, popularly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal of 2015.  It appears to most observers that the 45th President was against this deal for a long period of time claiming that he personally knew that Iran was lying about their desire to only develop a peaceful nuclear program.  He also argued that the recent trove of Iranian documents provided by the Israelis proved he was correct.  In actuality, the vast majority of international nuclear experts, including inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, continued to believe that Iran was complying with the terms of the deal, that in fact, the documents released around this time by Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu did not provide any previously unknown revelations about Iranian nuclear activities from 10-15 years ago.  Several weeks later in July, Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian President, responded to the U.S. going back on its word through the sudden and unexpected withdraw from the agreement and by renewed economic sanctions imposed on his nation by warning the Trump Administration “not to pursue hostile policies toward Iran.”  Predictably, the Tweeter-in-Chief then exploded in anger by texting what amounts to a nuclear threat, “Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.”  Comments:  It seems likely that Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal may have ironically pushed the Iranians to redirect assets from civilian nuclear pursuits in order to more quickly develop a nuclear warhead under the reasoning that a nuclear-armed regime like North Korea is much more likely to deter U.S. attempts to overthrow their government through overt or covert means.  More importantly, while many nuclear analysts note that Cold War tensions have been building during the Bush and Obama presidencies with the complicity of Russian President Vladimir Putin, it is clear that Donald Trump has almost single-handedly redoubled the risks of a potential nuclear conflict through his commitment to increase Obama-era spending on nuclear modernization, threaten Russia and China by promoting a stepped up push for strategic missile defenses on the ground and in outer space, end U.S. participation in the ultra-successful three decade-old INF Treaty which helped eliminate over two thousand Russian and American intermediate and medium-range nuclear missiles and refuse to commit the U.S. to extend the New START Treaty before it expires in February of 2021.  Defeating President Trump in the upcoming election in November of 2020, a task that addresses many domestic and international concerns near and dear to the American people (including ending U.S.-support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, restricting the President’s escalation of drone strikes which have increased “collateral” deaths and injuries to civilians in the nations targeted, restoring the critical role of peaceful diplomatic negotiations to U.S. foreign policy, stopping wasteful spending on an unnecessary border wall, restoring domestic safety net programs to aid the elderly, retired, poor, handicapped, and other minorities, and resolving many other issues), is looking more and more like a global imperative in order to prevent an increasingly likely nuclear war occurring somewhere in the world and caused directly or indirectly by Trump’s dangerously unstable finger on the nuclear trigger. (Sources: Jon Greenberg, John Kruzel, and Amy Sherman. “Trump Withdrawals U.S. From the Iran Nuclear Deal: Here’s What You Need to Know.”  May 8, 2018 https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2018/may/08/trump-withdrew-us-iran-deal-heres-what-you/ and Lawrence Wittner.  “Lurching Toward Catastrophe:  The Trump Administration and Nuclear Weapons.”  Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Nov. 26, 2018 https://wagingpeace.org/lurching-toward-catastrophe-the-trump-administration-and-nuclear-weapons/ both accessed on Feb. 19, 2019.)

May 18, 1974 – India conducted its first nuclear explosive test – an underground test conducted at Pokharan in the Rajasthan Desert, codenamed Smiling Buddha.  The Indian government falsely claimed that their 12 kiloton test (later downgraded by the U.S. intelligence community to four to six kilotons) was a “peaceful nuclear explosion.” Twenty-four years later India conducted two more sets of nuclear tests totaling a combined five explosions on May 11th and 13, 1998 with the highest yield of 43 kilotons followed by five Pakistani nuclear tests, four on May 28th and another blast on May 30th with yields in the 15-35 kiloton range at the Chagai Hill region near their border with Iran.  Just a year later in May-July 1999, a near-nuclear conflict ensued between those nations in the mountainous Kargil region of Kashmir as both sides traded artillery and small arms fire, and conducted air strikes that saw the loss of several aircraft and total casualties that reached about 1,000 personnel.  If India had not prevailed in this so-called ‘Kargil War’ it is possible they may have resorted to the use of one or more small yield nuclear weapons which were in fact readied for possible use during this crisis, according to some experts. The threat of a South Asian nuclear conflict increased dramatically again during a military crisis between the two nations from December 2001 through June 2002 after India’s parliament was attacked by Islamist militants who allegedly had ties to the Pakistani government.  Yet another tripwire to nuclear war was avoided in 2008 after a terrorist attack on Mumbai, India was linked to intelligence agencies in Pakistan.  Since then, there is even more cause for concern as two militant attacks struck two Indian army bases in 2016 (the Uri Attack on Sept. 18th that killed 20 soldiers and the Nagrota attack on Nov. 29th that killed seven) and the Indians responded on Sept. 29th with “surgical strikes by special forces across the Line of Control in Kashmir   And just a few weeks ago on Feb. 14, 2019 a suicide bomber and member of the Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed struck an Indian convoy killing 40 Indian security personnel in the Pulwana district of Kashmir.  In late February India retaliated for recent attacks by launching the first air strikes outside the Line of Control in Kashmir since 1971.  Then Pakistan announced it had captured two pilots from planes it says it shot down, but thankfully in a move to deescalate tensions Pakistani authorities said they would return the men to India.  However it is a known fact that violence has been going on for quite a while as regular artillery exchanges between Pakistani and Indian troops have been common for many years in this extremely volatile region.  India’s nuclear doctrine mandates that if its conventional forces suffer a nuclear attack, it would respond with an all-out nuclear counterstrike targeting Pakistani population centers.  Pakistan has threatened to respond in a similar fashion.  Comments:  A nuclear war in South Asia would have a devastating impact not just on the region but on the planet.  With India’s strong ties to the United States and Pakistan’s growing relationship with China, such a war could escalate to a global one.  This situation represents yet another paramount reason why global nuclear arsenals should be dramatically reduced without delay and eliminated at the earliest possible opportunity.  (Sources:  Various mainstream and alternative news media sources and Kumar Sundaram. “20 Years of Nuclear Tests by India and Pakistan:  The Real Nuclear Danger in Asia That Nobody Is Talking About.”  Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. May 25, 2018 https://www.wagingpeace.org/20-years-nuclear-tests-india-pakistan-real-nuclear-danger-asi…, The Growing Threat of Nuclear War and the Role of the Health Community.” World Medical Journal.  Vol. 62, No. 3, October 2016 http://lab.arstubiedriba.lv/WMJ/vol62/3-october-2016/slides/slide-8.jpg, “The Kargil Conflict.” Encyclopedia of India.  Thomson Gale Publishers. 2006 http://www.encyclopedia.com/international/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/kargil-conflict all of which were accessed Feb. 20, 2019 and David Grahame and Jack Mendelsohn, editors.  “Arms Control Chronology.”  Washington, DC:  Center for Defense Information. 2002, pp. 11, 20-21.)

May 23, 1967 – Nuclear war was barely avoided on this date, one of at least dozens and possibly hundreds of near-misses that almost triggered a nuclear World War III.  Such a nuclear holocaust not only would have killed hundreds of millions of targeted civilians west and east of the Iron Curtain, in North America, and all over Eurasia, but also precipitated global nuclear winter killing billions globally as temperatures plummeted because of huge amounts of dust and debris ejected into the stratosphere by the nuclear blasts.  Such an eventuality would have led to the breakdown of global agriculture and the end of civilization, if not the entirety of the human species.  Ironically the source of this near-nuclear fusion bomb Armageddon came from the nearest star – our nuclear-powered sun which experienced one of the largest solar storms of the late 20th century on this date.  The near-catastrophe occurred when the U.S. Strategic Air Command detected the sudden failure of multiple radars operated in the Arctic and at other sites around the world by the Air Force’s Ballistic Missile Early Warning System.  It was apparently a scenario envisioned by some nuclear war planners – a massive Soviet electronic jamming offensive to cover a bolt-from-the-blue nuclear first strike by the Kremlin.  Thankfully and luckily, minutes before a large U.S. nuclear bomber force was launched, the North American Aerospace Command (NORAD), thanks to information provided by the newly established Solar Forecasting Center, ordered commanders to stand down as massive solar flares and radio bursts were correctly judged as being responsible for the collapse of early warning communication systems.  But had those U.S. planes launched before the warning was relayed by land line phones, there would have been no way to recall them due to the disruption of all radio traffic by the storm.  Comments:  The human race has been very lucky in avoiding a devastating nuclear war, but it is not wise to rely on good fortune forever.  It would be much more prudent if the people of the Earth were able to convince the leaders of the nine nuclear weapons nations to immediately de-alert strategic nuclear forces, dramatically reduce those and all other nuclear weapons and permanently dismantle this nuclear doomsday machine before it is too late. (Source:  Avery Thompson.  “How a Solar Flare Almost Triggered a Nuclear War in 1967.”  PopularMechanics.com. Aug. 10, 2016 https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/a22265/solar-flare-nuclear-war/ accessed Feb. 14, 2019.)

June 12, 1982 – An estimated one million people gathered in Central Park on Manhattan Island in support of the Second United Nations’ Special Session on Disarmament and as a reaction to the largest military buildup since the beginning of the Cold War as ordered by President Reagan.  It was one of the largest ever antiwar and antinuclear demonstrations in global history and some believe that it signaled the beginning of the end of the Cold War (1945-1991), just as previous demonstrations had helped convince leaders to end other conflicts such as the divisive Vietnam War.  Comments:  Global citizenry have staged many other protests and demonstrations both before and after this event and it is hoped that antinuclear activism will grow substantially thanks to the successful negotiation and signing of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).  Every citizen on the planet must redouble their efforts to speak out or protest against the existence of nuclear weapons as it is the paramount priority of our species (along with addressing accelerating global climate change).  Jane Addams (1860-1935), the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize winner, may have said it best, “Nothing could be worse than the fear that one has given up too soon and left one effort unexpended which might have saved the world.” (Sources:  Paul L. Montgomery.  “Throngs Fill Manhattan to Protest Nuclear Weapons.”  New York Times. June 13, 1982 https://www.nytimes.com/1982/06/13/world/throngs-fill-manhattan-to-protest-nuclear-weapons.html and “Nuclear Weapons Timeline.’  International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. http://www.icanw.org/the-facts/the-nuclear-age/ both accessed Feb. 19, 2019.)

June 30, 1975 – In a report issued approximately on this date, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (referred to then as the Atomic Energy Commission) estimated that a serious civilian nuclear reactor mishap, not unlike the partial meltdown of three reactors on March 11, 2011 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, could result in 45,000 fatalities, 100,000 injuries, and $17 billion dollars in property damage.  A similar analysis that was reported in 1977 by the prestigious, mainstream Ford Foundation’s Nuclear Energy Policy Study Group concluded that, “a single major nuclear incident could produce as many as several thousand immediate fatalities and several tens of thousands of latent cases of cancer that would be fatal within 30 years.”  Comments:  Over the last five decades and even longer – since the first nuclear power plants were commissioned in the Fifties – we’ve seen numerous so-called “small-scale” reactor breaches, significant radioactive contamination events, leakage of toxins into drinking aquifers, and many other incidents—some hushed up by the very industry that today lobbies for and represents nuclear power as safe, clean, and inexpensive.  Wrong on all three counts!  Evidence of higher cancer rates and negative health impacts around hundreds of worldwide military and civilian reactor sites abound.  Industry “experts” always point to statements like “except for three events in the last forty years, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, nuclear power has proven itself again and again.” Proven what exactly? Another flawed argument is the industry line that “nuclear power is a green alternative to other carbon heavy sources of energy.”  Supposedly once switched on, the reactor has absolutely no carbon footprint.  Technically correct but factually wrong.  It is the equivalent of saying that a man jumping off a tall building only risks death when his body reaches the ground!  There is, in fact, a huge impact.  These impacts come from the mining of vast amounts of uranium, remediating uranium mill tailings, using heavy construction and excavation equipment to build large, expensive containment domes as well as all the support facilities accompanying a nuclear power plant including future temporary and very long-term nuclear waste storage sites.  Even the supposedly technologically sophisticated smaller “new” reactor designs are still a problem, smaller means more and more is not necessarily better when we are talking about nuclear energy.   Also noteworthy is the expense and pollution caused by hauling away tons of light-, medium-, and highly-radioactive contaminated clothing, gloves, containers, manipulator arms, and the actual reactor cores, control rods, and other “hot” material.  All of this has a huge carbon signature not to mention the tremendous monetary cost of securing radioactive materials and the large accompanying physical plant from attack by suicidal terrorists (including the risk of fuel-filled jumbo jets crashing into reactor buildings at their least fortified point of entry).  And what about the pesky problem of what to do with staggering amounts of contaminated waste piling up at reactor sites, including sometimes quite vulnerable off-site high-level waste pools,  all over the planet—transporting it, guarding it during and after transit until safely deposited deep underground.  All these required steps involve unknown levels of planning and expense (most appropriately because it is entirely possible accidents or purposeful mischief—terrorism—during pick-up, transit, and deep underground placement is a distinct possibility) and represent a significant threat level to a large number of Americans and their long-term sources of safe, clean drinking water.  For how long?   The answer is chilling.  One of the radioactive elements we’re dealing with, plutonium, has a radioactive half-life of 24,400 years! Remember the words of someone even the nuclear industry cannot characterize as a radical, tree-hugging leftie—the founder of America’s nuclear navy—the late Admiral Hyman Rickover who noted during a Congressional hearing in January 1982 that, “Until about two billion years ago, it was impossible to have any life on Earth…there was so much radiation.  Now when we use nuclear weapons or nuclear power, we are creating something which nature has been eliminating…the most important thing we could do is…first outlaw nuclear weapons to start with, then we outlaw nuclear reactors too.” But the nuclear industry’s line of “safe, clean and reliable” is so powerful that politicians  have gone along with the industry gravy train (accepting their huge political campaign contributions) and put their collective heads in the sand in regards to the tremendous impact of nuclear accidents—that though unforeseen are, in fact, reliably predictable over the long-term.  This represents yet another reason why we need to not only rid the world of nuclear weapons but also nuclear power plants (with the possible exception of small-scale nuclear medical facilities and international scientific attempts to create stable nuclear fusion).  An ancillary and truly wonderful benefit of phasing out nuclear power by 2030 worldwide would be the impact this would have on greatly reducing the weapons proliferation risk of all nuclear reactors—from small research reactors at many college campuses to larger electrical power units, including reducing the threat of terrorists acquiring “dirty bombs” or radiological weapons.  (Sources:  Mainstream and alternative news media sources and Louis Rene Beres.  “Apocalypse:  Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics.”  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press. 1980, Jeffrey W. Mason. “Letter to the Editor:  Deadly Risks of Civilian Nuclear Power Are Too High.”  Maryland Independent. March 18, 2011 and Miles Traer.  “Fukushima Five Years Later: Stanford Nuclear Expert Offers Three Lessons From The Disaster.”  Stanford News. March 4, 2016 https://news.stanford.edu/2016/03/04/fukushima-lessons-ewing-030416/ accessed Feb. 21, 2019.)