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Associated Press reports diplomats haggling to the bitter end of the NPT Conference. This conference, and the earlier START Treaty, have been good first steps in what looks to be a slow, painful, crawl towards disarmament.
The five weapons states have not agreed to any specific time table, but they have agreed to ""accelerate concrete progress" toward reducing their atomic weaponry, and to report on progress in 2014 in preparation for the 2015 NPT review session," according to AP.
Israel has been in the news, and on everybody's mind as things bogged down over the proposed Nuclear-Free Middle East zone. This makes what happens at the at the 2012 Middle East Conference even more important. But, that leaves important details still to be hammered out. Most importantly, if this 2012 Conference will be the start of negotiating a treaty.
Desmond Tutu feels that :
"Sceptics may say a nuclear-free world is an impossible dream, but they said that about slavery and apartheid too."
Britain's nuclear submarines are aging, becoming seen- even by their supporters, as dangerous, expensive, dinosaurs. For the peace camp protestors still hanging in there, they hope, at last, to see the end of nuclear subs forever.
"I don't care if it costs a fiver. It's immoral," says protester Barbara Dowling. "How can you value a weapon when once it is used its purpose has failed?" adds Jane Tallents... Tallents says she arrived here in 1984 and lived at the "peace camp", a colourful collection of caravans by the side of the base, for six years. Now the mother of two children, she has settled in nearby Helensburgh. "When I first got pregnant, I thought, 'Is it responsible to live next to a nuclear weapons base?' Then I thought there is nowhere in the world that is safe. The safest thing I could do for my children was to stay here and campaign to get rid of it." She pauses, dryly. "It's taken longer than I expected."
The Guardian/Ed Pilkington:
A month-long conference in New York to shore up the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and prevent the global spread of atomic weapons is faced with possible collapse owing to wrangling over the goal of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.
A relatively new weapon has entered the armory of the US arsenal. Anti-tank shells made of 10 pounds of solid uranium-238 -- commonly called depleted uranium (DU) are very effective weapons to use against tank armaments because they slice through the steel armor like a hot knife through butter. Despite the apparent effectiveness of DU, there are grave dangers.
Uranium-238 is pyrophoric, bursting into flame on impact, and when it burns 70% of the shell aerosolizes into particles less than 5 microns in diameter, which are respirable in size. Uranium-238 is an alpha radioactive emitter which is both chemically toxic and mutagenic.
When Iran announced on monday that it would ship some of its nuclear fuel to Turkey in a perceived effort to allay western anxiety about its intentions, the news was met with cautious skepticism. The Brazilian/Turkish negotiated deal would call for Turkey to take about 2640 pounds of low-enriched uranium for a year, after which Iran would get back 265 pounds of uranium enriched to 20 percent from France and Russia.
This is very similar to a deal that Iran backed out of last year, and the Obama administration has expressed doubts raised by the rise in Iran's stockpile. What once represented two thirds, may now be closer to just half of its current stockpile.
Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary said:
“Given Iran’s repeated failure to live up to its own commitments, and the need to address fundamental issues related to Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns.”
In the Movies- Cannes: Dark documentary 'Countdown to Zero,' it's the end of the world as we know it
Owen Gleibermann checks out the "dark documentary" category at Cannes. While he found some flaws in Countdown to Zero, he found much more to recommend about this documentary of nuclear weapons during, and more importantly- after, the cold war. He came away feeling, like many more people need to, that what happened in the past was frightening, but what's happening now could be worse.
Calling it "scary, gripping, [and] responsibility-inducing," he decribed it as "that rare thing, a piece of responsible fear-mongering." All things considered, it sounds like it's worth watching and sharing with people who have forgotten that-in terms of nuclear weapons, nothing much has really changed.
Image Credit: Magnolia Films
A group of retired Russian generals warned on Thursday that the country's space defenses are obsolete and have a limited capability to counter possible threats from space.
"Frankly, our space defense capabilities are limited and insufficient to ensure our national security," former Air Force commander Anatoly Kornukov told a roundtable on the future of Russia's air and space defenses in Moscow.
He said Russia is lagging behind the United States in the development of space-based weapons and space defense systems by at least 25-30 years and the Russian defense industry cannot meet the demand for advanced weaponry.
The Los Alamos Study Group asks : what is the U.S.'s real commitment to disarmament?
"On February 1st the Obama administration released its fiscal year 2011 budget request containing the largest spending surge for the nuclear weapons complex, and also the military, since the early 1940's. This isn't the way you “seek” a world without nuclear weapons. Obama was right when he said that it might not happen in his lifetime. It definitely won't at this rate."
The group goes on to examine the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Nuclear Posture Review, and START. None of them seem to bear much resemblance to the stated intentions behind them.