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

Freedom of Information in the Time of COVID-19

In principle, the COVID-19 outbreak could provide a compelling new justification for expediting the processing of certain Freedom of Information Act requests related to the pandemic. But it is more likely to slow down the handling of most requests as agency employees work remotely and other concerns are understandably prioritized.

The impact of COVID-19 was surveyed by the Congressional Research Service in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Processing Changes Due to COVID-19: In Brief, March 27, 2020.

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

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

Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The All-American Way

Today, in the context of the Black Lives Matter protests, TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich considers the all-American version of “extreme materialism” that Martin Luther King called out more than half a century ago. And when it comes to the overwhelming urge to get one’s hands on the goods, among the looters of this moment two groups are almost never mentioned: the Pentagon and the police.

BY: ANDREW BASEVICH | tomdispatch.com

Yet, in 1997, the Department of Defense set up the 1033 program as part of the National Defense Authorization Act to provide thousands of domestic police forces with “surplus” equipment of almost every imaginable militarized kind. Since then, thanks to your tax dollars, it has given away $7.4 billion of such equipment, some of it directly off the battlefields of this country’s forlorn “forever wars.” For items like grenade launchers, mine-resistant armored vehicles, military rifles, bayonets, body armor, night-vision goggles, and helicopters, all that police departments have to fork over is the price of delivery. The Pentagon has, in fact, been so eager to become the Macy’s of militarized hardware that, in 2017, it was even willing to “give $1.2 million worth of rifles, pipe bombs, and night vision goggles to a fake police department,” no questions asked. That “department” proved to be part of a sting operation run by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). “It was like getting stuff off of eBay,” a GAO official would say. Only, of course, for free.

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Non-Governmental Organizations Demand Resumption of Los Alamos Nuclear Bomb Plant Public Information Meetings


The NGOs request that the semi-annual public meetings resume by early fall 2020, and the CMRR Project website be updated and maintained until the RLUOB reconfiguration and PF-4 upgrades are completed. All documents and presentations from the previous 13 public meetings must be reposted. The NGOs are also asking that the unilateral decision by the DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to increase the amount of plutonium equivalent allowed in the RLUOB from 8.4 grams to 400 grams be reviewed by NMED.

READ/DOWNLOAD FULL PRESS RELEASE

Los Alamos Lab Suppresses Data on Negative Economic Impact on Surrounding Counties; Wealthy White Los Alamos County Asks for 3,000 Acres Seized from Hispanics and Native Americans

“This is yet another example of the racial disparity that exists in the wake of communities like Los Alamos, established under the protective umbrella of government sanctioned white privilege. When you take something by force and don’t pay for it, that’s called stealing. So why is land stolen by the US government from the original Hispanic and Native American owners not being given back to them?…As the national reckoning over racial injustice unfolds, let us not forget how Los Alamos Lab came to be and the insult to injury that giving away land stolen from others represents.”

— Chuck Montaño, Nuclear Watch NM Steering Committee member. Mr. Montaño, born and raised in Santa Fe, NM, worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 32 years where he investigated allegations of fraud, waste and abuse.

READ/DOWNLOAD FULL PRESS RELEASE

Nuclear War Simulator Reveals the Dystopia We’ll be Living in if Nuclear War Breaks Out

https://ivan-stepanov.itch.io/nuclear-war-simulator

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“There are currently over 13000 nuclear weapons on this planet of which over 9000 are in military stockpiles. This software should help you answer the question: what will happen if Russia and United States or India and Pakistan use their arsenals?

The goal of this project is to build a realistic simulation and visualization of large-scale nuclear conflicts with a focus on humanitarian consequences

There are a lot of interlocking systems and processes in a nuclear conflict: the command and control system, locations and movement of forces, weapons delivery systems and humanitarian consequences. By simulating the most relevant of these systems you should be able to tell a credible story about how nuclear conflicts play out and what are the consequences.”

— Ivan Stepanov

DOWNLOAD HERE

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Want To Know How A Nuclear War Might Go? There’s Now A Frighteningly Detailed ‘Game’ For That

To describe a nuclear war honestly is to argue for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

BY: KELSEY D. ATHERTONforbes.com

At least, that’s part of the goal of the Nuclear War Simulator, developed by Ivan Stepanov and released for download June 28. Built on the Unity3D engine, the simulator incorporates sheaves and sheaves of public data about yields, flight trajectories, and calculated armageddon.

Stepanov’s project specifically draws inspiration from the NUKEMAP made by Alex Wellerstein, a historian of science at Stevens Institute of Technology. Wellerstein’s tool lets people pick an existing warhead, toggle some settings, and then place the blast over a target area, rendering in concentric colored circles the salient details about what kind of effect would hit what people, where.

“[Nuclear War Simulator] was made to help you answer the question: what will a war between Russia and United States or India and Pakistan look like and what are the consequences for the world, your country and your family?” writes Stepanov.

To capture this fuller feeling of human impact, the simulation includes a population density grid, to render an impact not just in terms of blast radii, but in the deaths and injuries that can easily number in the millions.

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How to Vaccinate the Military-Industrial Complex

“As the first wave of the pandemic continues and case numbers spike in a range of states, oversight structures designed to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse when it comes to defense spending are quite literally crumbling before our eyes. Combine weakened oversight, skewed priorities, and a Pentagon budget still rising and you’re potentially creating the perfect storm for squandering the resources needed to respond to our current crisis.

The erosion of oversight of the Pentagon budget has been a slow-building disaster, administration by administration, particularly with the continual weakening of the authority of inspectors general. As independent federal watchdogs, IGs are supposed to oversee the executive branch and report their findings both to it and to Congress.”

BY: MADDY SMITHBERGER / TomDispatch | readersupportednews.com

How to Vaccinate the Military-Industrial ComplexRepresentative Barbara Lee. (photo: Jose Luis Magana/AP)

n response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Washington has initiated its largest spending binge in history. In the process, you might assume that the unparalleled spread of the disease would have led to a little rethinking when it came to all the trillions of dollars Congress has given the Pentagon in these years that have in no way made us safer from, or prepared us better to respond to, this predictable threat to American national security. As it happens, though, even if the rest of us remain in danger from the coronavirus, Congress has done a remarkably good job of vaccinating the Department of Defense and the weapons makers that rely on it financially.
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Officials and NGOs Express Deep Concerns about Holtec

“Many commenters stated that the storage could be permanent because there is no disposal site.  They reminded the NRC that this is why the law requires that a permanent repository be selected before the designation of an interim facility like Holtec, and this has not been done.

nuclearactive.com

On Tuesday, June 23rd, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a webinar and invited telephone comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for a nuclear waste storage facility that Holtec proposes to build halfway between Carlsbad and Hobbs.  Holtec applied for a license to store all of the nation’s most radioactive spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants.  Over twenty years, Holtec proposes to ship 10,000 canisters to the site by railroads, passing through more than forty states.  https://www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/cis/holtec-international.html, scroll down to Environmental Impact Statement.

In 2012, officials in Eddy and Lea counties announced that a private company would submit a license application in March 2013.  In December 2015, Holtec told the NRC that it would submit the license application in June 2016, so that the facility could begin operating in 2020.  The application was submitted in March 2017, and stated that NRC’s license would be issued in 2019 and that construction would begin by March 2020.  https://wethefourth.org/

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New & Updated

Nuclear Power goes South in South Carolina

“It looks like crime might well pay after all.”
That was the weary and only slightly tongue-in-cheek conclusion drawn by longtime anti-nuclear campaigner, Tom Clements recently, after a former South Carolina nuclear utility executive pled guilty to fraud in federal court.

BY: Linda Pentz Gunter | beyondnuclear.org

Photo: Since cancelled V.C. Summer Unit 3, by NRC/Flickr.

Clements is the director of Savannah River Site Watch, but his activism has, for decades, extended well beyond the perimeter of that vast nuclear site.

For years, Clements and others have followed — and attempted to stand in the way of — the forced march of South Carolina ratepayers toward nuclear fiasco. When it finally unraveled in late July, there was only cautious cause for celebration.

On July 23, Stephen Byrne, the former COO of SCANA, the South Carolina utility originally in charge of the construction of two new nuclear reactors in the state, pled guilty in a massive nuclear conspiracy that defrauded ratepayers, deceived regulators and misled shareholders.

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The 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A Renewed Call for Our Day

“A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions … ” — Pope Francis, Address at Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park (Nagasaki), November 24, 2019.

PEOPLE OF GOD – Santa Fe Archdiocese, August 2020

PRAY

Pray with your community for the causes of peace and nuclear disarmament to be made a reality.

LEARN

Learn about what the Church teaches regarding nuclear weapons.

ACT

Put what your faith into action by raising your voice to support nuclear disarmament.

 JOIN OUR COMMEMORATION EVENT AUGUST 6

On 75th Anniversary of Japan Nuclear Bombings, Sierra Club Continues Calls for Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Today, the Sierra Club rises with the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings in continuing our call for an elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide. The creation and storage of nuclear weapons is inherently risky, and accidents, testing, and use of nuclear weapons are recklessly and unnecessarily dangerous for communities — particularly low income and communities of color — and our environment. 
“The Sierra Club calls on Congress to resist the current renewal of the nuclear arms race and to ban the use of nuclear weapons.”

cindy.carr@sierraclub.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the WW II nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Sierra Club has joined with the Hibakusha Survivors in calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons globally. Since 1945, nearly 100,000 nuclear weapons have been manufactured, costing trillions of dollars and destroying communities and the environment through the mining, refining, and weaponizing of uranium.

The Sierra Club opposes the creation and testing of nuclear weapons and supports the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

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Urgency to bear witness grows for last Hiroshima victims

“We must work harder to get our voices heard, not just mine but those of many other survivors,” Lee [ Jong-keun] said in an interview Tuesday at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. “A nuclear weapons ban is the starting point for peace.”

| santafenewmexican.com

HIROSHIMA, Japan

For nearly 70 years, until he turned 85, Lee Jong-keun hid his past as an atomic bomb survivor, fearful of the widespread discrimination against blast victims that has long persisted in Japan.

But Lee, 92, is now part of a fast-dwindling group of survivors, known as hibakusha, that feels a growing urgency — desperation even — to tell their stories. These last witnesses to what happened 75 years ago Thursday want to reach a younger generation that they feel is losing sight of the horror.

The knowledge of their dwindling time — the average age of the survivors is more than 83 and many suffer from the long-lasting effects of radiation — is coupled with deep frustration over stalled progress in global efforts to ban nuclear weapons. According to a recent Asahi newspaper survey of 768 survivors, nearly two-thirds said their wish for a nuclear-free world is not widely shared by the rest of humanity, and more than 70 percent called on a reluctant Japanese government to ratify a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

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Atomic-bomb survivors seek new ways to keep their memories alive

Around the world, non-proliferation efforts are faltering

THEECONOMIST.COM

For seventeen year-old Takeoka Chisako, August 6th, 1945 was supposed to be a day off. She had planned to meet two girlfriends at 8:15 that morning, at a train station on the west side of Hiroshima. She was running late, and as she stepped outside her house she lifted a pocket mirror to her face. Then she saw a flash and heard a bang. When she regained consciousness she found herself lying in a potato field 30 metres away, a mushroom cloud rising in the sky. People with charred skin dangling from their arms came rushing over a nearby hillside. They cried for help, but were too feeble to speak their names and too weak to drink the water Ms Takeoka brought them. “Then one by one, they died,” says Higashino Mariko, Ms Takeoka’s daughter.

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Hiroshima after 75 years: Walking the path of the atomic bomb

74-year-old [Kosei Mito] turns to a page in one of his binders with a large quote Pope John Paul II made during a visit to Hiroshima in 1981, one that’s inscribed on a memorial inside the Hiroshima Peace Museum.
“To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future.”

BRAD LENDON | CNN.COM

Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands (CNN) — It’s a discolored concrete slab, molding in the tropical humidity. But on this slab, not much bigger than the footprint of a beach cabin, history changed. What was once a doorway is obvious, as are the bases for a couple interior walls and an opening for a larger garage-like entrance. I walk through the doorway, through the interior and out the garage. As I do, my guide puts these few steps in extraordinary perspective.
“You’re walking the path of the atomic bomb.”
This slab is where the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years ago were put together. It’s the assembly point for the dawning of the atomic age. Now it sits, essentially ignored, on the Pacific island of Tinian, from where the US Army Air Force B-29 bombers that performed those atomic strikes on Japan departed.

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U.S. LAUNCHES MINUTEMAN III MISSILE TEST LESS THAN 48 HOURS BEFORE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIROSHIMA ATOMIC BOMBING

“The unnecessarily provocative test by the U.S. today is an important reminder that the nuclear threat remains very real, and that there are people in this country – along with a few other countries – who are willing to sacrifice us all in a battle that can never be won and must never be fought.”

For Immediate Release Contact: Sandy Jones (805) 965-3443; sjones@napf.org
Rick Wayman (805) 696-5159; rwayman@napf.org  ragingpeace.org

Santa Barbara, CA – The U.S. Air Force launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile Tuesday morning, August 4, at 12:21 a.m. PDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The missile traveled over 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

While Air Force Global Strike Command asserts that missile tests are scheduled years in advance, it is difficult to ignore the timing of this test – less than 48 hours before the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Rick Wayman, CEO of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a non-profit based in Santa Barbara committed to solving the most dangerous technological, social, and psychological issues of our time, including the abolition of nuclear weapons, commented on the missile test. He said, “This week, the majority of the world is solemnly remembering the 75th anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and vowing that such a thing will never happen again. Hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings were indiscriminately slaughtered by two primitive U.S. atomic bombs in August 1945. The weapon that was tested this morning is designed for far greater damage.”

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Trump team’s case for new nuke cites risks in current arsenal

The administration justified new atomic weapons by citing rarely acknowledged vulnerabilities in U.S. nuclear arsenal

BY: JOHN M. DONNELLY | rollcall.com

Just one of America’s 14 Ohio-class submarines — like the USS Maine, above — could deliver explosive power nearly 10 times that of all the bombs dropped in World War II. (Andrea Perez/U.S. Navy photo)

The Trump administration, in a closely held memo to lawmakers this spring, justified developing the first new U.S. atomic weapon since the Cold War by citing vulnerabilities and risks in the current nuclear arsenal that are rarely or never acknowledged in public.

In an unclassified five-page white paper sent to Congress in May, the Pentagon and the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, affirm a point they have long minimized: the dangers of land-based missiles ready to launch minutes after a warning of enemy attack.

They also discuss threats to U.S. nuclear missile submarines that have previously been depicted as all but undetectable. They say, too, that a new class of ballistic missile submarines lacks the firepower of its predecessors, creating a need for a lighter and more powerful type of warhead — in addition to the two existing types. As for the current two sets of warheads, they say they have too few of the most destructive kind and too many of the less forceful variety — and excessively rely on the latter.

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Gov. argues against Holtec nuclear storage site

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Tuesday, arguing against a proposed nuclear waste interim storage facility in southeast New Mexico.
“The proposed (facility) would join the ranks of uranium mining, nuclear energy and defense-related programs that have long created risks to public health and the environment in the state of New Mexico that are disproportionately greater than such risks to the general population of the United States,” she wrote.

BY: THERESA DAVIS, JOURNAL STAFF WRITER | Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The proposed Holtec International site would store 500 stainless steel canisters of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel on 1,000 acres between Carlsbad and Hobbs, with a full storage capacity of 10,000 canisters.

“New Mexico has grave concerns for the unnecessary risk to our citizens and our communities, our first responders, our environment, and to New Mexico’s agriculture and natural resource industries,” Lujan Grisham wrote in the letter.

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LANL trolley that carries radioactive material broken down

“If LANL can’t drive a trolley or clean up old stuff without exposing people, how can they safely expand plutonium pit production?” asked Scott Kovac, research and operations director for nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

An internal trolley that carries radioactive material to several glove-box areas at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium facility has been broken for almost two months, hindering operations at the site, a federal watchdog report said.

The trolley became disabled in early June, and its bucket is stuck with a container of nuclear material inside, according to a report issued by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

“However, the location is not creating any radiological exposure concerns,” the report said.

The report noted the idled trolley has hampered the internal transfer of radioactive material to the sealed containers with protective gloves attached, but it didn’t say to what extent.

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“F-35s Don’t Help Families Pay Their Bills”: GOP Slips Pentagon Into COVID Bill

“People are dying, or worried about keeping a roof over their families’ heads, or cutting hours because their kids’ schools are closed,” said Anthony Weir, a lobbyist on nuclear disarmament and Pentagon spending at the Friends Committee on National Legislation. “And this is the time to jam some military procurement into this year that you didn’t get last year?”

BY: JAKE JOHNSON | truthout.org

The GOP’s HEALS Act is replete with massive gifts to the Pentagon and defense contractors, including $686 million for F-35s.
SAMUEL KING JR. / U.S. AIR FORCE

In a floor speech late Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the GOP’s newly released coronavirus stimulus package as a “carefully tailored” plan to provide financial relief to desperate Americans.

But a look at the legislative text (pdf) released by Senate Republicans shows the HEALS Act is replete with massive gifts to the Pentagon and defense contractors that would do nothing to aid the unemployed, provide nutrition assistance to hungry children, prevent an avalanche of evictions, or stop the spread of coronavirus.

“Last time I checked F-35s don’t help families pay their bills,” Rep. Chuy García (D-Ill.) tweeted in response to the GOP’s proposal of $686 million in spending on new fighter jets.

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Rebuts U.S. Claim that Marshall Islands Nuclear Waste Site is Safe

“The U.S. government is responsible for this storage site and must ensure the protection of the people and our environment from the toxic waste stored there,” Gabbard said in a news release announcing her amendment to the defense bill.

BY: SUSANNE RUST | latimes.com

Graffiti in May 2018 is written on Runit Dome, in Enewetak Atoll of the Marshall Islands, urging the United States to take responsibility for the radioactive waste encapsulated inside the concrete structure. The U.S. government paid a contractor to remove the graffiti from the dome’s surface. (Mika Makelainen / Yle)

One of Hawaii’s high-profile politicians has dismissed a recent Department of Energy report concluding that a leaking U.S. nuclear waste repository in the Marshall Islands is safe for people there.

She called for the department to convene a more independent assessment of the waste site.

“I think it’s time the Department of Energy relied on someone with fresh eyes to examine the situation,” said U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, one of Hawaii’s two Democratic House members, in a recent interview with The Times.

Gabbard, who gained national attention by launching what some called a quixotic campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been outspoken in Congress on behalf of the Marshall Islands, which the United States used as a testing site for scores of nuclear weapons during the Cold War.

She’s pushed to reinstate Medicaid eligibility to people from the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau who are working and living in the United States but lack access to healthcare. She also was instrumental in requiring the Department of Energy to reexamine the safety of Runit Dome, a leaking nuclear waste repository in the Marshall Islands, as part of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

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Top Ex-SCANA Official Stephen Byrne Pleads Guilty in SC Nuclear Fiasco Fraud Case

Stephen Byrne, a top executive of the now-defunct SCANA electric utility, pleaded guilty Thursday to criminal conspiracy fraud charges in federal court in Columbia.

BY: John MonkJoseph Bustos | thestate.com

Byrne’s guilty plea showed that SCANA’s downfall — triggered by a failed $9 billion effort to build two nuclear reactors in Fairfield County — was the result of not just mismanagement or incompetence, but criminal conduct at the company‘s highest levels.
SCANA, a Fortune 500 publicly traded company whose business lineage traced back to 1846, was one of the crown jewels of South Carolina’s economy. But the failure of its effort to build two nuclear reactors at its plant in Jenkinsville led to multiple lawsuits and mounting financial troubles. Eventually the company was absorbed by Dominion Energy. SCANA’s downfall is perhaps the most costly business failure in state history.
Byrne was part of a conspiracy that engineered a “cover-up” to hide the extent of the publicly traded company’s financial problems caused by the nuclear project’s difficulties, according to charging documents in his case. “Through intentional misrepresentations,” Byrne and others deceived regulators and customers, documents said.
Byrne, 60, who appeared with his lawyers, Jim Griffin and Maggie Fox of Columbia, said little during Thursday’s hearing before U.S. District Judge Mary Lewis. He will be sentenced at a later date and, as part of a plea bargain, could testify against any alleged co-conspirators.

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White House held talks over resuming US nuclear tests, John Bolton says

Ex-Trump adviser and testing advocate tells Guardian ‘certainly it was discussed’ but no decision was made by the time he left

BY: JULIAN BORGER | theguardian.com

John Bolton acknowledged that there was resistance to testing from other officials in the Trump administration. ‘I think different people have different views,’ he said.

White House officials held a series of discussions over the past two years on the possibility of resuming US nuclear testing, according to the former national security adviser John Bolton.

“Certainly the subject was discussed,” Bolton, a fierce advocate of testing, told the Guardian. However, there was opposition from some in the administration who felt current computer-based testing of US warheads was sufficient, and no decision was made by the time Bolton left the White House last September.

When the prospect of the first US underground nuclear test in nearly three decades came up at a White House meeting in May, it triggered an outcry from arms control advocates and a Democratic amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, blocking funding for preparations for a test.

Bolton, who has published a memoir on his time in the Trump White House titled The Room Where It Happened, said the issue was discussed in general terms on a number of occasions while he was national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019. However, the discussions did not become “operational” as his priority had been to take the US out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

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Action Alerts

Submit Public Comments to the New Mexico Environment Department on Utility Shaft at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant:

A draft permit for the $100 million utility shaft construction project was issued by NMED on June 12, opening a public comment period scheduled to continue until 5 p.m., Aug. 11.

The utility shaft was not needed for ongoing WIPP operations, but for an intended expansion of the facility that would keep it open longer than previously agreed to and holding more waste. Any expansion in WIPP’s capacity and lifetime should be brought before the public before work to do so was allowed.

Submit comments here below:


Or submit in writing to:
WIPP Project Manager Ricardo Maestas at NMED’s Hazardous Waste Bureau,
2905 Rodeo Park Drive East, Building 1, Santa Fe New Mexico 87505

or via email or at:
ricardo.maestas@state.nm.us.

The public may also request a public hearing at the same address and email.

MORE INFORMATION

In Memoriam: Bruce G. Blair

Bruce G. Blair, 1947-2020

Bruce G. Blair Manned Nuclear Weapons, Then Warned About Them

A lifelong crusade aimed to convince world leaders of the threat posed by miscalculation or accidental attack

FROM SCIENCE & GLOBAL SECURITY PRINCETON:
"Bruce G. Blair, a distinguished research scholar, leader of the global nuclear disarmament movement, our dear friend and amazing colleague, died unexpectedly on Sunday, July 19, 2020.

Bruce joined our Program in 2013 after an already stellar career that helped define our field. He was the recognized U.S. expert on the command and control of nuclear forces and wrote a series of books on the subject while he was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. During the early 1980s, he was commissioned by the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment to write a report on the weaknesses of U.S. command and control, but the Department of Defense considered the report too sensitive for publication and had it shredded.

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Nuclear News

Pending Energy Spending Bill Mixed Bag for INL

“We all know major change takes time, and we know that it is difficult to turn this ship, but we are doing it in our time…We can and must do better than refight a tired old battle on Yucca Mountain.” – Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio

By: | postregister.com

Idaho National Laboratory

The Energy and Water appropriations bill Congress is expected to take up next week represents a mixed bag for Idaho National Laboratory, with spending on some priorities kept flat and slight increases for others.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines earlier this month, with the Democrats in favor and the Republicans opposed, to advance the bill. At $49.6 billion in the regular budget, it represents a $1.26 billion increase over this year’s spending, according to a committee reporting summarizing the bill. However, on top of this it also includes an additional $23.5 billion in emergency one-time funding meant to bolster various clean energy projects and aid in recovery from the coronavirus pandemic that has led to pushback from Republicans. It and six other spending bills are expected to be considered by the full House this week, according to a news release from the committee.

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Novel gas-capture approach advances nuclear fuel management

“If one day we want to treat the spent fuels, which in the U.S. are currently stored in pools and dry casks at the nuclear power plant sites, we need to handle the volatile radionuclides.” explains Ju Li, MIT’s Battelle Energy Alliance Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and professor of materials science and engineering. “Physisorption of krypton and xenon is a good approach, and we were very happy to collaborate with this large team on the MOF approach.”

By: PETER DUNN, MIT | phys.org

Separation of 85Kr from spent nuclear fuel by a highly selective metal organic framework. Credit: Mike Gipple/NETL

Nuclear energy provides about 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply, and over half of its carbon-free generating capacity.

Operations of commercial nuclear reactors produce small quantities of spent fuel, which in some countries is reprocessed to extract materials that can be recycled as fuel in other reactors. Key to the improvement of the economics of this fuel cycle is the capture of gaseous radioactive products of fission such as 85krypton.

Therefore, developing efficient technology to capture and secure 85krypton from the mix of effluent gasses would represent a significant improvement in the management of used nuclear fuels. One promising avenue is the adsorption of gasses into an advanced type of soft crystalline material, metal organic frameworks (MOFs), which have extremely high porosity and enormous internal surface area and can incorporate a vast array of organic and inorganic components.

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Inhofe, Reed Praise Senate Passage of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021

The United States Senate today passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, 86-14.

Thursday, July 23, 2020 PRESS RELEASE: https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/press-releases/inhofe-reed-praise-senate-passage-of-national-defense-authorization-act-of-fiscal-year-2021

Excerpt below from pages 416-417 includes review of transferring plutonium oxide production from Los Alamos to SRS, despite the fact that SRS already stores 11.5 MT of plutonium that South Carolina wants out of the state, and no more plutonium to come in until the current stockpile is gone.

Responsibility for Los Alamos Plutonium Facility 4 and Technical Area 55
Plutonium Facility 4 (PF–4) at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area 55 is the primary plutonium handling facility within the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). PF–4 is currently undergoing major modifications to produce war reserve plutonium pits, with a production goal of 30 pits per year by 2026.Continue reading

DOE Targets End to US Reliance on Russian Nuclear Fuel, Revived Domestic Capability

“Industry and NGO representatives did not agree with Brouillette’s assertions regarding U.S. reliance on Russian nuclear fuel.
“Brouillette overstated the U.S. commercial nuclear industry’s dependence of Russian uranium ore, Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Utility Dive. “Most of it comes from Australia and Canada,” he said. Industry sources put the amount coming from Russia at 20%.”

By: | utilitydive.com

Dive Brief:

  • The Department of Energy is working to end U.S. reliance on Russia for nuclear fuel, Secretary Dan Brouillette told members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy last week.
  • The department’s Nuclear Fuel Working Group wants American-sourced uranium and plans to begin processing U.S. uranium into high-grade fuel at a DOE facility in Portsmouth, Ohio, as early as next year, Brouillette said. The high-grade fuel is particularly important for new and smaller commercial reactors that DOE considers critical to grid stability as renewables replace aging fossil fuel power plants, he said.
  • Brouillette also said the government has been able to blunt cyber attacks on the U.S. power grid “from places like Russia” and is working to ban Chinese-made grid equipment it believes could contain spyware, he told the subcommittee.

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Global Zero Mourns the Loss of Dr. Bruce Blair

June 20, 2020
Source:
Global Zero

“We are saddened to announce that Dr. Bruce G. Blair, Co-Founder of Global Zero and President of its Board of Directors, died unexpectedly on Sunday, July 19, following a sudden illness.

Derek Johnson, Executive Director of Global Zero, released the following statement on behalf of the organization regarding the recent passing of Dr. Blair:

“I am heartbroken at the sudden loss of my colleague, mentor, and dear friend, Bruce Blair.

“15 years ago, Bruce brought together an unprecedented international community of leaders and visionaries to build a new kind of movement to persuade governments to come to their senses and set aside the most catastrophic weapons on the planet. A veteran nuclear launch officer and unrivaled expert in command and control, Bruce understood — perhaps better than any single person alive — the urgency, enormity, and complexity of the nuclear threat. He built the Global Zero movement from the ground up and devoted all of his energy to making the world safer and better for all people.

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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

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Nuclear Power goes South in South Carolina

“It looks like crime might well pay after all.”
That was the weary and only slightly tongue-in-cheek conclusion drawn by longtime anti-nuclear campaigner, Tom Clements recently, after a former South Carolina nuclear utility executive pled guilty to fraud in federal court.

BY: Linda Pentz Gunter | beyondnuclear.org

Photo: Since cancelled V.C. Summer Unit 3, by NRC/Flickr.

Clements is the director of Savannah River Site Watch, but his activism has, for decades, extended well beyond the perimeter of that vast nuclear site.

For years, Clements and others have followed — and attempted to stand in the way of — the forced march of South Carolina ratepayers toward nuclear fiasco. When it finally unraveled in late July, there was only cautious cause for celebration.

On July 23, Stephen Byrne, the former COO of SCANA, the South Carolina utility originally in charge of the construction of two new nuclear reactors in the state, pled guilty in a massive nuclear conspiracy that defrauded ratepayers, deceived regulators and misled shareholders.

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The 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A Renewed Call for Our Day

“A world of peace, free from nuclear weapons, is the aspiration of millions … ” — Pope Francis, Address at Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park (Nagasaki), November 24, 2019.

PEOPLE OF GOD – Santa Fe Archdiocese, August 2020

PRAY

Pray with your community for the causes of peace and nuclear disarmament to be made a reality.

LEARN

Learn about what the Church teaches regarding nuclear weapons.

ACT

Put what your faith into action by raising your voice to support nuclear disarmament.

 JOIN OUR COMMEMORATION EVENT AUGUST 6

On 75th Anniversary of Japan Nuclear Bombings, Sierra Club Continues Calls for Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Today, the Sierra Club rises with the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings in continuing our call for an elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide. The creation and storage of nuclear weapons is inherently risky, and accidents, testing, and use of nuclear weapons are recklessly and unnecessarily dangerous for communities — particularly low income and communities of color — and our environment. 
“The Sierra Club calls on Congress to resist the current renewal of the nuclear arms race and to ban the use of nuclear weapons.”

cindy.carr@sierraclub.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. — To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the WW II nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Sierra Club has joined with the Hibakusha Survivors in calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons globally. Since 1945, nearly 100,000 nuclear weapons have been manufactured, costing trillions of dollars and destroying communities and the environment through the mining, refining, and weaponizing of uranium.

The Sierra Club opposes the creation and testing of nuclear weapons and supports the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

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Urgency to bear witness grows for last Hiroshima victims

“We must work harder to get our voices heard, not just mine but those of many other survivors,” Lee [ Jong-keun] said in an interview Tuesday at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. “A nuclear weapons ban is the starting point for peace.”

| santafenewmexican.com

HIROSHIMA, Japan

For nearly 70 years, until he turned 85, Lee Jong-keun hid his past as an atomic bomb survivor, fearful of the widespread discrimination against blast victims that has long persisted in Japan.

But Lee, 92, is now part of a fast-dwindling group of survivors, known as hibakusha, that feels a growing urgency — desperation even — to tell their stories. These last witnesses to what happened 75 years ago Thursday want to reach a younger generation that they feel is losing sight of the horror.

The knowledge of their dwindling time — the average age of the survivors is more than 83 and many suffer from the long-lasting effects of radiation — is coupled with deep frustration over stalled progress in global efforts to ban nuclear weapons. According to a recent Asahi newspaper survey of 768 survivors, nearly two-thirds said their wish for a nuclear-free world is not widely shared by the rest of humanity, and more than 70 percent called on a reluctant Japanese government to ratify a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

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Atomic-bomb survivors seek new ways to keep their memories alive

Around the world, non-proliferation efforts are faltering

THEECONOMIST.COM

For seventeen year-old Takeoka Chisako, August 6th, 1945 was supposed to be a day off. She had planned to meet two girlfriends at 8:15 that morning, at a train station on the west side of Hiroshima. She was running late, and as she stepped outside her house she lifted a pocket mirror to her face. Then she saw a flash and heard a bang. When she regained consciousness she found herself lying in a potato field 30 metres away, a mushroom cloud rising in the sky. People with charred skin dangling from their arms came rushing over a nearby hillside. They cried for help, but were too feeble to speak their names and too weak to drink the water Ms Takeoka brought them. “Then one by one, they died,” says Higashino Mariko, Ms Takeoka’s daughter.

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Hiroshima after 75 years: Walking the path of the atomic bomb

74-year-old [Kosei Mito] turns to a page in one of his binders with a large quote Pope John Paul II made during a visit to Hiroshima in 1981, one that’s inscribed on a memorial inside the Hiroshima Peace Museum.
“To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future.”

BRAD LENDON | CNN.COM

Tinian, Northern Mariana Islands (CNN) — It’s a discolored concrete slab, molding in the tropical humidity. But on this slab, not much bigger than the footprint of a beach cabin, history changed. What was once a doorway is obvious, as are the bases for a couple interior walls and an opening for a larger garage-like entrance. I walk through the doorway, through the interior and out the garage. As I do, my guide puts these few steps in extraordinary perspective.
“You’re walking the path of the atomic bomb.”
This slab is where the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 75 years ago were put together. It’s the assembly point for the dawning of the atomic age. Now it sits, essentially ignored, on the Pacific island of Tinian, from where the US Army Air Force B-29 bombers that performed those atomic strikes on Japan departed.

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U.S. LAUNCHES MINUTEMAN III MISSILE TEST LESS THAN 48 HOURS BEFORE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIROSHIMA ATOMIC BOMBING

“The unnecessarily provocative test by the U.S. today is an important reminder that the nuclear threat remains very real, and that there are people in this country – along with a few other countries – who are willing to sacrifice us all in a battle that can never be won and must never be fought.”

For Immediate Release Contact: Sandy Jones (805) 965-3443; sjones@napf.org
Rick Wayman (805) 696-5159; rwayman@napf.org  ragingpeace.org

Santa Barbara, CA – The U.S. Air Force launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile Tuesday morning, August 4, at 12:21 a.m. PDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The missile traveled over 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

While Air Force Global Strike Command asserts that missile tests are scheduled years in advance, it is difficult to ignore the timing of this test – less than 48 hours before the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Rick Wayman, CEO of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a non-profit based in Santa Barbara committed to solving the most dangerous technological, social, and psychological issues of our time, including the abolition of nuclear weapons, commented on the missile test. He said, “This week, the majority of the world is solemnly remembering the 75th anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and vowing that such a thing will never happen again. Hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings were indiscriminately slaughtered by two primitive U.S. atomic bombs in August 1945. The weapon that was tested this morning is designed for far greater damage.”

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Trump team’s case for new nuke cites risks in current arsenal

The administration justified new atomic weapons by citing rarely acknowledged vulnerabilities in U.S. nuclear arsenal

BY: JOHN M. DONNELLY | rollcall.com

Just one of America’s 14 Ohio-class submarines — like the USS Maine, above — could deliver explosive power nearly 10 times that of all the bombs dropped in World War II. (Andrea Perez/U.S. Navy photo)

The Trump administration, in a closely held memo to lawmakers this spring, justified developing the first new U.S. atomic weapon since the Cold War by citing vulnerabilities and risks in the current nuclear arsenal that are rarely or never acknowledged in public.

In an unclassified five-page white paper sent to Congress in May, the Pentagon and the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, affirm a point they have long minimized: the dangers of land-based missiles ready to launch minutes after a warning of enemy attack.

They also discuss threats to U.S. nuclear missile submarines that have previously been depicted as all but undetectable. They say, too, that a new class of ballistic missile submarines lacks the firepower of its predecessors, creating a need for a lighter and more powerful type of warhead — in addition to the two existing types. As for the current two sets of warheads, they say they have too few of the most destructive kind and too many of the less forceful variety — and excessively rely on the latter.

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Gov. argues against Holtec nuclear storage site

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Tuesday, arguing against a proposed nuclear waste interim storage facility in southeast New Mexico.
“The proposed (facility) would join the ranks of uranium mining, nuclear energy and defense-related programs that have long created risks to public health and the environment in the state of New Mexico that are disproportionately greater than such risks to the general population of the United States,” she wrote.

BY: THERESA DAVIS, JOURNAL STAFF WRITER | Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The proposed Holtec International site would store 500 stainless steel canisters of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel on 1,000 acres between Carlsbad and Hobbs, with a full storage capacity of 10,000 canisters.

“New Mexico has grave concerns for the unnecessary risk to our citizens and our communities, our first responders, our environment, and to New Mexico’s agriculture and natural resource industries,” Lujan Grisham wrote in the letter.

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LANL trolley that carries radioactive material broken down

“If LANL can’t drive a trolley or clean up old stuff without exposing people, how can they safely expand plutonium pit production?” asked Scott Kovac, research and operations director for nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

An internal trolley that carries radioactive material to several glove-box areas at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium facility has been broken for almost two months, hindering operations at the site, a federal watchdog report said.

The trolley became disabled in early June, and its bucket is stuck with a container of nuclear material inside, according to a report issued by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

“However, the location is not creating any radiological exposure concerns,” the report said.

The report noted the idled trolley has hampered the internal transfer of radioactive material to the sealed containers with protective gloves attached, but it didn’t say to what extent.

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“F-35s Don’t Help Families Pay Their Bills”: GOP Slips Pentagon Into COVID Bill

“People are dying, or worried about keeping a roof over their families’ heads, or cutting hours because their kids’ schools are closed,” said Anthony Weir, a lobbyist on nuclear disarmament and Pentagon spending at the Friends Committee on National Legislation. “And this is the time to jam some military procurement into this year that you didn’t get last year?”

BY: JAKE JOHNSON | truthout.org

The GOP’s HEALS Act is replete with massive gifts to the Pentagon and defense contractors, including $686 million for F-35s.
SAMUEL KING JR. / U.S. AIR FORCE

In a floor speech late Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the GOP’s newly released coronavirus stimulus package as a “carefully tailored” plan to provide financial relief to desperate Americans.

But a look at the legislative text (pdf) released by Senate Republicans shows the HEALS Act is replete with massive gifts to the Pentagon and defense contractors that would do nothing to aid the unemployed, provide nutrition assistance to hungry children, prevent an avalanche of evictions, or stop the spread of coronavirus.

“Last time I checked F-35s don’t help families pay their bills,” Rep. Chuy García (D-Ill.) tweeted in response to the GOP’s proposal of $686 million in spending on new fighter jets.

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Rebuts U.S. Claim that Marshall Islands Nuclear Waste Site is Safe

“The U.S. government is responsible for this storage site and must ensure the protection of the people and our environment from the toxic waste stored there,” Gabbard said in a news release announcing her amendment to the defense bill.

BY: SUSANNE RUST | latimes.com

Graffiti in May 2018 is written on Runit Dome, in Enewetak Atoll of the Marshall Islands, urging the United States to take responsibility for the radioactive waste encapsulated inside the concrete structure. The U.S. government paid a contractor to remove the graffiti from the dome’s surface. (Mika Makelainen / Yle)

One of Hawaii’s high-profile politicians has dismissed a recent Department of Energy report concluding that a leaking U.S. nuclear waste repository in the Marshall Islands is safe for people there.

She called for the department to convene a more independent assessment of the waste site.

“I think it’s time the Department of Energy relied on someone with fresh eyes to examine the situation,” said U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, one of Hawaii’s two Democratic House members, in a recent interview with The Times.

Gabbard, who gained national attention by launching what some called a quixotic campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, has been outspoken in Congress on behalf of the Marshall Islands, which the United States used as a testing site for scores of nuclear weapons during the Cold War.

She’s pushed to reinstate Medicaid eligibility to people from the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau who are working and living in the United States but lack access to healthcare. She also was instrumental in requiring the Department of Energy to reexamine the safety of Runit Dome, a leaking nuclear waste repository in the Marshall Islands, as part of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

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Top Ex-SCANA Official Stephen Byrne Pleads Guilty in SC Nuclear Fiasco Fraud Case

Stephen Byrne, a top executive of the now-defunct SCANA electric utility, pleaded guilty Thursday to criminal conspiracy fraud charges in federal court in Columbia.

BY: John MonkJoseph Bustos | thestate.com

Byrne’s guilty plea showed that SCANA’s downfall — triggered by a failed $9 billion effort to build two nuclear reactors in Fairfield County — was the result of not just mismanagement or incompetence, but criminal conduct at the company‘s highest levels.
SCANA, a Fortune 500 publicly traded company whose business lineage traced back to 1846, was one of the crown jewels of South Carolina’s economy. But the failure of its effort to build two nuclear reactors at its plant in Jenkinsville led to multiple lawsuits and mounting financial troubles. Eventually the company was absorbed by Dominion Energy. SCANA’s downfall is perhaps the most costly business failure in state history.
Byrne was part of a conspiracy that engineered a “cover-up” to hide the extent of the publicly traded company’s financial problems caused by the nuclear project’s difficulties, according to charging documents in his case. “Through intentional misrepresentations,” Byrne and others deceived regulators and customers, documents said.
Byrne, 60, who appeared with his lawyers, Jim Griffin and Maggie Fox of Columbia, said little during Thursday’s hearing before U.S. District Judge Mary Lewis. He will be sentenced at a later date and, as part of a plea bargain, could testify against any alleged co-conspirators.

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White House held talks over resuming US nuclear tests, John Bolton says

Ex-Trump adviser and testing advocate tells Guardian ‘certainly it was discussed’ but no decision was made by the time he left

BY: JULIAN BORGER | theguardian.com

John Bolton acknowledged that there was resistance to testing from other officials in the Trump administration. ‘I think different people have different views,’ he said.

White House officials held a series of discussions over the past two years on the possibility of resuming US nuclear testing, according to the former national security adviser John Bolton.

“Certainly the subject was discussed,” Bolton, a fierce advocate of testing, told the Guardian. However, there was opposition from some in the administration who felt current computer-based testing of US warheads was sufficient, and no decision was made by the time Bolton left the White House last September.

When the prospect of the first US underground nuclear test in nearly three decades came up at a White House meeting in May, it triggered an outcry from arms control advocates and a Democratic amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, blocking funding for preparations for a test.

Bolton, who has published a memoir on his time in the Trump White House titled The Room Where It Happened, said the issue was discussed in general terms on a number of occasions while he was national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019. However, the discussions did not become “operational” as his priority had been to take the US out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

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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.

Stay engaged in the effort to prevent nuclear war. Read these 11 essential books on nuclear weapons.

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…

1983 by Taylor Downing

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..

The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg: The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

Ron Rosenbaum, in his fascinating and highly readable “How The End Begins” (2011) notes that when Kissinger told Nixon that Ellsberg was “the most dangerous man in America” he wasn’t referring to the Pentagon Papers but to what Ellsberg knew about top secret nuclear war plans from his work at RAND. Ellsberg had also made off with thousands of nuclear war-fighting strategy documents in addition to the Pentagon Papers, but decided to release the latter first. As it turned out much of the nuclear papers were lost during the turmoil following the Pentagon Papers release. This book, long overdue, is about what he learned then.

Ellsberg recalls being tasked to review the strategic war-fighting plans in effect under Eisenhower, and discovering that they called for “hitting every city, actually every town, above 25,000 population” in Russia and China and to some extent East Europe. Pressed for an estimate of death toll, the pentagon came back with 600 million dead. And that was not counting US and West European death tolls. “I thought, ‘This is the most evil plan that has ever existed. It’s insane.'”

Referring to US and Russian ICBM forces still to this day on alert: “Here is what we now know: the United States and Russia each have an actual Doomsday Machine.”

Democracy Now interview with transcript

Harper’s Magazine excerpt, Dec 6, 2017

Dave Davies excellent NPR interview

at Amazon

Quotes

“Trump is dedicated to destroying the arms control regime. It may already be too late to renegotiate [the new START treaty], the last of the arms control treaties. He is now threatening to carry out nuclear weapons tests, tests that would undermine the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, almost 30 years. The United States never ratified it, but it has lived up to it. All of this opens the door wider for other countries to react the same way. The arms industry is of course euphoric. They’re getting huge new contracts to develop major weapons to destroy all of us. This encourages others to do the same. So there are new contracts down the road for hopeless means to try to defend ourselves against the monstrosities that we’re helping to construct. This is Trump, racing toward this, apparently enjoying it…Whether this can be contained within the constitutional structures of the United States, we don’t know.”

Noam Chomsky on Trump’s Troop Surge to Democratic Cities & Whether He’ll Leave Office if He Loses

“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”

Robert Oppenheimer on the Trinity test; interview in The Decision to Drop the Bomb, Atomic Archive movie