1000 paper cranes

1000 Paper Cranes and Mayors for Peace

In late April 2004 Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba of Hiroshima visited five Canadian cities including Ottawa. His visit to Ottawa was hosted by Physicians for Global Survival (Canada) and the office of City Councillor Clive Doucet. At a luncheon hosted by Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli, Mayor Akiba was presented with 1000 paper cranes folded by local Grade 6 students from Kathryn Ferris’ class at D. Roy Kennedy public school. After reading Sadako, students decided they wanted to be involved, in their own way, in efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. (See: http://www.sadako.org/sadakostory.htm for the Sadako story.)

Mayor Akiba travelled from Canada to New York City for preparatory meetings at the United Nations in the lead-up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2005. The 2005 Review Conference will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945.

As President of Mayors for Peace, (a coalition started by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1982 and which now includes members from 562 cities in 108 countries and regions around the world), Mayor Akiba is a leading proponent of the full ratification of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the UN and complete elimination of nuclear weapons by the year 2020.

Mayors for Peace has initiated an Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons and is exploring ways that cities can work together to arouse international public demand for the abolition of nuclear weapons. They seek ways to help each other address the many other problems that threaten peaceful coexistence, from hunger and poverty to refugee, human rights, and environmental issues. The organization encourages mayors to strengthen cooperation to abolish nuclear weapons and work for a genuine world peace that values reconciliation and humanity.

Prior to becoming Mayor of Hiroshima five years ago, Tadatoshi Akiba was a member of the Japanese House of Representatives for nine years. He received his Ph.D in Mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970, and taught at the State University of New York in Stony Brook and at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Returning to Japan, he taught at Hiroshima Shudo University in Japan for 11 years.

Robin Collins: WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION VERIFICATION AND COMPLIANCE ISSUES

Robin Collins: WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION VERIFICATION AND COMPLIANCE ISSUES
Presentation by Robin Collins (World Federalist Movement-Canada) to the WMD/Nuclear Issues Consultations, February 2004

•Background items inserted into the consultation package:

1. A list of BW and CW sources: http://cns.miis.edu/research/cbw/possess.htm;
2. CW types: http://www.fas.org/nuke/intro/cw/chem-table.htm;
3. NW arsenals of NW states: http://www.cdi.org/issues/nukef&f/database/nukearsenals.cfm;
4. Steve Fetter paper on verification of NW, for background reference: http://www.inesap.org/bulletin13/bulletin13.htm;
5. US State Department most recent listing of terror incidents: http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2002/html/19997.htm

From the last item, I draw your attention to the downward trend of terrorist incidents (as collected by the US state department), but remember also that numbers of incidents tell us little about the impact of any particular incident (9/11 for instance).

How far away are we from a comprehensive regime that integrates verification and compliance measures with criteria for enforcement that are better tuned than in the past?

• Canada has done more than many in contributing to the development of international enforcement mechanisms and structures, such as the International Criminal Court structure, and in pursuing the Responsibility to Protect option. Efforts such as these bolster the development of any new process that also upholds the WMD verification and compliance regime(s).

• However, when we look to an assessment of the verification and compliance processes associated with each WMD subgroup (nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biological weapons, etc.), there are some non-trivial differences we have to recognize, and they are not entirely technical. For one thing the chemical weapons verification regime is considered one of the best in the business. But the biological and toxin weapons verification regime doesn’t yet exist because of a lack of agreement on implementing a protocol for verification, let alone enforcement.

Chemical Weapons: Problem of ease of access to weapon materials

• The ease by which CW components can be made accessible for purposes of weaponization is a significant worry. Where there is ease of manufacture, there will likely be complexity in verification. Many of the components found in chemical weapons are available and used for industrial processes. Thiodiglycol, for instance, a precursor for mustard gas, is also used to make the ink found in some ballpoint pens. But while chemical weapons are relatively easy to obtain and use, they are not as easily kept safely in stable condition. Nonetheless as with biological weapons, CW have been found by the US Army to be easily disseminated from ships near seaports, or subways and with crop duster aircraft – an indication that their use and dispersal is possible with relatively low tech capability. Generally speaking, the threat of CW these days is thought to be primarily from terrorist groups; therefore, if the products are readily available, while the groups are unpredictable, irrational, and often indigenous, then no response is likely to be quick enough in many cases.

• Large-scale production, on the other hand, was suspected, proved and halted in Iraq; this was possible because of the effectiveness of an international inspection regime, albeit, imposed in a coercive environment. We might argue about the nature of the coercion, but the capability for detection seems to have been credible and convincing.

Biological [and Toxin] Weapons (BTW): Difficult access, high risk, low frequency of use

• In the very contemporary timeframe (not counting the recent ricin poison scare in the US Senate earlier this month), there are only three instances of terrorist bioweapon/toxin attacks or attempted attacks that are well documented. In 1984 a religious cult contaminated salad bars in their county in rural Oregon. 751 people became ill from food poisoning, 45 of whom required hospitalization, although nobody died. It was a year before authorities determined the source of the outbreak.

• In 1995, the religious sect Aum Shinrikyo, released sarin gas (a chemical agent) in the Toyko subway system. 12 people died and thousands became ill. While the cult also attempted to use biological weapons (spraying botulinum toxin and anthrax in downtown Tokyo over a two year period, 1993-1995, as many as ten times, there was no apparent known effect.) Some have suggested that the switch to sarin gas from bio-agents is indicative of the relative ease by which CW can be administered, as compared to BW.

• In the autumn of 2001, following the terror attacks in New York and Washington, at least three letters contaminated with anthrax were circulated in the US. 18 people were infected with anthrax as a result, and five people died. The impact of the letters was wider however than those numbers would suggest.

• Regardless of the frequency of contemporary attacks, the potential for risk by biological agent dispersal should not be ignored. It is calculated that 100 kilograms of anthrax spores could be dispersed, in ideal conditions, killing between 130,000 and 3 million people over a large US city – a lethality “matching or exceeding that of a hydrogen bomb” (see: Richard F. Pilch in the references, below).

• The greatest present danger of BW risk is probably the brain drain of Russian ex bio-weapon scientists. Stemming that flow is therefore the most likely useful focus of our attention.

Nuclear Weapons: Verification and compliance proposals in the context of deep reductions

•What are some proposed approaches to verifying “deep reductions in nuclear forces” as would be necessary in the early phases of a process towards abolition? Some, such as Bruce Blair, Frank von Hippel, Steve Fetter et al. have noted (see references, below) the high degree of cooperation that will be necessary among the current nuclear weapon states before verification of compliance measures can be put into place – something that is not currently looking that promising. But, when the ducks so get lined up, a comprehensive system would include three key components:

1. measures to monitor restrictions on “allowed” nuclear weapons [en route to abolition];
2. measures to monitor delivery vehicles and launchers; and
3. measures to monitor restrictions on the deployment and alert status of nuclear forces.

We should note the importance of irreversibility in any of these deep cuts strategies. Some of this could be carried out by the IAEA, other aspects by a new verification authority that would need to be set up. Standard measures would include the listing of suspect processes, declarations, tagging schemes, challenge inspection protocols, records verification, production facilities shutdown monitoring procedures, and so on, that in the present international climate may seem to put the cart before the horse. However, if we are to be prepared to enter a period of deep reductions when the opportunity arises, and because the process of inventorying will be long and complex anyway, there’s no time like the present to start the inventory.

•A precise inventory of known warhead and fissile materials stockpiles could be at the top of the list. For the very reason that concealed weapons and fissile materials will be almost impossible to detect without information indicating where to start looking, it is important that the process begin, and obviously starting with those currently willing to cooperate.

•As the Nuclear Turning Point authors suggest, citizen reporting should be both encouraged now and become an activity protected in law.

The costs of verification are not prohibitive, even ignoring their efficacy

In 1995, the IAEA estimated that a comprehensive nuclear weapons verification effort would involve 25,000 person days of inspection effort/year, and cost $150 million to monitor 995 facilities in both the declared and undeclared nuclear weapon states. For comparison, it cost $62.5 million in 1993 to do the job, involving 8,200 person days. Ron Cleminson, who has spoken to this gathering in the past, estimated perhaps somewhat optimistically about eight years ago that a cool half billion dollars per year would cover verification costs for the whole range of weapons of mass destruction. In other words, this is a drop in the bucket, even in today’s dollars.

•The problem, however, is not cost, nor is it likely technological, even though there is real complexity in tracking inventories of broadly used industrial products that might be diverted into chemical weapons production; or sources of anthrax and other bio-agents, or nuclear reactor waste products diversion.

Iraq Case Study: What lessons?

•We know that absolute certainty of compliance is impossible, so there needs to be agreement on what level of satisfaction is acceptable, realizing that the greater the assurance, the greater will be the coercion potential in any unfriendly environment. That level of assurance is certainly also technologically limited, but case studies such as that of UNSCOM/UNMOVIC in Iraq suggest that the process is on the most part effective. Here I’d like to throw into the pot for discussion a few questions for us to consider:

•I think the evidence shows that the UNSCOM/UNMOVIC inspection experience is proof we are facing a political question, not a verification problem. In fact there is a good deal of likelihood that once the deep cuts in nuclear weapons process is begun in earnest, once the momentum shifts away from the 9/11 obsession, the rest may not be “simple”, but the verification process will be shown to be well developed, even based on current experience and technology.

All of which leads us to asking ourselves: Were the measures taken by inspectors in Iraq to verify compliance with Security Council resolutions robust enough? Knowing that the process can never be 100% assured, were the criteria selected sufficient? Let’s assume that they were good enough. The weight of evidence suggests that Iraq either had no Weapons of Mass Destruction of any significance in hand; or they may have moved them out of the country (a piece of anonymous speculation that recently made the rounds); or the Iraqis may have destroyed them.

•In any case, there was no evidence of an imminent threat. That was more or less the Canadian government position (see references, below), and the position of most states, including the majority among the 15 members of the Security Council. Arguably there was conflicting intelligence. But if a regime as comprehensive as the inspection regime placed in Iraq was not sufficient, then what would sufficient look like, and what does that tell us about the future of the verification and compliance process?

•There are other test cases waiting in line on the so-called rogue lists: Iran, North Korea and Libya. What confidence do we have, then, that a positive inspection report will be taken at face value, and not that these assessments will be taken instead as excuses for intervention, regardless of any inspection/verification/compliance process outcome? In other words, is there a basic political problem that needs to be addressed, before we can get back to looking to verifying compliance in another corner of the globe?

References:

Canada’s assessment of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction:
http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/department/focus/weapons_mass_destruction-en.asp

Richard A. Falkenrath, Problems of Preparedness: U.S. Readiness for a Domestic Terrorist Attack, available on the world wide web at:
http://www.uky.edu/RGS/Patterson/desch/Readings/02-13/02-13_falkenrath_1.html

Richard A. Falkenrath, Robert D. Newman and Bradley A. Thayer, America’s Achilles’ Heel: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Terrorism and Covert Attack, 1998, MIT Press, may be available as an e-book through university libraries.

Harold A. Feiveson, ed. The Nuclear Turning Point: A Blueprint for Deep Cuts and De-Alerting of Nuclear Weapons. Washington, DC.: Brookings Institute, 1999.

Russell Howard and Reid Sawyer, eds. Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Understanding the New Security Environment. Guilford, Ct: McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, 2004. See in particular:

•Jessica Stern, from “Getting and Using the Weapons,” The Ultimate Terrorists (Harvard University Press, 1999)
•Christopher F. Chyba, from “Toward Biological Security,” Foreign Affairs (May/June 2002)
•Richard F. Pilch, from “The Bioterrorism Threat in the United States,” Monterey Institute of International Studies Report, prepared for the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (2003)

Walter Laquer, “Post Modern Terrorism.” In Foreign Affairs, Vol. 75, no. 5, 1996.

NOVA backgrounder on Biological Weapons. Available on the world wide web at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bioterror/

Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on the world wide web at: http://www.opcw.org/factsandfigures/
See also their Fact Sheets, including #5 Three Types of Inspection, and #2 Synopsis of the CW convention text.

Steven Staples: MISSILE DEFENCE AND CANADA’S PURSUIT OF NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

Steven Staples: MISSILE DEFENCE AND CANADA’S PURSUIT OF NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
A presentation to the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s Consultations with Civil Society on Issues Related to International Security, Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems.

By Steven Staples
Polaris Institute

February 25, 2004

First, let me begin by saying thank you to my colleagues who have asked me to make a presentation on behalf of civil society regarding this very important issue of Canada’s participation in the American missile defence system.

With so much expertise and experience in the room today, I won’t pretend to be able to cover all of the concerns of citizens, so I’m counting on my colleagues to contribute generously to the subsequent discussion. . .

Two summers ago my family and I took a vacation along the Acadian coast of New Brunswick. It is a beautiful part of Canada and not very far from my home town of Fredericton. We went for the beaches and the wonderful culture there, but I have to admit to indulging in a little “nuclear tourism.”

We took a little detour to the town of Chatham, the site of an old Canadian Air Force base that has since been closed and handed over to local industries. But during the Cold War there were lots of rumours about Chatham — rumours about the U.S. soldiers that were stationed there, and about the Canadian Voodoo jet fighters that were on constant alert, hooked into the continental NORAD system.

As kids growing up in Fredericton we always wondered what was going on up there in Chatham, just about an hour or so’s drive down the back roads?

Thanks to research done recently by John Clearwater and others, today we know: Chatham was one of the few places in Canada where the government had permitted the deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons.

In this case, they were nuclear-armed Genie missiles that could be loaded onto the Canadian fighter jets and fired against Russian bombers coming in over the Arctic. The nuclear weapons were kept there for years until the last of the missiles were taken out of Canada in the early 1980s.

I was reminded of this little-known chapter of our history during that astonishing interview with David Pratt on CTV last weekend. When Craig Oliver raised the issue of Bomarc nuclear missiles in Canada, the defence minister said, “Well, you know, Craig, we’ve been in the missile defence business for some time in terms of the north warning system.”

In essence, he was arguing that our history with NORAD and the nuclear weapons that were placed in Canada has made us part of a missile defence system for decades — so whatxs the big deal?

And I think this explains why whenever the discussion of missile defence comes up, there is a sense of déjà vu in the minds of everyday Canadians: “Haven’t we gone through this before? This is Star Wars, right? From the Cold War. Oh yeah, Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union and all that evil empire stuff. Glad that’s over. . .”

Well, maybe not.

This headline from Monday’s Globe and Mail brought it all back: “Canada may host U.S. missiles.”

I think that headlines like this, and missile defence in general, are tapping into a growing unease about where this government is taking us.

It was no coincidence that the exchange of letters between Defence Minister David Pratt and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld occurred a few days before Paul Martin’s big breakfast meeting in Monterrey, Mexico.

Of course, everyone wants to have good relations with the neighbours, but how far is Paul Martin willing to go to get that invitation to the White House?

So I went to Monterrey, and even sat in on the Prime Minister’s first press briefing following his breakfast with Bush. Surprisingly, no mention of missile defence came up. Just Iraq contracts, Maher Arar, and possible movement on trade problems such as beef and lumber.

A reporter told me later that in a subsequent press briefing he had asked the Prime Minister what he offered the U.S. president in return for these concessions, and Paul Martin replied: nothing.

Now, as an advocate for disarmament I have been frequently called naïve — but I don’t think I’m that naïve. . .

A week later a Canadian Press story emerged to the effect that during the meeting in Mexico, Paul Martin proposed to reviewing Canada’s foreign policy to make it more complementary to that of the U.S.

Further, the story said that Paul Martin himself had a private meeting with U.S. Ambassador Cellucci last April. Only days later he announced he supported Canada’s participation in the U.S. missile defence program, along with increased military spending and improved security co-operation generally.

Since taking power Paul Martin has not failed to deliver on many of these promises. He has put an improved Canada-U.S. relationship and even a close personal relationship with George W. Bush at the top of his agenda.

The government has been reworked to include a new public safety department that mirrors the United States Department of Homeland Security. All capital spending has been frozen except for new military helicopters and tanks. And Martin appointed the most hawkish of the Liberal caucus, and a supporter of the Iraq invasion, as his minister of national defence.

Most revealing, it is apparently David Pratt who is leading the negotiations on Canada’s joining the national missile defence program — not the department of foreign affairs, where these discussions should rightfully be taking place.

These changes really fly in the face of popular opinion. There is no widespread demand for this in the Canadian public. Maclean’s Magazine’s annual year-end survey found that only one in ten Canadians felt that the Prime Minister’s top priority should be “having a closer relationship with the United States.” Further, three out of every four agreed that “It is important for Canada to set its own course and we were right to stay out of the war, even if it has annoyed our closest trade partner and may have cost Canadian jobs.”

So where is the pressure coming from in Canada for this new-found enthusiasm in the government to build up the military and join the U.S. missile defence shield?

Anyone who reads the business pages these days will know that a very active business lobby has sprung up in the last few years to push the government towards greater market integration with the United States.

According to the C.D. Howe Institute and other corporate think tanks, NAFTA has run out of steam. Many of the old players who were involved in the free trade debates are back, pushing what Thomas d’Aquino of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives calls “the second chapter of that transforming initiative.”

Only this time there is a difference — economic integration with the United States is linked with military and security integration. In the Bush administration security trumps trade, so the proposals from the business lobby today call explicitly for a beefed-up and more aggressive Canadian military, including Canadian participation in the American missile defence program. Even the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of joining missile defence.

If you go deeper into their proposals, you find there is more than just missile defence. In fact, business groups are arguing that we need to rethink our foreign and defence policy to fit that of the United States. They are being bolstered by the most extreme voices in the Canadian defence lobby — some of whom are now arguing that years of Canada’s work on multilateral arms control initiatives have been a waste of time. Others are questioning Canada’s traditional peacekeeping role and preparing the ground for the government to drop its opposition to the weaponization of space.

The result, in my opinion, is a serious crisis for the future of Canada’s foreign and defence policies — and our very role in the world.

Those voices that urge the government to embrace the national security policies of the United States are in fact urging that we turn our back on decades of support for nuclear disarmament.

In the final assessment, missile defence is an admission of failure. It accepts that nuclear breakout is now a fact, and as Donald Rumsfeld has pointed out, the United States has to “manage” the spread of nuclear weapons if it wants to maintain its own nuclear arsenals and superior strategic position in the world.

This strategy requires missile defences at home that will allow aggressive, counter-proliferation and pre-emptive wars abroad. We heard this very clearly from one of our presenters yesterday . . .

And we have to ask ourselves: Is this the best that Canada can do? Is this the best answer that all of these brilliant people in this foreign affairs building can come up with? I don’t believe it.

Canadians are proud of our tradition as a peacekeeper, as a diplomat, as a middle power that seeks novel solutions to seemingly intractable situations. If we look around we can see it every day.

Look at the soldiers in Afghanistan who know it’s dangerous to patrol in those open Iltis jeeps but who accept the risk because they want to have personal contact with local people.

See the everyday Canadian activists who have taken verification into their own hands, formed citizen weapons inspection teams, and confronted nuclear bases in the United States and other NATO members demanding that they live up to Article VI of the NPT.

And look at the Liberal members of Parliament who don’t even support their own party’s involvement in these missile defence talks.

One of our presenters yesterday asked an important question: If we are not working for zero nuclear weapons, what are we working for?

Personally, I believe that the abolition of nuclear weapons is still possible. I’m not ready to give up that easily.

I told you about the airbase in Chatham, and the nuclear weapons that were kept there. That base has been sold off to local business and is now open to the public. So we took a look around and we found the concrete bunkers that once stored the dozens of nuclear bombs were secretly held at the base.

Can you guess what those bunkers are used for today? They’re gardening sheds.

Canada should not join the United States in its missile defence system. Instead, we need to recommit ourselves to the task of nuclear disarmament.

The number of opportunities, while sometimes difficult to see, has in fact never been greater. The Cold War is over! Let’s leave these weapons and missile schemes to history.

Let’s not sit here in North America and hide behind an American missile shield.

Instead, let’s take Canadians’ new-found confidence and internationalism and engage the world to show that there are other, better answers.

Thank you.

______________
Steven Staples Director,
Project on the Corporate-Security State
Polaris Institute
312 Cooper Street Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 0G7 CANADA
t. 613 237-1717 x107 c. 613 290-2695 f. 613 237-3359 e. steven_staples@on.aibn.com www.polarisinstitute.org

Bev Delong: Canada, missile proliferation and controls

Bev Delong: CANADA, MISSILE PROLIFERATION AND CONTROLS
Briefing note for Government-Civil Society Consultation Feb. 24 & 25th, 2004

The literature in this area seems based in a fantasy world of good guys and bad guys, or perhaps even a world where the only owners of nuclear weapons are North Korea, China, India, Pakistan and Israel. Rare are references to the legal obligation to eliminate nuclear weapons. And nonexistent are references to the warnings given by Dr. Joseph Rotblat, General Lee Butler, Dr. Bruce Blair and others of the dangers involved in states persisting with policies of launch on warning. (1)

Thankfully greater realism has obviously encouraged Canadian officials in their persistent work in moving from the MTCR to the Hague Code of Conduct. The clarity of thinking is very evident in Rob’s excellent paper. We are in a somewhat more secure world due to his work on Pre Launch Notifications in the Code. Mark Smith of the Mountbatten Centre has commented on the importance as well of the establishment under the Code of basic working relationships and he notes that “Stopgap solutions, after all, are better than a widening gulf.” (2)

There is some evidence the MTCR has slowed transfers of sophisticated technology.(3) But all these initiatives fail to define disarmament as an urgent legal obligation.(4) And I think that apart from improving the procedures defined under the Hague Code and widening its membership, we may now be at a halt.

Why do states want missiles? Regional quarrels obviously support the drive to buy nuclear weapons. But, more importantly, I think that demand is fuelled when states are subjected to threats of nuclear use. The US is known to have made such threats over 20 times.(5) And the new- and near- nuclear states have noted the profound hypocrisy of NATO states who, while claiming to support the NPT, simultaneously maintain their capacity to threaten nuclear use.

Given this dangerous state of affairs, what could the Government of Canada do to build international energy toward fulfilling our legal obligation of nuclear disarmament?

A. The Government could use the opportunity of the NPT PrepCom to publicly move to an authentic position of legal compliance with the NPT. We can join South Africa and 61 other states now in NWFZs in delegitimizing nuclear weapons. This soon-to-be-historic (!) speech at the PrepCom would require several elements. The Canadian Government would:

1st, call upon all Nuclear Weapons States to immediately de-alert their nuclear weapons recognizing the threat posed by launch-on- warning strategies;

2nd, Canada would refuse the offer made by the US to Canada in the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction to use nuclear weapons to defend us, noting that such a defence is immoral, unlawful and could trigger a nuclear holocaust (6).

3rd, the Government would announce that Canada will no longer participate in NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group noting that such planning for the use of nuclear weapons is both immoral and unlawful as a breach of international humanitarian law; [I reject the “seat at the table”argument and think officials need to be very mindful of the implications of the Nuremberg Principles for those “planning…a war in violation of international law..”]

4th Canada would call upon the US to honour its Negative Security Assurances and withdraw its threats against the several states named in the Nuclear Posture Review; and finally

5th, Canada would call upon the US to withdraw its threat of preemptive nuclear use against states thought to possess WMD. Such threats simply encourage those states to acquire missiles and weapons to protect themselves against the US.

Imagine how such a speech might serve to delegitimize nuclear weapons?

In addition, there are other steps Canada could take to limit missile proliferation and to delegitimize nuclear weapons.

B. It is obvious that Canada should withdraw from all US plans for missile defence, noting that this program is encouraging the maintenance and indeed expansion of nuclear arsenals and missile technology worldwide. (7) As an alternative, the government could engage like-minded states in discussion of the possibility of a missile flight test ban. Indeed, Canada should invite other states to discuss the new threat potentially posed to satellites by missile defence technology and the need for satellite security. (8)

C. Canada might host meetings to explore the necessary elements of model domestic legislation criminalizing not just the activities of those involved in sales of nuclear technology – as Dr. El Baradei has proposed – but the activities of those involved in all aspects of nuclear weaponry. If we start a process of one state after another criminalizing nuclear weapons activities, perhaps it would build public support and political momentum toward a norm of rejection of nuclear weapons.

D. Canada could investigate means of supporting the renewal of a US-North Korea security agreement. The American assurance against the threat and use of nuclear weapons from the 1994 Framework Agreement should be urgently renewed. North Korea should quite simply be bought off with food aid and fuel.

E. The Canadian Government should be strongly encouraged to support efforts through ASEAN to build military and popular support for a North East Asia Nuclear Weapons- Free Zone. As recommended by the Pacific Campaign for Disarmament and Security, Canada might play a role by encouraging the invitation of civil society from the ASEAN states to present their proposals for this Zone and engage in debate within a ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting. (9) And a similar strategy should be supported in other regions.

F. As for the Proliferation Security Initiative, I am a newcomer to maritime law, but my initial look at the Law of the Sea Convention leads me to believe that interdiction on the high seas – no matter how justified – is currently unlawful. Almost more worrying is my sense that it will be perceived to be an act of bullying by states. We need to avoid rash action. If we want our seas nuclear free, the time must be taken to build consensus on a Nuclear Weapons Free Seas Treaty – applicable to all – or amend the Law of the Sea Convention. The U.S. should be warned that bullying activities may provoke further proliferation or terrorism against them.

G. More generally, but still very important, the Canadian government can confront proliferation by increasing funding directed toward democratization and development strategies worldwide, such work being of particular importance in these “states of concern”. It is this work that will in the long term build a more stable international security. Ernie Regehr has written very persuasively on the need for attention to governance issues. (10)

H. Finally, in accord with its undertakings at the UN on Disarmament Education, the government could fund a nuclear weapons education program to build a norm supporting abolition of nuclear weapons. It could initially be directed to four specific groups each of which might become engaged in discussing missile proliferation within their communities. Might I suggest these groups – all potential citizen inspectors or whistleblowers:
1) new Canadians who might have important contacts in new or near nuclear weapons states
2) scientists who could potentially be invited to engage in research regarding nuclear weapons and their delivery systems,
3) Canadians engaged in work, study and travel abroad, and
4) unions involved in the transportation industry responsible for handling goods in ports, and airports.
Such strategies might provide a truer and nondiscriminatory path to engaging the global public in understanding the risks of missile proliferation.

Footnotes:
(1) Bruce G. Blair, “Keeping Presidents in the Nuclear Dark”, Feb. 16, 2004;
Bruce G. Blair, “Rogue States: Nuclear Red-Herrings”, Dec. 5, 2003 (both at
Generals Lee Butler and Andrew J. Goodpaster, “Joint Statement on Reduction of Nuclear Weapons Arsenals: Declining Utility, Continuing Risks”, 2002 (at ;
David Ruppe “Experts Warn of Accidental U.S., Russian Missile Launches”, Jan. 28, 2004, Global Security Newswire,

(2) Mark Smith, “Preparing the Ground for Modest Steps: A Progress Report on the Hague Code of Conduct”, Disarmament Diplomacy, Issue No. 72, August – September 2003, at p. 10 wherein he comments “…while provision of information such as the HCoC’s PLNs [Pre Launch Notifications] and annual declarations is certainly a limited cure for the insecurity generated by missile development, the modest impact of such basic working relationships should not be dismissed. Stopgap solutions, after all, are better than a widening gulf.”

(3) Mark Smith, “Pros and Cons of the MTCR, and Efforts to Move Forward”, INESAP Bulletin 21, publishing a paper delivered on Jan. 24-26, 2003 in Berlin.

(4) W. Pal S. Sidhu and Christophe Carle, “Managing Missiles: Blind Spot or Blind Alley?”, Disarmament Diplomacy, Issue No. 72, August – September 2003, at p. 7.

(5) For instance, see the threat of nuclear use made by the U.S. in the Nuclear Posture Review. This is only one of a series of threats by the U.S. and other nuclear states. For a list of the threats, refer to “A Chronology of Nuclear Threats” which has been researched by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Maryland, USA. For a further update, see the speech”Nuclear Weapons: Forgotten but not Gone”, by Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation, on Feb. 24- 25, 2001 at their website within which the author notes: “…. over the past decade the U.S. has threatened the use of nuclear weapons against Libya (April 1996), North Korea (July 1994) and Iraq (1991 and 1998).”

(6) In the U.S. “National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction” released in 2002, it states “The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force – including through resort to all of our options – to the use of WMD against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies.”

(7). Unhappily we note that Russia has just engaged in a huge military exercise to test ballistic missile launches in an attempt to develop weapons systems “capable of providing an asymmetric answer to existing and prospective weapons systems, including missile defence”states Col. Gen. Baluyevsky, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces quoted in “General says maneuvers are response to American nuclear development plan”, International Herald Tribune (online), Feb. 11, 2004.

The report of these exercises in “Military Exercises of the Nuclear Briefcase” from Rossiyskaya Gazeta of Feb. 11, 2004 advises that “Such large-scale exercises have not been organized in Russia for a long time….Strategic nuclear forces will play the main role in the exercise.”

(8) David Wright and Laura Grego, “Anti-Satellite Capabilities of Planned US Missile Defense Systems”, Union of Concerned Scientists, Dec. 9, 2002, at

(9) “Promoting a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free-Zone: An Opportunity for Canada”, Pacific Campaign for Disarmament & Security, August 2003.

(10) The need to support improved governance has been well argued by Ernie Regehr in “Missile Proliferation, Globalized Insecurity, and Demand-Side Strategies”, Ploughshares Briefing 01/4.

Women and Nuclear Weapons

Women contribute thousands of hours of work yearly to the nurture of their families, their community and the natural environment. All are threatened by nuclear weapons.

“The nuclear bomb is the most anti-democratic, anti-national, anti-human, outright evil thing that man has ever made.
If you are religious, then remember that this bomb is Man’s challenge to God. It’s worded quite simply: We have the power to destroy everything that You have created. If you’re not religious, then look at it this way. This world of ours is four thousand, six hundred million years old. It could end in an afternoon.”
(Arundhati Roy, “The End of Imagination”, Guardian Media Group, August 1, 1998.)

Why should women care?

Nuclear bombs are an enduring threat. Thirty thousand nuclear weapons remain in the global arsenal. Of these, 4,400 could be used in less than 15 minutes. Nuclear terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons technology to non-nuclear states continues. Until nuclear weapons are eliminated, we are at risk. The idea that they can exist and not be used accidentally or by decision “defies credibility”. (The Canberra Commission, 1995)

Nuclear tests spread dangerous levels of radioactive fallout.
Nuclear weapons are extremely expensive to develop and maintain, taking valuable resources from health, environmental and social programs.

“Even a single nuclear bomb exploding in an inhabited area – whether through accident, terrorism or war – could kill hundreds of thousands of civilians. There is no effective medical response to a nuclear explosion; the only effective approach is prevention.”
(Call for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) 1995).

In what ways does Canada support nuclear war-fighting?

In what ways does Canada support nuclear war-fighting?

The Government of Canada provides:

  • political, military and financial support for NATO and NORAD
  • airspace and facilities for nuclear bomber training/li>
  • approval for port visits by nuclear-armed submarines/li>
  • maintenance for communications sites for nuclear forces/li>
  • permission for deployment of bombers and support forces to Canadian airfields during nuclear crises/li>
  • support for production and export of components for nuclear weapon delivery vehicles, such as bombers and submarines

Although NATO has reduced its reliance on nuclear weapons, those states persist in relying on nuclear weapons as a “credible and effective element of the Alliance’s strategy of preventing war.”  Such statements serve to encourage other states to acquire nuclear weapons.  NATO has taken no steps to comply with the legal obligation to eliminate nuclear weapons.  To find their current view, review the Final Communiqués out of the most recent Meetings of the Defence Planning Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group at:

http://www.nato.int/docu/comm.htm

See also Canada and nuclear weapons: Canadian policies related to, and connections to, nuclear weapons
Ploughshares working paper 02-5 by Bill Robinson

Voices: My Hiroshima A-Bomb Experience by Miyanaga Ryuma

My Hiroshima A-bomb Experience: Why Nuclear Weapons Cannot Be Allowed in Our Universe
By Miyanaga Ryuma, Morioka-City, Iwate Prefecture

Flash!… I was engulfed in an intense ray of light and felt an incredible heat. In an instant, everything around me became red, as if I had been thrust inside a fiery blaze. In the same instant, I was knocked over by a blast of hot air containing a tremendous amount of pressure.

When I came to, I was sprawled on the floor and the drawing easel I had just moments before been working on was on top of me. With a rush of noise the ceiling opened up and the roof totally collapsed in, sagging down near the window. Previously solid pillars all broke in the same way, forming a shaped that looked like a sideways “V”. They seemed to be hanging at an angle in mid air, capable of collapsing at any moment. The entire floor was covered in broken pieces of glass. I could hear people groaning and screaming. The floor was covered in blood and bodies lay there with pieces of glass piercing them like knives. I was covered everywhere in dust and felt fuzzyheaded, unable to stand up but finally able to crawl on my knees. From outside, I could hear thousands of employees yelling and screaming.

Workers covered in blood gathered in the open grounds near the side of the building. Among this horrendous scene was a steady stream of people pouring through the front gate who looked like they came from some horrible other world. They were people fleeing from the city center. An unending line of people came walking through, eyeballs protruding out of their sockets, hair clinging to their head, their skin burnt and dripping, still smoldering, with blisters beginning to form. Unable to distinguish between men and women, they no longer looked human. The cries and moans of “I’m so hot! It hurts! Water, water!” began to fade away and people started dying like flies in front of me. I was so stunned by this scene that I didn’t even notice my own injuries.

On August 6, 1945 at 8:15 am, I was exposed to the atomic bomb dropped by America. I was fifteen years old at the time and I was inside the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Hiroshima Shipyard four kilometers away from the hypocenter. When day broke the following morning, the shipyard had become an even more hellish field of corpses. I entered the city to help in the rescue efforts of survivors about 1 kilometer to 1.5 kilometers away from the hypocenter. Fires were breaking out all over the city. Thousands of people had jumped into the river to find relief from their burns, and the river had become choked with floating corpses. All the bridges and roads were covered with burnt, blackened bodies. There was no place to walk without stepping on arms, legs, heads or bodies stuck to the surface of the road. Bodies hung from the bridge railings like rags hung out to dry. All that was left of a train stopped in its tracks was its frame. All of the people inside had been incinerated.

In another scene, the upper body of person trapped under a collapsed houses remained intact while their legs had been completely burned away. I couldn’t rescue them. I felt like I was loosing my mind amid this unspeakably horrifying scene. Dead bodies and those people barely alive were left outside in the intense heat and began to rot. The stench from the city’s crematoriums drifted as far away as the shipyard four kilometers from town, making it difficult to breath.

More than 140,000 people died during this time. The atomic bomb is truly horrific. That single A-bomb dropped half a century ago instantaneously wiped out 78,000 people within a 1.5-kilometer radius of the hypocenter. It decimated our culture, incinerated all vegetation and turned the city to ashes. In addition, those A-bomb survivors that are still alive today have suffered from a lifetime of residual illness due to radiation fallout. Immediately following the atomic bombing I was in a state of total shock and didn’t help rescue a single person. However, I will never forget that scene of truly evil hell and the sadness of those robbed of life in such a tragic way.

While the wounds on my forehead and limbs healed over the course of time, my body was inundated with radiation during my participation in rescue efforts near the hypocenter. Many of the people who were with me at the time died soon after and each day I was tormented by fears that I would soon die as well. Three years after the atomic bombing I left Hiroshima and moved to Iwate Prefecture. Twenty years later, I am receiving treatment for a hormonal disorder, diabetes and cataracts due to radiation fallout. Although I constantly carried with me fears of becoming sick, I was able to work for a long period of time and just retired from my teaching position a few years ago. Currently I am a member of the Iwate Prefectural Hibakusha Association. I speak about my experiences as an A-bomb survivor whenever I have the chance.

While I stood by helplessly at the time, that image of the living hell of Hiroshima on “that day” has been burned into my brain. As a surviving atomic bomb victim, I believe I have a duty to speak out on the reality of the destruction wrought by nuclear weapons. No matter how one attempts to justify nuclear weapons, they should absolutely never be used and they should never be built. If they are used again it would destroy the cultural heritage of the world, reduce every country to ashes and cause the extinction of the human race. This atrocious, horrific and inhumane event simply cannot occur again on this earth. For true peace and happiness among human kind, I strongly appeal from my heart for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Voices: The Youngest Survivor, By Nakanishi Eiji

The Youngest Survivor
By Nakanishi Eiji, Kita Ward, Tokyo

Voices: My Hiroshima A-bomb Experience by Miyanaga Ryuma

I was born in Hiroshima in October 1941. When I was a two month-old baby, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the Pacific War began. The Japanese government proclaimed themselves to be the “Leaders of Peace in the Orient” and began the war stating that they would “Liberate the people of Asia from the control of Europe and the United States.” In reality, Japan aligned itself with Hitler Germany and became the enemy of the entire world. They engaged in a war of aggression using brute force to control other countries. The responsibility for starting this war, which claimed more than twenty million casualties in Asia and the Pacific alone, lies with Japan.

From a young age I have always wanted to know from the adults around me, “Why did you start this war?” I was still only three years old when, as a result of the war started by the Japanese government, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. My family lived 2.5 kilometers from the hypocenter. On that day my father, my older sister and I were at home. According to the stories of my parents, at the moment of the blast a large portion of our house was completely blown away and my father was thrown from a downstairs room into the garden. My older sister, who was on the second floor, tumbled down the stairs that had just collapsed and filled with dust and began to look for me.

Apparently I was sitting right outside the front door playing by my self. Miraculously, I was completely uninjured. Covered head to foot in ash, I was totally white. When my sister found me she grabbed me and hugged me as tight as she could. What is so miraculous about all of this is that at that very instant the woman from next door was walking on the road very close to me and was severely burned by the thermal rays. I just happened to be in the shade, and that housewife from next door just by chance was walking outside in the sun.

Our fates were decided by the thinnest of margins. With the A-bomb, the difference between life and death, between being injured or emerging unscathed, is completely random. Only ten days before the bomb was dropped, my family had moved away from an area that was close to the city center. My aunt’s family remained in this area and their house was totally razed to the ground by fire. Her husband was killed when he was pinned under a burning support column. My aunt, unable to do anything to save him, watched her husband burn to death before her very eyes. I have heard that her husband died screaming, “Are you just going to stand there and watch me die? You evil bitch!”

If our move had just been ten days later, my family would have been struck by the same tragedy. The A-bomb killed more than 100,000 people in the immediate period following the blast. Furthermore, it is a terrifying weapon which continues to kill people through fallout from radiation and which continues to cause pain and suffering in peoples lives many years later. My father’s older brother was uninjured in the blast but by the end of 1945 he had died from radiation sickness in a hospital in Kyushu.

I will never forget the scene of two brothers who were friends of mine in tears one evening, rushing their mother to the hospital in a wheelbarrow because she had suddenly taken a turn for the worse. Their mother was dead by the end of the day. Suffering from the A-bomb as a three year old and watching so many people die around me, I have grown up with the fear that someday my turn will come.

When I was twenty-two I became engaged to be married. However, the woman’s family opposed the marriage saying, “We will not let our daughter marry an A-bomb survivor”, and the marriage never happened. I later married a different woman and together we had a son. When he was born, I counted each and every finger and toe to make sure he had all ten. The first time he came down with a fever, I spent the whole night cradling him in my arms and cried about what I would do if he ever started to show the effects of the A-bomb. I cursed the A-bomb for its never-ending presence in my life. Even as the “youngest survivor” who suffered from the atomic bombing at the age of three, the A-bomb is a lifelong burden that I must carry.

Those who were killed or injured by the bomb were not soldiers or the military. They were noncombatants, the nameless people of Hiroshima. The A-bomb incinerated in a single stoke ten of thousands, indeed hundreds of thousands of people like you and I who have the right to live in peace and happiness, and it continues to rob people of their lives through residual radiation illness even half a century later. This is not a weapon to be used for military victory. It is a weapon for the annihilation of the human race.

I have something I would like to say to President Bush and the leaders of all the countries which possess nuclear weapons. Imagine a relative of yours being burned by the atomic bomb. You are forced to watch them die while they scream that you are an “evil bitch” because you can’t do anything to save them. Imagine a scene of hundreds of thousands of good people writhing in pure agony while they are burned all over their bodies. Imagine two young brothers in tears while they watch over their mother as she dies from radiation illness. Would you still use the A-bomb?

As the sole witnesses to the scenes of the annihilation of humanity that took place in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, A-bomb survivors have continued for half a century to offer a warning to the world. The world cannot have anymore atomic bomb survivors. That is our cry. Although I am the “youngest survivor”, I believe it is my job to pass on this desire of older A-bomb survivors to the next generation. I am sixty-one years old and this is my first trip abroad. I am finally realizing my lifelong dream of visiting the United States to apologize for the war my country started, but also to speak out against nuclear weapons. From the bottom of my heart I wish to take this opportunity to become friends with all of you.

What We Do

  1. Discussion of Nuclear Weapons Policy:
    • We organize or support Round Tables among Parliamentarians, officials, academics and the public to encourage a discussion of nuclear weapons issues and policies.
    • We organize regular briefings by officials of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and National Defence for our membership.
    • We discuss and build consensus among our member groups on priorities for Canadian policy priorities.
    • We Participate in, and encourage members to participate in, public hearings on Canadian policy with respect to nuclear weapons.
    • We serve on the organizing committee for an Annual Consultation with the Canadian Government on nuclear non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament.
  2. Inform Canadian Parliamentarians, officials, the media and the public:
    • We prepare and circulate public education materials.
    • We provide briefings and educational materials to officials and Parliamentarians.
    • We develop public campaigns on nuclear weapons issues.
    • We circulate key information through listservs.
    • We share key information on our website.
  3. Network with Others Working for Abolition:
    • We serve as point of contact for the Canadian public on nuclear disarmament activities:
    • We serve as a national point of contact with the Canadian government and other interest groups.
    • We contribute to and work with international efforts for nuclear abolition.
  4. Build/Provide Evidence of Public Support for Abolition:
    • We provide the Canadian Government with evidence of support for disarmament through:
    • Letter writing campaigns, opinion polls in Canada and abroad, public statements by key groups in civil society, public statements by governments supportive of abolition.
  5. Building Media Awareness of Nuclear Weapons Concerns, and the Need for Abolition:
    • We identify and provide information to key media people who follow the Government’s movement on foreign policy.
  6. Building International Support for Abolition:
    • CNANW proposed creating a coalition of middle power states to work toward nuclear weapons elimination. (This became the successful Middle Powers Initiative.)
    • We write to Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
    • We communicate with peace groups around the world.

Scott Ritter – former United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq

Scott Ritter, Former United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq, 1991-1998:
Six Points for Peace
On America, Iraq, the United Nations, Weapons Inspections, and the Future of World Peace

Six Points for Peace

The Canadian Government is bravely and correctly using its influence as a member in good standing of the United Nations to try and strike a compromise in the Security Council that offers a realistic opportunity to peacefully disarm Iraq, maintains the real threat of severe consequences should Iraq fail to comply, and preserves the integrity and viability of that body. The only problem with the Canadian initiative is that it fails to take into account the unspoken truth — that the American grudge with Iraq has nothing to do with disarmament, but rather a laser-like focus on regime removal, something that is not endorsed by any Security Council resolution, or indeed the United Nations Charter.

If Canada would like to see a positive outcome in regards to its initiative for peace, it would do well to remember that the decision for war with Iraq will be made in Washington DC, not New York. As such, expanding its compromise initiative in a manner that offers President Bush a face saving means of extricating him and his administration from the political quagmire they have created might be the only way to avert war.

But there is a foundation of hope upon which to build this dream and turn it into reality, if only someone, or some nation, has the courage to see it through. This foundation rests on six points for peace, which in fact reflect six issues of concern for Iraq, the United States, and the international community — disarmament, human rights, democracy, diplomacy, economy, and peace. The main thrust behind these six issues would be to put in place actions that could be viewed as representing a fundamental change in the nature of the Iraqi Government, and as such constitute a form of regime change that could be acceptable to the White House, thereby opening a politically face saving way for war to be averted. These initiatives build upon White House comments made last year that if Iraq cooperated with inspectors and disarmed, this would in effect represent regime change, and thus meet the administration’s goals of achieving regime change in Iraq. Each of the six points is expanded on as follows:

Disarmament
The Iraqis have significantly improved their cooperation with the UN in accordance with Security Council resolutions, including unrestricted access to all sites and individuals requested by the inspectors. The inspectors have not found any substantive evidence of Iraq possessing proscribed weapons. While there are gaps in verification concerning certain critical elements of the Iraq declaration, this does not constitute a breach of Iraq’s obligations. If an acceptable benchmark regarding compliance can be defined, Iraq will continue to work with the UN inspectors with the goal of reaching a satisfactory conclusion to their work. It is important not simply to place a deadline, but to define the disarmament tasks that need to be accomplished. Furthermore, it is imperative that these tasks allow for the incorporation of qualitative judgments, to avoid the pitfall of trying to prove the negative in the absence of absolute proof. Finally, a finding of compliance must pave the way for the lifting of economic sanctions and the return to normalcy regarding Iraq&Mac226;s position vis-à-vis the international community.

Human Rights
Iraq will agree to implement domestic policies that are consistent with its obligations as a United Nations member, and in keeping with universally acceptable standards of human rights. For this purpose, Iraq will open, under the auspices of the Office of the Presidency, a special human rights office, and will invite the Secretary General to dispatch to Iraq the UN representative for human rights to begin discussions on joint work concerning monitoring and reporting on human rights issues inside Iraq. Baghdad will also agree to work with international organizations such as Amnesty International in regards to the monitoring of human rights in Iraq.

Democracy
Iraq will commit to the principles of democracy and reconciliation, and will agree to begin working with outside agencies, including the United Nations, to create the conditions for a free and open election for the Iraqi Parliament in three years time. This would include authorizing the establishment of opposition political parties, including those affiliated with expatriate opposition groups. Iraq would agree to work closely with outside agencies (i.e., the United Nations, the Governments of Canada and South Africa, Nobel Prize winners, etc.) to develop programs of reconciliation so that the process of democratization is open to all Iraqis without fear or prejudice.

Diplomacy
Iraq would commit to continue to cooperate fully with the United Nations. Iraq would also seek every means to reach out and engage the United States diplomatically so that the concerns of both parties can be resolved bilaterally. Iraq would request the re-establishment of full diplomatic relations with the United States, recognizing that this represents the best means of interacting between the two interested parties.

Economy
Iraq would commit to its responsibilities to the world in regards to providing secure supplies of oil at reasonable market prices. Iraq would work within acceptable frameworks to ensure that this occurs. The best way to achieve this would be to return control over Iraq’s oil resources to the Government of Iraq, thus freeing it to better exploit Iraq&Mac226;s indigenous resources. Iraq would work with the United Nations and leading oil exploration and extraction companies, including those from the United States and Great Britain, to achieve this. Iraq would be prepared to guarantee the strategic energy requirements of Europe and the United States once economic sanctions are lifted and the current crisis resolved.

Peace
Iraq would commit to a regional peace process that seeks not only to resolve the current crisis between Iraq and the United States, but also establish a framework of stability for relations between Iraq and all of its neighbors. Iraq would recognize the nation of Kuwait and its borders, and renounce war with Iran. Iraq would seek to direct its efforts towards regional economic and political stability, and renounce massive military expenditures that exceed legitimate requirements for self defense. Iraq would work to resolve the Palestinian conflict, and would accept any resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis that is acceptable for the people of Palestine. Iraq would reject violence as a means of resolving disputes, reject terror and terrorism, and would work with the international community to bring an end to acts of international terror.

Pie in the sky thinking? Perhaps, but the best part about these six points for peace is that the Iraqi Government, in conversations with senior officials of the South African Government, has agreed to implement them if there is some assurance that the United States would actively pursue a peaceful resolution to the current crisis along these lines. I can&Mac226;t think of a better mission statement for Canadian diplomacy than that. Six points for peace trumps 3,000 impact points for American bombs any day of the year.

Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector,
and author of Endgame: Solving the Iraq Crisis (Simon & Schuster, 1999).

This essay is taken from the presentation by Mr. Ritter to Calgary University on March 14, 2003.


On America, Iraq, the United Nations, Weapons Inspections, and the Future of World Peace

Scott Ritter
Former United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq, 1991-1998

As the first months of resumed weapons inspections in Iraq comes to a close, the only thing that has become clear is that when it comes to Iraq and its past programs of mass destruction, nothing is clear. Are there weapons still remaining in Iraq? While it is too early along in the process of inspections for any preliminary judgment to be had, it does seem that Iraq is doing more than it ever has in the past to be as cooperative with the new UN inspectors. And yet, the Iraqi declaration concerning its past proscribed weaponry seems to have fallen short of the kind of conclusive confession that many in the United Nations, and especially Washington, DC, were expecting and demanding. The failure, or inability, of Iraq to provide iron-clad documentation concerning the final disposition of unaccounted for weapons and associated material once again brings the world to the brink of armed conflict.

Can inspections work? Can the UN weapons sleuths provide the world with enough confidence that the threat posed to international peace and security by Iraq’s chemical, biological, nuclear and long-range ballistic missiles has been dismantled? Or are the weapons inspections themselves merely a smokescreen behind which Iraq, enabled after seven years experience of mastering the cat-and-mouse game of hide and seek, bides its time while luring the world into a false sense of complacency, only to emerge emboldened by its defiance and strengthened with the ultimate tool of political and diplomatic blackmail — weapons of mass destruction?

Perhaps there is a different game at play here, a classic bait and switch being perpetrated by neo-conservative hawks in Washington, DC, one that parleys the conceptual threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction into an extension of the ongoing (and still un-won) war on terror, which is in turn used to justify implementation of a new doctrine of unilateralism which seeks to achieve American hegemony over the world under the guise of national security?

These are difficult questions and issues which require a solid foundation in fact and ideology to answer — fact because facts do matter, and ideology because when speaking of war and peace, life and death, it is essential that such matters be framed within the concept of an over-reaching system of values that defines life’s worth, and as such the circumstances under which one can consider the sacrifice of life. From my perspective as a former officer of Marines who participated in a War with Iraq (Operation Desert Storm, in 1991), and a former UN weapons inspector who took part in over 50 missions inside Iraq from 1991 until 1998, the current situation regarding Iraq is best evaluated within a framework which brings into play issues of War, the Rule of Law, and American Democracy.

On War. This discussion should start off by acknowledging that war is about death and devastation, killing or being killed. It is about the taking of human life, and the destruction of the human condition. War advances nothing; it only destroys. War represents the absolute failure of mankind, and as such should represent the last option considered when discussing the resolution of disputes between nations. I come to this discussion from the perspective of a warrior, someone who has trained in the art of war, and practiced it. I did so out of a sense of service to country, a desire to defend what I love and cherish. When joining the Marines, I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I swore to defend the system of values and ideals set forth in that document, something I was then, and am now, prepared to give my life for. When speaking of war and reasons for war, as an American I must first ask what it is I and others would be fighting for. Is this a war about the security of the United States? Has the target of our aggression attacked us in any way? Is our very existence threatened? Or is this a war about political ideology and ambition? The former I am willing to sacrifice for, the latter never. As Americans we should seek clarification from our elected officials as to why we are pursuing war before we head down that awful path.

On the Rule of Law. The Constitution defines the United States as a nation of law. Law governs how we Americans interact as a people, and how we interact with the rest of the world. Law establishes the rules and regulations of this interaction, and sets forth the penalties for failure to comply. Law without effective enforcement is meaningless. Iraq has been required by international law to disarm. The penalty for failing to comply is severe — war. But the rule of law is a two-way street. It doesn’t only apply to those being held accountable, but also to those prosecuting. It is imperative that when speaking of holding Iraq accountable to the rule of law, we ensure that the rule of law is maintained. As such, when speaking of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, we should not deviate from the legal precept of “innocent until proven guilty”; especially when the consequences are sever as war. It is one thing to suspect Iraq of having weapons of mass destruction; it is another to demonstrate it. As long as Iraq is fulfilling its obligation to fully cooperate with UN weapons inspectors, and these inspections uncover no evidence of wrong-doing on the part of Iraq, talk of war is irresponsible and morally wrong. A guilty conviction can be made only upon irrefutable evidence of wrong-doing. The onus is upon the international community to provide proof of such wrongdoing, not on Iraq to provide proof of innocence. There are those who say the onus is on Iraq to prove to the international community that it no longer has weapons of mass destruction. This may well have been true in April 1991, when the Security Council passed the original disarmament resolution, 687. But that resolution recognized the precept that Iraq must fully cooperate with the United Nations inspectors, and if Baghdad failed to do this, then the Security Council, because it had made resolution 687 one passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, would enforce its law through the use of military force. However, when in July 1991 the Security Council failed to act in enforcement of its resolution in the face of Iraqi lies and obstruction, and instead sent weapons inspectors back to Iraq to hunt for undeclared weapons, the Council, through the precedent of its actions, shifted the burden of proof from Iraq to the inspectors. While this might have been wrong, it is in fact what happened, and from 1991 until 1998 the inspectors were forced to carry out an elaborate game of hide and seek. Having made these rules, it is imperative that the international community accept the results, which is that Iraq cannot at this late stage in the game be compelled to prove a negative.

On American Democracy It is increasingly difficult for me as an American to square the issues of war and the rule of law with the actions of the Government of the United States and, as an extension, the people it represents, when discussing Iraq. It is one thing to set out ideals and values in a Constitution. It is another to put them into action. More and more, I see the United States heading down the path of expediency when dealing with war and the rule of law. Such expediency is reprehensible to me as an American, as it represents a deviation from the foundation of beliefs that define me as an American. For me, the Constitution is an absolute; we are not Americans without it. To undertake courses of action at home or abroad which fail to adhere to the principles and letter of the Constitution means that we are turning away from that which defines us as a nation, that which I and others who wear, or wore, the uniform of the Armed Forces were — and are — prepared to defend with out lives. I not only revile those who would lead us down such a path, but wonder about those who allow themselves to be so led.

Democracy is not a passive endeavor. It requires an investment of sweat equity by those who seek to prosper within the framework of liberty and freedom democracy brings. I fear that many in America have come to expect the benefits of being an American without making the investment of citizenship. We are a nation that has stopped voting. We are a people so accustomed to wrapping ourselves in a cocoon of comfort that we fear anything that rocks the boat of prosperity, even if the ship is sailing towards the abyss. We have ceased being a nation of citizens, and instead become a collective of coddled consumers.

For America to survive, its citizens must rediscover who we are as a people. We must reacquaint ourselves with the Constitution of the United States, the rule of law, and what it means to be an American. We must re-embrace the concepts of citizenship, and the will to do so actively. The urgency of the moment is real, especially in this time of war and fear of war. Now is the time to ask questions, to demand answers, to hold those whom we elect to represent us in higher office accountable for what they do in our name. Such engagement is not only good citizenship; it is the most patriotic thing an American can do in defense of the ideals and values of American democracy.

As we consider war with Iraq, therefore, let us pause to ask some questions of those who are leading the charge towards war. Is Iraq a threat worthy of war? Can Iraq be demonstrated to possess weapons of mass destruction? And, regardless, is the situation regarding Iraq about the national security of the United States, or about the pursuit of political ambition and ideology? The answers to these questions, and how we respond, will go far in defining who we are as a nation, and how we are perceived around the world, for decades to come. We owe it to ourselves, to the world, and especially to those who wear the uniform of the Armed Forces of the United States, to not only ask these and other questions, but to demand factually-based answers from those in higher office. And if adequate answers are not forthcoming, then we owe it to the concept of American Democracy to ensure those who fail to respond to the will of the people never again represent the will of the people.

Despite President Bush’s repeated rhetoric concerning a “coalition of the willing”, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the looming war with Iraq is very much an American war, and decisions pertaining to this conflict are the sole purview of Washington, DC. The United Nations may fret and debate over issues of war and peace, and there still yet may be a role for the Security Council in providing a veil of legitimacy for any attack on Iraq through the passage of an authorizing resolution, but the trigger will be pulled by the White House. As such, the succession of high profile presentations recently made by UN inspectors and US Government officials in the form of, respectively, the weapons inspection status report to the Security Council (January 27), the President’s State of the Union Address (January 28), Secretary of State Colin Powell’s presentation to the Security Council (February 5) and the most recent status report by the UN inspectors (February 14) are best evaluated in terms of its impact on American audiences, both domestic and political. Hans Blix’s report on January 27 was tailor made for those in the Bush administration who had been denigrating the effectiveness of the UN-led inspection regime in Iraq. As made clear in his State of the Union Address, President Bush and his advisors have defined the inspection process as a simple matter, one where Iraq must turn over its stockpiles of proscribed material for verification and elimination by the weapons inspectors. While this may in fact represent the initial inspection scenario as it existed in 1991, to continue with this formulation today demonstrates a woeful unfamiliarity with the history of the inspection process.

Let there be no doubt that Iraq is responsible for the position it finds itself in today. Iraq’s record of obstruction, lies, deception and deceit on the matter of its obligation to disarm is clear. However, one cannot ignore the reality of the disarmament that was accomplished by the United Nations weapons inspectors, despite Iraq’s unfortunate behavior. From 1991 to 1997, weapons inspections were able to achieve a 90-95% level of verified disarmament concerning Iraq’s proscribed weapons programs, according to Rolf EkJus, the former Executive Chairman of the United Nations Special Commission, or UNSCOM, the predecessor to Hans Blix’s United Nations Monitoring and Verification Inspection Commission, or UNMOVIC. This level included all of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction production facilities, and the associated manufacturing equipment.

In addition, from 1994 to 1998, UNSCOM had implemented the most strenuous on-site inspection regime in the history of arms control. During the period of monitoring inspections, UNSCOM never found evidence of retained proscribed material of any meaningful level, or efforts by Iraq to reconstitute proscribed activity. Contrary to what President Bush alluded to in his State of the Union Address, there is not a single UN document since 1995 that states that Iraq possesses prohibited weapons. All UN reports note that while the inspection process achieved impressive results in the field of disarmament and monitoring, there were still critical aspects of Iraq’s proscribed weapons programs for which the final disposition could not be verified.

Despite President Bush’s claim that Iraq has never accounted for its weapons of mass destruction, the fact of the matter is that Iraq has submitted a comprehensive declaration which fully accounts for every aspect of its past proscribed programs. The problem is verification. While many of Iraq’s declarations have been confirmed by inspectors as being accurate, there are some — including those involved with critical chemical and biological weapons — that remain unverified. The major obstacle towards acceptance of Iraq’s declaration is that much of it is based upon acts of unilateral destruction, where Iraq disposed of its weapons — illegally so — void of the presence of UN weapons inspectors and without sufficient documentation. Given Iraq’s past record of distorting the truth, one would be foolish to give Baghdad any benefit of the doubt when it comes to its disarmament obligation. But one should distinguish between the concept of verification, which is the process that is ongoing in Iraq today, and proving the negative, which is what President Bush is demanding of Iraq.

The United States, together with Great Britain, contends that Iraq continues to possess massive stockpiles of proscribed material related to chemical, biological, nuclear and long-range missile weapons programs. And yet no substantive evidence has been offered by any party to back up these allegations. Indeed, when pressed for some form of evidence to back up his assertions regarding Iraq, the American Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, noted with a straight face, “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” More recently, Mr. Rumsfeld noted that the fact that weapons inspectors have not found any weapons in Iraq is probably the best proof that such weapons exist.

In the face of such logic, one has to wonder what was going through the mind of Hans Blix when he prepared his report to the Security Council. Clearly he had to be cognizant of the political and ideological environment that existed in Washington DC, where the proponents of military action against Iraq would be hanging on his every word. While factually correct, Mr. Blix’s report was decidedly imbalanced and deliberately misleading. While accurately noting that the Iraqi declaration regarding the final disposition of growth media used in the manufacture of anthrax, Mr. Blix failed to balance his concerns by noting that the main production facility used for anthrax manufacture had been destroyed by UNSCOM in 1996, and that liquid bulk anthrax germinates after three years, making it mathematically impossible for Iraq to have any anthrax void of a new means of manufacture — something no UN inspector has been able to ascertain despite thousands of on-site inspections since 1996. Furthermore, the growth media — acquired by Iraq in the late 1980’s — itself has a shelf life of some five years, making this a moot point all around.

With great fanfare, Mr. Blix discussed the so-called “Air Force” document, which accounts for chemical munitions expended by Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War between 1983 and 1988. Mr. Blix noted that this document did not coincide with earlier Iraqi accounting, and that there was a shortfall of some 6,000 munitions, the contents of which must still be considered to be in existence. But in saying this, Mr. Blix failed to inform the Council that his own chemical experts have stated, in internal reports, the “…taking into consideration the conditions and quality of the CW agents and munitions produced by Iraq at that time, there is no possibility of weapons remaining from the mid 1980’s….this is not the case for the accounting of CW activities carried out by Iraq at the final stage of the implementation of its chemical program, from 1988 to 1991.” In short, the UN still has unresolved issues about VX nerve agent, but the unaccounted munitions and their fill from before 1988 — primarily sarin and tabun nerve agent, and mustard gas — are not of major concern.

On the issue of VX nerve agent, Mr. Blix was similarly incomplete in his presentation. Again, there is no debating the fact that Iraq has been woefully inadequate in terms of its accounting for its VX nerve agent program. This lack of accountability is exacerbated by Iraq’s refusal to admit having a VX nerve agent until 1995, and the less than forthcoming manner in which details concerning that program were exposed. Regardless of these circumstances, however, the inspectors are in possession of documents concerning Iraq’s VX program, obtained by UNSCOM inspectors from buildings destroyed during Desert Storm, which detail the extent of Iraq’s efforts in that area. To date, the inspectors have refused to share the contents of these documents with the Iraqis, holding Iraq accountable instead for differing accounts provided to the inspectors based upon flawed recollections. While this technique might reinforce the perception of Iraqi non-cooperation, it does not further the cause of disarmament. There is nothing in the VX documents that constitutes a ‘smoking gun’ in terms of continued Iraqi possession of VX. Likewise, Mr. Blix refers to evidence that Iraq had weaponized VX, without stating that the tests used to determine this finding did not meet international standards in terms of quality control, and that the testing methodology itself, according to Harvard University Professor Dr. Matthew Mendelson, has a very high rate of false readings.

In conclusion, the Blix report of January 27 was slanted, incomplete and misleading. While taking note of the level of Iraqi cooperation in regards to access, Mr. Blix failed to note that the so-called “high priority” sites provided to the inspectors by US intelligence, and which had been singled out by senior Bush administration officials in the fall of 2002 as evidence of Iraq’s ongoing work on weapons of mass destruction, had been inspected and no evidence to support such activity, past or present, discovered. Mr. Blix could have reported that, in fact, no intelligence leads provided by either the United States or Great Britain had been found to be credible.

Dr. Al-Baradai, of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had the courage to note that the much publicized US intelligence concerning aluminum pipes had nothing to do with Uranium enrichment, but rather conventional artillery rockets, and that British intelligence reports concerning ongoing Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium stocks abroad had proven to be baseless. This, of course, did not stop President Bush from continuing the myth of Iraqi nuclear capability by repeating these false assertions in his State of the Union address.

Finally, Mr. Blix demonstrated a remarkable insensitivity to the reality of the situation regarding inspections and Iraqi cooperation, highlighted by his comments concerning Iraq’s balking at the resumption of overflights by US-controlled U-2 spy planes. There was a disruptive presence in the Security Council during Mr. Blix’s presentation, and yet no one wanted to acknowledge its presence. This, of course, was the American policy objective of regime removal. This policy is unilateral in nature, has no basis in international law, and has taken precedent over disarmament in the mind-set of Bush administration policy formulators. This policy of regime removal dates back to 1991, and has resulted in the United States using the unique access afforded to the inspectors inside Iraq for purposes other than that mandated by the Security Council, namely intelligence gathering related to the security of Saddam Hussein. The inspection process has been irretrievably tainted by this American policy, and the U-2 spy plane plays a special role in this pollution.

But nobody made any reference at all to the American policy of regime removal, and the corrupting influence this plays on the issue of Iraqi disarmament when Colin Powell spoke before the Security Council on February 5. According to Secretary Powell, the Bush administration places the burden of proof squarely on Iraq when it comes to proving that it has no prohibited weapons. But how do you prove a negative? Iraq has declared that it no longer possesses weapons of mass destruction, and that everything has been destroyed. Much of this destruction has been confirmed by past weapons inspections, so much so that the United Nations can verify the final disposition of over 90% of Iraq’s proscribed weaponry and related material. But what of that which is unaccounted for? Iraq claims that this material, too, has been destroyed, and yet can provide no verifiable means of enabling weapons inspectors to confirm this.

Given Iraq’s uneven record of veracity regarding its past weapons declarations to the United Nations, one would be loath to accept at face value the current claims that all has been destroyed. Iraq claims to have produced 8,500 liters of liquid bulk anthrax, and yet there is enough unaccounted for growth media, food for bacteria used to mass produce biological agents, to have manufactured 25,000 liters of anthrax. There is no evidence that Iraq did in fact produce this amount; the number is simply an extrapolation, one that Iraq is held accountable to. But this figure fails to take into account the following: Iraq procured the growth media in question in the late 1980’s, and it has a shelf life of 5-7 years. The last known batch of anthrax manufactured by Iraq was in 1991, and the factory used by Iraq to produce anthrax was destroyed, together with its associated production equipment, under UN supervision in 1996. Iraq only produced liquid bulk anthrax, which under ideal storage conditions has a shelf life of three years before it germinates and becomes useless.

Intensive monitoring inspections of Iraq’s biological research and manufacturing base carried out from 1995 until the end of 1998 failed to detect any evidence of a retained biological warfare capability. For Iraq to have a viable anthrax stockpile today, it would have needed to develop a new manufacturing base since 1999. And while the new UNMOVIC inspection regime is still only a few months old, to date no evidence of such a capability has been detected. Further more, Iraq has never been shown to have perfected the technique needed to produce the dry powder form of anthrax so graphically presented by Colin Powell when he held up his vial of simulated white powder. Only the United States has, which of course was the source of the anthrax used in the October 2001 letter attacks mentioned by the Secretary of State.

During his presentation to the Security Council, the Secretary of State made reference to so-called mobile production facilities for biological agents, citing various defector reports as the source of this information. But the real basis for these road and rail-mobile biological facilities are sheer conjecture and fantasy, a hypothesis posed jointly by Dick Spertzel, the former head of the UNSCOM biological weapons inspection team, who postulated the existence of such vehicles from his own imagination, and a CIA analyst frequently assigned to the UN who had a theory on the possible use by Iraq of rail cars to conceal activity from the inspectors. Theory and hypothesis, not hard fact that pre-dates any of the cited defector reports. There simply is no hard evidence that such vehicles exist. Defector reports related to this issue come from questionable sources that cannot be verified. Many of these defectors are affiliated with Achmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress, an organization notorious for making available so-called “defectors” who have been pre-briefed with publicly available information. Colin Powell also failed to inform the Security Council that had anyone tried to build the mobile biological weapons laboratories displayed in the US drawings that they would never work. The diagrams, like the intelligence they were based on, represented pure fantasy.

Similar problems exist in the case regarding Iraq’s chemical weapons program. With great fanfare, Mr. Powell repeated Hans Blix’s concerns over an accounting shortfall that emerged when inspectors discovered the so-called “Air Force” document, which accounts for chemical munitions expended by Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War between 1983 and 1988. But Secretary Powell failed to note the contents of the UN chemical experts&Mac226; analysis of the viability of these weapons, written by one of the most respected chemical experts in the employ of the United Nations.

And in regards to defectors, everyone seems to be loath to discuss the words of the ultimate defector, Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, who repeatedly told his questioners after his August 1995 defection, UN and US alike, that in regards to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, “nothing remains…I ordered everything destroyed.”.

END PART ONE

Biological weapons? “Nothing remains…all has been destroyed.”
Chemical weapons? Ballistic missiles? Nuclear? “All has been destroyed.”

That is one defector report that wasn’t part of Secretary Powell’s report to the Security Council.

The Iraqi threat painted by Colin Powell is not real, but a Phantom Menace, something conjured up with smoke and mirrors disguised as “irrefutable fact”. How else does one explain the existence of a 1,200 kilometer missile that has never been designed, built, or tested? This part of the presentation was clearly geared towards fear-mongering, an effort to pressure Russia and others ostensibly in the range arc of the Iraqi phantom missiles into supporting a military strike against Iraq.

The entire Powell presentation was a farce, filled with satellite pictures that show nothing, but claim to show everything. During my time as a weapons inspector, the United States repeatedly provided so-called “evidence” of this nature, displaying photograph after photograph ostensibly showing Iraqi evacuation operations in response to UN inspection activity. On two occasions, one in Baghdad and the other in Tikrit, inspectors were able to show that the vehicular activity in question actually related to the gathering and distribution of food supplies. On all other occasions the imagery in question was so vague as to make any definitive judgment impossible. The point to make is that in every case, Hans Blix and his inspectors can travel to these sites and conduct a forensic investigation to determine what, if anything, actually took place. Of course, Colin Powell failed to mention that the UN inspectors had done exactly that at the nearly one dozen “high priority” sites designated by the CIA, and which turned up nothing.

And then there were those intercepted conversations. I ran the United Nations communication intercept program against Iraq from 1996 to 1998, and experienced several intercepts of this nature. Who are the individuals in question? Do we have names? What are their affiliations? What call signs did they use? Was this an encrypted conversation, or conducted in the open? Were they operating on military frequencies? Frequencies assigned to security units? Frequencies assigned to personnel responsible for inspection-related activities? How do we know this conversation relates to inspection activity? These are questions that I and my team of communication intercept specialists dealt with all the time, and as a result we were able to sort through conversations that were relevant and those that were not.

Without additional input from the United States, it is impossible to assert that these intercepts mean anything at all, although Colin Powell asserts they in fact mean everything. If so, then the United States should provide Hans Blix with the relevant data, allowing the UN inspectors to reconstruct the events in question, interrogate the individuals involved, and through forensic investigation determine the relevance of the conversation.

This, of course, is the last thing the United States wants. Left unmentioned throughout this whole charade is the fact that the policy of the United States in regards to Iraq is regime removal, not disarmament. Disarmament is only useful to the Bush administration in so far as it facilitates the containment, destabilization and eventual demise of Saddam Hussein. That is why President Bush keeps repeating his mantra, “Either Saddam Hussein disarms himself, or I will lead a coalition of the willing to disarm him.” There is no mention of the inspectors, or the process of inspection mandated by Security Council resolution.

As the time table for military action draws near, the last thing the hawks in Washington, DC need is a favorable report from the UN regarding Iraq’s cooperation with the inspection process. It appears that Iraq is doing everything possible to achieve that outcome, turning over new documents, permitting unmonitored interviews of scientists, and acceding to U-2 aerial overflight, in addition to maintaining its provision of immediate, unrestricted access to sites designated for inspection. A favorable report by the UN regarding Iraqi cooperation would prove to be the death knell for any Security Council resolution authorizing military action against Iraq. The only hope the United States has, therefore, is to discredit the inspection process itself.

Colin Powell’s presentation lacked substantive data of any note, and the circumstantial nature of most of the reporting could readily be refuted through proper investigation by UN weapons inspectors. Of course, this is the last thing the United States wants. Given their ability to uncover the truth about Iraq’s proscribed weapons programs, the inspectors are now the enemy. The purpose of Secretary Powell’s briefing was less about demonstrating actual Iraqi proscribed programs than it was about denigrating the efficacy of the weapons inspection process. Given the Bush administrations commitment to removing the regime of Saddam Hussein, the United States simply cannot allow a viable inspection regime to go forward, because a disarmed Iraq is one that will be welcomed back into the family of nations, even with Saddam Hussein at the helm.

Which is why the report to the Security Council of Hans Blix and Mohammed Al-Baradai on February 14 was so critical. This report noted the improvement in the level of cooperation from Baghdad regarding Iraq’s disarmament, while noting that there were still many outstanding issues, old and new alike. Blix reiterated his concerns on biological and chemical weapons, but this time hedged his statements by noting that while he had no proof that Iraq in fact possessed these weapons, he could not discount this possibility based upon the evidence at hand. Most
importantly, however, Hans Blix directly contradicted many of the assertions that Colin Powell had made in his February 5 Security Council briefing, especially those that spoke of Iraqi concealment. The presentations by Hans Blix and Dr. Al-Baradai both breathed new life into the inspection process, demonstrating that inspectors on the ground in Iraq were a very viable option to war. Many members of the Security Council picked up on this, and in dramatic fashion rejected the American and British efforts to push for a resolution authorizing military force against Iraq.

This does not mean that the crisis is over. Far from it. Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, has noted that the United Nations may soon have to make a grim choice in regards to Iraq. This choice is whether or not the United Nations will retain any semblance of relevancy in the future. However, relevancy does not come by caving in to the demands of an arrogant Superpower, but rather from adhering to the spirit and letter of international law as set forth in the United Nations Charter. For the United Nations to have any meaning at all, it must
stand up and defend what it aspires to stand for, and not simply become the pliant tool of American unilateralism. The United Nations must make sure that it adheres to the principles set forth in the UN Charter, especially those governing international peace and security. There may very well be an “Abyssinia Moment” for the UN in the near future, where the international body will be forced to stand up against the brutal tyranny and aggression of a rogue nation. But in the case of Iraq, the threat to international peace and security emanates not from Baghdad, but from Washington, DC. For the rule of law to have any relevance, it must be uniformly applied to all,
tyrannical dictators and rogue Presidents alike.

The United States itself faces a critical test. Many Americans feel that the events of September 11, 2001 have “changed everything”, and that the insecurity felt by the United States in the face of terrorism justifies the harsh actions undertaken by the Bush administration, both at home and abroad. America’s War on Terror has hit a dangerous impasse. The rapid military campaign in Afghanistan which saw the demise of the Taliban and the scattering of Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda has stalled. American troops, together with the forces of their allies, have become mired in a counterinsurgency campaign which finds them confronting the forces of tribalism more often than the forces of terror. Concerns over the difficult situation inside Afghanistan have prevented the United States from supporting an expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), guaranteeing that the stability promised to the people of Afghanistan following the American-led intervention will be limited to the capital city of Kabul and its immediate environs. As a result, the unrest in Afghanistan is actually creating a situation in the countryside that is conducive for return of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

As Afghanistan sinks deeper and deeper into chaos and anarchy, the resultant instability has undermined the situation in neighboring Pakistan, America’s ostensible ally in the War on Terror. Pushed by the United States to cooperate in crushing fundamentalist Islamic forces in Afghanistan (forces which had been fostered by Pakistan over the past two decades), Pakistan’s President Musharraf has been compelled to make domestic compromises concerning fundamentalist Islamic movements in Kashmir which are also sponsored by Pakistan. Musharraf had urged a quick resolution to the situation in Afghanistan for good reason: the longer Pakistan was involved in something as inherently unpopular in the domestic politic of Pakistan as the suppression of fellow Muslims in Afghanistan, the more difficult it would be for Musharraf to contain Islamic fundamentalists in his own government, especially those involved in the highly-charged situation between India and Pakistan regarding Kashmir. The Kashmir situation has devolved to the point that today Pakistan and India, both nuclear powers, stand on the brink of an all-out military struggle which could rapidly escalate into a full nuclear exchange. Nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India would kill tens of millions immediately, and the death toll could rise to hundreds of millions in the weeks and months afterwards from the combined effects of radiation, disease, and hunger. Nuclear fallout from such an attack would pollute much of the world, including North America and Europe, creating a short-term health emergency and devastating long-term impact on the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people.

America’s focus of attention on the military aspects of the War on Terror in Afghanistan have prevented full diplomatic engagement in the India-Pakistan situation. What engagement that has been forthcoming seems more focused on finding ways to keep Pakistani forces deployed on the border with Afghanistan than de-escalating the tensions between Pakistan and India. Likewise, the stalled military campaign in Afghanistan has resulted in increased political vulnerability on the domestic front in Washington DC, prompting the Bush administration to seek a second front in the War on Terror as means of deflecting criticism. This second front is Iraq. Building upon decades-long demonizing of Iraq’s President, Saddam Hussein, and capitalizing on the post-9/11
fears of many Americans concerning weapons of mass destruction, the Bush administration has exaggerated the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to the United States in an effort to gain domestic support for a war with Iraq, even if this means the United States must go it alone. War against Iraq for the purpose of deposing Saddam Hussein has been defined by the Bush administration as the essential criteria for ultimate victory in the War on Terror, above and beyond even the capture or elimination of Osama Bin Laden.

Strong-handed diplomatic pressure by the United States in the past weeks appear to have expanded support for a war against Iraq in Saudi Arabia, which will provide ports and other logistical support, and Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, which will provide bases from which American troops will operate. However, none of this diplomatic arm-twisting has changed the reality on the Arab street that a war between the United States and Iraq would be immensely unpopular. Many Arab governments, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, have warned the United States that a war with Iraq could undermine their ability to maintain power, and would strengthen the position of militant anti-American Islamic fundamentalist forces. They have cautioned against an American war with Iraq, but emphasized that if America was to strike, the situation should be resolved quickly and that there should be a viable plan for a post-Saddam government in Iraq.

War with Iraq brings with it real dangers. Ideally, a US-led military campaign would trigger anti-Saddam forces inside Iraq that would enable a rapid defeat of the Iraqi government and stabilization of the internal situation inside Iraq. If this is achieved, the United States would theoretically be able to neutralize any backlash that might erupt in the region and around the world resulting from an invasion of Iraq. A new, pro-American government in Iraq, put in place through strong unilateral action by the United States, would reflect not only the seriousness of the Bush administration in dealing with those who promote anti-American terror, but also the futility of confronting the United States. Unfortunately the reality of the situation inside Iraq does not appear to match the conditions needed to achieve such a result. Many anti-Saddam opposition forces, including Kurds in the north of Iraq and Shi’a operating in the south of Iraq from bases inside Iran, have warned that the population of Iraq might very well actively resist any American invasion, not so much out of loyalty to Saddam but rather sincere Iraqi patriotism. Recent agreements between the United States and Turkey regarding the stationing of considerable numbers of Turkish troops in northern Iraq, as well as the apparent abandonment of the Shi’a dominated Iraqi National Congress by the Bush administration when formulating options for a post-Saddam Iraq, have eroded potential support even further.

While such resistance would not serve to defeat an American invasion, it would definitely delay an American victory and result in enormous casualties amongst the Iraqi population. Both such results would severely complicate the situation in Iraq and the entire Middle East for the United States. Any hint of quagmire or massive loss of civilian lives would serve to ignite a wave of anti-American sentiment already looming under the surface of almost every Arab and Muslim country, and bring with it the real possibility of pro-American governments in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere falling to Islamic fundamentalist movements. Complicating all of this is the current
tendency of the Bush administration to engage in military operations inside Iraq with a relatively small force of some 250,000 troops. Even if victory can be had with a slimmed-down invasion force, the margin for error will be very small. Any deviation from the plan would result in costly delays, increasing the likelihood of severe complications both from a military and political standpoint.

Furthermore, the Bush administration has yet to define a definitive plan for a post-Saddam Iraq. Void of such, it is unlikely that any post-Saddam government would have any viability, and could not survive without massive American military backing. The occupation of Iraq could prove to be an immense, costly and contentious undertaking. It is unlikely that Iraq could be securely occupied with anything less than 100,000 troops. The ISAF in Afghanistan is comprised of 25,000 troops simply for the area in and around Kabul. Iraq would require the occupation of no less than five major cities (Baghdad, Basra, Tikrit, Mosul and Kirkuk), as well as three separate oil producing regions (Kirkuk, Basra and Baiji). Active patrolling in tribal areas would be required to keep unrest down. Defeating Saddam is not the major obstacle in securing Iraq; stabilizing Iraq in the aftermath of Saddam’s downfall, and replacing Saddam with a viable government, is. Right now the Bush administration is focused on regime removal, with little in the way of responsible planning taking place concerning a post-Saddam Iraq.

In short, the War on Terror is not proceeding well. Stalemate in Afghanistan, a deteriorating situation inside Pakistan, potential for catastrophic nuclear warfare between Pakistan and India, chaos and brinkmanship with a nuclear-armed North Korea, and a situation vis-à-vis Iraq that could further worsen an already tenuous situation for America in the Middle East is not conducive to achieving victory. The Bush administrations prosecution of the War on Terror is off-target in regards to addressing any center of gravity in regards to the enemy&Mac226;s position, and off-balance in terms of achieving any constructive gains against the forces of terror. In fact, an argument can be made than, as a result of the current stalemate, the forces of terror are actually growing stronger. The political fall-out from the lack of progress in the War on Terror is prompting the Bush administration to seek expansion of the war for short-term domestic political gain (i.e. Iraq) with little or no consideration of the detrimental long-term impact such a conflict might have on the region and overall United States security. An overall reassessment of the War on Terror needs to be had, including a re-prioritization of national security threats which put the War on Terror in a more balanced perspective.

Iraq would need to be dealt with through the Security Council of the United Nations. The United States would need to support viable weapons inspections in Iraq to address concerns about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and then respect the will of the Council in allowing economic sanctions to be lifted once Iraq has been certified as being disarmed. The United States should seek to facilitate the economic reconstitution of Iraq, which represents the best means of creating true political reform inside Iraq. Such reconstitution can be had by returning full control of the Iraqi economy to the Government of Iraq, even if this means accepting the continued rule of Saddam Hussein. Furthermore, a de-emphasis on military action with Iraq would enable the United States to reconsider its military posture in Saudi Arabia, opening the possibility for a reduction in American military presence in that nation which would enable the Saudi government to more forcefully deal with the forces of extreme Islamic fundamentalism.

There is no justification for war with Iraq based upon any notion of a real and imminent threat to international peace and security posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The best counter to any Iraqi threat in this regards has been, is now, and will continue to be the presence of UN weapons inspectors on the ground. The fact that the Bush administration continues to push for war regardless only exposes the reality that this war is not about implementing international law in regards to Iraq’s disarmament obligation, but rather to implement a unilateral American policy of regime removal which is itself part of a larger strategy of unilateral global domination. The international community has pressed for more time so that the inspectors can complete their task, and it appears that an extended reporting date of 14 March will be scheduled. However, while the world hopes for peace, the United States moves inexorably towards war through the continued deployment of military force into the region.

Sadly, the die seems to have been cast, and war with Iraq appears all but inevitable. The key question now is what form of coalition will be assembled to confront Saddam Hussein. For this, the debate in the halls of the Security Council is all important. The results of this debate will not only determine the nature of the looming conflict, but in fact represents the last hope of the international community to stop a war. For all of his rhetoric, President Bush has as of yet failed to present a compelling case for war with Iraq, both in international circles as well as at home among the domestic American audience. The recent actions by the Governments of France,
Germany and Belgium at the United Nations and in NATO serve as a pointed reminder of this failure. Void of Security Council backing, and the resultant international coalition that would be formed, the vast majority of Americans oppose war with Iraq. Because this conflict is more about political concerns than actual national security, the role of American public opinion cannot be understated. War with Iraq will occur so long as President Bush believes that he gains more by going to war than he does by pulling back.

The Bush administration will be using every trick in its bag of diplomatic tricks to try and sway the Security Council into supporting a new resolution authorizing military force against Iraq. However, lacking any substantive facts that sustain the US allegations regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the international community must stand firm if it is to retain any relevancy at all. The Bush administration will pressure those who oppose war with Iraq by noting that such nations will be left behind once the war begins. But all nations must recognize that unless the line is drawn now, and the US war with Iraq opposed vigorously, all nations become irrelevant in the face of a new age of American imperial domination. The voice and power of American democracy is awakening as more and more of America&Mac226;s citizens realize the dangerous direction President Bush is leading them, as so graphically demonstrated by the massive anti-war demonstrations of 15-16 February.

If the Security Council, acting on behalf of the international community, falters now, at the moment of truth, and provides the Bush administration with a smokescreen of legitimacy by authorizing military force against Iraq, the forces of ignorance and fear which have paralyzed the United States since September 11, 2001, will prevail. If this occurs, there is a real risk that the Bush administration will continue to exploit the tragedy of 9/11, doing to American democracy what Adolf Hitler’s exploitation of the burning of the Reichstag did to German democracy in the 1930’s. If, however, the international community stands firm and supports the continued work of the inspectors in Iraq, without artificially imposed time lines, then President Bush would be running the risk of committing political suicide by going to war with Iraq unilaterally. In the game of high stakes poker that is American politics, this is a risk both he and his advisors may not be willing to take, seeing as the true objective of any politician is reelection, and George W. Bush does not want to go down in history as a one term President. As such, it is the duty and responsibility of all freedom loving people, around the world and in the United States, to stand up for the rule of law, insist on the continued work of UN weapons inspectors, and continue to oppose a needless war with Iraq.

Scott Ritter – former United Nations Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq, 1991-1998

Letter to Minister Bill Graham, January 2003

January 23, 2003

The Honourable Bill Graham,
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade,
House of Commons,
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0G4

Dear Mr. Graham,
Re: Canada’s policies with respect to nuclear weapons

We are very grateful that Canada cast a favourable vote at the UN on the New Agenda Group resolution. We are aware that this is a result of your knowledge of, and principled leadership on this issue. This vote is consistent with Canada’s undertakings and statements at the NPT May 2002 Review Conference and within the Conference on Disarmament.

Please be advised that we have requested an explanation of vote from other NATO states.

We write now to express our deep concern with regards to recent nuclear weapons developments, and the current unravelling of the international legal infrastructure relating to nuclear disarmament and abolition. Recent events such as the setbacks with the CTBT, the ABM Treaty, the proposals with respect to missile defence and weaponization of space, the suggestion of use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states and the funding for developments of mini-nukes make us fear that we are moving more surely toward nuclear war than to the abolition of nuclear weapons. Rarely in recent years has our objective seemed more important, or the achievement of our goal more remote.

We request that Canada’s commitment to nuclear weapons abolition be specifically reaffirmed in the upcoming Foreign Policy Review.

We are particularly concerned with the failure of NATO governments to address, let alone reconcile the glaring contradiction between their “unequivocal undertaking” to abolish nuclear weapons under the NPT, and NATO’s policy that nuclear weapons remain essential for the foreseeable future. We are asking the Canadian government to make every effort to urgently resolve this contradiction in a manner that is wholly consistent with our obligations under the NPT and the undertakings related thereto.

Knowing the immense capacity of nuclear weapons to cause destruction, we are further proposing that this problem be addressed by the SCFAIT. More specifically, we propose that the Committee examine:

a) progress in implementing those recommendations accepted by the Government from the SCFAIT Report entitled “Canada and the Nuclear Challenge”, December 1998; and

b) Canadian progress, and progress within NATO, in implementing the “13 Practical Steps” agreed upon in the Final Agreement of the May 2000 NPT Review Conference.

Representatives of the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons held meetings about this NATO-NPT contradiction with MPs Irwin Cotler, Stockwell Day and Bernard Patry on October 31st. Mr Day and Prof. Cotler were both supportive of our proposal that the SCFAIT address this NATO-NPT contradiction next year. Dr. Patry indicated that he would consider it.

Your consideration of this letter is most sincerely appreciated.
Sincerely,

Bev Tollefson Delong
President, Lawyers for Social Responsibility and
Chairperson, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

On behalf of the following members of the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons:
Jacques Boucher, Centre de ressources sur la non-violence
Bev Delong, President, Lawyers for Social Responsibility
Paul Klopstock, Les Artistes pour la paix
Michael Call, PeaceFund Canada
Dr. Hanna Newcombe, Director, Peace Research Institute Dundas
Debbie Grisdale, Executive Director, Physicians for Global Survival
Dr. Ernie Regehr, Executive Director, Project Ploughshares
Dr. John Valleau, Science for Peace
Nancy Gordon, National President, United Nations Association in Canada
David Morgan, National President, Veterans Against Nuclear Arms
Rev. Bern Barrett, President, World Conference on Religion and Peace
Fergus Watt, Executive Director, World Federalists of Canada

cc: to All SCFAIT members

Terminology

Note on terminology used in discussing the launch of rocket-mounted nuclear weapons

In connection with “launch on warning” the terms used by different speakers, writers, and sources of information, have varied. At times they have been intentionally or unintentionally ambiguous. Different groups have used one term with various meanings, and few have made a serious attempt to achieve consistency.

In the launch of a nuclear rocket or salvo of rockets, the moment of the first launch relative to perceived actions by the enemy must be in one of three distinct time periods:

(i) Before any enemy missile has been launched;
(ii) During the flight of one or more enemy missiles, and before the detonation of any enemy warhead;
(iii) After the first detonation of an enemy warhead.

This paper (“No Launch on Warning”) concerns itself with period (ii), during which warning systems indicate enemy missiles or warheads in flight. Launch during period (ii) has been referred to in most anti-nuclear writings and speeches, and in discussion, as “Launch on Warning”. It is abbreviated to “L-o-W” in this paper.

The US military use the term “Launch under Attack”, or “LUA” to denote launch during the same time period (ii). Their spokespersons have sometimes denied a policy of ‘launch on warning’ while admitting “LUA”. The word attack may have been chosen in order to imply that enemy warheads have already detonated, or that perception of the attack was in some way more certain than it was in the context of “L-o-W” (which was used at an earlier date). However, “LUA” is defined in the dictionary of military terms at: http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/doddict/ as “execution by National Command Authorities of Single Integrated Operational Plan Forces subsequent to tactical warning of strategic nuclear attack against the United States and prior to first impact.” This (if you have grasped the jargon) is identical with the peace movement use of the term “Launch on Warning”.

“Launch on Warning” is not defined in the web version of the dictionary of military terms, which contains some 100,000 definitions. However we have been told that L-o-W can have a very scary meaning in deterrence theory. It means, or includes, a launch in period (i), that is before any enemy missile has been launched, but when there is convincing evidence that a nuclear attack by the enemy is imminent. It would be a huge attack, aimed mainly at rocket launch sites and enemy command and communication systems.

A consistent system of terminology for launches could be this:

Launch during period (i): “Launch on Warning”
Launch during period (ii): “Launch under Attack”
Launch during period (iii): “Launch after Detonation”

However, that is not the terminology in use. In practice the term “Launch on Warning” as used by non-military writers usually means a launch during period (ii). “Launch after Detonation” or “No Launch Before Detonation” are new terms we are suggesting here for the posture we advocate to eliminate the danger of a launch due to a false alarm.

A policy or option of launching during period (ii) inevitably carries a risk (perhaps only a very small risk, but always a real one) of the ultimate and most absurd disaster that the human species could inflict on itself – a full-scale nuclear war due solely to a false warning. That is why this paper advocates a change of policy: giving up the option of launch in period (ii) (whether it is called L-o-W or LUA) and waiting those few minutes to “Detonation” before launching retaliation. This change would eliminate the risk of starting a war because of a false warning.

An option of launch during period (i) obviously carries a greater risk of disaster with quite different possibilities for misinterpretation of information received. It is, however, not the subject of this paper.

No Launch on Warning

by Alan F. Phillips, M.D.

(see also Note on Terminology)

This paper argues for abandoning “Launch on Warning” (L-o-W), as a simple and quick method of greatly reducing the risk of nuclear war, pending the permanent elimination of nuclear weapons which has been promised by all the Nuclear Weapon States that have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Elimination seems likely to take a considerable time, and meanwhile the world is at serious risk from a possible nuclear war, and particularly from a purely accidental war. It is this last risk which could be reduced almost to zero by abandoning L-o-W.

The discussion here is based on the simplifying assumption of a one-against-one antagonism – U.S.A. vs. Russia – with stability based on nuclear deterrence. The assumption is appropriate because L-o-W is only relevant between adversaries with arsenals adequate for them to consider a “disarming first strike”, rather than, say, a surprise attack on cities. Also, the war that it is essential for humanity to prevent at the present time is one between those two countries. Their arsenals are so large that if they should go to war the result would be complete destruction of civilization in the northern hemisphere, nuclear winter, and other sequelae that might combine to exterminate the human species.

Regarding the several other states that have, or may have, nuclear weapons deployed, their arsenals are so much smaller that only the civilizations of the warring states would be destroyed by a nuclear war between them. Collateral damage in other countries could be extensive, but not completely destructive. With their present arsenals, nuclear winter would be threatened only if practically all the weapons were detonated. These states with smaller arsenals are not believed to have the policy of “Launch on Warning”, so that in any case the discussion in this paper does not apply to them.

The concept that stability can be achieved by nuclear deterrence is an assumption that is seriously questioned. However, it is a concept that is assumed in arms control discussions between, and agreements made by, the governments and military establishments of U.S.A. and Russia. Nuclear deterrence is accepted for the present discussion because, without implying its validity, I am arguing for a change of just one feature in the two States’ military posture, for their own safety and the safety of the people of the world. The change is a logical necessity; it is urgently needed, and does not require any change in the assumptions upon which policy is based, whether these are valid or not. It is financially neutral, not requiring substantial extra expense nor yielding significant savings.

1. Definition of L-o-W, and distinction from “Launch Under Attack”

The term “Launch on Warning” is used here in reference to retaliation with rocket-mounted nuclear weapons to a perceived nuclear attack. It is the policy that, when there is a warning (by radar or satellite sensors) of attacking missiles on the way, requires a decision to launch or not to launch retaliatory weapons to be made so promptly that the launch can be done before any incoming warhead has arrived and detonated.

Another term, “Launch under Attack”, has been used less precisely by U.S. Strategic Command and in Congress, possibly sometimes with the intention of causing confusion. It is commonly supposed to mean a prompt launch of retaliation as soon as one or more incoming nuclear weapons have detonated. However, in the late 1970’s it was included in the dictionary of military terms by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained as “execution by National Command Authorities of Single Integrated Operational Plan Forces subsequent to tactical warning of strategic nuclear attack against the United States and prior to first impact.” This is identical to “L-o-W”. But at times military spokespeople have said their policy is not L-o-W, but “launch under attack”, implying that there is a difference, and that retaliation would be launched only after impact or detonation.

An alternative distinction has sometimes been implied: that L-o-W means to launch on a warning from one system (radar or satellite) alone, and “launch under attack” means launching retaliation before detonation, but only if the warning is confirmed by a second system. This is too uncertain a distinction to rely on. If communication with one system were temporarily disrupted there would be great pressure to act on an indication from only one. In fact it is believed that, because the Russian satellite fleet is incomplete, there are periods when segments of their periphery are not doubly monitored. Also some of the radar complexes installed under the Soviet system are now in independent States, and there is said to be a corridor along which missiles could approach with no warning early enough for evaluation of the situation before impact.

Both Russia and U.S.A. are believed to have the policy of L-o-W, as defined above, at the present time. If this is true of Russia, they must be relying on warning from only one system for a large fraction of the time. Their satellite fleet is incomplete and there are periods when segments of their periphery are not doubly monitored. Some of the radar complexes installed under the Soviet system are now in independent States. There is said to be a corridor along which missiles could approach giving no warning early enough for evaluation of the situation before impact. We have no way of knowing whether, for that direction of attack, their retaliation would be purely reflex or would wait for impact.

2. History of L-o-W, and the reasons for L-o-W

The avowed function of nuclear ballistic missiles is “deterrence”. Deterrence is in theory achieved when a potential attacker is convinced that an attack will be unavoidably followed by retaliation so devastating that it would be irrational to try it.

When the extreme destructiveness of nuclear weapons was realized, it became clear that a massive first salvo directed at command and weapon locations and at communications could diminish or eliminate a response. Knowledge of that by the enemy would weaken deterrence and invite a “disarming first strike”. To avoid this weakening of deterrence, the possibility was explored of launching retaliation before the first impact and detonation, L-o-W. It was probably put into effect as soon as such a quick launch became possible. The development of solid fuel as rocket propellant (around 1960) was a decisive factor.

During atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in the early 1950’s the electrical phenomenon called “Electro-Magnetic Pulse” (EMP) was discovered. The Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) is an extremely sharp and energetic electromagnetic impulse that is emitted by electrons traveling at nearly the speed of light from a nuclear explosion. It is maximal when the detonation is at very high altitude and the electrons interact with the earth’s magnetic field above the atmosphere. It disrupts unshielded electrical and electronic equipment over a wide area. Around1960 the U.S. conducted a series of high-altitude nuclear explosions to investigate it, incidentally causing significant disruption of radio communications each time. The purpose was presumably two-fold: to explore the possibility of using the phenomenon to enable a disarming first strike, and to study methods of protecting their own electronic equipment so that deterrence would be maintained even if the enemy was planning to use EMP. The possibility that electrical disruptions might prevent retaliation made a second reason to adopt L-o-W.

As early as 1960 the propriety and morality of adopting L-o-W was being discussed , because of the recognized danger of launching on a false warning and so starting an unintended nuclear war. In that year the Planning Board wrote that it was “essential” to avoid the possibility of launching unrecallable missiles based on a false warning. They stressed the importance of a “reliable bomb alarm system to provide early positive information of actual missile hits.” In 1962, Robert McNamara said that as long as he was Secretary of Defense and Jack Kennedy was President, the U.S. would never launch on warning. But the same year, the Secretary of the Air Force must have been thinking of L-o-W when he informed Kennedy that once the Minuteman missiles had been deployed in the first complex, in their “normal alert status”, all “twenty missiles will be able to be launched in thirty seconds.”

A discussion in 1969 is on record as showing that some who were opposing “Ballistic Missile Defense” favoured L-o-W, but The White House is stated to have opposed it “on the grounds that 50% of warnings from Over-the-Horizon Radar were false”. (The validity of this position seems dubious, because no true warning of a nuclear ballistic missile attack has ever been received. Presumably the other 50% were true observations of test rocket launches.) Lawrence Lynn, of U.S. National Security Council Staff, responded that the new satellite early warning system was estimated to produce only one false alarm per year, which he evidently regarded as acceptable. Georgy Arbatov, a Soviet deterrence specialist who had joined the National Security Council, assured Council members that “neither side would wait if it received warning of an attack but instead … would simply empty its silos by launching a counter-strike at once.” That removes concern about failure of deterrence against a surprise first strike, but underlines the danger from a false warning.

It seems probable that by 1969 L-o-W had been the military policy on both sides, for a number of years, notwithstanding the record that in 1973 Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird expressed the hope that “that kind of strategy would never be adopted by any Administration or by any Congress.” The recollections of former officers and enlisted men of Strategic Air Command (SAC) from the early 1970’s confirm that L-o-W was in effect then.

The policy of L-o-W is apparently still in effect both in U.S.A. and Russia, even though the Cold War is regarded as over. This seems inexcusably dangerous.

3. The danger of inadvertent N_war from false warnings or accidental coincidences.

Launch on Warning has kept the world exposed, for at least 30 years, to the danger of a nuclear war caused by nothing but a coincidence of radar, sensor, or computer glitches, and a temporary failure of human alertness to appreciate that an unexpected message of attack from the warning system is false, the enemy having done nothing. There is at most 20 minutes for the human operators and commanders to call and conduct a “threat conference”; and for the chief of SAC is put in touch with the President to advise him, and the President decides whether to order retaliation. The disaster of an accidental nuclear war has not happened yet, in spite of a large number of false warnings of which at least a few have had very dangerous features. This is a credit to the care and alertness of the military in both Russia and U.S.A. It should not be taken as reassurance. A single instance of launch of nuclear weapons on a false warning would result in nuclear war, and the end of civilization, just as surely as a nuclear war started by an actual attack. There would be no chance to review the system to make it safer after one failure of that kind.

The threat conferences require, and so far have achieved, the extraordinary standard of perfect accuracy. They have been called many times. Probably most of them have been routine and it was easy to exclude a real attack. To get some idea of how the laws of chance apply to the situation, suppose we make a very conservative assumption, that just one conference a year had a risk of error as high 1% (and that the rest had a much lower risk). It is simple mathematics to calculate that one 1% risk of disaster per year for 30 years does not result in 30%, but in a 26% probability of one actual disaster in that time. On that assumption, then, we had approximately 3 to 1 odds in favour of surviving the period 1970 – 2000, and we did survive. But so, from the risk of accidental war alone, we had a one in four chance of not surviving, which is not very safe. A single trial of Russian roulette is safer: it gives a one in six chance of death, or 5 to 1 odds on surviving. (This is not an attempt to calculate an actual probability. It is merely an example to illustrate the cumulative effect of any low-probability risk that is taken repeatedly, or accepted continuously, over a period of time.)

During the Cold War, many mishaps within the nuclear retaliation system on the U.S. side are known, including false warnings. There must have also been many such on the Russian side. One has been reported in which an officer decided on his own initiative not to report an apparently grave warning on his computer screen, on the correct belief that it was a false warning. He may have saved the world, but was disgraced for failing to follow his orders; his career was ruined, and he suffered a mental breakdown.

Scott Sagan described a large number of errors and accidents within the U.S. nuclear deterrence system, in a study of rival theories of accident probabilities. He concluded that the risk of nuclear war from accidents had not been excessive. I came to the opposite conclusion from his data. I have collected from that source and others, 20 mishaps that, with less alertness among military officers, or some coincidental problem, might possibly have started a war.

One example of a situation that was difficult to assess correctly at the Command Center, was this: On the night of 24 November, 1961, all communication links between SAC HQ and NORAD went dead, and so cut SAC HQ off from the three Ballistic Missile Early Warning Sites (BMEWS), at Thule (Greenland), Clear (Alaska), and Fylingdales (England) . For General Power at SAC HQ, there were two possible explanations: either enemy action, or the coincidental failure of all the communication systems, which had multiple ostensibly independent routes, including commercial telephone circuits. The SAC bases in U.S.A. were therefore alerted and B-52 nuclear bomber crews started their engines, with instructions not to take off without further orders. In the hope of clarifying the situation, radio contact was made with an orbiting B-52 on airborne alert which was near Thule (5,000 kilometers away) at the time. Its crew contacted the BMEWS station and could report that no attack had taken place, so the alert was cancelled. The reason for the “coincidental” failure was that the “independent” routes for telephone and telegraph between NORAD and SAC HQ all ran through one relay station in Colorado (which seems to show a remarkably stupid error in system design). At that relay station a small fire had interrupted all the lines.

That particular false warning was followed by a coincidental mishap that could have been disastrous. It seems there was an error in transmitting the alert code to 380th Bomb Wing at Plattsburg, New York. A former aircraft maintenance technician, who was serving at that B-52 bomber base, recently told me his recollection of the incident (which is vivid) is that the coded order first received by the bomber crews instructed them to take off and proceed directly to their pre-assigned targets, and bomb. The order was down-graded to the code meaning “wait with engines running”, before any plane had taken off. If the corrected code had not been received in time it could have been very difficult to stop the bombers.

The episode just described took place before L-o-W was instituted for the ICBMs that were in service. By 1979 the policy of L-o-W was in effect, and on the morning of 9 November a war games tape was running in a reserve computer when failure of the operational computer automatically switched in the reserve to take its place. The Threat Conference saw the picture of a massive attack in a realistic trajectory from Russian launch sites. On that occasion, preparation to retaliate got as far as launch of the president’s National Emergency Airborne Command Post (though without the president), before the error was discovered.

The most recent example known to the public was on 25 January 1995 when, as described in a report of the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, “the Russian missile early warning system detected a scientific rocket launched off the coast of Norway. This area is frequented by U.S. submarines, whose ballistic missiles could scatter eight nuclear warheads over Moscow within fifteen minutes. Norway had informed the Russian Foreign Ministry about the upcoming launch, but this information had not been transmitted to the military. Over the next several minutes President Yeltsin was informed of the possible American attack, and, for the first time ever, his ‘nuclear briefcase’ was switched into alert mode for emergency use, allowing him to order a full Russian nuclear response. Tension mounted as the rocket separated into several stages, but the crisis ended after about eight minutes (just a few minutes before the procedural deadline to respond to an impending nuclear attack) when it became clear that the rocket was headed out to sea and would not pose a threat to Russia.”

4. Recommendations to U.S. Government on the need for de-alerting.

Several reports to governments have indicated the importance of abandoning this hair-trigger stance with weapons of such terrible destructive power. The first two steps in the recommendations of the Canberra Commission were: “• Taking nuclear forces off alert • Removal of warheads from delivery vehicles.”

5. A working definition of “de-alerting”, and how it might be done.

“De-alerting” is a term commonly used in suggestions and recommendations that nuclear weapons should be taken off “hair-trigger alert”. A definition that covers the current usage is that physical changes are made so that there is an unavoidable delay between a decision to launch, and the irrevocable step by which the rocket is actually launched. It would be incompatible with L-o-W, and would provide a period in which to review the fateful decision and take counsel.

A wide variety of methods have been suggested to introduce this delay. A very radical one would be to have all warheads removed from all delivery vehicles, and stored at a distance from them. Others include:

• making a heap of earth and rocks on silo lids that requires heavy machinery to remove it;
• removing hydraulic fluid from the machines that raise silo lids;
• inactivating the mechanism that rolls back garage roofs (Russia);
• pinning open a switch in a place that takes time to reach, or within a casing that takes time to open; and
• removing batteries, gyroscopes, or guidance mechanisms from rockets or re-entry vehicles

Some methods would be applicable to some types of warhead, and some to others. For each one a suitable method would have to be chosen and the details adjusted to achieve the required delay.

De-alerting would make sure that nuclear weapons could not be brought into use hastily. It would tend to reduce reliance on them in crisis situations, and thus be a step towards their eventual elimination from national arsenals. De-alerting would also make unauthorized launch of a nuclear weapon far more difficult to do, and would remove entirely the risk of accidental war due to a false warning. It would make more improbable the already unlikely event of a serious dispute between Russia and U.S.A. pushing either of the two into intentionally starting a war, by giving more time for diplomatic exchanges between the hostile governments and for conciliatory efforts by third parties.

However, there seems to be an obstacle that is difficult to overcome. Until elimination of the weapons is complete and assured by treaty, it has to be assumed that governments will go on regarding possession of nuclear weapons as essential deterrence against use of them by their enemy.

The two governments will require approximate equality of arsenals, and the military will insist on close symmetry of the de-alerting delays enforced. That would require rather complex arrangements, because of the differences in warhead types and in delivery vehicles. In the event that one side was actually intending to start a war, they would as rapidly as possible start to reverse the de-alerting process and ready their first salvo to fire. The other side would follow suit immediately, assuming that a verification system was set up so that they knew immediately. During the re-alerting process the weapon system would be vulnerable to attack, so whatever different systems were in use, the enforced delay times would have to be equal.

The governments will also demand intrusive verification to ensure the completeness of the de-alerting measures actually carried out, and that they cannot be secretly reversed. This may require representatives from neutral countries, and perhaps from the adversary, in the vicinity of each one’s launch sites. The military on both sides will then be concerned about maintaining the secrecy of features of their systems. To include verification acceptably for submarine-launched missiles would be extremely difficult.

It would take a prolonged technical study and discussion to set up these two systems — the de-alerting itself and the verification — in a way that would satisfy the two adversaries. When the experts and the military establishments were satisfied (which might prove impossible) a formal written agreement would be needed. This could require an actual treaty which would need ratification by the parliament on each side, and this raises another possibility of disappointing failure after years of work.

The only other way of getting the two governments and military establishments to accept de-alerting, is to persuade them that deterrence with nuclear weapons is no longer necessary. It may be even more difficult to do that.

6. NO L-o-W would be much easier to achieve.

A very simple change can be made which would remove entirely the risk of a launch of nuclear weapons in response to a false alarm. It is to abandon the policy of Launch on Warning. Since a false warning is immediately revealed as such when the predicted time has passed for the first rockets to arrive and no detonation has been detected, simply delaying retaliation until there has been a nuclear detonation guarantees that a war will not be started accidentally from that cause.

Incidents from which a purely accidental war might have been started seem to have outnumbered the actual geopolitical crises when nuclear war was intentionally threatened. Most of these threats, though dangerous, have been regarded as threatening gestures rather than an actual thought of going to war.

Since the Berlin Wall came down, the most serious threat of a nuclear war between Russia and U.S.A. known to the public has been the “Norwegian Rocket event” of January 1995, described above. Without L-o-W, the Russian alert and the anxious few minutes would still have occurred, but there would have been absolutely no danger of nuclear war because the rocket was unarmed and there could not have been a nuclear explosion.

To change from L-o-W to NO L-o-W does not require any change of alert status of the retaliatory system. It only requires a change of standing orders and standard operating procedure, such that no launch may take place until a nuclear detonation is reported.

A possible procedure might be as follows: As soon as a warning is received that the threat conference deems might be real, the order to prepare for launch is given, and arrangements are made to put the Chief of Strategic Command in touch with the President (or the equivalent steps on the Russian side, if it is their warning system that has come into action). As the situation develops over the next few minutes, the President decides whether, in the event of it proving to be a real attack, he will launch immediate retaliation. If he decides to do so, he will give a conditional order to retaliate using the appropriate SIOP option. Perhaps half of the launch code will be sent to the silos at once. The remainder will sent with the order to launch as soon as a detonation is reported to the military command. If the actual launch order is not received at the silos within a predetermined time, the preparatory order is regarded as cancelled and the preparatory steps are reversed without further orders.

Bomb alarms were installed many years ago near all military installations and all big cities in U.S.A., and presumably in Russia, which automatically and instantaneously indicate at the Strategic Command Centers any nuclear explosion and its location. If, and only if, indication of a nuclear explosion was received at the predicted arrival time of the attack, the final order to launch would be sent immediately to the silos. No delay to obtain presidential authorization would be needed at that point. The actual retaliatory launch could probably take place within a minute of the first detonation.

With a procedure like that in place, there would be no possibility of launching nuclear-armed rockets unless an actual attack had taken place. It would probably eliminate 90% of the current risk of nuclear war between U.S.A. and Russia.

A secondary benefit would be the reduced stress on the President during those vital minutes. He would know that he was not in danger of starting a war on a false warning. Under L-o-W, that worry might impair his concentration on the main issues.

It is worth noting that the change to NO L-o-W can start with a unilateral decision. Neither side wants an accidental war. They know that if either side mistakenly launches nuclear weapons both countries are going to be destroyed: it makes no difference who started it. If one side changes to NO L-o-W the risk of a purely accidental war from a false warning is approximately halved, immediately. It does not depend on the other side knowing that the change has been made.

7. Any loss of deterrence is minimal.

There can be few grounds for objection, by the military or by the governments, to this very necessary safety measure. One objection has to be taken seriously: that “NO L-o-W” might impair deterrence and tempt the enemy to try a “disarming first strike”. There are good reasons why this objection should not be allowed to prevent the change.

• First, for a first strike to be a rational option, the attacking side would have to be sure that the first salvo could effectively disarm the enemy within one minute of the first detonation. Their degree of alertness has not been reduced, and retaliation for a real attack would still be launched within a minute, as explained above. Synchronisation of detonation times on widely separated launch sites and command posts could not be assured to that accuracy, even if the many other uncertainties could be overcome.

The other possible method to prevent retaliation would be a first salvo engineered to maximize EMP and disable enemy electronics instantly. It is hardly credible that the attacking side could feel sure that their EMP would disrupt communication and launch mechanisms sufficiently, since they know that military electronics will have been shielded. Furthermore, they will know that submarine-launched missiles will not be disabled, because the sea-water shields the submarines and their contents.

• Second, the side planning an attack would have to be sure that their adversary had in fact changed to and remained under a policy of NO L-o-W. They cannot be sure without verification. A verification agreement is therefore not only unnecessary but actually undesirable.

• Lastly, the original reason for L-o-W does not now apply. During the Cold War it was assumed by both sides that the other would make a pre-emptive first strike in the event that it believed war to be inevitable, or would contemplate an unprovoked attack if that were possible without unacceptable damage to itself. At the present time it seems most unlikely that either U.S.A. or Russia is contemplating an attempt to destroy the other by a nuclear war. Nor are there any disagreements on the horizon that are likely to make war “inevitable”.

If the situation should change so that either side believed a first strike against it to be once again a real threat, then the NO L-o-W policy can be changed back instantly to L-o-W by an executive order, and the small changes that were made in operating procedure could be overridden. In the ordinary course of events there would be no reason to change back: NO L-o-W on either side is an advantage to both, simply because it halves the risk of a purely accidental nuclear war.

If, despite these arguments, the military establishment on either side is not convinced, the head of state must balance the elimination of the very definite risk of accidental war due to a false warning, against a hypothetical possibility of weakened deterrence. The results of a nuclear war would be the same, whether started by accident or by intention.

8. Conclusion.

Compared with real de-alerting that introduces a time delay, the change to NO L-o-W is quick and simple. It does not need symmetry, verification, agreement, nor even trust, between the adversaries. If adopted unilaterally by one, it is of immediate benefit to both. It does not impair deterrence. Unilateral operation of NO L-o-W by one country for a time might well be sufficient for the other to understand the benefit and to realize that the change did not in fact invite a first strike.

Putting NO L-o-W into effect requires only an executive order, followed by a change in Standing Orders to the effect that no rocket is launched until a nuclear explosion is reported to Strategic Command. There is no reduction in alert status. There would be minor changes in the launch sequence to suit whatever safeguards would be made to ensure that no launch could occur while the crews in the silos were waiting for the final order, and that they would be ready for instant launch if that order came through.

All the world’s people would be safer for the change. Therefore all governments have a duty to their people to urge the U.S. and Russian governments to make it at once. NGOs should consider making this their primary objective until it is achieved. Thereafter, they will continue to urge the Nuclear Weapon States to fulfil their undertaking to eliminate nuclear weapons from their arsenals.

Acronyms

BMEWS
Ballistic Missile Early Warning System
EMP
ElectroMagnetic Pulse
HQ
Headquarters
ICBM
Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile
L-o-W
Launch on Warning
NGO
Non-Governmental Organization
NORAD
North American Aerospace Defense Command
SAC
Strategic Air Command (later changed to “Strategic Command”)
SIOP
Single Integrated Operational Plan
SLBM
Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile
USSR
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

20 Mishaps That Might Have Started a Nuclear War

20 Mishaps That Might Have Started Accidental Nuclear War
by Alan F. Phillips, M.D.

Ever since the two adversaries in the Cold War, the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., realized that their nuclear arsenals were sufficient to do disastrous damage to both countries at short notice, the leaders and the military commanders have thought about the possibility of a nuclear war starting without their intention or as a result of a false alarm. Increasingly elaborate accessories have been incorporated in nuclear weapons and their delivery systems to minimize the risk of unauthorized or accidental launch or detonation. A most innovative action was the establishment of the “hot line” between Washington and Moscow in 1963 to reduce the risk of misunderstanding between the supreme commanders.

Despite all precautions, the possibility of an inadvertent war due to an unpredicted sequence of events remained as a deadly threat to both countries and to the world. That is the reason I am prepared to spend the rest of my life working for abolition of nuclear weapons.

One way a war could start is a false alarm via one of the warning systems, followed by an increased level of nuclear forces readiness while the validity of the information was being checked. This action would be detected by the other side, and they would take appropriate action; detection of the response would tend to confirm the original false alarm; and so on to disaster. A similar sequence could result from an accidental nuclear explosion anywhere. The risk of such a sequence developing would be increased if it happened during a period of increased international tension.

On the American side many “false alarms” and significant accidents have been listed, ranging from trivial to very serious, during the Cold War. Probably many remain unknown to the public and the research community because of individuals’ desire to avoid blame and to maintain the good reputation of their unit or command. No doubt there have been as many mishaps on the Soviet side. One has been reported in which a Russian officer, on 23 September 1983, decided on his own initiative not to report an apparently grave warning on his computer screen, in the correct belief that it was a false warning. He may have saved the world, but was disgraced for failing to follow his orders; his career was ruined, and he suffered a mental breakdown.

Working with any new system, false alarms are more likely. The rising moon was misinterpreted as a missile attack during the early days of long-range radar. A fire at a broken gas pipeline was believed to be enemy jamming by laser of a satellite’s infrared sensor when those sensors were first deployed.

The risks are illustrated by the following selections of mishaps. If the people involved had exercised less caution, or if some unfortunate coincidental event had occurred, escalation to nuclear war can easily be imagined. Details of some of the events differ in different sources: where there have been disagreements, I have chosen to quote those from the carefully researched book, “The Limits of Safety” by Scott D. Sagan. Sagan gives references to original sources in all instances.

These examples represent only a fraction of the false alarms that have been reported on the American side. Many on both sides probably remain unreported, or are hidden in records that remain classified.

1956, Nov.5: Suez Crisis coincidence.

British and French Forces were attacking Egypt at the Suez Canal. The Soviet Government had suggested to the U.S. that they combine forces to stop this by a joint military action, and had warned the British and French governments that (non-nuclear) rocket attacks on London and Paris were being considered. That night NORAD HQ received messages that: (i) unidentified aircraft were flying over Turkey and the Turkish air force was on alert (ii) 100 Soviet MIG-15’s were flying over Syria (iii) a British Canberra bomber had been shot down over Syria (iv) the Soviet fleet was moving through the Dardanelles. It is reported that in the U.S.A. General Goodpaster himself was concerned that these events might trigger the NATO operations plan for nuclear strikes against the U.S.S.R.

The four reports were all shown afterwards to have innocent explanations. They were due, respectively, to: (i) a flight of swans (ii) a routine air force escort (much smaller than the number reported) for the president of Syria, who was returning from a visit to Moscow (iii) the Canberra bomber was forced down by mechanical problems (iv) the Soviet fleet was engaged in scheduled routine exercises.

1961, Nov.24: BMEWS communication failure.

On the night of 24 November 1961, all communication links went dead between SAC HQ and NORAD. The communication loss cut off SAC HQ from the three Ballistic Missile Early Warning Sites (BMEWS) at Thule (Greenland,) Clear (Alaska,) and Fylingdales (England,). There were two possible explanations facing SAC HQ: either enemy action, or the coincidental failure of all the communication systems, which had redundant and ostensibly independent routes, including commercial telephone circuits. All SAC bases in the United States were therefore alerted, and B-52 bomber crews started their engines, with instructions not to to take off without further orders. Radio communication was established with an orbiting B-52 on airborne alert, near Thule. It contacted the BMEWS stations by radio and could report that no attack had taken place.

The reason for the “coincidental” failure was that the redundant routes for telephone and telegraph between NORAD and SAC HQ all ran through one relay station in Colorado. At that relay station a motor had overheated and caused interruption of all the lines.

[NOTE: Long after I wrote this, a reader informed me that he was a technician at Plattsburgh Air Force Base at the time. The order reached that Base as an “Alpha” alert, the highest level, at which nuclear-armed bombers were to fly direct to their targets and bomb, without waiting at the failsafe point for further orders. Before any bomber could take off the correction arrived making it a third-level “Cocoa” alert, at which the bombers stayed on the runway with engines running and waited for further orders. If even one bomber had taken off, it might have been very difficult to recall it or stop it.]

THE CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS LASTED FOR THE TWO WEEKS 14-28 OCTOBER 1962. MANY DANGEROUS EVENTS TOOK PLACE IN RELATION TO THE CRISIS, SOME OF THEM BECAUSE OF CHANGES MADE TO ENHANCE MILITARY READINESS. ELEVEN HAVE BEEN SELECTED:

1962, Aug.23: B-52 Navigation Error.

SAC Chrome Dome airborne alert route included a leg from the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, SW across the Arctic Ocean to Barter Island, Alaska. On 23 August 1962, a B-52 nuclear armed bomber crew made a navigational error and flew a course 20 degrees too far towards the north. They approached within 300 miles of Soviet airspace near Wrangel island, where there was believed to be an interceptor base with aircraft having an operational radius of 400 miles.

Because of the risk of repetition of such an error, in this northern area where other checks on navigation are difficult to obtain, it was decided to fly a less provocative route in the future. However, the necessary orders had not been given by the time of the Cuban missile crisis in October, so throughout that crisis the same northern route was being flown 24 hours a day.

Aug.-Oct.1962: U2 flights into Soviet airspace.

U2 high altitude reconnaissance flights from Alaska occasionally strayed unintentionally into Soviet airspace. One such episode occurred in August 1962. During the Cuban missile crisis on October of 1962, the U2 pilots were ordered not to fly within 100 miles of Soviet airspace.

On the night of 26 October, for a reason irrelevant to the crisis, a U2 pilot was ordered to fly a new route, over the north pole, where positional checks on navigation were by sextant only. That night the aurora prevented good sextant readings and the plane strayed over the Chukotski Peninsula. Soviet MIG interceptors took off with orders to shoot down the U2. The pilot contacted his U.S. command post and was ordered to fly due east towards Alaska. He ran out of fuel while still over Siberia. In response to his S.O.S., U.S. F102-A fighters were launched to escort him on his glide to Alaska, with orders to prevent the MIG’s from entering U.S. airspace. The U.S. interceptor aircraft were armed with nuclear missiles. These could have been used by any one of the F102-A pilots at his own discretion.

1962, Oct.24: Russian satellite explodes.

On 24 October a Soviet satellite entered its own parking orbit, and shortly afterward exploded. Sir Bernard Lovell, director of the Jodrell Bank observatory wrote in 1968: “the explosion of a Russian spacecraft in orbit during the Cuban missile crisis… led the U.S. to believe that the USSR was launching a massive ICBM attack.” The NORAD Command Post logs of the dates in question remain classified, possibly to conceal reaction to the event. Its occurrence is recorded, and U.S. space tracking stations were informed on 31 October of debris resulting from the breakup of “62 BETA IOTA.”

1962, Oct.25: Duluth intruder.

At around midnight on 25 October, a guard at the Duluth Sector Direction Center saw a figure climbing the security fence. He shot at it, and activated the “sabotage alarm”. This automatically set off sabotage alarms at all bases in the area. At Volk Field, Wisconsin, the alarm was wrongly wired, and the Klaxon sounded which ordered nuclear armed F-106A interceptors to take off. The pilots knew there would be no practice alert drills while DEFCON 3 was in force, and they believed World War III had started.

Immediate communication with Duluth showed there was an error. By this time aircraft were starting down the runway. A car raced from command centre and successfully signalled the aircraft to stop.

The original intruder was a bear.

1962, Oct.26: ICBM Test Launch.

At Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, there was a program of routine ICBM test flights. When DEFCON 3 was ordered all the ICBM’s were fitted with nuclear warheads except one Titan missile that was scheduled for a test launch later that week. That one was launched for its test, without further orders from Washington, at 4 a.m. on the 26th.

It must be assumed that Russian observers were monitoring U.S. missile activities as closely as U.S. observers were monitoring Russian and Cuban activities. They would have known of the general changeover to nuclear warheads, but not that this was only a test launch.

1962, Oct.26: Unannounced Titan missile launch.

During the Cuba crisis, some radar warning stations that were under construction and near completion were brought into full operation as fast as possible. The planned overlap of coverage was thus not always available.

A normal test launch of a Titan-II ICBM took place in the afternoon of 26 October, from Florida towards the South Pacific. It caused temporary concern at Moorestown Radar site until its course could be plotted and showed no predicted impact within the United States. It was not until after this event that the potential for a serious false alarm was realized, and orders were given that radar warning sites must be notified in advance of test launches, and the countdown be relayed to them.

1962, Oct.26: Malmstrom Air Force Base.

When DEFCON 2 was declared on 24 October, solid-fuel Minuteman-1 missiles at Malmstrom Air Force Base were being prepared for full deployment. The work was accelerated to ready the missiles for operation, without waiting for the normal handover procedures and safety checks. When one silo and the first missile were ready on 26 October no armed guards were available to cover transport from the normal separate storage, so the launch enabling equipment and codes were all placed in the silo. It was thus physically possible for a single operator to launch a fully armed missile at a SIOP target.

During the remaining period of the Crisis the several missiles at Malmstrom were repeatedly put on and off alert as errors and defects were found and corrected. Fortunately no combination of errors caused or threatened an unauthorized launch, but in the extreme tension of the period the danger can be well imagined.

October 1962: NATO Readiness.

It is recorded that early in the crisis, in order to avoid provocation of the U.S.S.R., British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and NATO Supreme Commander General Lauris Norstad agreed not to put NATO on alert. When the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered DEFCON 3, Norstad was authorized to use his discretion in complying, and Norstad did not order a NATO alert. However, several NATO subordinate commanders did order alerts to DEFCON 3 or equivalent levels of readiness at bases in West Germany, Italy, Turkey, and United Kingdom. This seems to have been largely due to the action of General Truman Landon, CINC U.S. Air Forces Europe, who had on his own initiative started alert procedures on 17 October in anticipation of a serious crisis over Cuba.

October 1962: British Alerts.

When the U.S. SAC went to DEFCON 2, on 24 October, the British Bomber Command was carrying out an unrelated readiness exercise. On 26 October, Air Marshall Cross, CINC of Bomber Command, decided to prolong the exercise because of the Cuba crisis, and later increased the alert status of British nuclear forces, so that they could launch in 15 minutes.

It seems likely that Soviet intelligence would perceive these moves as part of a coordinated plan in preparation for immediate war. They could not be expected to know that neither the British Minister of Defence nor Prime Minister Macmillan had authorized them.

It is disturbing to note how little was learned from these errors in Europe. McGeorge Bundy wrote in “Danger and Survival” (New York: Random House 1988), “the risk [of nuclear war] was small, given the prudence and unchallenged final control of the two leaders.”

1962, Oct.28: Moorestown false alarm.

Just before 9 a.m. on 28 October the Moorestown, New Jersey, radar operators informed the national command post that a nuclear attack was under way. A test tape simulating a missile launch from Cuba was being run, and simultaneously a satellite came over the horizon. Operators became confused and reported by voice line to NORAD HQ that impact was expected 18 miles west of Tampa at 9:02 a.m. The whole of NORAD was alerted, but before irrevocable action had been taken it was reported that no detonation had taken place at the predicted time, and Moorestown operators reported the reason for the false alarm.

During the incident overlapping radars that should have been available to confirm or disagree, were not in operation. The radar post had not received routine information of satellite passage because the facility carrying out that task had been given other work for the duration of the crisis.

1962, Oct.28: False warning due to satellite sighting.

At 5:26 p.m. on 28 October, the Laredo radar warning site had just become operational. Operators misidentified a satellite in orbit as two possible missiles over Georgia and reported by voice line to NORAD HQ. NORAD was unable to identify that the warning came from the new station at Laredo and believed it to be from Moorestown, and therefore more reliable. Moorestown failed to intervene and contradict the false warning. By the time the CINC, NORAD had been informed, no impact had been reported and the warning was “given low credence.”

END OF CUBA CRISIS EVENTS

1962, Nov.2: The Penkovsky False Warning.

In the fall of 1962, Colonel Oleg Penkovsky was working in Russia as a double agent for the CIA He had been given a code by which to warn the CIA if he was convinced that a Soviet attack on the United States was imminent. He was to call twice, one minute apart, and only blow into the receiver. Further information was then to be left at a “dead drop” in Moscow.

The pre-arranged code message was received by the CIA on 2 November 1962. It was not known at the CIA that Penkovsky had been arrested on 22 October. Penkovsky knew he was going to be executed. It is not known whether he had told the KGB the meaning of the code signal or only how it would be given, nor is it known exactly why or with what authorization the KGB staff used it. When another CIA agent checked the dead drop he was arrested.

1965, November: Power failure and faulty bomb alarms.

Special bomb alarms were installed near military facilities and near cities in the U.S.A., so that the locations of nuclear bursts would be transmitted before the expected communication failure. The alarm circuits were set up to display a red signal at command posts the instant that the flash of a nuclear detonation reached the sensor, and before the blast could put it out of action. Normally the display would show a green signal, and yellow if the sensor was not operating or was out of communication for any other reason.

During the commercial power failure in the NE United States in November 1965, displays from all the bomb alarms for the area should have shown yellow. In fact, two of them from different cities showed red because of circuit errors. The effect was consistent with the power failure being due to nuclear weapons explosions, and the Command Center of the Office of Emergency Planning went on full alert. Apparently the military did not.

1968, Jan.21: B-52 crash near Thule.

Communication between NORAD HQ and the BMEWS station at Thule had 3 elements: 1. Direct radio communication. 2. A “bomb alarm” as described above. 3. Radio Communication relayed by a B-52 bomber on airborne alert.

On 21 January 1968, a fire broke out in the B-52 bomber on airborne alert near Thule. The pilot prepared for an emergency landing at the base. However the situation deteriorated rapidly, and the crew had to bale out. There had been no time to communicate with SAC HQ, and the pilotless plane flew over the Thule base before crashing on the ice 7 miles miles offshore. Its fuel, and the high explosive component of its nuclear weapons exploded, but there was no nuclear detonation.

At that time, the “one point safe” condition of the nuclear weapons could not be guaranteed, and it is believed that a nuclear explosion could have resulted from accidental detonation of the high explosive trigger. Had there been a nuclear detonation even at 7 miles distant, and certainly if one happened nearer the base, all three communication methods would have given an indication consistent with a successful nuclear attack on both the base and the B-52 bomber. The bomb alarm would have shown red, and the other two communication paths would have gone dead. It would hardly have been anticipated that the combination could have been caused by accident, particularly as the map of the routes for B-52 airborne flights approved by the President showed no flight near to Thule. The route had been apparently changed without informing the White House.

1973, Oct.24-25: False alarm during Middle East crisis.

On 24 October 1973, when the U.N. sponsored cease fire intended to end the Arab-Israeli war was in force, further fighting started between Egyptian and Israeli troops in the Sinai desert. U.S. intelligence reports and other sources suggested that the U.S.S.R. was planning to intervene to protect the Egyptians. President Nixon was in the throes of the Watergate episode and not available for a conference, so Kissinger and other U.S. officials ordered DEFCON 3. The consequent movements of aircraft and troops were of course observed by Soviet intelligence. The purpose of the alert was not to prepare for war, but to warn the U.S.S.R. not to intervene in the Sinai. However, if the following accident had not been promptly corrected then the Soviet command might have made a more dangerous interpretation.

On 25 October, while DEFCON 3 was in force, mechanics were repairing one of the Klaxons at Kinchole Air Force Base, Michigan, and accidentally activated the whole base alarm system. B-52 crews rushed to their aircraft and started the engines. The duty officer recognized the alarm was false and recalled the crews before any took off.

1979, Nov.9: Computer Exercise Tape.

At 8:50 a.m. on 9 November 1979, duty officers at 4 command centres (NORAD HQ, SAC Command Post, The Pentagon National Military Command Center, and the Alternate National Military Command Center) all saw on their displays a pattern showing a large number of Soviet Missiles in a full scale attack on the U.S.A. During the next 6 minutes emergency preparations for retaliation were made. A number of Air Force planes were launched, including the President’s National Emergency Airborne Command Post, though without the President! The President had not been informed, perhaps because he could not be found.

With commendable speed, NORAD was able to contact PAVE PAWS early warning radar and learn that no missiles had been reported. Also, the sensors on the satellites were functioning that day and had detected no missiles. In only 6 minutes the threat assessment conference was terminated.

The reason for the false alarm was an exercise tape running on the computer system. U.S. Senator Charles Percy happened to be in NORAD HQ at the time and is reported to have said there was absolute panic. A question was asked in Congress. The General Accounting Office conducted an investigation, and an off-site testing facility was constructed so that test tapes did not in the future have to be run on a system that could be in military operation.

1980, June 3-6: Faulty Computer Chip.

The Warning displays at the Command Centers mentioned in the last episode included windows that normally showed:

0000 ICBMs detected

0000 SLBMs detected

At 2:25 a.m. on 3 June 1980, these displays started showing various numbers of missiles detected, represented by 2’s in place of one or more 0’s. Preparations for retaliation were instituted, including nuclear bomber crews starting their engines, launch of Pacific Command’s Airborne Command Post, and readying of Minutemen missiles for launch. It was not difficult to assess that this was a false alarm because the numbers displayed were not rational.

While the cause of that false alarm was still being investigated 3 days later, the same thing happened and again preparations were made for retaliation. The cause was a single faulty chip that was failing in a random fashion. The basic design of the system was faulty, allowing this single failure to cause a deceptive display at several command posts.

Boredom

The extreme boredom and isolation of missile launch crews on duty must contribute to occasional bizarre behaviour. An example is reported by Lloyd J.Dumas in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists vol.36, #9, p.15 (1980) quoting Air Force Magazine of 17 Nov. 71. As a practical joke, a silo crew recorded a launch message and played it when their relief came on duty. The new crew heard with consternation what appeared to be a valid launch message. They would not of course have been able to effect an actual launch under normal conditions, without proper confirmation from outside the silo.

Launch on Warning

There are still thousands of nuclear weapons deployed. At the time of writing (December 2001) Russia and the U.S.A. still have the policy of “Launch on Warning”: that is to say, they plan to launch a salvo of nuclear-armed rockets if the warning systems show that a missile attack appears to be on the way. The retaliatory salvo would be launched before any of the incoming missiles arrived, so it could be launched as a result of a false warning. Thus a nuclear war could start for no military or political reason whatever.

The following event could have caused the final disaster if, for example, the rocket guidance system or the radar tracking had malfunctioned:

1995, Jan.25: Norwegian Rocket Incident.

On 25 January, 1995, the Russian early warning radars detected an unexpected missile launch near Spitzbergen. The estimated flight time to Moscow was 5 minutes. The Russian Defence Minister and the Chief of Staff were informed. The early warning and the control and command systems switched to combat mode. President Yeltsin was handed the “nuclear suitcase” ready to give the launch signal.

Within 5 minutes, the radars determined that the missile’s impact point would be outside the Russian borders. The missile was carrying instruments for scientific measurements. On 16 January Norway had notified 35 countries including Russia that the launch was planned. Information had apparently reached the Russian Defence Ministry, but failed to reach the on-duty personnel of the early warning system. (See article in Scientific American, November 1997, by Bruce G. Blair, Harold A. Feiveson and Frank N. von Hippel.)

Comment and Note On Probability

The probability of actual progression to nuclear war on any one of the occasions listed may have been small, due to planned “fail-safe” features in the warning and launch systems, and to responsible action by those in the chain of command when the failsafe features had failed. However, the accumulation of small probabilities of disaster from a long sequence of risks add up to serious danger. There is no way of telling what the actual level of risk was in these mishaps but if the chance of disaster in every one of the 20 incidents had been only 1 in 100, it is mathematical fact that the chance of surviving all 20 would have been 82%, i.e. about the same as the chance of surviving a single pull of the trigger at Russian roulette played with a 6 shooter. With a similar series of mishaps on the Soviet side: another pull of the trigger. If the risk in some of the events had been as high as 1 in 10, then the chance of surviving just seven such events would have been less than 50:50. [Note that there is no attempt here to calculate an actual probability. This is merely an example to illustrate the cumulative effect of any low-probability risk that is taken repeatedly, or accepted continuously, over a period of time.]

Acronyms:

BMEWS: Ballistic Missile Early Warning Site
CIA: Central Intelligence Agency
CINC: Commander in Chief
DEFCON: Defence Readiness Condition (DEFCON 5 is the peacetime state; DEFCON 1 is a maximum war readiness).
HQ: Headquarters
ICBM: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (land based)
KGB: Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopaznosti (Soviet Secret Police and Intelligence)
NORAD: North American Aerospace Defense Command
PAVE PAWS: Precision Acquisition of Vehicle Entry Phased-Array Warning System
SAC: Strategic Air Command
SIOP: Single Integrated Operational Plan
SLBM: Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile

Principal Sources:

Britten, Stewart: The Invisible Event, (London: Menard Press, 1983).
Calder, Nigel: Nuclear Nightmares, (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1979)
Peace Research Reviews, vol. ix: 4, 5 (1984);
vol. x: 3, 4 (1986) (Dundas, ON.: Peace Research Institute, Dundas).
Sagan, Scott D.: The Limits of Safety, (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, (1993).

Alan F. Phillips M.D., 11 January, 1997; revised April, 2002.

what did the World Hearth Organization say about nuclear weapons?

What did the World Hearth Organization say about nuclear weapons?
World Health Organization, 1987
NUCLEAR WAR

After a nuclear war “famine and diseases would be widespread; social, communication, and economic systems around the world would be disrupted…It is obvious that the health services in the world could not alleviate the situation in any significant way.”

Press Release WHO/69 – 12 September 1995
NUCLEAR WEAPONS TESTING

Speaking today at the Forty-sixth session of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in Manila, the Philippines, Dr Hiroshi Nakajima, WHO Director-General, addressed the issue of testing of nuclear weapons.

“Within the framework of the United Nations, WHO has consistently supported nuclear disarmament, the non-proliferation treaty, and the nuclear test ban treaty currently under negotiation”, said Dr Nakajima. “WHO is firmly opposed to the production, testing, stockpiling, transport or use of nuclear weapons. This position is implicit in the WHO Constitution which opposes any common danger or risk to the attainment of Health for All. WHO has carried out extensive studies on the effects of nuclear war on health and health services, as well as the health effects of nuclear accidents particularly at Chernobyl. At the request of the World Health Assembly (Resolution WHA46.40 of 14 May 1993) and the UN General Assembly (Resolution 49/75K of 15 December 1994), the question of the lawfulness of the use of nuclear weapons has been referred by WHO and the UN to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where the matter will be before the Court in November this year”.

It is evident that besides the immediate catastrophic effects in terms of death, casualties and material damage, the use of nuclear weapons will cause long term human suffering and environmental disturbance beyond our capacity to accurately predict. As WHO stated some ten years ago, “the only approach to the treatment of the health effects of nuclear explosions is primary prevention of such explosions, that is the prevention of atomic war”.

In 1991, a WHO Management Group* noted that “with the positive changes in the world situation it was the peacetime uses of atomic energy that had become the greater cause for concern”. Nevertheless, nuclear weapons are still being produced, tested and stockpiled; therefore the potential danger of the consequences of their use has not yet been eliminated, and there are significant costs and dangers associated with their transport, testing and disposal.

Although most of the information concerning the health and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons comes from the two bombings that took place in 1945, other investigations are under way based on retrospective analysis as well as simulation of nuclear tests underground and in the atmosphere. We know that nuclear detonation produces three major sources of death and injury: blast, heat wave and release of radiation. Exposure to instantaneous radiation (gamma rays and neutrons) causes sickness and, possibly, death. At relatively low doses, it damages blood cells. At higher doses, damage occurs to the gastrointestinal tract, and at very high doses injury to the brain. Suppression of the body’s immune system is recognized as a consequence of radiation over-exposure.

Long-term effects such as cancer induction and genetic damage result from instantaneous radiation exposure during the explosion and the longer-term contamination of the environment. Long-term psychological effects continue to be noted among the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

An account of the health effects of nuclear weapons must also include consideration of the production cycle of these weapons including mining and production of materials, fuel enrichment, development, manufacture, testing, stockpiling, maintenance, transport, dismantling, storage and disposal. Each of these stages presents direct risks to the health of the personnel involved and the general population. The costs of safe disposal often exceed those of development.

At least 1950 nuclear tests have been carried out since 1945. Testing can be carried out in space, in the air, on the earth’s surface or under water (all called “atmospheric”), or underground, the latter being the only method used at the present time. To date, it is reported that approximately 1420 underground tests have been conducted in different parts of the world. Simulation technology for nuclear explosions has been developed to such an extent that renewed tests for more advanced weapons would be totally unnecessary if the simulation technology were shared among states.

Resumption or continuation of underground tests is of particular concern especially in the case of “shallow” tests. Not only does this entail the risk of instantaneous leaks of short-lived and long-lived radioisotopes to the ground, to water and air, but it may trigger potential long-term effects that are not immediately apparent. Changes to the structural integrity of the ground, temperature and stress are likely to increase the number and size of crevices in the surrounding rock or ground. Such crevices would provide paths for long- term exchanges with the surroundings, in particular ground water, rivers and oceans, in ways that are difficult to predict.

Isotopes likely to dominate long-term radioactivity are Caesium-137, Strontium-90, Plutonium -239 and Americium-241. Furthermore, Caesium-137 and Strontium-90 are known to be transported by water and remain in the food- chain. As for Plutonium-239 and Americium-241, their most significant potential exposure route is by inhalation. In addition to the possible release of these radionuclides, radioisotopes from previous tests which had already settled or lodged in the rock are feared to be freed by the new tests.

“In short, there is no such thing as a “fail-safe” nuclear weapon testing, and we cannot be assured that testing will be without risk to present and future generations. The best way to ensure human health and peace, is for all nations of the world to share knowledge about nuclear energy, and to forswear the production, testing and use of nuclear weapons. The World Health Organization, and I as its Director-General, stand for a “nuclear-weapons-free world. Greater transparency on the part of nuclear powers would certainly help”, said Dr Nakajima.

For further information, please contact Valery Abramov, Health Communications and Public Relations, WHO, Geneva. Tel (41 22) 791 2543. Fax (41 22) 791 4858.
___________________________________

* Established by the Director-General in 1983 to follow up Resolution WHA 36.28 “Effects of nuclear war on health and health services”. The Group consists of six international experts appointed by the Director-General.

See also:
a) Radiation Effects Research Foundation
b) Japan Confederation of A and H Bomb Survivors (Hidankyo)
c) Physical effects of a nuclear weapon blast (FAS) 
 

Conventionally-Armed UK Trident?

CONVENTIONALLY-ARMED UK TRIDENT? By Commander Robert Green, Royal Navy (Retired)*

Doubts about Nuclear Deterrence

The recent US nuclear posture review was partly prompted by growing doubts about the effectiveness of nuclear deterrence against the current primary threat – extremists armed with weapons of mass destruction. These doubts surfaced during the Gulf War, when Israel was subjected to nearly 40 Iraqi Scud missile attacks, for which it was known a chemical warhead had been developed. Lack of a proportionate response has led several US nuclear weapon experts to argue that deterrence through threatened use of precisely targeted conventional munitions, rather than nuclear weapons, would be more credible and preferable in most cases. For neutralising deeply buried targets, however, the head of nuclear weapons research at Los Alamos National Laboratory has recommended that the US should develop a new generation of “small” nuclear weapons.

George W. Bush is the first US President to have publicly expressed lack of faith in nuclear deterrence against extremists, linking this to his emphasis on reviving ballistic missile defence. What is more, both his Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell rejected use of nuclear weapons against Iraqi forces in the Gulf War, which means that any future comparable US nuclear threat would lack credibility.

“Small” Nuclear Weapons No Answer

Those pressing for so-called “small” nuclear weapons to be used against deeply buried targets need to be aware of the following drawbacks:

• In tests, the currently operational US B61-11 nuclear weapon penetrated only 20 feet into dry earth.
• Deeper penetration is impossible because the weapon casing cannot be made strong enough to withstand the impact and temperatures involved.
• Low-yield warheads are too sensitive to the massive shock.
• The heavy radioactive fallout cannot be contained.
• In addition, even the smallest nuclear weapon has such excessive explosive power that, when combined with its unique long-term poisoning effects from radioactive fallout, it would inevitably breach international humanitarian law on proportionality and discrimination.

The irresponsibility of calling for such a role for nuclear weapons was highlighted in 1998, when General Lee Butler, Commander-in-Chief US Strategic Command in charge of all strategic nuclear weapons from 1992-94, warned: “In a single act, we would martyr our enemies, alienate our friends, give comfort to the non-declared nuclear states and impetus to states who seek such weapons covertly.” Experience in Afghanistan has shown that the US has a growing choice of precision-guided conventional munitions, some of which are capable of disabling targets formerly thought vulnerable only to nuclear attack. However, the enormously indiscriminate “daisy cutter” fuel-air munitions, and those using depleted uranium, probably violate international humanitarian law.

US Navy Converting Trident to Conventional Armament

The START II Treaty limits US and Russian nuclear-armed ballistic missile-firing submarine (SSBN) forces to 14 hulls each – so the US will have to decommission four of its 18 Ohio class Trident-equipped submarines. Irrespective of this, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wants to accelerate US Navy plans to start work in October 2003 on a $2 billion project to convert the first two of them to carry a formidable mix of conventional armament as attack submarines (SSGNs). The 24 Trident missile launch tubes will be altered to accept canisters carrying seven Tomahawk cruise missiles, fitted with a variety of conventional warheads. With a full cruise missile conversion, each submarine will be able to launch up to 154 cruise missiles, compared with 24 such missiles in current US SSGNs. An alternative configuration allows for 66 special forces to access two midget submarines to carry out covert shallow water and amphibious operations. These are each attached to the SSGN’s deck over two launch tubes. The remaining tubes will be shared between special forces equipment stowage and cruise missile canisters, still enabling some 98 Tomahawks to be carried.

US Concerns About UK Trident

Ever since the US allowed the UK to acquire Polaris, Trident’s predecessor system, in 1962, it has had understandable concerns about the complications for its own nuclear strategy. Kennedy’s Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara, condemned small nuclear forces as “dangerous, expensive, prone to obsolescence and lacking in credibility as a deterrent.” The limitations of trying to encapsulate a credible capability in one system have become more apparent with Trident now the sole delivery system for the UK nuclear arsenal. For example, the UK government felt the need to claim an added sub-strategic capability by a “degree of flexibility in the choice of yield for the warheads on its Trident missiles.” Apparently this has been achieved by fitting a single, lower yield warhead in some of the 16 missiles carried by the four Vanguard class SSBNs.

Bearing in mind that sub-strategic nuclear weapons would be the first and most likely ones to be used, there is a risk that use of a UK Trident missile would be misidentified as a US Trident launch. Also, there is no way of distinguishing between sub-strategic and strategic use. NATO’s announcement in 1999 that “a small number of United Kingdom Trident warheads” were part of NATO’s sub-strategic posture in Europe, therefore, was unconvincing. With British attack submarines now equipped with conventionally-armed cruise missiles, this would be a much more proportionate and lawful way to launch a sub-strategic strike.

UK Trident and Nuremberg

The current UK government is widely acknowledged as the most constructive among the nuclear weapon states. In the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, it unilaterally cut its nuclear arsenal by a third – at 200 warheads, now the smallest of the five recognised nuclear states – and announced that it had relaxed Trident’s notice to fire from “minutes” to “days”. It was credited with a key role in negotiating the May 2000 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review final document incorporating a plan of action on disarmament measures, by interceding with the other nuclear states and non-nuclear NATO member states.

However, the UK government is under pressure from the Trident Ploughshares non-violent direct action campaign, which is exposing the illegality of the current deployment of the single UK SSBN on so-called “deterrent” patrol. Citing the 1996 World Court Advisory Opinion on the threat or use of nuclear weapons, the campaign has achieved sensational acquittals in jury trials of activists in both Scotland and England. The Court confirmed that any threat, let alone use, of nuclear weapons would generally violate international humanitarian law, of which the Nuremberg Principles are part. This has serious implications for all those involved in planning and deploying nuclear forces because, unlike hired killers or terrorists, military professionals and their political leaders must be seen to act within the law.

The campaign is gaining support among legislators and church leaders, particularly in Scotland where the UK Trident force is based. As with the campaigns to ban slavery, and now landmines, and to establish an International Criminal Court, it is drawing upon a deep and growing awareness that it is on the right side of morality, commonsense, the law and public opinion. The basic legal argument is as follows:

• Use of UK Trident nuclear weapons would be illegal, because the explosive power of each warhead (about 100 kilotons, equivalent to roughly eight times that of the weapon which devastated Hiroshima) plus radioactive effects make them incapable of use without violating international humanitarian law.
• In its Advisory Opinion the World Court stated: “If the envisaged use of force is itself unlawful, the stated readiness to use it would be a threat prohibited under Article 2, paragraph 4 [of the UN Charter].” The UN Charter is applicable at all times.
• UK Trident is deployed under a policy of “stated readiness to use”, in order that nuclear deterrence is credible.
• Nuremberg Principle VI states: “The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law: (a) Crimes against peace: (i) Planning, preparation… of a war… in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i); (b) War crimes… (c) Crimes against humanity…”

Probably for the first time, the Nuremberg Principles are being brought to bear on the Royal Navy, which obviously does not want to be accused of crimes against peace and humanity, let alone war crimes. Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham observed: “I suspect we are all going to find international law, as it applies to conflict, a harsh taskmaster.” Yet the UK government prides itself as the only permanent member of the UN Security Council to recognise the World Court’s jurisdiction, and wishes to be seen to uphold international law and democracy as leader of the 54-member Commonwealth.

The Royal Navy’s leaders must be increasingly disturbed and frustrated by the legal challenge to Trident, and – especially after 11 September 2001 – by the reality that the weapon system of four of its most prestigious and costly “capital ships” is currently impotent in responding to the most serious and intractable threat.

Implications for UK Trident

All this has serious implications for the UK’s four new SSBNs. Some former Royal Navy colleagues have indicated to the author that they would support getting rid of the nuclear weapons “provided that a conventional role is found for the submarines”. However, in the latest edition of Jane’s Fighting Ships, Editor Captain Richard Sharpe RN (Ret’d) reported: “The UK government has said it has no plans to deploy conventional warheads in Trident.”

With the increasing cost of high-technology warships, the Royal Navy is steadily shrinking. As it learned the hard way in the Falklands War, the vulnerability of surface ships to missile attack is extremely expensive and difficult to counter, and ever-quieter submarines can now deliver them from stand-off range. If it wants to sustain a capability for rapid, substantive military reaction with global reach, it cannot afford to ignore the option of converting UK Trident to conventional armament – especially as the research, development and production of the modular systems are being done by the US, and their availability looks compatible with the deadline for the decision on whether to replace UK Trident. For the variety of reasons covered above, the US would probably welcome such a development in the US-UK special relationship.

A New World Role for the UK?

That decision apparently has to be taken by around 2007. This will offer the opportunity to renounce nuclear weapons, and replace them with a more credible, practical and lawful conventional deterrence system, which the US Navy is developing anyway – and which the US Defense Secretary, impressed by the performance of its SSGNs in countering terrorism, is raising to a top priority. With four conventionally-armed, multi-role Vanguard class SSGNs, the Royal Navy’s submarine service – diverted since the Polaris era into the essentially political power game of nuclear deterrence – would be able to focus fully on what it does best: “precision engagement” to prevail in the three key military objectives: deterrence, coercion and combat.

For maximum kudos, the UK government should announce this step at the 2005 NPT Review Conference. The first “breakout” by one of the five recognised nuclear states – and permanent members of the UN Security Council – would be sensational, and would transform the nuclear disarmament debate overnight. The UK would gain a major new world role which would be enormously popular, with its Prime Minister an immediate candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. In NATO, with Lord Robertson as Secretary General, the UK would wield unprecedented influence in leading the drive for a non-nuclear strategy – which must happen if NATO is to sustain its cohesion. It would create new openings for applying pressure, particularly to the US and France, and heavily influencing India, Israel and Pakistan, and others intent on obtaining nuclear weapons. Moreover, it would open the way for a major reassessment by Russia and China of their nuclear strategies, for all nuclear forces to be de-alerted, and for multilateral negotiations to start on a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Wider Implications

Both the anti-nuclear movement and Trident advocates have to confront difficult and challenging questions. Acquisition by the five recognised nuclear states of their nuclear arsenals involved probably the greatest investment in financial, political and human terms since the Second World War. Short of a detonation of a modern nuclear weapon in a populated area, none of these states is likely to be prepared to risk breaking out of the nuclear club without finding a replacement system with clear advantages to balance the perceived loss of security. Conversion of its SSBNs to conventional, multi-role armament offers such a system for the UK. France, Russia and China would probably try to copy the US and UK, because the SSGN would come into its own as one of the most potent, yet invulnerable, maritime coercion platforms. Meanwhile, the longer those who prefer to cling to the illusions of nuclear deterrence do so, the more likely it becomes that undeterrable extremists will follow their irresponsible example and obtain nuclear weapons.

Conclusion

Nuclear-armed Trident missiles in the Royal Navy’s Vanguard class SSBNs are a major impediment to the UK’s ability to contribute to deployment of rapid reaction forces in support of the US, because they are militarily useless; and anyway their use – and therefore any threat to use them – would be unlawful.

A confluence of developments in the US, driven by a loss of faith in nuclear deterrence against the most serious threat of extremists armed with weapons of mass destruction, points to a “win-win” solution for the Royal Navy, the US-UK special relationship, and the worldwide anti-nuclear movement. Exploiting US plans for some of its Ohio class Trident-armed submarines, a UK decision to convert its four Vanguard class submarines to carry a mix of precision-guided conventional armaments and special forces would restore the Royal Navy’s eroding position as a leading maritime force equipped to work alongside the US Navy, and would probably be encouraged by the US. In so doing, the UK government would gain huge kudos as the first recognised nuclear state to break out from reliance on nuclear weapons for its security, and would position itself to take a leading role in the struggle to secure an enforceable global treaty with a verifiable plan to eliminate nuclear weapons.


*Commander Robert Green navigated Buccaneer nuclear strike aircraft and anti-submarine helicopters before serving in Fleet Intelligence during 20 years in the Royal Navy 1962-82. He is now a consultant on alternative security thinking based in Christchurch, New Zealand. http://www.disarmsecure.org

NOTES
1. See Robert W. Nelson, “Low-Yield Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons”, The Journal of the Federation of American Scientists, January/February 2001, Volume 54, Number 1, http://www.fas.org/faspir/2001/v541/weapons.htm
2. Walter Pincus, “Nuclear Expert Challenges U.S. Thinking on Warheads”, Washington Post, 24 October 2000.
3. Speech at National Defense University, 1 May 2001.
4. Colin Powell, A Soldier’s Way (Hutchinson, London, 1995), p324.
5. Nelson (2001).
6. General Lee Butler, “A Voice of Reason”, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June 1998, p61.
7. Jane’s Defence Weekly, 8 August 2001, p3. Update on Rumsfeld in “$20 Billion Budget Rise Is Urged”, International Herald Tribune, 8 January 2002.
8. John Baylis, Ambiguity and Deterrence (Oxford University Press), 1995), pp300-301.
9. ‘Sub-Strategic Use of Trident’, letter from C.H.J.Davies, UK Ministry of Defence, to Dr E. Waterston, 27 October 1998.
10. Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (Advisory Opinion of July 8), UN Document A/51/218 (1996), http://www.icj-cij.org reprinted in 35 I.L.M. 809 & 1343 (1996).
11. Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham KCB , “The Apotheosis of 21st Century Warfare”, RUSI Journal, December 2000, pp64-68.
12. Jane’s Fighting Ships 2000-2001, p748.

An agreed process for disarmament

An agreed process for disarmament

All global citizens should be concerned that nuclear weapons are found, secured, disarmed and the components monitored or destroyed. This is a rough guide to the elements of the process which is required.

a) Declarations – statements will be made by states describing the warheads, delivery systems, materials, equipment, and facilities they control which are associated with nuclear weapons.

b) End launch-on-warning posture for all nuclear weapons.

c) De-alerting of all warheads worldwide- taking steps to make it more difficult to use nuclear weapons rapidly, such as removing warheads from missiles and storing them a distance away, or covering a silo with dirt.

d) Safe storage of and accounting for fissile materials – this occurs today in 36 non-nuclear weapons states who have all their fissile materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium) under the regular inspection and controls of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

e) Securing all warheads so they cannot be stolen.

f) Tagging each warheads can be tagged with unique identified for each warhead or container. They cannot be altered without the tampering being revealed. This allows for accurate accounting records.

g) Sealing the warheads or their containers to stop the substitution of fake warheads or other objects for the original contents.

h) Monitoring the storage through the use of sensors or video monitoring to ensure the storage facility is not entered.

i) Safe transport — occurs regularly in today’s world

j) Authenticating the warheads when they are presented for dismantling to confirm that the warhead or component is what it is declared to be — and not a fake.

k) Establishing a chain of custody of fissile materials and other components through to an agreed final disposition state.