Trident Commission Report: nuclear weapon programmes being expanded worldwide

BASIC logoDespite overall reductions in the numbers of nuclear weapons in the world – now at around 20.000 – a new report by the UK “Trident Commission” says that nuclear weapons programmes in all of the states possessing them are being modernised. This first discussion paper of the Trident Commission, an independent, cross-party commission to examine UK nuclear weapons policy and hosted by BASIC, summarises nuclear force modernisation and growth in all of the Nuclear Weapon States other than the UK. The paper, written by consultant Dr. Ian Kearns, concludes that none of the Nuclear Weapon States is actively contemplating a future without nuclear weapons. On the contrary, the potential for nuclear weapons use is growing.

Major development of nuclear force programmes or their modernisation are underway in  China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea, Russia, and the United States. Most worryingly, Israel is planning to develop an inter-continental ballistic missile and India is building new missiles with longer ranges.  Several more states are looking into smaller nuclear warheads for tactical use.

The author concludes that the evidence points to new nuclear arms races and a huge amount of money (hundreds of billions of US$) being spent over the coming decade. The report criticises major powers for not cooperatively addressing the challenges of globalisation, and allowing nuclear deterrence thinking to remain very evident in their defence policies.
The New START treaty is welcomed as a return to arms control but contains a number of loopholes, meaning that its effect on disarmament is minimal.

» Read the full report

Finland to host 2012 conference on WMD free zone in Middle East

Finnish Under-Secretary of State Jaakko Laajava

Finnish Under-Secretary of State Jaakko Laajava

Finland has been designated as the host country for the planned conference in 2012 on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Jaakko Laajava, Under-Secretary of State in the Finnish Foreign Ministry, has been announced as the facilitator for the conference. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and representatives from the United States, Russia, and Britain announced the decision on October 14th in New York.

Finland was also the host country for the first Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), which led to a major de-escalation of tension in Europe during the Cold War and was the predecessor to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). It is a neutral country and has a long history of involvement in conflict resolution, including the efforts of its former President Ahtisaari, who is now Special Envoy for the UN to Kosovo.

The conference emerged as the one condition that would allow consensus on a final document at the NPT Review Conference in May 2010, but is judged by many experts to be extremely difficult to realise, especially given the present political situation in the Middle East. The intention is that the conference will be attended by all the Arab states, and by the regional arch-enemies Iran and Israel, although neither country made any immediate comment on their attendance. It is also expected that the officially recognised nuclear weapon states will also be represented. Laajava said that the list of participants will firm up as a result of discussions he will have with the countries concerned, in his role as facilitator. The exact date for the conference has not been set, but it is planned to take place in 2012.

Anne Penketh, program director for the British American Security Information Council (BASIC),  said the low-key announcement on a Friday which is not a working day in the Middle East, is “a case of burying good news.”

Patricia Lewis, deputy director of the nonproliferation center at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, said the fact that all the Arab states, Israel and Iran, Russia, Britain and the United States agreed on the facilitator and the host “shows a strong commitment to moving forward with efforts to promote peace and disarmament in the Middle East.”

More news on announcement here: UN News Centre; Helsingin Sanomat; San Francisco Chronicle

Nuclear Notebook: British Nuclear Forces 2011

The United Kingdom has been the most successful of all the nuclear weapon states in terms of creating a minimum nuclear deterrent; in fact, there is reason to believe that the country is considering whether to move toward denuclearization. The authors assess the country’s nuclear forces, providing clear analysis on the British nuclear stockpile and its reductions, the modernization of its nuclear deterrent force, the British-French collaboration on defence and security matters, the country’s nuclear policy, and the country’s nuclear accidents.

» Download full article as pdf

IKV Pax Christi launches ‘NUKEM’ on the International Day Against Nuclear Tests

Apologies for duplicate or cross postings- please help us spread the word!

IKV Pax Christi launches ‘NUKEM’ on the International Day Against Nuclear Tests

On the International Day Against Nuclear Tests 29 August 2011, IKV Pax Christi’s NoNukes Campaign launched NUKEM, a Facebook application that makes the effects of nuclear weapons visible to facebook users.

To use the application, go to:

NUKEM is an educational tool to raise awareness of the continued threat of nuclear weapons. After logging in to the application, users can choose to use a Hiroshima-like nuclear weapon, the ‘Tsar bomb’ (the biggest man-made explosion ever), a tactical nuclear weapon like those deployed by the U.S. in Europe, or an ICBM. With this, users target any place in the world. After a simulation of the nuclear detonation in this location, the application will show users their facebook friends that have died instantly from the blast, and the number that will die in the days after, from radiation.

Afterwards, users are invited to the website, for more information. There is also a brief Q & A on the website, and below, for those who would like more background information on the application.

There are still more than 20.000 nuclear weapons in the world. NoNukes works for a world free of nuclear weapons through international, national and regional advocacy. Please visit our website for more information.

1. Why did you develop this application?
We developed this application to make the devastating effects of nuclear weapons visible to a much wider audience. Because nuclear weapons have not been used in a war since 1945, it’s easy to forget but there are still more than 20,000 potential man made nuclear disasters laying around. Launching NUKEM on the Global Day Against Nuclear Tests is no coincidence. Explosions just as the ones in the virtual Facebook reality have happened over 2,000 times for real on test sites around the world.

2. What’s the difference between the grey and yellow areas?
The grey inner circle shows the area in which the explosive blast kills practically everyone. Its size is determined by the size of the thermal blast frying everything in its path. The outer yellow circle shows the area in which most people die due to the highly radioactive fall-out. The yellow area shows how many will die within days, but it is almost impossible to accurately predict how many more will die in the years, and decades after the nuclear explosion.

3. How do you calculate the areas?
We have used available estimates from websites such as Nuclear Darkness, Meyerweb, Carlos Labs and FAS. and made our own estimates after asking guidance from several nuclear experts.
Weather conditions greatly impact the spread of radiation- the fallout. Our app shows the effects on a day with little or no wind and average weather. That said, the secretive nature of nuclear technology means that all given areas are nothing more than rough indications.

4. How do you calculate the numbers of victims?
Facebook friends located in the inner circle are all counted among the immediate casualties. Friends in the outer circle are calculated as dying within the first few weeks. We used conservative estimates for these, and did not factor the lack of access to nuked locations by humanitarian or emergency workers. The app counts all friends killed by NUKEM as unique deaths.

5. You’re country likely uses nuclear weapons everyday? What?!!
The nuclear armed countries (China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, North Korea, Israel, the UK and the U.S.) use their possession of these weapons to bribe, bully or threaten others. The 40 or so countries living under a nuclear umbrella (reliance on another states’ nuclear deterrence) tell the world every day that they don’t think you’re safe unless someone else is willing to use nuclear weapons on your behalf.

At least the following countries are covered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella: Albania, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom.

6. What is your target?
We hope to reach as many people as possible.

7. Isn’t this rather offensive?
We realize that nuclear weapons are no joke, and that many will have a nasty aftertaste from this application. We do believe that it is important to show people the ugly truth. If you are offended by this app, please realize that the threat of a nuclear explosion is as real as it was during the Cold War. Only disarming all nuclear weapons will make this app truly inappropriate.

8 So now what do I do?
Help us spread the application as widely as possible. The more buzz we create, the more awareness we raise for nuclear abolition. If you want more information on nuclear weapons, please download our fact sheet or read more about current efforts and campaigns.

Susi Snyder

IKV Pax Christi

PO Box 19318

3501 DH Utrecht

The Netherlands

T 00 31 (0)30 233 3346

F 00 31 (0)30 236 81 99

M 00 31 (0)6 489 81 492

E snyder

Talk Works

TalkWorks is an independent documentary film project to record and disseminate through the medium of film the thinking of leading experts and public figures across a range of disciplines who, alarmed by the serious dangers posed by the uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons, are putting their weight behind the international effort to avert and ultimately eliminate global nuclear threats in the 21st century. The subjects of TalkWorks’ films are people in positions of influence from different walks of life and political persuasions who are now cooperating to promote a series of concrete steps towards the goal of ‘global zero’ nuclear weapons as laid out by President Obama in his historic Prague Speech of 5 April 2009.

» TalkWorks website

Breaking the Cold War Limbo

Victoria Naselskaya in The Moscow Times: «NATO-Russia cooperation is stuck halfway between Cold War antagonism and what NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen calls “a true strategic partnership.” But there remains a window of opportunity to ensure pan-European security. All parties should bear in mind that trust, inclusion, equality and compromise between Russia, the United States and Europe are key prerequisites for reaching an accord on joint missile defense.»

»Read article

New Russian submarine supermissile can pierce ABM shield

Russia Today reports: «The new Russian liquid-fuel Liner missile is world’s most advanced submarine-based strategic weapon with range and payload capabilities surpassing every model deployed by any other country, its developer says. The submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) Liner can carry up to 12 low-yield MIRV nuclear warheads and has a payload/mass ratio surpassing any solid-fuel strategic missiles designed by the US, UK, France and China, the developer Makeyev State Rocket Center said in a statement. It is very flexible in terms of what its payload can be, varying and mixing warheads of different capabilities. »

»Read article

A Sustainable Approach to Nuclear Zero: Breaking the Conventional-Nuclear Link

Logo Oxford Research GroupThe momentum towards abolishing nuclear weapons has been building over recent years. The level of debate is at its highest since the end of the Cold War. This has rightly re-focused attention on the urgent need to build strategies for limiting and abolishing nuclear arsenals. Insufficient attention, though, is being given to the role of certain non-nuclear or ‘conventional’ weapons (namely long-range conventional ballistic missiles and missile defence technology) in this area. In particular, there is a pressing need to mitigate the prospect of conventional weapons imbalances, hindering progress in getting all nine nuclear weapon states on the path of abolition.

» Read full article at Oxford Research Group

Toward a Meaningful NATO Deterrence and Defense Posture Review

A group of experts, including former officials from offices of State, Defence and military services, have sent a letter to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, to offer a series of recommendations for the Alliance’s Deterrence and Defence Posture Review.

» Read the letter here

NATO’s Nuclear Posture and Burden Sharing Agreements: an Italian Perspective

BASIC logoLaura Spagnuolo, research and policy officer for BASIC in London reports on a Round Table hosted by BASIC in cooperation with the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) in Rome on June 15, 2011. The Round Table explored the issue of NATO’s Nuclear Posture and Burden Sharing Arrangements from an Italian Perspective.

» Read article