"... And these safety challenges aren't confined to Los Alamos. The Center's probe revealed worker safety risks, previously unpublicized accidents, and dangerously lax management practices at other nuclear weapons-related facilities. The investigation further found that penalties for these practices were relatively light, and that many of the firms that run these facilities were awarded tens of millions of dollars in profits in the same years that major safety lapses occurred. Some were awarded new contracts despite repeated, avoidable accidents, including some that exposed workers to radiation."
- Patrick Malone and R. Jeffrey Smith in their series entitled "Nuclear Negligence" for the Center for Public Integrity.
Click the image to 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.
'You're on an airplane, you root for the pilot'
"The man is the president of the United States. It's sort of like being on an airplane. You want to root for the pilot. If you're on the airplane with the pilot, you don't want the pilot to screw up."
-Ohio Governor John Kasich, upon leaving a meeting at the White House with President Trump Feb 24, 2017, and being asked by reporters outside if he had "buried the hatchet". (Kasich had refused to support Trump, boycotting the Republican Convention.) (ref)
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Dossier: The Trump Administration and US Nuclear Posture
Feb. 12, 2018: Trump's Latest Remarks on the US Nuclear Arsenal
"We're modernizing and creating a brand new nuclear force. And frankly, we have to do it because others are doing it. If they stop, we'll stop. But they're not stopping. So, if they're not gonna stop, we're gonna be so far ahead of everybody else in nuclear like you've never seen before. And I hope they stop. And if they do, we'll stop in two minutes. And frankly, I'd like to get rid of a lot of 'em. And if they want to do that, we'll go along with them. We won't lead the way, we'll go along with them... But we will always be number one in that category, certainly as long as I'm president. We're going to be far, far in excess of anybody else." (ref)
For Immediate Release, January 12, 2018: Draft Nuclear Posture Review Degrades National Security
Yesterday evening the Huffington Post posted a leaked draft of the Trump Administration's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). This review is the federal government's highest unclassified nuclear weapons policy document, and the first since the Obama Administration's April 2010 NPR.
This Review begins with "Many hoped conditions had been set for deep reductions in global nuclear arsenals, and, perhaps, for their elimination. These aspirations have not been realized. America's strategic competitors have not followed our example. The world is more dangerous, not less." The NPR then points to Russia and China's ongoing nuclear weapons modernization programs and North Korea's "nuclear provocations." It concludes, "We must look reality in the eye and see the world as it is, not as we wish it be."
If the United States government were to really "look reality in the eye and see the world as it is", it would recognize that it is failing miserably to lead the world toward the abolition of the only class of weapons that is a true existential threat to our country. As an obvious historic matter, the U.S. is the first and only country to use nuclear weapons. Since WWII the U.S. has threatened to use nuclear weapons in the Korean and Viet Nam wars, and on many other occasions.
Further, it is hypocritical to point to Russia and China's "modernization" programs as if they are taking place in a vacuum. The U.S. has been upgrading its nuclear arsenal all along. In the last few years our country has embarked on a $1.7 trillion modernization program to completely rebuild its nuclear weapons production complex and all three legs of its nuclear triad.
Moreover, Russia and China's modernization programs are driven in large part by their perceived need to preserve strategic stability and deterrence.. (continue reading)
The new NPR is a shopping list, not a strategy.
"The nuclear bureaucracy is taking advantage of Trump's ignorance to push new weapons and old nuclear war-fighting plans retired with the Cold War. The new NPR is a shopping list, not a strategy."
- Joe Cirincione, January 11, 2018
"This logic is insane." - New York Times editorial, commenting on the draft NPR, and specifically on the plans to build "more usable" low-yield nuclear weapons in order to strengthen 'deterrence', January 13, 2018 (source)
October 29, 2017: Hints The Nuclear Posture Review Will Be Designed For War-Fighting The Guardian reports:
Among the new elements under consideration are a low-yield warhead intended for battlefield use in Europe; bringing back nuclear Tomahawk sea-launched cruise missiles; a loosening of conditions in which the US would use nuclear weapons; and preparations for resumption of nuclear testing. (ref)
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, in an interview with Knoxville News Sentinel, October 9, "As I said, these weapons are not going to stop aging. So, the challenge is, we get further and further away from the last nuclear test. So maybe we make a drastic change. We go back to testing".
VP Mike Pence said at Minot AFB: "There's no greater force for peace in the world than the United States nuclear arsenal." (ref)
September 2017: Defense Secretary now supports all 3 legs of the nuclear triad
Defense Secretary James Mattis has now said that the U.S. needs to keep all three of its methods of delivering nuclear weapons, acknowledging his views on the nuclear triad have changed. (more, The Hill)
June14, 2017: Mattis "Open To Rethinking" New ICBMs and Nuclear Cruise Missiles
Pressed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who opposes the planned nuclear cruise missile (LRSO), Defense Secretary Mattis told a Senate Budget Hearing June 14 he's open to rethinking the triad, as well as the LRSO.
Mattis said he would be consulting with former Defense Secretary William Perry, who has advocated eliminating one leg of the triad by phasing out the land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles. Perry met with Mattis on the day of the hearing, and later tweeted, "Very wide ranging, candid, and productive discussion with Sec Def Mattis at the Pentagon today."
Perry is also strongly opposed to developing new nuclear cruise missiles, which he says are "uniquely destabilizing" weapons, because an adversary cannot tell a conventional missile from a nuclear-armed version, risking miscalculation in a crisis.
"I register loud and clear the potential destabilizing view that some people see this weapon bringing and I'm taking that on board," Mattis said. (story ref)
Note that both ICBMs and the nuclear cruise missiles - the two weapons systems most frequently seen by experts as unnecessary and dangerous, are Air Force systems, and that Heather Wilson, a long time pal of the weapons contractors, is now Secretary of the Air Force.
May, 2017: Where will the Trump Administration Take US Nuclear Weapons Policies?
The new administration's attitude and policies on nuclear weapons are clearly a work in progress. Trump's own pronouncements on the subject have been spotty and sometimes seem contradictory.
He has called for a new Nuclear Policy Review to be delivered later this year. The last NPR was done in 2010.
President Trump's perceived enthusiasm for upending the status quo, along with a lack of clear indications where he wants to take it, have invited influencers to try and guide his developing policies. Certain quarters are pressing for production of 'more usable' nukes- tactical nuclear weapons for battlefield use.
The Defense Science Board, in an unpublished December report obtained by CQ Roll Call, urges the president to consider altering existing and planned U.S. armaments to achieve a greater number of lower-yield weapons that could provide a "tailored nuclear option for limited use."
(see: Pentagon Panel Urges Trump Team to Expand Nuclear Options)
"Experts on the Pentagon panel and elsewhere say the board's goal is to further increase the number of smaller-scale nuclear weapons- and the ways they can be delivered- in order to deter adversaries, primarily Russia, from using nuclear weapons first."
The problem being that Russia has spoken of "escalate to de-escalate", which is to say if you are losing to superior conventional forces on a regional battlefield, use a tactical nuclear weapon to stop further hostilities. The Panel wants to give commanders the option of responding in kind rather than having to choose between strategic warfare or backing down.
For immediate release, May 19, 2017: A Preview of Trump's Budget: More Nuclear Bombs and Plutonium Pit Production
Santa Fe, NM. "The proposed level of funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA)'s Total Weapons Activities is $10.2 billion, a full billion above what was requested for FY 2017. In March, Trump's "skinny budget" stated NNSA's funding priorities as 'moving toward a responsive nuclear infrastructure', and 'advancing the existing warhead life extension programs'.
"Concerning Life Extension Programs, rather than merely maintaining and extending the lives of existing nuclear weapons as advertised, they are being given new military capabilities, despite denials at the highest levels of government. A current example is the B61-12 Life Extension Program, which is transforming a "dumb" nuclear bomb into the world's first highly accurate "smart" nuclear bomb.
"With respect to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), "responsive infrastructure" no doubt means accelerating upgrades to existing plutonium facilities and likely building two or three new underground "modules", all for the purpose of quadrupling plutonium pit production from 20 to 80 pits per year. (Plutonium pits are the fissile cores of nuclear weapons.)"
Read the full press release for all the details. Update:
Nukewatch's comprehensive analysis will be published in the first week of June. In the meantime, some key elements:
FY 2018 Budget Justification /
FY 2018 Budget Request for NNSA DOE Laboratory Tables /
NNSA Federal Salaries and Expenses, Weapons Activities...
Resources and Updates in Brief
New START Treaty Fact Sheet
New START gives both the US and Russia until February 2018 to reduce their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550- the lowest level in decades. It also limits deployed land- and submarine-based missiles and nuclear-capable bombers.
See CRS publication, The New START Treaty: Central Limits and Key Provisions (PDF)
A Matter of Language- Or a New Arms Race?
"Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary..."
- Pres Obama, Prague Speech, 5 April 2009.
"If countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack..."
- Pres. Trump, (Reuters interview, Feb 2017)
Sept. 10, 2017: Trump review leans toward proposing mini-nuke
"'This is nuclear pork disguised as nuclear strategy,' said Joe Cirincione of Ploughshares. 'This is a jobs program for a few government labs and a few contractors. This is an insane proposal. It would lower the threshold for nuclear use. It would make nuclear war more likely. it comes form the illusion that you could use a nuclear weapons and end a conflict on favorable terms. Once you cross the nuclear threshold you are inviting a nuclear response.'
"But others involved in the deliberations contend that if the administration seeks funding for a new tactical nuke it might get a far more receptive audience in Congress... Already Republicans are pushing to build a new [nuclear] cruise missile..."
Feb. 22, 2017: Why We Must Oppose the Kremlin-Baiting Against Trump
"It is not Putin who is endangering US and international security, but rather the high-level political and intelligence enemies of détente... Nor is it Putin who is subverting the American political process, but rather the US intelligence leakers who are at war against their own president."
Stephen F. Cohen, The Nation
Mar 2, 2017: Round Up the Usual Suspects, It's Time for a Show Hearing "By excluding dissenting voices on US policy toward Russia, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been reduced to a vehicle for prejudice reinforcement."
James Carden, in The Nation.
Fmr. Sec. Defense William Cohen with Larry King
Feb 7, 2017. Former Defense Secretary William Cohen tells Larry King why he's cautiously optimistic about US-Russia relations, as well as Trump's security team. His concern? Process of implementation causing confusion. Hopefully that gets better with time.
Trump's Reuters interview, re: North Korea
"It's very dangerous and something should have been done about it years ago. It's very dangerous and very unacceptable. ... And very unfair to Japan.... It's a very dangerous situation, and China can end it very quickly in my opinion... It's very late in the picture right now... We're very angry at what he's done, and frankly this should have been taken care of during the Obama administration."
February 10, 2017: Kaczynski Would Welcome an EU Nuclear Superpower
- Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of Poland's ruling party, told a German newspaper this week he would "welcome an EU nuclear superpower".
- A senior MP from Ms Merkel's Christian Democrat party (CDU) has called for Germany to press for a European nuclear deterrent.
- 'Spiegel' magazine has questioned whether it is time for Germany to acquire its own nuclear weapons and the 'Financial Times' has called for Germany to "think the unthinkable" on the issue.
Ref: Merkel denies 'EU plan for nuclear weapons'
March 6, 2017: Fearing U.S. Withdrawal, Europe Considers Its Own Nuclear Deterrent
"An idea, once unthinkable, is gaining attention in European policy circles: a European Union nuclear weapons program. Under such a plan, France's arsenal would be repurposed to protect the rest of Europe and would be put under a common European command, funding plan, defense doctrine, or some combination of the three. It would be enacted only if the Continent could no longer count on American protection..."
(NY Times Mar 6, 2017)
Taking Trump Seriously, Not Literally
"... When he makes claims like this, the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.
"When I presented that thought to him, he paused again, 'Now that's interesting.'"
- Salena Zito, in The Atlantic, Sept. 23, 2016.
"The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience."
-Donald Trump, quoted in "President Trump's First Term", Evan Osnos, New Yorker Sept. 26
Current nuclear stockpiles- for country reports and other details see original annotated infographic at Ploughshares.org.
Our Mission: Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities, mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs, greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex, and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.