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Nuclear Fundamentalism & Iran
Y ears from now, when historians look back at agenda-building for a missile attack on Iran, they should examine closely a story that took up the U.S.’s most coveted space for media spin—the upper right corner of the New York Times front page—May 1, 2005.
Under the headline “Threats Shadow New Conference on Nuclear Arms,” the article in the Sunday edition set a tone that was to echo in U.S. media during the next several days. The conference for the Non-Proliferation Treaty “was meant to offer hope of closing huge loopholes in the treaty, which the United States says Iran and North Korea have exploited to pursue nuclear weapons,” the Times reported. “Instead, the session appears deadlocked even before it begins, according to senior American officials and diplomats.”
But the Times could have led off by pointing out, “huge loopholes in the treaty” have been exploited by the United States and a few other countries to maintain their nuclear arms dominance. Instead of resorting to fuzzy euphemisms, the story could have reported that the U.S., Japanese, and French governments are so committed to the commercial nuclear power industry that they still insist on promoting it—and further boosting nuclear arms proliferation in the process.
For more than five decades, U.S. government leaders—along with countless reporters and pundits—have insisted that the split atom can be wondrous rather than just ominous. In a speech to the United Nations in December 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed a commitment to “atoms for peace.” He portrayed nuclear power as redemptive: “The United States pledges before you—and therefore before the world—its determination to help solve the fearful atomic dilemma—to devote its entire heart and mind to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life.”
One-third of a century later, the New York Times was in the midst of a protracted crusade on behalf of the Shoreham nuclear power project on Long Island. In July 1986, Jack Newfield wrote in the Village Voice that he had counted 22 different times when the New York Times had editorialized in favor of the Shoreham nuclear plants during the previous 40 months. As it happened, members of the Times board of directors also sat on the boards of nuclear-invested utilities and banks.
Grassroots activism was often successful when it challenged the utilities seeking to generate more electricity with atomic power. Along the way, activists pointed out that nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons share the same basic fuel cycle. The anti-nuclear movement warned that fervent efforts to export nuclear power technology all over the globe would lead to the development of atomic weapons in more and more countries. But enormous media campaigns on behalf of the nuclear power industry are still with us.
On May 4—despite the dangers of catastrophic reactor accidents, the horrendous folly of creating massive amounts of atomic waste, and the proven role of nuclear power technology in nuclear weapons proliferation—a New York Times editorial contended, “There is mounting evidence that damage from global warming may dwarf any environmental risk posed by nuclear power. It is therefore critical to keep nuclear power as part of the nation’s energy mix.” Such commentaries encourage us to believe that widespread conservation and renewable resources aren’t viable, as if the only real choices are a radioactive future or an overheated globe.
These days, there is ugly irony in the emergence of Jimmy Carter as an advocate for nuclear sanity. In 1979, when the Three Mile Island nuclear power disaster occurred in Pennsylvania, President Carter went out of his way to flack for the atomic-energy industry. Like his predecessors and successors in the Oval Office, he pushed nuclear power on people in many other countries. Now Carter is singing a somewhat different tune. In an op-ed piece that appeared in the International Herald Tribune on May 2, he warned: “Iran has repeatedly hidden its intentions to enrich uranium while claiming that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. This explanation has been given before, by India, Pakistan and North Korea, and has led to weapons programs in all three states.”
Meanwhile, Carter is suitably adamant about the importance of not allowing nuclear test explosions. “The comprehensive test ban treaty should be honored,” he wrote in the same article, “but the United States is moving in the opposite direction.” You wouldn’t know it from Carter, or from the U.S. media, but his Administration chose to jettison the appreciable prospects that a comprehensive test ban could have been locked into place a quarter-century ago.
When I visited the State Department early in the fourth year of the Carter presidency, an arms-control specialist asked me to turn off my tape recorder before he talked about ways that top officials at the government’s nuclear weapons labs were successfully sinking the test-ban efforts. Several months later, in October 1980, I summed up the situation in a Nation magazine article: “While proclaiming a desire to halt the nuclear arms race, the U.S. government has been quietly undermining chances for the most far-reaching disarmament treaty on the horizon—a comprehensive international ban on atomic bomb tests. The latest round of talks in Geneva ended in failure— with the United States’ tactics of delay drawing criticism from other delegations. No wonder: The Carter administration has caved in to the nuclear-weapons laboratories, which want to continue to test bombs and are opposed to a meaningful agreement that will stop the spread of nuclear weapons.”
In 2005, it’s bad enough that such history is scarcely on the U.S. media radar screen, while propaganda looms larger for an attack on Iran either by the Pentagon or by the U.S.-backed Israeli government. But in the present day, the hypocrisy of Washington’s righteous finger-pointing toward Iran is extremely dangerous. Carter has it right when he now calls the United States “the major culprit” in the erosion of the Non-Proliferation Treaty: “While claiming to be protecting the world from proliferation threats in Iraq, Libya, Iran and North Korea, American leaders not only have abandoned existing treaty restraints but also have asserted plans to test and develop new weapons, including antiballistic missiles, the earth-penetrating ‘bunker buster’ and perhaps some new ‘small’ bombs. They also have abandoned past pledges and now threaten first use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.”
The odds are good that if the Pentagon doesn’t launch a major missile attack on Iranian facilities in the next year or so, the Israeli government will—with a wink and nod from President Bush. Yet, unlike Iran’s government, Israel is not even a signer of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. With a nuclear bomb stockpile now estimated at more than 200 warheads, Israel is fueling the nuclear arms race in the Middle East. But, from the White House to Capitol Hill to newsrooms across the United States, the Israeli nuclear arsenal draws scant mention let alone criticism.
A former UN weapons inspector in Iraq who previously served as Australia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Butler, astutely wrote on May 1 in the Sydney Morning Herald that the U.S. government “can be expected to seek to draw attention away from its policies and actions by attempting to insist that the most significant issue at the review conference should be the potential breakout by Iran and North Korea.” Butler added: “In this context, it was remarkable to see the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, during his recent visit to President George Bush’s Texas ranch, call on the U.S. to take urgent steps against Iran’s nuclear weapons program—the intelligence on which is quite divided. Neither side made any reference to the world’s largest clandestine nuclear weapons program —Israel’s.”
The person who has done more than anyone else to inform the world about that nuclear weapons program, Mordechai Vanunu, left his job as a technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility before spilling the beans to the Sunday Times of London in 1986. The Israeli government promptly sent agents to kidnap Vanunu from Rome and take him back to Israel. As a result, Vanunu spent 18 years behind bars, mostly in solitary confinement. Since his release in April 2004, the Israeli authorities have imposed a travel ban along with other restrictions on Vanunu—and they’re threatening to put him back in prison if he keeps talking to journalists.
If Vanunu were Iranian instead of Israeli, the U.S. press would be hailing him as a hero instead of giving him short shrift.
Like almost every other mainstream U.S. media outlet, the New York Times has provided little coverage of Vanunu, so the U.S. public has scant knowledge of his real-life experience with truth and consequences. Likewise, the Times has little to say about Washington’s extreme hypocrisies while the newspaper and the government denounce certain other countries for their nuclear programs.
But the New York Times has not skimped on coverage that adds to momentum for a military attack on Iran. And evidently the newspaper of record is just getting started.
Norman Solomon’s latest book, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death , will be published in early summer 2005.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.