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(en) Anarkismo.net, North Korea and the Threat of Nuclear Extermination by Wayne Price (NEFAC)

Date Tue, 24 Oct 2006 20:30:14 +0200

Against Nuclear Apocalypse
The crisis over North Korea has only reminded us of the worldwide
danger of nuclear war. Anarchists must oppose all development of
nuclear bombs, by the US but also by an oppressed nation (such as
North Korea) and even by a Federation of Anarchist Communes.
The crisis over North Korea has only reminded us of the worldwide
danger of nuclear war. Anarchists must oppose all development of
nuclear bombs, by the US but also by an oppressed nation (such as
North Korea) and even by a Federation of Anarchist Communes.
The Stalinist kingdom of North Korea has recently had an
underground nuclear bomb test. This has been condemned by what
is called “the international community,” most vociferously
by the United States’ government. They pressure the North
Korean dictatorship by, among other means, withholding food,
starving its powerless people. The United States rulers are also
leading the effort to stop the Iranian state from building nuclear
bombs (which the Iranians deny they are doing). There is evidence
that the Bush administration is at least considering making a military
attack on Iran, using, as a pretext, these nuclear bombs which do
not yet exist and may never exist. As is well known, the main
excuse of the U.S. and British governments for attacking Iraq was
that Saddam Hussein was building nuclear bombs and chemical and
biological “Weapons of Mass Destruction”--which it turned
out was not true, although it may once have been true. Meanwhile
the U.S. state has dropped its one-time complaints about India and
Pakistan developing nuclear devices; the U.S. has ended its previous
sanctions against these countries due to their bomb-building. Of
course, the U.S. has never criticized the state of Israel for its nuclear

The first thing which must be pointed out (but not the last) is the
massive hypocrisy of the U.S. state. Armed to the eyebrows with
nuclear bombs, the U.S. turns to smaller, weaker, nations and tells
them, “YOU must not have nuclear bombs! If you do, it will
threaten the peace of the world!” And the same hypocrisy is true
of other members of the nuclear club, such as the imperialist states
of Britain and France, as well as the wannabe imperialist Chinese

The Non-Proliferation Treaty was supposed to stop non-nuclear
powers from getting atomic armaments. But also, the nuclear-armed
powers were supposed to negotiate away their terrible bombs, toward
a worldwide condition of nuclear (at least) disarmament. Of course,
this has never happened. Following the implosion of the Soviet
Union, a number of liberals argued that now was the golden moment
for the U.S. to lead a global movement for nuclear disarmament.
After all, the U.S. no longer needed to defend itself from a
nuclear-armed superpower. This antinuclear crusade did not happen

This has led some on the left to support the North Korean regime in
building nuclear missiles. See for example, the article published by
the Party for Socialism and Liberation, “North Korea has the
right to test and possess nuclear weapons.” (Sloan 2006) Some
of these supporters regard North Korea as “socialist” or
(many Trotskyists) as a “deformed workers’ state.”
Supposedly the working class is the ruling class in North Korea,
because its economy is government-owned. Meanwhile the workers
and peasants undergo mass regimentation, mass repression, and
mass starvation. These leftists similarly regard China, Vietnam,
Kampuchea/Cambodia, Laos, and Cuba as various types of
“workers’ states,” deserving of nuclear bombs if they
want them. Other leftists may reject the notion that North Korea, a
prison of the working class, is a workers’ state. But these still
support its right to national self-determination, which includes
self-defense from imperialist forces, and therefore--they draw the
conclusion--the right to nuclear bombs.

I do not regard North Korea as socialist, a “workers’
state,” or even slightly progressive. The very idea is disgusting. I
do regard it as an oppressed nation, with the right to defend itself
from imperialist armed forces. But--this is where I part company
from these leftists--I do not think that anyone should have, or
threaten to use, or use, nuclear bombs. This would even be for the
goal of revolutionary anarchists, a hypothetical Korean Commune of
Workers’ and Peasants’ Councils. Even such a nonstate
association should never have nuclear weapons, I believe, even if
threatened by nuclear-armed counter-revolutionary armed forces. If
it took power in a land which had previously had nuclear bombs--say
a North American Federation of Workers’ and Popular
Assemblies--it should unilaterally disarm, that is, dismantle the
atomic bombs. (When the African National Congress took power in
South Africa, it dismantled the South African nuclear bombs.) I want
to argue this here.

Nuclear Bombs are Unique

Nuclear bombs are not like other armaments, and should not be
regarded as “weapons” at all. By their very nature, they are
anti-civilian, society-destroying, instruments of human
extermination. The destructive force of the original, black,
gunpowder was approximately doubled by TNT. By the time World
War II was over, they had created explosives 60 % as powerful as
TNT. But the nuclear bombs used on Japan were 12,000 times as
powerful as the best improvement on TNT. (Macdonald, 1970, p.
169) And hydrogen (fusion) bombs are many times more destructive
than the first atomic (fission) bombs. “A more or less typical
strategic warhead has a yield of two megatons, the explosive
equivalent of two million tons of TNT. But two million tons of TNT
is about the same as all the bombs exploded in World War II--a
single bomb with the explosive power of the entire Second World
War but compressed into a few seconds of time and an area 30 or 40
miles across.” (Carl Sagan, 1983, p. 4)

The immense power of their blast, as well as the radioactivity they
spew out, makes them devices for destroying cities, industries, and
food-growing areas. Unlike all previous weapons, there is no defense
against nuclear bombs. They are pure devices of mass annihilation.

There have been plans developed for using nuclear bombs
“only” against military targets, such as other nations’
nuclear missile sites. Supposedly this would save civilian life. But the
sheer destructiveness of nuclear bombs would still affect civilian
society. In any case, such a plan only makes sense if “our”
bombs are used first--in an act of aggression. There would be no
point in bombing the (empty) missile sites of the “other” side
if the other side had already attacked! So an attempt to make the
nuclear bomb less of a city-smasher would increase the risk of
war--and the smashing of cities.

Besides its blast, nuclear bombs are spreaders of radioactivity. Each
bomb would launch into the air tons of radioactive substances, to
spread throughout the globe. We know from atomic bomb tests that
they spread radioactive poison throughout the international food
chain, into fish far out to sea, and, closer to home, in mothers’
breast milk. So even if one nation used such “weapons”
against another, the attacker’s people would still feel the effects.

A nuclear war between two or more national states would be mutual
suicide, as each “defended” itself by exterminating the other.
Nuclear missiles have been compared to a pistol with two barrels,
one pointed at the enemy and one pointed at the holder of the gun.
To shoot it is to simultaneously commit murder and suicide. Even a
one-sided nuclear attack against a non-nuclear nation would result
in suicide.

The effect of a nuclear war would be to throw up so much debris and
smoke from fires as to blot out the sun throughout the world. This
would cause the dying out of plants, and of the animals which
depend on them (including homo sapiens). The effect would be
similar to that of the asteroid which once hit the earth and wiped out
the dinosaurs or to the volcano eruptions which may have caused
other natural extinctions. How such a “nuclear winter”
would interact with global warming has not been studied, as far as I
know, but the effect on the balance of nature could not be good.

With the end of the Cold War, we are faced with the possibility of
“small” nuclear wars. Even these could be disastrous. Carl
Sagan concluded, “Perhaps the greatest surprise in our work was
that even small nuclear wars can have devastating climatic effects.
We considered a war in which a mere 100 megatons were exploded,
[a few hundred strategic weapons] less than one percent of the world
arsenals, and only in low-yield airbursts over cities. This scenario,
we found, would ignite thousands of fires, and the smoke from these
fires alone would be enough to generate an epoch of cold and dark
almost as severe as in the 5000-megaton case. The threshold
for...The Nuclear Winter is very low.” (1983, p. 7)

Alternatives to Nuclear Bombs

I am not an absolute pacifist. I believe that there are just wars,
namely the wars of the oppressed against the oppressor, specifically
a revolutionary war of the working class and all oppressed against
capitalist forces. But I do not think that nuclear bombs can be
justified as useable by a workers’ revolution, or a nonstate
federation of communes, or an oppressed nation (such as North
Korea) against imperialist aggression. I take the position of
“nuclear pacifism,” the absolute rejection of such means of
mass extermination, no matter the cause. Their use is both immoral
and deadly to the user. The use of nukes threatens the existence of
those who use them, by radioactive fallout, by retaliation from the
nuclear-armed imperialists, and by a possible nuclear winter. Just
having nuclear weapons tempts a first-strike nuclear blow at the
possessor by an enemy, for fear of its using them. The use of nuclear
bombs means to threaten to exterminate the very workers and poor
people of the other country who are our class brothers and sisters,
the people we should be trying to win over to our side.

Paul Nitze, the chief arms control negotiator for the Reagan
administration (and therefore no anarchist) declared that the U.S.
should “unilaterally get rid of our nuclear weapons” (1999, p.
A31). Aside from being dangerous, expensive, and immoral, he
argues, they are unnecessary. The accuracy of our conventional
weapons is now so great (within three feet, he says) that the U.S.
government could destroy any target it chose with nonnuclear
means. Therefore, he concludes, the nuclear arsenal is unneeded for
either deterrence or attack.

Historically the socialist and anarchist movements proposed to
replace regular, standing, armies with an armed people, the
workers’ militia. This is part of the program for replacing the
state. It is hard to see how a popular militia would be able to use
nuclear missiles.

In the late ‘seventies and early ‘eighties, some European
peace activists began to raise the question whether it would be
possible to defend Western Europe from the Soviet Union without
nuclear weapons or U.S. forces. It was obvious that even a
“limited” nuclear war fought over Europe would destroy the
subcontinent. Even a conventional, nonnuclear, regular war would
leave a smoking ruin. They consulted with military experts, reviewed
the history of guerrilla wars, and examined the defense plans of
Yugoslavia, Switzerland, and Sweden. They came up with several
proposals relevant to my topic (Alternate Defense Commission,
1983; Barnaby & Boeker, 1982; Mackay & Fernbach, 1983; Roberts,
1976; Smith, 1982).

What they proposed, in general, was a non-nuclear defense program
for Western Europe. It would have a military structure and
armaments program which emphasized defense rather than offensive
capacity, in order to be clearly non-threatening to other countries.
They proposed limiting regular armed forces to the role of protecting
borders, so that any invader would be forced to pay a price and
militias would have time to mobilize. The population would be
organized in a militia, with widespread military training, repeated
over the years, and with local weapons depots and bunkers scattered
throughout the countryside. Weapons could include not just pistols
and rifles but also Stingers and similar precision-guided missiles.
One or two soldiers can carry and use them against tanks and
airplanes. Either a defense in depth or guerrilla tactics could be
planned for, depending on various conditions, such as the terrain.
Urban guerrilla tactics are also mentioned, including assassination
and sabotage. Also methods of unarmed civilian resistance would be
taken from proposals for nonviolent defense (King-Hall, 1960;
Roberts et al, 1964). These include strikes, go-slows, and other
forms of noncooperation, and peaceful demonstrations and
propaganda directed at the invader’s troops. For an anarchist
version of these ideas, see Towards a Citizens’ Militia: Anarchist
Alternatives to NATO and the Warsaw Pact. (IRSM, 1980)

Such approaches could not prevent an enemy from dropping nuclear
bombs. Neither could having nuclear bombs prevent it, since there is
no defense against nuclear attack. But such non-nuclear defense
would make it less likely. It would deny an aggressor any advantage
from nuclear or non-nuclear war (and a nuclear attack would still
damage the attacker, serving as its own deterrence).

The major defense of a free society would not be in bombs or in
military organization but in politics, in its appeal to the populations
of other lands. Were a revolutionary society to dismantle its nuclear
weapons, this would be a powerful political message, as we say to
the people of the world, “We are destroying the hell bombs that
were built by the capitalist state. We are abandoning our ability to
exterminate you. We are creating a new society. Do not let your
rulers use you to attack us! Disarm them! Overthrow their states!
Join us in a free world !” A revolution--especially in the U.S., the
center of world imperialism--would have a tremendous political
impact throughout the world. Foreign soldiers sent to destroy U.S.
workers would become “infected” by the revolution. Foreign
governments would fear to send their forces against a free North
America, lest they be destroyed by guerrilla war, defense-in-depth,
sabotage, nonviolent resistance, and by revolutionary propaganda.
This would be our “deterrence.” Freedom would be our best

Nuclear Proliferation

Despite the hypocrisy of the U.S. and other great powers, there is a
real danger of nuclear proliferation. The wider the spread of nuclear
armaments, the greater the danger of nuclear war. The world
avoided nuclear war throughout the Cold War, when nuclear bombs
were essentially controlled by two centers of international power.
The end of the Cold War has produced more instability, not less.

About 40 national states have the technical skill to build nuclear
bombs, and many have the required material. We are facing a
second nuclear age, in which more governments are likely to
abandon previous restraints against building nuclear arsenals. Many
countries have accumulated everything they need for nuclear bombs,
without--yet--putting them together. This is directly related to the
spread of atomic power. To make nuclear bombs, the most
important ingredient is the explosive material. Either they enrich
uranium fuel, from its usual level of 5 percent to 90 percent--which
only takes longer processing in centrifuges. Or they take spent
reactor fuel and mine it for plutonium. Either way provides fuel for
the bombs.

For decades, Western governments have spread atomic energy
internationally as an alternate to nuclear bombs, called the
“Atoms for Peace” program. North Korea, Iran, and
Pakistan have all “benefited” from this program. Rather than
spread peacefulness, it has paved the way for human extermination.
Now there are new proposals for centralizing nuclear enrichment
internationally or finding other ways to spread nuclear power without
nuclear bombs. As Greenpeace recently declared in a public
statement, “Nuclear power is inextricably linked with nuclear
proliferation. None of the schemes being promoted will solve this
problem. In fact, they will make it worse.” (quoted in Broad &
Sanger 2006, p. 12)

The threat of nuclear self-extermination is not a problem of North
Korea nor even of the United States. It is a problem of the capitalist
system of war-making national states. It is a problem of the
international capitalist economic system. It is a problem of way
capitalist industrialism and the state have developed technology,
including their disastrous energy technologies. All these are bound
together. The nuclear bombs exist. Sooner or later they will be used.
We cannot rely on the national governments to disarm. They must
be disarmed. The workers and oppressed people of the world must
take them apart, including their nuclear arsenals.

In August 1945, shortly after the United States dropped the first
atomic bomb on Hiroshima, the anarchist Dwight Macdonald wrote
about it in his magazine, Politics. He concluded that the lesson of
the atomic bomb was “We must ‘get’ the national state
before it ‘gets’ us.” (1970, p. 170) This remains true.

Alternate Defence Commission (1983). Defence without the Bomb.
London, UK: Taylor & Francis.

Barnaby, Frank, & Boeker, Egbert (1982). Defence without Offence;
Non-nuclear Defence for Europe. London, UK: Housmans

Broad, William J., & Sanger, David E. (October 15, 2006).
Restraints fray and risks grow as nuclear club gains members. New
York Times. Pp. 1, 12.

IRSM (International Revolutionary Solidarity Movement/First of
May Group) (1980). Towards a Citizens’ Militia; Anarchist
Alternatives to NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Over-the-Water,
Sandy, Orkney, UK: Cienfuegos Press.

King-Hall, Stephen (1960). Common Sense in Defense. London,
UK: K-H Services.

Macdonald, Dwight (1970). Politics Past; Essays in Political
Criticism. NY: Viking Press.

Mackay, Louis, & Fernbach, David (Eds.) (1983). Nuclear-free
Defense. London: Heretic Books.

Nitze, Paul (1999, October 28). A threat mostly to ourselves. The
New York Times; Op-Ed, p. A31.

Roberts, Adam (1976). Nations in Arms; The Theory and Practice of
Territorial Defense. New York: Praeger.

Roberts, Adam; Frank, Jerome; Naess, Arne; & Sharp, Gene (1964).
Civilian Defense. London, UK: Peace News.

Sagan, Carl (October 30, 1983). The nuclear winter; A special report
by Carl Sagan. Parade/Daily News. Pp. 4--7.

Sloan, Sarah (October 11, 2006). North Korea has the right to test
and possess nuclear weapons.

Smith, Dan (1982). Non-nuclear Military Options for Britain.
London, UK: Housmans.

"Smash US nuclear Provocation!"
"Smash US nuclear Provocation!"

The "Nuclear Club" Hipocrisy
The "Nuclear Club" Hipocrisy

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10,000 fossil fuel dollars
by G. R. L. Cowan Monday, Oct 23 2006, 10:10pm

Of each ten thousand petrodollars, depending where the stuff is
made into commercial fuel, sold, and burned, government-supported
persons take somewhere between $2500 and $7500 in special taxes.

These are effectively profits; those receiving them don't do anything
for the money except maybe give a little of it, a few hundred at most,
to oil companies. Or rather, nothing except make laws about how far
new houses must be from town, whether they shall have sidewalks,
whether speed limits will be enforced or, by police and other public
servants themselves, conspicuously flouted, encouraging everyone
to do likewise; things like that. Sales taxes on fossil-derived fuels are
a regressive tax whose payment can be considered voluntary, a "sin
tax", and there is nothing a comfortable civil servant likes better than

So when $10,000 fossil fuel dollars are cancelled by the sale, in place
of the fossil fuel, of a hundred dollars worth of uranium,
beneficiaries of fossil fuel taxation are strongly inclined to make
uncharitable donations to groups like the Greenpeace that Wayne
Price mentions. These groups know that in return for this money
they must tell every and any possible story against nuclear power
that will delay it.

The power reactor/bomb connection is one of these lies. It is a clever
lie in that such a connection cannot be proved to be impossible. The
undeception occurs when one realizes that the only way it could
matter whether or not the link is possible is if there is no easier way.

If what proliferators such as North Korea have traditionally done is
something easier than misuse of civilian nuclear power stations,
then such misuse will be avoided by them just as if it were
impossible, regardless of whether or not it is absolutely so; and
indeed this turns out to be the case.

What North Korea did is either the Nagasaki method -- no power
reactor required -- or the Hiroshima method -- no reactor at all

What is the Nagasaki route? Build a low-temperature reactor in
which uranium is briefly irradiated, then removed for extraction of
weapons-grade plutonium.

Compared to a power reactor, from whose spent fuel one can extract
plutonium that, although not weapons-grade, is in theory
weapons-usable, this eases the surreptitious bomb-builder's task in a
number of ways. The better grade of plutonium is the one commonly
cited, but there are others; for instance, if one is not certain one's
bomb-works won't be destroyed upon detection, the short irradiation
time means one's own bomb will be in hand, and away from the site,

Uranium that has not had to serve as fuel, and generate a lot of
energy per pound, has less induced radioactivity of other, undesired

High temperatures are required if a reactor's heat output is to be
efficiently convertible to electricity, but such temperatures tend to
choke fission off. This can be compensated for by some combination
of making the reactor physically larger, or cooling it with something
other than plain water, or enriching its fuel above the 0.7-percent
level that is found in nature.

But if all you want is to make the minimum reactor necessary for
weapons-grade plutonium production, none of that is necessary. The
Yongbyon reactor that North Korea was given by the former Soviet
Union -- definitely not part of "Atoms for Peace" deal as Price seems
to think, and not usually considered a Western government,
although maybe anarchists see this differently -- seems to be be of
this minimal sort. Thus, some of what Price says in the below-linked
article amounts to uncritical repetition of lies told by big money with
the intent to harm workers.

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