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."
(story) "Bombs Versus Budgets: Inside the Nuclear Weapons Lobby", prepared by the Center for International Policy. (download PDF)
Tom Collina on Federal News Radio:
April 8, 2015, "In Depth" with Francis Rose: Mr Collina discusses Congress avoiding tough decisions on defense budget by bloating Overseas Contingency Operations, the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures Act, and the Budget Control Act.
The Carnegie Int'l Nuclear Policy Conference held March 23-24 in Wash. DC, has ended; videos of talks and forums can be seen at the Carnegie site.
Successful Citizen Activism Against
Expanded U.S. Plutonium Pit Production
This is the unsung story of successful citizen activism against repeated government attempts to expand the production of plutonium pit cores, which has always been the choke point of resumed U.S. nuclear weapons production. This history is a critical part of the march toward a future world free of nuclear weapons. We gratefully dedicate it to Leroy Moore, longtime activist with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, and J. Carson Mark, retired director of the Los Alamos Lab's Theoretical Division and ardent arms control advocate.
(View/download full report- PDF)
"[Sen.] Udall can't have it both ways, wishing for future limits on plutonium pit production while supporting the very programs and facilities that will expand production.
He needs to stand up, pick one or the other, and make clear whether he is working for a world free of nuclear weapons or not."
-Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, in a published comment on a Feb 22 Santa Fe New Mexican article titled "Udall weighs in on LANL's next mission: Pits".
March 27: NukeWatch Fact Sheet Plutonium Pit Production
In 1989, an FBI raid investigating environmental crimes abruptly stopped the annual production of hundreds of plutonium pits at the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver.
In 1997 the Department of Energy reestablished limited production of up to 20 pits per year at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
Since the turn of the century citizen activists have stopped the National Nuclear Security Administration in each of its four attempts to expand production far beyond the 20 plutonium pits per year.
Plutonium pit production has always been the choke point for resumed U.S. production of new nuclear weapons. See the NukeWatch fact sheet including a timeline of pit production restart attempts:
(View/download "Plutonium Pit Production at LANL")
Recent visitors - click to enlarge
"If you really want a future world free of nuclear weapons, you can hardly make a better investment than to give to Nuclear Watch New Mexico. They need and deserve your support so that they can carry on their groundbreaking work. I urge you to be generous with them!" - Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project on Government Oversight.
May 24, 2015: NPT Rev Con 2015 Fails Over Mideast Nuclear-Free Zone "Anti-nuclear campaigners, angered by the perceived weakness of the outcome document, view the humanitarian pledge as the most significant result of the troubled diplomatic process." (ref)
At the last NPT RevCon in 2010, it was agreed that there should be a conference on establishing a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East in 2012. That conference never took place.
Last month, Egypt, backed by other Arab states and the 100+ non-aligned nations, proposed that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convene a regional conference within 180 days on banning weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East as called for at the 2010 NPT review, with or without Israel's participation, and without a pre-agreed agenda.
Those conditions were "unacceptable to Israel and Washington".
Reuters: "Egypt's proposals, Western diplomats say, were intended to focus attention on Israel. Washington and Israel say Iran's nuclear program is the real regional threat."
More than a taste of Alice in Wonderland there: Israel after all, has the only nuclear arsenal* in the mideast, and is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty; Iran is, on the other hand, a signatory to the treaty, has no nuclear weapons, and indeed has officially forsworn them.
More Reuters: "After four weeks of negotiations at the United Nations on ways to improve compliance with the pact, there was no consensus among its 191 signatories."
Actually there was a consensus: of the 191 parties, only 3 opposed: US, UK, Canada.
Israeli PM Netanyahu telephoned Kerry "to convey his appreciation to President Obama and to the secretary".
*According to recently declassified documents, the US aided Israel in developing its nuclear weapons; what's more, the same Benjamin Netanyahu was a key player in the smuggling of nuclear triggers from the US to Israel.
The Real Outcome: The Austrian Pledge
As the 2015 NPT Review Conference ended, 107 states had endorsed the Austrian pledge, issued at the recent Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons in Geneva, committing to work for a new legally binding instrument for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
"The wide and growing international support for this historic pledge sends a signal that governments are ready to move forward on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, even if the nuclear weapon states are not ready to join."
"History honors only the brave" declared Costa Rica. "Now is the time to work for what is to come, the world we want and deserve."
May 8, 2015: Four Reasons Why U.S. Claims of NPT Compliance Are False NukeWatch's Jay Coghlan has recently returned from the NonProliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations. The U.S. claims to be in compliance with the NPT's obligation that all nuclear powers disarm their stockpiles. This is false given the trillion dollar plan for rebuilding nuclear weapons with new military capabilities, new production facilities and new missiles, subs and bombers.
- Read the full NukeWatch fact sheet:
- Related: Hans Kristensen (Director, Nuclear Information Project, Federation of American Scientists), made a very informative 40-slide presentation on worldwide nuclear modernization programs at the NPT RevCon in New York last week: view/download PDF.
Update May 15, 2015: Free at Last! Plowshares Trio to be Released from Prison The federal appeals court has ordered the immediate release of Sister Megan Rice, Michael R. Walli, and Greg Boertje-Obed after their sabotage convictions were overturned.
"We reject the government's argument that the defendants intended to interfere with the national defense by seeking to create "bad publicity" for Y-12. First Amendment issues aside, it takes more than bad publicity to injure the national defense. The defendants' convictions under §2155(a) must be reversed."
Here's the full text of the decision: view/download PDF.
WIPP Leak: Federal Investigators Blame LANL & WIPP Contractors, DOE, NNSA
The Accident Investigation Board, appointed by the Department of Energy, has found that:
- "Managers at LANL were not receptive to bad news and would retaliate in response to reported issues."
- "Management didn't listen when workers at the waste processing facility reported witnessing 'foaming and an orange or yellow colored smoke coming from drums.'"
- "One employee also said 'when workers questioned the logic of using organic cat litter, 'they were told to focus on their area of expertise and not to worry about other areas of the procedure.'" (Albuquerque Journal)
"Federal investigators found that a dozen problems at the lab and Department of Energy offices overseeing waste processing contributed to the accident, including failure of Los Alamos National Security to effectively review and control waste packaging, train contractors and identify weaknesses in waste handling. The board also found that contractors Los Alamos National Security and Energy Solutions, and the National Nuclear Security Administration office at the lab failed "to ensure that a strong safety culture existed within... the organization at the lab." (New Mexican)
Critical failures of leadership at every level
New Mexico's congressional delegation said in a joint statement "a series of critical failures of leadership at every level led to the very serious accident and release that put numerous New Mexicans at risk, shuttered WIPP for over a year and (has) already cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. This report makes clear that the DOE and its contractors failed to keep faith with the people of New Mexico."
LANL director Charles McMillan wrote in a letter to staff that "the report points out serious deficiencies in our processes and procedures... We now know from the investigations that if LANL had followed certain basic steps, this event would not have happened. Also, if we had complied with our hazardous waste permit, we would have avoided the serious legal and credibility issues we now face... Quite simply, we failed to execute sufficient regulatory and technical reviews in our management of the legacy (transuranic waste) nitrate-salt waste stream."
Director McMillan, whose annual compensation exceeds $1.5 million, outlined LANL's long list of changes and improvements that have been made. "I believe we are turning a corner on this difficult time for the Lab."
One wonders if LANL will be turning that corner together with the current management.
(Sources: Albuquerque Journal, Santa Fe New Mexican, AP Wire News)
New Mexico v. LANL/WIPP: settlement of claims for $73 million. (see WIPP settlement PDF)
Los Alamos Town Hall Meeting on WIPP Accident Investigation Board Findings
On Thursday, April 23, the Department of Energy hosted a Town Hall meeting in Los Alamos to discuss the Accident Investigation Board (AIB) findings from the Feb. 14, 2014 drum breach that shut the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant down. Members of the AIB were on hand to present the findings and answer questions.
A video of the meeting is available on YouTube: 'Los Alamos AIB Town Hall'
- Here is the AIB's Carlsbad presentation, given a week earlier in that city:
- Here is the AIB Phase II Report View/download PDF
- More information on our WIPP page
Los Alamos: A Whistleblower's Diary
"A shocking account of foul play, theft and abuse at our nation's premier nuclear R&D installation, uncovering a retaliatory culture where those who dare to question pay with their careers and, potentially, their lives.
"Tommy was unrecognizable. His face was swollen, bruised, and stained with blood, his eyes barely visible through ballooning eyelids and a broken jaw. On his cheek was a ghostly imprint- the tread mark of someone's shoe. Suddenly, with a slight movement of his hand, Tommy waved me in closer to hear him. Speaking softly through lips that barely moved, he said, 'Be careful . . . They kept telling me to keep my fucking mouth shut; they kept telling me to keep my fucking mouth shut,' he repeated." (read more excerpts at the book's website)
Los Alamos: A Whistleblower's Diary, by Chuck Montano, released April 28, 2015. Order your copy from Amazon, or better yet, from the author directly.
Radio interview with Chuck Montano on the book: KSFR Santa Fe.
Chuck Montano serves on Nuclear Watch New Mexico's Steering Committee.
MOX, May 4, 2015: DOE: MOX No Longer Preferred Option For Plutonium Disposition
See SRS Watch media advisory for full story.
MOX, April 22: UCS reports new DOE estimate: $47.5 billion, up 90% in one year
Union of Concerned Scientists is reporting today that the DOE's new MOX report puts "to-go" cost at $47.5 billion, compared to the $25.1 billion 'to-go' estimate in 2014. But it gets worse... read the details here.
Sen. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Blumenauer (D.Ore.) Introduce SANE Act
Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) today introduced bicameral legislation that would cut $100 billion from the bloated nuclear weapons budget over the next decade.
Click to enlarge
The Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act cuts specific nuclear weapons and related programs without harming national security. The United States spends more money on nuclear weapons than all other countries combined.
"We are robbing America's future to pay for unneeded weapons of the past," said Senator Markey. "As we debate the budget and Republicans rally around devastating cuts to Medicare, Head Start and investments in research and science, it makes no sense to fund a bloated nuclear arsenal that does nothing to keep our nation safe in the 21st century. We should cure disease, not create new instruments of death. We should fund education, not annihilation. Even within its own budget, the Defense Department should prioritize spending for current threats from ISIL, al Qaeda and cyberterrorists. The SANE Act cuts the nuclear weapons and delivery systems that we don't need and will never use so we can invest in the people and programs that will make America safe and prosperous in the future." (View/download SANE Act text) View/download Sen.Markey and Rep. Blumenauer joint press release Tell your Congresspeople you support the SANE Act
For immediate release: March 5, 2015
Watchdog Groups Praise NNSA Decision to Obey the Law,
Prepare Supplement Analysis on Bomb Plant
"The National Nuclear Security Administration's disclosure that the agency is "in the process" of preparing a Supplement Analysis for the much-changed Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at the Y-12 nuclear weapons production plant brought praise from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA) and Nuclear Watch New Mexico. Just two days ago the two grassroots watchdog groups filed an expedited Freedom of Information Act request asking for the Supplement Analysis. At the same time the two groups noted that NNSA could be legally vulnerable without one. ..."
View/download full press release
February 20, 2015:
Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2015 to 2024
January 22, 2015: Doomsday Clock: Three Minutes to Midnight
- The hands of the Doomsday Clock must once again be set at three minutes to midnight, two minutes closer to catastrophe than in 2014.
- Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity
- World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe, endangering every person on Earth.
- Read the full Bulletin statement here.
Dr. James Doyle receiving the ANA award Doyle spoke at the ANA DC Days award ceremony, Washington DC. ANA's awards were also given to: Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Scott Yundt of Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (CAREs), and former FBI Agent Jon Lipsky, Rocky Flats investigation whistleblower. (More awards videos here.) The event was held at the Rayburn House Office Building May 18.
For an extensive weekly listing of nuclear-related events worldwide, subscribe to the Nuclear Calendar
Quote of the Week
"It has been made clear that the nuclear-weapons states are not interested in making any new commitments to disarmament, so now it is up to the rest of the world to start a process to prohibit nuclear weapons by the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August."
- Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of 400 nongovernmental organizations in 95 countries.
(Washington Post, May 22, 2015)
Worldwide Nuclear Weapon Modernization Programs
Hans M. Kristensen Director, Nuclear Information Project, Federation of American Scientists
Presentation to Side Event on Nuclear Weapon Modernizations Organized by Alliance for Nuclear Accountability April 28.
40 pages (slides) (View/download PDF)
Nuclear Disarmament, Non-proliferation, and Energy: Fresh Ideas for the Future April 28 Tuesday; academic conference, organizers: The Netherlands government, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. (More videos of this and other symposia are available at UN Web TV)
The Urgency of Action on the CTBT Contributing to International Peace and Security in an Increasingly Unstable World
28 Apr 2015 - Side Event of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Preparatory Commission (CTBTO PrepCom)
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
"This government would be making a fatal mistake if they believed that for the sake of this costly trumpery that this useless, expensive, unlawful and inherently dangerous military plaything is going to be tolerated by these benches, this party or this country any longer."
Alex Salmond, Scottish National Party, speaking during a May 28 Westminster debate on allegations of poor security at Trident nuclear base in Faslane, Scotlandmade by whistleblower William McNeilly.
"The NNSA wants to expand the ability to make new nuclear plutonium pits to the tune of 50 to 80 a year. The current production is about 5 to 10 a year and yet there is no explanation of why we need to go to 50 to 80... We've never been given the information on why this in necessary, either in classified hearings or in public hearings."
Rep. John Garamendi (D.CA) speaking at a House Armed Services Committee Hearing; Garamendi introduced a series of amendments which seek to better inform Congress about the costs and risks of America's participation in a new nuclear arms race.
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"Nuclear disarmament is not just an ardent desire of the people, as expressed in many resolutions of the United Nations. It is a legal commitment by the five official nuclear states, entered into when they signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty."
-Nobel Laureate Joseph Rotblat
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.