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North Korea conducts nuclear test
Mon May 25, 2009 12:25am EDT

“(North Korea) successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defense in every way,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said.

It added that the underground test “was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology of its control.”


TIMELINE:North Korea: climbdowns and tests
Mon May 25, 2009 12:25am EDT

North Korea is already under U.N. Security Council sanctions for its first nuclear test in 2006, which officials and analysts say was only partially successful.

Here is a timeline of the North’s nuclear activities and international attempts to contain them.

[ . . . ]

* April 25: North Korea’s foreign ministry says reprocessing of spent fuel rods from the pilot atomic power plant has begun.

* April 29: North Korea threatens to conduct nuclear test and also test an intercontinental ballistic missile unless the U.N. Security Council apologizes for imposing sanctions against it.

* May 25: North Korea says it has successfully conducted a nuclear test, raising the explosive power and level of control of its nuclear device to a new level.

Source: Reuters

(Compiled by Gillian Murdoch, Editing by Dean Yates)



October 3, 2002
Bush’s Curious Timing: NPR Reanimates Nuclear Testing Specter

This article first appeared in DefenseNews Jan. 21-27, 2002.

While stopping short of overturning his father’s moratorium on nuclear testing, U.S. President George W. Bush has catapulted the testing issue back into the political foreground with the Pentagon’s new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). Following the NPR’s release, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was at pains to point out that Bush “has not ruled out testing in the future.”

Although Fleischer and other administration officials are quick to say there are no plans to actually resume underground nuclear testing, the NPR calls for an acceleration in “testing readiness” so the Department of Energy would be able to resume such tests within a one-year window.

The question is, why? Why spotlight such a controversial issue at this time, when the Bush administration is seeking to win friends and influence people abroad, most importantly those in Russia, with its vow to downsize the U.S. nuclear arsenal?

The administration’s repudiation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, signed by 154 nations, already has caused consternation among many U.S. friends and allies who say the treaty helps prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

To be sure, the question of U.S. nuclear testing is something of a vampire in domestic politics, rising from the seeming dead on a regular basis. Every year the Energy Department and the Pentagon must certify the nuclear stockpile as “safe and reliable,” and that there is no need to resume the nuclear testing voluntarily abandoned by the United States in 1992. Every year since 1992, the two departments have so certified, and voiced confidence that the Energy Department’s “Stockpile Stewardship” program is capable of continuing to ensure this is so.

And nearly every year, a tenacious group of nuclear-laboratory officials, lawmakers and right-wing pundits seek to undermine confidence in the largely computer-based Stockpile Stewardship program’s ability to conduct that certification.

[ . . . ]

While troublesome, the delays in the non-nuclear test regime do not, as some have sought to claim, automatically mean there are problems with U.S. warheads, or that renewed underground nuclear testing is now needed. In fact, even before the 1992 moratorium, underground nuclear testing was not the primary method of certifying stockpile safety and reliability.

According to Sidney Drell, a theoretical physicist and long-time adviser to the Department of Energy, the weapon labs and Congress on Stockpile Stewardship, only about 10 percent of the 150 to 200 U.S. underground nuclear explosive tests of modern weapons from 1972 to 1992 were those on deployed warheads. Instead, the bulk of the tests were used in designing and proving new nuclear weapons.

[ etc. ]

A study released in January 2001 by the National Institute for Public Policy, “The Rationale and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces and Arms Control,” a group that reads like a Who’s Who of today’s administration and Bush’s informal nuclear policy advisers, argued for development of “simple, low-yield, precision-guided nuclear weapons for possible use against select hardened targets such as underground biological weapons facilities.”

Proponents of a so-called mini-nuke successfully spurred Congress to demand that the Defense and Energy departments issue a report on “Defeat of Hard and Deeply Buried Targets” in order to raise the issue.

[ . . . ]
The author, Theresa Hitchens, is vice president of the Center for Defense Information.



Facts And Figures

Next (10)
Chinese Nuclear Arsenal
January 21, 2009
Author(s): Brian Ellison
New CRS Report: “U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues”
September 5, 2008
The “U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues” report by Amy F. Woolf of the Congressional Research Service takes an in-depth look at the triad that makes up U.S. nuclear forces: Bombers, ICBM and submarine-launched missiles. The report examines the history of each delivery system, the weapons used and the future outlook for each, particularly in regard to U.S. nuclear treaty obligations. The report also looks at differences between the military services controlling the weapons systems, and congressional mandates to change them in spite of service disagreements.
Russian Nuclear Arsenal
July 30, 2008
Author(s): Eric Hundman
Pakistani Nuclear Arsenal
July 10, 2008
Author(s): Elliott BeckerEric Hundman
The World’s Nuclear Arsenals: Updated January 21, 2009
July 10, 2008
United Kingdom Nuclear Forces
July 9, 2008
Author(s): Elliott BeckerEric Hundman
Indian Nuclear Arsenal
July 8, 2008
Author(s): Elliott BeckerEric Hundman
North Korean Nuclear Arsenal (DPRK)
May 9, 2008
Author(s): Brian Ellison
U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments and Issues
February 25, 2008
The “U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues” report by Amy F. Woolf of the Congressional Research Service takes an in-depth look at the triad that makes up U.S. nuclear forces: Bombers, ICBM and submarine-launched missiles. The report examines the history of each delivery system, the weapons used and the future outlook for each, particularly in regard to U.S. nuclear treaty obligations. The report also looks at differences between the military services controlling the weapons systems, and congressional mandates to change them in spite of service disagreements.
GAO Report – “Nuclear Nonproliferation:  DOE’s Program to Assist Weapons Scientists in Russia and Other Countries Needs to Be Reassessed”
January 15, 2008
“Nuclear Nonproliferation: DOE’s Program to Assist Weapons Scientists in Russia and Other Countries Needs to Be Reassessed,” GAO Report GAO-08-189, December 2007.

[From – ]


North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Development and Diplomacy
August 6, 2007
The Updated Congressional Research Services Report.
Overview of Fiscal Year 2008 Department of Energy Budget Request
February 8, 2007
Under the direction of the Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, the Department of Energy has requested $24.3 billion in discretionary funding for fiscal year 2008, a 3.0 percent increase from the amount requested in fiscal year 2007. The National Nuclear Security Administration is seeking a 0.8 percent increase to $9.38 billion in FY 08. CDI Research Assistant Brian Ellison provides an overview of both agencies FY 08 budget requests.
Author(s): Brian Ellison
The Plutonium’s Not Going Anywhere: So what’s next for nuclear complex transformation?
December 6, 2006
Half of a decade of studies at the national laboratories has shown that the plutonium parts in nuclear warheads will be good for at least 100 years – nearly twice the previous estimate. WSI Science Fellow Haninah Levine asks where that leaves the Bush administration’s ambitious plans for the nuclear weapons complex.
Author(s): Haninah Levine
Emerging Nuclear Weapons Policies: An opportunity to increase dialogue
October 25, 2006
On Oct. 12 and 13, 2006, CDI hosted a collaborative conference to bring experts together to discuss emerging nuclear weapons policies in the United States, Russia and China. The presentations by conference attendees are now available.
Author(s): Victoria Samson



The Center for Defense Information
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Washington, D.C.  20036-2109

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For more information on CDI, please email –


Remarks on signing the Henry J. Hyde United States-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act of 2006.(Week Ending Friday, December 22, 2006)
Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents | December 25, 2006 |

(My Note – looks like this would be worth reading.)


Testimony of Dr. Rosalie Bertell

The testimony presented to the U.S. Senate, in 1998, by Sister Doctor Rosalie Bertell, on bealf of legislation concerning ionizing radiation, is as pertientnt today as it was then, especially as the 110th Congress wrestles with issues affecting Veterans in general and Atomic/Nuclear Veterans in particular.
Testimony of
Dr. Rosalie Bertell
before the
Unites States Senate Committee
on Veterans’ Affairs
10:00 am Room SR-418,
Russell Senate Office Building
Tuesday, 21 April 1998

My testimony addresses, in particular,

* Senate Bill S.1385 (Wellstone), to amend Title 38, United States Code, to expand the number of diseases presumed to be service connected with respect to radiation exposed veterans, and
* Senate Bill S.1822 (Specter et al) which would authorize the Veteran’s Administration to provide medical care to veterans who were treated with nasopharyngeal radium irradiation to prevent ear injury caused by severe pressure changes encountered in submarine and flight duty.

By profession, I am a biometrician, which is a specialty in mathematics applied to biomedical problems, and am qualified to design and evaluate epidemiological research. I have worked in the area of the health effects of ionizing radiation, especially at low doses and slow dose rates, for the past 30 years and have produced and published books, and professional papers,,,, on the subject.

It seems to me to be very sad that US veterans exposed to the cleanup of Hiroshima and Nagasaki more than fifty years ago, those exposed to radium implants, and those exposed to the nuclear weapon testing in the 1950’s and 1960’s are still waiting for recognition. The first book on radiation related cancer was published in 1912 – almost 90 years ago. It would seem that the disputes which have surrounded this issue involve much more than straight forward scientific investigation and reporting. I hope to show that the poor design of the research, specially that done on the atomic bomb survivors, together with an arrogance which claimed that this was the definitive study against which all other radiation research was to be judged, has left the Congress without answers to the most fundamental and urgent questions facing the veterans.

Since many of the veterans exposed to nuclear fallout and debris or unwise medical experiments are now dead, I think that government policy with regard to survivors should be as broad as possible. In particular, I support the proposed extension of the list of presumptive diseases which can be radiation induced. The list is eminently reasonable and should have been recognized long ago. I strongly support both of these Bills, and would like to see the guidelines for medical care even broader.

[ . . . ]

There are two major questions which I would like to address in this testimony:

First, dose reconstruction does nothing to prove or disprove that a veteran’s cancer or disease is related to their nuclear radiation exposure. It should be sufficient for a veteran to prove that he or she participated in a “radiation risk activity”.

Second, there are non-cancer physical injuries suffered by the veterans and their offspring which have not yet been recognized as indicating eligibility for veteran medical care

[ . . . ]

Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence that a limiting dose of radiation exists below which there is little or no risk of developing a cancer or other health problem. In fact, there is peer reviewed published research which shows that excess cancers have occurred at dose levels which are within the maximum permissible dose levels set for workers and members of the public. Setting such a cut off for a veteran’s eligibility for medical care is at best a subjective judgment, and at worst a deliberate ploy to pretend that standards are protective and to save money by denying the veteran health care. Radiation Protection Standards have never claimed to be health based, i.e., levels below which there is no harm. They are clearly the result of cost-benefit trade-offs, where the cost is cancer death and the benefits are social and economic. They are inappropriate for use as a criterion for government health care responsibility toward veterans!

“The Commission believes that this level (50 mSv or 5 rem radiation exposure over 30 years to the general public, an average of 1.67 mSv or 167 mrem per year, and 50 mSv or 5 rem per year for workers) provides reasonable latitude for the expansion of atomic energy programs in the forseeable future. It should be emphasized that the limit may not in fact represent a proper balance between possible harm and probable benefit because of the uncertainty in assessing the risks and benefits that would justify exposure.” International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) No. 26, 1965.

[ . . . ]

The probability of damage occurring when someone is exposed to ionizing radiation is 100 percent. You can see, by the enclosed picture of the living cell, its complexity. The electron micrograph of a plutonium particle exploding in lung tissue gives you some idea of the destruction wrought by one “nuclear event” in living tissue. The energy needed to break the molecular bonds in the DNA is roughly 6 to 10 eV (electron volts), whereas the energy release in just one atomic transformation of a plutonium atom is about 5 MeV (million electron volts). The energy from one transformation of one radium atom is about the same, and the energy of cesium 137 and strontium 90 is about 0.5 MeV (five hundred thousand eV). There can be no question of the ability of the smallest particle of one of the radionuclides to disrupt the chemical bonds of the DNA. The probability that this damage will cause genomic instability in the cells affected is still high, just slightly less than 100 percent (since some cells die). This renders the surviving cells more susceptible to cancer initiation at a later time.

In one nuclear transformation striking living tissue, we expect some cells to be killed, some to be damaged and then repaired or misrepaired, and some to be permanently damaged yet able to reproduce. The misrepaired cells, which then misfunction, and the damaged cells able to reproduce their mutated DNA, can later result in ill health or cancer.

[ . . . ]

I would strongly encourage the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in consideration of the US research failure to study biological endpoints of concern to the veterans, to extend radiation related medical care for all cancers and for the above list of other potentially radiogenic illnesses to all veterans without regard to dose reconstruction estimates. It is reasonable to presume that the genomic instability induced by radiation exposure left the individual survivor fragile in the face of normal environmental and life style insults, resulting in the observed premature chronic diseases and reduced quality of life. This is the least the government can do for the few survivors after years of denial of their injuries.

Redirect research money in order to provide relevant health information for veterans exposed to military technology. This would be more appropriate than trying to use the research into military effectiveness of specific weaponry, in this case, the atomic bomb technology, for evaluating the veterans health problems. The research goals and designs are different, and the information gathered by the military to evaluate weapon effectiveness is not appropriate for decision making with respect to the medical care of veterans.

This Committee, or a relevant Congressional oversight Committee of RERF, should strongly recommend that RERF make available to the Japanese researchers who are studying chronic diseases in the atomic bomb the survivors the DS86 dose estimates for those survivors. This would enable them to test whether or not disease prevalence increases with dose.

Require that administrative decisions of the radiation protection community, namely that only cancer deaths are “of concern” and that this cancer must be caused (not just promoted) by radiation, through direct damage to the DNA, be broadened to include the newest research on low dose radiation mechanisms and indirect or promotional causes of cancer. These are not scientific questions, they are discretionary judgments.

I would hope also that the Committee would revisit the question of genetic damage to the offspring of radiation exposed veterans. This is especially appropriate since the US Government has recently recognized such damage for the offspring of Viet Nam Veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

~ end of testimony ~

Response to Posthearing Questions

Concerning April 21, 1998 Hearing

For Senator John D. Rockefeller IV
Ranking Minority Member
Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs
From Rosalie Bertell Ph. D., GNSH
International Institute of Concern for Public Health

The best detailed critique which I have read on dose reconstruction was written by William J. Brady. He was a Security Officer at the Nevada Test Site from 1952 on, and became a Radiation Safety Office in 1956. Over the following 36 years he acted as radiation monitor, supervisor, reactor branch leader, laboratory branch leader, dosimetry superintendent, senior health physicist, environmental sciences technical advisor and Principal Health Physicist with the prime support contractor for the Nevada Test Site. His report, prepared for a conference in June 25-30, 1995, at the University of Lethbridge, provides detailed first hand accounts of various nuclear tests, the official dose reconstructions for participants in those tests and the errors he finds in those dose reconstructions. Between 1978 and 1991, Mr. Brady represented his company at the Nuclear Test Personnel Review meetings held by the Defense Nuclear Agency Headquarters. If you do not have his paper available I will be glad to send you a copy .

Using the DNA dose reconstructions, it would be impossible to distinguish between the real exposures of veterans reported as having one or two rem exposure and those having five or six rem exposure. The error bars for both estimates would most likely overlap, indicating that the difference was not significant. The probability of a veterans cancer being radiation related would not differ significantly between a veteran having a dose reconstruction estimate of five rem exposure and one having a one rem exposure. Therefore compensating one and not the other makes little sense, even if the measurements are accurate.

The mechanism of cancer induction assumes that radiation related carcinogenesis involves the breaking or mutating of the DNA in a cell, damaging it but leaving it able to reproduce its damaged self in an uncontrolled way so that an overgrowth or tumor forms. The energy needed to break the bond in DNA is roughly between 6 and 10 electron volts. Radionuclides periodically induce miniature explosions, which release energy. These events are called “nuclear transformations”. One energy transformation of one plutonium atom releases about 5 million electron volts, and one energy transformation of one atom of cesium 137 or strontium 90 releases about 500 thousand electron volts. This is more than sufficient to cause a cancer. Therefore, we know scientifically that one atom of these radioactive elements, properly placed in proximity to cells, can initiate a cancer. The organ dose from the nuclear transformation of one atom is not even measurable on the scale of rems or mrems!

The probability of cancer developing is related to the human response to the nuclear transformation event: the cell may die, it may be repaired or misrepaired, or it may survive the immune screening in the internal environment and go on to form a clinically detectable cancer or some other chronic illness. There is research which indicates that some cellular damage is too small to activate the cellular repair system, making exposures below this level more likely to cause cancer than those above the trigger point for repair. Human variability likely outweighs the direct dose effect at low doses. (The nuclear industry is using this observation to call exposures just above the trigger point “beneficial”).

The Radiation Protection Regulations merely try to “limit” the radiation related cancers, not to eliminate them. A certain number of cancers are assumed to be “acceptable” to society for the economic and social benefits of the activity. This does not mean that such tolerated damage to an individual should not be compensated!

2.     If dose reconstruction should prove to be unreliable as a means to determine compensation, can you recommend an alternative mechanism for determining the validity of a veterans claim of radiation exposure?

The simplest test of a veteran’s claim would be to accept the proof of participation in a service related radiation risk activity prior to the development of the cancer as determining the validity of the claim. In such a case, some veterans will be helped who did not have a service related illness.

[ . . . ]


(It is really worth reading all of this – it gave me many questions, as did the information posted above it. For one, I did not know that the Department of Energy was partly responsible for monitoring nuclear stockpiles or that they were jointly responsible for nuclear materials matters, at one point that makes sense and at another, it does not. And, did our military subject our soldiers to this – ” veterans who were treated with nasopharyngeal radium irradiation to prevent ear injury caused by severe pressure changes encountered in submarine and flight duty.” And, then do whatever possible to not cover their medical care? And, to not cover the medical care for conditions caused by being subjected to fallout  from atomic / nuclear tests in the 1950’s and 1960’s? – my note)


Rising unemployment raises threat of social crisis: World Bank
Sun May 24, 2009 7:27am EDT

MADRID (Reuters) – World economic recovery will be slow and rising unemployment could bring the threat of social crisis and protectionism, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in an interview with Spanish Sunday newspaper El Pais.

“What began as a great financial crisis and became a great economic crisis is now becoming a great crisis of unemployment, and if we don’t take measures there is a risk of a great human and social crisis, with major political implications,” he said.

[ . . . ]



updated 5 minutes ago

N. Korea fires short-range missiles off its east coast

North Korea has fired two short-range missiles from its east coast, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency cited an unnamed official as saying, one day after conducting a nuclear test and firing a short-range missile that roiled governments around the world. full story

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) — North Korea fired two short-range missiles from its east coast Tuesday — a day after conducting a nuclear test — South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing a South Korean official.

[ . . . ]

The firings came a day after the reclusive communist state conducted a nuclear test and fired another short-range missile.

“We should be clear that these are short-range missiles. They are in the realm of anti-ship or anti-aircraft missiles, not missiles designed to target cities or other country population centers,” said analyst Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis Group, which describes itself as an independent non-profit group committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.

The U.N. Security Council condemned Monday’s nuclear test as a “clear violation” of international law.

Even the North’s closest ally criticized its actions. China said North Korea “disregarded the opposition of the international community.”

[ . . . ]