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.

Plutonium Sampling at Los Alamos National Laboratory

PBS Special: The Vow From Hiroshima

Where the film “Oppenheimer” failed to explore the devastating impact of nuclear destruction on victims and the environment, "The Vow From Hiroshima" offers a poignant and timely counter-narrative. It shares an intimate, uplifting glimpse into the life of Setsuko Thurlow, an 85-year-old survivor of the atomic bombing who dedicated her life to peace and the elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Special on PBS |

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!

Map of “Nuclear New Mexico”

In 1985, US President Ronald Reagan 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

New & Updated

Guterres warns humanity on ‘knife’s edge’ as AI raises nuclear war threat

UN secretary general makes plea for nuclear states to agree on mutual pledge not to be first to use nuclear weapons

“The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has warned that the spread of artificial intelligence technology multiplies the threat of nuclear war, and that humanity is now ‘on a knife’s edge’ as dangers to its existence coalesce.”

By , The Guardian | June 7, 2024 theguardian.com 

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)

Guterres’s warning is due to be shown on a recorded video to be played on Friday morning at the annual meeting of the US Arms Control Association (ACA) in Washington.

In the video, the secretary general makes his most impassioned plea to date for the nuclear weapons states to take their non-proliferation obligations seriously, and in particular, agree on a mutual pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons.

“The regime designed to prevent the use, testing and proliferation of nuclear weapons is weakening,”

Guterres says in the recorded message, in a warning that comes with some 600 days to go before the expiry of the 2010 New Start accord between the US and Russia, the last remaining agreement limiting the strategic arsenals of the two nuclear superpowers.

U.S. Considers Expanded Nuclear Arsenal, a Reversal of Decades of Cuts

“China’s expansion and Russia’s threats of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine and in space have changed a U.S. drive to reduce nuclear weapons.”

By Julian E. Barnes and , New York Times | June 7, 2024 nytimes.com 

A senior Biden administration official warned on Friday that “absent a change” in nuclear strategy by China and Russia, the United States may be forced to expand its nuclear arsenal, after decades of cutting back through now largely abandoned arms control agreements.

The comments on Friday from Pranay Vaddi, a senior director of the National Security Council, were the most explicit public warning yet that the United States was prepared to shift from simply modernizing its arsenal to expanding it…

A ‘TOTAL, COMPLETE’ FAILURE

“Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is speaking out against his own party’s House leadership after the chamber left for the week with no plan for reauthorizing and expanding a program compensating victims of nuclear radiation exposure that’s due to expire on June 10.”

By Anthony Adragna, Politico | June 5, 2024 politico.com 

“Clearly, it’s not a priority,” Hawley told Inside Congress. “The next few days, hopefully, are focusing people’s minds on the fact that we’re about to go over the precipice here.”

Hawley, who has been an outspoken champion of expanding the program to include Missouri communities, said the program’s looming expiration represents “just the failure of leadership.” He worked with Democrats, including Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), to get an expanded version of the program, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Reauthorization Act, through the Senate in March by a wide 69-30 bipartisan margin.

Critics have blushed at the cost of the expansion, estimated at $50 to $60 billion over ten years without any offsets for the new spending. That has complicated passage in the House, and Speaker MIke Johnson’s office did not respond to Hawley’s comments.

Cracks in the Sin Screen: The Link Between Mormon Tithes and Nuclear Weapons

Read Taylor Barnes’ deep dive into Northrup Grumman, chosen manufacture of the Sentinel ICBM, for which the Los Alamos National Lab and Savannah River Site would make new plutonium pits. As they are the ones doing the dirty work of preparing for full-scale nuclear war (a la the “Nuclear Posture Reviews” of Trump & Biden), all NNSA and DOE contractors need this kind of scrutiny. — Tom Clements, SRS Watch

Words: Taylor Barnes – Pictures: Aubrey Odom, Inkstick Media | June 4, 2024 inkstickmedia.com 

On March 28, 1979, a handful of Air Force officers and a Mormon civilian employee from Utah’s Hill Air Force Base arrived in Salt Lake City for an unusual meeting. They were seeking a blessing: For the Church of Latter-day Saints’ top three leaders to endorse a plan to construct 8,500 miles of roads and 4,600 concrete garages for a nuclear weapons system. It would constantly shuttle 200 missiles on racetracks, playing a “shell game” intended to keep the Soviet military guessing where America’s nuclear warheads really were at any given moment. The Soviets could, of course, just build more nuclear weapons and take out the entire missile field at once, so American war planners imagined the project, called “Missile, Experimental,” or MX, would continuously grow, becoming 8,250 garages and 360 missiles by 1990. And so on.

That sort of arms race meant the Air Force needed Americans willing to host the ever-growing missile field. The desert landscape of the Great Basin spanning western Utah and central Nevada appealed to them. It had few highways, little infrastructure, and relatively sparse numbers of human residents. Of the population that did exist in the basing area, however, 80% was Mormon, according to an account of the MX battle in “The Mormon Military Experience,” a book recently published by historians Sherman L. Fleek and Robert C. Freeman from West Point and Brigham Young University.

Your NukeWatch NM Team in DC!

Your Nuclear Watch New Mexico team has just returned from a weeklong trip to Washington D.C. (we went so you don’t have to!). We proudly joined the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) in their annual “DC Days” conference and following Spring Meeting, where over 60 individuals from 30+ groups journeyed to DC to lobby congress on nuclear weapons, energy, and waste policy on behalf of the frontline nuclear communities we represent. From across the U.S. near nuclear complex sites in Georgia, New Mexico, Tennessee, California, Missouri, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan and beyond, members were present from the following groups: Beyond Nuclear, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Parents Against Santa Susana Field Laboratory, Peaceworks Kansas City, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles & Wisconsin, Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center, Snake River Alliance, Southwest Research and Information Center, Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. There were also a number of individual attendants participating from groups not currently affiliated with ANA as official members, notably more than previous years, which lends optimism for the potential growth of DC Days and ANA as a whole.

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Boulder County reconsidering involvement in trail connection to Rocky Flats due to plutonium concerns

“During a windstorm on April 6, Michael Ketterer, a retired scientist and adjunct professor at the University of Denver, took samples and said he detected high levels of plutonium in the air.

‘The concentrations in the dirt that’s just kind of blowing right past us on that day are higher than can be explained in any way in normal,’ said Dr. Ketterer.”

By Natalie Chuck, Denver 7 News | May 23, 2024 denver7.com

“More people are coming every day,” said Scott Riemer, who comes to the area to bike multiple times a week.

But now, Boulder County commissioners are facing concerns from community members as a result of decisions made by their predecessors. At the center of the controversy is Rocky Flats, acres of federal land formerly home to a nuclear weapons facility.

In 1989, the facility was raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for alleged environmental violations, including elevated levels of plutonium. All operations were suspended. Since then, trails have been developed on Rocky Flats.

Map of Rocky Mountain Greenway
Jefferson County Map of Rocky Mountain Greenway

In 2016, wheels were set in motion to develop the Rocky Mountain Greenway, a string of trails from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge to the Rocky Flats Mountain Wildlife Refuge to Rocky Mountain National Park.

While trails on Rocky Flats have been built, construction impacting Boulder County has yet to start.

A last push for RECA as sunset looms

“The shared stories here are harrowing. Uranium workers from Laguna and Acoma Pueblos and the Seboyeta and Cubero land grants who toiled in mines after 1971 and the Tularosa Basin Downwinders are among the participants: One after another, they come to the podium or comment from the audience. Others nod, shake their heads and wipe away tears.”

[W]ith RECA in political limbo…If the extension isn’t passed by June, hopes will be dashed. “Once that statute is gone, it’s forgotten,” says Kevin Martinez, a local lawyer who’s represented thousands of miners and nuclear lab workers for radiation-related claims. “You can’t recreate that baby.”

By Alicia Inez Guzmán, Searchlight New Mexico “High Beam” Issue #111 | May 7, 2024 Searchlight NM

A family portrait in Gallup. From left: Geneva Silversmith, Janice Billiman, Julia Torres, Elvina Billiman Carl, Maggie Billiman (with photo of Mary Louise Billiman) and Daniel Billiman (with photo of Howard Billiman). Credit: Alicia Inez Guzmán
A family portrait in Gallup. From left: Geneva Silversmith, Janice Billiman, Julia Torres, Elvina Billiman Carl, Maggie Billiman (with photo of Mary Louise Billiman) and Daniel Billiman (with photo of Howard Billiman). Credit: Alicia Inez Guzmán

Saturday begins early, first with a stop at the grocery store to buy snacks and then a three-hour haul west to Gallup. The winds kick up enough to make the horizon look smudgy until finally I arrive at noon at the Playground of Dreams, where Maggie Billiman has organized the first of two gatherings about the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. The bill would give people more time to file claims for health afflictions linked to uranium mining, atmospheric tests and toxic Manhattan Project waste, including here in New Mexico, home of the world’s first atomic detonation at the Trinity Site.

The original version of RECA was passed in 1990, recognizing the federal government’s responsibility “to compensate individuals who were harmed by the mining of radioactive materials or fallout from nuclear arms testing.” But that bill is set to expire on June 7. Its reauthorization would add another six years to file RECA claims and cover New Mexico for the first time, along with other states. It would also allow families like the Billimans — from Sawmill, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation — to navigate the medical system, get properly diagnosed for health problems they attribute to living downwind of the Nevada Test Site, and then apply for restitution.

The Senate handily passed this latest bill in March. It’s been stalled since then by Republican Mike Johnson, the Speaker of the House.

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CRITICAL EVENTS

June 16: SovereignTea Community Conversation on plutonium pit production and our health

SovereignTea Community Conversations on Environmental Justice
Sunday, June 16

1 – 4 pm
TWU Office in Española or online/Google Meets

TWU’s Environmental Justice Program invites you to our second SovereignTea conversation to learn about and discuss plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory and its impact on our health, especially for pregnant people and children.

Guests from the Union of Concerned Scientists will share their expertise with our communities. Dr. Dylan Spaulding will give a presentation on ” A primer on LANL’s plans for plutonium pit production – What you need to know” and Dr. Chanese Forte will present on “Women and Children’s Health and Radiation Exposure.”

You have the option to attend in person or online. We are limited to 15 people to participate in person. The online option has unlimited attendance. Snacks and tea will be offered to in-person guests.

Everyone is welcome! Pregnant people, mothers, and parents are encouraged to attend.

REGISTER HERE

New Nuclear Media: Art, Films, Books & More

“Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War” Explores Impact of US–Soviet Conflict

The nine-part doc examines how two global superpowers have irrevocably altered the course of history.

By Roxanne Fequiere, Netflix

While the the Cold War ended in 1991, even a casual appraisal of current headlines reveals that relations between the United States and Russia — the one-time center of the Soviet Union — remain tense, to say the least. The global repercussions of the Cold War continue to ripple through the current geopolitical landscape to this day, but it can be difficult to understand just how a mid-20th century struggle for ideological dominance continues to ensnare countless nations in ongoing unrest.

Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War, a nine-part documentary series from director Brian Knappenberger, provides a comprehensive appraisal of the events that led to the Cold War and traces the conflict around the world and through the decades.
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In Search of Resolution: New Documentary on Nuclear Dangers

The new documentary “In Search of Resolution,” examines the current state of international nuclear arms control and is the third film of The Nuclear World Project.

Filmed in 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this timely documentary examines the continuing dangers posed by the existence of nuclear weapons. The program includes in-depth interviews with scholars, ambassadors, and leaders in the field to provide historical context, while international experts reflect on arms control measures, nuclear disarmament, and possible ways forward.

The film provides, among other things, an interesting inside look at the TPNW MSP1, the 2022 Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, and the 2022 NPT Review Conference.

Find out more and watch online here: https://video.kpbs.org/show/in-search-of-resolution/