Spain cancels bombs sale to Saudi Arabia amid Yemen concerns
By ARITZ PARRA
Tuesday, September 4
MADRID (AP) — Spain said Tuesday it has canceled the delivery of 400 laser-guided bombs purchased by Saudi Arabia, amid fears that the weapons could be used against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The arms deal was originally signed in 2015 under Spain’s former conservative government, but the new center-left administration of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez plans to return the 9.2 million euros ($10.6 million) already paid by the Saudis, Cadena SER radio reported on Tuesday.
A Defense Ministry spokeswoman confirmed the report, but declined to elaborate. She was not authorized to be identified in media reports.
International rights groups have blamed a Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes and other attacks in Yemen for the killing of civilians, including children. U.N. human rights experts say all sides, including militias backed by the United Arab Emirates, may have committed war crimes in the conflict raging since March 2015.
The Saudi embassy in Madrid did not immediately respond to emailed questions and follow-up calls.
Sanchez’s Socialist party had promised to revise the country’s arms deals before the new prime minister ousted his predecessor, Mariano Rajoy, in a parliamentary vote in June.
As a longtime commercial ally of Saudi Arabia, Spain is the fourth largest provider of military equipment and weapons to the Gulf state, according to Amnesty International. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an independent global security database, says the United States, Britain and France are Riyadh’s main suppliers.
The Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, visited all four countries in April this year. Two months later, his government signed the purchase of five navy corvettes that a Spanish state-owned military shipbuilder has pledged to deliver for 2 billion euros ($2.31 billion). The contract had been in the works for years.
The sale was sharply criticized by Weapons Under Control, a campaign seeking to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia over its role in Yemen. The campaign, backed by Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Intermon Oxfam and Spain’s FundiPau, also wants to end exports of weapons to Israel, a country they accuse of violating international laws in Palestine territories.
The group’s representatives were meeting with Spanish trade officials on Tuesday to deliver thousands of signatures in support of their campaign, which also advocates for greater transparency in the sales of military and defense equipment that Spain shields under state secrecy laws.
A U.N. experts committee urged the international community last month to refrain from providing arms that could be used in the Yemen conflict, in reference to Western countries selling sophisticated weapons systems to the Gulf States.
The U.N. says the conflict in Yemen has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 22 million people in desperate need in what was already the Arab world’s poorest country.
Preventing Nuclear War: A National Campaign Emerges
by Robert F. Dodge, MD
A national collaborative grassroots coalition to abolish nuclear weapons is rapidly emerging in this country. The effort called “Back from the Brink: A Call to Prevent Nuclear War” started last fall after the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by 122 nations with the U.S. and other nuclear nations boycotting. The campaign endorses the Treaty and important protective policies such as ending the President’s sole, unchecked authority to launch a nuclear attack, renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first, taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert, and canceling U.S. plans to replace its entire nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons. This Call was crafted by dozens of organizations including Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Soka Gakkai International.
Nationally this effort is bringing together social, environmental and economic justice communities recognizing that their concerns are all connected and that there is no greater insult, impact or effect to each of these than nuclear war. Our families, children and communities have a right to exist in a world free of this threat.
The driving force for this movement has been the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons and the recognition that there is no meaningful medical or humanitarian response to nuclear war. It is fitting that in August, 73 years after the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6thand 9th, 1945 respectively that significant progress was made in the U.S toward the elimination of these weapons.
Following the U.S. Council of Mayors’ unanimous adoption of the Resolution at their annual June meeting in Boston where it was sponsored by Mayor Franklin Cownie of Des Moines, Iowa, the Los Angeles and Baltimore City Councils unanimously adopted the Resolution. Eleven other cities around the nation as well as more than 150 faith organizations, civic groups, and thousands of individuals have done so as well.
Taking the national lead, the California Legislature passed Assemblywoman Monique Limón’s AJR 33 in the State Assembly on August 20th and Senate on August 28th. This measure from the nation’s largest state and 6th largest global economy, urges our federal leaders and our nation to embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of our national security policy, and to spearhead a global effort to prevent nuclear war. The Call itself empowers everyone from individual citizens to organizations, communities and states to take action in the international movement to abolish nuclear weapons.
The rest of the world is speaking out for nuclear disarmament as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is being ratified. Once ratified by 50 nation states, it will ban nuclear weapons, just as every other weapon of mass destruction including chemical and biological weapons have been banned. Open for signature since last September, presently there are 60 nations that have signed the Treaty and 14 nations who have ratified it, the latest being New Zealand in July.
We the people of the U.S. must join this international effort. As the only nuclear nation to have used these immoral weapons and one who maintains 45 percent of the 14,400 global weapons, we have a moral and legal responsibility; as a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) we promised to work for the complete abolition of these weapons.
Nuclear war must never be fought and cannot be won. The only way to prevent this is by the complete abolition of these weapons. The existence of these weapons and the threat they pose is a threat that does not have to be. This is a threat invented by man and is a threat that man can eliminate. It is not a threat that will magically go away or that “they” will take care of. It is a threat that we the people must demand be eliminated. In a functional democracy, it is imperative that all citizens make their voices heard.
Robert Dodge writes for PeaceVoice, is a family physician practicing in Ventura, California, is the Co-Chair of the Security Committee of National Physicians for Social Responsibility and is the President of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles. Physicians for Social Responsibility received the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. Their international affiliate, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War launched the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in 2007. ICAN is the recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Tip of the Radiation Disaster Iceberg
By John LaForge
The World Nuclear Association says its goal is “to increase global support for nuclear energy” and it repeatedly claims on its website: “There have only been three major accidents across 16,000 cumulative reactor-years of operation in 32 countries.” The WNA and other nuclear power supporters acknowledge Three Mile Island in 1979 (US), Chernobyl in 1986 (USSR), and Fukushima in 2011 (Japan) as “major” disasters. Claiming that these radiation gushers were the worst ignores the frightening series of large-scale disasters that have been caused by uranium mining, reactors, nuclear weapons, and radioactive waste. Some of the world’s other major accidental radiation releases indicate that the Big Three are just the tip of the iceberg.
CHALK RIVER (Ontario), Dec. 2, 1952: The first major commercial reactor disaster occurred at this Canadian reactor on the Ottawa River when it caused a loss-of-coolant, a hydrogen explosion and a meltdown, releasing 100,000 curies of radioactivity to the air. In comparison, the official government position is that Three Mile Island released about 15 curies, although radiation monitors failed or went off-scale.
ROCKY FLATS (Colorado), Sept. 11, 1957: This Cold War factory produced plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons 16 miles from Denver. The accident caused 30 to 44 pounds of breathable plutonium-239 and plutonium-240 to catch fire in what would come to be known as the second largest industrial fire in US history. Filters used to trap the plutonium were destroyed and it escaped through chimneys, contaminating parts of Denver. Nothing was done to warn or protect downwind residents.
WINDSCALE/SELLAFIELD (Britain), Oct. 7, 1957: The worst of many fires burned through one reactor at Windscale, igniting three tons of uranium and dispersing radionuclides over parts of England and northern Europe. The site was hastily renamed Sellafield. Another large radiation leak occurs in 1981 and leukemia rates soared to triple the national average.
KYSHTYM/CHELYABINSK-65 (Russia), Sept. 29, 1957: A tank holding 70-80 metric tons of highly radioactive liquid waste exploded, contaminating an estimated 250,000 people, and permanently depopulating 30 towns, which were leveled and removed from Russian maps. Covered up by Moscow (and the CIA) until 1989, Russia finally revealed that 20 million curies of long-lived isotopes like cesium were released, and the release was later declared a Level 6 disaster on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The long covered-up explosion contaminated up to 10,000 square miles making it one of the most serious radiation accidents ever recorded.
SANTA SUSANA (Simi Valley, Calif.), July 12, 1959: The meltdown of the Sodium Reactor Experiment just outside Los Angeles caused “the third largest release of iodine-131 in the history of nuclear power,” according to Arjun Makhajani, President of the Institute for Energy & Environmental Research. Released radioactive materials were never authoritatively measured because “the monitors went clear off the scale,” according to an employee. The accident was kept secret for 20 years.
CHURCH ROCK (New Mexico), July 16, 1979: Ninety-three million gallons of liquid uranium mine wastes and 1,000 tons of solid wastes spilled onto the Navajo Nation and into Little Puerco River, and nuclear officials called it “the worst incident of radiation contamination in the history of the United States.” The Little Puerco feeds the Little Colorado River, which drains to the Colorado River, which feeds Lake Mead—a source of drinking water for 20 million peoplein three states.
TOMSK-7 (Russia), April 7, 1993: In “the worst radiation disaster since Chernobyl,” Russian and foreign experts said a tank of radioactive waste exploded at the Tomsk nuclear weapons complex and that wind blew its plume of radiation toward the Yenisei River and 11 Siberian villages, none of which were evacuated.
MONJU (Japan), Dec. 8, 1995: This sodium-cooled “breeder reactor” caused a fire and a large leak of sodium coolant into the Pacific. Liquid sodium coolant catches fire on contact with air and explodes on contact with water. Costly efforts to engineer commercial models have failed. Japan’s Monju experiment was halted in 2018 after more than 24 years of false starts, accidents and cover-ups.
TOKAI-MURA (Japan), Sept. 30, 1999: A uranium “criticality,” which is an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction, caused a “neutron burst” that killed three workers and dispersed neutron radiation throughout the densely populated urban area surrounding the factory.
Not to be slighted, deliberate contamination has also been enormous: Five metric tons of plutonium was dispersed over the earth by nuclear bomb testing, and other nuclear weapons processes; more than 210 billion gallons of radioactive liquids were poured into the ground at the Hanford reactor complex in Washington State; and 16 billion gallons of liquid waste holding 70,000 curies of radioactivity were injected directly into Idaho’s Snake River Aquifer at the Idaho National Lab.
John LaForge, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and is co-editor with Arianne Peterson of Nuclear Heartland, Revised: A Guide to the 450 Land-Based Missiles of the United States.