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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Entries tagged "nuclear weapons"

U.S. on a Pedestal of Nuclear Immorality

September 21, 2012 ·

30-plus years ago Iranian zealots grabbed some CIA and Embassy folk in Teheran and held them hostage, and then let them go, and Reagan took credit. But before we plunge into military conflict with Iran, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu extols, the press might indulge its public in some useful historical review – they forgot some important history – to try to deal with the alleged threat of "nuclear mullahs" as Bill Keller called Iran’s religious leaders.

Maybe, start with questions like: What did we do to Iran and what role did our government have in fostering its nuclear program? And why does Israel’s insistence on U.S. backing become so important to U.S. policy?

Read the rest of this blog post in Progreso Weekly.

The Human Face of the Nuclear Arms Race

December 6, 2011 ·

The legacy of human suffering from amassing nuclear arsenals remains ignored in the current debate over eliminating these horrific weapons of mass destruction.

Lest we forget, the Energy Employee Illness Compensation Program Act, which I helped draft and push for, was enacted 11 years ago this week. It was based on legislation first proposed by Senator John Glenn (D-Oh) in 1992. "What good is it to protect ourselves with nuclear weapons," Glenn would often ask, "if we poison our people in the process?"

Former NASA astronaut and Senator John Glenn, pictured giving a lecture in 2009, stood up for the health of nuclear industry workers. Photo by NASA HQ.

As of 2010, some 50,000 people have received $6.5 billion for illnesses and deaths following exposure to ionizing radiation, beryllium and other toxic substances while making nuclear weapons.

A lot of credit goes to Energy Secretary Bill Richardson who saw the need for justice for sick workers and their families, ostracized in their communities and driven into poverty from a system that spared no expense to fight their claims in the name of national security.  Paul Jacobs, an IPS Fellow, was the first to bring the plight of radiation victims of the nuclear arms race to public attention in the 1950s. Later in 1999 and 2000, Joby Warrick at the Washington Post and Pete Eisler at USA Today played prominent roles in waking up the nation and the Congress to this injustice.

This would not have happened where it not for the pioneering research of Harriet Hardy, Alice Stewart, George Kneale, Thomas Mancuso, Gregg Wilkinson, Carl Johnson, Wilhelm Huper, Frank Lundin, Joe Waggoner, Steve Wing, David Richardson, John Gofman, Karl. Z. Morgan and others, some whose research was suppressed until we brought it to light with the help of the White House. Many of these scientists paid a high price for their quest of the truth about the hazards of nuclear weapons production.

This struggle for justice for people deliberately put in harm’s way in order to amass nuclear arms is not over. For instance, residents living near the Hanford site in Washington State, who were exposed to the radioactive detritus of plutonium production remained trapped in a 25-year-old lawsuit with no end in sight. The Energy department spends about $1 million a year to fight these claims. Moreover, thousands of tribal people, who were found by the Centers for Disease Control in 2002 to be the most highly exposed from Hanford’s radioactive discharges are totally ignored.

The pernicious quest for nuclear arms ­ all in the name of a “greater good”-- has tens of thousands of human faces, who paid a bitter price, which we should not forget.

Explosive Nuclear Spending

June 7, 2011 ·

The world's spending more than ever on nuclear weapons. The eight nuclear powers — Britain, China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia and the United States — plus North Korea, which aspires to join the atomic club, are collectively pouring approximately $100 billion into their nuclear weapons programs this year.

And, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), more than 5,000 nuclear weapons are now deployed around the world.

With social spending cuts on the rise in too many countries to count, there's a petition to "cut nuclear weapons and the $1 trillion per decade we spend on them, instead of cutting the things we really need," writes Bruce Blair on Time.com. "Citizens need to bring this to the attention of their governments urgently. You can sign the petition here: www.cutnukes.globalzero.org."

You can also check out this OtherWords op-ed by Kingston Reif on New START, and this column by William A. Collins that calls for scrapping nuclear weapons and reactors.

The Bush Tax Cuts and The U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

December 3, 2010 ·

It's come to this.  Preserving tax breaks for the wealthy has become essential to our national security, at the expense of some 2 million Americans who stand to have their unemployment benefits cut-off for Christmas.  Recently, Senator John Kyle (R-AZ) the Republican's point man on nuclear weapons, indicated that the New START Treaty reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons won't stand a chance of ratification this year if the Senate allows the Bush era tax cuts for the rich to expire.

At the same time, a stiff dose of "Dikensian" economics is being doled out by Senate Republicans, led by Scott Brown, as they threaten to cut off unemployment funds for two-million before Christmas. New jobless claims last month still remain above 400,000.

The $700 billion in tax breaks for the wealthy must be preserved, even though there are some 15 million Americans out of work. At the same time, the U.S. will have to borrow huge sums from China to maintain a grossly oversized nuclear arsenal and to refurbish its nuclear weapons complex to make more.