Nuclear politics

G-7 nuclear security summit in April

According to the Russia-based news agency Interfax, the G-7 leaders plus Russia are to hold a two-day nuclear security summit in Moscow beginning on 19 April this year. Reportedly, the summit would jointly be chaired by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and France's Jacques Chirac. Any activities planned around this event? Since the G-7 group consists of the United States. Canada, Germany, France, Britain, ltaly and Japan, it appears recommendable to launch particular anti-nuclear activities especially in these countries.

British contribution to the counterproliferation strategy

The second of the Royal Navy's Trident submarines. HMS Victorious, is believed to be carrying single-warhead ballistisc missiles intended to strike fear against any attempts to try nuclear blackmail. This is exactly what NATOs counterproliferation strategy is thought for. The British Ministry of Defence would confirm neither the precise content of the submarine's 16 missile tubes nor that it was heading for an Atlantic patrol. But the Govemment has previously disclosed that Victorious would be the first to deploy the new form of deterrent.

CND Britain condemned the deployment as "a dangerous turn for the worse". CND chair Janet Bloomfield argued that it ushered in a new era of gunboat diplomacy. "The trend in nuclear weapons and policy is towards smaller, more flexible and highly accurate weapons the Govemment believes will be more acceptable to use", she claimed. "It is a dangerous turn for the worse in terms of defence strategy and makes the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used - perhaps initially as a warning shot - all the greater.

For the Ministry od Defence accountants, fitting Trident with these weapons was also a convenient way of avoiding the 2-3 billion cost of providing the Royal Air Force with a new air-launched nuclear missile to replace its obsolete WE-177 freefall bombs - which are themselves being withdrawn.

Sweden: reclaiming used nuclear fuels?

On 22 February, the Swedish Environment Ministry said in a statement it was considering bringing back nuclear waste which was shipped to Britain 15 years ago. Between 1975 and 1981, 140 tons were shipped from Sweden to Britain in five separate shipments as part of a private contract between British Nuclear Fuels and the Swedish Oskarshamns Kraftgrupp. The waste is stored at Sellafield's plant. Enriching this waste material frees plutonium that can be made into nuclear weapons. This is not in line with Sweden's position as far as the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is concerned," the ministry added. it would now investigate to see if there was an altemative to enriching the nuclear waste and wouid be asked to persuade the two companies to reach an agreement on the waste.

US plutonium exports

In the past 50 years, the USA shipped nearly a tonne of plutonium to 39 countries, including Argentina, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, Unrguay and Venezuela. And it has acquired nearly six tonnes of plutonium from Canada, Taiwan, Britain and elsewhere. Figures showing the volume of trade in plutonium, which is used in reactors and nuclear weapons, were disclosed on 6 February when the US Federal Department of Energy unveiled records of all plutonium that has ever passed through US hands. The accounts put the total plutonium inventory - including all nuclear weapons and stockpiles - at 99.5 tonnes.

Nuclear politics