Nuclear Watch New Mexico

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.

Quote of the Week

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

LANL FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Pantex Plant FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

KCP FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2021 Budget Chart – Courtesy Tri-Valley CAREs – VIEW

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Click the image to view and download this large printable map of DOE sites, commercial reactors, nuclear waste dumps, nuclear transportation routes, surface waters near sites and transport routes, and underlying aquifers. This map was prepared by Deborah Reade for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

Nuclear Watch Interactive Map – U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

The Wall St. Journal has compiled a searchable database of contaminated sites across the US. (view)
Related WSJ report: https://www.wsj.com

Recent Posts

US nuclear warhead standoff ‘has significant implications for UK’

Kingston Reif, a nuclear analyst at the Arms Control Association, said that he would expect Joe Biden’s incoming administration to take “a critical look” at the W93 programme. It was controversial because of the weak development rationale and that “the weapon would be the first newly designed warhead to enter the US stockpile since the end of the cold war”.

BY: | theguardian.com/uk

HMS Vigilant, one of the four Trident nuclear submarines. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Britain’s most senior defence official admitted there would be “very significant implications” for the future of the Trident nuclear deterrent if Democrats in the US Congress refused to fund a next-generation warhead.

Sir Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, said that the UK was monitoring the US standoff closely but could not say what impact a refusal to start work on the new W93 warhead would have – or how many billions it would cost.

British politicians and officials have, until now, had little to say about the long-running US row over the W93, crudely estimated to be twice as explosive as the ageing Trident warhead now used by the UK.

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Peninsula Clean Energy board rejects PG&E nuclear credits

Peninsula Clean Energy board concerned over message more nuclear power sends to public
“I don’t like the idea of the nuclear on our label because it does kind of feel like a vote for it,” PCE Board Member Jeff Aalfs, said.

BY: | smdailyjournal.com

Peninsula Clean Energy has accepted hydropower allocation credits but rejected similar ones for nuclear power from PG&E after the board expressed concern about associating with the controversial energy source but, in doing so, it will lose out of potential savings up to $10 million through 2023.

Allocations are offsetting credits given out by Pacific Gas and Electric because of the environmental benefits of hydro and nuclear powers emitting fewer greenhouse gases. Peninsula Clean Energy, or PCE, will use the hydro allocation credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with system power in 2021, with plans to continue through 2023. PG&E holds the option to continue offering the credits in 2022 and 2023.
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Rouhani: ‘No negotiations’ needed to restore Iran nuclear deal

“President Rouhani says Iran will return to its commitments that were part of the deal if other signatories do the same.”

BY: Maziar Motamedi | aljazeera.com

US president-elect Joe Biden and Europe have signalled that while they wish to restore the nuclear deal, they believe it needs to be renegotiated and extended

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s nuclear deal can be restored without negotiations despite recent escalations following the assassination of a top nuclear scientist, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has told world powers.

Rouhani said United States President Donald Trump “scribbled on a piece of paper” in May 2018, unilaterally withdrawing from the nuclear deal.

“The next person can put up a nice piece of paper and sign it and it just needs a signature, we’ll be back where we were. It takes no time and needs no negotiations,” Rouhani said in a televised cabinet speech on Wednesday.

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New Aerial Photos Released of the Trio of Failed Nuclear Projects in South Carolina & Georgia: Plutonium Fuel/MOX (Proposed to be Converted into a Plutonium Bomb Plant) and the Vogtle & V.C. Summer Nuclear Reactor Construction Sites

Savannah River Site Watch
Columbia, South Carolina
https://srswatch.org/
November 30, 2020

Columbia, SC (aka new Nuclear Ground Zero) — Dramatic aerial photos of the massive nuclear construction projects in South Carolina and Georgia have been released by the public interest organization Savannah River Site Watch. The photos of the three failed projects, two of which have been formally terminated, were taken by a local anonymous pilot who goes by the nom de avion High Flyer.

Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
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Lawmakers Decide Against Nuclear Weapons Test Funding in Annual Defense Bill

Nuclear Watch New Mexico echoes the words from The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in “applauding lawmakers for deciding not to authorize funds to prepare for the first U.S. nuclear weapons test in nearly three decades, an outcome UCS experts worked diligently to ensure because any move to resume explosive, underground nuclear weapons testing would undermine U.S. security.”

BY: Union of Concerned Scientists | ucsusa.org

Today, Congress released the conference report on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Senate version had contained $10 million to lay the groundwork for a nuclear weapons test if the White House chose to move forward with one. The House took the opposite course, voting to prohibit funding for a nuclear test explosion in fiscal year 2021. The conference report includes neither provision.

“By refusing to give the test a green light, lawmakers are wisely avoiding the risk of an explosive nuclear test setting off a new round in the nuclear arms race,” said Dr. Laura Grego, senior scientist in the UCS Global Security Program.

A dozen premier American scientists with expertise on nuclear weapons issues sent a letter to Congress strongly opposing the resumption of explosive testing of U.S. nuclear weapons, saying it was unnecessary for technical or military reasons and that doing so would have negative security consequences for the United States.

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How I Came to Support the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons

“During my time serving in the Reagan administration, I came to realize that the only nuclear strategy we had was massive retaliation, which would have made the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem almost trivial.”

BY:  | justsecurity.org

A copy of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Photo credit: ICAN

About three years ago, in November 2017, I was honored to be one of about a 100 people invited by the Vatican to an international symposium, “Prospects for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament.” It was the first global gathering conducted after 120 nations at the United Nations approved the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

This treaty, which is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, was adopted by the U.N. on July 7, 2017, and needed 50 countries to ratify it in order for it to come into force. The purpose for the treaty was to get world leaders and citizens to consider nuclear weapons as immoral and illegal as chemical and biological weapons, whose use the U.N had previously prohibited.

Pope Francis himself was very invested in the issue. He gave the keynote address in which he condemned not only the threat of their use, but also the possession of nuclear weapons and warned that nuclear deterrence policies offered a false sense of security. He also personally thanked each of the attendees individually.

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Nuclear fiasco: SCANA ex-CEO to plead guilty to fraud, get prison, pay $5 million

Former SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh has agreed to plead guilty to federal conspiracy fraud charges, go to prison for at least 18 months and forfeit $5 million in connection with SCANA’s $10 billion nuclear fiasco, according to papers filed in the U.S. District Court in South Carolina.

Cooperation agreement between South Carolina federal attorney, SC attorney general & Dominion: https://srswatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/cooperation-agreement-SCGA-US-fed-attny-Dominion-filed-Nov-24-2020.pdf
Marsh, 65, who now lives in North Carolina, helped lead a two-year cover-up, from 2016 to 2018, of the serious financial trouble that was jeopardizing the success of not only the ongoing Fairfield County nuclear project but also the troubled financial health of SCANA, according to records and evidence in the case.
At the time, the now-defunct SCANA was a respected gas and electric publicly-traded utility and the only Fortune 500 company in South Carolina. It had 700,000 electric customers and 350,000 natural gas customers.
Marsh, SCANA CEO from 2011 to 2017, will need to have his guilty plea formally accepted by a U.S. District Court judge before it becomes official. Under the plea agreement, Marsh will likely face a prison term of between 18 and 36 months.Continue reading

New investigative report documents fires, violations at company treating Hanford wastes

A new investigative report released exclusively to The Seattle Times by the nonprofit watchdog group Hanford Challenge documents the fires as well as other mishaps and compliance problems that the authors say “calls into question” the safety of sending Hanford’s wastes to Perma-Fix.

BY: & Seattle Times staff reporters | seattletimes.com

1 of 11 | The Perma-Fix complex in Richland handles radioactive waste, including waste from Hanford, on a 35-acre site. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

RICHLAND, Benton County — In May 2019, workers at the Perma-Fix Northwest plant pulled a hunk of radioactive waste from a powerful kiln heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to ensconce the material in glass for eventual burial.

The workers let it cool — but not long enough — before setting it on a pallet. The residual heat caused the wood to burn. A crew from the plant sprayed chemicals on the fire before Richland firefighters arrived to finish that job.

A Washington Department of Ecology inspector in a report noted that a fire alarm system was not operating that month and that the incident “could have been catastrophic.”

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Biden expected to re-examine SC factory

“South Carolina could be left holding the plutonium bag…It’s clear that the plutonium bomb plant at SRS is being driven by contractors and boosters who stand to profit by making South Carolina ground zero for an unacceptable new nuclear arms race that endangers national security and that places our state at environmental risk.” — Tom Clements, Savannah River Site Watch

BY: SAMMY FRETWELL| thestate.com

This aerial photograph shows the abandoned mixed oxide fuel factory at SRS. The photo was taken in 2019. SC HIGH FLYER

Earlier this month, efforts to build a jobs-rich nuclear weapons component factory in South Carolina reached a milestone that boosters hoped would keep construction plans on track over the next decade.

The National Nuclear Security Administration finalized a study that said the factory would not have a major effect on the environment at the Savannah River Site, the 310-square mile weapons complex near Aiken that would house the plant.

But the Nov. 5 announcement occurred at virtually the same time Joe Biden was in the process of winning the presidency — and as Biden prepares to take office in January, questions are surfacing about the factory’s future.

President Donald Trump’s plans for the pit factory almost certainly will be reviewed by Biden to see if it’s worth continuing the effort as envisioned, say national defense experts and others who track issues at SRS.

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WIPP: New Mexico regulators halt utility shaft project, cite COVID-19, planning problems

“Given the current high incidence rate at the WIPP facility, including a reported death of an employee, the circumstances of which are currently unknown, it is clear that the Permittees are unable to successfully mitigate COVID-19 risk to protect human health while conducting the activities under the scope of this Request,” the letter said.

BY: Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus, N.M.| currentargus.com

Underground waste shaft station at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Construction of a $100 million utility shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant could be halted after the New Mexico Environment Department denied a request to extend state authorization to build the shaft, citing missed deadlines in the planning of the project and the continued spread in COVID-19 cases at the facility.

The shaft, part of an almost $300 million rebuild of WIPP’s ventilation system, along with a series of fans and filter buildings known as the Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS), was intended to improve airflow in the WIPP underground and allow for waste emplacement and mining to occur simultaneously along with future expansions of the nuclear waste repository.

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New & Updated

UN Building Lit Up to Celebrate The Nuclear Ban Treaty Entry Into Force January 22

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Here are five examples of the type of activities that will be Illegal under international law on 22 January 2021

One of the main problems with talking about nuclear weapons is that it often becomes abstract and hypothetical. Most people barely know which countries have nuclear weapons and do not know to what extent other actors are involved in maintaining and upholding nuclear weapons.

When the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) enters into force on 22 January 2021, that will need to change.

Here are five examples of the kind of activities that will be prohibited under the TPNW and who is currently doing this today. While the treaty will only be legally binding in the countries that have ratified the treaty, it will still create a powerful norm and should lead to increased protests and outrage in countries that haven’t joined the treaty that are behaving in contradiction of this new instrument of international law.

What the treaty prohibits

Article 1 of the treaty prohibits states parties from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of these activities.

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Treaty Seeks End to Nuclear Madness

It is the beginning of a new movement that will see the elimination of the existential nuclear threat.

| progressive.org

On January 22, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will enter into force. The treaty bans the development, production, possession, deployment, testing, use and just about anything else you can imagine related to nuclear weapons.

Fifty years later, nine nuclear-armed militaries possess more than 13,000 nuclear weapons, arsenals that mock their claimed commitment to disarm “at an early date.”

Approved at the United Nations by 122 countries in 2017, and subsequently signed by 86 and ratified by 51 nations, the nuclear weapons ban will join the venerated status of international prohibitions already established against lesser weapons of mass destruction. These earlier agreements include the Geneva Gas Protocol, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Ottawa Treaty or  Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

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Atop the Powerful Budget Committee at Last, Bernie Sanders Wants to Go Big

To the chagrin of Republicans, the democratic socialist senator will play a central role in shepherding Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s agenda through Congress.

“Sanders, the next chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, plans to take a hard look at fraud at the defense budget in his new perch, he tells POLITICO

“You understand you’re talking to the guy who led the effort to lower defense spending by 10 percent,” the Vermont Independent and self-described Democratic Socialist boasted.

You’re talking about the military budget, which is now higher than the next 10 nations combined,” he continued. “You’re talking about the Pentagon budget, which is the only major government agency which has not been able to undertake an independent audit. And I don’t think anyone has any doubt that there’s massive waste and cost overruns in the military budget.”

“I think if you check the record,” he added, “you’ll find that every major defense contractor has been found guilty of collusion and fraud.”

Alan Rappeport and  | nytimes.com

Shortly before the 2016 election, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican nominee for vice president and the speaker of the House, told a group of college Republicans why he thought Democrats winning control of the Senate would be a policy nightmare.

“Do you know who becomes chair of the Senate Budget Committee?” Mr. Ryan asked. “A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?”

Republicans have long feared the prospect of Mr. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist from Vermont, taking the helm of the powerful committee given his embrace of bigger government and more federal spending with borrowed money. With Democrats reclaiming the Senate, that fear is about to become a reality. Mr. Sanders, the most progressive member of the chamber, will have a central role in shaping and steering the Democrats’ tax and spending plans through a Congress that they control with the slimmest of margins.

Concern grows over massive US cyberattack – New Mexico’s national labs, Los Alamos and Sandia, cited as possible targets among many

Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the breach escalates the threat of a nuclear catastrophe.

“On top of the dangers that we faced during the Cold War this now raises new concerns…Could our nuclear weapons be hacked for malicious reasons? Could hackers take advantage of LANL’s checkered safety and security record and cause a life threatening event in our own backyard? The sooner we all have a nuclear weapons-free world the safer we will be.”

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal / BY: T.S. LAST / JOURNAL NORTH

SANTA FE — While the Department of Energy says that a cyberoffensive was limited to business networks, concerns remain about the depth of the breach and what threat it could still pose to national security and New Mexico’s two national laboratories.

Some news reports say that the hacks are believed to have been instigated by a Russian intelligence agency. The reports specifically mention Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, where atomic research is conducted, as being vulnerable.

In addition, Los Alamos National Laboratory is tasked with producing plutonium pits, the triggering device in nuclear warheads.

Earlier this week the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a warning, calling the hack “a grave risk” to federal, state, local and tribal governments, as well as critical infrastructure entities and private sector businesses. It said the suspected breach dates back to at least March.

In a joint statement this week, CISA, the FBI and the director of national intelligence said they were working together to investigate a “significant ongoing cybersecurity campaign.”\

‘Highly skeptical’: House Armed Services chairman concerned about SRS pit production

Biden administration expected to take ‘critical look’ at next-generation warhead, estimated to be twice as explosive as Trident

By: Colin Demarest cdemarest@aikenstandard.com / postandcourier.com

An aerial view of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site. The site is about 30 minutes south of Aiken.
Photo courtesy of High Flyer
In blunt, if not damning, remarks at a Friday event, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee expressed serious reservations about plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site and questioned the competency of the National Nuclear Security Administration, overall.
Likening the conversion of the failed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility to flipping a bowling alley into a restaurant, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith said he was “highly skeptical that they’re going to be able to turn that building into an effective pit production facility. Highly skeptical.”
And that’s concerning, he further suggested, because failure risks the health of the nation’s nuclear arsenal – however big or small one might want it “They’ve been around for a long time,” the Washington Democrat said of U.S. nuclear weapons. “We have to make sure they work.”

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US Nuclear Warhead Standoff ‘Has Significant Implications for UK’

Biden administration expected to take ‘critical look’ at next-generation warhead, estimated to be twice as explosive as Trident

 / theguardian.com

HMS Vigilant, one of the four Trident nuclear submarines. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Britain’s most senior defence official admitted there would be “very significant implications” for the future of the Trident nuclear deterrent if Democrats in the US Congress refused to fund a next-generation warhead.

Sir Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, said that the UK was monitoring the US standoff closely but could not say what impact a refusal to start work on the new W93 warhead would have – or how many billions it would cost.

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THE SOFTENING RHETORIC BY NUCLEAR-ARMED STATES AND NATO ALLIES ON THE TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

BY: / warontherocks.com

Probably the most iconic moment during the negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (or “nuclear ban treaty”) was the gathering of a dozen allied ambassadors standing around U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley in the corridors of the U.N. building in New York, protesting against the ongoing negotiations. While nuclear-armed states and NATO allies remain opposed to the treaty, the tone is softening, and at least two NATO allies are breaking the consensus.

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Leave Nuclear to the Sun: Solar Energy & Renewables are the Source of the Future

The nuclear energy industry has had a fraught year. Well…I mean, haven’t we all…But still, it’s pleasantly surprising to see such a looming giant begin to wither and fall. The nuclear power industry is failing, as evidenced not only by the alarming reports of fraud, corruption, and other fiascos that occurred at multiple nuclear facilities over the course of 2020, but also by the numbers that prove renewables are simply better for ALL of our futures – not just the nuclear business moguls our taxpayer dollars so generously continue to bail out.

Solar to be No. 1 in US for new 2021 electricity generating capacity

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Actual amount of radioactive contamination caused by the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, as revealed by Japanese citizen scientists

Minna-no Data Site, an independent nonprofit network of radioactivity-measuring laboratories, was established with the aim of reducing citizen exposure to radiation, through conducting extensive food measurements and releasing this information to the public.

As a result of this investigation, [Minna-no Data Site] determined that the radioactive contamination was by no means limited to Fukushima Prefecture and that one hundred years from now there will still be several highly-contaminated areas where humans should not live.


Uninhabitable: Booklet by Citizen Scientists Uncovers True Extent of Radioactive Contamination in Japan’s Soil and Food

“As a result of this investigation, we determined that the radioactive contamination was by no means limited to Fukushima Prefecture and that one hundred years from now there will still be several highly-contaminated areas where humans should not live.

Now, eight years after the accident, not only has the government yet to establish a criterion for radioactive concentration in the soil, but the authorities are continuing to enforce the policy of compelling people to return to their homes if the air dose rate goes below 20 mSv/year.”

By: beyondnuclearinternational

From Minna-no Data Site, a citizen’s collaborative radioactivity monitoring project

Minna-no Data Site (Everyone’s Data Site) is a network of 30 citizens’ radioactivity measurement laboratories from all over Japan.

After the 2011 Fukushima accident, many independent citizen-operated radioactivity measurement laboratories sprang up across Japan.

In September 2013, a website called “Minna-no Data Site” was established in an effort to integrate all of the radioactivity measurement data into a common platform and disseminate accurate information in an easy-to-understand format.

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East Coast nuke plants prepare to send waste to New Mexico via Holtec project

East coast nuclear power plants are getting ready to send their waste to southeast New Mexico as they are shut down.

BY: Adrian Hedden Carlsbad Current-Argus

Holtec International recently acquired licenses to decommission multiple plants as it proceeds through a licensing process to build and operate a facility to temporary store spent nuclear fuel rods near the Eddy County-Lea County line.

The ongoing license application for the first phase of the project before the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), would allow Holtec to store 500 cannisters at the site –or about 8,000 metric tons – of spent fuel, but the company expects up to 20 more phases as capacity is needed.

The fuel would be transported via rail from generator sites from across the U.S. to be stored in New Mexico until a permanent repository is operational.

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‘Highly skeptical’: House Armed Services chairman concerned about SRS pit production

Smith’s doubts are neither new nor uncommon. And they cast a dark shadow over what many in Aiken County see as a jobs jackpot, among other things.

BY: Colin Demarest cdemarest@aikenstandard.com | postandcourier.com

An aerial view of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site. The site is about 30 minutes south of Aiken.
Photo courtesy of High Flyer

In blunt, if not damning, remarks at a Friday event, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee expressed serious reservations about plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site and questioned the competency of the National Nuclear Security Administration, overall.

Likening the conversion of the failed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility to flipping a bowling alley into a restaurant, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith said he was “highly skeptical that they’re going to be able to turn that building into an effective pit production facility. Highly skeptical.”

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Rising Resistance to Supporting the US War Budget: The House and Senate Leaders Who Voted Against War

December 14th, 2020 – by Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War

(December 13, 2020) — On December 8, Congress voted on H.R. 6395, the House version of National Defense Authorization Act. This year’s NDAA — approaching three-quarters of $1 trillion — consumes more than half of the nation’s entire discretionary budget. The NDAA included a 3 percent increase in military pay. That is more than double the 1.3 percent Cost of Living Increase granted to retired civilians.

Typically, a vote on funding the Pentagon passes with near-unanimity. Not so this year. According to House Roll Call 238, 78 Representatives cast a “Nay” vote for passing the Pentagon’s $740 billion budget. The bill was supported by 140 Republicans and 195 Democrats. More Republicans (40) voted against the massive spending bill than Democrats (37)

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Chairman of House Armed Services Committee Reveals Great Skepticism in NNSA’s Ability to Covert SRS MOX Facility to Plutonium Pit Production, Refers to $6 Billion Project as Potential “Rat Hole”

Savannah River Site Watch https://srswatch.org/

Columbia, South Carolina USA For Immediate Release December 14, 2020

The powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representation Adam Smith, has raised great doubt about the U.S. Department of Energy’s ability to pull off the project at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina to produce plutonium “pits,” or cores, for nuclear warheads.

In an online presentation on December 11 with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Rep. Smith (D-WA) expressed deep concern in the ability of the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to pull off the project to convert the partially finished plutonium fuel (MOX) plant, halted in 2017, into the proposed Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) at SRS. The event featured Rep. Smith talking about nuclear weapons matters coming before Congress in 2021. The transcript of the event was released late in the afternoon of December 11.
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Kairos Power test reactor comes to repurposed Oak Ridge site

Kairos Power plans to site a test reactor it has dubbed Hermes at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

BY: ANS Nuclear News Staff | ans.org

The company has executed a Memorandum of Understanding with Heritage Center, LLC, to acquire the former K-33 gaseous diffusion plant site at ETTP, subject to ongoing due diligence evaluations. The announcement was made today, during the 2020 East Tennessee Economic Council Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration.

“We are thrilled at the prospect of coming to East Tennessee,” said Michael Laufer, cofounder and chief executive officer of Kairos Power. “The infrastructure available at ETTP, combined with its proximity to key collaborators at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, makes this a great location to demonstrate our technology. The successful commissioning of Hermes builds on our current technology development programs and extensive engagement with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Ultimately, Hermes will prove that Kairos Power can deliver real systems at our cost targets to make advanced nuclear a competitive source of clean energy in the United States.”

Lou Martinez, vice president of strategy and innovation, added, “Today is an important day for Kairos Power. We are celebrating our 4th anniversary by showcasing an important milestone.”

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UT, Texas A&M Systems hope to manage Y-12 National Security Complex and the Pantex Plant

Texas A&M is part of Triad National Security, LLC (Texas A&M, U. of California and Battelle), and is currently already managing the Los Alamos Lab.

By: Monica KastKnoxville News Sentinel

The University of Tennessee System and the Texas A&M University System have announced plans to compete as a team for a bid that would allow them to manage and operate both the Y-12 National Security Complex and Pantex Plant.

If the bid is accepted, the schools would join a team that would manage and operate both Department of Energy facilities, which manufacture, store and monitor the nation’s nuclear weapons.

Both universities currently partner with the plants in their state and provide “extensive workforces for the plants,” UT said in a news release. 

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Critical Events

Public Comment Period Open until Feb. 1, 2021 – Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program (SPDP):

NNSA issues Notice of Intent to prepare Environmental Impact Statement for Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program

“In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, an online scoping meeting will be held in place of an in-person meeting.  The online public scoping meeting is tentatively scheduled for the end of January 2021.  The information and details on how to participate in the online public scoping meeting and submit comments will be provided in a future notice posted on the NNSA National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Reading Room website (https://www.energy.gov/nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room) and will also be published in local newspapers.  Any necessary changes will be announced in the local media and on the NNSA NEPA Reading Room website.”

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Stay tuned for local events in Santa Fe & Los Alamos celebrating the Entry Into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on January 22, 2021!

Click above for more information on the entry into force of the Nuclear Ban Treaty

Nuclear News

Bombs Away: Weapon Systems That Biden Administration Could Curtail or Retire

Here are some of weapons that might be reviewed by the president-elect

By: Michael R. Gordon | Wall Street Journal

President-elect Joe Biden has said that he will reduce “excessive” expenditures on nuclear modernization. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2017 that the Pentagon’s plans for updating and sustaining the nuclear triad of air, sea and land-borne weapons would cost $1.2 trillion, and some lawmakers say the eventual cost might exceed $1.5 trillion. Here are some of the weapons that might be reviewed.
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DOE Publishes Reactor Impact Statement

“Given that no clear mission need has been established for the VTR and with an estimated price tag of $3 billion to $6 billion, with completion ranging from 2026 to 2030, it is doubtful if the project will go forward..Just as for other costly, complex DOE projects, the price tag is certain to grow and the schedule certain to slip if the project is pursued.” — Savannah River Site Watch

By: NATHAN BROWN nbrown@postregister.com

Idaho National Laboratory photo

The U.S. Department of Energy has released the draft environmental impact statement for a test reactor it would like to build at Idaho National Laboratory.

The statement on the Versatile Test Reactor was released Monday and is available online through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s website, energy.gov/ne/office-nuclear-energy. Public comment will conclude 45 days after the federal Environmental Protection Agency publishes notice in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen on Dec. 31. DOE will then hold two virtual public hearings, dates to be announced.
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DOE Awards Savannah River National Laboratory Management and Operating Contract

Cincinnati – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) awarded the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) Management and Operating (M&O) contract to Battelle Savannah River Alliance, LLC (BSRA) of Columbus, OH.

The Cost-Plus-Award-Fee contract will include a 5-year base period (inclusive of 120 day transition period) and potential award terms of up to 5 more years, for a total period of up to 10 years. The anticipated contract value is approximately $3.8 billion over the potential 10-year period of performance.

The procurement was competed as a full-and-open competition, and EM received three proposals. The Department determined the BSRA proposal provided the best value to the Government considering Laboratory Vision, Key Personnel, Management and Operations, Past Performance, Transition Plan, and Cost and Fee.

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Critics say Turkey’s unfinished nuclear plant already redundant

Turkey’s power plant building spree has resulted in an enormous idle capacity but the construction of new plants continues at the expense of taxpayers despite the country’s bruising economic woes.

BY: Thomas H. Goebel The Conversation 

A view of the construction site of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, Akkuyu, is pictured during the opening ceremony in the Mediterranean Mersin region on April 3, 2018. Photo by IBRAHIM MESE/AFP via Getty Images.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power for 18 years, is under increasing fire for poorly planned, prodigal investments whose long-term financial fallout is coming into sharper relief as the country grapples with severe economic woes. Standing out among the most dubious investments is a series of power plants, including a nuclear energy plant still under construction, that have created an idle capacity threatening to haunt public finances for years.

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John Pilger: The Most Lethal Virus is Not Covid-19. It is War.

Covid-19 has provided cover for a pandemic of propaganda, says John Pilger.

BY:  John Pilger

Armed Services Memorial. (Geograph/David Dixon)

Britain’s Armed Services Memorial is a silent, haunting place. Set in the rural beauty of Staffordshire, in an arboretum of some 30,000 trees and sweeping lawns, its Homeric figures celebrate determination and sacrifice.

The names of more than 16,000 British servicemen and women are listed. The literature says they “died in operational theatre or were targeted by terrorists”.

On the day I was there, a stonemason was adding new names to those who have died in some 50 operations across the world during what is known as “peacetime”. Malaya, Ireland, Kenya, Hong Kong, Libya, Iraq, Palestine and many more, including secret operations, such as Indochina.

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Fracking Likely Triggered Earthquakes in California a Few Miles From the San Andreas Fault

Industry-induced earthquakes have been an increasing concern in the central and eastern United States for more than a decade.

BY: Thomas H. Goebel The Conversation 

Activity in the San Ardo oil field near Salinas, California, has been linked to earthquakes. Eugene Zelenko / Wikimedia / CC BY 4.0

The way companies drill for oil and gas and dispose of wastewater can trigger earthquakes, at times in unexpected places.

In West Texas, earthquake rates are now 30 times higher than they were in 2013. Studies have also linked earthquakes to oil field operations in OklahomaKansasColorado and Ohio.

California was thought to be an exception, a place where oil field operations and tectonic faults apparently coexisted without much problem. Now, new research shows that the state’s natural earthquake activity may be hiding industry-induced quakes.

As a seismologist, I have been investigating induced earthquakes in the U.S., Europe and Australia. Our latest study, released on Nov. 10, shows how California oil field operations are putting stress on tectonic faults in an area just a few miles from the San Andreas Fault.

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Washington State Picks New Hanford Cleanup Watchdog

BY: TRI-CITY HERALD STAFF 

Washington state has picked an environmental manager from its Yakima Department of Ecology office to oversee state regulations at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

David Bowen will replace Alex Smith as Ecology’s Nuclear Waste Program manager based in Richland starting Dec. 16. Smith took another state job at the end of October.

“I know Hanford is challenging and complex,” Bowen said, “But I’m excited for the opportunities it presents.”

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Nuclear Media

The Biggest Radioactive Spill in US History Never Ended

How the US poisoned Navajo Nation.

BY:  | vox.com

For decades, Navajo Nation was a primary source for the United States’ uranium stockpile during the nuclear arms race. It was home to more than 700 uranium mines, which provided jobs to Navajo residents. But the mining industry came with impending peril. Cases of lung cancer and other diseases began cropping up in a community that had previously had few of them. Land, air, and water was poisoned. And on July 16, 1979, the mining led to the biggest radioactive spill in US history.

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LANL Cleanup: What you can do

Please consider attending and giving public comments at local public meetings concerning cleanup at Los Alamos. Public comments do make a difference!

Follow NukeWatch and submit public written comments. We frequently comment on environmental impact statements and provide sample comments. Support Us: https://nukewatch.org/get-involved/donate/

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.

Critical Events

Stay tuned for local events in Santa Fe & Los Alamos celebrating the Entry Into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on January 22, 2021!

New & Updated

UN Building Lit Up to Celebrate The Nuclear Ban Treaty Entry Into Force January 22

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Here are five examples of the type of activities that will be Illegal under international law on 22 January 2021

One of the main problems with talking about nuclear weapons is that it often becomes abstract and hypothetical. Most people barely know which countries have nuclear weapons and do not know to what extent other actors are involved in maintaining and upholding nuclear weapons.

When the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) enters into force on 22 January 2021, that will need to change.

Here are five examples of the kind of activities that will be prohibited under the TPNW and who is currently doing this today. While the treaty will only be legally binding in the countries that have ratified the treaty, it will still create a powerful norm and should lead to increased protests and outrage in countries that haven’t joined the treaty that are behaving in contradiction of this new instrument of international law.

What the treaty prohibits

Article 1 of the treaty prohibits states parties from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of these activities.

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Treaty Seeks End to Nuclear Madness

It is the beginning of a new movement that will see the elimination of the existential nuclear threat.

| progressive.org

On January 22, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will enter into force. The treaty bans the development, production, possession, deployment, testing, use and just about anything else you can imagine related to nuclear weapons.

Fifty years later, nine nuclear-armed militaries possess more than 13,000 nuclear weapons, arsenals that mock their claimed commitment to disarm “at an early date.”

Approved at the United Nations by 122 countries in 2017, and subsequently signed by 86 and ratified by 51 nations, the nuclear weapons ban will join the venerated status of international prohibitions already established against lesser weapons of mass destruction. These earlier agreements include the Geneva Gas Protocol, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Ottawa Treaty or  Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

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Atop the Powerful Budget Committee at Last, Bernie Sanders Wants to Go Big

To the chagrin of Republicans, the democratic socialist senator will play a central role in shepherding Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s agenda through Congress.

“Sanders, the next chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, plans to take a hard look at fraud at the defense budget in his new perch, he tells POLITICO

“You understand you’re talking to the guy who led the effort to lower defense spending by 10 percent,” the Vermont Independent and self-described Democratic Socialist boasted.

You’re talking about the military budget, which is now higher than the next 10 nations combined,” he continued. “You’re talking about the Pentagon budget, which is the only major government agency which has not been able to undertake an independent audit. And I don’t think anyone has any doubt that there’s massive waste and cost overruns in the military budget.”

“I think if you check the record,” he added, “you’ll find that every major defense contractor has been found guilty of collusion and fraud.”

Alan Rappeport and  | nytimes.com

Shortly before the 2016 election, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the Republican nominee for vice president and the speaker of the House, told a group of college Republicans why he thought Democrats winning control of the Senate would be a policy nightmare.

“Do you know who becomes chair of the Senate Budget Committee?” Mr. Ryan asked. “A guy named Bernie Sanders. You ever heard of him?”

Republicans have long feared the prospect of Mr. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist from Vermont, taking the helm of the powerful committee given his embrace of bigger government and more federal spending with borrowed money. With Democrats reclaiming the Senate, that fear is about to become a reality. Mr. Sanders, the most progressive member of the chamber, will have a central role in shaping and steering the Democrats’ tax and spending plans through a Congress that they control with the slimmest of margins.

Concern grows over massive US cyberattack – New Mexico’s national labs, Los Alamos and Sandia, cited as possible targets among many

Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the breach escalates the threat of a nuclear catastrophe.

“On top of the dangers that we faced during the Cold War this now raises new concerns…Could our nuclear weapons be hacked for malicious reasons? Could hackers take advantage of LANL’s checkered safety and security record and cause a life threatening event in our own backyard? The sooner we all have a nuclear weapons-free world the safer we will be.”

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal / BY: T.S. LAST / JOURNAL NORTH

SANTA FE — While the Department of Energy says that a cyberoffensive was limited to business networks, concerns remain about the depth of the breach and what threat it could still pose to national security and New Mexico’s two national laboratories.

Some news reports say that the hacks are believed to have been instigated by a Russian intelligence agency. The reports specifically mention Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, where atomic research is conducted, as being vulnerable.

In addition, Los Alamos National Laboratory is tasked with producing plutonium pits, the triggering device in nuclear warheads.

Earlier this week the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a warning, calling the hack “a grave risk” to federal, state, local and tribal governments, as well as critical infrastructure entities and private sector businesses. It said the suspected breach dates back to at least March.

In a joint statement this week, CISA, the FBI and the director of national intelligence said they were working together to investigate a “significant ongoing cybersecurity campaign.”\

‘Highly skeptical’: House Armed Services chairman concerned about SRS pit production

Biden administration expected to take ‘critical look’ at next-generation warhead, estimated to be twice as explosive as Trident

By: Colin Demarest cdemarest@aikenstandard.com / postandcourier.com

An aerial view of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site. The site is about 30 minutes south of Aiken.
Photo courtesy of High Flyer

In blunt, if not damning, remarks at a Friday event, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee expressed serious reservations about plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site and questioned the competency of the National Nuclear Security Administration, overall.
Likening the conversion of the failed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility to flipping a bowling alley into a restaurant, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith said he was “highly skeptical that they’re going to be able to turn that building into an effective pit production facility. Highly skeptical.”
And that’s concerning, he further suggested, because failure risks the health of the nation’s nuclear arsenal – however big or small one might want it “They’ve been around for a long time,” the Washington Democrat said of U.S. nuclear weapons. “We have to make sure they work.”

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US Nuclear Warhead Standoff ‘Has Significant Implications for UK’

Biden administration expected to take ‘critical look’ at next-generation warhead, estimated to be twice as explosive as Trident

 / theguardian.com

HMS Vigilant, one of the four Trident nuclear submarines. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Britain’s most senior defence official admitted there would be “very significant implications” for the future of the Trident nuclear deterrent if Democrats in the US Congress refused to fund a next-generation warhead.

Sir Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, said that the UK was monitoring the US standoff closely but could not say what impact a refusal to start work on the new W93 warhead would have – or how many billions it would cost.

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THE SOFTENING RHETORIC BY NUCLEAR-ARMED STATES AND NATO ALLIES ON THE TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

BY: / warontherocks.com

Probably the most iconic moment during the negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (or “nuclear ban treaty”) was the gathering of a dozen allied ambassadors standing around U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley in the corridors of the U.N. building in New York, protesting against the ongoing negotiations. While nuclear-armed states and NATO allies remain opposed to the treaty, the tone is softening, and at least two NATO allies are breaking the consensus.

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Leave Nuclear to the Sun: Solar Energy & Renewables are the Source of the Future

The nuclear energy industry has had a fraught year. Well…I mean, haven’t we all…But still, it’s pleasantly surprising to see such a looming giant begin to wither and fall. The nuclear power industry is failing, as evidenced not only by the alarming reports of fraud, corruption, and other fiascos that occurred at multiple nuclear facilities over the course of 2020, but also by the numbers that prove renewables are simply better for ALL of our futures – not just the nuclear business moguls our taxpayer dollars so generously continue to bail out.

Solar to be No. 1 in US for new 2021 electricity generating capacity

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Actual amount of radioactive contamination caused by the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, as revealed by Japanese citizen scientists

Minna-no Data Site, an independent nonprofit network of radioactivity-measuring laboratories, was established with the aim of reducing citizen exposure to radiation, through conducting extensive food measurements and releasing this information to the public.

As a result of this investigation, [Minna-no Data Site] determined that the radioactive contamination was by no means limited to Fukushima Prefecture and that one hundred years from now there will still be several highly-contaminated areas where humans should not live.


Uninhabitable: Booklet by Citizen Scientists Uncovers True Extent of Radioactive Contamination in Japan’s Soil and Food

“As a result of this investigation, we determined that the radioactive contamination was by no means limited to Fukushima Prefecture and that one hundred years from now there will still be several highly-contaminated areas where humans should not live.

Now, eight years after the accident, not only has the government yet to establish a criterion for radioactive concentration in the soil, but the authorities are continuing to enforce the policy of compelling people to return to their homes if the air dose rate goes below 20 mSv/year.”

By: beyondnuclearinternational

From Minna-no Data Site, a citizen’s collaborative radioactivity monitoring project

Minna-no Data Site (Everyone’s Data Site) is a network of 30 citizens’ radioactivity measurement laboratories from all over Japan.

After the 2011 Fukushima accident, many independent citizen-operated radioactivity measurement laboratories sprang up across Japan.

In September 2013, a website called “Minna-no Data Site” was established in an effort to integrate all of the radioactivity measurement data into a common platform and disseminate accurate information in an easy-to-understand format.

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East Coast nuke plants prepare to send waste to New Mexico via Holtec project

East coast nuclear power plants are getting ready to send their waste to southeast New Mexico as they are shut down.

BY: Adrian Hedden Carlsbad Current-Argus

Holtec International recently acquired licenses to decommission multiple plants as it proceeds through a licensing process to build and operate a facility to temporary store spent nuclear fuel rods near the Eddy County-Lea County line.

The ongoing license application for the first phase of the project before the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), would allow Holtec to store 500 cannisters at the site –or about 8,000 metric tons – of spent fuel, but the company expects up to 20 more phases as capacity is needed.

The fuel would be transported via rail from generator sites from across the U.S. to be stored in New Mexico until a permanent repository is operational.

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‘Highly skeptical’: House Armed Services chairman concerned about SRS pit production

Smith’s doubts are neither new nor uncommon. And they cast a dark shadow over what many in Aiken County see as a jobs jackpot, among other things.

BY: Colin Demarest cdemarest@aikenstandard.com | postandcourier.com

An aerial view of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site. The site is about 30 minutes south of Aiken.
Photo courtesy of High Flyer

In blunt, if not damning, remarks at a Friday event, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee expressed serious reservations about plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site and questioned the competency of the National Nuclear Security Administration, overall.

Likening the conversion of the failed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility to flipping a bowling alley into a restaurant, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith said he was “highly skeptical that they’re going to be able to turn that building into an effective pit production facility. Highly skeptical.”

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Rising Resistance to Supporting the US War Budget: The House and Senate Leaders Who Voted Against War

December 14th, 2020 – by Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War

(December 13, 2020) — On December 8, Congress voted on H.R. 6395, the House version of National Defense Authorization Act. This year’s NDAA — approaching three-quarters of $1 trillion — consumes more than half of the nation’s entire discretionary budget. The NDAA included a 3 percent increase in military pay. That is more than double the 1.3 percent Cost of Living Increase granted to retired civilians.

Typically, a vote on funding the Pentagon passes with near-unanimity. Not so this year. According to House Roll Call 238, 78 Representatives cast a “Nay” vote for passing the Pentagon’s $740 billion budget. The bill was supported by 140 Republicans and 195 Democrats. More Republicans (40) voted against the massive spending bill than Democrats (37)

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

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Must Reads

11 ESSENTIAL BOOKS ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Staying engaged in the effort to prevent nuclear war requires an understanding of the history of nuclear weapons and the impact their use and production has had on people and the planet. View this list from Ploughshares Fund of some of the best books about nuclear weapons. From well-loved classics to warnings from the past few years, we hope that this selection sheds some light on the need to prevent the spread and further use of nuclear weapons.

Not for the Faint of Heart: Lessons in Courage, Power, and PersistenceAmb. Wendy R. Sherman. The lead negotiator of the Iran nuclear agreement takes readers inside the world of international diplomacy. An autobiography of one of our most effective negotiators — often the only woman in the room. She shows how we can learn to apply core skills of diplomacy to the challenges in our own lives and to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.

Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom, Elaine Scarry. Literary critic and social theorist makes the case that the US president’s unchecked power to order a nuclear weapons launch is a violation of the Constitution, and is fundamentally incompatible with the deliberative principles of democracy.

The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States: A Speculative Novel, Jeffrey Lewis. Middlebury College professor, nuclear expert and Ploughshares Fund grantee explores a hypothetical nuclear war involving the United States, North Korea, South Korea and Japan rooted in real historical events, quotes, and facts about nuclear weapons technology. This work of fiction is presented in the style of a report from a government commission charged with investigating the events.

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Daniel Ellsberg. Former United States military analyst offers his recollections and analysis of a cache of secret documents related to the US nuclear arsenal. The book contains chilling details about narrowly-avoided disasters, flawed launch protocols, and philosophies and strategies regarding the true purpose of the US nuclear arsenal.

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, William J. Perry. The 19th US Secretary of Defense tells the story of his coming of age during the nuclear era, and reflects on how his experiences over the past 70 years have shaped his thinking about the threat posed by nuclear weapons.

Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, Kristen Iversen. The author, who grew up near the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility, presents a detailed account of the government’s efforts to hide the effects of the toxic and radioactive waste released by Rocky Flats, and of local residents’ attempts to seek justice in court.

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, Eric Schlosser. Acclaimed author and producer explores the history of nuclear weapons systems in the United States. Sobering accounts of nuclear accidents, near misses, and technological developments raise questions about the management and safety of the US nuclear arsenal. Eric Schlosser is a member of the Ploughshares Fund Board of Directors.

African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement, Vincent Intondi. Associate Professor of African-American Studies at Montgomery College chronicles the history of African-American involvement in the nuclear disarmament movement. and explores the connection between nuclear issues and the fight for racial equality.

Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race, Richard Rhodes. This Pulitzer Prize-winning author chronicles events during the Ronald Reagan administration that led to the US and the Soviet Union coming within minutes of nuclear war, setting the stage for the 1986 summit in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Able Archer 83: The Secret History of the NATO Exercise That Almost Triggered Nuclear War, Nate Jones. National Security Archive staffer writes about a NATO military exercise that the Soviet Union initially mistook for a real nuclear first-strike.

Hiroshima, John Hersey. Required reading for any aspiring journalist, nuclear policy analyst, or anyone interested in the history, this short book collects essays originally published in the New Yorker written about survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

Doom Towns

A graphic novel by Andy Kirk with artist Kristian Purcell

“The U.S. tested nearly a thousand atomic weapons in the Nevada desert 125 miles north of Las Vegas…. Did they really build fake towns out in the desert and then blow the whole place up with atomic bombs? And the answer is yes, in fact, they did do that…


“The purpose as stated by the civil defense agencies of creating these “Doom Towns” and then widely disseminating on film their being destroyed was to encourage Americans to be concerned about the possibility of civilians being the target of nuclear attack.”

Read more…

The Button: By William J. Perry and Tom Z. Collina

The President has the power to end the world in minutes. Right now, no one can stop him.

Since the Truman administration, America has been one “push of a button” away from nuclear war—a decision that rests solely in the hands of the President. Without waiting for approval from Congress or even the Secretary of Defense, the President can unleash America’s entire nuclear arsenal.

Almost every governmental process is subject to institutional checks and balances. Why is potential nuclear annihilation the exception to the rule? For decades, glitches and slip-ups have threatened to trigger nuclear winter: misinformation, false alarms, hacked warning systems, or even an unstable President. And a new nuclear arms race has begun, threatening us all. At the height of the Cold War, Russia and the United States each built up arsenals exceeding 30,000 nuclear weapons, armed and ready to destroy each other—despite the fact that just a few hundred are necessary to end life on earth.

From former Secretary of Defense and Stanford professor of international relations William Perry and nuclear policy think-tank director Tom Collina, The Button is a fascinating narrative of our living nuclear history—one in which the players hold the fate of the whole world at their fingertips—and a look at presidential power from Truman to Trump.

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1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink

Taylor Downing, Da Capo Press, 4/24/18

Recently, a declassified report lifted the veil on the events of a week in November 1983, the year KAL007 was shot down and America watched “The Day After”, when we had in fact, a very close brush with World Death. The Able Archer story is a timely and important reminder of the variety of things that can happen to drive a situation to the brink of nuclear disaster when there is posturing and provocation and no trust.

Excerpts from the Christian Science Monitor book review:

“Able Archer 83 was sparked by a routine NATO military exercise. But, as writer Taylor Downing documents in “1983: Reagan, Andropov and a World on the Brink”, a carefully-researched and absorbing book, it occurred when mistrust and suspicion between the superpowers was sky-high. Indeed, relations were so tense that Soviet political and military leadership believed the exercise was a ruse to enable NATO to launch a pre-emptive strike… The Soviets concluded that this was not an exercise but the real thing and put their own military on the highest readiness level. So fully armed fighter planes sat continuously idling on runways waiting for a signal to take off. Meanwhile, in Washington, nothing seemed amiss. Only much later did the United States realize that Soviet leaders had been petrified with fear. A top-secret US report concluded, “We may have inadvertently placed our relations with the Soviet Union on a hair trigger.” (source: CSM)

More on Able Archer: Slate’s cover story from April 2017:
The Week the World Almost Ended- In 1983, the U.S. simulated a nuclear war with Russia- and narrowly avoided starting a real one. We might not be so lucky next time..

Quotes

“…We’re in a storytelling crisis, and the kind of storytelling that we are talking about right now needs to be revved up to the nth degree. While we—those of us in the journalism and nuclear spaces—understand the gravity of where we are, and how dangerous our current global stockpile is, and that we have fewer means of communication for de-escalation than ever, the rest of the world isn’t getting it. And as the pandemic worsens, this issue is getting less and less attention”

A cropped image of the cover of “Fallout,” by Lesley M. M. Blume, which tells the behind-the-scenes story of John Hersey’s reporting on Hiroshima. Image courtesy of Simon and Schuster

“Analytical attempts to belittle or undermine the significance of this treaty may appease the minority of countries that cling to these weapons of mass destruction for now, but make no mistake — the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a game-changer. And it is not going anywhere.”

Policy and Research Coordinator at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (and former Nuclear Watch New Mexico Intern)

 
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“We simply want a healthy livable community where we can safely live a good life. Where we can grow old and raise our grandchildren. I am hoping that soon we will not have to see the piles of uranium waste in our front yards – a constant reminder of what each family has experienced and the after-effects of this tragedy.”

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“It is my belief that our generation has arrived at the threshold of a new era in human history…I commend the United Nations and the concerned member states that have made this treaty possible. It is an act of universal responsibility that recognises the fundamental oneness of humanity.”

— Statement on the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
October 26, 2020

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