The initial research paper on Nuclear Transmutation... or on how matter can be changed into energy... was by a Japanese Physicist, Yukawa, published in 1935. It reported the 'natural' decay, in this way, of Uranium 235 into lead. Germany was interested in using this to develop a 'Super-weapon' and so the whole nuclear weapon field developed. In 1942 the theory had been constructed & by summer 1944 the stage was set for production of the A-Bombs. The coherent group of British scientists working in this field played a major part in developing the production pattern. They were in the 'Directorate of Tube Alloys!'

The 'official' position was that the bomb would not be used, which the British scientists doubted, and their hope was that the use of the bomb would make war so terrible that the people of the world would renounce WAR as a policy. We had the knowledge & the technology to be able to say that there would be multiple pressure waves from the A-Bomb and the temperature reached in the centre would be around 6 million degrees centigrade.

CLEARLY THE KNOWLEDGE WAS THERE TO ENSURE THAT THERE WAS NO PEACETIME PROBLEM WHICH COULD NOT BE SOLVED, THUS MAKING PEACETIME DEVELOPMENT TREMENDOUSLY POSSIBLE... BUT this was not permitted with the MASSIVE creation of Plutonium, a product of nuclear power stations. (Uranium 235 was fairly scarce and it was difficult to get it away from Uranium 238)

To develop rockets was easy for we knew all about them and there was the German V2 rocket. Provided the money is printed, then the war economy can go ahead adding nothing to the wealth of the country, and so it did. The Cold War targeted the people of the world with total destruction in VARIOUS 'CLEVER' WAYS. The totally destructive Hydrogen Atomic Bomb for example or the people killer Neutron Bomb needed top brains and top resources to develop and create. So soon there were thousands of nuclear warheads targeted on almost everybody in the world in their own country.

The path of Nuclear Weapon development led to the Star Wars area, since the idea that you can create one terrible weapon confirms that you can create others. This, of course, will be done in secret and today the secret work for more deadly weapons is going on.


Harry Fairbrother

British Pugwash Group

The Royal Society provided an elegant setting for a public meeting of the British Pugwash Group in December 1997, when six eminent scientists addressed the subject of Science and Social Responsibility, each from the standpoint of their own discipline. Most of the speakers were concerned with medical problems connected with radiation, genetic engineering or biotechnology. There was stress on the responsibility of scientists to keep the public informed, so that decisions can be based on correct information, the need to use the media to the best advantage, and to work openly and against secrecy.

Later the subject was opened up for general discussion and it became clear that there were many eminent scientists in the audience as well. Professor Joseph Rotblat and Professor Frank Blackaby were both able to contribute. Frank Blackaby was the first to introduce the terms ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and expressed his belief that ultimately judgements must be based on ethical considerations. Joseph Rotblat spoke of how he had come to the conviction that atomic weapons are wrong, and he introduced the concept that ethical guidelines should be available to scientists (along the lines of the Hippocratic Oath).

The Pugwash Movement was formed in 1957 by a small group of scientists who had come together in the Canadian village of Pugwash to discuss the threat posed to civilisation by the advent of thermonuclear weapons. Since that time the agenda of the organisation has broadened to include other destabilising issues affecting society, and it was interesting to listen to scientists debating these matters in public.

Ann Strauss

Final Statement issued by Merton Citizens' Forum:

As members of the Merton Citizens’ Forum, we debated on 23rd November 1997 the issues raised by the International Court of Justice Opinion of July 1996 in the context of United Kingdom nuclear defence policy and have a number of concerns. In the following respects it seems that UK nuclear policy is in conflict with International Law:

Statements by Malcom Rifkind in 1993 and 1995 established that the UK nuclear deterrence doctrine incorporates a capability for sub-strategic nuclear strike to defend UK “vital interests”, interpreted much more widely than defence of the UK territory. This statement clearly contravenes the only possible exemption clause in the International Court ruling.

Although nuclear deterrence has been construed as having succeeded in preventing war during the Cold War era, we feel that the global situation is now so essentially changed that a complete revision of UK defence policy is called for.

We are at present arranging for this statement to be publicised as widely as possible. In addition, Forum members agreed a series of searching questions for Merton's two MPs, Roger Casale and Siobhan McDonough, and their reply is awaited.

“Armageddon by accident”
Danny Penman, Guardian 15·1·1998

How many people saw this article tucked away in the Guardian's information technology supplement?

“With nuclear missiles on hair-triggers, there's little room for error. So why won't the UN disarmament talks discuss it?” asks Danny Penman. “To this day nobody is sure why on January 25th 1995 the world accidentally came within 150 seconds of nuclear annihilation.... the missile was in fact a US scientific probe sent up to investigate the Northern Lights. Weeks earlier the Norwegians had informed the Russians but somehow the message had got lost in the system.”

It might be worth wondering why an obscure corner of the Guardian is considered an appropriate response by the British media.

UN General Assembly Resolution
9th December 1997

At the final vote on Malaysia's revised version of its 1996 UNGA resolution “Advisory Opinion of ICJ on Legality of Nuclear Weapons” implicit support for the ICJ grew by 15 votes to an overwhelming majority of 147 UN member States with only the USA, Russia, France, Israel and Monaco opposing. A separate vote on operative paragraph 2 which directly challenged the nuclear states to start negotiations leading to a nuclear weapons convention produced a smaller majority (106 for, 34 against, 24 abstentions, 21 did not vote).

Although the UK abstained in the vote on the principle of the ICJ decision (rather than voting against as last year) we continued to vote against the resolution as a whole, claiming that the resolution calls for a “time-bound framework” of negotiations. In fact the only time-bound element is the suggested immediate date for their commencement, so there is a bit of specious reasoning going on here.

The fact that the UK voted in the UN against starting multilateral negotiations towards nuclear disarmament was not reported at all in the national media, and it is essential that we take very opportunity to publicise the fact as widely as possible — to shame the Government into fulfilling its manifesto pledge and its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Dear Editor,

Just before the end of the year, the world has witnessed yet another example of brinkmanship, with the U.S. government, followed closely, (abjectly?) by our own government, threatening military action against Iraq. The threat to use force is accompanied by the usual rhetoric, condemning the régime in Iraq and emphasising the need to “teach Saddam a lesson”.

Those of us who can remember — and who can forget — the terrible image on our TV screen during the Vietnam war, of a Vietnamese child whose body was engulfed in flames, flames from the napalm bombing by the U.S. government on the civilian population of Vietnam, may be forgiven for thinking that it is not Saddam, but the U.S. government that needs to be taught a lesson, or needs to learn the lessons from its own experiences.

Experiences such as those in Vietnam, when years of saturation bombing, widespread spraying of crops with toxic chemicals and acts of unbelievable cruelty and barbarism against the Vietnamese people, failed to teach that country a ‘lesson’ in the American sense.

Similarly, the force used by the United States and its allies in the Gulf War, while succeeding, it is true, in bombing Iraq back into the Stone Age, did not teach Saddam a lesson.

Instead the devastation caused by the bombing and the sanctions which have been operated against Iraq ever since the ending of the Gulf War seven years ago, have brought dreadful suffering to the people, particularly the children, of Iraq. The embargo does not allow Iraq to import the basics of everyday living, and worse still does not allow the importing of vital medicines, (medicines used to treat cancers contain minute amounts of nuclear material, so they are deemed “dual use”). As a result the sick are suffering and dying in huge numbers. There have been nearly one and a quarter million embargo-related child deaths since August 1990. Yet the United Nations Organisation continues to support the US-inspired sanctions, knowing that the consequences of their action amount to a contravention of the U.N. Rights of the Child, as well as the Hague, Geneva and Genocide Conventions. And where does Robin Cook’s ‘ethical foreign policy’ fit in to all this?

I call upon everyone concerned to protest, not just at the threat of force, but to protest at the sanctions which are killing children in our name. Please write to Robin Cook and/or support the weekly vigil against sanctions, outside the Foreign Office, MONDAYS from 5·30 − 7 pm. Further details can be obtained from David 0171 607 2302.

Yours sincerely,

Maisie Carter

London Region AGM 18·1·1998

WDC/CND was well represented by Muriel, Helen, Dorothy and Joanna. Dave Knight, Chair of CND, gave a lively address and workshops attended by our delegates were Influencing the Labour Government led by William Peden, CND Parliamentary worker, and The International Disarmament Scene introduced by Bruce Kent.

Full report next month.

CND Return to Newsletter index