Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Surival Amongst Rogues and Empires

Two tidbits of information which if I throw together might just get me a bit more hate mail than usual. The first is the statement by North Korean government justifying their recent nuclear tests and ambitions. The position of the North Korean government is clear, and its the difference between Iran/North Korea and Iraq. If we have nuclear weapons, then the risk of invasion goes down considerably, and despite all the talk about Iraq having Weapons of Mass Destruction, the reason it was invaded was because it most likely had no such thing and therefore represetned far less danger. North Korea, like so many other nations is investing in this for their survival. Although my island is currently within range of his missiles and was named recently as a target for their attacks if the United States continues its aggressive posturing, this is just a sliver of the dangerous picture geopolitical machinations and manipulations of the world's largest countries have created.

The second pasted piece is an recent article by Helen Calidicott about the nuclear danger that exists in the world today, not just from "rogue" nations like North Korea, but also "rogue" superpowers such as the United States and the former Soviet Union. Combined these two nations possess 96% of the roughly 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, and several thousand of these weapons are kept on "hair trigger" status for instantenous launch. For us on Guam, and elsewhere in the world, if we are truly interested in survival, both in terms of locally in Guam, but also regionally and globally, then we need to rethink our anger or fear over North Korea and its nuclear ambitions, to include the United States and Russia and their current nuclear arsenals!

This is a summarised version of a statement released by the foreign ministry of North Korea, also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, DPRK, announcing plans to test a nuclear weapon.

The US daily increasing threat of a nuclear war and its vicious sanctions and pressure have caused a grave situation on the Korean Peninsula in which the supreme interests and security of our State are seriously infringed upon and the Korean nation stands at the crossroads of life and death.

The US has become more frantic in its military exercises and arms build-up on the peninsula and in its vicinity for the purpose of launching the second Korean war since it made a de facto "declaration of war" against the DPRK through the recent brigandish adoption of a UN resolution.

At the same time it is making desperate efforts to internationalize the sanctions and blockade against the DPRK by leaving no dastardly means and methods untried in a foolish attempt to isolate and stifle it economically and bring down the socialist system chosen by its people themselves.

The present Bush administration has gone the lengths of making ultimatum that it would punish the DPRK if it refuses to yield to the US within the timetable set by it.

Under the present situation in which the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK have reached the worst phase, going beyond the extremity, the DPRK can no longer remain an on-looker to the developments.

The DPRK has already declared that it would take all necessary countermeasures to defend the sovereignty of the country and the dignity of the nation from the Bush administration's vicious hostile actions.

The DPRK Foreign Ministry is authorized to solemnly declare as follows in connection with the new measure to be taken to bolster the war deterrent for self-defence:

Firstly, the field of scientific research of the DPRK will in the future conduct a nuclear test under the condition where safety is firmly guaranteed.

The DPRK was compelled to pull out of the NPT as the present US administration scrapped the DPRK-US Agreed Framework and seriously threatened the DPRK's sovereignty and right to existence.

The DPRK officially announced that it manufactured up-to-date nuclear weapons after going through transparent legitimate processes to cope with the US escalated threat of a nuclear war and sanctions and pressure.

The already declared possession of nuclear weapons presupposes the nuclear test.

The US extreme threat of a nuclear war and sanctions and pressure compel the DPRK to conduct a nuclear test, an essential process for bolstering nuclear deterrent, as a corresponding measure for defence.

Secondly, the DPRK will never use nuclear weapons first but strictly prohibit any threat of nuclear weapons and nuclear transfer.

A people without reliable war deterrent are bound to meet a tragic death and the sovereignty of their country is bound to be wantonly infringed upon. This is a bitter lesson taught by the bloodshed resulting from the law of the jungle in different parts of the world.

The DPRK's nuclear weapons will serve as reliable war deterrent for protecting the supreme interests of the state and the security of the Korean nation from the US threat of aggression and averting a new war and firmly safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula under any circumstances.

The DPRK will always sincerely implement its international commitment in the field of nuclear non-proliferation as a responsible nuclear weapons state.

Thirdly, the DPRK will do its utmost to realize the denuclearization of the peninsula and give impetus to the world-wide nuclear disarmament and the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons.

The ultimate goal of the DPRK is not a "denuclearization" to be followed by its unilateral disarmament but one aimed at settling the hostile relations between the DPRK and the US and removing the very source of all nuclear threats from the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity.

The Way the World Ends
With all the hype about North Korea, we're forgetting that the world is still staring down the barrels of thousands of U.S. and Russian ICBMs
October 21, 2006
The Ottawa Citizen
by Helen Caldicott

It is difficult to underestimate the problems associated with North Korea's recent nuclear weapons test. Following a small atomic explosion in a mountainous area of North Korea of less than one kiloton -- the Hiroshima bomb was 13 kilotons -- the U.S. administration is encouraging draconian economic sanctions to be enacted against a desperately poor country where millions of people are malnourished and that will further ostracize a paranoid regime, while the rest of the world looks on with horror as the nuclear arms race threatens to spiral out of control.

While lateral proliferation is indeed an incredibly serious problem as ever-more countries prepare to enter the portals of the nuclear club, one consistent outstanding nuclear threat that continues to endanger most planetary species is ignored by the international community.

In fact, the real "rogue" nations that continue to hold the world at nuclear ransom are Russia and the United States. Contrary to popular belief, the threat of a massive nuclear attack -- whether by accident, human fallibility or malfeasance -- has increased.

Of the 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, the United States and Russia possess 96 per cent of them. Of these, Russia aims most of its 8,200 strategic nuclear warheads at U.S. and Canadian targets, while the U.S. aims most of its 7,000 offensive strategic hydrogen bombs on Russian missile silos and command centres. Each of these thermonuclear warheads has roughly 20 times the destructive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, according to a report on nuclear weapons by the National Resources Defense Council, a U.S. environmental group.

Of these 7,000 U.S. strategic weapons, 2,500 are deployed on intercontinental ballistic missiles that are constantly maintained on hair-trigger alert ready for immediate launching, while the U.S. also maintains some 2,688 hydrogen bombs on missiles in its 14 Trident submarines, most ready for instantaneous launching.

According to the Center for Defense Information, a group that analyzes U.S. defence policy, in the event of a suspected attack, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Air Command has only three minutes to decide if a nuclear attack warning is valid. He has 10 minutes to locate the president for a 30-second briefing on attack options, and the president then has three minutes to decide to launch the warheads and to consider which pre-set targeting plan to use.

Once launched, the missiles would take 10 to 30 minutes to reach their Russian targets.

An almost identical situation prevails in Russia, except unlike the combined U.S. and Canadian NORAD early-warning equipment, the Russian system is decaying rapidly, its early-warning satellites are almost non-functional and it now relies on a relatively primitive over-the-horizon radar to warn it of an imminent secret first-strike attack from the United States.

The Russian military and political leaders are suitably paranoid about this extraordinary post-Cold-War situation. So much so that in January 1995 president Boris Yeltsin came to within 10 seconds of launching his nuclear armada when the launch of a Norwegian weather satellite was misinterpreted in Moscow as a pre-emptive U.S. nuclear attack.

Most towns and cities with populations over 50,000 on the North American continent are targeted with at least one hydrogen bomb. Only 1,000 bombs exploding on 100 cities could induce nuclear winter and the end of most life on earth. There are fewer than 300 major cities in the Northern hemisphere.

Such is the redundancy of nuclear weapons. A U.S. Foreign Military Studies Office report of January 2002, "Prototypes for Targeting America, a Soviet Military Assessment," states that New York City, for example, is the single most important target in the Atlantic region after major military installations. A U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment report, commissioned in the 1980s but still relevant, estimated that Soviet nuclear war plans had two one-megaton bombs aimed at each of three airports that serve New York, one aimed at each of the major bridges, two at Wall Street and two at each of four oil refineries. The major rail centres and power stations were also targeted, along with the port facilities.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates that New York City would be obliterated by nuclear blasts and the resulting firestorms and fallout.

Millions of people would die instantly. Survivors would perish shortly thereafter from burns and exposure to radiation.

Terrifyingly, the early warning systems of both Russia and the U.S. register false alarms daily, triggered either by wildfires, satellite launchings or solar reflections off clouds or oceans. Of more immediate concern in both the United States and Russia is the threat of terrorists or hackers entering and disrupting the computerized early warning systems and command centres.

Therefore, as the world tries to come to terms with a possible tiny new entrant into the nuclear club, the U.S. Security Council, the U.S. administration, the U.S. Congress, the Canadian government and the Kremlin fail to recognize the most serious danger -- thousands of hydrogen bombs maintained on tenuous hair-trigger alert.

What has induced this state of global psychic numbing, and why are these issues never officially addressed?

Now that Russia and the U.S. maintain a friendly working relationship, it is time to reinvigorate the extraordinary precedent established by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavic in 1988, to urgently agree to abolish nuclear weapons bilaterally.

Only then will the nuclear superpowers have the moral authority to legitimately and actively promote multilateral nuclear disarmament through the United Nations and to police other countries to discourage lateral proliferation.

France and China have already agreed to abolish their nuclear weapons should the superpowers disarm. Israel, Pakistan and India, who have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, would need extra pressure.

Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has called for a clear road map for nuclear disarmament to be established.

Time is not on our side.

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