South News - May 31

Pakistan follows India in NWO madness

by Dave Muller *

Pakistan matching India's five underground nuclear tests on Thursday and upping the stakes on Saturday has become a deadly gamble into nuclear arms madness.

Has the "New World Order" become a "Nuclear Weapons Offensive" ? Nuclear testing by, first, India and now Pakistan merely goes to prove that as long as there are nations which possess nuclear weapons, it is impossible to restrain other countries from developing their own nuclear weapon capabilities.

In the post Cold War era there is no justification whatsoever, if there ever was any, to maintain nuclear arsenals and much less to add new ones as a continuation of the arms race. The time has come for the entire stockpiles of these deadly weapons of mass destruction to be destroyed once and for all.

India and Pakistan have gone to war three times since the South Asian subcontinent gained its independence in 1947. Many now fear a fourth, possibly nuclear confrontation, despite the euphoria of the breaking of the nuclear monopoly of the big powers of the North. These tests by countries of the global South undermine efforts by governments and people to achieve a global ban on nuclear testing. It is a blow to the Non-aligned Movement's goal of creating a world free of nuclear weapons.

But the five established nuclear powers, the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain, must take the lead and eliminate their nuclear arsenals. These nuclear powers have no rights to urge others not to acquire nuclear weapons when they are not prepared to commit themselves to the total abolition of their nuclear weapons. The future of humanity demands the genie be put back in the bottle.

And the disarmament initiative must principally come from the United States, the only country to have used atomic weapons in war, dropping bombs on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. While the US preaches of non proliferation it has in recent months in practice been at the forefront of secretly deploying of new nuclear weapons technology, mini nuclear weapons, the bunker-busting B61-11 series of tactical warheads.

With the end of the Cold War, US Strategic Command began drawing up specific "silver book" plans targeting various non nuclear third world nations. In July 1992, Los Alamos began agitating for the development of low yield nukes intended for use against third world countries with its briefing "Potential uses for low yield nuclear weapons in the New World Order."

In this context, the B61-11 were developed and deployed secretly, in complete violation of stated U.S. policy and treaty obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban (CBT) Treaty.

In November 1997, in a top-secret Presidential Policy Directive 60, Clinton approved after consultation with the Defense Secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for the United States to direct tactical atomic warheads at a third world nation for the first time.

President Clinton's new nuclear war guidelines expand the criteria for using nuclear weapons and adding new targets. The directive orders the Pentagon to plan for attacks against countries that use weapons of mass destruction. It even identifies specific nuclear contingencies involving non nuclear countries such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea.

In the final document of the recent ministerial meeting of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-aligned Movement on 19 and 20 May in Cartagena, reiterated that, with the end of the cold war, there was no justification for the maintenance of nuclear arsenals, or concepts of international security based on promoting and developing military alliances and policies of nuclear deterrence.

While we must support United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan call for both the Indians and Pakistanis to sign the test ban treaty and pledge not to use nuclear weapons against one another we must also support the call on Thursday by Esmat Abdul Meguid, the secretary-general of the Arab League. Abdul Meguid said that opening the way to competition in this field poses risks to international security and stability for Arab adherence to establishing a region free of nuclear weapons.

In the face of a proliferation of an "Islamic?" bomb Israel, which does not hide its intention of conducting tests and possessing nuclear weapons should also disarm, sign the nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaty and subject all its nuclear facilities to international inspection.

* David Muller, president of the South Movement, was educated at Karachi Grammar School and is a second generation South-South activist. His engineer-diplomat father -- the late Col. D.O.Muller, DSO, MC --was an Australian Columbo Plan adviser to the Government of Pakistan in the 1960's.

Related: Pentagon contemplating nukes against Iraq
India & Pakistan mark 50 years of Independence

Iraq wants Britain to pay up for DU contamination

Baghdad: Iraq on Wednesday demanded compensation from Britain over its use of depleted uranium (DU) shells in the Gulf War.

The Iraqi News Agency INA said the complaint relating to the activities of British forces in the 1991 war to eject Iraq from Kuwait was filed on Tuesday by Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

The letter focused on "a new and additional admission" by the British Foreign Office on April 30 in an official statement that "British tanks used depleted uranium shells during the Gulf War on orders from the British Ministry of Defense."

"This new admission asserts previous confirmations made by official and unofficial British and U.S. organizations that the coalition troops committed annihilation crimes punishable by international law," the letter said. "Scientific studies and research have unequivocally shown that the United States and Britain used depleted uranium in their military operations against Iraq, exposing vast areas to fatal radioactive pollution."

But in London, the Ministry of Defence said: "We have never attempted to conceal the use of depleted uranium shells in the Gulf War." British veterans suffering from unexplained illnesses since the 1991 conflict have included depleted uranium as one of the possible causes. The Government is carrying out research into many areas connected with the war but there is no separate study into the use of depleted uranium shells.

On detonation with a target the radioactive isotopes can create oxides which can be dangerous if inhaled. Depleted uranium can also be toxic like other heavy metals such as lead. Research suggests that a person would have to be exposed to lungfuls of oxide in high concentration for health problems to be caused.

"A number of diseases, unfamiliar in the past, have been registered, such as fetal and bone deformities and other cases that cannot be explained, such as loss of hair and strange skin diseases. "Individuals living in the bombarded areas suffer from such diseases, in addition to rising cases of child leukemia," INA quoted the letter as saying.

Labour MP Tam Dalyell, who campaigns for the lifting of sanctions against Iraq with fellow MP George Galloway, said he had previously heard such complaints on visits to Iraq. He called for the UK to co-operate with the Iraqi government and investigate the so-called Gulf War Syndrome.

There is a tradition of covering up the use of radioactive weapons. The public did not find out about the use of U-238 'depleted uranium' weapons until after the Gulf War. Their use was discovered because of 'friendly fire' incidents, when allied tanks mistakenly fired U-238 projectiles at other allied tanks.

Depleted uranium weaponry have been condemned as weapons of mass destruction by the United Nations Sub Commission for the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. (SC 1997-36).

Depleted Uranium: It's use in Iraq

Britain begins Aussie plutonium cleanup

Darwin: British scientists are trying to make safe plutonium left littering in the ground after a series of Britain's nuclear tests on an Australian Aboriginal reserve in the 1950s.

Deadly fragments of Britain's nuclear legacy are scattered across hundreds of square miles of the Maralinga test site. Britain is contributing £25m, roughly half the cost of the project to bury that past. A huge network of trenches has been dug to accommodate the contaminated topsoil. Scientists estimate that if the plutonium was left in its current form it would be potentially deadly for a quarter of a million years.

But the greatest danger comes from fragments of raw plutonium which are like fine particles of dust. Each one is potentially lethal. Dr Keith Lokan of the Australian Radiation Laboratory said: "Because plutonium is a lot more radioactive per unit mass - you only need to breath in a microgram, one millionth of a gram of plutonium, to produce a significant dose of radiation."

However during the series of test explosions at Maralinga, South Australia in the 1950s the plutonium core never fully exploded. Peter Burns of the Australian Radiation Laboratory explains: "Of course because they were not nuclear explosions, the plutonium that was within them instead of being thrown up 50,000ft into the air and being diluted by the whole atmosphere of the southern hemisphere, just sprayed the local countryside with plutonium."

Special sealed vehicles track the lumps of most radioactive material and once located another vehicle is called out to helps to sweep up the plutonium. To protect the operators the excavator cabs are airtight and checked for contamination before every tea or meal break. Special walkways keep their boots off the potentially contaminated earth.

Effectively the plutonium is then locked up inside the newly formed rock, rendering it safe. This is not the first time a clean up has been attempted - and it is proving more complicated than first anticipated. Des Davy, a clean-up co-ordinator, said: "The final stage is to pass large amounts of electricity, or electrical energy, into those pits, with a series of graphite electrodes so as to heat it up and finally melt that soil into a molten rock."

Meanwhile in the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, Australian police arrested nine people on Tuesday in a dawn raid on a group of protesters at the Jabiluka mine site.

Tactical response police scuffled with protesters at a blockade outside the mine, which has been picketed since March by up to 100 environmentalists and the traditional Mirrar Aboriginal land owners.
Police spokeswoman Sue Bradley said police moved in at about 5.30 a.m. (1730 GMT) and attempted to move protesters and cars blocking the main entrance to the mine, about 200 km (125 miles) east of Darwin.

Environmentalists and Aborigines oppose the development of the mine in the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, warning it risks destroying the fragile ecosystem of the vast wetland park. ``This won't deter us, this is what we've been expecting,'' protester Kirsten Blair told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

In February the government removed 13 years of limits on new uranium developments in October 1997. Jabiluka is regarded by geologists as one of the world's richest known uranium deposits with estimated reserves of 900,000 tonnes of uranium oxide.

Suharto's crony capitalism under siege

Jakarta: The Indonesian government on Saturday furthered its break with the cronyistic regime of former President Suharto, canceling contracts and ending tax breaks for companies tied to Suharto's relatives.

To recoup some of the Suharto family's profits new President B.J. Habibie, canceled four shipping port service contracts with a firm owned by Suharto's youngest son, Hutomo ``Tommy'' Mandala Putra. He also ended controversial tax breaks for the son's PT Timor national car company, the Bisnis Indonesia newspaper reported Saturday.

The wealth of the Suharto clan remains a source of strong resentment among the vast majority of Indonesia's 202 million people, who are trying to cope with soaring inflation and unemployment. State owned oil company Pertamina has identified 120 supplier companies owned by the Suharto family and its friends as part of an effort to determine which firms won deals through political connections ``and other unsavory business practices,'' the Jakarta Post said.

Meanwhile, a group of retired Indonesian generals called Saturday for the convening of a special assembly to choose a new president by July. The call puts them at odds with Habibie and parliamentary leaders who want to hold elections next year, after electoral reforms are enacted.

According to the Antara news agency eighteen retired generals of the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) have proposed that a general assembly or a special session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) be held this July to revoke the MPR decisions appointing Suharto as president and B.J Habibie as vice president.

The proposal reflects their refusal to accept the agreement recently made by President Habibie and the House of Representatives (DPR) to hold a general assembly six months from now, the retired generals, who include A Kemal Idris, Hasnan Habib, Rudini, Ali Sadikin, and Awaloedin, said in a press release issued here Saturday.

The July assembly will also elect a new president, whom the MPR will mandate to carry out sweeping reforms in a bid to revive the Indonesian economy, the generals said. It will also amend the election law to pave the way for the holding of general elections no later than 1999, they said. Student protesters also have called for Habibie to step down immediately..

Previous: Indonesian crisis special index

Libya to build North African railway

Tunis : Libya on Thursday announced it is to build 3,170 kilometre of railways, linking Tunisian and Egyptian railways, creating a North African network from Morocco to Egypt.

``The project including 2,178 kilometres of railway (running) east-west and 992 kilometres (running) north-south is worth several billion dollars,'' Engineer Mohammed Abdel-Samad Ali, Director General of the Libyan Railways Projects General Authority, told Reuters in an interview.

Ali, who was in Tunis for a North African countries railways conference, said a tender had been launched for companies to bid to build the network. Libya currently has virtually no railways. A deadline for submitting offers was set for the end of August this year, Ali said.

The project included a first tranche of 700 kilometres linking Ras Jedir, at the border with Tunisia, to the coastal city of Sirte, and a second tranche between Sirte and Omsaad at the Egyptian border.

The North-South line would link al-Hicha to Sebha and would take in Libya's southern mines which have yet to be fully exploited and the northern Masrata's iron and steel complex on the Mediterranean.
Implementation of parts of the project had already started with engineering works launched recently for the coastal east-west link, Ali said.

In addition, he said a contract worth about $20 million would be signed soon with a French company to build a plant at the city of Khoms that would manufacture an estimated 6.8 million units of concrete sleepers.

A second contract had been signed with an Egyptian firm to establish a railway link between the planned plant to the port of Khoms where supplies would be arriving. ``We have already secured about half of the total financing for the project over five years, and we are seeking additional external and local financing for the remainder,'' Ali said.

Private, foreign and local investors were invited to get involved by establishing manufacturing plants, like the Khoms development, to supply the project, by building the planned 96 railway stations or supplying services.

Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi recently described the project as ``strategic'' and with high priority, like his multi-billion project the Great-Man-Made-River bringing waters drawn from aquifers in the southern desert to the northern regions.

Scab loaded cargo to return to Australia

Los Angeles: Hundreds of tonnes of Australian cargo, including up to 60 containers of meat and dairy products, will be returned to Australia to be reloaded by union labor after an international union refused to unload it.

The cargo of the ship Columbus Canada, which was loaded by scab labor in Melbourne, has been stranded off the coast of Los Angeles for more than two weeks. Community action has successfully stopped cargo on the Columbus Canada from being unloaded, and forced its repatriation to either Australia or New Zealand.

The ILWU won a solidarity victory with Columbus Line deciding to send back the scab loaded containers. Columbus shipping reached a deal with the International Longshore and Wharehouse Union to unload the Columbus Canada with the 57 containers loaded by the scab labor was left aboard ship for return to Australia.

The ship was again greeted by protesters as it pulled into berth on Monday evening but the protest disbursed after news of the deal was revealed. The scab cargo should and will be sent to Australia to be reloaded by Unionised labor.This is a significant solidarity victoryfor the embattled MUA in Australia by Dockers on the west coast and their supportive communities who picketed the ship.

But the national organiser for the MUA, Mr Mick O'Leary, said the decision to return the ship to Australia to be reloaded by union labor was a matter for its international affiliate, the ILWU, and had nothing to do with the MUA.

Meanwhile Justice Tony North of the Australian Federal Court has rejected arguments from Patrick and the Government to delay the start of the case until October or December. Tony North said that the case should start soon after June 25.

This may cause the case to run concurrently with a Federal Election, expected between August and early December. This may prove extremely damaging for the Howard Government, with revelations of its conspiracy to sack a workforce being revealed midway through an election campaign.

In the Senate the Government is coming under increasing attack by the Democrats and the Labor Opposition to release the secret tax payer funded reports. ALP backbencher, Mr Neil O'Keefe, has alledged that major financial institutions including the AMP, National Mutual, Westpac and BT, had been involved in a move to support the share price of Lang Corp, the Patrick parent company.

Melbourne: Website : Age Docks Papers
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