In the newest development concerning peace negotiations between Israel and the PA, Netanyahu has offered to partially extend the fake settlement freeze in exchange for recognition of Israel’s Jewish character. In a startling spectacle of rationality, the PA has rejected the offer in kind. BBC reports:
The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said Mr. Netanyahu was “playing games” with his offer, and that there was no connection between settlements and the national character of Israel.
“I don’t see a relevance between his obligations under international law and him trying to define the nature of Israel,” he added. “I hope he will stop playing these games and will start the peace process by stopping settlements.”
He’s right. Settlement activity in the West Bank is illegal under international law regardless of Israel’s “Jewishness”. Perhaps Bibi Netanyahu forgot this:
Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development [… and] have been established in breach of international law. -International Court of Justice Ruling, July 9, 2004
Or operative paragraph one of UNSC Resolution 242, in which the Security Council unanimously:
…Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of…the following principles:
(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict…
Or UNSC Resolution 446, which affirmed in explicit terms the conclusions of UNSC Resolution 242 (three abstentions) as did UNSC Resolution 452 (one abstention) UNSC Resolution 465 (unanimous), and UNSC Resolution 471 (one abstention)?
Or the portion of UNSC Resolution 252, passed with two abstentions, in which the Security Council:
…Considers that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, including expropriation of land and properties thereon, which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status; [and] Urgently calls upon Israel to rescind all such measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any further action which tends to change the status of Jerusalem…
Or UNSC Resolution 267, unanimously adopted, which affirmed the conclusions of UNSC Resolution 252, as did UNSC Resolution 298 (one abstention), UNSC Resoluition 476 (one abstention) and UNSC Resolution 478 (one abstention)?
Maybe Bibi forgot that, unlike the General Assembly, resolutions passed by the Security Council are indeed binding?
Maybe he forgot that in 1993 the UNSC approved a report by the Secretary General which concluded beyond doubt that the law applicable in armed conflict as embodied in the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the Hague Convention (IV) of 18 October 1907 had become part of international customary law, and thus applied even if the other party was not a High Contracting Party (as is the case in Palestine)?
Did he simply imagine that at the end of each of these resolutions is the caveat “if and only if Israel is recognized as a Jewish state,” thus exempting Israel from its legal obligations?
Or perhaps Erekat is right, and Bibi really is just playing games. Setting aside the composition of Israel’s demand of recognition as a Jewish state (which is ridiculous in and of itself), the mere act of setting preconditions for compliance with international law attests to Netanyahu’s seemingly limitless arrogance. He honestly thinks he can shift the blame for the disintegration of peace talks by throwing bones to the PA, which already affirmed Israel’s right to exist (sans the racist classification) in 1993. He clearly believes that through slight of hand he can simultaneously eviscerate the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees, and strengthen the codification of Arab subjugation in Israel all in exchange for what exactly? “An additional suspension of building for a limited period of time,” says Bibi. Will this be the same kind of “suspension” that still allowed for unhindered construction in East Jerusalem, for the razing of Palestinian villages and confiscation of private Palestinian property, and for continued work on current projects which would most likely include the 3,000 that began as soon as the last “suspension” ended?
Let’s just hope this doesn’t constitute the kind of gesture Obama promised to prostitute US taxpayers in order to coax out of the Israeli government.
“The Harper government must take full responsibility for Canada losing the race for a UN Security Council seat. This is as a result of the misguided positions taken by the Harper government domestically and within such key international bodies as the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council that undermine human rights, environmental rights and global principles,” said Khaled Mouammar, CAF National President.
Since coming to power in 2006, the Harper government’s actions have set back or weakened crucial international human rights initiatives such as global protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples, protection of the human rights of the Palestinian people under occupation, protection against torture, the rights of women, the rights of children, and the rights of gays and lesbians.
Domestically, the Harper government has systematically undermined democratic institutions and practices, and has eroded the protection of free speech by cutting or threatening to cut funding to organizations that disagree with government policies as in the case of the Canadian Arab Federation, KAIROS, MATCH International, Alternatives, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, the National Association of Women and the Law, and the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women.
A glaring example is the government’s refusal to repatriate Omar Khadr to Canada , after the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada that found Canada is responsible for continuing violations of Omar Khadr’s human rights, a stand that has shamed Canada on the world stage.
“By denying the Harper government a seat on the UN Security Council the international community has signalled its displeasure with the government’s performance on the world stage. Canadians lament Canada’s loss of influence in the world and deserve a government that does not tarnish Canada ’s reputation internationally and that does not seriously threaten the quality and health of democratic life in Canada,” said Khaled Mouammar, CAF National President.
Aletho News adds:
The Council of Canadians states that it hopes that this vote will be a wake-up call for all Canadians that after almost five years in power, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has diminished Canada’s international standing to the point that what is normally a rubber-stamp for Canada to take our regular rotation on the Security Council has become a national embarrassment.
Accusations today over the timings of terror alerts and elections.
The Bush administration used to raise threat levels around campaign time, apparently. Is Obama doing the same with European terror alerts to create a rally-round-the-president effect?
I wondered if there was a correlation between terrorism and elections we could actually see.
See the dynamic graph on Googe Insights
(It tracks the intensity of keywords over time- an interesting barometer of the group mind).
Note: Here I’ve chosen two relevant keywords that have similar intensity. In Insights, if you chose a keyword that’s too intense it dwarves the other and hides the pattern. Example.)
GAZA — Minister of prisoners in Gaza Dr. Mohammed Al-Ghoul has described the Israeli occupation authority’s (IOA) policy of isolating Palestinian prisoners as a war crime.
He said in a press release on Monday that the isolation of MP Ahmed Saadat, the secretary general of the popular front for the liberation of Palestine, and many others is an attempt to break their determination and subject them to the Israeli prisons authority’s (IPA) dictates.
The minister charged that the policy is in violation of the international doctrines and agreements that incriminate humiliating and torturing humans and isolating them.
The IOA is trying to turn the isolated prisoner into a mentally and physically disturbed person, adding that the IPA isolates 16 Palestinian prisoners in the “slow death isolation graves”.
He pointed out that some of them had spent 18 years [in isoloation] such as Uwaida Kallab who lost his mind as a result of the cruel isolation conditions.
Ghoul castigated the Arab and international parliaments for remaining silent toward such a policy against MP Saadat and others.
The IOA does not put a time limit for the isolation of prisoners in a bid to increase the psychological pressures on them and renews their isolation in summary trials in which the prisoners are not informed of reasons for their solitary confinement.
The minister asked the international organizations to intervene and put an end to the “policy of death” against prisoners in isolation.
Saadat has been held in solitary confinement for one and a half years.
The Wa’ed society for prisoners warned of the continued isolation of Saadat in a statement on Monday on the 500th day of his isolation.
It said that the IOA was planning to harm those in isolation, calling on human rights groups to step in and demand a halt to such a crime against humanity.
In the past week, the Washington Jewish Week and pro-Israel lobbying organizations have accused Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD, Dist. 4) of being anti-Israel because she has agreed to attend a reception hosted by New Policy PAC, a pro-peace lobbying group working to end the Israeli occupation.
Congresswoman Edwards was attacked for simply meeting with her constituents in her own district. At issue is that New Policy PAC supports a two-state solution along the 1967 borders but does not oppose a secular democratic state in all of Israel/Palestine if agreed to by both sides as an alternative to the flagging two-state initiative.
The Washington Jewish Week went further by distorting Congresswoman Edwards’ clear record on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reporting that “pro-Israel insiders” and “Democratic pro-Israel staffers” question Congresswoman Edwards’ commitment to a two-state solution. Congresswoman Edwards has always supported a two-state solution and has never voiced any support for a one-state solution. She has been an outspoken friend of Israel and the peace process that will bring peace and security to both Palestinians and Israelis. She is also cognizant of the importance of ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to America’s strategic interests in the wider Middle East.
In its report the Washington Jewish Week failed to mention that New Policy PAC and its sister organization, NewPolicy.org, primarily support a two-state solution along the 1967 borders. New Policy PAC views the one-state solution as an alternative if the two-state solution is no longer a workable option. New Policy PAC is also clear that its support for a one-state solution is contingent on agreement by both sides. New Policy PAC’s website states:
NewPolicy.org would not oppose a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict if agreed to by both Palestinians and Israelis. The two-state solution has been endorsed by the Arab League through the Arab Peace Initiative and the Organization of Islamic Countries under the auspices of Saudi leadership. The two-state solution has also been the basis of negotiations under the mediation of the quartet, which includes the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia.
Unfortunately, the chances for a two-state solution have been strongly diminished by the continued building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The presence of 550,000 Jewish settlers in heavily fortified settlements in the occupied territories, along with the unlikely scenario of their evacuation and their unwillingness to become Jewish citizens of a Palestinian state, has emboldened the advocates of a one-state solution.
NewPolicy.org does not oppose a one-state solution in principle: a democratic secular state with a population half Jewish, half Arab can prosper and become a model of coexistence, human rights, secularism and democracy for the Middle East and the entire world. However, either solution if implemented by the two parties toward a just end to the hostilities would pave the road to peace in the region and enhanced American security at home.
It has become increasingly apparent that some pro-Israel organizations view the Israeli-Palestinian process as a zero-sum game: where defending the rights of Palestinians automatically means being anti-Israel. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the interests of both the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Pro-peace organizations from across the political spectrum should work together to promote a culture of dialogue to better direct American foreign policy towards ending this conflict. It’s quite obvious to the rest of the world that the key to Israeli-Palestinian peace lies in Washington. Is it obvious to those lobbying groups working in Washington? [Aletho News would ask – Is peace an aim of the Israel lobby?]
Palestinian police officers attend an EU police training course organized in the West Bank city of Qalqiliya, October 2009. (Khaleel Reash/MaanImages)
A bizarre public relations exercise is now underway in the West Bank. Doubtlessly inspired by the enduring popularity of TV drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the European Union has been trying to glamorize a forensic science course it has been running for Palestinian police since mid-September. As well as being tutored on fingerprinting techniques and the use of chemicals following a murder or armed robbery, officers completing the six-week program will be given CSI vans of their own, “updates” promoting the course tell us.
It is not difficult to see why EU officials are eager to obtain favorable publicity for their police support “mission,” headquartered in Ramallah. For all of its five-year life, the mission has been something of a poor relation to the other major international policing initiative in the occupied West Bank: that run by United States security coordinator US Army Lieutenant General Keith Dayton (replaced by US Air Force General Michael Moeller earlier this month). At a time when the EU’s 27 governments are nominally striving to make a greater collective impact on the world stage, it is logical that they should be highlighting foreign policy work that at first glance appears laudable.
The reality is far from glamorous. Rather than helping to nurture institutions that could prove essential in a future Palestinian state, both the EU and US are acting as proxies for the Israeli occupation. Moreover, they are acquiescent in human rights abuses perpetrated by Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces against the Palestinian people.
Contrary to the impression frequently created by news stories, the PA does not have a police force that can justifiably be viewed as independent of Israel. Under the Oslo accords from the 1990s, the PA was given full responsibility for security in a region dubbed “Area A.” This comprises six West Bank cities — Jenin, Nablus, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Tulkarem and Bethlehem — and part of Hebron. In Area B — other towns and villages, where 68 percent of Palestinian inhabitants in the West Bank lived — the authority was tasked with maintaining public order but Israel was allowed “overriding” responsibility for security. Then in Area C — 62 percent of the West Bank, including Jewish-only settlements and other areas deemed of “strategic importance” to Israel — total control over security remained in Israeli hands. Moreover, under the Oslo accords, the PA police forces only have jurisdiction over the Palestinian population, not over territory; they have no powers to arrest, or intervene with Israeli settlers or other Israeli citizens even when they are present in areas ostensibly under PA control.
For the Palestinians, it has proven impossible to operate a police service that could comply with international norms. Regular incursions by Israeli troops throughout the West Bank has meant that patrols by Palestinian officers cannot be undertaken in any city, apart from Ramallah, between midnight and six o’clock in the morning.
The response from the EU mission (its proper name is the Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support or COPPS) to Israel’s everyday acts of aggression and intimidation has been timid, to say the least. The strongest words that Hendrik Malmquist, the Swedish officer heading the mission, has used on the record to criticize the Israeli incursions is to call them a “public embarrassment” for the Palestinian Authority.
Maybe his nonchalance is best explained by how COPPS is part of what Israeli human rights campaigner Jeff Halper calls the “matrix of control” imposed by Israel on the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Visiting Brussels in May, Malmquist said that Israel is “happy we are there in order to contribute to better security in the [occupied] territories.” Probably the main reason for Israeli satisfaction with his work is that his eighty-strong staff has been assisting the forces of occupation to strengthen their grip over most aspects of Palestinian life.
When I contacted EU officials in Ramallah recently, they sought to downplay the significance of their role in fostering cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian Authority security forces. The officials pointed, for example, to how they have organized joint Israeli-Palestinian training seminars on apparently uncontroversial issues such as traffic management. “We are not in the political game,” one official insisted.
A document published by the Israeli foreign ministry in April however indicates that the cooperation goes deeper. Titled “Measures Taken by Israel in Support of Developing the Palestinian Economy,” it says that COPPS has played a “central role” in encouraging and implementing “capacity-building” in the West Bank. The purpose of this “capacity-building,” the paper makes clear to anyone who reads between its lines, is to stress that the Palestinian Authority forces are subservient to Israel. Last year, the ministry gloats, was a record one for “coordinated actions” between Israeli and PA security forces, with almost 1,300 taking place, a 72 percent rise over 2008.
In its monthly newsletters, COPPS promotes the training offered by its human rights specialist Diane Halley to Palestinian police. This propaganda cannot be allowed to mask how the EU has enabled a situation to develop where gross abuses occur within a culture of impunity. Whereas COPPS’s original mandate allowed it to support police in both the West Bank and Gaza, the European Union’s refusal to engage with the de facto Hamas administration in Gaza has meant that it has been encouraging disunity among Palestinians.
Worse again, the EU has connived in the creation of what an alliance of Palestinian human rights groups recently called “a police state” within the occupied territories. While these groups — including the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Al-Haq and the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling — stress that most violations committed by the Palestinian Authority are a “direct result” of tensions between Fatah and Hamas, the EU has been largely silent about the abuses.
During a press briefing in May, Malmquist stated that COPPS wishes to “export core European Union values” such as respect for fundamental rights. A few minutes later, Palestinian police spokesman Yossef Ozreil insisted that there is “no more torture” by his colleagues against political rivals.
Malmquist did not contradict this assurance, yet evidence amassed by the Arab Organization for Human Rights suggests that Ozreil was dishonest. Mohammed Jamil, a spokesman for the organization, said that there is an average of seven arrests in the West Bank each day, with between 700 and 800 rounded up in the Hebron area last month after Hamas gunmen killed four Israeli settlers. Torture of detainees is widespread, he added. Methods found to have been used include tying people to the ceiling and suspending them, aping crucifixions by tying people to doors with their arms and legs outstretched and beatings by sticks. One man was tortured by having a boiled egg placed on his backside, Jamil told me. “They [the security forces] made jokes about him — that he was like a chicken giving birth to eggs.”
On paper, the main distinction between COPPS and the US security coordinator in the West Bank is that the former interacts with the Palestinian Authority civil police and the latter with the more militarized National Security Force. In practice, there is extensive overlap between the two international operations; Dayton has said that one of his objectives was to eliminate any duplication of efforts between aid donors to the Palestinian Authority. As well as employing several British members of staff in his team, Dayton enjoyed close contacts with the two Britons who headed COPPS before Malmquist took up his post in January this year: Colin Smith and Paul Kernaghan.
The extent to which Dayton may have advised forces loyal to Fatah to resort to brutal means in attacking Hamas supporters has not yet been revealed. One thing that is clear, however, is Dayton’s understanding that his job was to underscore the Palestinian Authority’s subordination to Israel. “We don’t provide anything to the Palestinians unless it has been thoroughly coordinated with the state of Israel and they agree to it,” he has said.
Daud Abdullah, director of Middle East Monitor, a research institute in London, says it is inconceivable that Dayton was unaware of the abuses conducted by Palestinian security forces. “There has been no let-up in abuses as far as we know,” Abdullah added. “The fact that money is still flowing and [international] officials are still on the ground makes them culpable for what is happening.”
COPPS has a budget of nearly 7 million euros ($9.7 million) for this year. This sum appears small on its own. Yet it cannot be separated from the wider support that the EU gives to the Palestinian Authority, which amounts to 947 million euros since 2008.
Europe’s representatives rarely miss an opportunity to trumpet their generosity to the Palestinians. Although donors are undoubtedly financing the provision of many essential services in the occupied territories, tough questions need to be asked about a great deal of this aid and how it is being tailored to serve Israel’s interests. Few taxpayers would be pleased to know that their hard-earned euros are subsidizing an illegal occupation and the systematic human rights abuses that go with it.
David Cronin’s book Europe’s Alliance With Israel: Aiding the Occupation, to be published on 20 November, can be pre-ordered from www.plutobooks.com.
This blog reported on 9 October that American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) Board Member Marwan M. Atalla and his investment firm NEST U.S.A. Inc. are shareholders in Cirrus Design Corporation, an aircraft manufacturing firm which does millions in business with Israeli military contractors closely tied to the Israeli military establishment. (See “Board member of Ziad Asali’s ATFP does millions in business with Israeli military firm” )
As the earlier post explains, Cirrus has a long history of working with Israeli companies and recently chose an Israeli military contractor called TAT Technologies to supply $10 million worth of aircraft parts. TAT Technologies is run by Israeli military officers, including a former commander of Israeli occupation forces in southern Lebanon, and its factory is built on the land of the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Yasur.
Since publishing that post, I have received new information from a former employee who is also a current minority shareholder at Cirrus. According to this individual Atalla was an active board member of Cirrus until 2001, but was forced to resign along with other independent board members when another investor, the First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain took a majority stake in Cirrus. Atalla and his firm NEST U.S.A. Inc. remain shareholders of Cirrus as of this time, according to NEST’s own website.
In 2005, the First Islamic Investment Bank of Bahrain changed its name to Arcapita. Arcapita is financed by investors in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia and is well-connected to those countries’ ruling families.
The Arcapita website states on its current corporate investments page that it acquired a stake in “Cirrus Design Corporation” in 2001, but does not say how big the stake is. A 2007 report on aviation industry website AVweb, put Arcapita’s stake at a controlling 58 percent.
While the AVweb report mentions that Arcapita was seeking to divest from Cirrus, in fact it has become more deeply involved. An April 2009 press release from Cirrus stated that Arcapita had pumped even more money into the company during the global financial crisis.
As an Islamic investment bank, all of Arcapita’s investments are screened by its Shariah Supervisory Board which currently includes a religious scholar and former judge from the Supreme Court in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as well as religious scholars from Pakistan and Bahrain. Such advisory boards are supposed to screen investments to make sure they comply with Islamic banking standards — typically avoiding interest, or investments in alcohol or pornography.
But for Arcapita, at least, there seems to be nothing un-Islamic about profiting from deals with the Israeli military establishment — the same military that has slaughtered more than nine thousand Muslims, Christians and others and injured and permanently maimed tens of thousands more in Palestine and Lebanon in the past decade alone in what numerous international investigations have termed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Needless to say, Arcapita-controlled Cirrus’ business with the Israeli military establishment is a gross violation of the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel.
The U.S. today is threatening to attack Iran “under the completely bogus pretext” that it might have a nuclear weapon, a distinguished American international legal authority says.
When Obama administration officials, like those of the Bush regime before it, say “all options are on the table,” they are threatening nuclear war and that is prohibited by international law, says Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois at Champaign.
Not only has the International Atomic Energy Commission said this charge against Iran “is simply not true,” Boyle pointed out, but threatening Iran with nuclear war in itself constitutes an international crime.
“If we don’t act now, Obama and his people could very well set off a Third World War over Iran that has already been threatened publicly by (President George W.) Bush Jr.,” he asserted.
In a speech on nuclear deterrence to the 18th conference on “Direct Democracy” in Feldkirch, Austria, Boyle said it has been estimated an attack on Iran with tactical nuclear weapons by the U.S. and Israel could kill nearly 3-million people.
(Boyle charges the U.S. has already committed “acts of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and has authorized, armed, equipped, and supplied Israel to commit…outright genocide against Lebanon and Palestine.”)
Nuclear weapons and “nuclear deterrence” have “never been legitimate instruments of state policy but have always constituted instrumentalities of internationally lawless and criminal behavior,” Boyle said.
Thus, the governments of all the nuclear weapons states are “criminal” for threatening to exterminate humanity. Boyle named the U.S., Russia, France, Britain, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. He reminded that “If mass extermination of human beings is a crime, the threat to commit mass extermination is also a crime.”
“The whole (George W.) Bush Doctrine of preventive warfare, which is yet to be officially repealed by Obama now after 18 months, was made by the Nazi lawyers for the Nazi defendants at Nuremberg, and it was rejected,” Boyle said.
He noted Article 2 of the UN Charter “prohibits both the threat and the use of force except in cases of legitimate self-defense” and the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, “do not qualify under that definition.” He adds the U.S. today is engaged in “ongoing international criminal activity” for “planning, preparation, solicitation, and conspiracy to commit Nuremberg crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.”
What’s more, “the design, research, testing, production, manufacture, fabrication, transportation, deployment, installation, storing, stockpile, sale, and purchase and the threat to use nuclear weapons are criminal under well-recognized principles of international law,” Boyle said.
And the leaders of NATO states that go along with U.S. nuclear policies “are all accomplices as well,” Boyle said, noting that pressure is mounting within Germany for the removal of U.S. nuclear warheads and that public opinion in much of Europe favors the elimination of nuclear arsenals.
The expansion of NATO, Boyle says, has now drawn in “almost all of Europe” and that even Sweden, Austria, and Finland have basically abandoned their neutrality. “Even Ireland,” Boyle says, has been compelled to join the so-called Partnership For Peace and send troops to Afghanistan. “The only state in Europe still holding out is Switzerland,” Boyle says, and because it refuses to commit troops to the wars in the Middle East it has been subjected to much pressure by the U.S. “including an attack on its banking and financial system.”
The nonpartisan Arms Control Association of Washington, meanwhile, has published an article in the October issue of “Arms Control Today” calling for NATO ministers at their forthcoming October 14th session “to initiate a comprehensive review of outdated NATO nuclear policy” to “reduce the role and salience of nuclear weapons and support reductions of U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear bombs.”
Co-authors Oliver Meier and Paul Ingram point out that NATO’s 28 states “remain divided” over key issues, including “the future role of nuclear weapons in NATO’s defense posture.” What’s more, they say, in Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands “there now exists broad parliamentary and popular support for a withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from their territories.”
In a related development, the Associated Press reported October 9, “From the 1950s’ Pentagon to today’s Obama administration, the United States has repeatedly pondered, planned and threatened use of nuclear weapons against North Korea, according to declassified and other U.S. government documents released in this 60th-anniversary year of the Korean War.”
“Just this past April,” AP writers Charles Hanley and Randy Herschaft said, “issuing a U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said “all options are on the table” for dealing with Pyongyang—meaning U.S. nuclear strikes are not ruled out.”
During the Korean War (1950-53), U.S. Air Force bombers flew nuclear rehearsal runs over North Korea’s capital and on August 20, 1953, after the fighting ended, the Strategic Air Command sent Air Force headquarters a plan for “an air atomic offensive against China, Manchuria, and North Korea” if the Communists resumed hostilities. Called OpPlan 8-53, it advocated use of “large numbers of atomic weapons.
President Jimmy Carter scaled back the U.S. nuclear arsenal in South Korea and its complete withdrawal was announced in 1991, “although the North Koreans at times accuse the U.S. of maintaining a secret nuclear stockpile,” AP says. Korea specialists generally accept Pyongyang’s stated rationale that it sought its own bomb for defensive reasons in response to U.S. positioning of nuclear weapons in South Korea, AP reported.
Professor Boyle is the author of “The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence” and “Destroying World Order,” both published by Clarity Press.
Sherwood Ross is director of the Anti-War News Service, of Coral Gables, Florida. To comment on this article or contribute to the news service, reach him at Sherwoodross10@gmail.com. Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed weekly columns for many years to several wire services.
According to the original story, British aid worker Linda Norgrove was killed by one of her Afghan captors, who detonated an explosive vest seconds before US forces got to her in a bungled rescue attempt. For example, the BBC reported on October 10:
US troops in Afghanistan were seconds from rescuing a UK hostage when she was killed by a vest bomb held or worn by a kidnapper, the BBC understands.
They reached the building where Linda Norgrove, 36, was held and were “very, very close” to her, the BBC was told.
It is understood tribal elders negotiating her release asked Nato not to intervene so they had more time.
David Cameron has said it was right for the special forces to try to rescue the aid worker, from Lewis, Western Isles.
The prime minister said: “Decisions on operations to free hostages are always difficult, but where a British life is in such danger, and where we and our allies can act, I believe it is right to try.”
BBC correspondent Nicholas Witchell said officials had confirmed Ms Norgrove was killed by an explosion, almost certainly a suicide vest, detonated by one of her captors.
So David Cameron thinks “it was right”, rather like Tony Blair thinks “it was right” to invade Afghanistan and Iraq in the first place, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dead Muslims, thousands of troops dead and tens of thousands injured, and a cost to the U.S. alone of well over a trillion dollars when all is taken into account. What would be “right”, would be to get the $&!% out of there, and quit screwing around with other people’s countries.
It subsequently emerged that the “explosive vest” story was a lie, eagerly propagated by a compliant media.
The death of British aid worker Linda Norgrove was caught on helmet-mounted cameras worn by the officers who mistakenly killed her with a grenade, it has emerged.
It comes as Miss Norgrove’s parents last night demanded to know how the elite U.S. troops sent in to rescue her apparently ended up killing their daughter in the botched Afghanistan rescue bid.
The U.S. yesterday issued an extraordinary apology to Britain over the doomed mission to free the aid worker from the clutches of the Taliban.
American officials initially claimed Miss Norgrove had been killed when one of her captors detonated a suicide vest. But a review of footage taken by helmet cameras raised suspicions that in fact, it was a U.S. grenade which killed Miss Norgrove.
An ashen-faced David Cameron yesterday revealed the tragedy a few hours after General David Petraeus, the American commander of the Nato-led force in Afghanistan, telephoned Downing Street to express ‘deep regret’ about the operation.
But last night urgent questions were already being raised about the true independence of an inquiry into 36-year-old Miss Norgrove’s killing.
It had been billed as a joint U.S.-UK investigation, but will be run by U.S. Central Command ‘in close co-operation with UK authorities’.
Which is rather like having Henry Kissinger or Philip Zelikow in charge of the 9/11 Commission.
Military sources raised particular concern about the training the team had for hostage situations.
There were also questions over why they used lethal fragmentation grenades in a rescue bid – and why they used helicopters which would be heard and alert the gunmen.
‘The last thing we wanted was for her to be passed into the hands of Al Qaeda.
Despite the fierce Taliban resistance, the Seals managed to fight their way towards the Miss Norgrove’s building. And then, with six Taliban gunmen already dead, one of the Seals threw a grenade through the door.
When the Seals entered the room, they found Linda Norgrove. She was still alive, but had terrible injuries caused by the grenade blast.
To cries of ‘medic! medic!’, doctors rushed to the scene. But it was too late. She succumbed to her injuries as she was being airlifted to hospital – the third British civilian to die in Afghanistan in the last three months.
Yet, inexplicably, the U.S. and Nato both claimed that she had died at the hands of a suicide bomber, who had apparently detonated his vest as he stood beside her when the Seals were closing in.
The official statement released on Saturday by Nato, was unequivocal about the cause of death: the blast that killed Miss Norgrove occurred ‘seconds before rescuers arrived. [U.S. special forces] had entered the compound … [but] an insurgent detonated an explosive device that was attached to his person. He was in close enough proximity to Miss Norgrove. She was wounded.’
That statement, we now know, was inaccurate. For three days, the special forces failed to reveal the fact that one of them had apparently thrown a grenade that exploded close to where she was being held, bursting into razor-sharp steel shrapnel.
It was only yesterday morning when their commanding officer reviewed audio and video footage from their helmet cameras that he ‘saw an arm throw a hand grenade’ and confronted his troops.
The report that Miss Norgrove had been ‘killed by an insurgent’ who had detonated his suicide vest as the Seals closed in, was officially announced within hours of the operation taken place. The same information was relayed to Miss Norgrove’s parents – John, 60, a retired civil engineer, and her 62-year-old mother, Lorna.
But in the early hours of yesterday morning, David Petraeus, the U.S. chief of coalition forces in Afghanistan, made a personal call to Downing Street, leaving a message for Mr Cameron to phone him immediately. He had grim news. In military jargon, it was clearly a friendly fire killing.
While shocked, Mr Cameron does not believe the Americans lied. ‘It was wrong information in the fog of war,’ said a source. ‘General Petraeus cleared up the facts as soon as they became clear. It is a tragedy, but tragedies can happen.’
Future Supply of Tritium Explosive Puts US Nuclear Arsenal in Doubt
In a recent report to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, the Government Accountability Office concluded that the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) in the Energy department is “unable to overcome technical challenges” to producing tritium (H3) in a commercial power reactor for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. As a result the ability to provide new supplies of this radioactive isotope used to enhance the explosive power of nuclear weapons “is in doubt.”
Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen and is an important part of any modern nuclear arsenal. It is why thermonuclear weapons are known as “H-bombs.” Tritium is used in modern nuclear weapons to boost the explosive power of plutonium, which in turn, creates enough heat to cause hydrogen atoms to fuse together. This releases a tremendous amount of destructive energy, in the same process that fuels the sun and stars.
Because of its half-life of 12.3 years, tritium has to be periodically replenished in weapons. From 1954 to 1988, tritium was produced in government reactors, which were closed for safety reasons. In 1993, GAO concluded that tritium supplies from nuclear arms reductions were adequate to meet warhead needs until 2012. After that year, GAO concluded that a new tritium production capability would be needed.
In response, the Department of Energy decided in the late 1990’s to produce new supplies in a commercial power reactor, using new tritium-producing burnable absorber rods (TBARs). They contain lithium-aluminate pellets lined with zirconium, and are clad into long pencil-shaped, stainless steel rods. Tritium is produced when the atoms of lithium-6 absorbs neutrons in the reactor core.
However, the rods cannot fully contain the tritium, which is permeating into the reactor cooling system, approaching safety limits set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). To meet projected tritium requirements, additional TVA reactors may be required. NNSA has not yet coordinated this with the NRC, which must approve any such reactor changes.
A reserve stockpile of tritium has yet to be tapped and its size remains classified. Nor is it clear how much more tritium is expected to come from the pending START II arms reduction agreement with Russia, now before the U.S. Senate. Nonetheless, GAO remains concerned. “If NNSA takes longer than expected to increase tritium production, even reserve quantities may be insufficient to meet requirements for an extended period of time.”
Tritium production alternatives include building a new government production reactor or the development of linear accelerators. Both are likely to cost billions of dollars and take several years to bring on line.
However, expanding the production of tritium for nuclear weapons in commercial nuclear power plants further undermines the long-standing barrier between military and civilian nuclear energy applications – a key element of U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy.
This is a situation where public debate and greater transparency by the U.S. nuclear weapons program is sorely needed.
Robert Alvarez, an Institute for Policy Studies senior scholar, served as senior policy adviser to the Energy Department’s secretary from 1993 to 1999. www.ips-dc.org