Way Too Many Nukes
• Some progress made over last few decades, but Earth still in danger
By Victor Thorn
How many nuclear weapons are there in the hands of leaders around the world? The precise number is unknown. However, analysts believe there are more than 19K nukes, total. Russia leads the pack with approximately 10K warheads, while the United States has 8K. But the U.S. has more active warheads —2,150 to be specific—compared to Russia’s 1,800.
Israel, France, China and England each have between 200 and 600 nukes. India and its enemy, Pakistan, are near the 100 mark. North Korea still lingers in the minor league category with an arsenal estimated to be less than 50.
Despite a geopolitical reluctance to move away from being a nuclear planet, there has been progress. Taiwan, Argentina, South Korea and Brazil have all foregone nuclear aspirations. Libya’s recently assassinated leader Muammar Qaddafi also turned his back on nukes in 2003. Considering his fate at the hands of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces, Qaddafi probably wished, right before he was murdered, that he had rethought that decision.
Some other countries—Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan—forfeited (either by choice or force) small quantities of nuclear weapons that they had developed or inherited, as was the case with other former Soviet bloc satellites, as well as South Africa and Iraq.
On October 4 AMERICAN FREE PRESS contacted Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association (ACA), to determine where mankind stands in terms of our nuclear dangers. Founded in 1971, ACA is a watchdog for nuclear arms control and related national security issues.
“The threat of a ‘bolt from the blue’ strike is much lower now than it was in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis,” Kimball told AFP. “Plus, the United States and Russia aren’t enemies as they once were. Still, both sides possess weapons and nuclear fighting plans that posit hundreds of targets in each country. So today, the latent risks remain very real.”
Kimball continued: “Since more nuclear materials exist in the world today, more countries could build ‘the bomb’ if they so desired. The longer there are stockpiles of nuclear materials, it’s more probable that an insider could pilfer and sell them. In this context, the relative risks may be higher than ever before.”
When asked about the possibility of rogue entities detonating a “suitcase bomb” somewhere in America, Kimball said: “Intelligence agencies pay extremely close attention to certain places like Pakistan. But no amount of knowledge can compensate for how vulnerable Pakistan’s nuclear assets and infrastructure are to insider threats.”
Similarly, Kimball added: “The U.S. is not omnipotent. There are some problems that can’t be addressed from the outside. We’re not able to fly in Special Forces at the drop of a hat to every problem area.”
India-Pakistan: World’s Worst Nuclear Hot Spot
By Victor Thorn
Could the world spiral into a nuclear nightmare because of fights over water? As India insists on pushing forward with its construction of hydroelectric dams that will prevent rivers from flowing into Pakistan, tensions continue to escalate.
On December 8, 2011, the Pakistani newspaper Nawa-e Waqt commented on the inevitability of a conflict.
“India should be forcibly prevented from constructing these dams,” editorialized Nawa-e Waqt. “If it fails to constrain itself, we should not hesitate in launching nuclear war, because there is no solution except this.”
Bashir Ahmad, a geologist at the center of this storm in Kashmir, views the situation in dire terms, especially if India is able to limit the amount of water its neighbor receives during growing seasons. “They will switch the Indus [River] off to make Pakistan solely dependent on India,” said Ahmad. “It’s going to be a water bomb.”
War-gamers have plotted the unthinkable and its effects on our planet. The environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) envisioned what would happen if two dozen ground-based nukes were detonated in major cities.
A decade ago in a June 5, 2002 report, the NRDC calculated, “22.1M people in India and Pakistan would be exposed to lethal radiation doses. Another 8M would receive [lower] doses, causing severe radiation sickness and potentially death. . . . As many as 30M people would be threatened by fallout from the attack.”
An April 25 column by Neha Malik of TopNews Network carried an even grimmer outlook: “A nuclear war between India and Pakistan, even if it is limited in nature, would result in major climate disruptions and ultimately, global famine.”
Dr. Ira Helfand, who authored a study for International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, predicted that clouds of radiation would contaminate crop fields located great distances from Pakistan and India. Horrified by what he saw in the aftermath of an Indian-Pakistani war, Helfand warned, “It is not just the arsenals of the United States and Russia that pose a threat to the whole world. Even these smaller arsenals pose an existential threat to our civilization, if not to our species. It would certainly end modern society as we know it.”
Iran & Nuclear Weapons: More Zionist Scare Tactics
• Intelligence reports at odds with hype, says peace activist
By Victor Thorn
Is Iran close to getting “the bomb”? With the prospect of WWIII hanging in the balance, this is quite possibly the biggest political hot-button issue today.
During an October 4 interview, AMERICAN FREE PRESS asked this question of Rick Wayman, director of programs and operations at Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF), an organization that works for peace in the era of atomic weapons.
“We’ve been hearing for months and years and a couple of decades now that Iran is on the verge of developing nuclear weapons,” said Wayman. “But there clearly seems to be no rationale behind these statements except to mobilize people for an attack. According to most intelligence reports, they currently don’t have a nuclear weapons program.”
Despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s overly dramatic September 27 UN “bomb speech” where he claimed Iran was closing in on a 90% nuclear redline, best estimates have them currently refining uranium at a 30% grade, with the potential to reach a 60% enrichment grade in the near future.
To laymen, these numbers remain understandably abstract. However, the latter figure provided above is vitally important in light of an October 2 press release by Mansour Haqiqatpour, deputy head of the Iranian Parliament’s Foreign Policy and National Security Committee. Haqiqatpour stated that if nuclear talks with the U.S. and other nations are stalled or fail by year’s end, his country would forge ahead and enrich uranium up to 60% purity.
Wayman referenced a possible upcoming conference that could be pivotal.
“This December there’s supposed to be a meeting in Helsinki where those attending want to establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East,” said Wayman. “Arab nations have been pushing this idea for a long time, but it’s extremely difficult to get Israel and Iran to sit at the same table, especially when Israel is showing so much resistance. It’s our group’s opinion that if you [want to] prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, then they have to get all Middle Eastern countries to do it, including Israel.”
When questioned specifically about this subject, Wayman responded: “Israel definitely presents a difficult situation. They won’t voluntarily choose to surrender their weapons. So the U.S. has a role to play in encouraging them and pulling strings to make them forgo their weapons. It will take a bold step by an American leader.”
Obviously, no president since John F. Kennedy has ever demanded, or even asked, Israel to abandon its weapons of mass destruction. Both sides of the aisle in Congress have been willingly neutered on this issue. Realizing the Jewish lobby’s strength over America’s defanged elected leaders, Israeli envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ehud Azoulay announced on September 20 that his nation would not participate in the Helsinki conference.
Assuming a much larger perspective than merely the Mideast, Wayman issued a reminder.
“A lot of people think the possibility of a nuclear exchange ended with the Cold War, but there are still plenty of issues threatening humanity,” he said. “There is a lack of momentum by those countries that still have nukes. They cling to this outdated ideology of nuclear deterrence being the ultimate safety mechanism. But all it takes is one error, human mistake or miscommunication. Once nuclear missiles are launched, they can’t be recalled. The entire scenario seems so highly unnecessary.”
Has U.S. Ever Come Close to Getting Itself Nuked?
By Victor Thorn
On August 6, 1945, humanity experienced a paradigm shift when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, ultimately killing approximately 135K citizens. Three days later, America nuked Nagasaki, wiping out another 80K people. Devastated, on August 15 the Japanese government offered an unconditional surrender, effectively ending WWII.
Within the next decade, a Cold War ensued between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, culminating in what became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. For nearly two weeks in October 1962, the world teetered on what many feared could become a nuclear exchange.
With tensions already simmering following the Bay of Pigs disaster, on October 14, 1962 American U-2 recon planes obtained verifiable evidence that the Soviet military had been building missile bases in Fidel Castro’s Cuba. Standing strong, President John F. Kennedy demanded that Premier Khrushchev immediately cease any further construction while also removing all existing nuclear weapons.
After Kennedy announced a military blockade to prevent delivery of any further weaponry or materials, Khrushchev finally blinked, agreeing to a UN-brokered deal that prevented a doomsday scenario.
Though much less publicized, in the book Operation Cyanide author Peter Hounam contended that after Israel Defense Forces attacked the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967, intending that Egypt should take the blame, President Lyndon B. Johnson and his 303 Committee dispatched fighter jets armed with nuclear weapons to attack Cairo. Fortunately, Hounam claims that these jets were recalled three minutes before discharging their nuclear payloads. In response, the Soviets would have targeted Tel Aviv with nukes.
Finally, former Soviet nuclear intelligence officer Dmitri Khalezov is convinced that nuclear devices strategically planted beneath World Trade Center buildings 1 and 2 were physically responsible for decimating the twin towers.
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and author of over 30 books.