Date: April 3, 2012
In late March, a week before this broadcast, leaders from fifty nations , including President Obama, gathered in Seoul, Korea for a summit on Nuclear Terrorism, ways of reducing the threat of terrorism given the amount of fissile material that resides around the globe.
Tonight we’ll assess the results of that summit, including the implications for the environment. Our first guest will be Alexandra Toma, who is the Executive Director of the Connect US Fund in Washington, D.C., a nonprofit working to reduce the possible nuclear terrorism and war.
Then we’ll talk with Paul Walker International Director of the Environmental Security and Sustainability Program for Green Cross International (GCI) and its US national affiliate, Global Green USA, in Washington. He is interested in the nuclear terrorism issue and is also concerned with the destruction and of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction.
Our Discussion with Alexandra Toma
Our guest on the phone from Washington is Alexandara Toma, Executive Director of the Connect U.S. Fund, which has a mission of “advancing a vision for responsible U.S. engagement.” She is also founder and cochair of the Fissile Materials Working Group, a non-governmental coalition of more than 60 U.S. and international organizations working to provide action-oriented policy solutions to keep the world safe from nuclear terrorism.
–In the first part of our discussion, we’d like to focus on the Nuclear Summit held in Korea last week. The press issuing from this summit was lukewarm at best. Could you please give us your appraisal:
…What were the initial aims of and hopes for the summit?
…Were there modest or major achievements?
…What were the disappointments?
–Perhaps the greatest concern with fissile materials at the moment is their falling into the hands of “terrorists.” Could you please explain what this risk is? Where is this material now? Who are the terrorists and what would it take for them to make use of it?
–There is equal concern about nations (rather than terrorists) developing and employing nuclear weapons, in particular, North Korea and Iran. What’s your perspective on those countries’ nuclear efforts and their long-range missile development?
–Both of your organizations, the Connect U.S. Fund and the Fissile Materials Working Group (as well as Ploughshare, for which you have also worked), have long recommended that the U.S. reduce is nuclear stockpiles. START calls for a reduction of nuclear warheads from 2200 to 1600 by 2018. Is that anywhere near enough? What are the loopholes in START? Does START address “rogue” uses of fissile materials?
–Please tell us more about your work with the Connect U.S. Fund. You seek “responsible U.S. global engagement.” What is that engagement? Is it principally military? economic? social? How do you hope to bring it about?
–And where does your work with the Fissile Materials Working Group fit in?
–How can our listeners learn more about your work in particular, and more generally, about ways of getting nuclear materials under sensible control?
Connect U.S. Fund, http://www.connectusfund.org
Guest Part 2:
Our Conversation with Paul Walker
Our guest on the phone now is Paul Walker, who is the International Director of the Environmental Security and Sustainability Program for Green Cross International (GCI) and its US national affiliate, Global Green USA, located in Washington. He’s part of an international effort to facilitate and advocate the safe and sound demilitarization, nonproliferation, and remediation of nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional weapons stockpiles. He is also a U.S. Army veteran from the Vietnam era.
–In the first part of the program, we spoke with Alex Toma of the Connect US Fund about the recent Nuclear Security Summit. A couple of weeks ago you wrote: “The Seoul Nuclear Security Summit must provide real progress in eliminating high-level nuclear materials, and the major nuclear weapons states, including Russia and the United States, must lead the way.” How well did our leaders do?
–Please tell us a little about Green Cross International and Global Green. You are “Director of Security and Sustainability”. One doesn’t often see “security” and “sustainability” linked together. What is your view of a secure and sustainable world? How can this come about? What sorts of attitude, economic, political, or military changes would be necessary to bring this about? [Impossibly broad questions, we realize.]
–We recently watched two classic antinuke films on late night TV–Dr. Strangelove and War Games–where military and political arrogance and bumbling nearly bring about the end of the world. Are such scenarios just relics of the cold war?
–We tend to think of nuclear bombs as the greatest threat to civilization, but you have long been concerned about other weapons of mass destruction and about non-bomb dangers of nuclear materials. Could we talk about (your choice of topics as time permits):
…The Chemical Weapons Convention and the destruction of chemical weapons supplies. [We've recently interviewed a guest on the destruction of chemical weapons at Umatilla, Oregon.] Is the world safer because of efforts to control and destroy chemical weapons? Are chemical weapons a terrorist threat?
…Biological Weapons. Officially, they have been banned since 1972, yet some countries maintain biological weapons programs. What are your concerns about bioterrorism? How are these being addressed by Global Green and Green Cross?
…Disposing of radioactive materials. There is reportedly enough nuclear material lying around to build 100,000 bombs. Can we possibly dispose of it in environmentally sound ways? Thoughts on Yucca Mountain
–Global Green has a much larger agenda than just weapons of mass destruction. Please tell us about some of its other projects and how they mesh with your immediate concerns with WMD?
We’ve been talking with Paul Walker, Directory of Security and Sustainability with Global Green USA. You can learn more about their work at www.globalgreen.org, where they have a number of excellent articles and blogs on the kinds of issues we discuss on this program.
1. Nuclear 3:25 Ryan Adams Demolition
2. Masters Of War 4:36 Bob Dylan The Freewheellin’ Bob Dylan
3. Nuclear Infected (Album Version) 2:16 Alice Cooper Flush The Fashion
4. The Great Mandella (The Wheel of Life) 4:45 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary
5. Weave Me the Sunshine 4:28 Peter, Paul And Mary The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary
6. The Invention of Nuclear Power 2:46 Peter Adams The Spiral Eyes
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