Iraq Sanctions Hurt

According to U.N. estimates, the sanctions on Iraq have caused the deaths of 600,000 children since they were imposed in 1990. Four concerned Americans went to Iraq on May 26 to deliver $13,000 of donated medicine to hospitals in Iraq. They risked 12 years in prison and $1 million in fines if convicted of violating these sanctions...

While it is better than nothing at all, U.N. Resolution 986 (the "oil for food" deal) has provided little food or medicine to the Iraqi people. So far, not a single tablet of medicine has reached Iraq because contracts have been held up in the U.N. Sanctions Committee. Iraq claims the U.S. has delayed many of the contracts. Meanwhile, the mortality rates in Iraq have continued to skyrocket. According to Iraq's Health Minister Umeed Mubarak, the mortality rate for children under five years old has gone from 540 deaths per month before the embargo to the current rate of 5,600 per month.

Voices in the Wilderness,

Nukes in Space

The U.S. government is pushing ahead with the deployment of nuclear technology in space. In October 1997, NASA plans to launch the Cassini probe to Saturn. Carrying 72.3 pounds of plutonium-238 fuel, the largest amount of plutonium ever used in space, the probe will sit atop a Titan IV rocket. This same kind of rocket has undergone a series of mishaps including a 1993 explosion in California soon after takeoff which destroyed a $1 billion spy satellite system and sent its fragments into the Pacific.

Space News reported that "the high risk and cost of the Cassini mission troubled NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin so much that he would cancel the program if it were not so important to planetary science."

Because Cassini does not have the propulsion power to get directly from Earth to Saturn, NASA plans a "slingshot maneuver" in which the probe will circle Venus twice and hurtle back at Earth. It will then buzz the Earth in August 1999 at 42,300 miles per hour just 312 miles above the surface. After whipping around Earth and using its gravity, Cassini would then have the velocity, says NASA, to reach Saturn. But during that Earth fly-by, if Cassini comes in too close, it could burn up in the 75 mile-high atmosphere and disperse plutonium across the planet.

Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of nuclear physics at CUNY, explains the catastrophic consequence of such a fly-by accident:

"If there is a small misfire of Cassini's rocket system, it will penetrate into the Earth's atmosphere and the sheer friction will begin to wipe out the heat shield and it will, like a meteor, flame into the Earth's atmosphere...This thing, coming into the Earth's atmosphere, will vaporize, release the payload and then particles of plutonium dioxide will begin to rain down on populated areas, if that is where the system is going to be hitting. [Pulverized plutonium dust] will rain down on people's hair, people's clothing, get into people's bodies. And because it is not water soluble, there is a very good chance that it could be inhaled and stay within the body causing cancer over a number of decades. Indeed, NASA says in its First Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission, that if an 'inadvertent reentry occurred' during the fly-by, approximately five billion of the seven to eight billion people on Earth, "could receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure..."

Starting in 1961, General Electric's rockets were used for space satellites until a 1964 accident in which a SNAP-9A (Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power) fell to earth burning up in the atmosphere. According to a 1989 report by European nuclear agencies, the satellites 2.1

pounds of plutonium-238 "vaporized" and "dispersed widely." After conducting a worldwide sampling, scientists found "SNAP-9A debris to be present in all continents and at all latitudes." Dr. John Gofman, a co-discoverer of isotopes of plutonium and uranium as a member of the Manhattan Project, has long attributed an increased rate of lung cancer to the SNAP-9A Karl Grossman, Professor of American Studies, SUNY

Chemical Hooray-Why Not Nuclear?

April 29, 1997 an international agreement to remove all chemical weapons from the face of the earth entered into force. People all over the world have reason to celebrate, and our enthusiasm is enhanced by the recent strong majority approval in the U.S. senate.

Nuclear weapons must be next to go. In the U.S., a recent poll (Lake Sosin Snell, April 97) showed that 87% think all nuclear weapons should be eliminated, as chemical and bacteriological weapons have been Fredrik S. Heffermehl Vice-President, International Peace Bureau, Geneva.

Peace Magazine Jul-Aug 1997

Peace Magazine Jul-Aug 1997, page 29. Some rights reserved.

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