Last week the media sabers were rattling for a war between the US and North Korea. The president of one of those countries announced a massive “armada” was “steaming” towards the adversary (though it turned out that rather like a British Trident missile it had gone in the opposite direction). The president of the other country threatened nuclear armageddon. Things like this send the mainstream media, and their timorous readers, into a tizzy of fear lest hydrogen bombs come raining down on California. So just for the reality-based community, it’s worth remembering that North Korea has no reliable delivery system to get its handful of nuclear weapons anywhere near the United States.
This kind of fear-mongering is typical of the New York Times, Bezos Post, and BBC — ignore the facts and concentrate of whipping up a frenzy of outrage against some dark-skinned foreigner and his deadly WMDs. None of the mainstream reporting of last week’s events addressed the key matter of delivery systems – i.e the Minutemen ICBMs and B2 Bombers and Trident submarines which get nukes from the mad scientists’ launchpad to the civilian population they are designed to kill. North Korea’s latest attempt at launching an ICBM ended in failure, as its previous efforts have. Whereas the United States has some 2,000 nukes attached to presumably-reliable delivery systems which can reach anywhere in the world.
Consider just one US Ohio-class submarine. It has the capacity to carry 24 Trident D5 missiles. Each D5 missile can carry 8 nuclear warheads. So one American nuclear sub can launch almost 200 nuclear weapons — enough to destroy multiple nations and cause incalculable climate change. And the US has fourteen of these boats, ten of them on patrol at all times.
Meanwhile the British Prime Minister is prepared to launch a nuclear ‘first strike’ according to its “Defence” Secretary, Michael Fallon. Fallon told reporters that Teresa May is prepared to launch Trident missiles in “the most extreme circumstances”, even if Britain itself is not under nuclear attack.
What circumstances could those be? Circumstances in which the Americans tell her to, perhaps? Such as a surprise first strike on Russia? George Orwell, that old Russia-hater, was more prescient than he wished to be, perhaps, when he renamed Britain “Airstrip One.”
But England isn’t the only insane nuclear toady on the block. Step forward the reliable Netherlands — whose representative at United Nations talks to declare nuclear weapons illegal has insisted that the UN vote must be consistent with Holland’s obligations to NATO. Which is absurd: since NATO is a nuclear-armed alliance whose stated purpose is to deter/fight a war with Russia, it will be an illegal operation once the UN votes. All of the nuclear-armed powers except North Korea have boycotted the UN talks, which will resume later in the year. And the US satraps will again be throwing spanners in the works — Holland is one of the lucky countries to house American nuclear weapons, and thus a primary target, or rather a secondary target, if the Americans and the English strike the Russians first.
Americans are remarkable beings. Not only are they exceptional (as we are constantly told) but they are more than twice as resistant to the effects of radiation as any other people in the world! This amazing news comes via the Federal Register of 27 December 2016, which announced that American nuclear workers may continue to safely receive up to 50 milliSieverts of radiation every year. There is, as you probably know, no “safe” dose of radiation: the EPA states that “any exposure to radiation can be harmful or can increase the risk of cancer.” However, in the rest of the world, the maximum “safe” radiation dose is considered to be 20 milliSieverts per year. The US was to have adopted the international maximum last year, but pressure from the nuclear power and weapons industries had the predictable results. This was done during the Obama presidency, not the current one.
And finally some good news. President Trump’s scrapping of Obama’s Clean Power Plan means that special favours to the nuclear industry (on the deranged grounds that it is “carbon neutral”) will no longer occur. As a result the US industry is scrambling to gain other tax breaks and to make friends with “environmentalists.”
The very idea that nuclear power generation is “carbon neutral” is absurd, as previously discussed here. The claim doesn’t take into account the highly-carbon-based building and decommissioning of nuclear plants, nor all the gasoline and diesel consumption involved in maintaining them when they function or panicking when they fail, nor the long-term environmental and climate costs of all the radioactive garbage they create, and its safe disposal. Renewables – wind, solar and water, at least for now – have been embraced by the big energy corporations. Coal isn’t coming back: it can’t compete with renewables or with “natural” gas. Nor is nuclear, if its tax breaks and public underwriters get taken away…