Monthly Archives: September 2020

UNSG Report on Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters

According to this report, the “Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters began a two-year programme of work” this past January. Here’s a good summary:

In its capacity as the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, the Board engaged in substantive discussions on two of the Institute’s workstreams: weapons and ammunition management, and autonomous weapons and human control. The Board also reviewed current programmes, activities and finances of the Institute, including ongoing efforts to strengthen its policy impact, achieve financial sustainability and further expand its global engagement. The Board approved the report of the Director on the activities of the Institute for the period from January 2019 to December 2019 and the proposed programme of work and financial plan for 2020 and 2021. Lastly, the Board endorsed a proposal by the Institute to commemorate its fortieth anniversary in 2020, in the context of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations and with an emphasis on engaging women and youth on disarmament matters.

Some well-known names in the report, along with this observation regarding current events:

Members also noted that the pandemic had underscored the direct and indirect costs of biosecurity and biosafety breaches and underlined the critical importance of revitalizing the work of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction.

Heavy Water on the Floor

From 2002 interview with Philip Morrison:

There was a spill from the P9, the code word for heavy water, on the floor, so of course they rushed out with nice clean rags to try to sop it up. It was worth a dollar a gram or something. And they squeezed it onto a bucket, whereupon Zen sits down on a chair, takes off his shoes and dabbles his feet in the heavy water saying, “I believe I’m the first person in the world to wash my feet in heavy water,” carefully dried it out, put the towels into the bucket, and went away.

Glorious Resolve

ISPR has a video gane.

Game has highly realistic terrain and weaponry. Fight the terrorists as a Cobra Pilot and SSG Commando in a series of missions in major battles of Anti Terrorist Operations undertaken by Pakistan Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies like Operation Peochar 2009. More missions to come.

NYRB and Nuclear Weapons

Until recently, I hadn’t noticed this NYRB piece by Jessica Matthews titled “The New Nuclear Threat.” She cites books by a few people you’d recognize:

Subscription is required. Here’s the first paragraph:

Seventy-five years ago, at 8:16 on the clear morning of August 6, the world changed forever. A blast equivalent to more than 12,000 tons of TNT, unimaginably larger than that of any previous weapon, blew apart the Japanese city of Hiroshima, igniting a massive firestorm. Within minutes, between 70,000 and 80,000 died and as many were injured. Hospitals were destroyed or badly damaged, and more than 90 percent of the city’s doctors and nurses were killed or wounded. By the end of the year, thousands more had died from burns and radiation poisoning—a total of 40 percent of the city’s population.

1978 UNGA Special Session on Disarmament and Conventional Weapons

I will once more mention the final document of the First Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament (1978).The report devotes more space to conventional weapons than I would’ve expected. Take, for example, paragraphs 22-24:

Together with negotiations on nuclear disar- mament measures, negotiations should be carried out on the balanced reduction of armed forces and of conventional armaments, based on the principle of undiminished security of the parties with a view to promoting or enhancing stability at a lower military level, taking into account the need of all States to pro- tect their security. These negotiations should be con-ducted with particular emphasis on armed forces and conventional weapons of nuclear-weapon States and other militarily significant countries. There should also be negotiations on the limitation of international transfer of conventional weapons, based in particular on the same principle, and taking into account the in- alienable right to self-determination and independence of peoples under colonial or foreign domination and the obligations of States to respect that right, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States, as well as the need of recipient States to protect their security.

Further international action should be taken to prohibit or restrict for humanitarian reasons the use of specific conventional weapons, including those which may be excessively injurious, cause unnecessary suffering or have indiscriminate effects.

Collateral measures in both the nuclear and conventional fields, together with other measures specifically designed to build confidence, should be undertaken in order to contribute to the creation of favourable conditions for the adoption of additional disarmament measures and to further the relaxation of international tension.

1978 UNGA Special Session on Disarmament and Chemical Weapons

Here’s what the final document of the First Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament (1978) said about chemical weapons:

Along with these measures, agreements or other effective measures should be adopted to prohibit or prevent the development, production or use of other weapons of mass destruction. In this context, an agreement on elimination of all chemical weapons should be concluded as a matter of high priority.

The complete and effective prohibition of the development, production and stockpiling of all chemical weapons and their destruction represent one of the most urgent measures of disarmament. Consequently, the conclusion of a convention to this end, on which negotiations have been going on for several years, is one of the most urgent tasks of multilateral negotiations. After its conclusion, all States should contribute to ensuring the broadest possible applica- tion of the convention through its early signature and ratification.

1978 UNGA Special Session on Disarmament

Here is the final document of the First Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to Disarmament (1978).

This idea may seem familiar:

Each country’s choices and decisions in the field of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy should be respected without jeopardizing their respective fuel cycle policies or international co-operation, agreements and contracts for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, provided that the agreed safeguard measures mentioned above are applied.

Rudolf Peierls Interview

This interview with Rudolf Peierls (of the Frisch-Peierls Memorandum) contains these comments on fissile material production:

I think the vital step was this, that to separate isotopes on a practical, on a macroscopic scale, seems a crazy idea. It seems like science fiction because nobody had separated isotopes except in microscopic quantities, or perhaps milligram quantities of very light elements where the mass ratio was much bigger and the difference was much bigger between the isotopes and so it was a much easier problem. So to do that with large amounts seemed quite crazy, and therefore, one didn’t practically think about what would happen if we separated 235. Although Heisenberg obviously had that picture, then he thought of that as an academic thing, not something , not as something we practically have.