Thursday, March 22, 2012

UN Secretary-General: Launching Long-Range Missiles is Provocative

Thanks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for validating what I have been saying for a long time now: launching long-range missiles is provocative and destabilizes peace and security.

There's just a small difference between Mr. Ban's analysis and my own: I'm referring to all missile launches, including periodic Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile tests by the U.S. Air Force. Mr. Ban is referring only to the planned satellite launch by North Korea.

I don't know what North Korea's true intentions are with its planned launch - maybe they are indeed merely testing out some long-range missile technology. But how can it be so outrageous and destabilizing for North Korea to do their test, and harmless and routine when the United States conducts regular tests of its first-strike land-based nuclear warhead delivery vehicle?

History has shown over and over that "do as I say, not as I do" is a disastrous foreign policy. I fear that by criticizing and punishing North Korea while reserving the "right" to flaunt such weapons ourselves, we are encouraging North Korea to go ahead with exactly the program we claim to want to stop.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nuclear Testing at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

So I’ve been following Media Roots, a project devoted to citizen journalism and a socially responsible press, for about a year now. Abby Martin, the founder of the project, is an investigative journalist/ political scientist who became fed up with the mind-numbing news reports caused by corporate media ownership. The other day Media Roots released an interesting piece on the ‘non-existent’ nuclear testing at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. While the exposé was originally intended to explore the new computerized methods of nuclear testing, what was found was a bit more disheartening. According to the Media Roots report, the perceived ‘ban on nuclear testing’ is as much of a fallacy as the idea that war brings peace.

In accordance with the 1963 Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the United States along with the USSR and UK agreed to prohibit all tests of nuclear devices in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater. Despite the agreement, the Department of Energy has continued to test and develop nuclear weapons with the help of some fancy footwork and strategic wording. Let me give you an example: while watching the Media Roots report I was reminded of an Alliance for Nuclear Accountability publication about the ten most budget-busting Department of Energy projects for the upcoming decade. One of the projects, the National Ignition Facility, specifically stood out in my mind because it sounded like something out of Back to the Future.

The National Ignition Facility uses nuclear fusion science (aka lots and lots of laser beams) to essentially create a mini sun capable of solving many of the world’s energy problems. At least that’s how the project was initially sold to Congress and local representatives. According to a 2000 Government Accountability Office report only 15% of operations at the National Ignition Facility are devoted to non-weapons activities. The other 85%? You guessed it: nuclear weapons testing.

For a country committed to a world without nuclear weapons, we sure do put a lot of emphasis on warhead maintenance and development. Make sure you check out “Lawrence Livermore Lab & the Continued Nuclear Arms Race” at for more information on current nuclear tests.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Youth Debate on Nuclear Disarmament

This guest blog is written by Christian Ciobanu, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's Geneva representative and a key organizer of the debate.

On February 27, 2012, in partnership with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and Toastmasters International, an international public speaking organization, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation convened the Youth Debate on Nuclear Disarmament in which teams from the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Webster University, University of Geneva (UNIGE), and Women`s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) debated on whether or not nuclear weapon states should completely disarm all of their nuclear weapons. Dr. Pavel Podvig, Programme Lead on the Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme of UNIDIR, provided the introductory remarks. Moreover, participants had the honor of debating in the presence of distinguished diplomats and representatives to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), including: H.E. Mr. Hellmut Hoffmann, Ambassador of Germany to the CD, Mr. Guy Pollard, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the CD, Ms. María Antonieta Jáquez Huacuja, the First Secretary of Mexico to the CD, and Mr. Michiel J. Combrink, Counselor: Disarmament of South Africa to the CD. These honorable guests agreed to serve as judges for the debate, which contributed to generating substantial and professional discussions on nuclear disarmament issues.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Remembering the March 11th Disaster

This guest blog comes from former NAPF intern Olivia Wong, who is now living, working and studying in Japan.

On the bottom of the ocean floor, offshore from the Oshika Peninsula, Miyagi Prefecture, a massive uninhibited force rippled through the depths of the ocean. Thousands of kilometers away, at that exact same moment, I was sitting in a classroom taking a final exam in Japanese at my university in Santa Barbara. The range of the seismic epicenter was colossal, measuring about 500 kilometers from north to south and spanning roughly 200 km from east to west. Immediately after the tectonic plates began to shift, waves began to form, and the tsunami was born.

The voices of different news stations overlapping each other echoed throughout the wing of the Japanese Language and Studies department. I stood in the doorway of my professor’s office and watched the numbers “9.0” flash violently across the screen. Nano-seconds later, images of a thrashing wave engulfing the coast of Northeast Japan replaced the reports of the earthquake. The creature took on a life of its own, indiscriminately consuming everything in its path into a deep malevolent abyss. Beset by the pandemonium erupting on the television, my teachers and I observed in silence, as we were too horrified to even make a gesture of disbelief.
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