Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities; mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs; greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex; and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.


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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

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Follow the Money!

Map of “Nuclear New Mexico”

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

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

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

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

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


How are we Back Here…? Reflecting on the History of Nuclear Close Calls as Putin’s Threat Reignites Cold War Fears of Nuclear War

“Sadly, we are treading back through old historical patterns that we said that we would never permit to happen again,”

Fiona Hill, Former Senior Director for Europe and Russia at the United States National Security Council, in an interview with POLITICO, today, February 28, 2022: ‘Yes, He Would’: Fiona Hill on Putin and Nukes


A nuclear “close call” is usually defined as an incident that could have led to at least one unintended, mistaken, or unauthorized nuclear detonation or missile launch.

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President Biden Should Let His Faith Guide Him Toward Nuclear Disarmament

Did you see what the Santa Fe Archbishop wrote in the very heart of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex?

With this pending Nuclear Posture Review, President Biden has the opportunity to show his moral leadership. I know he is capable. After all, much of what is needed is only to turn his own past words into new policy—and to reject today’s fearful status quo, embracing a new path that we can all live with.

Read the entire article here and see the picture.

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Happy Are Peacemakers Who Wake Up the Rest of Us

Happy Are Peacemakers Who Wake Up the Rest of Us

A powerful op-ed by Sister Joan Chittister:
“The difference is that [Santa Fe Archbishop] Wester is alone and standing in what came to be the center of the “American Nuclear Soul” in Santa Fe calling us again to examine our American consciences. As Pope Francis said at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima on Nov. 24, 2019, “The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral. … How can we speak of peace even as we build terrifying new weapons of war?”
Given the Los Alamos and Sandia Labs and the country’s largest repository of nuclear weapons in our state, we at NukeWatch believe that New Mexicans have a special responsibility and privilege to help lead the world toward a future without nuclear weapons.
Read the entire article here and see the pictures.

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New & Updated

LANL Records String of Radioactive Glove Box Breaches

“…A nuclear watchdog group decried this series of breaches, arguing they reflect a systemic problem that’s likely to grow worse as plutonium activity increases with pit production.

“‘It’s just indicative of more problems to come,’ said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico”


Los Alamos National Laboratory had five breaches of the glove boxes used to handle radioactive materials in a four-week period, an unusually high number in such a short time.

The lab had three breaches in these sealed compartments at its plutonium facility between late March and mid-April and two more in the following week, according to the most recent reports by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, the federal agency that provides recommendations and advice regarding public health and safety issues at Department of Energy defense nuclear facilities.

US releases nuclear warhead data in bid to pressure Russia

“Disclosure under New START Treaty follows Russia’s decision to suspend its participation in the nuclear agreement”

ALJAZEERA | May 16, 2023

A military aide walking with the case holding the US nuclear codes. The case is black. The aide is walking right to left in the White House grounds and wearing a white uniform. US releases nuclear warhead data in bid to pressure Russia
A military aide carrying a briefcase containing launch codes for US nuclear weapons [File: Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

The US Department of State said it was releasing the information publicly as part of its commitments under the New START Treaty, appearing to reverse an earlier decision not to share the data.

Holtec International, the U.S. Federal Government, and the State of New Mexico – What Do We Know?

Nuclear power is a trending topic lately. What’s missing from most of these conversations is the nitty gritty details of the nuclear waste produced from nuclear power plants, and how to handle it. In mainstream and social media, nuclear is often hyped up as a climate solution and the issue of what to do with the waste is promoted as being nearly or already solved. Unfortunately this conception is entirely inaccurate. Most people don’t think about the problem of nuclear waste on a frequent basis, however New Mexicans are often forced to confront it whether we like it or not (spoiler: most of us DON’T).

New Mexico has the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in the southeastern corner of the state, where radioactive waste is stored in a salt formation repository located deep underground. WIPP has been open since 1999, and now federal regulators are currently considering another facility that would store up to 175,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive nuclear waste. The new repository is called a “HI-STORE Consolidated Interim Storage Facility” by Holtec International, the New Jersey-based company who owns the private waste facility, and the waste would be transported in from nuclear reactors around the nation. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued Holtec a license for this project on May 9, 2023.

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New Mexico shouldn’t be the nation’s nuclear dump

“A storage facility cannot be “interim” without a final, designated location. Such a site does not exist. And when it comes to anything nuclear, there’s no such thing as interim or temporary.”


The federal government’s longstanding failure to build a repository for nuclear waste should not be left for New Mexico to solve.

Yet a decision last week by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to issue a license to “temporarily” store tons of spent nuclear fuel in New Mexico could mean waste from commercial power plants across the nation will end up buried in the state. It’s bad news for us, of course, but it’s catastrophic for a nation that has never fully come to grips with the reality of nuclear power.

To recap: The commission said it will allow Holtec International to build and operate a nuclear waste storage facility near the Lea and Eddy County line in far southeast New Mexico.

This, despite the clear message from New Mexico’s congressional delegation, governor and statewide elected officials that the state is not interested in being the one-size-fits-all nuclear storage solution for the country. New Mexico already hosts the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. It stores transuranic waste, a byproduct of the country’s nuclear defense program.

Putin ‘Not Insane’ But May Resort to Nuclear Weapons: Estonian President

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not likely to use nuclear weapons in Moscow’s struggling war on Ukraine, according to Estonian President Alar Karis, though may again flirt with using weapons of mass destruction if the Kremlin finds itself in a “very desperate” situation.

BY  NEWSWEEK | May 13, 2023

Speaking with Newsweek at the presidential palace, which once served as the seat for both the occupying Soviet Union and Nazi German authorities, ahead of the Lennart Meri Conference in Tallinn, Karis said that while he is “not that worried” that the Kremlin will deliver on its well-worn nuclear threats, he and other Western leaders must prepare for that possibility.

“There are very few people who are close to Putin who actually know. But he is definitely not insane, at least in medical terms. That means he knows exactly what he is doing,” Karis said about the Russian dictator’s mentality. “But there is not much information, you can speculate when Putin starts to change generals that something is not going the way he wants.”

Bloomberg - The Russian nuclear company the West can’t live without

Bloomberg – The Russian nuclear company the West can’t live without

“Cutting the heart out of a nuclear power plant is a surgical procedure that only a few specialists are equipped to handle…”

Bloomberg News | May 13, 2023

Among the oldest and most experienced is Germany’s Nukem Technologies Engineering Services GmbH, which for decades has offered its unique services in Asia and Africa and across Europe. Nukem engineers helped contain radiation from the destroyed reactors in Chernobyl and Fukushima. They helped lead the clean-up of an atomic-fuel factory in Belgium. In France, the company devised ways to treat waste from the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.

With researchers predicting that cleaning up after aging nuclear power plants will evolve into a $125 billion global business in the near future, Nukem should be ideally positioned to capitalize on the moment.

Except for one thing: the company is wholly owned by Rosatom Corp., the Kremlin-controlled nuclear giant, putting it in the center of an uncomfortable standoff.

Holtec licensed to store nuke waste in New Mexico despite outcry from elected officials

“This is a bad idea, full stop. Placing a nuclear storage facility in the heart of oil and gas operations is a recipe for ecological disaster and unnecessarily puts New Mexicans at risk,

Bottom line, the world’s most active oil and gas producing field is not the right place for a long-term nuclear waste storage site. Holtec needs to understand that New Mexico is not the nation’s dumping ground and should stop misleading the public about the dangers their proposal presents.” — Land Commissioner-elect Stephanie Garcia Richard

Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus | May 9, 2023

Federal nuclear officials gave the green light to a project which would store high-level nuclear waste at a facility in southeast New Mexico, despite concerns from state and federal leaders it would expose residents to radiation.

Holtec International, headquartered in Jupiter, Florida, applied in 2017 for a 40-year license to store 8,680 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel rods in 500 cannisters from power plants across the country, using a surface-level facility in a remote desert area near the border of Eddy and Lea counties.

That would be the first of 20 phases of the project that could ultimately include more than 100,000 metric tons in a total of 10,000 canisters holding the waste.

Threats by artificial intelligence to human health and human existence

“AI could harm human health via its impacts on the social and upstream determinants of health through: the control and manipulation of people, use of lethal autonomous weapons and the effects on work and employment”

By Frederik Federspiel, Ruth Mitchell, Asha Asokan, Carlos Umana, David McCoy BMJ GLOBAL HEALTH | May 9, 2023

Dr. Ruth Mitchell (IPPNW Board Chair) and Dr. Carlos Umaña (IPPNW Co-President) co-author BMJ Global Health publication, “Threats by artificial intelligence to human health and human existence”. The 5 expert authors state, “AI could harm human health via its impacts on the social and upstream determinants of health through: the control and manipulation of people, use of lethal autonomous weapons and the effects on work and employment”.

NRC starts special inspection of New Mexico uranium facility

| May 9, 2023

EUNICE, N.M. (AP) — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Monday began a special inspection at the Urenco USA uranium enrichment facility in southeastern New Mexico following an incident last month.

NRC officials said the April 21 incident involved the operation of a crane near a building that handles uranium hexafluoride without the required safety controls present.

They said there are concerns about safety protocols at the site and that warrants additional NRC inspection as it involves a breakdown of controls designed to prevent chemical, radiological and criticality hazards, which are the primary concern at U.S. fuel cycle facilities.

U.S. sees a new era of nuclear risk dawning in China-Russia cooperation – Japan Times

“To avert miscalculations, nuclear-weapons states must engage on existing and potential threats, from Iran’s atomic ambitions to the use of artificial intelligence for decision-making during crises,” — Pranay Vaddi, the National Security Council’s senior director for arms control.

JAPAN TIMES | May 6, 2023

An undated image released in July 2021 shows what researchers say are missile silos under construction in the Chinese desert. | 2021 PLANET LABS INC. / VIA AFP-JIJIAn undated image released in July 2021 shows what researchers say are missile silos under construction in the Chinese desert. | 2021 PLANET LABS INC. / VIA AFP-JIJI

The deepening cooperation between China and Russia threatens to overturn decades of international stability in nuclear arms control, according to a top adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden.

“We’re entering a different period,” Vaddi said after talks at the International Atomic Energy Agency. “It requires a little bit of experimentation.”

Assessments that China is expanding its nuclear arsenal, along with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its disavowal of arms-control agreements, are adding to concern about an era fraught with new dangers. Unlike the Cold War, when the U.S. and Soviet Union maintained atomic parity and agreed to limit certain types of arms, more nations are developing the technologies and materials needed for weapons of mass destruction.

Never Give Artificial Intelligence the Nuclear Codes – The Atlantic

“AI offers an illusion of cool exactitude, especially in comparison to error-prone, potentially unstable humans. But today’s most advanced AIs are black boxes; we don’t entirely understand how they work. In complex, high-stakes adversarial situations, AI’s notions about what constitutes winning may be impenetrable, if not altogether alien. At the deepest, most important level, an AI may not understand what Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev meant when they said, ‘A nuclear war cannot be won.’”

By Ross Andersen – THE ATLANTIC | May 4, 2023

The temptation to automate command and control will be great. The danger is greater.

No technology since the atomic bomb has inspired the apocalyptic imagination like artificial intelligence. Ever since ChatGPT began exhibiting glints of logical reasoning in November, the internet has been awash in doomsday scenarios. Many are self-consciously fanciful—they’re meant to jar us into envisioning how badly things could go wrong if an emerging intelligence comes to understand the world, and its own goals, even a little differently from how its human creators do. One scenario, however, requires less imagination, because the first steps toward it are arguably already being taken—the gradual integration of AI into the most destructive technologies we possess today.

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Nuclear Waste Storage in New Mexico Angers State, Cheers Locals – Bloomberg News

America’s Nuclear Waste Capital Wants More of It, Against State Wishes
Burying the country’s nuclear weapons waste brought an economic lifeline to Carlsbad, New Mexico. State leaders worry it’s become a dumping ground.

By BLOOMBERG NEWS | May 2, 2023

At the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico, much of the activity is underground. 
Photographer: Daniel Moore/Bloomberg

A half-mile underground beneath a windswept field in the southeast corner of New Mexico, hundreds of workers haul drums of radioactive waste into a salt mine that will entomb them for at least 10,000 years.

Up on the surface, federal officials overseeing the Energy Department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) are working harder than ever to smooth over tensions with state officials and skeptics in the state capital so the facility can meet its mission: cleaning up the country’s nuclear weapons production sites.

Dealing with a debacle: A better plan for US plutonium pit production

“There is…another concern about the NNSA’s plans: The designs of new warheads in which new plutonium pits would be used may depart from designs that have been previously tested. This could result in demands to resume explosive testing, which would undermine the moratorium on nuclear testing that has been observed by all nuclear-weapon states (other than North Korea) since 1998.”

By Curtis T. AsplundFrank von Hippel, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | April 27, 2023

The Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos, in front of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Photo credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory The Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos, in front of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Photo credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory

For two decades, the Pentagon and Congress have been increasingly concerned that the United States does not have a reliable capability to produce plutonium “pits,” the cores of US thermonuclear warheads. In 2018, the agency responsible for the production and maintenance of US nuclear warheads, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), responded with a plan to build, on a crash basis, pit production lines in New Mexico and South Carolina at the same time, with a combined production capacity of 80 pits per year.


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Let’s Keep New Mexico the Land of Enchantment, Not the Land of Nuclear Weapons & Radioactive Wastes!

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Interfaith Panel Discussion on Nuclear Disarmament – August 9

Interfaith Panel Discussion on the 77th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, Japan

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New Nuclear Media

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