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

Banner displaying “Nuclear Weapons Are Now Illegal” at the entrance in front of the Los Alamos National Lab to celebrate the Entry Into Force of the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty on January 22, 2021

Follow the Money!

Nuclear Watch Analysis of NNSA FY 2022 Budget Request

LANL FY 2022 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2022 Budget Request – VIEW

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

In 1985, US President Ronald Reagan and and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev declared that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev shake hands after signing the arms control agreement banning the use of intermediate-range nuclear missles, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Reduction Treaty.

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 Blog Posts

Why Funding for the SLCM Nuclear Warhead Should Be Deleted

Introduction: In 1991, in response to the ongoing collapse of the Soviet Union, President George H. Bush ordered the withdrawal of all nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs) from U.S. surface ships and submarines. In 2018 President Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review proposed to redeploy SLCMs on Virginia-class attack submarines, saying they would provide the United States with “a needed non-strategic regional presence” that would address “the increasing need for flexible and low-yield options.”1 Congress subsequently approved $15.2 million in FY 2022 funding for the Navy’s new cruise missile and nuclear warhead.

In March 2022 President Biden transmitted a new classified Nuclear Posture Review to Congress that reportedly canceled the Sea-Launched Cruise Missile. In parallel, his proposed FY 2023 budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has no funding for the SLCM nuclear warhead. This has prompted some congressional pushback, with one suggested compromise being continuing modest research funding. But as a Congressional Research Service analysis put it: “The Navy indicated that the program was “cost prohibitive and the acquisition schedule would have delivered capability late to need.” 

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The Twisted Myth that Nuclear Weapons Make Us Safer

“Mutually Assured Destruction” has been the MO of the world’s nuclear powers for decades. If Russia points a giant nuclear warhead toward the U.S., we would gear up to point an even more massive missile their way, and then, in theory, Russia shrugs its shoulders and says, “Eh, not worth it.” They would be completely “deterred” from advancing a nuclear attack based on the reality that doing this would mean the entire country, continent, and ultimately, the entire world, would become obliterated as we know it; the cost and the risk greatly outweigh any benefit. According to this thesis, the existence of nuclear weapons makes the cost of war seem frighteningly high and thus “discourage[s] states from starting any wars that might lead to the use of such weapons” (Kenneth Waltz, “The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Better,”) The idea that nuclear weapons make conventional war safer is a widely used as a framing for why we need nukes at all, with one specific reason being framing that nuclear weapons can still be the equalizer against superior conventional forces.

The official NATO website was updated as recently as a few days ago (May 17, 2022), and reads in its header, “NATO is committed to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, but as long as nuclear weapons exist, it will remain a nuclear alliance (emphasis my own).” What happens to the theories of “Deterrence” and “Mutually Assured Destruction” when we take a closer look? What is the possibility for NATO ever disbanding because a nuclear alliance is no longer needed? If all of the over 12,000 nuclear warheads in the world somehow magically disappear, would we be better off? Or would these theories prove correct, and would World War III start imminently with conventional weapons (or sticks and stones, as the saying goes)?

A recent (May 23, 2022) headline reads, “‘Destroy whole UK in two minutes!’ Russia MP threatens nuclear strike in on-air outburst” with a summary below, “A RUSSIAN MP has boasted during a TV interview that a nuclear strike could “destroy the whole UK in two minutes” amid mounting hostility between London and Moscow.”

This article certainly doesn’t seem to bode well for the theory that nuclear weapons make conventional war safer. On the contrary, Putin has been able to escalate war with Ukraine because of Russia’s massive nuclear arsenal, not despite it. Although the risk of this conflict actually going nuclear is low, the question is undeniably raised (again, for most, for the first time since the 19050s and ’60s) if future wars could escalate beyond the nuclear threshold.

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New & Updated

NATO to dramatically increase forces on high alert to over 300,000 from 40,000 amid Russia threat

Units deployed across eight eastern and southeastern NATO countries to deter Russia hostilities will rise in size from 1,000-strong battlegroups to brigades, which comprise around 3,000-5,000 troops with more war-fighting equipment in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Sky News | June 27, 2022 news.sky.com

NATO will significantly increase the number of forces on high alert to over 300,000 from 40,000 as part of the biggest overhaul of the alliance’s defences since the Cold War.

With Vladimir Putin‘s invasion of Ukraine changing the security environment across Europe, the head of the alliance also confirmed that allies will expand troop deployments in NATO countries that sit closest to Russia.

Ukraine is not a member of NATO.

The decisions will be set out at a landmark summit this week in Madrid.

“Together, this constitutes the biggest overhaul of our collective deterrence and defence since the Cold War,” Jens Stoltenberg said, in a briefing at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday.

He said the 30-member alliance is expected to consider Russia to be “the most significant and direct threat to our security”.

‘Eliminate These Weapons before They Eliminate Us’, Says Secretary-General, in Message to Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Meeting

Units deployed across eight eastern and southeastern NATO countries to deter Russia hostilities will rise in size from 1,000-strong battlegroups to brigades, which comprise around 3,000-5,000 troops with more war-fighting equipment in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

June 22, 2022 un.org

Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message to the opening of the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, in Vienna today:

Nuclear weapons are a global scourge.  A deadly reminder of countries’ inability to solve problems through dialogue and collaboration.  These weapons offer false promises of security and deterrence — while guaranteeing only destruction, death and endless brinksmanship.

Today, the terrifying lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are fading from memory.  The once unthinkable prospect of nuclear conflict is now back within the realm of possibility.  More than 13,000 nuclear weapons are being held in arsenals across the globe.  In a world rife with geopolitical tensions and mistrust, this is a recipe for annihilation.

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Action Alert: Call Your House Armed Services Committee Representative by Wednesday June 22

Action Alert: Call Your House Armed Services Committee Representative by Wednesday June 22


Incredibly, the NNSA does not have an integrated master schedule for simultaneous pit production, long recommended by the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO).
NNSA plans to produce at least 30 pits per year by 2026 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico and at least 50 pits per year by 2030 at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The agency has admitted that the 2030 date is already long delayed. NNSA last gave an overall cost estimate for expanded pit production in 2018 of $43 billion over 30 years.

Archbishop John C. Wester’s Statement in Support of the First Meeting of State Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

“From the heart of the U.S.’ nuclear weapons research and production complex here in New Mexico, I call upon the United States and other nuclear-armed states to attend the First Meeting and future meetings as observers, to bear witness to the need for nuclear disarmament and take this first small step toward signing, ratifying, and implementing the Treaty.”

ALBUQUERQUE – Monday, June 20, 2022–IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Most Reverend John C. Wester has issued a statement in support of the First Meeting of State Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons:

The United States and the eight other nuclear-armed states are boycotting the historic First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons taking place in Vienna this June 21-23. The Treaty, banning nuclear weapons just like previous weapons of mass destruction treaties banning chemical and biological weapons, has been signed by 122 countries and ratified by 62.

Non-party states, like the U.S., have been invited to attend as observers. Historically, major allies such as Norway, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium are attending (the last three countries host U.S. nuclear bombs on their soil). Many organizations and several members of Congress have written to President Biden, urging him to send a representative. The U.S. government refuses to go despite the declared official policy of supporting a future world free of nuclear weapons. What is it afraid of?

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Pope Francis: A world free of nuclear weapons is necessary and possible

“In a message read at the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Pope Francis renews his call for an end to war and to the causes of conflict, and reaffirms that the use, and even possession, of nuclear weapons is immoral.”

BY Christopher Wells VATICAN NEWS | vaticannews.va

Delegates listen to a message from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (AFP or licensors)

The “courageous vision” of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons “appears ever more timely,” Pope Francis says in a Message for the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

The Treaty, which aims at achieving and maintaining a nuclear-weapons-free world, went into effect in January 2021. To date, 65 states have ratified or acceded to the Treaty, although no nuclear-armed countries have done so.

In his message, which was read by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, Pope Francis says that, while speaking of disarmament “may seem paradoxical to many … we need to remain aware of the dangers of short-sighted approaches to national and international security and the risks of proliferation.”

The Pope, therefore, renews his appeal “to silence all weapons and eliminate the causes of conflicts through tireless recourse to negotiations.”

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The Need for Independent Pit Aging Studies

June 16, 2022 | FACT SHEETS

Summary: The United States is aggressively expanding the production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores to at least 80 pits per year, which the Pentagon has called the number one issue in its $1.7 trillion plan to “modernize” nuclear forces. The average age of plutonium pits is around 40 years. Los Alamos Lab Director Thom Mason has said that “The best way to deal with this dilemma [of uncertainty about aging effects] is to take it off the table. We do that by making new pits, immediately.” Thus, he justifies spending tens of billions of dollars, creating additional occupational and public risks, generating more radioactive wastes with uncertain disposal pathways, fundamentally transforming the Lab into a nuclear weapons production site and fueling the increasingly dangerous new nuclear arms race.

But does independent review of pit aging data support this need to immediately produce new pits? The answer is no given that independent experts concluded in 2006 that pits last at least a century with no determined end date. Further, no future pit production is scheduled to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile – it is all for speculative new designs which could raise reliability issues or even prompt the U.S. to resume testing.

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View the Los Alamos National Lab Legacy Cleanup Presentation from the N3B (LANL Cleanup Contractor) Environmental Management Cleanup Forum, June 16

Lab director says pit production necessary for nuclear deterrence (the Santa Fe New Mexican)

“But critics of the lab’s push to bolster its nuclear weapons program think the pit production goals are unrealistic and unnecessary.

Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, asked Mason in a written question why the lab is spending tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars ramping up production of the bomb cores when a 2006 study found the ones left over from the Cold War are good for 85 years.”

The Santa Fe New Mexican | June 14, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

Nuclear deterrence is in full display during the war in Ukraine, with Russia and the U.S. threatening each other with nuclear destruction to force restraint, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s director said during an online forum Tuesday.

Russia has told the U.S. and its allies not to intervene militarily in Ukraine, and President Joe Biden has made clear that Russia must not encroach one inch upon a NATO country — and both sides raise the specter of nuclear attacks if these boundaries are breached, lab Director Thom Mason said.

“The role that deterrence is playing in the Ukraine right now, really from both the U.S. and Russian side, is to attempt to limit that conflict,” Mason said.

Mason is a staunch advocate of the lab producing 30 plutonium warhead triggers, also known as pits, per year by 2026, saying it’s necessary to modernize the nuclear arsenal and maintain a strong deterrent against adversaries like Russia.

Global nuclear arsenal expected to grow for first time since Cold War

“All of the world’s nuclear-armed states are “increasing or upgrading their arsenals and most are sharpening nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies…This is a very worrying trend.” – Wilfred Wan, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s weapons of mass destruction program.

By and , The Washington Post June 13, 2022 | washingtonpost.com

A vehicle transports a nuclear missile during a Victory Day rehearsal in Moscow on June 17, 2020. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg News)

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released on Monday its annual overview of international security and global arms production, warning that the post-Cold War decline in nuclear arsenals appeared to be ending.

“The risk of nuclear weapons being used seems higher now than at any time since the height of the Cold War,” director Dan Smith said in a statement, despite what he described as “significant gains” in nuclear arms control and disarmament over the past year.

Action Alerts

WIPP Community Forum & Open House (In person & virtual), Thursday, July 7 at 5.30 p.m.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO) and Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC (NWP) CBFO and NWP will host an in person and virtual meeting to provide an update on the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

In the words of our colleague Cindy Wheeler at 285 ALL,

“This is an unprecedented opportunity to find out -from the horse’s mouth- what DOE is planning in regard to WIPP expansion.  We intend to ask questions and will expect answers that tell us how much risk this expansion will expose us to as more of a more dangerous waste is transported past our homes for what will probably be at least the rest of this century.”

Your participation is essential!! It tells DOE how concerned New Mexicans are about the risks it is proposing.  Please plan to attend, in person if at all possible.

Please register if attending virtually, however you do not need to register if attending in person.


IN PERSON:

Santa Fe Convention Center – Okeefe & Milagro Rooms

(201 West Marcy Street Santa Fe, NM 87501)

Thursday, July 7, 2022, starts at 5.30 p.m.

VIRTUAL:

REGISTER HERE

https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEuduqsqz4qH9PEL2Rbp3U5Ae7vkXDv-LAD

For questions regarding this meeting and open house please contact the WIPP Information Center at infocntr@wipp.ws or by calling 1-800-336-9477.

Join John Dear and Archbishop Wester July 2nd on Nuclear Disarmament

Please join NukeWatch in welcoming and supporting Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester and Father John Dear on July 2nd at 11am Pacific/ 12pm Mountain/ 1pm Central/ 2pm Eastern Time when Archbishop Wester will speak at the Beatitudes Center about his pastoral letter, an historic call for nuclear disarmament, “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace,” and what we can do to help achieve this global goal.

Register at www.beatitudescenter.org.

Note, registration closes on Monday, June 27th. You will receive the zoom link a few days beforehand, and a recording link a few days afterward. If you have any questions, email Kassandra at beatitudescentermb@gmail.com.

“The New Mexican congressional delegation has always historically supported the nuclear weapons industry in the name of jobs, jobs, jobs. This needs to be critically examined and questioned, both morally and practically. Why is it that New Mexico always ranks near the bottom of all 50 states in key socioeconomic indicators? Does the nuclear weapons industry really benefit New Mexicans as a whole? The facts indicate no.”

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Abolishing Nuclear Weapons is a Moral Imperative

View Recording of the March 9th PDA CNM Community Gathering:

PDA CNM Community Gathering - March 9, 2022 - Abolishing Nuclear Weapons is a Moral Imperative

PDA CNM welcomed Archbishop John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, and our own executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Jay Coghlan, to speak at their March 9, 2022 monthly gathering: “[Archbishop Wester's] courage in speaking out against the proliferation of nuclear weapons inspires us at PDACNM to follow his example and continue the fight against this peril, especially given the threat of a possible imminent war between two nuclear powers.

Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, has worked successfully against radioactive incineration at the Los Alamos National Lab, and in Clean Air Act, Freedom of Information Act and National Environmental Policy Act lawsuits against the Department of Energy. He prompted a 2006 independent study that concluded plutonium pits last at least a century, refuting the NNSA’s assertion that we “need” new-design nuclear weapons and expanded plutonium pit production.”

Coming soon!  The opportunity to participate in the 10-year renewal of the hazardous waste permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP):

The New Mexico Environment Department is required to maintain a Facility Mailing List to which you can add your name and address to get the latest information – just email Ricardo Maestas at the New Mexico Environment Department at ricardo.maestas@state.nm.us and ask to be added to the list.  Or mail your request with your mailing address to:

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HELP US SUPPORT NEW MEXICO’S GOVERNOR IN ACTING TO STOP WIPP EXPANSION!

STOP “FOREVER WIPP!”

The Department of Energy is seeking to modify the nuclear waste permit for southeastern New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Dragging out WIPP’s operations decades past the original 20-year agreement violates the social contract made with New Mexicans. WIPP is being equipped to take the waste that will be generated from production of plutonium pits for nuclear warheads, and it was never supposed to do that. An expansion of WIPP will impact the entire country, not just residents of southeastern New Mexico.

View the videos below for more information, and, if you live in an area that may be endangered by these nuclear waste transportation risks, please consider making your own “This is My Neighborhood” video!

Background Information –  Problems with Nuclear Waste
Playlist: Problems with Nuclear Waste


Mixed Waste Landfill Facts

Mixed Waste Landfill Facts

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New Nuclear Media: Recent Books, Art, Film & More

Past Nuclear News

Six B-21s in Production, Fuel Control Software Already Tested

The nuclear modernization effort, however, does face one potentially significant hurdle, particularly for missiles such as the GBSD and the Long Range Standoff Weapon: the production of plutonium “pits” that go in the center of nuclear warheads.

The National Nuclear Security Administration had set a goal of producing 30 pits per year by 2026 and 80 by 2030. But, “I think NNSA will readily admit they’re not going to make that requirement,” Wolfe said.

By Greg Hadley  airforcemag.com

The B-21 Raider continues to be a “model” program for the Air Force, with six of the new bombers currently in production and some of its software already validated through digital testing, a top general at Air Force Global Strike Command said Feb. 9.

Speaking at the 2022 Nuclear Deterrence Summit, Maj. Gen. Jason R. Armagost said the new stealth bomber will likely fly in 2022, echoing previous predictions by other Air Force officials.

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Nuclear fears mount as Ukraine crisis deepens

Officials and experts are warning that a Russian invasion could inadvertently trigger a nuclear exchange with the U.S.

By BRYAN BENDER January 28, 2022 POLITICO

 As Russian troops bear down on Ukraine and the United States prepares its own military buildup in Eastern Europe, concerns are growing across the ideological spectrum that the standoff could inadvertently escalate into the unthinkable: nuclear war.

President Joe Biden has insisted that he will not use American forces to directly defend Ukrainian territory against a possible Russian invasion. But that is no guarantee that the two sides won’t come to blows.

Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

Nominations are open for the Third Annual Gorbachev/Shultz, Voices Youth Award 2022

PR Newswire January 24, 2022

SAN FRANCISCOJan. 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons Third Annual Voices Youth Award will be given to a youth who, or organization which, has pioneered or been part of exemplary programs and actions to engage youth in the local, regional or global movement to abolish nuclear weapons. The award honors the legacy of former U.S.S.R. President Mikhail Gorbachev and former U.S.A. Secretary of State George Shultz in their efforts for nuclear disarmament.

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One dead, three injured after gas leak at Spanish nuclear plant

A fault in the plant’s fire prevention system caused the gas leak, which was not linked to any radioactive material, the regional fire service posted on Twitter.

Reuters

MADRID, Nov 24 (Reuters) – One person has died and three have been taken to hospital after a carbon dioxide leak at the Asco nuclear power plant in the Spanish region of Catalonia, local emergency services said on Wednesday.

Shortly afterwards, the fire service said it was preparing to leave the site after checking over the extractor fans with the plant’s staff and ensuring the systems were working properly.

The three people taken to hospital suffered light injuries from carbon dioxide inhalation, emergency services said.

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