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3 MARCH 2014

The Human Survival Project (a joint project of People for Nuclear
Disarmament and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, Sydney
University)  has pointed to the potential for nuclear
catastrophe inherent in the latest and most severe crisis
in Ukraine.
We are calling for extreme caution and restraint on all sides.

According to the Human Survival Project's Peter King and John Hallam:
“The nuclear dimensions of the Ukraine crisis are pretty obvious to many experts, yet they remain thus far the 'elephant in the room' in all the talk about Ukraine.”

“Russia and the United States together posses about 95% of the worlds nuclear warheads. Each of them maintains just under 1000 warheads in a state in which they can be launched in, according to Russian military
sources, 'a few dozens of seconds'. These warheads are primarily
aimed at each other. Their use would spell the end of what we call
civilisation, and create an immediate body count of over a billion.
The subsequent global climatic effects of their use would make human
survival questionable.”

“Ukraine itself was once home to over 400 Soviet nuclear warheads, which it inherited at its independence. Ukraine was persuaded to renounce those warheads only by the conclusion of the 'Budapest Memorandum' in which the US, the UK and Russia together guaranteed Ukraine's independence and territorial inviolability. Ukraine has now invoked that memorandum.”

“Russia has over 1000 'tactical' or non-strategic warheads. While we do not know locations with any precision, its likely that some are located with Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, on the Baltic. The Russian naval base at Simferopol in the Crimea, as a major submarine base, will of course be home to submarine-launched ballistic missiles. On the other side, NATO countries, including Germany, Italy, and Turkey, host as many as 400 US tactical nuclear weapons.”  

“Nato does of course include France and the UK, both nuclear armed, France with just under 300 warheads, the UK with just over 100 warheads operational.”

“There is a frightening record of nuclear 'close calls' between the US and the USSR/Russia, ranging from a bear that nearly set off WW-III in the Cuban missile crisis to the Serpukhov-15 incident of September 26, 1983, 'The Day the World Nearly Ended', whose hero, Colonel Stanislav Petrov, is the subject of the movie 'The Man Who Saved the World'.”

“There is no point in apportioning blame for the meltdown that is now taking place in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine. It is hardly surprising that Russia wants to defend its most important nuclear submarine facility. Reflexively blaming one side and lining up with the other is completely unproductive and, indeed, highly dangerous. It does nothing to promote a solution.”

“If we go in the direction we are now going, the potential for catastrophe is all too real. Let us hope and pray (and work) that this is not the outcome.”

“Possible solutions might well include either a Ukraine that no longer includes Crimea (which was "gifted" to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954) and acknowledges the special interests of Russia in eastern Ukraine, and/or a Ukraine that has a close and cooperative relationship with BOTH Russia and the EU. Looking in these directions rather than finger-pointing would be more productive, and less potentially catastrophic, than a rush to confrontation.”

John Hallam
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61-2-9810-2598 (leave msg) 9319-4296 (do not leave message)

Prof. Peter King
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Last Updated on Sunday, 08 February 2015 22:20