How Did an Idealistic President Become a Champion of Nuclear Power and By Default, Weapons Proliferation?

In 1983, Barack Obama, a senior at Columbia University described his
visions of a "nuclear free world" in an article titled "Breaking the
War Mentality" in the university newsmagazine, Sundial. He described
discussions of "first- versus second-strike capabilities'' that "suit
the military-industrial interests'' with their "billion-dollar erector
sets,'' and called for the abolition of the global arsenals of tens of
thousands of deadly warheads.

As a candidate he acknowledged that he was worried for the safety of
his children who lived in Illinois because it has the highest
concentration of nuclear reactors in the US - and opposed further
nuclear subsidies. "I am not a nuclear proponent," he said:

Few people are so clear about their philosophical approach to life in
the nuclear age, but President Obama was clearly a man with the correct
instincts when it came to radiation, nuclear weapons and health.

However, not only in his State of the Union address did he strongly endorse the false concept
of "safe, clean" nuclear power as one of the solutions to global
warming - "But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more
production, more efficiency, more incentives," he said. "That means
building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this
country" - but he has just announced that he will spend $7.4 billion
dollars in the next five years for the "security and maintenance" of
the current enormous stockpile of nuclear weapons. So what has gone

I must admit that I have been worried since he appointed Steven Chu
from Los Alamos Labs as his Secretary of Energy and John Holdren as
science advisor because they are both enthusiastic endorsers of nuclear
power. I had hoped that this president would be a true leader who would
take advice from all sides but make decisions using his own instincts
and innate wisdom. Clearly this has not happened either in the case of
nuclear power or in his noble vision to seek a nuclear weapons-free

The never-ending persistence of the nuclear warriors who inhabit the
Pentagon and nuclear weapons labs have prevailed yet again to influence
this idealistic young president on whom many of us had placed our hopes
for planetary survival. This wonderful vision can only be fulfilled if
the great United States of America takes responsibility for initiating
and leading the global nuclear arms race by reversing its ceaseless
quest for global nuclear security and superiority. The steps are as

  1. Take all 5000 US and Russian strategic weapons off hair trigger
    alert immediately (the use of just 1000 would induce nuclear winter and
    the end of most earthly life).
  2. Include all nuclear weapons (strategic and tactical) in the new
    treaty being negotiated with Russia and move rapidly towards bilateral
    abolition within 5 years.
  3. Cease the sale of nuclear reactors globally by the US, Russia,
    France and others for they are fundamentally factories for nuclear
    weapons production because they manufacture plutonium which is the fuel
    for nuclear weapons.
  4. By example and through the UN enthusiastically encourage nuclear disarmament of all nuclear weapons states.
  5. Rigidly police plutonium and enriched uranium stockpiles in all relevant countries through an empowered and well-funded IAEA.
  6. Ultimately the goal should be the cessation of the production of
    enriched uranium and plutonium by closing all nuclear power plant
    operations in the US , Europe, Russia, Israel, Japan, China and

There is no way to separate the production of nuclear electricity
from the production of nuclear weapons. Nuclear power is the prodigal
son of the weapons industry.

What then to do about global warming, an encroaching horror which is
about to radically alter our lives and to threaten the existence of
many millions of species?

Despite the Obama administration's push for nuclear power it, in fact, will never be the magic bullet which alleviates global warming because:

  1. It adds significantly to global warming gases through its vast
    industrial infrastructure - uranium mining, remediation of the mines
    (rarely if ever done), milling and enrichment of uranium, construction
    of the massive reactor, decommissioning of same, safe transport and
    storage of hundreds of thousands of tons of thermally, radioactive hot
    waste for at least 250,000 years.
  2. Nuclear power is exorbitantly expensive if all its modalities and externalities are included in the cost.
  3. To make any significant contribution to alleviate global warming,
    would mean the construction of some 2,000 to 3,000
    one-thousand-megawatt reactors - one per week for 50 years.
  4. The enormous investment in nuclear electricity makes global warming
    a certainty because it siphons necessary funding away from the real solutions of renewable energy - solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tidal and of course conservation.
  5. Nuclear power, like nuclear weapon production, has been and always
    will be a socialistic enterprise almost totally supported, insured and
    funded by taxpayer dollars.
  6. Nuclear power not only induces the spread of nuclear weapons, it is
    and will be a potent promoter of cancer, genetic disease and congenital
    abnormalities for this and thousands of future generations.
  7. A meltdown induced by terrorist attack, human or mechanical error
    could kill hundreds of thousands from acute radiation sickness,
    leukemia and cancer
  8. 40% of the European land mass and hence food is still contaminated from Chernobyl and will remain so for hundreds of years .
  9. Nuclear power makes war obsolete. The Second World War if fought
    today would render Europe radioactive and uninhabitable for ever.
  10. Global nuclear meltdowns would exacerbate the catastrophic effects of nuclear war ensuring no survival.

It's little wonder that after his speech, more than 3,000 advocates
of safe, clean energy wrote to President Obama in less than 48 hours
rejecting his call for more nuclear power. "President Obama needs to
remember what Candidate Obama promised: no more taxpayer subsidies for
nuclear power," said Michael Mariotte, executive director of Nuclear
Information and Resource Service (NIRS). Mariotte also noted that the nuclear subsidies being promoted by Obama amount to the largest corporate bailout of them all.

For an idealistic student at Columbia who became a visionary, Nobel
Prize-winning President, this is not the sort of change we expected, or
indeed thought you meant.

Indeed, President Obama is forgetting the true cost of nuclear power
to communities and nations, as these experts remind us in this video on
nuclear energy's dangerous impact on health:

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