Nuclear Watch New Mexico

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

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

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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: https://www.wsj.com

2022 BLOG POSTS

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

By

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:
Quote:
“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

Two Businessmen Charged for $1M Kickback Scheme Involving Nuclear Weapons Components

An indictment was unsealed today in Kansas City, Kansas, charging two businessmen for an alleged scheme to fraudulently steer and award subcontracts by a major engineering firm for work on nuclear weapons manufacturing projects for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC).

PRESS RELEASE, US DEPT. OF  JUSTICE | October 19, 2023 justice.gov

According to court documents, from at least 2011 through approximately January 2021, Michael Clinesmith, 67, of Kansas, allegedly solicited and received kickbacks and bribes from Richard Mueller, 63, of Missouri, in exchange for steering subcontracts from Clinesmith’s employer to Mueller’s company (Subcontractor 1). Clinesmith, a long-tenured employee of a major engineering firm (Company 1) working at the KCNSC, was responsible for designing and procuring gages that were specially designed and manufactured to measure the components of nuclear weapon products. Clinesmith allegedly used his position and authority at Company 1 to steer gage subcontracts to Subcontractor 1 in exchange for Mueller paying him over $1 million for surreptitiously performing some or all of the work. Clinesmith is alleged to have told Mueller how much to bid on gage subcontracts that Company 1 awarded. Then, Clinesmith told his employer, Company 1, that those bids were fair and reasonable without disclosing that, in exchange for the subcontracts, Mueller would secretly funnel to Clinesmith the money awarded to Subcontractor 1. The indictment also alleges that Mueller lied to federal agents regarding the number of impacted subcontracts and his involvement in the scheme.

Russia’s Self-Destructive Move to De-Ratify the CTBT

“A [US] State Department spokesman said the Russian move “needlessly endangers the global norm against nuclear explosive testing,” and that the United States remains committed to observing a moratorium.”

By , ARMS CONTROL NOW | October 17, 2023 armscontrol.org

As with other critical arms control agreements, the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is under threat due to inattention, diplomatic sclerosis, and worsening relations between nuclear-armed adversaries.

The arctic island of Novaya Zemlya was the site of 132 Soviet nuclear weapons tests for 40 years. President Putin has ordered that the site be ready to resume nuclear explosive testing if so ordered.
The arctic island of Novaya Zemlya was the site of 132 Soviet nuclear weapons tests for 40 years. President Putin has ordered that the site be ready to resume nuclear explosive testing if so ordered.

Disturbingly, but not surprisingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin has given members of the Russian Duma the green light to “un-ratify” the CTBT, ostensibly to “mirror” the posture of the United States toward the treaty and somehow pressure the United States to ratify the pact. Such a move would be a “self-defeating own goal,” that would set back efforts to bring the CTBT into force and raise questions about Russia’s intentions.
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U.S. Strategic Posture Commission Ratchets Up Nuclear Arms Race

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, October 12, 2023
Jay Coghlan – 505.989.7342 | Email

Santa Fe, NM – Today, America’s Strategic Posture, The Final Report was released by the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States. In its own words:

“The Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States was established by the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and concludes that America’s defense strategy and strategic posture must change in order to properly defend its vital interests and improve strategic stability with China and Russia. Decisions need to be made now in order for the nation to be prepared to address the threats from these two nuclear-armed adversaries arising during the 2027-2035 timeframe. Moreover, these threats are such that the United States and its Allies and partners must be ready to deter and defeat both adversaries simultaneously.”

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U.S. Strategic Posture Commission Ratchets Up Nuclear Arms Race

Today, America’s Strategic Posture, The Final Report was released by the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States. In its own words:

“The Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States was established by the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and concludes that America’s defense strategy and strategic posture must change in order to properly defend its vital interests and improve strategic stability with China and Russia. Decisions need to be made now in order for the nation to be prepared to address the threats from these two nuclear-armed adversaries arising during the 2027-2035 timeframe. Moreover, these threats are such that the United States and its Allies and partners must be ready to deter and defeat both adversaries simultaneously.”

The United States has already embarked upon a $2 trillion “modernization” program that is a complete makeover of its nuclear forces. This program will rebuild every warhead in the planned future stockpile while giving them new military capabilities. It will also build new-design nuclear weapons and new missiles, subs and bombers to deliver them, plus new nuclear weapons production plants expected to be operational until the 2080’s.

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Nuclear weapons should be relics of the past – ALJAZEERA

“As the world marks the International Day against Nuclear Tests, we should all join the fight for global disarmament.”

By Karipbek Kuyukov, the Honorary Ambassador of The ATOM Project, ALJAZEERA | September 26, 2023 aljazeera.com

The Semipalatinsk Test Site in northern Kazakhstan, where hundreds of nuclear bombs were detonated by the Soviet Union until 1989, is now dotted with craters and boreholes [CTBTO Preparatory Commission/Wikimedia Commons]

In the quiet and peaceful steppe of Kazakhstan, a dark and ominous legacy lingers beneath the surface. Over four decades between 1949 and 1989, 456 nuclear bombs were detonated by the Soviet Union at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in northern Kazakhstan.

While the echoes of nuclear explosions have long faded, the scars of nuclear testing run deep. More than 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan were exposed to the toxic fallout from those tests. Countless lives were irreversibly altered, and the environment was forever scarred. I am a living testament to the horrors of nuclear testing, as I was born without arms due to the effects of nuclear radiation.

Kazakhstan’s Enduring Legacy: From Nuclear Test Site to Leader in Disarmament – ASTANA TIMES

“Famous Kazakh painter Kuyukov, who was born without hands after being exposed to radiation in his mother’s womb, is one of the victims of the many health problems caused at the genetic level by exposure to radiation in the vast area surrounding the nuclear test site.”

BY KATSUHIRO ASAGIRI, KUNSAYA KURMET-RAKHIMOVA, ASTANA TIMES | September 13, 2023 astanatimes.com

Thirty-two years ago (Aug. 29, 1991), the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site was permanently closed by a presidential decree in Kazakhstan, then a part of the Soviet Union, contrary to the position of the central government in Moscow. Kazakhstan subsequently gained independence from the Soviet Union and became the first country in the world to voluntarily turn itself to a non-nuclear weapons state from a nuclear weapons state by abolishing all of its nuclear arsenal, the fourth largest in the world at the time, and removing them to Russia.

A group photo of participants of the regional conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. Photo credit: Gov.kz.

Eighteen years later, in 2009, at the initiative of Kazakhstan, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution designating August 29, the day the test site was closed, as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests. With the threat of nuclear weapons being used again becoming a reality, is it really possible to achieve a nuclear-free world? What should we know about the threat posed by the use and testing of nuclear weapons?

Los Alamos Lab’s Future at a Crossroads: Cleanup or More Nuclear Weapons? NukeWatch Applauds NM State Rejection of Fake Cleanup

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, September 18, 2023
Jay Coghlan – 505.989.7342, c 505.470.3154 | Email
Scott Kovac – c. 505.316.4148 | Email

Santa Fe, NM – In an important win for genuine cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has rejected the Lab’s plans for so-called cleanup through “cap and cover.” LANL’s plan would leave existing radioactive and toxic wastes uncharacterized and forever buried in unlined pits and trenches as a permanent threat to groundwater. At issue is remediation of the Lab’s “Material Disposal Area C” waste dump that has 7 pits and 108 shafts of radioactive and toxic wastes. Area C is located in the heart of nuclear weapons production at LANL, contiguous to the Lab’s main plutonium facility which is expanding production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores.

In a September 7, 2023 “Public Notice of Statement of Basis,” the Environment Department ruled:

“For maximum protection of human health and the environment and to ensure that the drinking water resource can be conservatively protected, NMED has determined that the selected [cleanup] remedy for MDA C must consist of waste excavation, characterization, and appropriate disposal of the buried waste… Excavation will ensure that the source of contamination at MDA C is removed…”

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Full Meeting Recording: WIPP Draft Permit Renewal Public Hearing September 22

WIPP Draft Permit Renewal Public Hearing September 22

A permit to renew the operating permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is the subject of this hybrid public meeting hosted by the New Mexico Environment Department.

More information on WIPP and the permit renewal process: https://nukewatch.org/issues/wipp/

Posted by Nuclear Watch New Mexico on Friday, September 22, 2023

 
A permit to renew the operating permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is the subject of this hybrid public meeting hosted by the New Mexico Environment Department.

Los Alamos Lab’s Future at a Crossroads: Cleanup or More Nuclear Weapons? NukeWatch Applauds NM State Rejection of Fake Cleanup

Santa Fe, NM – In an important win for genuine cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has rejected the Lab’s plans for so-called cleanup through “cap and cover.” LANL’s plan would leave existing radioactive and toxic wastes uncharacterized and forever buried in unlined pits and trenches as a permanent threat to groundwater. At issue is remediation of the Lab’s “Material Disposal Area C” waste dump that has 7 pits and 108 shafts of radioactive and toxic wastes. Area C is located in the heart of nuclear weapons production at LANL, contiguous to the Lab’s main plutonium facility which is expanding production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores.

In a September 7, 2023 “Public Notice of Statement of Basis,” the Environment Department ruled:

“For maximum protection of human health and the environment and to ensure that the drinking water resource can be conservatively protected, NMED has determined that the selected [cleanup] remedy for MDA C must consist of waste excavation, characterization, and appropriate disposal of the buried waste… Excavation will ensure that the source of contamination at MDA C is removed…”

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Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Yes, nuclear weapons are immoral. They’re also, practically speaking, useless.

“…Human beings make the threats, evaluate the threats, and decide how to respond. If human beings are prone to folly—and we are—and if human beings run the deterrence process, then nuclear deterrence is inherently flawed. It will fail. Over the long run it cannot be safe. Eventually, human failure will lead to a catastrophic nuclear war.”

By Ward Hayes Wilson, THE BULLETIN | September 19, 2023 thebulletin.org

Almost everyone who works actively against nuclear weapons is, at some level, appalled by the immorality of nuclear weapons. This makes sense because the indiscriminate killing of children, grandparents, people with disabilities, and a host of other ordinary folks is appalling.

As a result, the first argument that almost all activists reach for is moral. They bring forward hibakusha to put a human face on the immorality. They talk about the indigenous people who suffered during the mining and production of nuclear weapons. They show graphic pictures of the destruction, the burns, the radiation sickness, and other catastrophic damage done by the bombings. They say, in effect, “Look at the immorality!” They sometimes point to it with a hint of outrage in their voices. How can people not be moved by these horrible, immoral acts?

And yet here we are, 78 years later, in the midst of a second nuclear weapons arms race. Every nation that possesses nuclear weapons is either expanding or upgrading its nuclear arsenal. How can this be?

ARMS CONTROL TODAY: The Oppenheimer Legacy

ARMS CONTROL TODAY | September 2023 armscontrol.org

The film Oppenheimer, about the physicist who spearheaded the Manhattan Project, landed in theaters at an apt moment. After two decades during which many people thought the nuclear weapons genie had been tamed, the risks seem graver than ever and the public, at least for the time being, is engaged. Russian President Vladimir Putin, having launched a full-scale war against Ukraine, also has threatened to actually use nuclear weapons against states that might intervene in the conflict. Putin and the film have provoked a new debate with endless permutations. Click the link below for the collection of essays, where Stephen J. Cimbala explores the ambiguities of nuclear weapons, Chantell L. Murphy remembers the human beings erased by the film and Lisbeth Gronlund recalls the physicists who worked to limit the catastrophic weapons that their colleagues unleashed. This is a teachable moment if people can be made to understand the enduring danger of the nuclear weapons that J. Robert Oppenheimer and his team created and the need to restrain, and ultimately, eliminate them.—CAROL GIACOMO

Accelerating experimental nuclear physics with AI

The U.S. Department of Energy has funded a project to assist “the design of the ePIC detector at the future Electron-Ion Collider — a $2 billion state-of-the-art machine which will begin operations early in the next decade…and is expected to push the frontier of physics, develop new technologies and knowledge and accelerate advances in areas such as…national security.”

BY , WILLIAM & MARY UNIVERSITY NEWS. | September 13, 2023 news.wm.edu

If there were no strong nuclear force binding atomic particles together, matter as we know it would not exist. However, there are still several unresolved questions in the study of this fundamental interaction.

What’s Impacting Assurance in the U.S. Nuclear Stockpile?

“In justification of what could be $2.5 billion in spending for new test equipment and construction, NNSA said in the fiscal 2024 budget justification material, “Current diagnostics mostly confine [test] studies to early-implosion dynamic behavior [of plutonium], while the “new test beds will enable integral tests on late-stage implosion [of plutonium].”
“To meet the current information gap in subcritical experimenting, NNSA has turned to measurement devices known as Scorpius and Zeus to determine what happens when the tiny bit of plutonium reaches high pressure and density, during the late stages of implosion.”

OPINION BY Walter Pincus,  THE CIPHER BRIEF | September 12, 2023 thecipherbrief.com

How the ‘nuclear football’ remains a potent symbol of the unthinkable

Former military aide Buzz Patterson, who handled the football during the Clinton Administration, “recalled grappling over how he would refuse the president’s command to launch nuclear weapons if he believed they were not of sound mind and body.”
“‘And I told myself internally many times ‘If I think he’s coming across as nuts, I don’t think I can participate in this, and so that’s how I rationalized it to myself, and I think a lot of the other aides thought the same kind of thing.””

BY Georgina DiNardo,  C4ISRNET | September 12, 2023 c4isrnet.com

ACTION ALERTS

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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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