The CON project is a new initiative from George Farebrother and INLAP†/World Court Project, unanimously endorsed by CND National Council, and you will find an Affirmation to sign enclosed with this Newsletter. The idea behind it is to link the sometimes dry bones of law with our basic human values, and to provide citizen support for the increasing number of states now publicly voicing their belief that nuclear weapon use would violate international law. (A formal declaration of illegality of use would be of considerable help towards the conclusion of a Global Nuclear Weapons Convention banning the production, testing, possession and use of nuclear weapons i.e. Multilateral Disarmament.)
†Institute for Law, Accountability and Peace
WDC/CND will endorse the Affirmation as an organisation, but it would be really valuable for as many of you as possible to sign as individuals and to encourage others to sign. We can supply extra paper copies if you would like them for friends, neighbours or church groups. (Perhaps you would like a speaker for your group?) Alternatively the Affirmation can be signed online on http://www.nuclearweapons-warcrimes.org. People on Facebook can also ‘like’ the CON page on http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nuclear-Weapons-War-Crimes/124383754288301 — and pass the message on to their Facebook ‘friends’.
George Farebrother and the World Court Project were behind the campaign to get an authoritative Opinion on disarmament from the International Court of Justice at the Hague in 1996, the first time that ‘public conscience’ had been called as evidence in an international court of law. Please support this new venture.
We have a stall booked at the Mitcham Carnival on 11th June — a double stall. We have plenty to sell and adequate volunteer stall-holders (could do with more!) but we need transport. Stalls like this are not just for fund-raising. They are equally important as a campaigning tool, raising our profile locally, collecting signatures and handing out literature. We have always found the Mitcham public very receptive and are anxious not to pass over the opportunity to be present once again at their Carnival. Expect those phone calls.
This cry by Asterix the Gaul when confronting Roman legions has strangely become the title of the just-ratified treaties between France and the UK, sharing nuclear weapons research facilities: Teutates is the name of a Celtic war god.
Two Anglo-French treaties facilitating the design of a new generation of nuclear weapons were signed last autumn (see March Newsletter) and the texts ‘laid upon the table’ in the House of Commons but there was no demand for a debate. So under the Ponsonby rule they were cleared for ratification, and nuclear co-operation between France and Britain was agreed to continue for the next fifty years. This is a poor advertisement for democracy and the alertness of our representatives, because these treaties raise serious questions about the willingness of both countries to adhere strictly to the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
In 1996 the International Court of Justice said “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects...” This obligation has already been in existence for 43 years (since the conclusion of the NPT) and another 50 years brings us beyond the lifetimes of the initial signatories’ children.
[Based on an article by Peter Nicholls (Chair of Abolition 2000 UK) submitted to the Newsletter of Scientists for Global Responsibility]
UK and French Abolition 2000 groups held a joint London meeting this February to discuss the consequences of the treaty and responses to it. There will be further discussion in Paris on June 26th following a demonstration/rally in the Place du Trocadero. The following week (June 29th/30th) sees a formal meeting in Paris of the UN Security Council ‘Permanent Five’ which is supposed to be discussing disarmament proposals from the nuclear weapons states to be presented at the 2012 NPT PrepCom (preparatory committee), and it is hoped that some of A2000’s ideas can be communicated to the official French and UK P5 representatives. ‘Civil Society’ must continue to demonstrate its concern at flagrant disregard for international law and basic human morality.
Revisit our Newsletters from 2001: http://www.wdc-cnd.org.uk/Newsletter/index.html#2001
A few days after the Fête we hosted a lively meeting at the Community Centre when nuclear expert Dr Ian Fairlie presented the anti-nuclear power case with great verve and answered questions. Much of what he said related to recent events in Japan, and he said that much of what is happening at Fukushima goes unreported in this country, though there is much information on the Internet. He feels that there is a pronounced pro-nuclear bias at the BBC. (He is invited to speak in Europe more often than he is here.)
The Japanese government has historically been a fervent supporter of nuclear power but the Fukushima emergency is forcing a considerable rethink. The Hamaoka power stations on the fault-line outside Tokyo have been shut down (temporarily at least) for further safety measures to be installed, partly in response to public pressure (see May Newsletter: Letter from Japan) and lawsuits against the TEPCO nuclear company responsible for Fukushima will grossly exceed any insurance guarantee.
“Nuclear energy is bad science” was Dr Fairlie’s argument in a nutshell. The best solution to climate change is energy efficiency since most of the energy we use is not even electrical. Transport produces vastly greater CO2 emissions than electricity production and only about 4% of our energy use comes from nuclear power. Nuclear power stations are slow and expensive to build and are inflexible to run: they cannot easily be switched off, and thus generate huge surpluses of electricity during off-peak periods. Figures suggesting that nuclear energy is CO2 free ignore the CO2 generated by mining uranium and in construction and transport. Figures quoted for the running costs of nuclear power stations always ignore decommissioning costs, and pro-nuclear advocates simply ignore the ever-growing problem of the disposal of radioactive waste. Albert Einstein summed it all up memorably: “Nuclear power is a hell of a way to boil water”!
The UK has a poor record on renewables, possibly because of the power of the big oil companies. (A cynical way of looking at it is that if people were energy efficient they would lose custom.) This is despite the UK’s huge renewables potential, with a long coastline and high windspeeds. Even France, where electricity production is dominated by nuclear power, has more wind turbines than the UK, and in Germany over ten times as many people work in the renewables industry as do here. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that our government’s blind allegiance to nuclear power is contributing to the weakness of the UK’s renewables industry.
Dr Fairlie was dismissive of George Monbiot’s very public conversion to nuclear energy (on the grounds that it was ‘green’), pointing out that Monbiot is a journalist and not a scientist.
Visitors to the meeting included two young Japanese who spoke passionately about their efforts to support compatriots who are campaigning in Japan against nuclear power in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident. They explained about the massive domestic petition campaign asking the Japanese Prime Minister to take full responsibility for the situation, to decommission all remaining nuclear power plants, enlarge evacuation zones, increase compensation for Fukushima victims and provide the public with open and accurate information, inviting members of the audience to sign an English-language version of the petition. We all felt it was something positive we could do.
Report by Joanna Bazley
(with the help of notes taken by colleagues)
The latest report from the Government’s advisory Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment challenges the findings of the German government study of last year. Although COMARE found an increase in observed cases of leukæmia around nuclear power stations, it concluded that this was not statistically significant, and criticised the results of the German study without acknowledging that the German ‘case control study’ had used a completely different research method from the geographical data analysis undertaken by COMARE. Dr Ian Fairlie has expressed concern that the COMARE report had “in a sense, cherry-picked data” by excluding Sellafield and Dounreay (with known cancer clusters) and that a more accurate conclusion to be drawn from the results would be to say “that the study found increases in leukæmia incidents ranging between 22% and 47% and that these increases did not meet the statistical test used by COMARE, but that this could be due simply to the low sample numbers”. See Dr Fairlie’s remarks in full at http://bit.ly/mjBhcb
This is a new 90-minute documentary by the team behind the groundbreaking climate change film “An Inconvenient Truth” which concentrates on non-proliferation and the risks of nuclear terrorism. The distributor Dogwoof is launching a special “Demand Zero Day” of screenings across the UK and Ireland on Tuesday 21st June, followed by a live link-up to London’s BAFTA for a high-profile panel discussion with speakers including H.M. Queen Noor and Margaret Beckett M.P.
There are two local showings: the Wimbledon Curzon (opposite the Centre Court shopping centre) and also the Ram Jam Club, 46 Richmond Road (Kingston), both at 6·30pm on 21st June. This presents us with an ideal opportunity to raise crucially important related issues such as global nuclear disarmament, Trident and our obligations under the NPT, and we shall be approaching the cinema manager to see if we can have an information stall. Failing this we shall be leafletting outside in the street! (For Central London showings see http://www.countdowntozerofilm.com)
Jim McCluskey attended a showing of this film by outstanding Indian film director Anand Patwardhani at the Birkbeck Cinema on 21st May. It is a major documentary (hated by the nuclear establishment in India!) about the insane dangers of nuclear arsenals as illustrated by the nuclear rivalry between India and Pakistan. Jim writes: “Anand was there himself and it was possible to spend over an hour discussing the film with him. I just learned this morning (22nd May) from an article in the Huffington Post that ‘latest reports indicate that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is growing at a rate that will make it the fourth-largest in a decade behind only the US, Russia and China”.
This documentary from India follows last year’s “Beating the Bomb” and we are anticipating the premiere later this summer of yet another anti-nuclear documentary, this time from the USA, “The Nuclear World Project” (http://thenuclearworld.org)
It is interesting and encouraging to see that nuclear weapons are once again at the top of the agenda so far as the film world is concerned, and it is to be hoped that the rest of the media will respond. It is only an informed media and general public that can expose the antiquated rubbish that currently passes for political debate on the subject.
The Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, announced in Parliament on May 18th that approval has been given to go ahead with the detailed design phase of the new Trident submarines (the so-called ‘Initial Gate’ decision) but at the same time, the Cabinet Office will be undertaking a review into alternatives to replacing Trident. This announcement was originally expected in Autumn 2009 but has been repeatedly deferred. Around £900 milion has already been spent on the programme since Parliament voted to replace Trident in 2007, and a further £3 billion will be spent between now and the ‘Main Gate’ decision on whether to proceed with the construction of the new submarines (scheduled for 2016). Thus about 15% of total programme expenditure will have been committed before Parliament next has the opportunity to vote (after the next election).
The Cabinet Office study will be overseen by the Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey and will review the “costs, feasibility and credibility” of alternative options to Trident. According to the independent Nuclear Information Service this appears to represent a considerable concession to the Liberal Democrats. Detailed terms of reference for the study are still awaited, but are expected to cover a wide range of options including a move away from continuous at-sea nuclear patrols. The study is scheduled to last 18 months and to be completed in time to ‘inform debate’ during the next General Election campaign.
We can all feel really pleased with ourselves for the success of the Fête on May 7th. Total takings were almost the same as last year (itself a record) and net profit will once again be in the region of £1500. Numbers through the door were slightly up on last year and almost the whole of our able-bodied membership was involved in one way or another. There are some excellent photos on our website. Thank you to one and all!
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