There could soon be "hundreds of Chernobyls" in the former Soviet Union because many of its older nuclear weapons are in an unreliable state, says a Guardian article of Feb. 9. A man who spent 25 years building atomic and hydrogen weapons, Boris Gorbachev, has told the Guardian that the arsenal's present condition is "catastrophic." Gorbachev (not known to be a relative) wrote an urgent letter to Boris Yeltsin about this situation but has so far received no reply.
One part of a nuclear weapon consists of a hermetically sealed ampoule, in which over time radioactive gas builds up and radiation inevitably escapes. There are tens of thousands of such ampoules in military bases all over the country, says Gorbachev. It requires a delicate operation to open and destroy them without letting the gas contaminate a wide area.
Gorbachev warns that the 500 specialists who know how the weapons were built are going to other jobs because the program for improving nuclear weapons has been wound up and testing grounds closed. No one else was allowed to share the specialists' knowledge, and there are no manuals.
"Within a year or two the problem will be unsolvable," says Gorbachev.
He also sees great danger of accidental detonation of the conventional explosives in nuclear weapons by officers "worn out by the shambles of domestic life" in the former Soviet Union. Such explosions would scatter radioactivity.
"Weapons are growing older, and with every passing year, the number of such emergency occurrences will grow," he said.
At its General Assembly, Jan17-19, the International Association of lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (1ALANA) cautioned nuclear scientists against violating the Nuremberg principles.
The lawyers' group will seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice in the Hague on the legality of the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons.
They believe that scientists working in nuclear weapons research and development could be-come liable to criminal prosecution as accessories to crimes against humanity.
International law forbids not only weapons but also tactics of mass destruction, says IALANA.
As a follow-up, IALANA will hold an international seminar this year on the Non-Proliferation and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaties.
For more information call 212 674-7790 or 212-953-9090.
The Alliance for Nonviolent Action is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with public, nonviolent actions and new educational materials. For information call 514-324-8282 or 461-2274, or contact the ANVA magazine, Subject to Change, Box 235, 253 College St., Toronto MST 1R5.
INFACT is keeping the heat on General Electric, a leader in the nuclear weapons industry, with the revealing video, Deadly Deception. Order your copy for U.S. $15 from INFACT, 256 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113, phone 617-742-4583. Video showings strengthen the campaign to persuade hospitals to boycott G.E. products, and will put a public opinion push on GE representatives, with whom INFACT members are arranging meetings.
To support Native Americans in marking their five hundred years of resistance since the landing of Columbus, a group of European peace activists have begun a pilgrimage across the United States. Called Peace Pilgrimage '92, A Walk Across America, it aims first to protest the ongoing oppression of Native Americans, especially through the dumping of radioactive materials and testing of nuclear weapons on their lands, and secondly to push for a Comprehensive Test Ban.
The walk began February 1st in St. Mary's, Georgia, home of a nuclear submarine base, and will end 4200 km West on Columbus Day, October 12, at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. A core group of about 30 individuals will walk all the way and others are invited to join
in. All participants must agree to be open-hearted and strictly nonviolent.
If you would like to participate, contribute financially, or find Out more contact Chris de Leeuw, VRJENDEN VAN EPP '92, A Sniderslaan 14, NL-5614 GE EINDHOVEN, the Netherlands, tel 31 40 448 780, fax: 31 40 440356.
Canada's former ambassador to the United Nations, Stephen Lewis, will take part in a New Democratic Party Task Force on Reform of the United Nations. It will study the mandate and Charter of the U.N. and review the functioning of the Security Council, Military Staff Committee, Secretariat and General Assembly. One focus will be the lack of democracy at the U.N.
The Task Force will seek ideas from academics, activists and the public. It will bring forward recommendations in June.
Senator Porfino Munoz Ledo of Mexico, formerly Mexican ambassador to the U.N. and Chair of the Security Council, and Swedish M.P. Maj Britt Theorin, formerly Sweden's U.N. Ambassador for Disarmament, will join Lewis in advising the Task Force. Peace and human rights activist Karen Ridd and a number of other activists and experts will also be members of the inquiry.
Creation of the Task Force follows NDP opposition to the Gulf War in January 1991.
For more information call Steve Lee at (613)236-3613.
By Frank Showler
For a number of years now, several hundred Canadians have deducted the portion of their federal income tax that goes to the military. They have sent that portion to be held in trust by Conscience Canada until it can be used for promoting peace.
Lest year, because of Canada's involvement in the Gulf War, there was a considerable increase in the number of Canadians refusing the military portion of their taxes. Yet the Supreme Court of Canada refused for the second time to hear the appeal by Dr. Jerilyn Prior. A lower court decided that she must pay the unpaid military portion of her tax, plus interest. The United Nations Human Rights Committee also refused to hear her appeal.
The legal process has made it clear that our objectives can be achieved only by amendments to the Income Tax Act.
To get such amendments, many more Canadians must claim a deduction of the military portion of the federal income tax, 8.5% for 1991, and write to the Minister of Revenue and the Minister of Finance stating why they have done so. Eventually Revenue Canada will get the money, but the more time and effort they have to expend to get it the more likely they are to understand the need for changes in the law.
If you are not in a position to withhold this portion of your taxes, you can still write letters to the government, to your M.P., to leaders of other parties and to the newspapers urging an amendment to the Income Tax Act to permit taxpayers to direct the military portion of their taxes to peaceful services. You can also work to get resolutions in support of such an amendment from organizations to which you belong, and forward them to government and your own
Ray Funk, M.P., Prince Albert-Churchill River, will be introducing a Private Member's Bill to permit the military portion of the tax to be redirected to the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security. This bill would be a good start. When you write your member of Parliament, ask him or her to support it.
Conscience Canada has pamphlets, flyers, articles, petition forms, postcards and posters, as well as buttons, stickers and T-shirts for sale. They also have a video, "Your Money or Your Life" that can be purchased for $15 and a donation for postage and handling. Order a package of these items from P.O. Box 8601, Victoria Centre P.O., Victoria B.C. V8W 3S2.
You can now obtain a copy of War Crimes, A Report on the US War Crimes Against Iraq, which contains startling evidence gathered from the 30 international hearings conducted by Ramsey Clark's War Crimes Tribunal. Contact the Commission at 36 East 12th St., 6th Floor, New York, NY
10003. Tel (212) 254-5385.
The U.N. Security Council is considering the creation of a rapid-deployment force under U.N. command. The peace-keeper's force would intervene early in conflict, with the aim of preventing civil wars. Cold war diplomacy has until now made such a proposal unthinkable, but Article 43 of the U.N. Charter permits it. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali will study the idea and report back to the Security Council in July.
By Richard Sanders
During the 1980's, Canadian universities received more than $80 million in military research contracts from Canadian and U.S. military sources. More than thirty universities received grants, but the top ten received about three quarters of the funding. The three leading recipients were the University of Toronto, nearly $14 million over the last ten years, then Queen's, $7.6 million and York, $5.7 million.
Figures compiled from the Project Ploughshares Canadian Military Industry Database.