Germany’s election campaign: Martin Schulz has vowed to secure the removal of US nuclear weapons from German soil

Many readers will welcome the substance of Tony Barber’s Financial Times’ article (28th August: ‘Schulz taps pacifist tradition by playing the Trump card’) which prompted a search for background information.

In November 2016, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, announced that he would not run for a third term in January 2017 and was returning to German politics.

With EU Commission President Barroso (centre) and EU Council President Herman van Rompuy (left), he collected the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the European Union, honouring “over six decades [having] contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe”.

Eliminating clearly partisan phrases in Barber’s patronising commentary, we note that he reports, as the Germany’s election campaign gets under way, that Schulz, the Social Democrat (SPD) candidate for chancellor, has vowed to secure the removal of US nuclear weapons from German soil.

Barber reminds us that this is in the SDP tradition: fifteen years ago, Gerhard Schröder, SPD chancellor, at one election rally after another, insisted that Germany would have nothing to do with the George W Bush administration’s plans to invade Iraq, adding that ‘arguably’ history vindicated him.

He then refers to Schulz ‘playing the Trump card’ before election day on September 24th, noting that 92% of Germans have expressed disapproval of US President Donald Trump and only 5% approved of him. And according to the same poll, 21% of Germans said the US was a trustworthy partner, and 74% regarded the US as untrustworthy.

The SPD is also campaigning on a pledge not to raise defence spending to 2% of gross domestic product, the target to which all Nato states committed themselves in 2014 – but Angela Merkel pledges to reach this target. Surveys reveal lukewarm support for higher military expenditure and for German participation in combat missions abroad. In a Pew Research Center poll released in May, Germans were the nation least supportive of using armed force to defend a Nato ally, if it found itself in a serious military conflict with Russia.

Barber refers to Germany’s leading role in organising a financial rescue for Greece, striking a deal with Turkey to control refugee flows into Europe and negotiating with Russia over the Ukraine conflict but does not add that Schulz – when president of European Parliament – was described as being ‘extremely adept at delicate diplomatic missions’. He visited the Turkish President following the 2016 coup attempt and met Iranian President Hassan Rohani in November 2015 to “intensify dialogue” between the EU and Iran a few months after the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

So though polls give Schulz no chance of winning, many readers will salute his desire to move nuclear weapons from Germany, to distance the country from American influence and to restrict defence spending, coupled with the SFP’s traditional emphasis on social justice, We hope for an unexpected result – there are precedents . . .





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Misquoting William Wordsworth: “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky near a nuclear power station”

Marianne Birkby: “rainbow-wash to brainwash us all into embracing new nuclear” 

Landscaping by Worcester’s One Creative Environments (shortlisted) proposes to include earthworks shaped to represent the splitting of the atom, energy and particle trails and an outdoor science park, part of Cumbria’s Moorside nuclear power station  ‘to promote education and discovery through interaction with sunlight, wind and gravity’.

Inspired by the poetry of William Wordsworth two inspirational art sculptures, through the use of light and mist, will create rainbows over the development site.

Marianne Birkby (Radiation Free Lakeland), whose campaigning was covered last year on Political Concern, writes:  

“Remember back in 2015 when the then Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, said: new nuclear power stations must be designed to look beautiful to garner essential public support. Cue a competition by the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects and the Landscape Institute.

“The result of the beautifying competitions is a proposal for two glass towers using light and mist to make a rainbow over planned biggest new nuclear development in Europe”. ( 

“You’ve heard of whitewash and then greenwash, now the nuclear mafia has decided on rainbow-wash to brainwash us all into embracing new nuclear”.  Read more here:

Marianne has written to the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Landscape Institute asking if they will make a public statement clarifying that their design competition does not in anyway endorse the Moorside plan as clean and green. She adds that while many experts are opposing the building of three untried, untested nuclear reactors next to Sellafield, the world’s most dangerous nuclear waste site, it is unethical to present the public with this kind of propaganda.

She ends with a request for readers to write to the RIBA and LI and also sign the petition she set up (over 12k signatures to date). Her letter may be used; to see it go to




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The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been passed

“The world has been waiting for this legal norm for 70 years,” said Elayne Whyte Gomez, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the U.N., referring to the nuclear bombs the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 during World War II.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was officially adopted after months of negotiations by the U.N. General Assembly and many NGOs, with the Friday vote. It bans the development, testing, production, manufacturing and also the acquisition, possession, or stockpiling of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices.

122 countries voted in favour, including Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Brazil, South Africa, Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Iran, which reached a diplomatic accord in 2015 with the U.S. and five other world powers curbing Tehran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon also voted for the treaty. The Netherlands, which has U.S. nuclear weapons on its territory, was urged by its parliament to send a delegation but voted no and Singapore abstained.

The nine countries that have nuclear weapons — the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel — boycotted the talks and did not adopt the treaty, which does not technically apply to them, but strengthens the moral and legal case against using nuclear weapons.

In 2016 ICAN supporter Setsuko Thurlow  was named Arms Control Person of the Year for 2015 in recognition of her tireless work to free the world of nuclear weapons. As a 13-year-old student in Hiroshima when a US nuclear bomb destroyed the city, she welcomed the vote, saying survivors “have worked all our lives to make sure that no other human beings should ever again be subjected to such an atrocity.”

In a joint statement, the U.N. ambassadors from the United States, Britain and France said their countries don’t intend to ever become party to the treaty which “clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment” and is incompatible with the policy of nuclear deterrence, which has kept the peace in Europe and North Asia for over 70 years. The treaty offers no solution to “the grave threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program.

But we take heart:

Kate Hudson (CND) writes:

“The treaty is a significant pointer towards changing international attitudes to nuclear weapons. Previous treaties prohibiting chemical and biological weapons helped to stigmatise them in the minds of the public. Can you imagine being part of a chemical weapons alliance, as the UK continues to be part of NATO, a nuclear alliance?

“While we welcome the treaty, it’s important to be realistic. Given that the UK parliament voted almost a year ago to give the £205bn project to replace Trident the green light, it is unlikely that Theresa May will be signing up to the treaty any time soon. CND will continue to work with all our partners in Parliament and across civil society to oppose the replacement of Trident, as well as raising awareness of the treaty and the potential it has to bring about positive change”.




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No Need for Nuclear: The Renewables are Here – Conway Hall conference

On the Saturday 17th June the first anti-nuclear power conference in 30 years, No Need for Nuclear: The Renewables are Here was held at Conway Hall in central London, hosted by CND. Academics, MPs and industry representatives spoke at the meeting which started with a video message from Caroline Lucas MP, representing Parliamentary CND in New York at negotiations on a nuclear ban treaty (below).  

The danger that nuclear power poses to the general population

Those present heard about government sponsored investigations into the radiation related illness and cancers experienced by those that lived close to power plants. Despite the investigation known as KiKK which concluded that living near nuclear power plants was harmless, this finding was discredited as incidents of child leukaemia and other forms of cancers have risen by as much as 120% within 5km of power plants – when a plant is performing efficiently.

When the Chernobyl nuclear power plants malfunctioned the fallout reached the UK and further afield. Locally, flora and fauna in Chernobyl have been under duress for 30 years and an article published in the ISRN Surgery Journal reports: “Separate studies involving people who survived atomic bombs have shown that the risk for cancer remains high after 40 years, compared with the risk in the general population”. Economic costs are estimated to have been as high as $700 billion – and costs for Fukushima are expected to surpass this, taking into account the losses faced in shutting down the 50 power plants in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake/tsunami.

The presence of politicians at the conference was an essential part of the dialogue

It was noted that the new Conservative government has remained silent on nuclear power in their latest manifesto, and Labour continues to bicker internally on the subject despite the very public views aired by their leader.

Three Green Party representatives and one from Labour, facilitated a cross party debate which engaged directly with the concerns of the audience. This demonstrated the need to engage with these issues on a political level if we are to see beneficial changes in the future.

Speakers also highlighted the trade unions’ failure to recognise how many jobs renewables provide for the industry over nuclear, 16 times as many according to official data.

Projected costs for new nuclear programmes in the UK, like the one at Hinkley Point C, are estimated at €39 billion but likely to run higher. This, together with bankruptcies at Areva and Westinghouse/Toshiba and the indebtedness of EDF, raises questions as to whether these programmes will go ahead or simply be footnoted within public expenditure.

Renewables supplied 50.7% of power to the UK, a huge milestone towards a world free from nuclear power/fossil fuels

Many at the conference pointed out that nuclear power was on the retreat, and the argument for renewable energy gets stronger and stronger. Renewables were not only a quicker, more versatile alternative but their cost has nose-dived in the past 20 years despite the technology having improved leaps and bounds. So much power has been produced, for example, by wind farms that prices have fallen to 1/10th of their normal level. We heard how only a few weeks ago, the National Grid reported that renewables supplied 50.7% of power to the UK, a huge milestone towards a world free from nuclear power/fossil fuels.

A common theme was the planned phasing-out of nuclear power stations across Europe in Switzerland and Germany

One speaker demonstrated how between 300 and 4000 local energy schemes had been organised by co-ops up and down Britain, erecting wind turbines and solar panels in an effort to pick up the slack in the government’s position. With over 10,000 members and 500 local authorities these programmes are bringing democracy to the people, uniting communities and providing independence from energy corporations. Europe is hoping to reduce dependence on nuclear power, partly because of Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011. Germany aims to phase out nuclear power by 2022, and – after civil protest – the Austrian Parliament unanimously passed legislation to remain an anti-nuclear country in 1997. In May’s referendum, Swiss voters backed their government’s plan to provide billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy, ban new nuclear plants and help bail out struggling utilities in a binding referendum on Sunday.

As many eyes are on the second round of meetings to draft a Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, which began in New York on 15 June (see Roslyn Cook’s tweets) with more than 130 countries, supported by aid agencies, medics and faith representatives negotiating to outlaw nuclear weapons – we remember the link between many nuclear power plants supplying the nuclear weapons industry – another good reason for phasing out nuclear power.





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‘Transport’ tunnel filled with toxic nuclear waste collapsed in Washington state

Though this incident was widely reported we put it on record here in case any of May’s visitors (left) missed it.

The US Department of Energy declared an emergency after a ‘transport’ tunnel filled with nuclear waste collapsed in Washington state at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, home to 53 million gallons of radioactive waste.

The tunnel was reported to contain highly contaminated materials including trains that are used to transport radioactive fuel rods, with eight rail cars filled with nuclear waste.

The cave-in was discovered during “routine surveillance,” according to the Energy Department. Photographs showed a gaping hole, plainly evident because the tunnels are largely above ground.

4,800 workers were forced to “take cover” but officials said no workers were exposed or airborne emissions detected and robots were deployed to take more air samples.

Officials with the Department of Energy’s Hanford Joint Information Center said that before evacuation, workers turned off ventilation systems. In a video posted on Facebook, center spokesman Destry Henderson said that a 20-foot section of the roof had caved in and damage was later found to be more serious than initially reported.

The take-cover order was expanded to cover the entire facility after response crews found a 400-square-foot section of the decommissioned rail tunnel had collapsed: “This is purely precautionary. No employees were hurt and there is no indication of a spread of radiological contamination,” Henderson said.

Following the incident a manager sent a message to workers telling them to “secure ventilation in your building” and to “refrain from eating or drinking.”

A private contractor hired by the Department of Energy has been working on a $110 billion project to clean up 56 million gallons of chemical and nuclear waste stored in as many as 177 underground tanks there.

The Seattle Times reported that the day after the collapse was detected, workers began to fill the 400-square-foot hole.

Professor Rod Ewing (Stanford) a nuclear security researcher, said by phone: “How can waste be left in a tunnel? Whose idea was that? I’ve been to Hanford many, many times for conferences and things like that, and I don’t recall anyone saying that there was waste in tunnels underground. I can’t imagine why that would be the case.”

12 days after the report of the tunnel collapse, radioactive material was found on a worker’s clothing.  A contractor with Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), detected a spike in radiation levels on a device called a “crawler” that had been pulled out of a nuclear waste tank. “Established decontamination procedures were followed, which involves removing the contaminated clothing.

Those tanks were earlier reported to be leaking toxic and radioactive vapours and chemicals that have been linked to cancer, brain damage, and lung damage. There were at least 61 workers exposed to those deadly vapours last year. Experts have called the location “the most toxic place in America” and “an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen.”

Sources: Quartz, The Independent, Washington Post, Reuters, CBS news, Seattle Times





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BRITAIN’S NUCLEAR BOMB: Bruce Kent draws attention to the BBC’s jingoistic account of this costly ‘achievement’: at least menacing health – at worst fatal to innocent millions

BRITAIN’S NUCLEAR BOMB: The Inside Story 3rd May, BBC Four

In 1957, Britain exploded its first megaton hydrogen bomb – codenamed Operation Grapple X. It was the culmination of an extraordinary scientific project, which against almost insuperable odds turned Britain into a nuclear superpower. This is the inside story of how Britain got ‘the bomb’.

The BBC has been granted unprecedented access to the top-secret nuclear research facility at Aldermaston. The programme features interviews with veterans and scientists who took part in the atomic bomb programme, some speaking for the first time, and newly released footage of the British atomic bomb tests.


On 4th May, Bruce Kent, Vice President of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament wrote to the Radio Times (see 13-19th issue, p158):

The Inside Story? Actually only an inside story.

Too much was left out, especially morality and law, to make it anything more

No mention of Joseph Rotblat, the one scientist who refused to continue work on the bomb once he knew how it was to be used.

The bombs caused the Japanese surrender? No: As General Eisenhower said later ‘It was not necessary to hit them with that awful thing’.


It is actually possible that US determination to use the bombs delayed the surrender.  Prior to August 1945 the Japanese leadership were asking, via the Soviets, only for immunity for the Emperor.

Unconditional surrender was the Allied response. So the war continued.

But General MacArthur gave just that immunity once the bombs had been dropped.

As things now are we British have an ‘independent’ nuclear weapon which we can’t use unless the US lends us the missiles.




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This England? Odd sort of a country where those willing to vaporise countless numbers of civilians are defined as moderate and someone who prefers dialogue as extreme

(Extract from a satirical blog on another website- see full text here)

And finally, lest you missed it, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon appeared briefly early last week to warn yet again that Jeremy Corbyn is a threat to national security, with his opposition to spending up to £41bn on renewing Trident at a time of ongoing austerity and swingeing cuts to vital public services. 

Fallon added that both he and Theresa May would be prepared to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike (I dont think they meant against Jeremy Corbyn but Im not entirely certain).  

Odd sort of a country where those willing to vaporise countless numbers of civilians are defined as moderate, whilst someone who prefers the de-escalation of military tension through dialogue over unleashing weapons of planet-changing destruction is viewed as extreme.

First published in The





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