Dateline: August 3, 2001

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. 31/2001

From the Editor: Why this issue is so lengthy


2002 INES Council Meeting

Next year's INES Council Meeting will be held at Bradford, UK, on 16-20 May. The data includes the traditional pre-Council seminar. For details, contact the INES Office:

"Don't Work On Weapons"- An open debate

This debate started with a contribution by INES Council member Dr.Philip B.Smith, Emeritus professor of experimental physics, consulting scientist, IVEM Centre for Energy and Environmental Studies, University of Groningen, The Netherlands:

I am angry.

Much ado has been made about the AAAS [American Association for the Advancement of Science, USA; the ed.] pledge not to work on weapons of mass destruction. The naivete of the enthusiasm about this less than adequate attempt at introducing an ethical element into the scientific enterprise is a disappointment to me.


Simply because this pledge implicitly approves of working on weapons that are NOT suitable for mass destruction. Working on napalm with "superior sticking qualities" is just fine, according to this pledge.

When the great Pyotr Kapitza got the Nobel Prize he was interviewed by a lady from the BBC. At the end of the interview she asked him if he had any special message for his fellow physicists. His message was beautiful in its simplicity; just four words: "Never work on weapons." You should know that Pyotr Kapitza himself refused (under Stalin!) to work on a nuclear weapon, or any other kind of weapon.

For thirty years I attempted to convince Pugwash to back a general pledge to NOT WORK ON WEAPONS. I never made any progress. The establishment did not wish to encourage a pledge that would limit the employability of scientists (sometimes with the argument that it would limit the "freedom of science"). In 1972 I chaired a working group at a Pugwash conference which formulated a simple pledge promising not to engage in work that was intended to harm human beings. Again and again the leadership refused to consider making it official. Now, finally, the American Student Pugwash pledge has been more or less accepted. But, as I understand it, the AAAS pledge has been enthusiastically received in Pugwash.

INES is politically more sophisticated than Pugwash (and the AAAS), and I hope that a little reflection will lead INES members to conclude that a less than total pledge is worse than no pledge at all. Remember that the establishment has always supported scientists, with the implicit agreement that the scientists would in all ways be loyal to the establishment. Archimedes worked on weapons. It is a myth that scientists are somehow morally superior to ordinary citizens. Please accept the fact that the absence of ethics in science is not accidental. Science, as we have known it, was never intended to serve humanity - it was always intended to serve the "powers that be", whatever evil these powers may be doing. And that it has always done - faithfully.

Are we strong enough to change this "tradition"?

Dr.Philip B.Smith


Response by INESnet subscriber Maurice Pigaht, Outgoing Chair, Imperial College Student Pugwash, Mechanical Engineering (UG), Imperial College, London, UK:

Thanks to Philip Smith. I couldn't agree more with the sentiment behind his comments. I feel that I need to add two points though.

I have had it put to me by pugwash members that if one enjoys the protection of an armed nation state, that one should also accept the need for military research. Even Gandhi used a similar argument in defense of his 'support' of the British war effort. I have great reservations on the validity of this argument in today's western Europe, but it cannot be ignored, and forms the basis of objecting to a universal pledge by scientists not to work on ANY weapons.

Second. I have actually looked in detail at a few of the militarily funded research projects at my university (Imperial College, London), and found that many could be described as military only because of their funding, and others were too specific to be purely military (such as work on compressible airflow in ducts for Rolls Royce). Of course there were a handful that could unmistakably be described as weapons research (such as military jet fuels).

Third. I have actively promoted the American Student Pugwash pledge, and the most common comment (of those who bothered to read it) was how extremely ambitious, and even naive it is. To pledge that you will do no harm with your research ever is indeed very ambitious (although I did sign it). To expect other people to do so is even more ambitious. But then, that is one reason why I would wholeheartedly support the promotion of such a pledge universally.

Maurice Pigaht


Response by INES Council member Prof. Joseph Rotblat, President, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, London Office

Dear Phil

I hope that you are no longer angry. I also get emotional from time to time but the state of being angry is not conducive to rational thinking, and it is through rationality that we, as scientists, have the best chance of achieving our objectives.

Your statement - that the pledge not to work on weapons of mass destruction implies approval of working on other weapons - shows faulty logic. If I say no to one thing, it does not mean that I say yes to everything else.

It is also poor tactics. If, for example, I campaign against cruelty to children, it does not mean that I approve of cruelty to adults. But cruelty to children is generally seen as so terrible that the campaign against it would stand a much better chance of being successful than a campaign against cruelty in general. And success in a limited objective is better than no success at all.

You apparently disagree with this. You say that "a less than total Pledge is worse than no Pledge at all." Do you really believe that if, through general acceptance of the Pledge, the establishments at Los Alamos, Livermore, etc. were closed down, the world would be worse off? Surely not.

Let me remind you of the old adage that "the best is the enemy of the good." A recent example of this is Ralph Nader's standing for the Presidency. His ideas are laudable but by sticking rigidly to principles he allowed - and he must take full responsibility for it - a most pernicious regime to come to power and put us all into great peril.

My warmest wishes to you, old friend,
Yours sincerely


Response by INES member Alex Brown, Member since 1981, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT), Marlborough/Mass., USA

I wholeheartedly agree that whatever concern can be aroused on weapons R&D is useful. It's there; see the attachment for an account of an example. Any dialogue in the military R&D science and technology community on the subject is extremely important.

I think there is an issue here, however: the expressed arguments for BMD speak of "defense", dodging the fact that such a hypothetical defense, in the hands of the only real nuclear superpower, amounts to risk-free first-strike capability, with that threat giving that power the opportunity to demand anything of anyone. This is one instance in which ethical quibbling over offensive vs defensive weapons is not even remotely credible.

Alex Brown


Response to Joseph Rotblat by Philip B.Smith

Dear Joe,

I appreciate your taking the time and trouble to answer my angry message about the AAAS pledge. Your reaction illustrates well both the warm friendship and the deep differences between us. Such a friendship is only possible when both are sincere in their contacts. It has been that way since 1967, when I first came to a Pugwash conference. I am proud to count you as a friend, maybe sometimes a "friendly enemy."

You are an exponent of the "small, constructive steps" approach. I am an exponent of the "broad view first" approach. Remember when we had dinner together in the period when India was ruining the chances of a CTBT? We disagreed, of course, as to whether that was a good thing or not. The arguments on both sides are classical, and will be understood immediately by anyone cognizant of the issues involved: "stop further proliferation now" vs "first promise nuclear disarmament". My standpoint has not changed since then, and I'm pretty sure that yours hasn't either. Even stronger than that, both of us have seen (partial) confirmation of our respective views: on the one side, India and Pakistan now have nuclear weapons, and on the other, the United States now has as official policy that it will never get rid of its nuclear weapons.

It is also true that the difference between us has its counterpart wherever there are people working for a better (or more just) world. As an example, it split the international socialist movement more than a century ago.

However, I think that you are mistaken when you apply your approach to an ethical question, such as a pledge. There is no room for "small, constructive steps" in ethics, for the simple reason that any ethical statement is both a first and last step at the same time. Not only that, but the simpler an ethical statement is, the less likely that there is disagreement about its import. You criticized my rejection of the AAAS pledge on the ground that it does not explicitly state that work on weapons NOT suitable for mass destruction is permissible. But you fail to provide a justification for the ethically misty restriction to weapons of mass destruction. To put it clearly: why DON'T you support a pledge against any work on weapons?

I don't want to make this message too long, but I would like to make small remark about rationality. You left Los Alamos. Was that a rational act? You and many others only went to work on a nuclear weapon out of fear that Hitler might get one first. When it became clear that that would not, could not, happen, were you acting rationally to stop your work? If you believe that, you are saying that all of those who continued their work were acting irrationally. Were you irrational or were all of the others irrational?

The point I want to make is that I believe that the idea that scientists are rational is a myth. Most of our behavior is irrational; fortunately, I might add. Rational behavior not only rules out anger, but also love. That kind of a world, a "computer robot" world, is not a world that I, for one, could live in.

Yours, with love, Phil

USA: Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF), "Waging Peace Worldwide" http://www.wagingpeace.org

The Summer 2001 issue (Vol. 11, No. 2) of NAPF's print magazine "Waging Peace Worldwide" carries the following:

A comment about Mexico and technology   From WNII reader Alberto Salazar Martínez, Mexico

Last week the Mexican government headed by Vicente Fox said in the Allen&Company Forum, among communications and technologies entrepreneurs, that Mexico is one of the "biggest opportunities" for investment due to the changes being achieved recently. Fox attributes this "new" face of Mexico with one word: "democracy", but in fact the macro-economics/corporate-financial situation has been taken more and more in good health since the times of Carlos Salinas and Ernesto Zedillo, our former presidents. That fact explains also why the former State-Party betrayed its original intended goals of social and financial justice, and showed senseless. Despite changes, the Mexican president cannot pretend to forget the country he's talking about: even though there is a small and prosperous sector of our society, less than 20% of the population, that is in fact able to fulfill necessities above and far above from the basic ones, inequities are everywhere, and are broadening: poor education and health, growing insecurity. It is first of all the State's responsibility to look after the social biggest problems if ever talking about "democracy". Instead, the State is spending continuously more resources building up a high-tech Security System. But social problems are more than crime research. Then, if the State is proven surpassed, it is concerned citizens and scientists who must take more responsible approaches. Now the interchange of goods and benefits in the market seems to be more and more based on networking. In the same visit to the US, Vicente Fox and Bill Gates were talking about introducing a Technology that every day every citizen around the world uses more frequently to become more efficient. In the one hand the Mexican government says that information technologies introduced to "all levels" in the Mexican society will promote new micro-business for the population and better services from the government; in the other hand it means a millionaire project together with Microsoft for this purpose. The first question is if one expects a technology (internet, in this case) to "fix" the social not-fare system of law and economy we live in. Let us not forget that the "technology-for-all-good" policy is in many cases too simplistic, but helps to build up the opinion that things are being done in a responsible way.

This case is even more astonishing when the poorest Indian communities are involved and taken into account in those projects. It may sound good, though. Mexico is a highly contrasted society. According to [1] studies from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in the Institute of Research in Economics, based on the analysis of both income and consumption in food, there are 27 States of the Mexican Republic that have what is called "food-insecurity". This problem is extreme specially in the southern and Indian zones (Chiapas, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Oaxaca and Yucatán) where the situation brings to a generalized bad-nutritional level. An internet-café, for example, seems to be a bad-taste decoration in places where more basic needs are forgotten. Moreover, the lowest "food-insecurity" zones can be said to be condemned to starvation, unable to develop or improve their present situation.

I must add that the last sentence is one of the main reasons why illegal immigration to the United States is still one of the "biggest opportunities" for rural Mexico, even though people risk their own lives in the process, prostitute and add to the crime rates in order to cross the border. This is as well one of the reasons why there are still many red spots in rural Mexico about uprisings. It happens when people looks at the future and do not see any other way out. Nevertheless, often aid projects and access to resources are biased as to divide communities and prevent people's involvement, rather than driven by an authentic social concern. Only very well organized communities are able to decide whether or not they will take and use these kind of technologies.

The researcher F. Torres Torres points out, to conclude, that despite the fact of the general situation in the states mentioned, it is also possible that malnutrition is found even in the "food-security" zones due to the heterogeneity, a characteristic impossible to eradicate in the study.

[1] Humberto Ortiz M., La Jornada, 15/07/01


On the Bush-Putin Meeting at Genoa

New resources from the American Friends Service Committee, USA

British Chief of the Defence Staff casts doubts on star wars (Source: The Guardian , 28 July 2001)

In an interview with the British daily The Guardian, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, chief of the defence staff, has expressed serious doubts about America's missile defence project, saying he has seen no evidence the technology will work and warning it could have a potentially devastating impact on Britain's own military capabilities. He also said China as well as Russia must be included in negotiations on any new international strategic framework. Further, Sir Michael said it would be irresponsible not to face up to the proliferation of ballistic missiles which could be fired at Britain and explore ways of dealing with the potential threat. However, he added: "So far we have no hard evidence from the Americans as to what they think is in the art of the technology. Sir Michael also made clear what he thought of the implications of Washington's proposal that its missile defence project should be embraced by the European allies. "There's no point in completely impoverishing ourselves in order to provide ourselves with a defence against one particular system and not being able to do anything else," he said. "As far as I'm concerned there is no way I'm in the position to suggest we can pay for any missile defence technology from within the existing defence budget and carry on doing what we are doing at the moment," added Sir Michael. Whether Britain went ahead with the missile defence project once the government found out what the US wanted to do was a political question, he said.


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

William M. Arkin: The Emerging Nuclear Posture (Source: Nuclear Policy Project Flash, Volume 3, Number 29, July 30, 2001)

William Arkin (*) writes in the Washington Post (30 July 2001) that the ongoing US nuclear posture review appears to have three phases: the first involving implementation of already decided reductions such as retirement of the MX missile and the second would be to unilaterally reduce further to some 2,000 warheads. In the third phase, seen as possible by the end of the decade, forces would decline to 1,000-1,500 warheads, with still lower numbers of missile warheads, and bombers transformed into "dual capable" airplanes like fighters, released from most of the day-to-day requirement to prepare for nuclear war. This process would be accomplished not through formal treaty negotiations but through periodic consultations between the US and Russia: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A61768-2001Jul27.html

(*) William M. Arkin, a former Army intelligence analyst and consultant, has written extensively about military affairs, including several books on the topic. In 1994, his "The U.S. Military Online: A Directory for Internet Access to the Department of Defense" was published. It's now in its second edition. His Dot.Mil column, launched in November 1998, appears every other Monday on washingtonpost.com. Email address:

New Video: Pakistan and India under the Nuclear Shadow (From INESAP Coordinator Regina Hagen)

A video documentary from the Eqbal Ahmad Foundation; produced and directed by Pervez Hoodbhoy; script by INESAP member Zia Mian This 35 minute independent documentary made in Pakistan takes a critical look at what the bomb has done for the two countries since May 1998. Senior Indian and Pakistani military leaders assess the consequences of nuclear testing in South Asia and the possibility of war. Heads of Islamic religious organizations and militant groups engaged in jihad explain the hopes they have for the bomb and why they believe it strengthens Pakistan and Islam. Leading peace activists, academics and journalists make the case that nuclear South Asia is spiraling into instability, an arms race, deepening poverty, and an ever-greater threat of nuclear war, both deliberate and accidental. Through interviews, graphics, and archive footage, the film spells out in stark and urgent terms the nuclear danger that now imperils the people of Pakistan and India and the desperate need for peace. To order: Payment must be by check, drawn on a US bank, or money order.

Please mail your order to: Eqbal Ahmad Foundation P.O. Box 222 Princeton, NJ 08542-0222, USA

NOTE: Entitled "Out Of The Nuclear Shadow" and edited by Smitu Kothari and Zia Mian, a new book publication on the same issue is just about to be released. The collection includes Mahatma Gandhi's response to the bombing of Hiroshima, and recent writings by Eqbal Ahmad, Rajni Kothari, Ashis Nandy, Arundhati Roy, Amartya Sen, and veteran anti-nuclear activists, academics and journalists. The volume also contains the texts of many of the historic public statements protesting the May 1998 nuclear tests that helped mobilise public opposition to the bomb in South Asia. There is a resource guide to books, films and websites on nuclear weapons, as well as information on many organisations now working on this issue.
T. Damjanov, Editor, WNII

Infos for order:


Coverage of UNFCCC COP-6 Part II

The resumed sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-6 Part II) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the fourteenth sessions of the UNFCCC's subsidiary bodies were held in Bonn, Germany, from 16-27 July. Over 4,600 participants from 181 governments, 254 intergovernmental, non-governmental and other observer organizations, and 332 media outlets were in attendance. The meeting sought to successfully complete negotiations aimed at setting the operational details for commitments on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. It also sought agreement on actions to strengthen implementation of the UNFCCC itself. In attempting to achieve these goals, which were set out in the 1998 Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA), the resumed COP-6 was intended to bring to a close more than two and a half years of preparations and negotiations, and to complete the tasks that had been left unfinished at COP-6 in The Hague in November 2000. The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) has made available a full and comprehensive day-by-day coverage of this Conference through 9 consecutive issues of its "Earth Negotiations Bulletin". Slightly restructured, these contributions are available from the WNII Editor as a one-file rtf-formatted email attachment. Alternately, you can also visit: http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/climate/cop6bis/

Data for UNFCCC COP-7

The seventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-7) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is scheduled to take place from 29 October - 9 November, 2001, in Marrakech, Morocco. For more information, contact: the UNFCCC Secretariat: http://www.unfccc.int/

2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development: Regional preparations (see also: WNII 25/2001] and WNII 29/2001)


International Energy Programme Evaluation Conference http://www.iepec.org

Presentations will consider energy technologies and services, and outline the impacts of public and private energy programmes, as well as products and services, targeted at industrial, commercial, residential and low-income markets. For more details, contact Mary McCarthy Hall, Conference Coordinator:


No new or changed addresses.
All INES e-mail addresses and homepages are available upon request from:  

< < < < <  end of No. 31/2001  what's new in ines < < < < <