Libya: The Fourth Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Algeria concerned Al Qaida or ISIL could be smuggling uranium

Libyan yellow cake still available

Libyan yellow cake still available

Special to WorldTribune.com

CAIRO — Algeria plans to establish a network to monitor the flow of nuclear material along its borders.

Officials said the government has approved a plan to install equipment to inspect incoming goods for radiation. They said the equipment would be installed at border posts amid concern that Al Qaida or Islamic State of Iraq and Levant could be smuggling nuclear or radioactive material through Algeria to such states as Mali and Libya.

“They will be deployed at port and airport platforms for the monitoring of all product and equipment, which may introduce polluted materials and possibly may represent a radioactive source,” Algerian customs chief Mohammed Abdul Bouderbala said.

In a briefing on Dec. 22, Bouderbala said border posts would include customs units that specialize in detecting nuclear or radioactive material. He said the units would consist of officers trained in cooperation with Algeria’s Atomic Energy Commission.

“The project will result in the purchase of new screening equipment, which will be added to those set up at port and airport checkpoints, requiring qualified personnel for the use of these equipments,” Bouderbala said.

Officials said Al Qaida and ISIL were believed to be seeking to acquire nuclear equipment, including uranium. They said Algeria might serve as a waystation for smuggling efforts from Mali to Libya.
The project to track nuclear material has included the Algerian Army and police. Officials said the new customs units would significantly enhance border security.

“They will be bolstered particularly along the borders of Mali and Libya to deal with threats,” Bouderbala said.

The Abominations Of Babylon The Great (Revelation 17:5)

The Marshall Islands’ latest nuclear test
 
Marshall Island Birh Defects
Marshall Islanders are well-acquainted with the horrors of the nuclear arms industry.
Last updated: 18 Jan 2015 10:34
 
The Marshall Islands – a country of about 70,000 people located in the Pacific Ocean – is taking the world’s nine nuclear powers to court for allegedly violating international obligations to work towards nuclear disarmament.

The list of accused is as follows: the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, North Korea, Pakistan, and Israel. Israel has made the cut despite fervently denying possession of a nuclear arsenal.

The spectacle is unfolding at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the main judicial organ of the United Nations. A recent New York Times article on the Marshall Islands’ “near-Quixotic venture” quotes Phon van den Biesen, head of the country’s legal team, on the ultimate aim of the effort: “All the nuclear weapons states are modernising their arsenals instead of negotiating [to disarm], and we want the court to rule on this.”

A continuing history

The Islands’ move might come off as more than a bit incongruous given its established existence as a pillar of the US-Israeli axis in UN forums. Glance at any review of General Assembly votes on Israel/Palestine issues and you’ll find the Marshall Islands regularly represented in the exclusive anti-Palestine camp, along with a smattering of other obscure Pacific atolls.

The fact that justice in Palestine continues to be as elusive as ever, despite nominal support from an overwhelming majority of countries, underscores both the general futility of taking on the powers that be as well as the frequent toothlessness of rulings emanating from UN institutions.

The Marshall Islands presumably has some inkling of the force it’s now up against.

To be sure, Marshall Islanders are well acquainted with the horrors of the nuclear arms industry.

The diminutive nation happens to be the site of no fewer than 67 US nuclear bomb tests in the 1940s and 50s, during an almost 40-year period in which the US administered the Islands under a UN trusteeship. As Greenpeace notes, one of these tests involved a bomb 1,000 times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

Such machinations have predictably resulted in thorough environmental contamination and continuing health complications for the local population, ranging from radiogenic cancers to babies born without bones.

As Marshallese nuclear survivor Lemeyo Abon told the UN Human Rights Council in 2012: “After the [US] testing programme we’ve had to create new words to describe the creatures we give birth to.”

Lexical fallout aside, other US contributions to Marshallese culture include the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, which continues to generate revenue for US corporations.

The widespread territorial displacement necessitated by the previous era of fanatical nuclear testing meanwhile highlights the irony of Marshallese government support for the US-funded entity that displaces and otherwise oppresses Palestinians.

Of course, human beings are contradictory creatures, and nations composed of lots of human beings are thus inevitably also contradictory. But in assessing the prospects for the Islands’ foray into the International Court of Justice, it’s worth taking the contradictions into account.

Connecting the dots

The New York Times points out that the court case “comes as nuclear arms are increasingly being linked to other pressing international issues” such as climate change – which produces rising sea levels that incidentally also pose an existential threat to the Marshall Islands.

The Times quotes Marshallese Foreign Minister Tony de Brum on the seemingly parallel threats to survival: “What would it gain mankind to reach a peaceful resolution of the climate change threat, only to be wiped out by a nuclear misunderstanding?”

There are certainly common denominators between climate change and nukes – not least that both are filed away in many of our brains under the category of things that we know can swiftly destroy us but would prefer not to think about.

However, there appears to be a missing link in de Brum’s analysis, because you can’t resolve the climate change threat without resolving the business of imperial militarism, in both its nuclear and non-nuclear varieties.

The connection between the military-industrial complex and environmental catastrophe is fairly clearly spelled out in Project Censored‘s annual report from 2010, which confirms the US Department of Defense as the worst polluter on the planet.

This is not to imply, obviously, that the US constitutes the one and only problem for the earth; it’s simply to draw attention to the superior egregiousness of American earthly violations. Had there been an Ayatollah Khomeini Ballistic Missile Test Site in the mix somewhere, folks might be more willing to connect the dots.

While it may not be very coherent of the Marshall Islands to assist the empire in some destructive endeavours and take it to task for others, its nuclear lawsuit should nonetheless be encouraged – if for no other reason than the possibly vain hope that awareness can help combat inertia.

And another vain hope: that with attention will come context.

Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine.

The Anthropocene Period Will Be VERY Short (Revelation 16)

Was first nuclear test the start of new human-dominated epoch, the Anthropocene?

The Trinity Bomb Los Alamos

The Trinity Bomb in Los Alamos
BERKELEY — An international group of scientists has recommended that the fateful Trinity nuclear test on July 16, 1945, be considered the dawn of a new geological age dubbed the Anthropocene – an era in which humans increasingly shape the planet.

Scientists divide Earth history into epochs, periods and other time units bounded by geological or biological signals, such as those left in the rock record by the mass extinctions that ended the Cretaceous and Permian eras, and the end of the last ice age that kicked off the current Holocene epoch.

“Defining the Anthropocene as a new geological epoch would imply that humans are a geological force every bit as powerful as the ‘natural’ ones that caused such things as the onset of ice ages and major extinction events in Earth’s past,” said paleontologist Anthony Barnosky, one of the co-authors on the paper and a UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology.

The recommendation, published online this week in the journal Quaternary International, was made by 26 members of the 38-member Anthropocene Working Group, an international panel charged with assembling evidence on whether the Anthropocene should be formally designated as a new geological epoch and, if so, where to place its beginning.

The term “Anthropocene” was coined by Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen and and the late University of Michigan biologist Eugene Stoermer in 2000 to denote the time interval in Earth’s history during which many geologically significant conditions and processes became forever altered by human activities.

The team argued that a logical and tractable start-point for the Anthropocene would be the date of the first atomic bomb detonation in New Mexico, Barnosky said, in part because it can be measured easily as a result of the worldwide spread of artificial radioactivity from nuclear bomb tests, and in part because it roughly coincides with the global proliferation of major human-caused influences that leave permanent evidence in the geological record. Since 1945, there has been a “Great Acceleration” of population, carbon emissions, species invasions and extinctions, earth moving, and production of concrete, plastics and metals, as pointed out by another new paper in the journal The Anthropocene Review.

Manhattan Project

The Trinity test, the first controlled nuclear explosion, was the result of the Manhattan Project directed by UC Berkeley physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. Various UC Berkeley scientists contributed to the war effort, which resulted in two bombs being dropped on Japanese cities and numerous above- and below-ground tests that have left a distinctive radioactive signature around the globe.

The Anthropocene Working Group hopes to present a formal proposal defining the Holocene/Anthropocene boundary as early as 2016 for consideration by the International Commission on Stratigraphy.

The team proposing to mark the beginning of the Anthropocene with a nuclear blast was led by the working group chair Jan Zalasiewicz and group secretary Mark Williams, both of the University of Leicester’s Department of Geology.

“Like any geological boundary, it is not a perfect marker – levels of global radiation really rose in the early 1950s, as salvos of bomb tests took place,” Zalasiewicz said in a press statement. “But it may be the optimal way to resolve the multiple lines of evidence on human-driven planetary change.”
Barnosky emphasized that “the Anthropocene Working Group is not setting any boundary in stone yet.”

Within a few days of the Trinity blast proposal, a different proposal was published in The Anthropocene Review by six other members of the group, suggesting that human-modified soils could also feasibly be used to demarcate a boundary, albeit one that encompassed a longer span of time than a single nuclear blast.

For now, the jury remains out. “Time – and much more discussion – will tell,” Zalasiewicz said.
For another perspective, see this blog post by Andy Revkin of the New York Times.

The Nuclear Risk Is The Same, Human Error (Revelation 15:2)

The dangers of our aging nuclear arsenal
Nuclear
The Week Staff
(Corbis)
January 17, 2015

How bad is the situation?

The Pentagon recently admitted there are “systemic problems across the nuclear enterprise.” Thanks to arms-control treaties and the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has reduced its stockpile of nuclear weapons from 31,000 to about 4,800 over the last 48 years. But as fears of nuclear war eased, the government failed to adequately maintain and update this immensely dangerous arsenal, which still contains enough collective destructive force to lay waste to every country on Earth. The U.S.’s 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are stored in decaying 60-year-old nuclear silos in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming that look like a poorly maintained Cold War museum. The demoralized Air Force personnel safeguarding the weapons have been plagued by scandals reaching to the very top of the command structure — including drug rings, mislaid missiles, and widespread cheating on readiness tests. Today, the real nuclear threat to America isn’t an enemy strike, says Air Force Lt. Gen. James Kowalski. It’s “an accident. The greatest risk…is doing something stupid.”
How old are America’s nukes?

The average age of a U.S. nuclear warhead is 27 years. Many of the buildings where the nuclear missiles and bombs are stored date back to the 1950s — and it shows. Blast doors on the country’s nuclear missile silos are too rusty to seal shut. The roof of a security complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., that houses most of the U.S. supply of enriched uranium collapsed in March. For years, the three ICBM complexes had just one working wrench available to tighten the bolts on the missiles’ warheads. When the wrench was needed, the workers would FedEx it from base to base. Today, the principal information technology used to operate and launch the ICBMs is an 8-inch floppy disk from the 1960s.

Is the staff demoralized?

That’s an understatement. The Air Force officers spend long shifts in a hole underground waiting for a launch order that will probably never come, while “their buddies from the B-52s and B-2s tell them all sorts of exciting stories about doing real things in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Hans Kristensen, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project, told Mother Jones. That sense of frustration has led to trouble. In 2013, the Pentagon announced it was investigating a drug ring across six missile launch facilities. Then, when examining the phones of two Montana officers suspected of using ecstasy and amphetamines, Air Force commanders unwittingly uncovered a cheating scandal implicating 98 missileers. The officers had been texting one another the answers for the monthly exams, which test a missileer’s knowledge of security procedures and classified launch codes. The institutional rot has led to a number of frightening near-misses.

Such as?

In 2007, six nuclear missiles went missing from a North Dakota facility for 36 hours. It turned out they’d been accidentally attached to a plane’s wings and flown over several states to Louisiana, where they were left sitting unprotected on the tarmac for hours. A year before, four missile nose cones were accidentally sent to Taiwan instead of helicopter batteries. The most serious near-disaster occurred back on Jan. 21, 1961, when two nuclear bombs slipped from the belly of a B-52 flying over the North Carolina city of Goldsboro. Both bombs were set to detonate, and failed to do so after suffering minor damage to the parts needed to initiate an explosion — a stroke of luck that saved the city from annihilation.

What’s being done to improve the situation?

Before announcing his resignation in November, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced $7.5 billion in extra funding over five years to cover management changes, training, and weapons upgrades. He was following the lead of President Obama, who has reversed his 2009 pledge to seek a “world without nuclear weapons.” Not only has Obama overseen the slowest five-year reduction of warheads in the past 20 years, but the president has also called for $1 trillion in nuclear modernization over 30 years, with a commitment to 400 land-based missiles, 100 new bombers, and 12 new missile-firing submarines. Some defense experts think he’s foolish to try to maintain a vast nuclear force created for 20th-century superpower threats. “It’s not missileers who are at fault; it’s the mission,” says Joseph Cirincione, a global security expert and author of the book Nuclear Nightmares.

What do hawks say?

They point to recent world events — such as the standoff with Russia over Ukraine and the volatility of nuclear-armed North Korea — as a reason for America to maintain a strong nuclear deterrent. Still, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright thinks the U.S. should eliminate ICBMs entirely and focus on smaller “tactical” nuclear weapons, such as plane-carried bombs. But for the foreseeable future, says Pentagon adviser Joe Braddock, the U.S. will try to keep its existing arsenal from falling apart. “The interesting thing about a nuclear deterrent is that enough of it has to be visible to scare the living daylights out of the enemy,” he says. “But if you are not careful, you scare the living daylights out of yourself.”

The world’s most tedious job

Overseeing the country’s nuclear missiles sounds like a thrilling job — in theory. But the workday of an average missileer is, in fact, mind-numbingly tedious. Air Force personnel have to work grueling 24-hour shifts inside a cramped capsule buried 60 feet underground, completing checklist after monotonous checklist. The air in the capsule is recycled and stale, with only a tiny prison toilet shared between officers. When problems arise, the missileers have no choice but to improvise: When two sewer pipes ruptured at a Montana launch facility, officers were forced to defecate into a cardboard box lined with a plastic bag — a demeaning situation that went on for months. “You are sitting there being told you are operating the most vital system to the defense of the country,” a former missileer told Mother Jones, “and there you are s—-ing and pissing in a bag.”