Yet another official at the nation’s most challenging environmental cleanup project has been fired after raising serious safety concerns.
This time it was Donna Busche, the head of nuclear safety for cleaning up the former nuclear weapons site at Hanford, Washington, which sits atop 53 million gallons of radioactive waste stored in underground tanks.
“The Energy Department’s overall safety culture is broken and all they are doing now is sitting idly by,” Busche told the Los Angeles Times.
Her termination came after she repeatedly warned company executives that the radioactive-waste solution being used was flawed and posed safety problems.
URS denied that her firing had anything to do with her safety complaints, saying she was let go for “unprofessional conduct.”
Busche was the second senior project official fired at Hanford. A third official resigned, after citing safety-related concerns with the $13.4-billion construction project.
Walter Tamosaitis, who headed research at URS, was fired in 2013 after he questioned whether the company’s decision to mix the waste in large tanks might result in a buildup of hydrogen gas, which can explode.
In addition, Gary Brunson, the Energy Department’s engineering division director at Hanford, quit after warning of nearly three-dozen problems not being addressed by another site contractor, Bechtel.
But the worries don’t stop there. The Energy Department’s inspector general and other federal investigators have also warned of management and safety issues at Hanford. With 150 aging nuclear-waste tanks, many of which are leaking, it’s the largest cleanup project leftover from the Cold War.
To Learn More:
Official Who Raised Safety Concerns at Hanford Nuclear Site is Fired (by Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times)
Whistle-Blower Fired From Hanford Nuclear Site (by Nicholas K. Geranios, Associated Press)
As Hanford Radioactive Leak Continues, Clean-Up Contractor Pays Fraud Penalty (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Six Underground Tanks Leaking Nuclear Waste in Washington State (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)
The US, the UK, Russia, China and France are rebuilding or upgrading their arsenals of nuclear weapons. The other four nuclear states too are ‘improving’ their arsenals. As we discuss the statistics and strategies of ‘nuclear arsenals’ and ‘nuclear deterrence’ it can be hard to keep in mind the reality underlying the abstract discussions. The nine nuclear states have over 10,000 nuclear weapons in their stockpiles. This is enough to wipe out the entire population of the planet many times over together with all other life forms. Is this sane? Has the human race lost its senses? A single United States thermonuclear warhead, designated W88, has an estimated ‘yield’ of 475 kilotons. The ‘yield’ is the destructive power expressed in tons of TNT equivalent. The W88 is over 30 times more destructive than the bomb which wiped out Hiroshima. A single W88 could completely destroy London, Moscow or New York. Each bomb on a major city would kill millions of people; women, children, babies, old people, everyone. The suffering would be indescribable and for many would go on for months and years before death. No emergency services could begin to cope There would be no relief. What sort of people would do such a thing? What kind of human would threaten such an atrocity?
The US government has 5 nuclear submarines on patrol at all times carrying 1000 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb. Is it possible to imagine the degree of paranoia represented by such a standing threat? The UK government has started to spend one hundred billion pounds on rebuilding its Trident fleet of nuclear submarines, each one with the capacity to incinerate over 40 million people. This is being done at a time when many citizens are suffering from inadequate defences against flooding and when the social services are being radically cut back.
The situation is being rendered even more insanely dangerous by the US and Russia which keep 1,800 weapons on high alert atop long-range ballistic missiles that are ready to launch 5 to 15 minutes after receiving an order!
It is ironic that the worst offenders are the five permanent members of the Security’ Council of the United Nations. They have had 69 years to get rid of their nuclear weapons while all that the citizens of the world hear from them are windy speeches around purported good intentions which never come to fruition.
Citizens of the world have simultaneously become aware that the nuclear states do not intend to get rid of their nuclear weapons and that their existence imposes a permanent and intolerable threat to us all. The existence of nuclear weapons means they could be used by accident, by misunderstanding or by malicious intent. How can we ever be sure that some deranged psychopath will not gain power in one of the nuclear states and deceive him/herself into believing that it is in their best interests to make a first strike? How can we ever be sure that some terrorist organisations will not hack into the electronic control systems and carry out the launching themselves? And we now know that even a small nuclear exchange could be a lethal threat to everyone on the planet. In a limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan 20 million people would die from the nuclear blasts, fires, and radioactive fallout. And the fallout would have global consequences that would kill millions of people, disrupt climate patterns, and threaten global agricultural collapse.
Furthermore decent people round the globe know that the existence of nuclear weapons is a brooding evil which undermines the moral integrity of humankind. As the great moral leader Desmond Tutu wrote “Nuclear weapons are an obscenity. They are the very antithesis of humanity”…
The only remedy is an enforced world ban on the existence of nuclear weapons. The other weapons of mass destruction have already been banned. It is the turn of the last and most destructive of them all.
And finally there is hope. The huge burgeoning of awareness in the citizens of the world is bearing fruit.
There are 9 nuclear states and there are 183 non-nuclear states. The security of the non-nuclear states is threatened by the irresponsible and self-focused behaviour of the 9 others. But these 9 are outnumbered by 20 to one. The non-nuclear majority which do not feel the need for a lethal ‘security’ crutch have decided to take the initiative. And rather than focus on the numbers and ‘yields’ of the weapons it was wisely decided to concentrate on the effects on humanity of the use of nuclear weapons. The next logical development, as the nuclear states continue to deny their obligations to shed their arsenals, is for the non-nuclear states to proceed independently to enact a treaty outlawing these weapons internationally. By focusing attention on the humanitarian consequences of their use they are well on their way to doing so.
The first International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons was held in 2013. Humanity owes a great debt to Norway for this initiative.
This ground-breaking and historic conference was attended by delegates from 127 countries and 70 nongovernmental organizations. The nuclear states were invited but declined to attend. It is not easy to face up to the implications of these arsenals especially if you bear the primary responsibility. India and Pakistan sent observers.
After hearing presentations from a wide range of experts on the various effects of nuclear weapon detonations the conference concluded that “it is unlikely that any state or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation in an adequate manner and provide sufficient assistance to those affected.” Conference members also agreed that the effects of a nuclear weapon detonation will not be constrained by national borders but will produce significant negative regional and global effects.
Mexico offered to host a follow-up meeting to this conference and such is the vital importance of this approach that other states declared their intention to organise additional events on this subject.
The Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons was held in Nayarit, Mexico, on 13 and 14 February 2014. It included delegations representing 146 States, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement and civil society organizations.
The powerful summary statement of the conference Chair pointed out that the broad participation of states and civil society reflected the burgeoning awareness that this issue is of the utmost importance to all the peoples of the world. Due to “…proliferation, the vulnerability of nuclear command and control networks to cyber-attacks and to human error and potential access to nuclear weapons by non-state actors, in particularly terrorist groups” the risks are “growing globally”. The risks of “accidental, mistaken, unauthorised or intentional use is growing significantly due to more countries holding weapons on higher levels of combat readiness”. As awareness of the humanitarian impact grows hearts and minds are being changed worldwide. These weapons must be outlawed. “In the past, weapons have been eliminated after they have been outlawed. We believe this is the path to achieve a world without nuclear weapons”. He called for a “legally binding instrument” and declared that the “time has come to initiate a diplomatic process conducive to this goal. Our belief is that this process should comprise a specific time frame, the definition of the most appropriate fora, and a clear and substantive framework, making the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons the essence of disarmament efforts. It is time to take action.”
The Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons will be held in Austria later this year. The movement for an international ban is unstoppable.
The International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of over 350 organisations in 90 countries. Ray Acheson, in his closing statement on behalf of ICAN to the Second Conference included the words: “The claim by some states that they continue to need these weapons to deter their adversaries has been exposed by the evidence presented at this conference and in Oslo as a reckless and unsanctionable gamble with our future.”
He went on to explain that the use against cities of less than one percent of existing weapons would put billions of lives in jeopardy and have a long lasting detrimental effect on both the planet’s climate and agriculture. He insisted that we must act to get rid of them or they will be used by accident, misunderstanding or malicious intent. Getting rid of them will take courageous leadership by states but such leadership will have the support of civil society. He concluded: “It is time to change the status quo. It is time we ban nuclear weapons.”
So with these and other major forces at work there is an unstoppable movement towards banning these Armageddon machines. The nuclear states have become a sorry sight. Frozen in a realm of outdated thinking which was always inhuman; their leaders frightened and paranoid and prepared to put the survival of humanity in jeopardy simply in order to feel important and powerful as they strut, uncomprehending, on the world stage.
Their brief and nightmarish ascendancy is over. The world has moved on.
Jim McCluskey is the author of The Nuclear Threat.
Israeli troops crossed the barrier separating Lebanon from Occupied Palestine on Tuesday, searching for parts of a crashed surveillance plane, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.
The Israelis then fired a shot in the air when a joint patrol by the Lebanese army and UNIFIL passed close by, near the southern Lebanese village of Mays al-Jabal.
The 11 Israeli soldiers were allegedly searching for pieces of an Israeli reconnaissance plane which had crashed inside Lebanon, eyewitnesses told the NNA.
In January, a group of 70 Israeli soldiers also crossed into southern Lebanon to retrieve surveillance equipment, all under the eyes of UNIFIL troops, who are tasked with monitoring breaches at the border.
Israeli drones and warplanes fly over Lebanon on a near-daily basis, violating Lebanese sovereignty despite complaints to the United Nations.
I had a heck of a time making sense of the U.S. Navy’s new motto “A Global Force for Good” until I realized that it meant “We are a global force, and wherever we go we’re never leaving.”
For three years now people in the little island nation of Bahrain have been nonviolently protesting and demanding democratic reforms.
For three years now the king of Bahrain and his royal thugs have been shooting, kidnapping, torturing, imprisoning, and terrorizing nonviolent opponents. An opponent includes anyone speaking up for human rights or even “insulting” the king or his flag, which carries a sentence of 7 years in prison and a hefty fine.
For three years now, Saudi Arabia has been aiding the King of Bahrain in his crackdown on the people of Bahrain. A U.S. police chief named John Timoney, with a reputation for brutality earned in Miami and Philadelphia, was hired to help the Bahraini government intimidate and brutalize its population.
For three years now, the U.S. government has been tolerating the abuses committed by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, continuing to sell weapons to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and continuing to dock the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. In fact, the U.S. military has recently announced big and pricey plans to expand its bases in Bahrain and add more ships.
For three years now, the U.S. government has continued to dump some $150 billion (with a ‘B’) each year into the U.S. Navy, a large portion of which goes for the maintenance of the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. Withdrawing and disbanding that fleet would save that gargantuan expense. Retraining and re-employing in peaceful activities all personnel would cost a fraction of $150 billion. Providing aid to nonviolent pro-democracy activists in Bahrain would cost a tiny fraction of a fraction. Establishing a policy in the case of this one country of supporting human rights over brutal dictatorship would be, as they say, priceless. It would create a very useful model for a transformation of U.S. policy in numerous other nations as well.
Accurate and timely information about the horrors underway for the past three years in Bahrain are available online, via Western human rights groups, and via small back-page stories in U.S. newspapers. There’s little dispute over the general facts. Yet, there’s little outrage. There appears to have been no polling done of the U.S. public on the topic of Bahrain whatsoever, so it’s impossible to know what people think. But my impression is that most people have never heard of the place.
The U.S. government is not shouting about the need to bomb Bahrain to protect its people. Senators are not insisting on sanctions, sanctions, and more sanctions. There seems to be no crisis, no need for “intervention,” only the need to end an intervention we aren’t told about.
Which raises a tough question for people who give a damn. We’re able to reject a war on Iran or Syria when the question is raised on our televisions. But we can’t seem to stop drone strikes nobody tells us about. How do we create a question nobody is asking, about a topic nobody has heard of, and then answer it humanely and wisely? And how do we overcome the inevitable pretense that the Fifth Fleet serves some useful purpose, and that this purpose justifies a little teargas, a bit of torture, and some murders here and there?
The Fifth Fleet claims to be responsible for these nations: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. None of these nations have ships in U.S. waters claiming to be responsible for it. None of these nations’ peoples have indicated majority support for having the Fifth Fleet be responsible for them. Afghanistan has suffered under U.S. occupation for over a decade, with chaos and tyranny to follow. Egypt’s thugs are rising anew with steady U.S. support, money, and weaponry. Iran has threatened and attacked no other nation for centuries, has never had a nuclear weapons program, spends less than 1% what the U.S. does on its military, and moves away from democracy with every U.S. threat. Why not leave Iran alone? Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and others of these nations, including Bahrain, suffer under the rule of U.S.-backed governments. One might reasonably add Israel and the lands it occupies to the list, even if the Navy cannot bring itself to mention them. Yemen and Pakistan suffer under the constant buzzing and missile launching of U.S. drones, which are creating far more enemies than they kill. In fact, not a single nation falling under the past 19 years of benevolent “responsibility” of the Fifth Fleet has clearly benefited in any way.
At a third annual conference recently held in Lebanon, Bahraini activists laid out a plan of action. It includes building international connections with people who care and are willing to help. It includes supporting the International Day to End Impunity on November 23rd. It includes pushing Bahrain to join the ICC, although that may be of little value until the U.S. can be persuaded to do the same and until the United Nations can be democratized. The plan includes calls for an end to weapons sales and the initiation of sanctions against the Bahraini government (not its people).
Those would certainly be good steps. The first question in my mind remains: do the people in the nation that screams most loudly about “freedom” and does the most to support its repression wherever deemed useful, care?
The US Central Intelligence Agency is seeking new drone bases in unnamed countries in Central Asia, fearing the full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan would affect the targeted killings in neighboring Pakistan.
The spy agency asserts that if the US fails to sign a bilateral security deal with Afghanistan and secure an enduring military presence there, it would not be able to fly drones from its Afghan bases because drone operations are covert and need US military protection.
The security deal, which Washington says “ought to be signed” and is not renegotiable, could allow thousands of US troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
However, despite pressures from the White House and Congress, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has so far refused to sign the deal and the US intelligence community is hoping that the next Afghan president will agree to sign it.
Worried that its drone killings can become a casualty of strained relations between Kabul and Washington, the CIA is reportedly making contingency plans to use bases in other countries.
“There are contingency plans for alternatives in the north,” an unnamed US official briefed on the matter told the Los Angeles Times without specifying the countries.
According to Brian Glyn Williams, a University of Massachusetts professor, the CIA and the Pentagon used to fly drones from an airbase in Uzbekistan until the US was evicted in 2005.
Michael Nagata, commander of US special operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, also traveled last month to Tajikistan, which is Afghanistan’s northern neighbor, to discuss “issues of bilateral security cooperation” and “continued military cooperation.”
Meanwhile, US officials say a new jet-powered drone, called Avenger, which will be able to “get to ‘hot’ targets in Pakistan much faster,” could soon be flying from bases outside Afghanistan.
The CIA is in charge of drone strikes in Pakistan since the country is not officially a war zone and the CIA’s program is covert.
US President Barack Obama has already stated that the responsibility for Washington’s deadly drone attacks could gradually shift from the CIA to the Pentagon. However, the idea of putting the US military in charge of drone attacks is not favored by US lawmakers.
TBILISI: Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania said Wednesday that the country has decided to join the NATO Response Force (NRF) in 2015 with financial support from the United States.
The decision was announced at a joint press conference with Knud Bartels, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, on the second day of the committee’s first ever visit to the South Caucasus country, during which talks with Georgian leaders were also held to discuss security, cooperation and Georgia’s involvement in NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.
“It has already been decided that Georgia will become part of the NATO Response Force in 2015 and a sponsor state has already been selected. The United States will ensure readiness along with the NATO military to provide rapid response in case of crisis,” said Alasania.
Bartels told the assembled press that Georgia has made “solid progress in its defense reforms that will allow cooperation between Georgia and NATO.”
The NRF, initiated in November 2002, has a joint force of around 13,000 high-readiness troops made up of land, air, maritime and special operations components that the Alliance can deploy quickly wherever needed, according to NATO information.
Hawkish US Senator John McCain has called on the Obama administration to employ its already-devised plan of military intervention against the Syrian government.
“The only way to achieve success at Geneva is to change the balance of power on the ground,” McCain said in a statement on Saturday, referring to the failure of the so-called Syria peace talks in Geneva.
“There are options far short of an Iraq-style invasion that can, and should, be employed to change the calculation of the Syrian regime, stem the violence, and ultimately achieve a negotiated political solution,” he added.
The second round of negotiations ended on Saturday without any concrete results about the unrest in Syria.
“The second round of Syria peace talks ended today with no progress toward a negotiated political settlement to the conflict and UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi recognizing that failure is looming,” McCain said.
“After three weeks of talks, we are moving further and further away from a peaceful political solution,” he argued.
The Arizona Republican senator also criticized President Barack Obama for allowing Russia to put pressure on him.
“Russia has recently prevented the passage of a much-needed UN resolution on bringing aid to desperate Syrian civilians,” he said. “Such actions indicate that the Russian government is simply not a partner for peace in Syria and cannot be relied on to help secure a successful outcome.”
During a press conference on Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said there is no military solution for the crisis in Syria.
“The crisis in Syria is a crisis. The circumstances on the ground are horrific that is why we have to bring the parties together to try to compel them towards a negotiated political settlement because there isn’t a military solution here,” Carney said.
A report says France covered up the extent of the nuclear fallout from its first atomic bomb test in North Africa.
The report published by the French daily Le Parisien was based on a recently declassified military map regarding the fallout from the detonation of the Gerbouise Bleue bomb in the Algerian desert in 1960.
The map revealed that radioactive particles reached the Italian island of Sicily and the southern Spanish coast on the 13th day after the blast.
Lawyer Fatima Benbraham, who represents dozens of cases in Algeria, said the map shows that Algeria and practically the whole Saharan region was contaminated following the atomic test.
The documents were declassified last year following a ten-year legal battle, in which the French government fought long and hard to prevent the documents from becoming public, according to Bruno Barrillot, a member of the pressure group Observatoire des Armaments.
The pressure group along with others battled through court to have the documents released in a bid to bring compensation to people whose health has been allegedly affected by the radioactive fallout.
Human rights activists say civilians were not warned of the danger of the 17 blasts that took place in North Africa in 1960-66.
France admitted in 2009 that a small-populated area has been affected by the fallout.
Barrillot said he hopes the newly declassified maps would force the administration of French President Francois Hollande to admit that more people could have been affected by the fallout.
“They did not do these tests under the Eiffel Tower,” said Barrillot. “No, they went far away from France and then lied about the true impact.”
France conducted a total of 210 tests in Algeria and then in French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean from 1960 to 1996.
A second round of peace talks between Syria’s warring sides broke off Saturday without making any progress and without a date being set for a third round, UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said.
“I think it is better that every side goes back and reflects on their responsibility, (and on whether) they want this process to continue or not,” Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters in Geneva.
Speaking on the final day of a second round of talks that have been mired from the start by blame-trading over the violence ravaging Syria, he apologized to the Syrian people for not making progress.
“I’m very, very sorry,” he said.
Brahimi said that the two sides now at least had reached agreement on an agenda for future talks – if they happen – something they had failed to do throughout the past week.
“At least we have agreed on an agenda. But we also have to agree on how we tackle that agenda,” Brahimi said, adding: “I very much hope there we will be a third round.”
Syria’s warring sides met in a last-ditch effort to save deadlocked peace talks amid fears that they could collapse altogether.
The second round of talks already appeared to fizzle out on Friday, but UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi at the last moment invited the two sides to come back for a final joint meeting Saturday morning.
After days of discussions, the rivals stood further apart than ever, seeming to agree on only one thing: that the negotiations were going nowhere.
“We deeply regret that this round did not make any progress,” Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said after meeting Brahimi on Friday.
Opposition spokesman Louay Safi agreed: “The negotiations have reached an impasse.”
As the parties in Geneva failed to agree even on an agenda for their talks, the death toll mounted in Syria, where more than 100,000 people have been killed in three years.
A monitoring group this week that more than 5,000 people had been killed since a first round of talks began on January 22.
The United Nations warned Friday that more than 2,700 refugees had poured across the Lebanese border as the Syrian army carries out an offensive in the Qalamun mountains and heads towards the opposition-held town of Yabrud.
Thousands had already fled the town, but as many as 50,000 people were believed to still be inside.
In Geneva, the second round of talks, which began Monday, appeared set to wrap up Saturday with no sign of progress and it was unclear if Brahimi could convince the foes to come back for a third round of negotiations.
Washington, which backs the opposition and initiated the so-called Geneva II talks with regime ally Russia, voiced deep frustration Friday at the stalemate.
“Talks for show make no sense,” a senior US official said Friday.
US President Barack Obama vowed to push the regime harder.
“There will be some intermediate steps that we can take to apply more pressure to the Assad regime,” he said after talks with Jordanian King Abdullah II in California, but did not specify what such steps might be.
In an effort to inject life into the talks, both the United States and Russia sent top envoys to Geneva this week to meet Brahimi and the two sides.
But after a meeting with high-ranking US and Russian diplomats Thursday, the veteran peacemaker admitted that “failure is still staring us in the face”.
Washington blamed the impasse squarely on the Syrian regime, and chastised Moscow for not doing enough to push its ally to engage “seriously” in the process.
Regime representatives have so far refused to discuss anything beyond the “terrorism” it blames on its opponents and their foreign backers, and stubbornly insist President Bashar al-Assad’s position is non-negotiable.
They have declined to discuss the opposition coalition’s 24-point proposal for a political transition, or to consider Brahimi’s suggestion that the parties discuss the two issues in parallel.
Observers said the talks were hanging in the balance.
“We are in a dead end,” said a Western diplomat, warning prospects looked “grim” and that it would be tough for Brahimi to organize a third round.
Spokesman Safi said the opposition was appealing to the international community to “make a difference to push this process forward” but that a “pause” looked likely in the meantime.
Algerian veteran peacemaker Brahimi, who helped broker past deals in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq, has pledged not to “leave one stone unturned if there is a possibility to move forward”.
But the Western diplomat cautioned: “I would not assume he will stay indefinitely,” saying Brahimi might have “concerns about his own credibility” if he allows the process to continue like a broken record.
The ongoing evacuation of civilians from besieged rebel-held areas of Homs – seen as the only tangible result so far of the Geneva II talks – has been hailed as a relative success.
But UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos expressed frustration at the “extremely limited and painstakingly slow” process of getting 1,400 people out, given that 250,000 are under siege across Syria.
Syria’s deputy foreign minister Mikdad had sharp words for Amos, accusing her of an “unacceptable” failure to recognize there was “terrorism” in Syria and that it hindered aid operations.
Saudi Arabia has reportedly agreed to provide foreign-backed militant groups in Syria with more sophisticated weaponry.
Citing Western and Arab diplomats as well as foreign-backed Syrian opposition sources, the Wall Street Journal said on Saturday that the weapons include anti-aircraft shoulder-fired missiles.
“Saudi Arabia has offered to give the opposition for the first time Chinese man-portable air defense systems, or Manpads, and antitank guided missiles from Russia,” the journal said.
A Western diplomat with knowledge of the weapons deliveries told the journal that “new stuff is arriving imminently.”
Saudi Arabia has been the main supplier of weapons and funds to foreign-backed militants inside Syria.
The United States is also said to have stepped up its financial support for the militants.
Militant commanders say Washington has handed them millions of dollars in new aid.
Meanwhile, the Syrian army has reportedly arrested more than 80 foreign officers and soldiers, mostly from Saudi spy services.
The detainees include seven high-ranking Saudi military officers, 14 Qatari officers and 9 Turkish intelligence personnel.
The detainees are said to have entered Syria to carry out terrorist attacks.
French daily Le Figaro recently said that the weapons used by the militants in Syria are initially purchased by Saudi Arabia from black markets in Ukraine and Bulgaria.
The weapons, which include Israeli missiles, are then transferred to a number of cells on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, Le Figaro added in its report.
The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has renewed its call for the elimination of nuclear weapons across the world.
In a statement on Thursday, NAM labeled nuclear arms as a major threat and expressed deep concern over the destructive repercussions of the use of such weapons on present and future generations as well as the environment.
The statement said that using or threatening to use nuclear weapons was in contravention of international law, urging all countries to fulfill their denuclearization commitments.
It said that global nuclear disarmament is the first step toward creating a world free of nuclear weapons, stressing that the elimination of all such weapons is the only way to guarantee that they will not be used as a threat against countries.
Calling on world countries to respect international law and meet their legal commitments, NAM also urged an immediate conference attended by the leaders of world countries to discuss global disarmament.
It also urged the full implementation of a UN General Assembly resolution on nuclear disarmament, which was passed last year.
In December 2013, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a nuclear disarmament resolution that includes proposals forwarded by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as the head of NAM.
The resolution, adopted on December 5, 2013, calls on nuclear-power states to make more efforts to scale down and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear arms.
According to the resolution, non-nuclear states should be given guarantees that they will not be threatened or attacked by nuclear weapons.
It also calls on the General Assembly to urge all signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to follow up on the implementation of their obligations as agreed in the 1995, 2000 and 2010 Review Conferences.
The first of four US missile destroyers has arrived in Europe, an apparent move by Washington to challenge Russia that voiced concerns over the deployment.
The USS Donald Cook arrived in the Spanish port of Rota on Tuesday.
“For the first time, a ship of the United States Navy equipped with the Aegis ballistic missile-defense system is permanently based in Europe,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
“The arrival of the USS Donald Cook marks a step forward for NATO, for European security, and for transatlantic cooperation,” he added.
Three more American destroyers will also be joined the USS Donald Cook at the base in Rota over the coming two years. Other US destroyers are the USS Ross, the USS Porter, and the USS Carney.
The deployment of the four destroyers is part of Washington’s military policy in Europe that includes land-based Aegis interceptor batteries in Romania and Poland, radar in Turkey and a command center at the US Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany.
The Obama administration’s plans for increasing military presence in Europe have caused a major rift with Russia.
Moscow says the system is major threat to its own security and has threatened to beef up its own nuclear arsenal in response.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already ordered the deployment of short-range missiles to the country’s western Kaliningrad enclave, which is situated between Poland and Lithuania.
In a speech to the country’s Federal Assembly in December, the Russian president said that his country will not allow any nation to dominate it in military terms.
“We realize clearly that the AMD system is only called defensive, while in fact it is a significant part of the strategic offensive potential,” Putin said.