Dateline: July 22, 2003

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

Editor: Tobias Damjanov, e-mail: 
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CONTENTS of WNII No. 23/2003


Annan's Iraq-Related Report (Source: Posting by Nathaniel Hurd, Consultant on Iraq policy, 21 July 03)

On 21 July, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan publicly released his report on Special Representative for Iraq Sergio de Mello's activities, per the terms of Security Council resolution 1483 (see WNII 17/2003). The report is 23 pages long and written in accessible, non-technical language. Its contents go well beyond reporting de Mello's/the UN's activities, and includes numerous useful recommendations, and details regarding the situation on the ground in Iraq.

You may find the report (S/2003/715, 17 July 2003) at: http://www.un.org/docs/sc/sgrep03.html .  Click on the blue S/2003/715 in the left hand column. You will then be redirected to the report.

Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) UK: Statement on Dr David Kelly (Source: SGR Press Release, 24 July 03)

As an organisation of ethically-concerned scientists, SGR is deeply saddened by the death of Dr David Kelly, the biological weapons expert, and in particular by the circumstances of his death.

It seems clear that Dr Kelly had major doubts about how the scientific information on biological weapons that he and others had supplied was being used by Government ministers to justify a war against Iraq. It is also clear that he expressed those doubts to outsiders, including journalists, and consequently when he admitted this to his superiors, he was put under intolerable pressure.

SGR firmly believes that whistle-blowing scientists such as Dr Kelly have a right, even a duty, to point out where their work is being misused by powerful interests. Further, they should be supported and protected for doing this, not put under extreme personal pressure.

This is especially important when technical information is used as the basis for decisions of international importance, e.g. taking the country to war. Given the revelations over the falsehood of a possible '45 minute' chemical weapons launch, the forged documents on uranium purchases for Niger, and the lack of discovery of WMD on the ground, we can only conclude that Dr Kelly's death is the latest in a series resulting from the invasion of Iraq.

SGR supports calls for the judicial inquiry under Lord Hutton to be given the widest possible remit and in particular that the reasons for the stark differences in the alleged intelligence - the basis of the UK Government case - and the reality be established.

We extend our deepest sympathy to his family.

Declassified excerpts of 2002 Iraq US National Intelligence Estimate

(Source: Federation of American Scientists "Project on Government Secrecy", Volume 2003, Issue No. 62, July 24, 2003)

On June 18, the White House declassified selected excerpts from a classified October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's Weapons on Mass Destruction Program and presented them at a background briefing for the press.

But for some reason, the White House did not make those excerpts readily available to the public. Nor were they published in full by the major media outlets that were represented at the press briefing. Interested members of the public were left to scramble, or grovel, for a copy, which may now be found here:  http://www.fas.org/irp/cia/product/iraq-wmd.html 

UN Humanitarian Information Centre Situation Reports (Source: Colin Rowat, CASI posting, 24 July 03)

The UN Humanitarian Information Centre for Iraq files weekly Situation Reports on humanitarian conditions in Iraq. These are likely to be an important source of information. The reports are indexed at: http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/iraq/infocentre/sitreps/index.asp 

David Krieger: A Time for Questions

These are times in which there are many more questions than answers, and many Americans are beginning to form and articulate these questions. Some of the questions on my mind are the following:

1. If the president gives false information to the American people about the reasons for going to war, should he be held to account?

2. If the United Nations Security Council does not authorize a preemptive war, can any country proceed to war or is this the sole prerogative of the US government?

3. If a country proceeds to war without UN authorization, is this “aggressive warfare,” the type of warfare for which German and Japanese leaders were punished after World War II?

4. When the North Korean government repeatedly states that the nuclear crisis can be defused if the US will negotiate a mutual security pact with them, why is the current US administration dragging its feet in proceeding to enter into negotiations?

5. Does the United States have a responsibility to participate with UN forces in restoring security to civilians in civil wars, such as that in Liberia?

6. Should American troops stationed in Iraq have the right to complain about the policies of civilian leaders responsible for our policy there?

7. With half its combat forces in Iraq, is the US military stretched so thin that it cannot adequately protect Americans at home or participate in needed UN peacekeeping operations abroad?

8. With the war in Iraq costing American taxpayers nearly $4 billion per month and the US deficit expected to exceed $400 billion this year, was it wise to pass large tax cuts for the richest Americans?

9. Is the desire to control Iraq’s oil the reason that the US hasn’t asked the United Nations for help in providing peacekeeping in Iraq?

10. What is the relationship of companies such as Halliburton, Bechtel and the Carlyle Group, which are profiting from the war in Iraq, to members of the current US administration?

11. Are Americans safer to travel throughout the world after the Iraq War?

12. Has the credibility of the United States throughout the world increased or decreased in the aftermath of the Iraq War?

13. What is the current status of respect for the United States throughout the world?

14. Why has the current US administration been hostile to the creation of an International Criminal Court to hold individual leaders accountable for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity?

15. Is war an effective way to make peace?

It is time to start demanding answers from our government to these questions and many more, and their answers should not be given only in secrecy behind closed doors. Questions about war and peace are far too important to be left only to politicians and generals without the voice of the people. It is time for an ongoing public dialogue that includes answers to questions from the public. If democracy is to have meaning, the people have a right to know and they deserve to have their questions answered.


US National Missile Defense: Scientific, technical and budgetary issues

The following is an article entitled "Space-Based Missile Defense: Not So Heavenly". It was written by Theresa Hitchens, a vice president and director of the Space Security Project at the Washington, DC-based Center for Defense Information, and published in "Space News", 21 July 03.

The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) recently admitted that it was pushing back plans to put up a space-based missile defense test bed to at least 2008. But that does not mean the agency has given up on developing orbiting interceptors for shooting down enemy missiles in their boost-phase, shortly after their launch. MDA officials, and hawkish proponents of using space for missile defense, continue to assert that it is technically feasible to design such a system using only 300 to 600 interceptors and costing $50 billion. A recent study by an illustrious panel of physicists begs to differ. Even though they themselves admit to using "extremely optimistic" technical parameters, the American Physical Society (APS) in a July 16 study found that a bare-minimum system would require at least 1,600 missiles. Such a limited system would be able to defend only the continental United States (not including Alaska) and be able to shoot down only one solid-fuel ICBM coming in from North Korea (the sort the Pentagon predicts Pyongyang and other countries are likely to have within 10 to 15 years). And the U.S. interceptors would have to be substantially larger and faster than ever built before, not to mention larger and faster than currently estimated by MDA. All totaled, the interceptors would weigh 2,000 metric tons. 

While the study, "Report of the American Physical Society Study Group on Boost-Phase Intercept Systems for National Missile Defense: Scientific and Technical Issues," did not provide any cost analysis, doing the math is fairly simple. Average launch costs have hovered for decades at about $22,000 per kilogram. A metric ton equals 1,000 kilograms. So, this best-case scenario for space-based missile defenses would cost $44 billion just to get the interceptors into orbit. Some experts argue that, given the volume of space launches that would be required to boost the system, launch costs could conceivably over time come down to half that per kilogram sum: $11,000. If this is true, then such a system could be put into orbit for only $22 billion. But here's the rub: The physicists themselves admit that the system described above is based on assumptions that are optimistic enough to border on unrealistic. Under more realistic technical parameters, a system to defend the continental United States against a North Korean launch would involve 3,600 orbiting interceptors, at a cost of either $99 billion, or using the lower launch cost figure, $49.5 billion. However, the study itself notes that even these "more realistic" assumptions are quite optimistic, not only in pushing the edge of what is technically feasible but also in that the space-based system described is one in which every element works perfectly 100 percent of the time --something unheard of in the annuals of U.S. weapons development. 

There is more bad news. To cover Alaska, more than double the number of interceptors would be required to defend against a North Korean ICBM, thus more than doubling the cost (more than $198 billion or more than $99 billion). To defend against a single shot from Iran (another of the countries labeled by U.S. President George W. Bush as part of the axis of evil, and a country with a ballistic missile program), the study found, is more difficult and would require more interceptors. The study found under its more realistic scenario, that 5,700 interceptors would be required, weighing 7,000 metric tons, equaling a launch cost of $154 billion (or $77 billion). Some might say that such price-tags are not out of line for a future strategic system, given what the United States has spent on its nuclear arsenal. That may be so. But remember, these figures involve only the direct cost of launching the space-based interceptors. Such interceptors, which according to the study must be much faster and much larger than any to date, would have to be developed and built. More cost. In addition, a complex computerized system to control the interceptors would have to be developed. Yet more cost. Finally, a sophisticated new system of detecting, tracking and targeting ICBM launches and nearly instantaneously providing that data to the orbiting interceptors, would be required. Substantially more cost.

Even more troubling is the fact that the study's more realistic scenarios include assumptions that are forgiving in the extreme. For example, these scenarios include only 30 seconds of time for a decision to fire - the best-case analysis assumed an automatic shot once a potential target was detected. This is highly problematic, in that it is impossible to tell during the early boost-phase whether what just went up was an ICBM or a space-launch vehicle carrying a satellite (or, in the case of China, possibly astronauts). To put it mildly, it seems unlikely that any U.S. commander in chief would be comfortable with automating such a momentous decision. Furthermore, as noted above, these scenarios all are based on essentially a one-shot (in some cases, two-shots), one-kill architecture. This means there is no margin for error; no redundancy in the system. If North Korea decided to launch two ICBMs (once they get them) at Alaska from nearby launch sites, the U.S. networks postulated by the study would most likely be useless. To be able to target multiple interceptors at each incoming ICBM, however, not only involves even more astronomical costs, but also raises the technical problem of ensuring that the interceptors don't become confused and mistake another of their fellow interceptors for the target. The APS study, in its generosity, called space-based missile defense "impractical." A more realistic look at the data shows that it is wildly so.


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

Suggestions as how to react to the North Korean crisis

As part of his memo "Thoughts on North Korea Nuclear Weapons Crisis" (posted on 24 July), John Hallam, Nuclear Weapons Campaigner of Friends of the Earth Australia is suggesting the following:

a) That Abolition2000 formally take up the issue of the North Korean nuclear crisis as a campaign

b) That we first of all demand that military options be removed from consideration as irresponsibly risky to tens of millions of people

c) That we demand/ask/suggest that relations between the US and the DPRK be normalised with the aim of including that country within the community of nations and ensuring that it has no need to take extraordinary steps to ensure its security.

d) That we press for positive incentives to the DPRK to move away from its nuclear weapons program.

Hallam strongly urges that steps (a) and (b) be focused on immediately. He also urges "that parliamentarians that we know be asked to put resolutions in their legislatures urging that military options be removed from consideration. Note that the Australian Senate has already urged a peaceful solution to the US/DPRK standoff, and that Labor and Democrat senators have strongly criticised the Howard government and the Bush administration approach."

Furthermore, Hallam strongly suggests "that people be encouraged to write to their governments - to the Bush administration, to Congresspeople, to foreign ministers, prime ministers and presidents in the RoK, DPRK, China, Russia, the UK, Japan and Australia - urging that military options be removed from all consideration and urging that the peaceful reconciliation that was taking place under the 'sunshine policy' be renewed."

For the memo in full, and/or a suggested sample letter for people to customise, contact John Hallam through: < >

Nuclear weapons 'option' for Australia? (Source: theadvertiser.news.com, 13 July 03)

Australia is giving itself the option of becoming a nuclear power through a deal with the US to obtain nuclear weapons and extensive investment in atomic expertise, it has been claimed. A leading strategic policy expert says Australia is forging an understanding with the US that would ensure quick access to "off the shelf" tactical nuclear weapons during a crisis. And a former senior Howard Government science adviser says the new $600 million reactor at Lucas Heights will ensure Australia has the skills and technology to launch a nuclear weapons program.

Strategic policy expert Associate Professor Wayne Reynolds, of Newcastle University, says the new reactor is one arm of a dual nuclear-based defence strategy. The other involves reaching an agreement with the US that Australia could buy small tactical nuclear weapons in the event of a regional nuclear crisis.

"During the Cold War, the US seemed to see the world in terms of containment, and Australia's role was really as a back-up base," Professor Reynolds said. "But since the Cold War ended, our role has been enhanced. The US will clearly have to beef up their own arrangements in South-East Asia now." Professor Reynolds described Australia as being a "near-nuclear weapons state" and potentially only two years away from producing nuclear weapons. He said senior government officials had told him of plans to preserve nuclear expertise through the building of the new reactor for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

"The new reactor they are building is very large for the purposes they claim it will be used for," he said. "To fulfill its medical functions, the reactor would only need to be a fifth to a tenth of the size of the one they are building.

"Just about all the critical infrastructure and expertise is also there. They now have a reservoir of people, from materials handling to explosives experts to reactor physicists and electronics engineers."

While ANSTO says it has no active program to build a bomb, Australian scientists at Lucas Heights conduct research into other countries' bomb designs.

"The expertise is being maintained, they would not be building something like this if they did not have a long-term view of being able to design their own bomb," the adviser said.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Government said the claims were "absurd". "Australia is a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has made a legal commitment to not acquire nuclear weapons, and this is enshrined in legislation," spokeswoman Willie Herron said.

ANSTO says the new reactor, the Replacement Research Reactor, is a 20 megawatt pool reactor using low-enriched uranium fuel cooled by water. It will be a multi-purpose facility for radioisotope production, irradiation services and neutron beam research. Preliminary work has started on the new reactor, estimated in 1999 to cost $268 million, but set to cost as much as $600 million before it is completed.


USA: Joint Inquiry Report on September 11, 2001 (Source: Federation of American Scientists "Project on Government Secrecy", Volume 2003, Issue No. 63, July 24, 2003 - Extra)

On July 24, a declassified version of the congressional joint inquiry report on the September 11 terrorist attacks was released following an arduous seven-month declassification process.

A copy of the 858 page document (in a large 6.5 MB PDF file) is posted here:  http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2002_rpt/911rept.pdf 


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