Posted: 10th May 2022
War in Ukraine
The Times looks at Irish emergency plans – after the Republic was lumped in with UK (but not mentioned by name), in a recent programme broadcast on Russian television showing the North Atlantic archipelago (or British Isles) engulfed in a nuclear tsunami. It speaks to Irish survivalists and looks at the Irish government’s 2018 simulation of a biological attack – which fared less well than hoped. No such training has ever occurred for a nuclear attack although “in the 1960s plans were drawn up to create a nuclear shelter with space for 300 key officials under Custume army barracks in Athlone, Co Westmeath, where there is already a concrete bunker. The fallout shelter was never built, although the existing Athlone bunker can still accommodate up to 100 people for a short period so it could be an option for the government in the event of a catastrophic incident.” Well, that’s a relief.
The Independent looks at the military hardware used by Ukraine in its fight against Russia – also asking if it has nuclear weapons: “No. However, the country did host approximately one-third of the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal on its soil until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. That included 130 UR-100N intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) with six warheads each, 46 RT-23 Molodets ICBMs with 10 warheads each, as well as 33 heavy bombers and roughly 1,700 warheads in all. In 1994, Ukraine agreed to destroy the weapons and to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. A sunflower-planting ceremony was held at the Pervomaysk missile base in 1996 in celebration of the removal of nuclear arms from Ukraine.”
Russia could destroy NATO countries in the event of nuclear war but it must be avoided, the head of the country’s space agency said in a series of comments on messaging app Telegram. “In a nuclear war, NATO countries will be destroyed by us in half an hour,” Dmitry Rogozin said. He added: “But we must not allow it, because the consequences of the exchange of nuclear strikes will affect the state of our Earth.”
Trident / Nukes in Britain
BAE Systems and Rolls Royce have received £2 billion in UK government defence contracts for the delivery of four Dreadnought submarines. The vessels are scheduled to replace the Royal Navy’s fleet of Vanguard-class submarines and will act as the new delivery system of Trident nuclear warheads. The announcement marks the third phase of the programme, with the first Vanguard sub due for sea trials in 2030. The Daily Telegraph reports the total phase will cost £10 billion – with the total cost of the programme amounting to £30 billion. Whitehall says the Dreadnought programme supports some 30,000 jobs in the country including 1,500 companies in the supply chain.
Declassified has a good roundup of the US military presence in Britain – noting Washington’s Air Force deployment in the country is its third largest in the world. 11 RAF bases host over 12,000 US military personnel, with 5,404 US Department of Defence staff employed at RAF Lakenheath alone. Speaking on the running of the bases, CND’s Kate Hudson said: “British control of these bases remains negligible, and public insight into their activities remains severely curtailed. Despite operating on UK territory, these bases are firmly under American control. This situation needs to change and Britain’s status as the US’s ‘unsinkable aircraft carrier’ has to end.”
UK Nuclear Energy
The Telegraph’s chief city commentator writes on Boris Johnson’s heavy betting on nuclear energy – saying the plan is “already in tatters.” Calling Johnson’s cabinet as “big on bombastic rhetoric but painfully lacking in substance,” it looks at the various British nuclear plans from Bradwell to Wylfa – and the funding pitfalls befalling all the projects in between. Its conclusion? “The current state of Britain’s [nuclear] capabilities is this: no funding or know-how; little appetite from foreign investors or the City; widespread public opposition; and questionable technology.”
South Korea’s new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, used his inauguration on Tuesday to offer North Korea an “audacious plan” for economic development – if Pyongyang ditches its ambitions to possess nuclear weapons. The deal is a departure from the tough rhetoric Yoon espoused during his election campaign – where he criticised the performance of his liberal predecessor, Moon Jae-in, as being “subservient” in Seoul’s relations with its northern neighbour. “If North Korea genuinely embarks on a process to complete denuclearisation, we are prepared to work with the international community to present an audacious plan that will vastly strengthen North Korea’s economy and improve the quality of life for its people,” Yoon told a crowd of 40,000 people. The overture comes as analysts predict North Korea may top its recent spate of ballistic missile launches with a nuclear test – which could come between Yoon’s inauguration and a visit by Joe Biden to Seoul later this month.
Patrick Porter argues in The Critic that efforts towards the abolition of nuclear weapons should fail. On those pesky nuclear abolitionists he asks: “How can those with nukes be confident that abolitionists will verify disarmament and stop disarming states from regenerating? Will they undertake this inspection and policing without a supreme international authority that does not yet exist? Or will they somehow invent such a global Leviathan, which must be so powerful that it would incentivise nuclear proliferation against it?” And in a post-nuclear society he says the world “would still contain the materials and expertise to make them again. Intellectually, the nuclear revolution is a bell that cannot be unrung.” We better go back to bed so!
My London looks at the history of the Walthamstow Carnival in East London, with CND getting a mention for their participation in the 1960s: “There’s also controversy with a political riff on Alice in Wonderland. It appears Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament activists are riding a float emblazoned with Alice and the Atomic Tea Party. The image of the Mad Hatter facing down another sword wielding reveller across a comedically long table was just as resonant then as it is now with big bombs and trigger happy despots.”
Press and Communications Officer
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament