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WILL KERRY-EDWARDS REALLY CHANGE U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY?

By Christopher Bollyn, American Free Press
3 September 2004


The Kerry-Edwards campaign has staked out radical positions on key nuclear issues, which – if implemented – could mean significant changes in nuclear weapons programs worldwide.

When the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), spoke at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington on August 30, he announced several elements of a nuclear weapons policy, which, if put into effect, would result in radical changes in the United States.

Mordechai Vanunu, the nuclear technician who revealed the secrets of Israel’s nuclear arsenal to the world in 1986, contacted me with the news of Edwards’ speech shortly after the senator spoke.

Vanunu, who is seeking asylum in the United States after having served 18 years in an Israeli prison, is encouraged by what Edwards said during his speech entitled, “A Real Difference,” on August 30.

In the Wilmington speech, Edwards said that a Kerry administration would create a “Nuclear Whistleblower Initiative” through which the United States would provide asylum and protection for any scientist who discloses an illicit weapons program. “[W]e will create a ‘Nuclear Whistleblower Initiative,’” Edwards said. “We will send a message to those nuclear scientists: If you want to come clean and expose an illegal weapons program, then we will help you and we will protect you.”

This initiative “will ensure that any scientist who is willing to disclose an illicit weapons program will be given protection and safe haven in the United States,” according to an August 30 press release from the Kerry-Edwards campaign.

Vanunu, the most widely recognized anti-nuclear dissident in the world, has been prevented from leaving Israel or speaking with foreigners since his release from prison in April. Since then, Vanunu, who converted to Christianity nearly twenty years ago, has been living in an Anglican cathedral where he has the task of bell ringer.

Vanunu told American Free Press that he is in constant danger of being attacked and killed by Zionist zealots and does not venture far from the church complex where he lives. Because his life is in real danger in Jewish areas of Israel, Vanunu keeps to the mainly Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.

Since his release, Vanunu has been appealing for U.S. elected officials and members of the media to visit him in Jerusalem to bring attention to his case and help him leave Israel so he can start a new life in the United States. His appeals, however, have fallen on deaf ears in the U.S. controlled press, which completely ignores his plight.

American Free Press sent written questions to the Kerry-Edwards campaign headquarters asking if their “Nuclear Whistleblower Initiative” would extend U.S. support and protection to Vanunu, who has been living in St. George’s Cathedral for nearly five months and is in desperate need of asylum in the United States. By press time, however, there was no answer.

GLOBAL BAN

In the Wilmington speech Sen. Edwards also announced that a Kerry-Edwards administration would institute a global ban on the production of new bomb making materials. “We will achieve a global ban on the production of material for nuclear weapons,” Edwards said, “and we will establish global standards to safeguard that material.”

A John Forbes Kerry presidential campaign press release of August 30 states, “They [Kerry-Edwards] will end production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons by supporting a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty with real verification mechanisms.”

While the announcement of the global ban is the most significant aspect of the Kerry-Edwards nuclear policy, it received no coverage in the mainstream media.

Because “global” indicates the ban would be worldwide and comprehensive, AFP asked Kerry headquarters if the United States and Israel would be included in the ban on producing new bomb making materials. Again, there was no response by press time.

The process of building nuclear weapons has caused irreversible environmental damage to many places in the United States. Some 10,500 sites in the U.S. are contaminated as a result of nuclear weapons production, according to an Executive Summary published by the Dept. of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management in 1995.

The summary reads, “The Department of Energy – the federal agency that controls the nuclear weapons complex – owns 2.3 million acres of land and 120 million square feet of buildings.” Across the nation there are areas that are so contaminated that they are described as “national sacrifice zones,” meaning they will never be cleaned up, Berkeley-based geoscientist Leuren Moret told AFP. Moret, who worked at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, was the sampling database project manager for the Superfund cleanup program in the 1990’s.

DU CONTAMINATION IN INDIANA

One of the “national sacrifice zones” is the U.S. Army’s Jefferson Proving Ground (JPG) in southeastern Indiana, Moret said.

Hundreds of tons of depleted uranium (DU) weapons were tested at the JPG from 1984 to 1994, and most of it remains on, or in the ground.

Bill Broering, a retired nuclear technician, lives 20 miles east of the JPG and is single-handedly working to bring attention to the danger the DU contamination poses to the health of the populations in the surrounding communities. He has written and spoken with congressmen and senators since 2001 to “resolve this very dangerous contamination problem.”

In Madison, an Ohio River town 7 miles south of the JPG, there is little awareness of the danger the depleted uranium presents to the health of the community. Broering, who calls for the U.S. Army and government to clean up the JPG, delivered a short article about the DU contamination to the editor of Madison Courier, a local daily paper, on August 24. By August 31, however Broering’s 500-word article had not yet been published.

“There’s just way too much cancer around here,” Broering told AFP. He counted three neighbors who have leukemia or have died from it. The JPG is located only 50 miles southwest of Cincinnati, Ohio.

“It’s insanity,” Broering said. “They [the Army] make a mess everywhere they go and they don’t clean up a damn thing.”

A letter from Col. Edward D. Bishop estimates that “approximately” 220,000 pounds of DU were fired “against soft cloth targets” at the JPG.

“That’s a lie,” Broering told AFP. “Why would you test an armor penetrating weapon on a soft target?”

If DU munitions were tested on hard targets, it would mean that a large amount of the DU munitions had been aerosolized creating a poison gas capable of serious injury or death to anyone downwind of the JPG.

Bishop informed Broering through a letter to Sen. Richard Lugar in 2001 that about one-fourth of the DU had been recovered - leaving some 162,000 pounds of DU dispersed on 2,000 acres.

“This pollution is unacceptable from any health standpoint,” Broering wrote in his article. “What needs to be done is a total cleanup at JPG and monitoring of the water table around JPG.”

AFP asked Col. Nancy Ray if the U.S. Army intended to clean up the DU at the JPG in accordance with U.S. law and Army regulations. Ray had not responded by press time.

“Negative publicity,” Broering responded when asked why the local press seemed reluctant to publish his article on the DU contamination that threatens the health of the local community. “Think about the property values,” one resident told him. “What are we supposed to do,” Broering asked, “just forget about it?”

AMERICAN FREE PRESS


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