Scientists and former military officials discuss the global nuclear threat in an age of terrorism

01/26/04

"Three Minutes to Midnight" summit explores the drivers of a nuclear arms race

Washington, D.C., January 25, 2004 U.S., Russian and Asian scientists, former military officials and federal weapons laboratory representatives will offer a wide range of perspectives about the role of nuclear weapons in a post-Cold War 21st century at a conference sponsored by the Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI).

Among the topics to be discussed at the three-day conference are increased U.S. assistance and cooperation with Russia to strengthen safeguards for the 5,000 operational nuclear missiles on hair-trigger alert in the U.S. and Russia, which are prime terrorist targets. These missiles, fitted with nuclear warheads that would deliver 1,500 megatons of atomic power on intended targets in each country, are prepared to launch within three minutes of a computer signal.

"Unprecedented acts of terrorism are driving the American public's willingness to grant its government broad powers to wage war. Those attitudes, as well as intense pressure from weapons makers to use military force, an administration willing to use nuclear weapons preemptively as 'routine' instruments of war, and deteriorating and fallible early warning systems all pose a very real threat of nuclear conflict," said Helen Caldicott, M.D., founder and president of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute.

During the last three years, the Bush administration has made nuclear programs a high priority, with a significant increase in resources for the modernization of the U.S. arsenal, a reinvigoration of the national missile defense program, and increased militarization of space.

"The U.S. focus on Iranian, Libyan and North Korean nuclear weapons production is misguided, adds Caldicott. "The most troubling fact is that the U.S. is spending billions of dollars each year to maintain its vast nuclear arsenal and to prepare to wage a full-scale nuclear war with Russia its ally in the fight against terror more than a decade after the end of the Cold War."

The United States and Russia own 96 percent of the world's estimated 30,000 nuclear weapons. Other nations will be reluctant to stop their weapons production unless the two superpowers agree to de-alert their nuclear missiles and eventually eliminate their huge arsenals. Global collaboration is necessary to complete an inventory of the nuclear arsenals of all nations and raise the international standard of protection against collusion with terrorists or insiders.

According to the Center for Defense Information (CDI), the primary motivation for the recent allocation of $7.5 million for new and improved thermonuclear "bunker busters" is not to intimidate the leaders of "rogue nations" but to destroy high-level Russian nuclear command bunkers deep inside the Kosvinsky and Yamantau mountains. Moreover, the number of targets in the U.S. Single Integrated Operation Plan (SIOP) has increased from 2,500 to 3,000 since the end of the Cold War. (Source: CDI)

This level of spending for the global nuclear arsenal is unsustainable, and imposes great costs and risk to all inhabitants on Earth. "With each federal appropriation for new weapons and delivery systems, we are mortgaging our children's future," said Charles Sheehan-Miles, NPRI Executive Director.

Scientists, policymakers, military and medical experts, federally-funded weapons designers, journalists, academics and students will gather January 25 through 27 to address important issues, such as:

  • The rationale for de-alerting the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals
  • Terrorist threats to nuclear stockpiles
  • Stockpile stewardship
  • Accidental nuclear exchanges -- how a nuclear war could start
  • Terrorist and hacker intrusions into computerized early warning systems
  • The role of business, science and the military in nuclear arms proliferation
  • The medical and ecological consequences of nuclear winter

The objective of this conference is to provide a non-partisan forum of experts to share new information about the risks and costs of accelerating nuclear brinksmanship into the 21st century.

The Nuclear Policy Research Institute, founded in 2002, is a non-profit 501(c)3 research and education organization based in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, CA. Its mission is to increase awareness of the medical and environmental effects, both intended and unintended, of nuclear weapons, nuclear power and waste.

MEDIA ADVISORY

For January 25-27, 2004

A historic summit of nuclear opponents, supporters of nuclear weapons as a deterrent, and federal weapons lab designers will address the role of nuclear weapons in the 21st century on January 25-27 in Washington, D.C.

The group, many of them U.S. and Russian scientists and former military officials, will highlight the need to focus not on so called "rogue nations" but on U.S. assistance to Russia to strengthen safeguards for operational missiles on alert, which represent a prime target for terrorists to seize physically or electronically. In addition, this group will call upon U.S. and international leaders for a full inventory of the nuclear arsenals of all nations, addressing the deteriorating conditions of nuclear early warning systems, and raising the international standard of protection against collusion by a military or government insider.

The United States and Russia own 96 percent of the world's 30,000 nuclear weapons. Other countries will be reluctant to stop their weapons production unless the two superpowers agree to stand down their nuclear warheads on alert and eventually eliminate their vast arsenals. Urgent collaboration with Russia is essential to prevent a nuclear tragedy.

During the last three years, the Bush administration has made nuclear programs a higher priority, with the allocation of resources for the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, a reinvigoration of the missile defense program, and increased militarization of space. Addressing U.S. nuclear policy and programs should be the top priority of any political party's national security agenda.

WHAT: A summit of experts at Three Minutes to Midnight: The Impending Threat of Nuclear War

WHO: Dr. Helen Caldicott, M.D., President, Nuclear Policy Research Institute
Dr. Paul Robinson, President, Sandia Corporation
Dr. Bruce Blair, President, Center for Defense Information
Retired Col. Valery Yarynich, Russian Nuclear Command and Control
Professor Victor N. Mikhailov, Russian Academic of Sciences and Director, Institute of Strategic Stability
General Charles A. Horner, U.S. Air Force
Dr. Matthew McKinzie, Nuclear Research Group, Natural Resources Defense Council
Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Quaid-e-Azam University, Pakistan
David Mosher, RAND
Kim Campbell, former Canadian Prime Minister

WHEN: Sunday, January 25 through Tuesday, January 27

Sunday: Registration begins at 8 a.m.
Program from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.,
Reception from 7 to 9 p.m.

Monday: Registration begins at 8 a.m.
Program from 9 a.m. 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.
Program from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Student session, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street, NW
Washington, DC
The Blue Room, East Lobby

There will also be a wired press room available.

CONTACT: Dianne Saenz
Director of Communications
202.822.9800, ext. 602
or dianne@nuclearpolicy.org

For registration questions, contact Megan Peters at 202-822-9800, ext. 604 or megan@nuclearpolicy.org

To register online, go to www.3minutestomidnight.org and follow the links. There is no registration fee for working press. The only fee will be for the Sunday, January 25 lunch.

NPRI Summit
Three Minutes to Midnight: The Impending Threat of Nuclear War

January 25-27, 2004
Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, DC

Agenda

Sunday, January 25, 2004

DAY 1

8:00--10:00 am

On-site Registration and Coffee

10:00--10:10 am

Opening address--Helen Caldicott, President of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute

10:15--10:30 am

Gorbachev-Reagan Film, Courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Library, Presented by actor Peter Coyote

10:30--12:30 pm

Panel I: Ecological and Medical Implications of Nuclear War

10:30--11:00 am

Dr. Matthew McKinzie, Natural Resource Defense Council--Nuclear War in Russia and America

11:00--11:20 am

Dr. William Arkin, Center for Strategic Education--SIOP (Single Integrated Operational Plan)

11:20--11:40 am

Dr. Helen Caldicott--Medical Implications of Nuclear War, Moderator

11:40--12:00 pm

Dr. Alan Robock, Rutgers University--Nuclear Winter Update

12:00--12:30 pm

Discussion

12:30--2:00 pm

Lunch: Speaker

Bobby Muller, Founder of Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation--Reflections on the War Experience

2:00--4:00 pm

Panel II: Russian Panel--The Hair Trigger: How a Nuclear War Could Start

2:00--2:30 pm

Dr. Bruce Blair, President of the Center for Defense Information--The Strategic Nuclear Arsenal and The Dangers of Terrorism, Moderator and Panelist

2:30--3:00 pm

Col. (Ret.) Valery E. Yarynich, Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces--Russian Nuclear Command and Control

3:00--3:30 pm

Dr. Ivan Safranchuk, Director of the Center for Defense Information, Moscow--Russian Nuclear Security and Russian Nuclear Doctrine

3:30--4:00 pm

General Charles A. Horner, United States Air Force--The Role of Nuclear Weapons in a Post Cold War National Security Strategy

4:00--4:30 pm

Discussion

4:30--6:00 pm

Panel III: Nuclear Plans and Nuclear Targeting After the Cold War

4:30--5:00 pm

Dr. Janne Nolan, Georgetown University--Moderator

5:00--5:30 pm

David Mosher, RAND--Reducing Nuclear Risks: Dealerting Nuclear Forces

5:30--6:00 pm

Discussion

7:00--9:00 pm

NPRI Reception and Leadership Award Ceremony

Former Prime Minister Kim Campbell--Canada

The Honorable Ellen Tauscher (D-CA)

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) *invited

Ira Shorr, PSR (Physicians for Social Responsibility)--Senator Jess Trussme for President: "Because we can do better at looking more compassionate and being more conservative."--A Comedy Act

Bill Hartung, Director of the Arms Trade Project at the World Policy Institute--A Comedy Act

Monday, January 26, 2004

DAY 2

8:00--9:00 am

Registration and Coffee

9:15--9:00 am

Opening Address--Dr. George Woodwell, President of the Woods Hole Research Center

9:15--11:00 am

Panel I: U.S. Nuclear Laboratories and Nuclear Development, Post Cold War

9:15--9:20 am

Dr. Donald Louria, Professor and Chairman Emeritus, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Medical School--Moderator

9:20--9:40 am

Dr. Paul Robinson, President of Sandia Corporation and Director of Sandia Laboratories--US Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century

9:40--10:00 am

Dr. Michael May, Stanford University--Developing Bunker Busters

10:00--10:20 am

Greg Mello, Executive Director of the Los Alamos Study Group--What is Stockpile Stewardship?

10:00--10:40 am

Philip Coyle, Senior Advisor at the Center for Defense Information--The Role of Nuclear Weapons Labs in Sustainable Global Security

10:40--11:00 am

Dr. Raymond Jeanloz, Member of the University of California Weapons Laboratory Oversight Committee--The Viability and Reliability of US Nuclear Weapons Stockpile

11:00--12:30 pm

Panel II: Russian Laboratories and Nuclear Developments

Dr. Donald Louria, Professor and Chairman Emeritus, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Medical School--Moderator

11:00--11:30 am

Professor Anatoly Diakov, Director of Center for Arms Control--Non- Strategic Nuclear Weapons: Are They Needed and Can They Be Controlled?

11:30--12:00 pm

Professor Victor N. Mikhailov, Russian Academy of Sciences and Director of the Institute of Strategic Stability--Terrorism and the Nuclear Facilities of Russia

12:00--12:30 pm

Discussion

12:30--2:00 pm

Lunch Break

2:00--4:30 pm

Panel III: Manhattan Project and Beyond

Dr. Helen Caldicott, President of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute--Moderator

2:00--2:20 pm

Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation--Historical Overview of the Manhattan Project

2:20--2:40 pm

Greg Mello, Executive Director of the Los Alamos Study Group--Nuclear Weapons Research and Development

2:40--3:10 pm

Dr. John Burroughs, Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy--International Treaties

3:10--3:30 pm

Andrew Lichterman, Program Director of the Western States Legal Foundation--Hidden Drivers

3:30--4:30 pm

Discussion

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

DAY 3

8:30--9:00 am

Registration and Coffee

9:00--11:00 am

Panel I: Regional Nuclear Dangers

Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association-- Moderator

9:00--9:30 am

Dr. Robert Gallucci, Georgetown University--North Korea

9:30--10:00 am

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Quaid-e-Azam University--Nuclear Danger in India and Pakistan

10:00--10:30 am

Dr. Avner Cohen, Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland--Israel and the Bomb

10:30--11:00 am

Joseph Cirincione, Senior Associate Director of the Non-Proliferation Project, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace--US and Proliferation

11:00--11:30 am

Coffee and Tea Break

11:30--1:30 pm

Panel II: Understanding Nuclear Challenges: The Role of the Media

Stephen Schwartz, Editor and Publisher, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists-- Moderator

11:30--11:50 am

Bill Gertz, The Washington Times

11:50--12:10 pm

Walter Pincus, The Washington Post

12:10--12:30 pm

James Sterngold, The San Francisco Chronicle

12:30--12:50 pm

Tom Rosenstiel, Project for Excellence in Journalism

1:00--1:30 pm

Discussion

1:30--2:00 pm

Closing Speech--Dr. Helen Caldicott

Afternoon Session for Students

2:30--4:30 pm

ESR (Educators for Social Responsibility) and SANITY--Bringing Nuclear Issues to High School and College Campuses

In this action-oriented session, students will share experiences, develop strategies, and plan concrete steps for promoting awareness and activism about nuclear issues in high schools and colleges. Facilitating the session will be young people from SANITY, a youth group affiliated with Educators for Social Responsibility, New York City.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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