No. 23/2002

Dateline: September 5, 2002

This is the weekly electronic information service of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility

Editor: Tobias Damjanov, e-mail: 
WNII is archived at: http://inesglobal.org/archive.htm    
INES homepages: http://inesglobal.org       http://www.inesglobal.com/
INES International Office   
INES Chair: Prof. Armin Tenner    [Please note that the first "1" in q18 is the number one, while the last "l" is an "L"]

CONTENTS of WNII No. 23/2002

From the editor: Apologies for delay

Dear WNII readers, My apologies for the delay of this WNII issue, but I had been ill for more than three weeks. This is why this edition is unfortunately both quite lengthy and not very up-to-date. I shall issue the next one in a few days only.

Sorry for that but I couldn't help it.

Tobias Damjanov


Richard Falk and David Krieger: No War Against Iraq 
Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law and Policy at Princeton University, is Chair of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and Deputy Chair of INES.

The Bush administration’s apparent resolve to wage war against Iraq, tempered for the moment by conservative critics, violates the spirit and letter of the US Constitution, as well as disregards the prohibitions on the use of force that are set forth in the UN Charter and accepted as binding rules of international law. Article 2(4) of the UN Charter states: “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Nothing in Iraq’s current behavior would justify a preemptive attack against Iraq based upon self-defense as set forth in Article 51 of the Charter. Even Henry Kissinger has stated, “The notion of justified pre-emption runs counter to modern international law, which sanctions the use of force in self-defense only against actual not potential threats.”

The proposed war would also have dangerous, destabilizing and unpredictable consequences for the region and the world, and would likely bring turmoil to the world oil and financial markets. While certainly not endorsing the current repressive governments in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, a war against Iraq could likely produce militantly anti-American governments in these countries that would intensify the existing dangers of global terrorism.

We oppose on principle and for reasons of prudence, the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, by any country, including, of course, Iraq. Our position is one of support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a temporary expedient, while a good faith effort is being made to achieve the overall abolition of nuclear weapons through a disarmament treaty with reliable safeguards against cheating. At the 2000 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the nuclear weapons states made an “unequivocal undertaking…to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.” Unfortunately, they have not taken this or other promises for nuclear disarmament seriously and, at present, no effort to achieve nuclear disarmament is being made. US policy under the Bush administration has been particularly egregious in obstructing movement toward eliminating nuclear arsenals.

At the same time, the acquisition of nuclear weaponry, prohibited to Iraq by Security Council resolution, is not itself an occasion for justifiable war. After all, the United States, along with at least seven other countries, possesses and continues to develop such weaponry. There are good reasons for supposing that Iraq can be deterred from ever using such weapons, or from transferring them to al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. The government of Iraq, notwithstanding its record of brutality and regional aggression, has shown a consistent willingness to back down in the face of overwhelming force, as it did in the Gulf War and during the subsequent decade. As well, Iraq has had a general posture of antagonism toward political Islam, and as a radical secular state is a target of al Qaeda rather than an ally. The alleged prospect of a transfer of weapons of mass destruction by Baghdad to those engaged in global terrorism is either an embarrassing display of ignorance about the politics of the Islamic world or it represents an attempt to arouse the fears of Americans to win support for war.

It is necessary to take seriously the possibility that al Qaeda operatives could gain access to weaponry of mass destruction, and would have little hesitation about using it against American targets. Unlike Iraq, al Qaeda cannot be deterred by threats of retaliatory force. Its absence of a territorial base, visionary worldview, and suicidal foot soldiers disclose a political disposition that would seek by any means to inflict maximum harm. The US government should be devoting far more attention and resources to reducing these risks, especially with respect to the rather loose control of nuclear materials in Russia. Going to war against Iraq is likely to accentuate, rather than reduce, these dire risks. It would produce the one set of conditions in which Saddam Hussein, faced with the certain death and the destruction of his country, would have the greatest incentive to strike back with any means at his disposal, including the arming of al Qaeda.

The recent hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did not provide an occasion for public debate, as the witnesses called accepted as legitimate the goal of a regime change for Iraq, disagreeing only with respect to the costs and feasibility of a war strategy. No principled criticism of the strategy itself was voiced, and thus the hearings are better understood as building a consensus in favor of war than of exploring doubts about the war option. As well, it is regrettable that the hearings paid no attention to the widely criticized punitive sanctions that have had such harsh consequences on Iraqi civilians for more than a decade. The hearings also failed even to raise the critical Constitutional issue of authority to wage war, which vests in the Congress and not with the President, and requires a casus belli as defined by international law.

Granting the concerns of the US government that Saddam Hussein possesses or may obtain weapons of mass destruction, there are available alternatives to war that are consistent with international law and are strongly preferred by America’s most trusted allies. These include the resumption of weapons inspections under United Nations auspices combined with multilateral diplomacy and a continued reliance on non-nuclear deterrence. This kind of approach has proved effective over the years in addressing comparable concerns about North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.

We are encouraged by the reported practical objections to the proposed war by important US establishment figures and most US allies. Personally, and on behalf of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, we urge the American people to exercise their responsibilities as citizens to join in raising their voices in opposition to waging war against Iraq, not only because of its high risks of failure and blowback, but on principled grounds that this country upholds international law and respects the constraints of its own Constitution, and is respectful of world public opinion and of the United Nations framework dedicated to the prevention of war.

Iraq: Open Letter To United Nations Secretary-General 
The following letter was initiated by Edward S. Herman, Anthony Arnove, Rahul Mahajan and David Peterson, and has been forwarded by INES member Dr. Philip B. Smith

Open Letter To United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to Representatives of the Member States, on the Declared Intention of the United States to Commit Aggression Against Iraq

Dear Sirs and Madams:

Although the U.S. government openly plans a war against Iraq, U.N. officials and representatives have neither spoken out in opposition nor taken any actions that might prevent the United States from embarking on this violent course. The United Nations was created explicitly to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war" (Preamble, U.N. Charter) and "to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace..." (Article 1, 1). The U.N. Charter condemns unilateral attacks across borders when not justified by self-defense, referring to the need to fend off an ongoing or clearly imminent attack. Otherwise, it is obligatory to obtain Security Council sanction for any such military action. When a country simply takes it upon itself to displace a regime of which it disapproves by force of arms, this is aggression, described by the U.S. representative at the Nuremberg trials, Robert Jackson, as "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

The recent U.S. assertion of a right to engage in "pre-emptive" attacks on states, including Iraq, does not obviate these considerations--it is another expression of an intent to violate international law.

Claims regarding Iraq's pursuit or actual possession of "weapons of mass destruction" (WMD) cannot justify a U.S attack, any more than an Iraqi attack on the United States could be similarly justified based on the U.S. possession of such weapons (and much greater threat of their use). Existing resolutions that address this issue, such as U.N. Security Council Resolution 687, do not give the United States the right to launch a strike without specific authorization from the Security Council. The idea that the United States is threatened by Iraq's alleged possession of WMD is untenable. There is no evidence that Iraq possesses any long-range delivery systems, or that its leadership is so irrational as to be planning actions that would unleash the full force of U.S. military power on their country.

The United States also lacks clean hands on this issue, as it and Britain facilitated Iraq's acquisition and use of WMD in the 1980s--including the U.S. provision of high quality germ seed for anthrax and other deadly diseases--when Iraq was fighting a war against Iran and served U.S. interests. The United States also compromised the work of the U.N. Special Commission for weapons inspections (Unscom), using it for espionage and withdrawing it in advance of the U.S. bombing of Iraq in December 1998. More recently, as it seeks to preserve its rationale for going to war, the United States has rebuffed offers from Iraq to negotiate on re-admitting inspectors. Under strong U.S. and British pressure the U.N. imposed and has maintained sanctions on Iraq for the past dozen years in the alleged interest of preventing Iraq's acquisition of WMD. But the price of those sanctions has been paid by millions of innocent civilians, not the regime or its leaders. The embargo has made it difficult for Iraq to recover from the 1991 Gulf War, undermining its ability to rebuild sanitation and water treatment systems targeted and destroyed by U.S. bombing. That deliberate bombing violated Article 54 of the 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Convention.

Although then-President George Bush stated in 1991 that "we do not seek...to punish the Iraqi people for the decisions and policies of their leaders...[and] we are doing everything possible and with great success to minimize collateral damage" (New York Times, Feb. 6, 1991), the necessarily devastating effects of such bombing on civilians were understood at the time and in fact intended by U.S. planners. The Washington Post reported shortly after the war that "Planners now say their intent was to destroy or damage valuable facilities that Baghdad could not repair without foreign assistance" (June 23, 1991). It is now known that these included water treatment facilities, whose absence was understood to "lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease" (Defense Intelligence Agency, "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities," Jan. 21, 1991, quoted in Thomas Nagy, "The Secret Behind the Sanctions: How the U.S. Intentionally Destroyed Iraq's Water Supply," The Progressive, Sept. 2001). Wrecking these facilities and preventing their repair or replacement would give greater bargaining leverage by intensifying the adverse effects of sanctions on civilian welfare. As is pointed out in the report recently issued by over a dozen church and human rights groups, "Iraq Sanctions: Humanitarian Implications and Options for the Future" (Aug. 6, 2002), "The 1977 Protocols to the Geneva Conventions on the laws of war include a prohibition of economic sieges against civilians as a method of warfare." In their actions involving Iraq, the United States, Britain, and the United Nations have violated these laws of war in a historically unprecedented manner. In an article in Foreign Affairs ("Sanctions of Mass Destruction," 78: 3 [May/June 1999]), John and Karl Mueller contend that "economic sanctions may well have been a necessary cause of the deaths of more people in Iraq than have been slain by all so-called weapons of mass destruction throughout history." The United Nations Children's Fund has documented an increase in the under-five child mortality rate in Iraq from 56 to 131 per thousand in the sanction years 1990-1998, with an estimated child death toll of several hundred thousand.

Having contributed to these mass deaths through economic warfare, the United Nations now remains silent in the face of an openly planned war of aggression against Iraq. The war will be bloody and will have much wider, potentially disastrous, repercussions. If the Secretary-General and members of the United Nations do not speak out, oppose, and attempt to stop what would be flagrant aggression, will it not be clear that the United Nations is not an institution serving to prevent war but rather a political instrument of the United States and selected allies?

We urge the UN Secretary-General and U.N. members to act now or stand condemned as accomplices of aggression, in defiance of both the clear language of the U.N. Charter and the desires of the vast majority of the world's people.

One year after September 11

UK: Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) Newsletter No. 25/August 2002

The latest SGR Newsletter carries the following articles:

plus the columns Book Reviews, Letters, and Events.

To receive a copy of the SGR Newsletter, contact the SGR Administrator Kate Maloney: < >
Previous issues of the "SGR Newsletter" can be found at: http://www.sgr.org.uk/newsletter.html 

 "An Ethical Career in Science and Technology?"

This is the title of a new booklet from the UK Scientists for Global Responsibility, published in association with The Martin Ryle Trust.

About the contents:

There is a growing concern that more and more career paths are geared toward serving either narrow economic or military objectives and, in doing so, are actually undermining social justice and conflicting with environmental sustainability. Whilst a lot of work is currently focused on this particular problem, there is little publicly available material for those who share these concerns and want to make informed, ethical choices regarding their careers in science and technology. Forwarded by Joseph Rotblat and edited by Stuart Parkinson and Vanessa Spedding, the new booklet is intended to help fill this gap.

Copy costs: 5 Pound Sterling + 1p&p Contact:  


Abolition 2000 homepage: http://www.abolition2000.org  Grassroots News: http://www.napf.org/abolition2000/news/  

US conducts subcritical nuclear test

On 29 August, the United States has successfully conducted its 18th subcritical nuclear experiment at an underground test site in Nevada, the US Energy Department said. The test was the fifth since President George W Bush came to office in January last year.

The test, called Mario, was "designed to answer questions about ejecta and spall associated with plutonium," the department said. Ejecta is a forceful spray of particles propelled from a material's surface when it is compressed by a powerful shock wave, while spall is the breakup of material from the explosive shock wave reflected back from the surface.


WSSD coverage

Gorbachev, Menchu Tum, Other Nobel Peace Laureates Release Johannesburg Declaration as Alternative Summit Vision (Source: Global Green USA, 3 Sep 02)

Green Cross International President Mikhail Gorbachev was joined by other Nobel Peace Laureates in calling upon the world’s political, business, and civil society leaders to rapidly take action to stem the earth’s environmental degradation and place the whole of humanity on the path to sustainable development.

"A gathering of the world’s leaders to combat the earth’s growing environmental and economic development problems is an opportunity for action that must not be squandered," said Mikhail Gorbachev. "If we fail to act decisively and strongly, we will be judged harshly by future generations. We should win the battle for the planet."

Gorbachev released the "Johannesburg Declaration" with fellow Nobel Laureates and Mayors from across the planet representing millions of citizens. The Declaration calls on the Summit to take swift and resolute action in the areas of water, energy, and the acceptance of a new code of ethics for sustainable development. Given the lack of commitments, targets, and timetables in the WSSD plan of implementation, the signatories of the Johannesburg Declaration hope that governments, business, and civil society will not escape their responsibility to set the world firmly on the path to a sustainable future.

The Johannesburg Declaration "Battle for the Planet" is available from the WNII Editor as an rtf-formatted email attachment.

UK Scientists for Global Responsibility: Scientists and Indigenous Peoples Call for Responsible Use of Knowledge (SGR Press Release, 27 Aug 02)

One of the world's largest network of scientists has joined with third world and indigenous peoples' representatives to launch a discussion on a comprehensive 'Convention on Knowledge' [1] expressing commitment to "develop and use knowledge, ethically, responsibly, for the good of all."

The launch is to take place at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. The organisations are, Institute of Science in Society (ISIS), Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES), Third World Network (TWN) and Tebtebba Foundation (International Centre for Research, Education and Capacity Building for Indigenous Peoples).

INES is a network of more than 90 organisations in some 40 countries, and includes a trade union of 1.5 million members. It represents the one of the largest collection of scientists in the world.

The paper originated with Mae-Wan Ho, director and co-founder of ISIS, but many have contributed to it since. The first draft was produced after she attended the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in February this year and was struck by how the fifty thousand gathered there, with one voice, opposed neo-liberal economic globalisation and called for a new model of world governance and finance. "I thought it was time to change the dominant knowledge system, which is ripe for changing any way," she says, "I was overjoyed and surprised by the enthusiastic response, first from fellow scientists and then, most importantly, from third world and indigenous peoples' representatives."

It shows that the many scientists, like ordinary citizens, are deeply concerned about science and what science and technology are doing to our world. These range from the destruction of the global ecosystem, the hazards of genetic engineering and threat of eugenics, science serving aggressive military ends, to the commercialisation of science, the privatisation of knowledge, the role of science and technology in creating inequality and conflict, and the destruction of indigenous knowledge systems.

"It contains everything we have been working for!" says Reiner Braun of INES, "We have been involved in promoting international peace, ethics, justice and sustainable development as scientists."

The concerns are widely shared by people living in Third World countries. "The poor bear the brunt of the destructive impacts of bad science and technology," says Martin Khor, director of the TWN, "whether it be climate change, or environmental degradation created by intensive agriculture, chemical and biological pollution."  The paper is the start of "a dialogue that will lead to greater sustainability."

Vicki Tauli-Corpuz, director of Tebtebba Foundation, is calling for people everywhere to support the paper and to "get involved in its principles and ideas," to "stop the improper use of science and promote indigenous knowledge and holistic science."

"It is a very useful and important document, and we definitely need something like this," says Eva Notvotny, "We in SGR promote the ethical practice and use of science and technology, and this is a further step for this work."


Appeal of The Americas in Favor of Peace and Against Military Aggression and Terrorism

The following Appeal has been disseminated by the Mexico City-based Latin American Circle for International Studies (LACIS):

We, intellectuals, media workers, academics, researchers, legislators, public figures, activists in non-governmental organizations, women and men of good will of the Americas, have signed this appeal in favor of peace and against military aggression and terrorism of any kind.

We are deeply concerned that in the name of the fight against terrorism, the government of the United States, its European allies and Israel, are preparing an unjust and unjustifiable war against the people of Iraq, under the pretext of putting an end to Saddam's Hussein’s regime, which is conveniently - and falsely - characterized as an ally of the international terrorist network Al Qaeda.

It is the people of Iraq who have undergone unspeakable suffering in the previous aggressive campaigns waged by the United States and its allies, while Saddam Hussein and his clique enjoy power and personal well-being. We also wish to express our great concern that, in the name of a supposed new strategic doctrine, President George W. Bush’s government claims the right to militarily attack –including with weapons of mass destruction- countries that have such arms in their arsenals or - in the opinion of Washington - have capacity to be able to have them. In such a situation, the world would be defenseless vis-a-vis the United States and at the mercy of the pronouncements, phobias, and speculations of those who hold power in that nation.

Finally, we call on our colleagues the world over to support this appeal and make the voices of men and women of good will heard in the face of the aggressive and terrorist intentions of the United States and its allies.

For more, contact LACIS via: < >

World Civil Society Forum: Reports (Source: International Peace Bureau)

Reports of the World Civil Society Forum which was held in Geneva, 14-19 July 2002 (see also WNII 14/2002), are now available at: http://www.worldcivilsociety.org/onlinenews/ 


No new or changed email or web addresses in this issue.  All INES e-mail addresses and homepages are available upon request from:  

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