Thoughts on Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons

March 27th, 2013 - by admin

Karl Grossman / Enformable & Sam Osborn / USC Annenberg & The Big Picture/ Russia Today – 2013-03-27 00:48:49

Thoughts on Nuclear Power and Nuclear Weapons
Karl Grossman / Enformable

Planet Earth must be a nuclear-free zone — without nuclear weapons, without nuclear power — if the human race and other life forms are to survive.

(March 11, 2013) — With the second anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster this week, with North Korea having just threatened a “pre-emptive nuclear attack” against the United States and a US senator saying this would result in “suicide” for North Korea, with Iran suspected of moving to build nuclear weapons, with the continuing spread of nuclear technology globally, the future looks precarious as to humankind and the atom.

Can humanity at this rate make it through the 21st Century?

We were only able to get through the 20th Century without a major nuclear weapons exchange — without atomic doomsday — by the skin of our teeth.

With more nations having the ability to construct nuclear weapons — and any country with a nuclear power facility has the materiel and trained personnel to make nuclear weapons — the likelihood of this luck running out is high.

The only realistic way to secure a future for the world without nuclear war is for the entire planet to become a nuclear-free zone — no nuclear weapons, no nuclear power.

Radical? Yes, but consider the even more radical alternative: a world where many nations will be able to construct nuclear weaponry because they possess nuclear power technology. The only real way to end the threat of nuclear weapons spreading throughout the world is to abolish nuclear weaponry and eliminate nuclear power. Consider the alternative: trying to keep using carrots and sticks, juggling on the road to inevitable nuclear catastrophe.

There are major parts of the Earth — the entireties of Africa and South America, the South Pacific and others — that are Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones because of regional treaties recognized by the United Nations. In 1975, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution defining a Nuclear-Weapon Free Zone as an area with the “total absence of nuclear weapons” and establishing “an international system of verification and control…to guarantee compliance with the obligations deriving from [this] statute.”

But if we are truly to have a world free of the horrific threat of nuclear weapons, the goal needs to be more than zones without them. A world free of the other side of the nuclear coin — nuclear power — is also necessary.

Any nuclear power facility can serve as a nuclear bomb factory.

That’s how India got The Bomb in 1974. Canada supplied a reactor for “peaceful purposes” and the US Atomic Energy Commission trained Indian engineers. And lo and behold, India had nuclear weapons

Some will say putting the atomic genie back into the bottle is impossible. However, anything people have done other people can undo — especially if the reason is good. And the prospect of massive loss of life from nuclear destruction is the best of reasons.

There’s a precedent in the outlawing of poison gas after World War I when its terrible impacts were tragically demonstrated. Chlorine gas, mustard gas, phosphene gas killed thousands on both sides of the conflict. The Geneva Protocol of 1925 and the Chemicals Weapons Convention of 1933 outlawed chemical warfare and to a large degree the prohibition has held.

As for the connection between purportedly “peaceful” atomic energy and nuclear weapons, physicist Amory Lovins and attorney Hunter Lovins spell it out well in their book Energy/War: Breaking the Nuclear Link. “All nuclear fission technologies both use and produce fissionable materials that are or can be concentrated. Unavoidably latent in those technologies, therefore, is a potential for nuclear violence and coercion which may be exploited by governments, factions,” they write.

“Little strategic material is needed to make a weapon of mass destruction. A Nagasaki-yield bomb can be made from a few kilograms of plutonium, a piece the size of a tennis ball,” they note. A large nuclear power plant “annually produces hundreds of kilograms of plutonium; a large fast breeder reactor would contain thousands of kilograms; a large reprocessing plant may separate tens of thousands.”

Civilian nuclear power technology, they emphasize, provides the way to make nuclear weapons, furnishing the materiel and personnel. Nuclear weapons non-proliferation, they say, requires “civil denuclearization.”

As to claims of the energy generated by nuclear power plans being necessary, that’s not true. Safe, clean, renewable energy — led by solar and wind energy technologies — is available to provide all the power the world needs.

Among entities focusing on this is the organization Go 100% which on its website says: “Across the globe — in regions, cities, communities, businesses, and individual lives — people are proving that 100% renewable energy is not a fantasy for someday, but a reality today…. The conventional fossil and nuclear energy system has led to multiple convergent existential crises, including climate change, air and water pollution, destruction of the oceans, the threat of mass extinction, water and food shortages, poverty, nuclear radiation problems, nuclear weapons proliferation, fuel depletion, and geopolitical problems.”

Go 100% provides details on the abundant research determining that the world can fully power itself with safe, clean, renewable energy, and what’s happening in nations — particularly Germany — now moving toward that goal.

The dangers of nuclear power — in addition to permitting the development of nuclear weapons by any nation that has it — are immense.

As he retired from the navy in 1982, Admiral Hyman Rickover, considered the “father” of the US nuclear navy who was also in charge of building the first US commercial nuclear power plant, in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, told a Congressional committee that inherent in nuclear power is radioactivity which made life impossible on Earth.

Until a few billion years ago, Rickover told the panel, “it was impossible to have any life on Earth; that is, there was so much radiation on Earth you couldn’t have any life — fish or anything. ” Then, “gradually, “the amount of radiation on this planet and probably in the entire system reduced and made it possible for some form of life to begin.”

“Now,” he went on, by utilizing nuclear power, “we are creating something which nature tried to destroy to make life possible…Every time you produce radiation,” a “horrible force” is unleashed,”in some cases for billions of years, and I think there the human race is going to wreck itself.”

Having seen the light after decades of being deeply involved in nuclear technology, Rickover said: “I’m talking about humanity — the most important thing we could do is to start in having an international meeting where we first outlaw nuclear weapons to start off with, then we outlaw nuclear reactors, too.”

As for nuclear weapons, he said: “The lesson of history is when a war starts, every nation will ultimately use whatever weapon has been available. That is the lesson learned time and again. Therefore, we must expect, if another war — a serious war — breaks out, we will use nuclear energy in some form” and “we will probably destroy ourselves.”

Planet Earth must be a nuclear-free zone — without nuclear weapons, without nuclear power — if the human race and other life forms are to survive.

In Their Own Words: Industry Experts on the American Nuclear Landscape
Sam Osborn / USC Annenberg School of Communications & Journalism

Click on one of five video interviews to explore what leading scientists, physicians, activists, and financial analysts have to say about the present state of the American nuclear industry, and what the future may have in store.

If Fukushima Happened Here…
The Big Picture/ Russia Today

Comments of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen Energy Program:

“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has not done nearly enough to respond to this [Fukushima] crisis. And the President made very clear just hours after the disaster happened in Japan, he made a public pronouncement saying that this in no way was going to impact the future of nuclear power in the United States.

So what we see from the political establishment in the United States is a preservation of nuclear status quo at a time when we cannot afford the status quo. And the real thing about nuclear power here, is that it is not competitive …

Fukushima highlighted the serious safety and security concerns. But what we have also going on here is fundamental changes within the dynamics of the economics where cheap natural gas and cost competitiveness of renewables and energy efficiency technologies make nuclear technology a relic of the past.

But the problem is that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission appears intent on preserving and allowing these older reactors that are increasingly dangerous to continue operating. …. it’s critical that viewers and listeners out there talk to their members of congress because we’re not hearing enough from congress to put pressure on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to stand up and do the right thing…

President Obama has repeatedly said he’s an all of the above energy kind of guy; and the problem is that we can not afford this all of the above energy platform … a clean energy future is not going to be natural gas, it has to be renewables and efficiencies, we’re not seeing enough emphasis on that.

And again, the largest loan guarantee that is being offered by this administration is for a new nuclear power plant in Georgia… $8.3 Billion dollars of federal tax payer backed loans for a project that is already way over schedule and over budget … nuclear power is not a feasible energy system.”

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