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Project Rulison – A Blast from the Past – Another Project Plowshares Debacle. Four Protesters and a documentary Film Crew Return to the Scene of the Crime.

September 16, 2019

Protesters at the Rulison nuclear blast site, Ground Zero, along with the documentary film makers from Project Boom. They are making a documentary about Project Plowshares and Rulison in particular. Nancy Fey in white sweatshirt with flowers. On her right Melinda Dell Fitting. Front and center in light long sleeve shirt, Chester McQueary and to his right in the read t-shirt, yours truly, Rob Prince.

Today, in 2019, the world has entered a new nuclear weapons arms race. In many ways it is far more dangerous than the one which unfolded during the Cold War. The United States has invested some $1.4 trillion over a ten year period to modernize the entire nuclear weapons arsenal. None of its competitors is spending anything near that, be it China, Russia or the other nuclear weapons countries. 

In the nuclear arms race that unfolded during the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union – in response to worldwide rejection of nuclear weapons’ testing and the revelations of the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – tried to sugar coat nuclear weapons, put makeup on the corpse that is nuclear annihilation by arguing they could also be used for peaceful development and construction purposes. 

Remembering Rulison is not just a exercise in what happened fifty years ago, but a warning for what is happening today. 

 

Chester McQueary, Project Rulison organizer, preparing the meeting room for the 50th anniversary memorial

September 10, 2019.

1.

A group of fifty or so people, almost all from the surrounding area of Battlement Mesa, Parachute, Rifle Colorado gathered at the Battlement Mesa Recreation Center located on 1-70 between Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction in the Colorado Rockies. Battlement Mesa sits in a valley between the Roan Plateau to the north and Grand Mesa to the south. It was supposed to “Ground Zero” for Colorado’s mega-oil shale development program that, thankfully, never got off the ground.

The area is “Ground Zero” for another federal boondoggle that did get off the ground, or more accurately was triggered under the ground. The Battlement Mesa audience came to hear the recollections and comments of four people who, fifty years to the day, on September 10, 1969, had protested the detonation of an underground nuclear blast at nearby Rulison, set off by the Atomic Energy Commission in conjunction with the Austral Oil Company and the GeoNuclear Corporation.

At the time, the protest organizers, and those who joined them at the blast site, were under the illusion that if enough of people were protesting near the blast site – we were a few miles from Ground Zero – that the Atomic Energy Commission would not detonate the bomb. They were mistaken about that. The organizers had hoped to bring several hundred people from the Front Range to protest, but as it turned out, fewer people were willing, able to participate. Still, no small thing to protest a 43 kiloton blast 8400 feet below the surface a few miles from Ground Zero

“Project Rulison” was a part of a larger program that resulted in 27 underground nuclear blasts using 31 nuclear weapons known as “Project Plowshares’ – an Edward Teller production. Teller, like Donald Trump today had limitless energy to propose stupid ideas. “Plowshares” was an attempt to give a face lift to nuclear weapons suggesting that besides being weapons of mass destruction, that weapons could also be used for mass construction projects, building harbors, canals, tunnels through mountains. There were even plans on the drawing board – never activated – to use nuclear weapons for weather modification. (1) Read more…

Project Rulison – A Blast From The Past…and some of us were there…Project Plowshares and the “Baby Tooth Survey”

September 5, 2019

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The fiftieth anniversary of Project Rulison, an underground nuclear blast to produce commercially grade natural gas – a kind of nuclear fracking – will take place on September 10, 2019. Rulison lies west of the continental divide between Grand Junction and Glen Wood Springs in the Colorado Rockies.

Some of us involved in protesting the blast will return to Rulison for a Memorial Forum and as a part of an effort to make a documentary film on the event. What was Project Rulison and what broader program was it a part of? It was an important moment in the state and nation’s history but so few know anything about it. The Rulison Blast took place some six years after the signing of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963. Worldwide protests combined with several fascinating and original scientific studies forced nuclear testing underground worldwide, and once underground forced deeper and deeper detonations to control for radioactive contamination. One of the more interesting studies, detailed below, was known as “the Baby Tooth Survey” 

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As a part of preparing for the 50th Anniversary Project Rulison reunion which will take place in a few days at the blast site, I decided to do a little reading about “Project Plowshares” of which Project Rulison was an intimate part. To that end, have read two books, one entitled “Project Plowshares” by Scott Kaufman, a fine overview of the history of the “Plowshares” twenty year experiment. The other, entitled “The Firecracker Boys” by Dan O’Neill deals in depth with an early abortive Plowshares’ program called “Project Chariot,” it, an attempt to detonate nuclear weapons on the northwestern coast of Alaska, initially to create a harbor and the movement that sprang up, “mushroomed” against it. The project was killed by widespread popular protest that was spearheaded by Eskimo communities in the area where the blast was scheduled to take place.

It is quite a story that I will detail elsewhere.

When Project Plowshares began in 1957, both the United States and the Soviet Union were tripping over one another’s feet detonating nuclear blasts. Of the more than 2000 nuclear bombs detonated, some 544 of them were above ground nuclear blasts, with the United States and the-then Soviet Union responsible for more than 80% of those. Overwhelmingly, those above ground nuclear tests took place prior to the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of August, 1963. The test ban treaty drove almost all the 1500 or so later nuclear testing underground. This created something of a crisis for Project Plowshares, much of whose leadership opposed the test ban treaty.(1)

There were, during the 1950s, great fears about radioactive contamination, what caused it, the length of toxicity of different radioactive elements and to what degree the above ground nuclear tests were responsible for increased levels of radioactive contamination. But there were very few studies. But there was one, that was conducted by the Greater St. Louis Committee for Nuclear Information (one of whose leading personalities was Barry Commoner) in conjunction with twp St. Louis dental schools. Together they conducted what became known as “The Baby Tooth Survey” – a multi-year scientific study of the teeth of children to test levels of strontium 90 – one of the radioactive contaminants resulting from nuclear blasts. The Baby Touth Studies were a part of a key scientific evidence that drove nuclear bomb testing underground, and in many ways, greatly complicated Edward Teller’s plans at “nuclear landscaping.” Read more…

Washington’s New Boogeyman – “the Axis of Resistance” – What it is, What it isn’t – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. August 27, 2019 – Transcript – Part Three

August 30, 2019

Hezbollah members listen to a speech by groups leader, Hassan Nasrallah. August 22, 2019

Transcript – KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogue – August 27, 2019 – Part Three. (Continued from Part Three)

Part One, (Continued from Part Two).

What is China looking for where it wants to extend the Belt and Road to and through the Middle East? It’s looking for regional stability so that it can extend its trade relations.

Jim Nelson: Both of you have mentioned China’s Belt and Road Initiative one section of which passes through the Middle East. Having these mercenaries run amok in the region throws a wrench into the completion of that plan.

Rob Prince: If you look at where China hopes to extend the Belt and Road Initiative – so many of these regions are areas of instability, including the Middle East, including quite frankly as far away from the Chinese mainland as the Cameroon, in West Africa. The Cameroon, the Middle East, Myanmar these are regions of high tension. One has to wonder what’s going on in all these places. There are some analysts that say this is a part of a great global chess game.

What is China looking for where it wants to extend the Belt and Road to and through the Middle East? It’s looking for regional stability so that it can extend its trade relations.

Jim Nelson: Just a little update on the mercenaries in Syria. Trump recommended that they be sent back to their countries of origin, especially those emanating from Europe – to Germany, France or wherever. Have you heard about that?

Rob Prince: No, I haven’t heard that. The last thing I heard our president talking about was nuking hurricanes.

But I did want to talk about Hezbollah because the negative, nasty press it’s gotten in this country, a movement considered on the State Department’s terrorist list, treated here as nothing other than a terrorist organization.

Two very brief stories.

∙ When I was still teaching, I had a student who got some kind of scholarship to spend a summer in Lebanon. He suggested a research project; what should I do it on? Let’s both think about it. The next he comes back, brimming with enthusiasm, telling me that he wanted to do a paper on Hezbollah. This was prior to the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. I responded that it was a great idea, that we don’t hear very much or know very much about Hezbollah here in the USA. A serious study would be useful. I know something about it in a general way, but quite frankly, not that much. So let’s set up a doable research project in which you can learn something about them and their role in Lebanese society. You’ll be there for a couple of months. Do some interviews, find out what is this organization about, what is its social base, its role in Lebanese society and more generally in the region?

When he got to Lebanon and checked in with the U.S. Embassy there as he was required to do for his studies, the first thing he was told was that under no circumstances should he have any contacts with anyone from Hezbollah and that if he was, he would be expelled immediately. Read more…

Project Rulison – A Blast From The Past…and some of us were there….

August 29, 2019

Washington’s New Boogeyman – “the Axis of Resistance” – What it is, What it isn’t – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. August 27, 2019 – Transcript – Part Two

August 29, 2019

Iranian trained Iraqi Shi’ite militamen in Najaf, Iraq. Iraq’s paramilitary groups have blamed a series of recent blasts at their weapons depots and bases on the United States and Israel, vowing to defend themselves against any future attack.

Transcript – KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogue – August 27, 2019 – Part Two. (Continued from Part One)

Rob Prince: My question is Ibrahim, that these governments that participate in the Axis of Resistance are actually quite different the one from the other in terms of their politics, their vision. They are not united, if you like, ideologically, in the sense that they have a common program.

One of my mother’s classic sayings comes to mind – “You make a plan for life and then life makes a plan for you.”

In the case of the Axis of Resistance, the countries are essentially thrown together because of common interests but they had to learn how to work together in a principled fashion.

Does this ring true?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Sure. For example the relations between Iran and Iraq. The Iraqis would like to be completely independent of Iran, having nothing to do Iran. Culturally yes, they are close, Shia-ism to a degree is a common denominator as a theological principle between them. Sixty percent of Iraqis and the majority of the Iranians are Shia. But apart from that – even the way Shia-ism represents and manifests itself in Iraq is slightly different from the way it is represented in Iran. But the major or common denominator between the two countries is anti-imperialism, anti-United States and anti-diktats of the Western colonial powers in the region.

Take Syria’s relations with both the Iraqis and Iranians as another example. Beyond some notion of Alawite connection to Shiaism (very distant actually) – we need to describe exactly who they are, there is nothing in common (with Iraq and Iran). But it’s the position that they have vis-a-vis the imperial stance of the United States. Hezbollah, Hamas and others likewise. Hezbollah is a Shia organization in Lebanon but Hamas in Palestine is Sunni. Yet both consider themselves to be a part of this Axis of Resistance. When we go to the crux of the matter it is their common opposition to American diktats and the politics of Washington’s regional partners, that is to say Saudi Arabia, Israel, United Arab Emirates and a few of the other Gulf states.

Call it the Axis of Resistance or the Axis of the Alliance or Axis of Refusal or the Rejectionist Axis – whatever it is called, refers to a group of people that in essence the common denominator is an anti-imperialist oriented formation that seek to oppose imperialist tendencies and diktats of the United States in the region. Read more…

Washington’s New Boogeyman – “the Axis of Resistance” – What it is, What it isn’t – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. August 27, 2019 – Transcript – Part One

August 28, 2019

Strategically vital Khan Sheikhoun on the road linking Aleppo to southern Syria via Hama. ISIS has just (August 27, 2019) been expelled by Assad’s Syrian Army.

Transcript – KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogue – August 27, 2019 – Part One.

Jim Nelson – This evening’s topic for analysis and discussion is “Washington’s New Boogie Man – The Axis of Resistance. What is it? Why did it come into being?

They are going to respond to a recent interview with Henry Kissinger in the Independent, a British news source. Kissinger claimed that Iran is creating an “Iranian empire” in the Middle East. This initiative to create a so-called Iranian empire must be stopped; in order to do so, the U.S. must support its allies in the region (Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc). On the other hand, many countries in the region see Iran not as trying to dominate the region politically but as an ally or at least trading partner, and one not afraid to stand up to Washington.

So gentlemen – I’ll turn it over to Rob.

Rob Prince: Once again, it’s a pleasure to be here on KGNU. We’ve been preparing for this program for a couple of days. As usual over this most recent period, a number of new developments have entered into the picture. We’ll begin by just mentioning a few of these latest developments before getting into the body of the program. Perhaps we can come back to them later if people have specific questions.

For starters to set the stage something to keep in mind

∙ A month ago, at about the time of our last program, the U.S. Congress approved a two year military budget of a sliver below $1.5 trillion – approximately $750 billion a year for the next two years. Keep in mind this figure doesn’t include the funding to the Department of Energy which controls the country’s nuclear weapon arsenal nor does it include the so-called “Black Box’ budgets – secret budgets for intelligence services that are top secret. So the overall total is probably even greater than $1.5 trillion, closer to $2 trillion if these other factors are taken into consideration.
∙ More recently there has been an intensification of tensions. Over the weekend Israel sent two heavily armed attack drones to Beirut, Lebanon. Hezbollah’s leadership has promised a response. This likely exchange has created a new level of tension Read more…

Washington’s New Boogeyman – “the Axis of Resistance” – What it is, What it isn’t – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. August 27, 2019. 6 pm Mountain Time

August 26, 2019

In a recent interview, Henry Kissinger, using regurgitated Cold-War hyperbole, referred to the “danger” of an “Iranian Empire” in the process of creation. He was referring to “the Axis of Resistance” as it has come to be known, those countries, movements in the Middle East that have come together to oppose U.S. hegemonic plans for the region. A relatively recent phenomenon – What is it? Why did it come into being? That and more

Washington’s New Boogeyman – “the Axis of Resistance” – What it is, What it isn’t – with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, August 27, 2019. 6-7 pm Mountain Time. Streaming at http://www.kgnu.org