Kingston Peace News - May 2011

Our recent visit to Aldermaston

On Monday 11th April Gill, Hilary, Mary, Kit and I from Kingston Peace Council + Rhiannon from Croydon CND went to Aldermaston to picket Tadley Gate for 2 hours at late afternoon as workers were leaving. We put up our big banner and various placards such as “ Use your skills for Life and Peace“ and “ Is there no better way to use £75 billion pounds?” , and handed out leaflets. This was part of a 2 month initiative during March and April organised by Oxford CND to mount a presence there every Monday, Several members of their group were present, also some from Medway CND. As the cars exited we attempted to leaflet the drivers, but not surprisingly there were not many takers, though a few of the pedestrians and cyclists were more receptive Many passing cars and vans hooted in support.

Is this a worthwhile initiative? It is hard to know, but as we are so close it is good to support the actions of other groups who have further to travel.

Because of this we postponed our next visit to leaflet at Basingstoke – another Saturday date for this will be fixed soon.

.Jim McCluskey recently had this letter published in “The Guardian”

Your report today explains how the government is planning to water down its already transparently false assurances that citizens will not have to pay any of the cost of nuclear power (‘Loopholes in Bill could allow nuclear bailouts’, 5.4.11). Already we know that accident liability is limited to a derisory £140 million. All this is a tribute to the inordinate power of the nuclear power industry’s lobby and to the craving of politicians to centralise power in all its aspects. It is bizarre that this is happening as the Japanese government is discharging over eleven thousand tons of radioactive water into the Pacific, as independent analysts are saying it could take years to get the disaster at Fukushima under control, and concurrently the nuclear industry is assuring us, yet again, that the next generation of nuclear power stations will be much safer than previous ones.

Jim McCluskey Bsc, MICE. MIStructE, MIHT, ALI
.(Author of ‘The Nuclear Threat),


A snag with the 'green' agenda for energy is that it needs constant admonitions to use less energy, thus requiring the poor and vulnerable to remain poor and vulnerable in order to preserve the planet. Future nuclear power developments have the potential to address underlying global problems of poverty, population growth and fairness - an opportunity offered by using Molten Salt Reactors, a Generation IV nuclear power option.

On 1st February, 2011, the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced the development of Thorium Fuelled Molten Salt Reactors, a programme headed by Dr Jiang Mianheng whose father, Jiang Zemin, was President of the People's Republic of China, 1993-2003 Much of the scope of opportunities that arise from this is revealed in the published work of Robert Hargraves of Dartmouth College at .

A well focussed science and engineering effort during the 2nd world war resulted in harnessing the astonishing energy released by nuclear fission to create the atom bomb, the world's most formidable weapon. By the end of the war, the military - particularly in the USA - had a shopping list, namely (i) high powered compact reactors for nuclear submarines, (ii) plutonium for bombs, and (iii) a nuclear power unit for aircraft propulsion. All three items were delivered within a few years:

(i) the USS Nautilus, authorised by the US Navy in 1951 and launched in 1954;

(ii) plutonium production was incorporated in the Shippingport reactor - designed and built in just 32 months - which was the first (1957) full-scale nuclear Pressurised Water Reactor in the United States;

(iii) a light weight nuclear reactor was provided by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1950s in the shape of the Molten Salt Reactor.

Both (i) & (ii) were delivered under the leadership of the formidably effective Admiral Rickover. Hundreds of Pressurised Water Reactors - including those at Chernobyl, 3 Mile Island and Fukushima, have since been installed world-wide. After some improvements and widespread use, Pressurised Water Reactors are now available as Generation III reactors. Item (iii), the Molten Salt Reactor, although successfully demonstrated in the 1960s with an operating reactor, was sidelined in the 1970s by Nixon's focus on the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor that was expected to generate more plutonium than it consumed. Molten Salt Reactor projects in the USA were officially terminated in 1976. They are now a Generation IV option, but the established nuclear industry pays them as little attention as possible in order to protect their established business interests.

Insoluble problems of the uranium/plutonium Pressurised Water Reactor’s fuel cycle are associated with inevitable neutron damage to solid fuel elements. After about 3% burn-up, fuel rods have to be removed from the reactors and either disposed of or reprocessed. In either case, there is no good outcome and much expense. However, if fuel is in a molten rather than solid state, the problem of neutron damage to the fuel is addressed by means of routine chemical engineering. In the Molten Salt Reactor, molten fuel is 97% burned up, leaving very little waste and very little problem in disposal. There are several other significant advantages of Molten Salt Reactors over Pressurized Water Reactors: Molten Salt Reactors operate at atmospheric pressure; there is no risk of meltdown and they follow load and fail safe with no risk of a Chernobyl or Fukushima; energy output is at very high temperature for thermodynamic efficiency and follows load; they work very well with thorium which is easier to obtain, available for thousands of years to come, and is used without isotope separation or enrichment; Molten Salt Reactor operation does not risk nuclear weapon proliferation; there is little cost benefit of scale with the Molten Salt Reactor so rather small ones can be used, if required.

When sustainable and affordable proven thorium fuelled Molten Salt Reactor technology is implemented everyone – including the poor - will be able to use as much energy as they want. World population levels are an unavoidable issue if probable global warming is to be addressed successfully. There are clear relationships between fertility, and therefore population growth, and energy availability. A reasonable conclusion is that making as much energy - in terms of electricity and synthesized fossil fuels - available as can be justified by demand is the best way forward. It is also clearly a fairer programme than telling the poor to go on living poorly as a duty to the survival of the planet. I hope they will soon be seen to be a truly affordable , safe and sustainable option.

Jasper Tomlinson MA(Oxon) CEnv MCIWEM AMIMechE

HOWEVER – What ever you think about the above, the fact remains that far too little investment is being made in green technologies such as solar and tide, and we are fast running out of time to tackle the challenge of climate change. It seems impossible that the Government could be persuaded to embark upon a molten salt reactor programme in anything approaching a rapid enough timescale to be effective, and there would still be the problem of educating the public to accept it. It will be extremely interesting to see how the Japanese experience at Fukushima will influence the amount of public protest in Britain and Europe to the proposed rapid expansion of “conventional” nuclear power by the Coalition Government. (Editor – R.A.)

In the meantime, check out these websites for more information on the Fukushima situation, sent by Jim Clugston and Jim McCluskey:-

“...This is the truth about Fukushima from a highly respected physicist who refused Edward Teller’s pleadings that he work on thermonuclear bombs.”

Is $1.6 trillion too much?

Spending a lot less on weapons and soldiers and a lot more on ensuring the world’s citizens have food and homes seems pretty sensible to many people – not just to the thoughtful, well-informed readers of this newsletter. The 12 April 2011, however, was the first Global Day of Action on Military Spending ( ) aimed at making the link between the $1,630,000,000,000 governments managed to rustle up for military spending in 2010, and the problems they have when it comes to providing any kind of help for the one billion folk who struggle to survive on $1.25 a day.

Movement for the Abolition of War had organised an excellent meeting Welfare or Warfare? to mark 12 April. John Hilary, from War on Want, emphasised the link between capitalism and military spending. The US military presence across the globe is there to ensure the flow of resources to the United States. This underlines, of course, how very far the rich world is from being prepared to share these resources more equally. Another point John made was that British banks like Barclays and RBS invest heavily in the arms trade (see Banking on Bloodshed from War on Want).

War on Want has also done a lot of work recently highlighting the ‘privatisation’ of warfare which involves employing so called ‘private security companies’ to do jobs previously carried out by soldiers. These firms, like G4S and AEGIS, make huge profits but there is little accountability and their staff often act with total disregard for the security of local people. Instead of war being some kind of national cause it becomes just another activity carried out in the interests of a capitalist state and shareholder profit. Ken Loach’s latest film Route Irish gives a vivid picture of working in ‘security’ in Baghdad.

Lots of useful information was provided by Stuart Parkinson of Scientists for Global Responsibility. He reminded us of the bizarre fact that the UK is the world’s third largest spender on the military in spite of having around 1% of the world’s population and being on mainly friendly terms with neighbouring countries. “What about jobs?” is a question arms trade campaigners are often asked. Stuart emphasised that producing weapons requires a lot of capital and provides few jobs, whereas the provision of renewable energy and environmental measures are usually labour intensive and need much less capital. (The presentation is available and a copy might be helpful for KPC campaigners talking to MPs about the arms trade.)

Lots more excellent points were made during the evening. I’m not sure if there will be another Global Day of Action on Military Spending next year. I hope so and that this vital issue will get increasing emphasis. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” What President Eisenhower said in 1953 remains as true in 2011.

Mary Holmes

Today’s report from UN-watch TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) Tuesday April 18th

— The U.N. humanitarian chief said Monday that the Libyan government has promised her access to the besieged rebel city of Misrata, but with no guarantees that the assault by Moammar Gadhafi's forces would cease.A Libyan official said the government is willing to set up "safe passage" out of Misrata, the only city still partly held by rebels in Gadhafi-controlled western Libya. But at the same time, a witness in Misrata reported Monday that government forces continued to pound the city with rockets and artillery.

At least 267 people have been killed in Misrata, Libya's third-largest city, during more than seven weeks of siege, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said Monday. It said the final toll is likely higher. After inspecting impact sites and talking to witnesses, the group accused Libyan forces of launching indiscriminate rocket and mortar attacks on residential neighborhoods.

Rebels and civilians evacuated from Misrata by boat as part of an international rescue mission were taken off on gurneys or in wheelchairs Monday. One had a severely damaged leg with braces and bandages and some women carried babies. One of the rebels carried fragments of rockets as he disembarked in the rebels' de facto capital Benghazi late Monday."I brought this to show people what's going on there (in Misrata). Somebody has to do something about it," said the rebel, 38-year-old Ali Milad, who wore a long dirty robe and carried his belongings in a single bag.

The rebels have controlled much of eastern Libya, including the second-largest Libyan city of Benghazi, since early on in the uprising against Gadhafi that began in mid-February. Gadhafi loyalists have crushed other rebellions in western Libya, but have not been able to take back control of Misrata through many weeks of attacks.The Libyan government has denied firing heavy weapons, including rockets and tank shells, at the city, but has turned down repeated requests by foreign journalists based in the capital of Tripoli to go to Misrata. Journalists in Tripoli are not allowed to tour western Libya independently, without government minders.

Valerie Amos, the U.N. humanitarian chief, said she demanded in a meeting with Libyan officials in Tripoli on Sunday that the U.N. be permitted to visit Misrata and other towns to assess the humanitarian needs there. "I have been given those assurances," she said Monday, speaking in Benghazi.However, she added that she received "no guarantees with respect to my call for an overall cessation of hostilities, to enable people to move, to enable us to deliver supplies."

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the deal with the U.N. includes access for international agencies."The agreement is to provide safe passage for people to leave Misrata, to provide aid, food and medicine," Ibrahim said late Sunday. He did not explain how the arrangement would work or say whether this would include a halt in fighting. The Libyan authorities have insisted they are only responding to attacks by rebels, but not taking the offensive.

The battle for Misrata and warnings by aid officials of an increasingly dire situation there have turned into a test of NATO's resolve to protect Libyan civilians, as mandated by the U.N.

Hundreds of NATO airstrikes in the past month have neutralized the Gadhafi regime's extensive system of fixed radar sites and anti-aircraft missiles, and have destroyed much of the inventory of armored vehicles and artillery. However, the strikes been less effective in urban combat, including in Misrata, where they failed to push back Gadhafi's troops.NATO has said it needs at least nine more precision attack aircraft to do the job.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Monday that the needs of tens of thousands of civilians in Libya are not being met as a result of the fighting. The U.N. recently set up a humanitarian aid operation in the rebel-controlled east and said it reached agreement with the Gadhafi government on Sunday to open an office in Tripoli as well

Editor’s comment:- When Cameron, Obama and Sarkosy have said the aim is now to get rid of the Gaddafi regime, how can we expect to negotiate any sort of terms with his regime? And following the tragic death on 20th April of 2 press photographers,and other journalists injured, those on the ground are saying “where is Nato? -no sign of them.” (Radio 4 “Today”) I think we have taken the worst possible course –we have mounted an attack and engendered a great deal of resistance from the Government forces, now we have backed off as our attack has not had the desired effect thus leaving the local population in an appalling situation. And this morning (22nd April) we hear the USA are going to use attack drones! R.A.

KPC /CND Members on the TUC March.

A wonderful turn-out and a huge march. The only snag was that,- peace groups having been asked to assemble at HMS President which is not far from Southwark Bridge, we all ended up at the back! We passed Big Ben around 3pm, and arrived outside Fortnum and Masons around 4pm, in time to see the brave UKCUT group carrying out their non-violent occupation. Other marchers were already streaming back from Hyde Park, so we never made it there for the speeches.

CND was very pleased with the turnout and the fact that early on they ran out of Cut Trident placards and leaflets. They talked to Trade Union branch representatives and say that around 50 are keen to affiliate to CND. Bruce Kent and others stood on Waterloo Bridge holding a huge banner “Cut Trident – not Jobs, Education, Health” hanging down over the heads of the marchers passing below– the cheering under the bridge was deafening. There are excellent photos on the CND website.


From Non Violent Resistance Newsletter April/May edition.

The Freedom Flotilla 2 with up to 20 boats will set sail around end May 2011, the largest seaborne mission yet to try and break the siege of Gaza. It marks the first anniversary of the Israeli attack last year on the Mavi Marmara in international waters, resulting in the deaths of 9 and injuries to 54. Trained and experienced non-violent resistance volunteers required – see

Newsletter Editor for this issue was Rosemary Addington.

Disclaimer: It is the nature of a newsletter like KPN that views cannot be sought on everything that appears herein, so views expressed are almost never the agreed opinion of the group.