Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities; mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs; greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex; and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
The Nuke Plan to Nowhere
William Hartung writes:
"The House Appropriations Committee announced today that it wants to throw away billions of your tax dollars on weapons we don't need at prices we can't afford. How has it done this? By voting to exempt spending on nuclear weapons from the kinds of budget cuts that will be imposed on other agencies under the sequester.
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)- the agency that oversees the nuclear warhead complex- may well be the most bloated agency in the federal government. It has been tagged by the Government Accountability Office as being at high risk for "waste, fraud and abuse."
"NNSA may well take the prize for the highest proportion of projects that are over budget, behind schedule, and, in most cases, unneeded in the first place. At the top of the list is the B61-12 nuclear bomb..."
(Read Hartung's full column at the HuffingtonPost)
Nuclear WatchBlog Goes Live The Nuclear Watch New Mexico Blog is now live on the web.
We intend to use it to post timely
information and commentary, as well as encourage informed discussion of nuclear weapons policy issues, particularly as they pertain to the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the nuclear weapons complex as a whole.
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Featured on the Watchblog, Aug 8, 2012:
Cleanup, Don't Build Up, Nuke Weapons Programs!
Hundreds of Jobs Could Be Created that Protect the Environment: A NukeWatch report
Download our fact sheet here (PDF 9/12).
The Case for Stockpile Curatorship
-Presentation by Jay Coghlan at the Peace and Security Legislative Strategy Retreat 1/15/2009
View/download full PDF
"What the public doesn't really understand is that the nuclear weapons business is very much ongoing, that funding for nuclear weapons programs within the Department of Energy is nearly 50 percent above the historic average of the Cold War. . . Despite the rhetoric that this country and others are working towards a future world free of nuclear weapons, on the ground what is happening is that the U.S. is rebuilding the production side of its nuclear weapons complex."
- Jay Coghlan on DemocracyNow Oct 11, 2012
LANL's Future: More Plutonium or More Cleanup?
Jay Coghlan speaking in Santa Fe, Oct.21, 2012
President Obama's pick to become the nation's next secretary of energy is drawing criticism for his ties to the fossil fuel, fracking and nuclear industries. MIT nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz has served on advisory boards for BP and General Electric. Public Citizen and Food & Water Watch are campaigning against Moniz's nomination, but the Natural Resources Defense Council has praised his work on advancing clean energy based on efficiency and renewable power. Amy Goodman speaks with Kevin Connor of the Public Accountability Initiative and ProPublica reporter Justin Elliott, both of whom have authored investigations into Moniz's ties to industry. (Democracy Now, 3/26)
Nuclear Weapons Lobby Reportedly Spent $2.9 Million To Stave Off Military Cuts
"The nuclear weapons industry is erecting a missile shield of money to prevent federal government spending cuts worth billions of dollars. In the 2012 election cycle, nuclear weapons lobbies have given a total of $2.9 million to key members of Congress and deployed no fewer than 137 revolving-door lobbyists to Capitol Hill, according to a new report that details the lengths to which arms makers will go to protect their turf."
"Nuclear weapons spending should be determined
by what is needed to defend the country, not what is needed to defend the bottom lines of military contractors," said study author William Hartung, who directs CIP's Arms and Security Project. "Instead, the nuclear arms lobby and its allies on Capitol Hill are seeking to block reductions in systems we don't need at prices we can't afford. This unnecessary spending is being pressed by some of the very same members of Congress who have argued that deficit reduction and greater spending discipline should be our top priorities."
"Bombs Versus Budgets: Inside the Nuclear Weapons Lobby", prepared by the Center for International Policy. (download PDF)
"Another year of stalemate is unacceptable"
Ban Ki-Moon: "Deferring nuclear disarmament indefinitely pending the satisfaction of an endlessly growing list of preconditions can lead only to a world full of nuclear weapons.
When I spoke to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, I said plainly that the very credibility of the body is at risk. The Conference's record of achievement is overshadowed by inertia that has now lasted for more than a decade. †That must change. Another year of stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament is simply unacceptable."
-UN Sec.Gen. Ban Ki-Moon speaking at the Monterey Institute Jan 18, 2013 on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
See his full talk here.
Rethinking the Unthinkable
"The longer we have gone without seeing nuclear weapons used, the more we assume they will not be used. Three new books challenge that complacency, from three different directions."
Bill Keller, former New York Times Chief Editor, reviews "Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons" by Ward Wilson, "The Second Nuclear Age" by Paul Bracken, and "Nuclear Iran" by David Patrikarakos.
(Read the review)
Senators Lugar and Nunn Honored
Senators Dick Lugar and Sam Nunn were honored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in The Hague for their role in helping ex-Soviet states secure and dismantle huge stocks of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The prize will henceforth carry their names: The Nunn-Lugar Award for Promoting Nuclear Security.
Above, Senator Lugar urging the Senate to continue funding the Nunn-Lugar Act (2009).
The JASON Advisory Group
JASON is an independent group of scientists which advises the United States government on matters of science and technology; over the decades its members have included 11 Nobel prize laureates.
See a selection of JASON's nuclear-weapons production-related reports on our JASON page.
Nuclear Weapons in a Changing World Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, together with other panelists in this discussion hosted by the New America Foundation on 6/29/2011.
SUNY Albany historian Larry Wittner examines the disparity between American public opinion and political attitudes toward nuclear disarmament. Statistically, Americans favor disarmament, while government officials are reluctant.
Reason over Relics:
Restructuring our Nuclear Force
Lt. Gen. Robert Gard (Ret.), Chairman, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation:
"With the end of the cold war, the world has changed, and those who ardently defend massive spending on nuclear weapons are either unaware of, or unwilling to consider, the changed strategic landscape.
Our current nuclear force structure is a holdover from an era where the overarching goal was deterring a Soviet nuclear attack on the United States or an invasion of Europe. Every submarine in our fleet today can single-handedly destroy every major city in either China or Russia and completely obliterate smaller nations. If the essence of deterrence is a credible threat, then its safe to say we can make significant reductions with no impact whatsoever on our deterrent or security capacity."
(Read "Reason over Relics" at The Hill)
Living Near Lawrence Livermore Labs Abby Martin, who grew up 10 miles from Lawrence Livermore, investigates ongoing health and environmental problems in the communities around the Labs. (see full transcript)
One Minute Closer To Midnight
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: "It is five minutes to midnight. Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed. For that reason, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving the clock hand one minute closer to midnight, back to its time in 2007." (Read more at the Bulletin's website) Read Martin Hellman's 2011 risk analysis of the nuclear status quo (PDF): How Risky is Nuclear Optimism?
UCS Nuclear Weapons Complex Interactive Map The Union of Concerned Scientists has created an interactive map of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex sites in Google Earth, providing information, collected from public sources, about each facility. (more info, KML file, etc.)
New & Updated
Heather Wilson, with ex-president George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, and ex- NM senator 'Pete' Domenici.
Nuclear Weapons Labs Made Improper Payments to Heather Wilson;
She Should Resign from NNSA Council Tasked With Determining Their Future
Former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson collected nearly half a million dollars in questionable payments from four federally funded nuclear labs after she left office, the Energy Department's inspector general says in a new report. The IG report characterized the payments as "highly irregular", saying the payments "failed to include or enforce even minimum invoicing standards" and that there was an "absence of detailed evidence of the actual services provided" by Wilson. Officials at the Nevada Test Site and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee acknowledged "there were no deliverables".
The report described 23 payments totaling $226,378 made by Sandia between January 2009 and March 2011; 19 payments totaling $195,718 made by Los Alamos between August 2009 and February 2011; and payments totaling approximately $30,000 made by the Nevada and Oak Ridge. management. The contractors, having originally billed the DOE- and the public- for her "services", have reimbursed the funds to DOE.
The Albuquerque Journal North reported: "Sandia and Los Alamos national labs improperly used federal funds to pay former Rep. Heather Wilson about $422,000 for possibly engaging in prohibited lobbying and other work the labs failed to document, according to a Department of Energy inspector general report. The use of DOE funds by the labs to lobby the federal government to increase lab funding or expand lab missions, known by the labs as 'business development', is prohibited, according to the report released Tuesday. 'Despite these prohibitions, our examination of relevant documents at both Sandia and Los Alamos tend to indicate such activities did occur', the report says."
And here's the kicker:
In February, Wilson was the first person named- by House Speaker John A. Boehner- to a new advisory panel on the National Nuclear Security Administration, which will reassess how the national laboratories are run by these same contractors. In a timid understatement, the Washington Post notes: "Critics decried her appointment as a conflict of interest because of her contract work for the laboratories." In fact, the Federal Advisory Committee Act specifically states: "Because advisory committees provide input to federal decision makers on significant national issues, it is essential that their membership be, and be perceived as being, free from conflicts of interest and balanced as a whole."
Indeed, under the circumstances, her appointment to the NNSA advisory council is outrageous, and she should resign her position immediately.
Air Force Briefing Shows Countries' Nuclear Modernizations-
But Ignores US and UK Programs
Hans Kristensen, writing in the Federation of American Scientists Strategic Security Blog, reports on a recent "Command Briefing" by the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command. The briefing chart (above, click to enlarge) shows nuclear modernization programs underway in 8 of the 9 nuclear powers (Israel is left out), including development of nuclear-capable cruise missiles in China and North Korea. But Kristensen writes:
"A closer look at the characterization used for nuclear modernizations in the various countries shows generalizations, inconsistencies and mistakes that raise questions about the quality of the intelligence used for the briefing. Moreover, the omission from the slide of any U.S. and British modernizations is highly misleading and glosses over past, current, and planned modernizations in those countries.
"For some, the briefing is a sales pitch to get Congress to fund new U.S. nuclear weapons... Overall, however, the rampant nuclear modernizations shown on the slide underscore the urgent need for the international community to increase its pressure on the nuclear weapon states to curtail their nuclear programs. And it calls upon the Obama administration to reenergize its efforts to reduce the numbers and role of nuclear weapons."
Read the full post at the FAS site - View/download the Command Briefing PDF
Throwing Money at Nukes - NYTimes Ed, May 26
The New York Times, in an important editorial, calls out the Obama administration's FY 2014 budgeting of over $500 million for the upgrading of the 180 B61 gravity nukes based in Europe. Calling the B61 "detritus of the cold war... [which] no American military commander can conceive of ... ever being used", the Times notes the full cost of the program is now expected to be $10 billion. The Times says the decision is "nonsensical", and notes that "the B61 upgrade would significantly increase America's tactical nuclear capability and send the wrong signal while Mr. Obama is trying to draw Russia into a new round of nuclear reduction talks that are supposedly aimed at cutting tactical, as well as strategic, arsenals." (Read the full editorial here)
1983: The USSR and US Came Closer to Nuclear War Than We Thought
Nate Jones has uncovered the details of "the moment of maximum danger of the late Cold War", and shown "how the world's rival superpowers found themselves blindly edging toward the brink of nuclear war through suspicion, belligerent posturing and blind miscalculation".
Documents uncovered show that US intelligence at the time was unaware that a series of NATO war games held in late 1983 confirmed Soviet Premier Andropov's worst fears that the US was preparing a first strike, and that the Soviets actually began preparations for nuclear war.
NNSA Penalizes Sandia; In Response Labs Director Says the Needs of the Nuclear Weapons Stockpile May Not Be Met Nuclear Watch NM Press Release May 17:
Albuquerque's KRQE TV Channel 13 investigative reporter Larry Barker has found that
"after calling employee safety standards 'inexcusable', the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration recently withheld more than $6 million in incentive fees from Sandia [National Laboratories] as punishment.
Lab director Dr. Paul Hommert defended Sandia's handling of the Alaskan incident to the federal government. But in a strongly-worded rebuke, NNSA Acting Director Neile Miller called Hommert's version of the Kodiak events 'disingenuous', characterized Sandia's response to the accident as 'minimal' and said she was disturbed that no disciplinary action was ever taken against the employees involved." Barker's compilation of NNSA's fee determination and Sandia Lab Director Paul Hommert's letter is available here (PDF).
Nuclear Watch New Mexico's Director Jay Coghlan commented, "In response to NNSA's criticism and proposed penalty, in effect Hommert [photo at left] tells the federal government to give us the money- or the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile is at risk. There is an inherent conflict of interest in having the nuclear weapons labs' directors also acting as presidents of the for-profit limited liability corporations that run the labs. As part of badly needed reform and strengthening of federal oversight, these two positions should be strictly separated so that the American public can be fully confident that profoundly serious nuclear weapons policy decisions are not being influenced by private profit motives."
Read the full NWNM press release here (PDF)
"'Is it appropriate to have the lab directors overseeing the nuclear weapons programs also be presidents of the for-profit corporations running these nuclear weapons laboratories?' Coghlan asked. 'I have to question whether they are always going to 100-percent represent the interests of the nation.'" Listen to the Public News Service interview with Jay Coghlan:
Days Of Blank Checks Are Over For Nuclear Weapons Establishment Kevin Martin of Peace Action and Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch, in The Hill, April 26.
"Many of America's Cold War weapons are in the hands of one of its most obscure government agencies. It's called the National Nuclear Security Administration, and it was the subject of a senate budget hearing this week. The agency's obscurity to most taxpayers is exceeded only by its astonishing failure to acknowledge political and fiscal reality. . .
"The National Nuclear Security Administration, apparently indifferent to federal belt-tightening, thinks it needs a big raise. Stuck in the Cold War, the hey-day of nuclear spending, the agency in charge of the nation's nuclear weapons is calling for more spending in almost every category. . .
Graphic prepared by Robert Civiak, Tri-Valley Cares
"Congress needs to very carefully scrutinize the budget requests for exorbitant, controversial, and failing programs. The National Ignition Facility, Uranium Processing Facility and MOX (mixed oxide) fuel program are just a few examples of nuclear programs that are both mismanaged and unnecessary. Most Americans have never heard of these programs, yet American taxpayers will spend more than half a trillion dollars over the next decade on these and other nuclear capabilities that are irrelevant in the 21st century. . .
"NNSA and its managers won't like congressional oversight or fiscal responsibility. They should remember that they work for us, and Americans would rather invest our tax dollars in education, health care, job creation, and local law enforcement - the people who protect us everyday, not the people who watch over Cold War relics. The nuclear priesthood's blank check days are over."
(Read the complete OpEd in The Hill, 4/26/13)
- Action Alert: Rep. Markey has reintroduced his important bill from last year (The SANE Act, aka H.R. 1506) that cuts over $100 billion in nuclear weapons spending. Use this online form to ask the representatives of your state to cosponsor the SANE Act.
How the US Turned Three Pacifists Into Violent Terrorists "In just ten months, the United States managed to transform an 82 year-old Catholic nun and two pacifists from non-violent anti-nuclear peace protestors accused of misdemeanor trespassing into federal felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism. Now in jail awaiting sentencing for their acts at an Oak Ridge, TN nuclear weapons production facility, their story should chill every person concerned about dissent in the US. Here is how it happened..."
Read Fran Quigley's clarifying narrative at Common Dreams
DOE Wants to Ship Hanford High Level Waste to WIPP
Although the world's first geologic repository for military nuclear waste does not have room for all of the hottest waste it is supposed to handle, the federal government is proposing to disregard legal limits and expand the types and amounts of waste destined for the site, including both 'high level waste' from defense installations as well as spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors. (see "WIPP: Expanding Threat to Public Health?", LaJacarita News)
In the clip at left, Don Hancock, director of the Nuclear Waste Safety program and administrator at Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque, is interviewed by V.B. Price, New Mexico Mercury, about the proposed transfer of high-level radioactive waste from the Hanford site in Washington state to the WIPP site in Southern New Mexico. (source: No2WIPP.org)
NPT PrepCon Geneva:
Joint Statement On The Humanitarian Impact Of Nuclear Weapons Delivered by Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty of South Africa on behalf of 74 countries at the Non-Proliferation Treaty PrepCom in Geneva, Switzerland, April 24, 2013.(Full text)
"Our countries are deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. While this has been known since nuclear weapons were first developed and is reflected in various UN resolutions and multilateral instruments, it has not been at the core of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation deliberations for many years. Although it constitutes the raison d'tre of the NPT, which cautions against the "devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war and the consequent need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war and to take measures to safeguard the security of peoples", this issue has consistently been ignored in the discourse on nuclear weapons...
"It is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances. The catastrophic effects of a nuclear weapon detonation, whether by accident, miscalculation or design, cannot be adequately addressed. All efforts must be exerted to eliminate this threat. The only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination. It is a shared responsibility of all States to prevent the use of nuclear weapons, to prevent their vertical and horizontal proliferation and to achieve nuclear disarmament, including through fulfilling the objectives of the NPT and achieving its universality. The full implementation of the 2010 Action Plan and previous outcomes aimed at achieving the objectives of the NPT must therefore not be postponed any further.
"Addressing the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons is an absolute necessity. As an element that underpins the NPT, it is essential that the humanitarian consequences inform our work and actions during the current Review Cycle and beyond.
"This is an issue that affects not only governments, but each and every citizen of our interconnected world. By raising awareness about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, civil society has a crucial role to play, side-by-side with governments, as we fulfill our responsibilities. We owe it to future generations to work together to rid our world of the threat posed by nuclear weapons." (Full text)
Next Steps in Reducing Nuclear Risks:
The Pace of Nonproliferation Work Today Doesn't Match the Urgency of the Threat
George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, WSJ, 3/5/2013
". . . Despite these considerable efforts, nuclear dangers remain all too real. Technological progress and the proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional states are compounded by dangerous complacency. Bilateral relations between the two largest nuclear powers, the United States and Russia, are frayed, and there are continuing difficulties in effectively addressing emerging nuclear threats in North Korea and Iran, punctuated recently by a test explosion in North Korea. Combined with the dangers of suicidal terrorist groups, the growing number of nations with nuclear arms and differing motives, aims, and ambitions poses very high and unpredictable risks.
"Global leaders owe it to their publics to reduce, and eventually to eliminate, these risks. Even during the Cold War, the leaders of the two superpowers sought to reduce the risk of nuclear war. What was possible among declared enemies is imperative in a world of increasing nuclear stockpiles in some nations, multiple nuclear military powers and growing diffusion of nuclear energy. A global effort is needed to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, prevent their spread, and ultimately end them as a threat to the world. It will take leadership, creative approaches and thoughtful understanding of the perils of inaction. Near-term results would lay the foundation for transforming global security policies over the medium and long term. We suggest four areas requiring urgent consideration:"
Read "Next Steps in Reducing Nuclear Risks: The Pace of Nonproliferation Work Today Doesn't Match the Urgency of the Threat" at NSP
". . . Recent scholarship in the fields of history and deterrence theory questions deeply held beliefs regarding how nuclear weapons might influence the behavior of national decision-makers. For example, declassified official documents from the Cold War reveal occasions when nuclear catastrophe was avoided by luck or seemingly random events rather than by the clearly identifiable operation of nuclear deterrence. There are further examples where existential characteristics of alerted nuclear forces appear to have caused crises that nearly resulted in their use. Finally, a growing number of strategists and technical and political elites regard nuclear weapons and deterrence theory as anachronistic.
"Many citizens, scientists and laymen alike, view nuclear weapons abolition as an essential milestone in the development of human civilisation, a moral, ideological and practical campaign that could catalyze the transformation of international relations and improve the outlook for civilisation at a critical time."
(The above are excerpts- read or download the full text here)
NNSA Defends Contract Extensions but Congressional Scrutiny Expected Douglas P. Guarino, Global Security Newswire, March 12, 2013
"The National Nuclear Security Administration is defending itself against charges that it renewed lucrative deals for undeserving contractors, but the issue is likely to come up at congressional oversight hearings in the coming months, sources say.
"Nuclear Watch New Mexico said last week that earning at least 80 percent of an 'at-risk incentive award fee is the threshold for eligibility for a one-year contract extension' at NNSA sites. The firm that manages the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico 'received only 68 percent of its possible at-risk award fee of $46.5 million for the last budget year, primarily because of cost overruns that ballooned a security project from $213 million to $254 million,' according to a press release from the organization.
"Nonetheless, Neile Miller, then the agency's top award determining official and now its acting chief, overrode a decision by NNSA site personnel and granted Los Alamos National Security a waiver that extends its contract through fiscal 2018, the group said.
"According to Nuclear Watch, a similar situation occurred regarding the contract of a consortium- consisting of Bechtel National, the University of California, Babcock and Wilcox, the Washington Division of URS and Battelle- that manages the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Lawrence Livermore National Security earned 78 percent of its 'available at-risk incentive fee, still short of the gateway of 80 percent,' the group said. 'However, acting NNSA Administrator Neile Miller overrode that too, giving the lab contractor an extra $541,527 to help it meet the 80 percent mark and extending the management contract another year.'
"Nuclear Watch New Mexico cited the spiraling cost of the Los Alamos security system for its Technical Area 55 as one of a number of NNSA projects in which expenses have exceeded projections. The organization said that to avoid future cost overruns, the government should emphasize conservative life-extension programs for nuclear warheads that do not involve the creation of new military capabilities. In addition to costing more, introducing "untested changes to existing nuclear weapons" could "erode confidence in their reliability," the group suggested.
Congress should also "pull the plug on exorbitant failed projects" such as Lawrence Livermore's National Ignition Facility and an unfinished plant for turning nuclear-weapon plutonium into reactor fuel at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the group says." (Read full story at NTI) View/download the Nuclear Watch Press Release
NNSA Releases FY 2012 Performance Evaluation Reports to Nuclear Watch
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has recently released fiscal year 2012 Performance Evaluation Reports on its contractors at its eight nuclear weapons sites, following Nuclear Watch New Mexico's successful lawsuit for its FY 2011 Reports. These assessments are the scorecards for Performance Evaluation Plans negotiated between the government and its nuclear weapons contractors, which awards the contractors tens of millions of taxpayers' dollars. Public access to these reports is of increasing importance as federal oversight is being continuously diminished. The trend of soaring contractor profits paired with decreasing accountability should be reversed, especially given sequester budget cuts that will further handicap federal oversight.
View/download the full PERs, and our excerpts, read analyses and follow-ups here.
Military Wisdom and Nuclear Weapons
Ward Wilson, National Defense University: Joint Force Quarterly
From the article abstract: "A mystique surrounds nuclear weapons, so the discourse has often been characterized by wishful thinking or an exaggerated sense of their impact. As the wish to do away with nuclear arms grows while at the same time they proliferate to unstable actors, reasoned military thinking regarding their actual military utility must offset fanciful speculation." (full article )
Security Review: A culture of Permissiveness in DOE and NNSA "a pervasive culture of tolerating the intolerable and accepting the unacceptable."
In response to the recent break-in at Y-12 National Security Complex by an 82-year-old nun and her two accomplices, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu asked three experts to review the physical security of U.S. nuclear weapons facilities. Retired Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. C. Donald Alston, and former Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Richard Meserve each provided Secretary Chu with a letter detailing their findings. They each came to the conclusion that significant changes must be made to the way the U.S. views and implements physical security at nuclear weapons facilities.
Norman Augustine's letter to Secretary Chu is the most thorough examination of the various reasons for Y-12's security failures and the future security options for the nuclear complex as a whole.
Augustine found one of the most troubling causes of this security breach was a culture of permissiveness within the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), "a pervasive culture of tolerating the intolerable and accepting the unacceptable." Augustine repeated what countless experts, reviewers, and commissioners have said before, that it is time for a concrete and legitimate change in the way the DOE and NNSA secure our nuclear weapons. "The problem the Department faces within the context of this review is a culture of permissiveness, amplified by the absence of day-to-day accountability and exacerbated, in the case of Y-12, by an ineffectual governance structure."
(Read more: Experts: Now is the Time for Nuclear Security Changes)
Nuclear Watch Helps To Get Nuclear Weapons Contractors' Performance Reports Made Public
After much watchdogging from Nuclear Watch New Mexico and a new statutory requirement in the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, the annual federal award assessments that determine the profits of the nation's nuclear weapons contractors will be publicly released. This follows NukeWatch's
Freedom of Information Act request last year that succeeded in obtaining only heavily redacted award reports. We subsequently 1) sued to successfully obtain the reports in full, and 2) asked the Senate Armed Services Committee to require their annual release, now codified in the final Act signed by the
(Read our Press release here) View our handy table of the award fees here. (PDF)
"I cannot imagine how any set of engineers beyond kindergarten could have gotten that far without discovering that mistake." - David Wilfert, retired deputy federal project director at Oak Ridge Lab, commenting on the discovery that the design of the $6 billion Uranium Processing Facility was too small to hold all planned equipment. (ref)
Cathie Sullivan's charming hand-printed note cards are now available at Etsy.com. Cathie is a long-time supporter and board member of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, and she is generously donating part of each sale to Nuclear Watch. Enjoy her selection at Etsy- and please Tweet and Facebook her cards too!
David Culp to speak in Santa Fe
David Culp, working with the Friends Committee on National Legislation as their Legislative Representative on Nuclear Disarmament in Washington DC, will speak from 7-9 pm Sunday, June 16, at Quaker House, Suite 209, 1730 Camino Carlos Rey, Santa Fe. David will speak on the B-61 nuclear bomb, the last U.S. nuclear bomb in Europe, now scheduled for an astronomically expensive upgrade. (and in Albuquerque June 17: Friends Meeting, 1600 5th St, NW. 7-9pm)
The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Diego was closed permanently in June after it was discovered that "hundreds" of recently replaced tubes were "wearing out at an unusual rate".
LANL's Central Mission Los Alamos Lab officials have recently claimed that LANL has moved away from primarily nuclear weapons to "national security", but what truly remains as the Labs central mission? Here's the answer from one of its own documents:
LANL's "Central Mission"- Presented at: RPI Nuclear Data 2011 Symposium for
Criticality Safety and Reactor Applications (PDF) 4/27/11
POGO Calls for MOX Termination Project on Government Oversight: "We're hearing a lot these days about the federal budget crisis. You'd think that with all this talk about the need for austerity, Congress and President Obama would have no problem cutting unneeded and unwanted, projects from the budget. Then why are some members of Congress insisting that we continue to fund a nuclear boondoggle that may end up costing taxpayers $22.1 billion, an unfathomable increase over the original $1.6 billion price tag?
"It's called the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication (MOX) Facility at the Department of Energy's Savannah River site in South Carolina..."
Tell Your Representatives to Cut Funding for the Fuel to Nowhere Facility!
Put the Nuclear Weapons Budget on the Table Dec. 5, 2012 The showdown over the so-called "fiscal cliff" in Washington has begun. On the table are $1 trillion in automatic spending cuts... if we don't cut the Pentagon- and specifically the nuclear weapons budget- then that means more cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Rep. Markey has reintroduced his important bill from last year (The SANE Act aka H.R. 1506) that cuts over $100 billion in nuclear weapons spending. Use this online form to ask the representatives of your state to cosponsor the SANE Act.
November 16, 2012 Jay Coghlan gave a presentation to the Regional Coalition of LANL
"We believe that when LANL wants to do something it lowballs the estimate. For example the lab originally priced the CMRR at $660 million in 2004, but that cost increased almost 10-fold in 8 years. The flip side is that when the lab doesn't want to do something it grossly inflates the cost estimate, such as its estimated $29 billion for comprehensive cleanup of Area G, a figure that even NMED officials ridicule in private.
"What we found is that comprehensive clean-up should cost around the same estimated $6 billion that the CMRR would have cost. But instead of $6 billion for an unneeded plutonium facility for expanded nuclear weapons production that wouldn't produce a single new permanent job, $6 billion for comprehensive clean up of Area G would be a win-win for New Mexicans. It would permanently protect the environment, groundwater and the Rio Grande while creating hundreds of long-term high paying jobs."
Read Jay's full remarks. (PDF) Regional Coalition of LANL Communities website
DOE IG: LANL Cybersecurity Problems Persist
In a report released this month (February), the DOE IG found that "Network servers and devices were configured with default or easily guessed login credentials or required no authentication. For example, 15 web applications and 5 servers were configured with default or blank passwords . . . Additionally, two network servers had the possibility to accept connections from anybody without the use of authentication or similar access controls. Also, 10 network servers could have allowed unauthorized remote control."
Read our Watchblog post on the IG's report: How Do You Spell PASSWORD? - LANL Gets Bad Cyber Report
Click image for full graphic from Ploughshares
B-61 Nuke: Worth 1.5 times it's weight in gold
Each 700-pound B61 nuclear bomb will soon be overhauled at a price tag of $28 million. But 700 lbs. of solid gold is currently worth only $15.5 million. It would actually be cheaper to make the B61 nuclear bomb out of gold. Use this online form to tell your representative to cut B61 funding!
On Making Contact: Women Rising: Audiocast: International Anti-Nuclear Activists Speak
With: Kaori Izumi, who led the grassroots campaign to shutdown Japan's nuclear power plants after the Fukushima disaster; Winona LaDuke, working to oppose uranium mining on indigenous lands; and Alice Slater, a leader in the global initiative to ban nuclear weapons. (listen to show)
LANL Radiation Risks 'Sharply Underestimated'
A report by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board found that Los Alamos Labs has sharply underestimated the amount of radiation that could leak from the facility as a result of an earthquake.
The New Mexico laboratory's analysis included "multiple, substantial deficiencies," wrote Peter S. Winokur, chairman of the advisory board.
The higher estimate calls for "additional safety controls" and "prompt action".
According to an advisory board document, the Los Alamos laboratory estimated that a person in that scenario could incur 23 rem total effective dose equivalent (TEDE)- a measure of the radiation absorbed by the human body and the resulting tissue damage.
However, the advisory board concluded that the dose would exceed 100 rem TEDE.
The laboratory's estimate was just below a Department of Energy "evaluation guideline" of 25 rem TEDE, the advisory board chairman wrote. A finding of more than 25 would require the laboratory to implement the highest level of safety controls the department can prescribe. The advisory board's estimate was at least four times that threshold.
(source: POGO) LA Times coverage: Radiation Risk Underestimated AP/Santa Fe New Mexican coverage: Oversight board questions Los Alamos lab radiation risk
Eurozone Reactors Get Low Grades Oct. 3: Hundreds of problems have been found at European nuclear plants that would cost up to 25 billion euros to fix, says a leaked draft report (BBC).
Who Will Claim Ronald Reagan's Mantle On Nuclear Disarmament Today?
"We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth."
-Inaugural Address, 1985
"A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?"
-1984 State of the Union
"My dream is to see the day when nuclear weapons will be banished from the face of the Earth."
-from "Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Weapons,"
by Paul Lettow
"For the eight years I was president I never let my dream of a nuclear-free world fade from my mind."
-Reagan Memoirs, "An American Life"
(Read more of "Ronald Reagan, Republicans, and Nuclear Weapons" by Jonathan Granhoff, President, Global Security Institute)
"Twenty-five years ago this month, I sat across from Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, to negotiate a deal that would have reduced, and could have ultimately eliminated by 2000, the fearsome arsenals of nuclear weapons held by the United States and the Soviet Union"
"Farewell to Arms" by Mikhail Gorbachev
"Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount."
-Gen. Omar Bradley
Our Mission: Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities, mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs, greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex, and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.