UCS Nuclear Weapons Complex Interactive Map The Union of Concerned Scientists has created an interactive map of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex sites in Google Earth, providing information, collected from public sources, about each facility. (more info, KML file, etc.)
Please help us in our work to rid the world of the dangers of nuclear weapons by making a donation!
At Y-12, the cost of designing the Uranium Processing Facility keeps spiraling: $92 million in '06, $2 billion by '16. (How do you spend 2 billion dollars designing anything?)
- See OREPA's June '15 UPF update
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.
The Man Who Saved the World (2015) An award-winning documentary about Stanislav Petrov, one of the unsung heroes of the nuclear age. "Few people know of him... Yet hundreds of millions of people are alive because of him. The actions of Stanislav Petrov, a retired Soviet military officer, prevented the start of a worldwide nuclear war and the devastation of much of the Earth."
Opening now in theaters in the USA.
- Film review in The Spectator (UK)
- IMDB listing "I was only 50/50": Russian who saved world from nuclear war
R.I.P. Michael Mariotte, d. May 16, 2016 Michael was President of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service; he had worked with NIRS since 1985. (see NYTimes obit)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Grills Sec Def Ash Carter
On dangers of US-Russian collision in Syria going nuclear;
during a House Armed Services Committee hearing Dec 2, 2015
TG: Approx how many nuclear warheads does Russia have aimed at the US, and how many does the US have aimed at Russia?
AC: Uh, Congresswoman, we'll get you those precise numbers as best we know them... Let me just summarize it by the fact that I'm confident we have a strong, safe, secure and reliable deterrent, but it's also true that Russia, like the Soviet Union that precedes it, has a massive nuclear arsenal.*
TG: And it would be accurate to say that both our of countries have the capacity to launch these nuclear weapons within minutes.
AC: We do.
*Note the Secretary's choice of words: The US has "a safe and reliable deterrent", while Russia has "a massive nuclear arsenal".
Current nuclear stockpiles- for country reports and other details see original annotated infographic at Ploughshares.org.
Experts Doubt North Korean H-Bomb Claims
Rachel Maddow talks with Joe Cirincione about the recent North Korean nuclear test, the difference between the 'A-bomb' and the 'H-bomb', and along the way, the Marshall Islands, where the US tested Mike- the first H-bomb.
"The whole pyramid of nuclear command is full of places where mistakes can be made. A lot of them are people mistakes- the system is so sophisticated, and the weapons so complicated, much of it covered with secrecy, that a human error can occur almost anywhere in the system."
-Vice Admiral Ralph Weymouth (Ret.) (ref)
Nuclear Weapons, Los Alamos and Nonviolence
Panel discussion on the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with Bud Ryan, Jay Coghlan, Rev. Jim Lawson, Marian Naranjo, and Beata Tsosie-Pena.
The War That Must Never Be Fought
George P. Shultz, Former U.S. Secretary of State and James Goodby, Former Vice Chairman, U.S. Delegation to the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks; Co-editors of "The War That Must Never Be Fought" at the Commonwealth Club, June 17, 2015. Moderator: Terry Gamble Boyer, Board of Directors, Ploughshares Fund.
Are US nuclear weapons engineers really shooting rats off their lunches?
That's what Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said, in a talk at the Atlantic Council on June 23, and he might know, being the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and privy to all manner of top secret information. But he's also a booster for more spending on the nuclear arsenal. So is it true? And if it is, are we talking about guns inside the labs? Who carries the guns? Well, Nukewatch and Peace Farm have filed a Freedom of Information Request to find out.
FOIA request / letter to Rep. Thornberry / press release
Meet Darlene Keju,
"Environmental Godmother" of the Marshall Islands, who revealed the stories of the 67 US nuclear weapons tests at Bikini and Enewetak, and worked tirelessly to protect the safety and health of Marshall Islanders. Keju died of cancer in 1996 but her work goes on. Her husband Giff Johnson published a biography of Keju in 2013 titled "Don't Ever Whisper" Read more about Darlene and the book in our Marshall Islands Dossier
January 22, 2015: Doomsday Clock: Three Minutes to Midnight
- The hands of the Doomsday Clock must once again be set at three minutes to midnight, two minutes closer to catastrophe than in 2014.
- Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity
- World leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe, endangering every person on Earth.
- Read the full Bulletin statement here.
John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal, Jan 21: Nuke Mission Strains Against 'Budgetary Gravity'
"In the years since Oppenheimer brought the World War II Manhattan Project to Los Alamos, New Mexico hitched its economic wagon to this stream of federal spending. Our state's economic growth in the years since the Great Recession is among the slowest in the country; at the same time, the National Nuclear Security Administration, wrestling with problems managing its nuclear program, has become an increasingly unreliable horse... an increasingly unreliable economic partner."
"The authors of a second recent report on the nuclear budget, by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, wrote, 'It is unclear how long the nation's nuclear weapons program can defy budgetary gravity'. Those thinking about the future of New Mexico's economy should take note." (read the full ABQ Journal story)
Nukewatch Executive Director Jay Coghlan Interviewed on Democracy Now Oct 11, 2012: NukeWatch Executive Director Jay Coghlan with Amy Goodman on DemocracyNow, broadcasting from Los Alamos Oct 11; with Chuck Montao, former investigator and auditor at Los Alamos who turned whistleblower after calling attention to wasteful spending and fraud; and Leona Morgan, a coordinator with the group Eastern Navajo Din Against Uranium Mining. (Watch segment) "'What the public doesn't really understand is that the nuclear weapons business is very much ongoing, that funding for nuclear weapons programs within the Department of Energy is nearly 50 percent above the historic average of the Cold War,' says our guest Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. 'And this is within the Department of Energy, not necessarily Pentagon funding. But again, what I'm attempting to underline is the very fact that, despite the rhetoric that this country and others are working towards a future world free of nuclear weapons, on the ground what is happening is that the U.S. is rebuilding the production side of its nuclear weapons complex.'"
NATO Watch reports, 2/26/14: Developments in Italy, Belgium, Netherlands That May Affect B61 Debate
In Italy, Federica Mogherini was inaugurated as Minister of Foreign Affairs on the 22 February. She is one of the few parliamentarians in Italy openly questioning the continued deployment of US B61 nuclear weapons in Europe.
In Belgium, the Flemish Socialist Party announced at their Party congress (2/22) that the party will not be part of any government if the B61s stay in Belgium.
In the Netherlands, Foreign Affairs Minister Timmermans reiterated that he is committed to achieve the removal of the B61s from the Netherlands and Europe.
(all the details at NATOWatch.org)
Uranium Mining and the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program
A Public Interest Report from the Federation of American Scientists, by Robert Alvarez, fall 2013.
Article online / PDF Version
Feb. 16: Frank Munger reports on Los Alamos support for the Y-12 Red Team looking for less costly alternatives to the Uranium Processing Facility at Atomic City Underground
August 29, 2014: International Day against Nuclear Tests
Since 2010, the day has seen various activities throughout the world, such as symposia, conferences, exhibits, competitions, publications, instruction in academic institutions, media broadcasts and more.
(info and extensive resources at UN page)
Nuclear Watch Press Release, Dec. 21, 2013: Nuclear Weapons "Modernization" Will Cost One Trillion Dollars Over Thirty Years Locally, Los Alamos Lab Cleanup and Job Creation Are Imperiled
(View/download NWNM Press Release PDF)
House Energy & Commerce Committee Examines Nuclear Weapons Management
Washington DC, September 12, 2012
Chairman Stearns: "Oversight and Investigations Committee will review challenges to safety, security, and tax-payer stewardship in the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons complex. DOE is responsible for securing and maintaining the most dangerous materials on the planet, including nuclear warheads. This is one area which must have effective oversight."
Watch video of the hearing at C-Span
Hypersonic Bombers? Above: Boeing X-51 WaveRider
Mobile Missiles, Hypersonic Bombers
The Air Force has dusted off plans more than two decades old to place fixed nuclear missiles on rail cars or massive road vehicles to protect them from a surprise attack.
The service also wants to explore alternatives to traditional missiles to carry nuclear warheads, which could include hypersonic aircraft capable of crossing the Atlantic Ocean in an hour, said Phillip Coyle of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, a former associate director for national security and international affairs in the Obama administration's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Coyle said that if the Air Force decides to pursue hypersonic aircraft to deliver nuclear warheads, this could confuse nuclear armed countries such as Russia, which would not be able to determine if supersonic aircraft traveling at 4,000 miles per hour were carrying conventional or nuclear warheads, and potentially react with a nuclear strike. (NextGov report) / (US Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center Announcement-PDF) (See also: Army Tests Advanced Hypersonic Weapon)
A September 11th Catastrophe You've Probably Never Heard About On September 11, 1957, 55 years ago, a national catastrophe was unfolding, one you likely have never heard about before. At the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility near Denver, inside the plutonium processing building, a fire had started in an area designed to be fireproof. Soon it was roaring over, through, and around the carefully constricted plutonium as one Cold-War-era safety feature after another failed . . . Kristen Iversen first revealed the details of this incident in her book "Full Body Burden". Here she is interviewed by Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic.
Clean Up, Don't Build Up Nuclear Weapons Programs! Hundreds of Jobs Could Be Created That Protect the Environment Sept. 12, Santa Fe. New Mexicans should push their politicians to vigorously lobby for comprehensive cleanup at LANL. Unlike nuclear weapons programs, cleanup would be a win-win that permanently protects the environment and creates hundreds of high paying jobs. Specifically, the NM Environment Department should be pressured to NOT condone the de facto creation of a permanent nuclear waste dump by signing off on "cap and cover" of an estimated 18 million cubic feet of radioactive wastes at LANL's Area G. Instead, NMED should require full characterization and excavation of the wastes; the possible safe recycling of some materials; offsite disposal of any high-level or transuranic radioactive wastes; and the reburial of remaining low-level radioactive wastes in a modern landfill with liners, in stark contrast to today's direct burial in dirt.
See Nukewatch's latest Fact Sheet on this important issue (PDF).
Nov 15. According to a report the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute, New Mexico has the nation's most pronounced income gap. (source)
The President's Remarks at the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Symposium "After all, even with all your success- the thousands of missiles destroyed, bombers and submarines eliminated, the warheads that have been deactivated- we're nowhere near done. Not by a long shot. And you all know this. There's still much too much material- nuclear, chemical, biological- being stored without enough protection... That's why working to prevent nuclear terrorism is going to remain one of my top national security priorities as long as I have the privilege of being President of the United States." (Full transcript)(mp3 audio file)
POGO Calls for MOX Termination Project on Government Oversight: "We're hearing a lot these days about the federal budget crisis. You'd think that with all this talk about the need for austerity, Congress and President Obama would have no problem cutting unneeded and unwanted, projects from the budget. Then why are some members of Congress insisting that we continue to fund a nuclear boondoggle that may end up costing taxpayers $22.1 billion, an unfathomable increase over the original $1.6 billion price tag?
"It's called the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication (MOX) Facility at the Department of Energy's Savannah River site in South Carolina. The facility was designed to convert weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for use in nuclear energy reactors but the project is a decade behind schedule, and billions of dollars over budget. What's more not a single customer has been lined up. Not one.
"But it gets worse. There's a plan to spend another $1 billion on the program- just to finish the roof over the facility and then mothball it. That is a pretty expensive roof. And aerial photos show the roof is already constructed. We say stop throwing more money at the program."
Tell Your Representatives to Cut Funding for the Fuel to Nowhere Facility!
Update April10:"Obama budget could put end to MOX"
The new budget states: "This current plutonium disposition approach may be unaffordable, due to cost growth and fiscal pressure."
The JASON Advisory Group
JASON is an independent group of scientists which advises the United States government on matters of science and technology; over the decades its members have included 11 Nobel prize laureates.
See a selection of JASON's nuclear-weapons production-related reports on our JASON page.
Jay Coghlan, Director of Nukewatch, on Democracy Now, February, 2010:
"How are we, the US, now going to walk into the UN with a straight face, and claim that it's leading toward a world free of nuclear weapons, when in fact we are starting up a plutonium facility in Los Alamos, a uranium facility in Tennessee, and also a major new production plant in Kansas City for all of the non-nuclear components that go into a weapon?"
Leaked Report Suggests Coverup of Long-Known Flood Threat To Nuclear Plants Oct 19 An un-redacted version of a recently released Nuclear Regulatory Commission report highlights the threat that flooding poses to nuclear power plants located near large dams -- and suggests that the NRC has misled the public for years about the severity of the threat, according to engineers and nuclear safety advocates. (story)
Halloween Special: Nightmare on Nuke Street
Jeffrey Lewis, Foreign Policy , 10/30 - "The Department of Defense has released narrative summaries for 32 accidents involving nuclear weapons between 1950 and 1980, many of which involve aircraft bearing bombs. False alarms? Please. The Department of Defense admitted 1,152 "moderately serious" false alarms between 1977 and 1984 - roughly three a week. So, here's my list of 12 seriously scary events, one for each month. This list is not comprehensive, nor is it intended to be the worst events. . . "
CDC BioSafety Level 3 Not so Safe?
USA Today reports that government documents and internal e-mails show that a $214 million bioterror germ lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has had repeated problems with airflow systems designed to help prevent the release of infectious agents.
"The area of the building with problems involves Biosafety Level 3 labs that can be used for experiments involving anthrax, dangerous strains of influenza, the SARS coronavirus, monkeypox and other microbes that have the potential to be used as bioweapons.
In February, air from inside a potentially contaminated lab briefly blew outward into a "clean" corridor where a group of visitors weren't wearing any protective gear which raised concern about exposure risks, according to e-mails reporting and discussing what happened."
(read "Airflow problems plague CDC bioterror lab" at USA Today)
- Note that construction of a BSL-3 facility was completed 8 years ago at Los Alamos National Labs; it is as yet unused, awaiting an Environmental Impact Statement, not yet scheduled. See a March 2011 report at NukeWatch Blog regarding the EIS issue.
Flashback: Crime and Corruption at LANL Ten years ago, security scandals erupted at the Los Alamos Labs. In July 2011, Jay Coghlan, Executive Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, interviewed Glenn Walp, who investigated the security lapses for the Labs, about his newly published book, "Implosion At Los Alamos: How Crime, Corruption And Cover-Ups Jeopardize Americas Nuclear Weapons Secrets" (Langdon Press, 2010).
50 years ago Vasili Arkhipov saved the world by single-handedly averting World War lll, yet he died humiliated, outcast and an unknown. Only now has his story has come to light. Arkhipov refused an order to launch a nuclear torpedo at an American battleship at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, an act which most likely would have triggered a full-scale nuclear war. (story)
Stewart Udall: In Memory and Deed
A champion of the early environmental movement, Stewart Udall died March 20th, 2010, at his home in Santa Fe.
Udall wrote in his book The Myths of August, "My experiences and observations told me that the cold warrior's contempt for restraint had poisoned our politics. In the 1980's I cringed as Mikhail Gorbachev and Andrei Sakharov emerged as the world's most effective partisans for peace at the same time that two U.S. presidents, imbued with military machismo, were saddling future generations with trillions of dollars of debt by amassing an unprecedented array of super-expensive weapons of mass destruction."
In Memorial- Ben Lujan
New Mexico will miss Speaker of the House Ben Lujan who has died after a long fight with lung cancer which he believed he contracted from asbestos exposure when he was an iron worker at Los Alamos.
Senator Tom Udall (D.NM) remembered Lujan, saying, "He lived by a simple code best embodied in a quote I'll never forget: 'Let us make our time on Earth worthwhile, and do what's right, and make a difference for the children, our working families, and our elderly.'"
Jan 27: National Downwinders Day Honoring the victims of nuclear tests
On January 27th, 1951, the United States detonated the first of 928 nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site. At a time when countries raced to develop increasingly destructive nuclear devices, people living in the wake of these explosions, called downwinders, were exposed to hazardous levels of radiation.
Physicians for Social Responsibility have organized this campaign- please take a moment to ask your senators to commemorate National Downwinders Day on Sunday, January 27th.
1/28, Salt Lake City Tribune: Utahns Pause To Remember Downwinders
NIRS: Help Citizens of Virginia Resist New Pressure to Rescind the Uranium Mining Ban
The Virginia legislature will soon take up the issue of whether to lift the current ban on uranium mining in the state- over the objections of numerous towns, cities, religious groups and citizens across the state.
This DOE action is just the foot in the door- if it's allowed to occur, expect more efforts to deregulate radioactive materials from both DOE and NRC.
Please Send state legislators and Governor McDonnell a message to tell them to keep the ban!.
Jan 30, Livermore CA Lawrence Livermore at the Crossroads
Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs were among the environmental, legal and nuclear experts from California and New Mexico who spoke at a community forum in Livermore on January 30th about the potentially illegal new plan to ship plutonium bomb cores across three western states from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
San Jose Mercury News coverage: At Livermore Forum, Nuclear Watchdog Groups Oppose Lab Weapons Testing Plan
Hunting Radioactive Tumbleweeds at Hanford
Tumbleweeds Spread Hanford Contamination
Hanford, the most contaminated nuclear site in the U.S., has a "Biological Control" program to deal with 'biological vectors' in the spread of radioactive contamination. These have included fruit flies, even a badger; but the most visible is the tumbleweed.
The principal tumbleweed species is Kali tragus, or Russian thistle, an invasive species which came to the western US in the 1870's. Tumbleweed taproots can creep 20 feet down, bringing up radioactive waste from underground burial sites. Each winter, the deep taproot on the plant decays, and the spiny brown skeleton aboveground breaks off and rolls away in the wind, spreading whatever contamination it picked up.
February 6, 2018: Goat Rodeo in the Pentagon Map Room Why Was the NPR Pulled and Re-issued Several Times?
The initial draft leaked online showed the entire Korean peninsula- North and South- as part of North Korea. Whoops. Then the official version was released fixing that problem, but showing Taiwan as part of the People's Republic of China. Double whoops! Then that was taken down for several hours, and a third version released, which restored Taiwan as a separate entity. But in that last version the entire Kuril island archipelago, administered by Russia, but partly claimed by Japan, was disappeared. So, how's that "pivot to Asia" going, guys? (ref)
Dec. 29, 2017: Radioactive milk: US nuclear test fallout likely killed 340k to 690k Americans
"When the US entered the nuclear age, it did so recklessly. New research suggests that the hidden costs of developing nuclear weapons were far larger than previous estimates, with radioactive fallout responsible for 340,000 to 690,000 American deaths from 1951 to 1973."
"From 1951 to 1963, the US tested nuclear weapons above ground in Nevada. Weapons researchers, not understanding the risks- or simply ignoring them- exposed thousands to radioactive fallout."
"The National Cancer Institute has records of the amount of iodine 131- a dangerous isotope released in the Nevada tests- in milk, as well as broader data about radiation exposure. By comparing this data with county-level mortality records, University of Arizona economist Keith Meyers came across a significant finding: 'Exposure to fallout through milk leads to immediate and sustained increases in the crude death rate.' What's more, these results were sustained over time. US nuclear testing likely killed seven to 14 times more people than we had thought, mostly in the midwest and northeast." (more details at Quartz)
Harper's Magazine, December issue: Destroyer of Worlds: Taking stock of our nuclear present
Eight essays from notable experts and authors, including:
- Nuclear Citizenship, Elaine Scarry, author of "Thermonuclear Monarchy"
"Nuclear weapons have persisted not because they resist dismantling, but because they have infantilized and miniaturized our political institutions... Over this seven-decade affair with nuclear weapons, we've forgotten that we still have the constitutional tools to eliminate them. We have both the moral responsibility and the legal means to enable legislatures and citizens to recover their rightful stature, and to rid the world, finally, of these obscene instruments of devastation."
- Countermeasures, Theodore Postol (MIT): An expert view of the history and prospects of missile defense.
- Our Bomb, Mohammed Hanif, author of "A Case of Exploding Mangoes", gives a thoughtful rumination on Pakistan's nuclear weapons.
- What We Lost When We Lost Bert the Turtle, Alex Wellerstein, historian of nuclear weapons, author of the Nuclear Secrecy blog, and creator of the "NukeMap", looks at the history of nuclear civil defense.
- Haywire, Eric Schlosser, author of "Command and Control".
"In retrospect, the fact that the Cold War ended without a single city disappearing in a nuclear explosion seems nothing short of miraculous...Technological advances continued to compress time and increase the risk of a nuclear catastrophe. Today, the time frame of an attack has been reduced to mere seconds."- Schlosser
A Perpetual Menace: Nuclear Weapons Today, Tomorrow, Forever?
A panel discussion at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Nov.2017.
- Bruce Blair, Research Scholar, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton; author of "The Logic of Accidental Nuclear War" (Brookings Inst. 1993). Blair addresses the enduring and, in fact, escalating risks of maintaining nuclear weapons arsenals. (8.57)
- Sharon Weiner, Assoc. Prof. School of International Service at American University; author of "Our Own Worst Enemy?: Institutional Interests and the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Expertise" (MIT Press, 2011). Weiner speaks on the trillion-dollar "modernization" program. (31.53)
- Ambassador Whyte-Gomez, President, UN Conference to Negotiate Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, talks about why the Ban Treaty came about, and of the extension to the nuclear weapons sphere the work of establishing norms on an international level to regulate the behavior of states in regard to these weapons. "We strongly believe that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a response from the responsible citizens of the world." (49.26)
January 6, 2018: His Bigger Button Tweet
When Kim Jong Un declared that "the nuclear button is on my office desk all the time", it wasn't surprising that the POTUS couldn't resist a disconcertingly cartoonish response: "I too have a nuclear button but it is much bigger and more powerful than his, and it works!". Underlying the foolishness though is the surreal and alarming quality of Donald Trump bragging about the size of his nuclear button in referring to the American nuclear arsenal. (ref)
November 14, 2017: Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds hearing
regarding President's sole authority to use nuclear weapons
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) has announced that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would hold a hearing November 14 on "the executive's authority to use nuclear weapons".
Sen. Corker: "This...will be the first time since 1976 that this committee or our House counterparts have looked specifically at the authority and process for using U.S. nuclear weapons. This discussion is long overdue, and we look forward to examining this critical issue."
Both Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced bills this year that would bar Trump- or any president- from launching a preemptive nuclear attack before Congress approves a declaration of war. Those bills have stalled in the Republican-controlled House and Senate. (source: The Hill)
- Watch archived video of the hearing
Deepika Choudhary at ReThinkMedia.org has compiled a hyperlinked table of the extensive press coverage the Senate Hearing received: (view/download PDF)
Nov.14 Politico interview with William Perry: Don't Count on the Cabinet to Stop a Trump-Ordered Nuclear Strike
October 19, 2017: GOP Appointee Sean Sullivan, Chair of Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board,
Has Secretly Urged Trump to Abolish It
The Center for Public Integrity, whose 6-part series last summer exposed "Nuclear Negligence" at the US nuclear weapons labs, is reporting that GOP appointee Sean Sullivan, now chair of the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board has secretly urged Trump to abolish it.
"The five-member Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board is chartered by Congress, and has helped persuade the federal government to impose tighter safety rules and regulations at most of the eight nuclear weapons sites- employing more than 40,000 workers- where nuclear weapons and their parts are produced or stored."
New Mexico Senator Tom Udall said in a written statement to CPI, "Repeated, serious safety and security lapses at the labs, including the two in New Mexico, are among the reasons for strengthening - not eliminating the outside oversight board. These incidents have demonstrated that there is a need for a strong watchdog that does not have a direct financial or political stake in the success of the labs."
Senator Udall successfully attached an amendment to the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act that would thwart any efforts to shut down the DNFSB, but the Senate version and a House version will have to be 'reconciled' in the weeks ahead.
"Bob Alvarez, a former senior Energy Department official, said the current wrangle over the board's future is alarming. 'DOE doesn't really regulate these guys... Without the defense board, the public wouldn't know about some of 'the hazards the government is imposing on them.'"
"Asked for comment, Sullivan said in a phone conversation that he regards his letter as a privileged communication with the White House, and declined to comment about it."
(see full report at CPI)
October 6, 2017: Nobel Peace Prize For International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). The organization is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons. We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea. Nuclear weapons pose a constant threat to humanity and all life on earth." (ref)
Democracy Now, Oct. 6: Amy Goodman interviews Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of ICAN on the Nobel award and the ban treaty. (watch segment).
(see also Nukewatch dossier on the Ban Treaty)
October 4, 2017: Chomsky on US Nukes: "Some of the most dangerous developments under Trump trace back to Obama initiatives." Noam Chomsky:
"The most dangerous of these has barely been reported. A very important study in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published in March 2017, reveals that the Obama nuclear weapons modernization program has increased 'the overall killing power of existing US ballistic missile forces by a factor of roughly three- and it creates exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike."
-From an interview with David Barsamian, recounted in Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy, by Chomsky and Barsamian, to be published this December. (ref)
Note that, unreported in mainstream US press, Viktor Poznihir, first Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Directorate told the Moscow Security Conference on April 26 of this year that "the US is creating a military infrastructure near Russia's borders for the application of a sudden nuclear strike." (more)
Also of note: Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept, Sept 28: Yet Another Major Russia Story Falls Apart. Is Skepticism Permissible Yet?
September 27, 2017: Hawaii, California Preparing for North Korean Nuclear Attack
A startling headline, but alas, true. Precautionary measures no doubt, in case the angry war of words goes to military violence and a possible nuclear exchange. It's unlikely Kim would fire a first strike at the US; but in response to a US strike on North Korea, well maybe. Apparently, some people are seeing the 'military option' becoming more likely.
- Hawaii residents told to prepare for nuclear attack as tensions reach new high
"The state will begin testing a siren warning system, a wailing sound, in November. It would give people about 12 to 15 minutes to get to safety, after which they would be required to stay indoors for 48 to 72 hours."
- North Korea: California's plans for nuclear attack revealed
"The threat of a nuclear attack on California is real enough that a regional task force circulated a document to help the state prepare for a 'catastrophic' strike." (refs:Independent.co.uk) Note: Hans Nichols, NBC pentagon correspondent, tweeted on September 18:
"Mattis just dropped by Pentagon bullpen; 'There are many military options, in concert with our allies'... Mattis confirms military options against N Korea that do not put Seoul at risk: 'Yes there are are, but I will not go into details.'"
October 10, 2017:
University of Hawaii sent an email to students Monday with tips on how to prepare for a nuclear attack October 16, 2017: USS Michigan spotted at South Korean port- with 2 SEAL Delivery Vehicle silos attached on top in plain sight. These teams are practicing for strikes deep into 'enemy territory', possibly 'decapitation' missions. The Michigan can also launch 150 Tomahawk missiles. (source: Business Insider- with photos)
All this illustrates the urgency to move to a world free of nuclear weapons. In that regard, the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons is open for countries to sign now at the UN in New York. Note: Last July, both North Korea and the U.S. 'skipped' the vote on the treaty (CBS). Note also that NATO, in a Sept. 20 press release, denounced the treaty, calling it "at odds with the existing non-proliferation and disarmament architecture." (NB: the 'architecture' which has successfully allowed the nuclear powers to keep their nuclear arsenals, even "modernize" them so as to be "effective" through the tail end of the 21st century).
July-August, 2017: Nuclear Negligence
- Patrick Malone and R. Jeffrey Smith, an investigation for the Center for Public Integrity:
Excerpts from the CPI report concerning the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board:
"The nuclear weapons complex in recent years has experienced alarming problems, including the mishandling of plutonium, a radioactive explosive; the mis-shipment of hazardous materials, including nuclear explosive materials; and the contamination of work areas and scientists by radioactive particles - shortcomings detailed in a recent Center for Public Integrity investigation ("Nuclear Negligence").
"Over the past decade, the board's warnings in particular helped push the managers of a nuclear waste cleanup project in Hanford, Washington, to heed the complaints of a whistleblower there and redesign key facilities in order to prevent an accidental nuclear chain reaction.
"The board's investigators also documented and warned about repeated safety problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), which eventually closed the nation's sole facility for making and comprehensively testing plutonium weapon cores so it could try to fix them. LANL struggles to this day to meet the board's safety expectations."
- August 1, "Nuclear Negligence" Part 6: Nuclear weapons contractors repeatedly violate shipping rules for dangerous materials.
- June 28, "Nuclear Negligence" Part 5: Repeated radiation warnings go unheeded at sensitive Idaho nuclear plant
- June 27, "Nuclear Negligence" Part 4: More Than 30 Nuclear Experts Inhale Uranium After Radiation Alarms at a Weapons Site Are Switched Off
- June 26, "Nuclear Negligence" Part 3: Light Penalties and Lax Oversight Encourage Weak Safety Culture at Nuclear Weapons Labs
- June 20, "Nuclear Negligence" Part 2: Safety Problems at a Los Alamos Laboratory Delay U.S. Nuclear Warhead Testing and Production
- June 18, 2017, "Nuclear Negligence" Part 1: Repeated Safety Lapses Hobble Los Alamos National Laboratory's Work On The Cores Of U.S. Nuclear Warheads
Trident System and Nuclear Weapons Hacking
On May 31, British American Security Information Council released a detailed survey of the vulnerabilities of UK's Trident nuclear force to hacking, finding that "A cyber-attack may target the submarine, command and control, or the missile launch system. It can attempt to disrupt or change launch coordinates to divert the original course of the missile, or to disrupt or neutralize the warheads themselves..."
See our file: Trident and Nuclear Hacking Oct 18: Growing threat: Cyber and nuclear weapons systems
August 15, 2017: DNFSB Staff Deployed to NNSA, DOE- Board Members File "Strong Objection"
Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board has "entered into an arrangement" with NNSA and DOE by which some DNFSB technical staff are to be deployed to NNSA and DOE offices. Two DNFSB board members filed a "strong objection" to DNFSB staff deploying to NNSA or any office of DOE "whose duties are external advocacy on behalf of the organizations and functions the DNFSB is required by statute to independently evaluate."
Board members Roberson and Santos sent a memo to the DNFSB board and chairmen documenting their objections. The memo appeared briefly on the DNFSB website but disappeared with no explanation shortly afterwards. We were able to save the memo during it's short appearance in the public domain. Here's the memo of objection. Nukewatch statement on the matter: "Nuclear Watch New Mexico strongly objects to this attempt by the National Nuclear Security Administration to compromise the Safety Board. DNFSB has played a vital role in protecting the public from dangerous nuclear weapons activities that have been riddled with safety lapses, incompetence, cost overruns and mismanagement. The Safety Board is commissioned by Congress, not NNSA, and we fully expect the New Mexican congressional delegation to protect the Safety Board's independence and objectivity."
Defense Nuclear Safety Board Review Public Hearing June 7, 2017: archived video
See comments submitted by NukeWatch here.
From left, Bonnie Urfer, Steve Baggarly, Susan Crane, John LaForge and Gerd Buentzly.
At least 20 U.S. B61 thermonuclear bombs are deployed at Büchel Air Base. (photo by Ralph Hutchison)
July 18, 2017 : Activists cut fences, occupy nuclear weapons bunker at Büchel Air Base A group of five peace activists cut through fences and got far inside the Büchel Air Base in Germany, managing to climb on top of a large bunker used for nuclear weapons.
"The five spent more than an hour unnoticed sitting on the bunker until two of them climbed down to write "DISARM" on the bunker's metal front door, setting off an alarm. Surrounded by vehicles and guards searching on foot with flashlights, the five eventually alerted guards to their presence by singing, causing the guards to look up. After being detained, searched and photographed, the five were released without charge.
"The action came at the end of an 'international week' at the base organized by 'Nonviolent Action to Abolish Nukes. The effort was part of a 20-week-long series of actions - 'Twenty Weeks for Twenty Bombs' - that began March 26.
"Three other nonviolent direct actions took place during the week, one of which succeeded in its demand to see the base commander. Oberstleutnant Gregor Schlemmer actually appeared at the site of a highway blockade and agreed to received a copy of the newly-adopted U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons from activist Sister Ardeth Platte of Baltimore.
"More than 60 people from around the globe participated - from Russia, China, Mexico, Germany, Britain, the United States, The Netherlands, France and Belgium. Activists from the United States came to Büchel to highlight the plans for modernization of the B61.
"Ralph Hutchison, from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where a new thermonuclear core for the B61-12 will be manufactured, said: 'It is important that we show this is a global movement. The resistance to nuclear weapons is not limited to one country. The new B61-12 program will cost more than $12 billion, and when production starts sometime after 2020, Büchel is scheduled to get new nuclear bombs.'"
(read more at NukeResister)
Nuclear Waste Storage Tunnel Collapse at Hanford May 9, 2017: A large section of the ceiling of a transport tunnel now used for storage of radioactive waste at Hanford fell into the tunnel. The DOE says there is no evidence of radiation release, and workers were told to return to the site on May 11.
The tunnel is one of two that run into the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility, also known as PUREX. The PUREX building is the length of three football fields and was used to recover plutonium from irradiated fuel rods. The facility has been idle for years but remains "highly contaminated," DOE said.
Eight flatbed railroad cars loaded with radioactive material were parked there in 1965. (A much larger nearby tunnel built in 1964 has 28 railroad cars with radioactive waste.) (ref)
Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said there is still cause for concern. "It appears that this is a potentially serious event," he said. "Collapse of the earth covering the tunnels could lead to a considerable radiological release." See Lyman interviewed on C-span May 12 on the cave-in and the wider problems and history of Hanford: (C-span)
Former Energy Department official Robert Alvarez said, 'according to a 1997 DOE report, inspection of the tunnels 'is not feasible because of radiation levels in excess of five roentgens per hour.'
Fixing the damaged tunnel could prove difficult. The Energy Department said on its Web site that officials are looking at options that would provide a barrier between the contaminated equipment in the tunnel and the outside air that would not cause the hole in the tunnel's roof to widen further.
Although the Trump administration has vowed to slash the budgets of most Energy Department programs, the administration does not plan to skimp on the one charged with the Hanford cleanup and with other nuclear sites. It has requested $6.5 billion for the agency's environmental management program for 2018.
The budget for Hanford alone is about $2.3 billion in the current fiscal year, about $1.5 billion of that going to the management and treatment of approximately 56 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste stored in underground storage tanks. (refs)
- The cleanup of the Hanford site, which is half the size of Rhode Island, has cost $19 billion to date and is not expected to be finished until 2060, at an additional cost of $100 billion.
- Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit last fall against the Energy Department and its contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions, contending vapors released from underground nuclear waste tanks posed a serious risk to workers.
- Nuclear waste disposal: What can we learn from the Hanford tunnel collapse?
January 03, 2017: Radioactive contamination spreading in Hanford nuclear plant
"Radioactive contamination is spreading inside a deteriorating processing plant on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation last used in the 1950s and 1960s to process plutonium for the U.S. nuclear weapons program. ...Signs of animal intrusion and deteriorating asbestos...
No one has entered the main part of the plant since 1997. (ref)
EnviroNews; from a 15-part series, "Nuclear Power in Our World Today"- with Arnie Gundersen.
How DOE Incentivized Execs at Hanford To Sweep Plutonium Leak Under Rug Hanford:
"The sheer magnitude of the impact on the environment is staggering, resulting in nearly incomprehensible numbers- numbers like: 270,000,000,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater, 25,000,000 cubic feet of buried or stored solid waste, 2,300 tons of spent nuclear fuel, 20 tons of plutonium-bearing materials, and 53,000,000 gallons of waste in 177 underground storage tanks. This waste is the legacy of more than five decades of plutonium production, making it easy to see how Hanford became the largest, most complex environmental cleanup effort in the world." (ref)
William Perry, Eric Schlosser, Lensic Theater, Santa Fe Dec. 4
Photo: Roger Snodgrass/ladailypost.com
William Perry: The nuclear danger today is more acute than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis
Dec. 5. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry told the Santa Fe audience,
"The nuclear danger today is more acute than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962."
"I don't see the threat being that any nuclear country simply would deliberately attack us. I see the danger, really, blundering into nuclear war, an accidental war or by miscalculation; or the danger of nuclear terrorism. Those are the threats as I see them... [Regarding] an accidental war, I've recommended that we not rebuild our ICBMs, that we phase them out, because the ICBMs are the primary vehicle through which we could have an accidental nuclear war. More generally, I've argued that we should find ways of healing the rupture that we have with the Russians today... its very important that we do that and we aren't doing that today... and since they have the most nuclear weapons of any nation in the world, its very important that we don't get involved in a situation that could lead either country to blunder into some kind of military conflict which might escalate into a nuclear war. So the stakes are very high with Russia and we need to get that straight."
Regarding General Mattis, Trump's choice for Secretary of Defense: "I have a high regard for General Mattis and think he could do a very good job as Secretary of Defense."
Listen to KSFR's audio interview with Perry
UN OEWG concludes with major breakthrough in effort to ban nuclear weapons
In the most contentious of three recommendations to the General Assembly,
62 countries declared their support for:
"The convening by the General Assembly of a conference in 2017 open to all states, international organizations, and civil society, to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons leading towards their total elimination."
(Of the 27 opposed, most were NATO countries, with Australia and South Korea - countries under the US 'nuclear umbrella')
"This breakthrough is result of the new global discourse on nuclear weapons. Since Norway hosted the first conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in 2013, the effect of the weapons on humans and the environment has taken center stage. Three conferences were held on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons (Norway, Mexico, Austria). These brought together governments, academia and civil society for fact-based examination of what the weapons can do- and what can be done to mitigate their effect. The conferences found that there is no way to recover from any use of nuclear weapons in populated areas, and no way to prevent the damage from crossing borders..."
"International treaties exist to prohibit all other weapons of mass destruction (chemical and biological) as well as to outlaw other weapons with indiscriminate effects (anti-personnel landmines and cluster bombs). The fact that nuclear weapons are not clearly illegal is simply bizarre.
"No weapon has ever been eliminated before it was made illegal, and nuclear weapons are no exception. A ban would not only make it illegal for nations to use or possess nuclear weapons; it would also help pave the way to their complete elimination. Nations committed to reaching the goal of abolition have shown that they are ready to start negotiations in 2017."
- (read more of ICAN's coverage)
- Susi Snyder (PAX-Netherlands) Op-Ed in Huffington Post
- Ray Acheson, Reaching Critical Will- Editorial
- UN Tribune : UN Votes to Begin Negotiations on a Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons
December 4, 2016, Santa Fe, NM: Public Dialogue: William Perry & Eric Schlosser
- Sunday 12/4, 5pm, Lensic Theater, Santa Fe (505.988.1234)
- Former Sec. of Defense William Perry recently published his memoir titled "My Life at The Nuclear Brink"; Perry simultaneously launched the William J. Perry Project "to help end the nuclear threat". Eric Schlosser is author of the highly acclaimed book "Command and Control".
Perry has said that nuclear weapons now "endanger our society rather than securing it." He is one of the founders, along with Sam Nunn, George Schultz, and Henry Kissinger, of the Nuclear Security Project. "I hope to encourage young people to take the baton I am trying to pass to them. My generation created this existential problem- their generation must find a way to solve it."
This is the kick off event of The Santa Fe Nuclear Weapons Summit,
organized by Creative Santa Fe, with NTI and N-Square. (more info)
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter's Nuclear Resolve Tour
Bombs, Deterrence, and Reassurance on the Menu:
Putting Any Doubts to Rest
Departing Sept 26, itinerary:
1. Minot AFB- "For a speech on the future of America's nuclear capability." (moving ahead with 'modernization')
2. Kirtland AFB - "To thank personnel at Kirtland AFB for their work to ensure the readiness of the nuclear force."
3. Los Alamos and Sandia Labs - "To thank the scientists and engineers there for ongoing work on the development, assessment, and security of the nuclear triad."
4. San Diego - for a speech on the future of the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region and ongoing security challenges there. (read: China, North Korea)
5. Pearl Harbor - to host a conference of ASIAN defense ministers, including "demonstrations of U.S. military capabilities" and a dinner aboard the USS Missouri. (reassuring those under the US nuclear umbrella) (ref)
July 10, 2016 Washington Post report: Obama plans major nuclear policy changes in his final months
Possibilities for executive action: Declaring 'no first use', taking deployed nukes off 'hair trigger', canceling the LRSO, naming a 'blue-ribbon panel of experts' to review and scale back triad modernization plans. Washington Post, 7/10/16
- Physicians for Social Responsibility has provided an online form letter you may send (modify as wished) to the president urging him to 1) declare a policy of "no first use" of nuclear weapons, and 2) to cut the new nuclear cruise missile from the budget.
- Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has also posted an online form letter you can use to urge the president to act on 7 nuclear policy changes, including removing US nukes from foreign deployment and eliminating land-based nuclear weapons.
UNM Will Host "Symposium" Promoting Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Triad
Albuquerque, June 20-21:
University of New Mexico will host an 'unprecedented' 2-day event featuring top military and Energy Dept. nuclear brass, along with weapons industry lobbyists, to promote nuclear weapons, and specifically, to support the modernization of all three legs of the nuclear triad in the face of growing criticism.
That UNM is hosting the Symposium is more evidence of the University of New Mexico's deepening involvement in nuclear weapons programs. UNM recently announced with Boeing, the U. of Texas and others that it was going to bid on the Sandia Labs management contract. (more on this at the Watchblog)
The 2016 Strategic Deterrence Symposium is organized by the 'Strategic Deterrent Coalition'- a self-proclaimed "non-profit, non-partisan, community-based organization of concerned citizens." (Whose address is given as: 1050 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC.)
"The single-issue focus of the Strategic Deterrent Coalition" is that the US "maintains a modern, safe, secure, effective and stabilizing Nuclear Triad deterrent".
"Rationality has never been the hallmark of any nation pursuing a nuclear arsenal or thinking about its employment. Such arsenals take on a life and logic of their own, commanding huge budgets and compelling decisions that march at an ever increasing tempo to the beat of fear, technology, status and vested interests."
- General George Lee Butler (Ret.) Former Commander US Strategic Command, in his memoir, "Uncommon Cause".
Speakers will include Admiral Cecil Haney, Commander of US Strategic Command; General Robin Rand, Commander of Air Force Global Strike Command; Major General Scott Jansson, Commander, Nuclear Weapons Center; NNSA administrator Frank Klotz, and officials from the Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia Labs.
Note: The aforementioned 'Nuclear Weapons Center' is based at Kirtland AFB (adjoining the Albuquerque airport), and Kirtland is also the third largest installation of the Air Force Global Strike Command. Read more about Kirtland's emergence as a major hub of the nuclear weapons complex in our Kirtland AFB dossier.
More from the SDC website:
- "Founding organizations" include Barksdale Forward, Kirtland Partnership Committee, Montana Defense Alliance...
- Sponsors of the event include Northrup Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, and Orbital ATK...
NIS sets out new vision for nuclear bomb factory after Trident work ends
June 2016. One of the UK's top scientists has said it is time to address how the skills and resources at Britain's nuclear weapons factory could be used if the government decided to cancel the Trident program.
Sir Martin Rees, UK Astronomer Royal
"Writing in the foreword to a new Nuclear Information Service report about the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), the Berkshire factory where the UK's Trident nuclear warheads are built and maintained, Professor Martin Rees (Lord Rees of Ludlow), Astronomer Royal and a former President of the Royal Society, said that it was 'highly relevant' to consider how these skills and resources 'might be gradually redeployed in the civil sector'.
"'The prospects for a post-Trident AWE to move away from its current role into civil sector markets are good, and are compatible with regional economic development strategies for the Thames Valley which aim to increase technological innovation in the area. As a result, 'jobs and economic benefits at AWE need not be lost in the short to medium term' and could be conserved in the long term 'by putting the Establishment's assets and skills to work in pursuit of innovative new civil sector business opportunities'".
more/download report (PDF)
June 21, 2016: Joe Cirincione Testifies on Nuclear Dangers at Democratic Platform Committee
Ploughshares President Joe Cirincione testified at the Democratic Platform Drafting Committee,
highlighting the urgent threats posed by nuclear weapons:
"The use of one nuclear weapon on one city would be a level of destruction not seen since the end of the Second World War. The use of ten nuclear weapons on ten cities would be a catastrophe unprecedented in human history. The use of 100 weapons on 100 cities could destroy all humanity has created over the millennia...
"One has to be irrationally optimistic to believe that we can keep these weapons in fallible human hands indefinitely and something terrible will not happen. We can and must steadily reduce the risk of nuclear explosions by accident, miscalculation or madness before it is too late."
Read and download Cirincione's full written testimony here. Ploughshares Fund is a supporter of Nuclear Watch New Mexico
June 17, 2016:
Representative Adam Smith (D-WA), ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, writes in Foreign Policy: America Already Has More Than Enough Nuclear Missiles
"But Republicans are pushing a $1 trillion nuclear modernization program, which would not only bankrupt the Pentagon but could spark a global nuclear arms race.
"Any rational attempt to plan for America's future security must begin with a clear-eyed reassessment of the costs, trade-offs, and dangers of the trillion-dollar plan Washington is undertaking to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. That reassessment should include an effort to eliminate the new nuclear cruise missile."
Japanese schoolchildren give flower necklaces to G7 foreign ministers, left to right, from: Canada, Britain, U.S. (Kerry), Japan, and Germany; Hiroshima, Monday, April 11, 2016.
Jonathan Ernst, AP
John Kerry in Hiroshima
US Secretary of State John Kerry, together with the Foreign Ministers of several G-7 countries, visited Hiroshima's memorial to the victims of the American atomic bombing of that city in 1945. Kerry wrote in the guestbook: "Everyone in the world should see and feel the power of this memorial. It is a stark, harsh, compelling reminder not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our effort to avoid war itself." (ref)
Marylia Kelley of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability appeared on Democracy Now April 13 to discuss Kerry's Hiroshima visit and ANA's just-released report on the sweeping modernization planned for our nuclear forces, titled "The Trillion-Dollar Train Wreck".
- Amy Goodman: What's the alternative, in this last minute?
- Marylia Kelley: The alternative is to cancel this aggressive new nuclear weapons program. And we can curate the United States nuclear weapons stockpile, maintaining the existing safety and reliability until such time as the nuclear weapons are dismantled, pursuant to U.S. obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. And the world is gathering in May, next month, May 2nd, in Geneva at the United Nations to discuss the steps to doing this and to discuss the legal requirements of global disarmament. And the United States is boycotting. So we need-
- Amy Goodman: Boycotting why?
- Marylia Kelley: The United States is boycotting it because it doesn't believe these discussions are useful or productive. But, of course, they are the most important discussions on the planet. (full transcript here) View/download ANA Report (PDF)
Hearings Begin on Marshall Islands' Nuclear Lawsuits at Int'l Court of Justice
In 1996 the International Criminal Court issued a unanimous Advisory Opinion which stated: "There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control."
But twenty years later, no nuclear disarmament negotiations have taken place among nuclear-armed nations, and all nine are engaged in some level of "modernization" of their nuclear arsenals.
See our Marshall Islands Lawsuit dossier.
Feb 12, 2016: Los Alamos Lab Executive Director Richard Marquez Resigns
In a memo to employees, Los Alamos Director Charles McMillan announced the resignation of the Lab's executive director Richard Marquez.
Marquez had been LANL's executive director since 2006, and the Lab's associate director for administration for the previous five years.
The Lab would not comment on the reasons for his departure. Marquez could not be reached.
There was a curious incident last summer, but no one seemed to know- or want to say- the reasons for his sudden departure after 15 years of service. Note this in the Albuquerque Journal North report:
"A lawsuit by former lab employee Chuck Montaño claimed that Marquez was among LANL officials who retaliated against Montaño for raising concerns about procurement problems and fraudulent billing at the lab, which exploded into a major scandal in 2002 and led to indictments... Montaño and two former lab investigators recently asked the U.S. Attorney's Office to reopen the fraud case, saying evidence has emerged that may show the fraud went higher into the LANL hierarchy." (ref)
Rebecca Moss reported for The Santa Fe New Mexican:
"Marquez's tenure had survived other problems at the lab, including the discovery of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent purchases under the guise of purchasing lab equipment that occurred while he was in charge of procurement and property management. Though Marquez was not implicated in the schemes, some lab employees testifying in front of a congressional oversight committee blamed him and other lab officials for failings that allowed the fraud to happen and of trying to obstruct an investigation into it. As a result of that scandal, Director John Browne and Principle Deputy Director Joseph Salgado resigned, and 16 other high ranking employees were dismissed or transferred. Two other employees were arrested and served timed in prison.
"The workers hired to investigate the fraud, Steven Doran and Glenn Walp, were fired abruptly in 2002, and publicly called their termination an effort to "cover-up" wrongdoings at the lab. An investigation later found they were wrongfully terminated.
"On Feb. 1, Doran, Walp and Chuck Montaño, an author and former auditor for the lab, filed a request to U.S. Attorney for New Mexico Damon Martinez requesting the investigation be reopened. The parties also sought for Martinez to investigate the apparent suicide of Richard Bruick, former deputy director of operations, who was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot a year after his retirement in 2002, a death they believe to be suspect. A spokesperson for Martinez said his office would not comment on whether the request was being considered.
"Both Montaño and Walp said Thursday that should an investigation be reopened, Marquez would be "at the top of the list" for questioning. 'Mr. Marquez knows where all the bodies are buried,' Walp said."
(see Moss's extensive report in the New Mexican)
See also: Watchdogs Call for Renewed Investigation of Corruption at Los Alamos Lab and Questionable Suicide of Former Deputy Director (View full press release PDF)
A call to re-open the aborted 2003 investigation into LANL fraud, theft and a mysterious death. Once Upon a Time in Los Alamos Book Review, Project on Government Oversight:
"On January 24, 2003, the recently retired Deputy Director for Operations at LANL, Richard James Burick, was found lying part way under his truck, dead from a bullet to the head. A .44 caliber revolver lay a few feet away, which according to some experts, was further than it should have been if Burick himself had pulled the trigger. That afternoon, before an autopsy or full forensic investigation was even started, the Los Alamos Police Department declared Burick's death a suicide.
"In a new book, Los Alamos: A Whistleblower's Diary: Secret Colony, Hidden Truths, Chuck Montaño, a former auditor at Los Alamos National Lab (LANL), raises a number of questions about Burick's death. Drawing on 30 years of experience as an employee at the Lab, interviews with friends and colleagues, and the Lab's record of waste, fraud, and abuse, Montaño makes the case that Los Alamos was more troubled than most dared to think. Why, asks Montaño, was there never a full investigation into Burick's alleged suicide?"
There's much more to this story- read on at POGO
Chuck Montaño serves on Nuclear Watch New Mexico's Steering Committee.
Trafalgar Square, London, Feb. 27, 2016
UK: Biggest Anti-Nuclear March in a Generation
The Guardian reports: "Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament's Stop Trident march in London was the biggest anti-nuclear march in a generation, spurred on by support from Jeremy Corbyn and the Scottish National Party". (see The Guardian's collection of photos of the event)
- Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was criticized in advance for planning to attend and address the rally, said "Today's demonstration is an expression of many people's opinions and views. I'm here because I believe in a nuclear-free Britain and a nuclear-free future." (see video)
- Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish National Party leader: "It is the exception to the rule to possess nuclear weapons, let that message ring out loudly and clearly... The use of Trident nuclear weapons would bring about human devastation and suffering on an unimaginable scale." (more on SNP policy)
- Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru leader: "The world has been and continues to be an unstable and unpredictable place but there are some values that we should hold on to through peace, through war, through instability and unpredictability. It is never acceptable, it is never justifiable, to unleash weapons of mass destruction on a population. Nuclear weapons belong in the dustbin of history alongside the Cold War." (see full address)
- Green Party MP Caroline Lucas: "To contemplate using nuclear weapons is both illegal and immoral." (see video)
For immediate release, Jan 20, 2016: NukeWatch Gives Notice of Intent to Sue Over Lack of Cleanup at Los Alamos
Santa Fe, NM.
Today, Nuclear Watch New Mexico notified the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) that it will file a lawsuit over their failure to meet cleanup milestones under a "Consent Order" governed by the New Mexico Environment Department. Formal notice is required before a lawsuit can actually be filed, which NukeWatch intends to do within 60 days or less. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center is representing NukeWatch in this legal action to enforce cleanup at LANL.
Jay Coghlan, NukeWatch Executive Director, commented, "The nuclear weaponeers plan to spend a trillion dollars over the next 30 years completely rebuilding U.S. nuclear forces. Meanwhile, cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab, the birthplace of nuclear weapons, continues to be delayed, delayed, delayed. We are putting the weaponeers on notice that they have to cleanup their radioactive and toxic mess first before making another one for a nuclear weapons stockpile that is already bloated far beyond what we need. Real cleanup would be a win-win for New Mexicans, permanently protecting our water and environment while creating hundreds of high paying jobs."
(Read more- see full press release PDF) (see Notice of Intent letter PDF)
Albuquerque Journal North: Nuclear Watch to sue over LANL cleanup problems
Santa Fe New Mexican: A History of Innovation and Dysfunction at Los Alamos National Laboratory
Dec. 18, 2015: LANL Management Contract Up For Bid After 2017 LANS failed to get the award term, a condition DOE had set for continuation of the LANL management contract beyond 2017.
For immediate release December 7, 2015: Deadline for Last Cleanup Milestone of LANL Consent Order Passes;
NukeWatch Calls for Public Seats at the Table in Negotiations
Santa Fe, NM. Yesterday, December 6, was the deadline for the last compliance milestone in the Consent Order between the New Mexico Environment Department and the US Department of Energy that governs cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Ironically, that last milestone required the submittal of a report by the Lab on how it successfully completed cleanup of Area G, its largest waste dump. But real comprehensive cleanup is decades away at current funding levels..." (view press release PDF)
- Santa Fe Reporter coverage
- Santa Fe New Mexican coverage
For immediate release, Jan 15, 2016: National Nuclear Security Administration Gives Green Light
For Expanded Plutonium Pit Production at Los Alamos Santa Fe, NM.
Today the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent agency commissioned by Congress, posted a weekly report that makes explicit a decision by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to expand plutonium pit production at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Plutonium pits are the fissile cores or "triggers" of modern two-stage thermonuclear weapons, but they are also atomic weapons in their own right (a plutonium bomb incinerated Nagasaki in August 1945). Plutonium pit production has always been the choke point preventing industrial-scale U.S. nuclear weapons production ever since an FBI raid investigating environmental crimes shut down the notorious Rocky Flats Plant near Denver in 1989.
NNSA now seeks- for the fifth time- to expand plutonium pit production at LANL, despite the fact that major operations at LANL's main plutonium facility have been suspended since June 2013 because of nuclear criticality safety concerns, or that the Lab has no place to send its radioactive plutonium pit production wastes since it sent a badly prepared drum that ruptured and closed down the multi-billion dollar Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or that funding for cleanup of already accumulated dangerous radioactive waste is being cut.
Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch Director, commented, "Expanded plutonium pit production at the Los Alamos Lab is really all about future new-design nuclear weapons with new military capabilities produced through so-called Life Extension Programs for existing nuclear weapons."
(details: see full press release)
Update, Feb 12: What the FY 2017 budget says about pit production at LANL
Santa Fe Reporter, Dec 8, 2015: Los Alamos Cleanup Past Due As last deadline passes in existing cleanup plan, state and feds stalled in drafting a new plan.
"Had the cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory gone as planned, this weekend would have marked the closure of a decade-long effort to remediate the effects of a 70-year legacy of making and maintaining nuclear bombs. Instead, the deadline stated in the 2005 consent order... came and went on Dec. 6... that milestone is still decades and millions of dollars away, and the state and federal government are beginning discussions to draft a new plan and schedule for it.
"'We hear that we can't afford to do cleanup and at the same time the US government is ready to embark on a trillion dollar modernization of nuclear forces, so budget arguments against cleanup ring pretty hollow in our view,' [NukeWatch director] Coghlan says. 'Go ask the public what they want, and ask northern New Mexicans what they want. They want cleanup over weapons.'"
(see full article)
- See also:
LANL Misses Cleanup Deadline Set in 2005 For Largest Waste Site
Do We Really Want This New Nuclear Arms Race? The US pursues a new nuclear cruise missile (see below); Russia plans a nuclear super-torpedo
Excerpts and summaries from the BBC report:
"Just before the torpedo diagram came into view, Russian President Putin could be heard telling the generals that the US and its NATO allies were forging ahead with a global anti-missile defense system 'unfortunately ignoring our concerns and our offers of co-operation', and that the Western defense project was 'an attempt to undermine the existing parity in strategic nuclear weapons and essentially to upset the whole system of global and regional stability.' Putin continued: 'References to an Iranian or North Korean nuclear missile threat are just used to conceal the true plans- their real goal is to neutralize the strategic nuclear potential of other nuclear states... above all, of course, Russia.' Putin said Russia would continue developing strategic offensive systems capable of penetrating any anti-missile defense."
At that point, a viewer could see over the shoulder of a general studying a diagram of the 'devastating' new torpedo system. The document reads "oceanic multi-purpose Status-6 system", designed to "destroy important economic installations of the enemy in coastal areas and cause guaranteed devastating damage to the country's territory by creating wide areas of radioactive contamination, rendering them unusable for military, economic or other activity for a long time". The supertorpedo's range: up to 10,000 kilometers; cruising speed: 185 kilometers per hour at a depth of up to 1000 meters; to be carried by the Belgorod and Khabarovsk submarines.
State-run Rossiiskaya Gazeta noted that the destructive power attributed to the new torpedo's warhead would fit the description of a cobalt bomb, a thermonuclear warhead 'salted' with a layer of cobalt-59, which on detonation would be transmuted into highly radioactive cobalt-60 with a half-life longer than five years. Such a weapon would guarantee "that everything living will be killed", the paper said - there would not even be any survivors in bunkers. A cobalt bomb has never been tested because of the devastating radiation it would unleash.
Russian military experts told BBC Russian Service:
Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent military analyst: "The plan is to deliver a 100-megaton nuclear bomb to the U.S. shores," he said. "It would cause a highly radioactive tsunami."
Konstantin Sivkov, Russian Geopolitical Academy: A warhead of up to 100 megatons could produce a tsunami up to 500m (1,650ft) high, wiping out all living things 1,500km (930 miles) deep inside US territory.
"But it can be considered as a means of deterrence- like the Perimeter system, which is on combat readiness, which guarantees retaliation with all of Russia's nuclear forces even if command posts and the country's leadership have been annihilated".
- BBC: Russia reveals giant nuclear torpedo in state TV 'leak'
UK, September 12, 2015: Anti-Nuclear Insurgent Jeremy Corbyn Wins Labour Leadership in a Landslide
Jeremy Corbyn, has "totally obliterated his opponents" with 60% of the vote;
second place Andy Burnham had 19%. BBC reports: "Corbyn was a 200-1 outsider when the three-month contest began. But he was swept to victory on a wave of enthusiasm for his anti-austerity message and promise to scrap Britain's nuclear weapons and re-nationalise the railways and major utilities."
"We are not in the era of the Cold War anymore; it finished a long time ago. I am opposed to the use of nuclear weapons. I am opposed to the holding of nuclear weapons. I want to see a nuclear-free world. I believe it is possible." - Jeremy Corbin, BBC interview Sept. 30, 2015 Recommended:Trident's Replacement and the Survival of the United Kingdom
James Doyle: Beware the Nuclear Experts
"In a summary of recommendations from their "Project Atom" study recently completed at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Clark Murdock and Thomas Karako advocate a mobilization of America's nuclear weapons industry to build a new generation of forward-deployed, low-yield nuclear weapons.
"It is critical to remember that we have been down this road before. We know that deployments such as those proposed by the CSIS study can increase rather than decrease the risk of nuclear war by miscalculation..." (read article at DefenseNews.com) James Doyle is an independent nuclear security specialist supported by the Ploughshares Fund and a non-resident associate of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. Dr. Doyle also serves on Nuclear Watch New Mexico's steering committee.
May 13, 2015: Watchdog Groups Head to DC to Urge Congress and the Obama Administration to Confront "The Growing US Nuclear Threat"
New ANA report seeks cuts in bomb plants and warhead modernization; use savings for cleanup and weapons dismantlement
View/download full press release
On Nagasaki Anniversary, Pope Francis Calls for a Ban on Nuclear Weapons
"After so long that tragic event still causes horror and repulsion... It became the symbol of the boundless destructive power of man, when the achievements of science and technology are put to wrong use. It remains a permanent warning for humanity to reject war forever and to ban nuclear weapons and every weapon of mass destruction.- Pope Francis, speaking from the Vatican August 9th, 2015. (ref)
Nuclear Weapons: 70 Years On and Riskier Than Ever
When on the early morning of July 16, 1945, the first nuclear bomb was detonated in southern New Mexico, observers spoke of their feelings of awe and dread. 3 weeks later, when further nuclear bombs were detonated above the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the appalling results could only elicit horror; the only documentary footage immediately following the attack was suppressed for decades.
In the aftermath, many scientists called for the abolition of the bomb; statesmen called for its control by an international agency. But the Cold War confrontation saw a staggering proliferation of nuclear weapons between the two superpowers; finally the sense of dread grew so great that the leaders of both sides sought ways to jointly reduce their arsenals, and even, in the case of Reagan and Gorbachev, dreamt of abolishing these weapons. When in the early nineties the Cold War ended without a shot, many assumed we might finally move rapidly on nuclear disarmament, in keeping with the pledges made when we signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
And indeed, the insane arsenals of the US and Russia were cut back significantly. But ultimately, instead of seizing the chance to be rid of nuclear weapons for good, the prevailing attitude seemed to become 'might as well keep some around, you know, just in case, you never know.' A quarter century after the end of the Cold War, there are still 15,700 nuclear weapons in the world, and the US and Russia together account for 14,700 of them. (ref)
These numbers are still plenty insane, but the weapons are indeed there, and they are deployed, and many are still on hair-trigger. And vast funds are being budgeted for across-the-board "modernizations".
And as it happens, tensions in Eastern Europe have flared with Russia's annexation of Crimea and President Putin's warning to NATO, more or less, 'You've gone too far- back off'; now both sides are conducting military maneuvers on each other's borders. The destabilization of the post Cold War status quo has provided fuel for the "Second Nuclear Age" constituency, those advocating a deep review of our nuclear doctrine and a re-commitment to our nuclear arsenal, and those eager to give our bombs faster delivery with greater accuracy; and smaller ones too, to give decision makers more 'options', to be more 'usable'.
In a reversal of the Cold War postures in Europe, it is now the US/NATO conventional forces which are superior. And, like our nuclear doctrine during the cold war, Russia's current military doctrine posits the use of nuclear weapons if in danger of losing to superior conventional forces; the doctrine calls for the use of nuclear weapons to de-escalate a conflict- meaning that if locally overpowered by superior NATO/US conventional forces, a nuclear weapon may be used to stop the conflict from going any further. Whether that would be a realistic outcome is obviously open to question.
We've heard a lot about Russia's aggressive behavior toward her neighbors; on the Russian side it's the reverse; see for example this infographic from sputniknews.com titled "NATO exercises and deployments near Russia since 2014"; with the text caption, "NATO has repeatedly blamed Russia for its aggressive behavior, but it looks like the alliance forgot about its own military maneuvers along the Russian border."
Another example: the western press was abuzz with Putin's announcement that 40 new ICBMs would be added to the Russian arsenal, and condemnations of Putin's "threatening behavior" were widespread, while at the same time little attention was paid to the US Air Force proposal to procure 642 new ICBMs to replace the Minuteman III fleet.
"The atmosphere is a feeling that war is not something that's impossible anymore... The perception is that somebody would try to undermine Russia as a country that opposes the United States, and then we will need to defend ourselves by military means."- Fyodor Lukyanov, chief of Russia's most important foreign policy think tank and its most important foreign policy journal, quoted by Max Fisher.
"Lukyanov, pointing to the US and Russian military buildups along Eastern Europe, also worried that an accident or provocation could be misconstrued as a deliberate attack and lead to war.
In the Cold War, he pointed out, both sides had understood this risk and installed political and physical infrastructure- think of the 'emergency red phone'- to manage tensions and prevent them from spiraling out of control. That infrastructure is now gone. 'All those mechanisms were disrupted or eroded... That [infrastructure] has been degraded since the end of the Cold War because the common perception is that we don't need it anymore.'" (ref)
- Note Ahmed Rashid's "Russia: Twenty Feet from War" in the May 14, 2015 New York Review of Books:
"A senior Estonian official explained to me in vivid detail how a Russian Su-27 fighter jet buzzed a US military plane over the Baltic Sea, only veering off after coming within twenty feet of causing a mid-air collision. Such an event could have prompted retaliation by NATO and possibly given Moscow a pretext for invading Estonia..."
- The Guardian, June 24: Nato to review nuclear weapon policy as attitude to Russia hardens "Among potential topics is an enhanced role for nuclear weapons in Nato military exercises."
"In a development that has attracted remarkably little attention, the world has arrived at a perilous crossroads in the effort to reduce the dangers of nuclear weapons. Much recent progress stands to be lost in a hazardous wave of brinkmanship and arms races. Before it becomes too late, the United States should design and lead a new campaign to control nuclear risk."- Michael J. Mazarr, senior political scientist at the Rand Corporation writing in Newsweek, July 15, 2015.
On January 19th of this year, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that the hands of the Doomsday Clock were advanced to 3 minutes to midnight.
What Happens When Our Nuclear Arsenal is Hacked?
Joe Cirincione, Pres. Ploughshares Fund:
"One of the most chilling comments I've ever heard was the former commander of U.S. nuclear forces telling a San Francisco audience this month that our nuclear missiles could be hacked- launched and detonated without authorization."
"There are only two realities in the modern, interconnected world, General Cartwright warned: 'You've either been hacked and not admitting it, or you're being hacked and don't know it.'"
"A key problem, he said, is that we keep hundreds of missiles on "hair-trigger" alert- a vestige of the Cold War that enables the launch of fully armed nuclear weapons in under 15 minutes.
"These silos can withstand nuclear blasts, but can they withstand the 10 million hacking attempts launched daily at the agencies in charge of our nuclear weapons?"
(SF Chronicle) Related:
- U.S. Nukes Face Up to 10 Million Cyber Attacks Daily
- US spy chief James Clapper says China lead suspect in cyber hack
A hack in which at least 4 million - some say 14 million or more- personnel records of federal
employees past and current as well as contractors and job applicants were accessed. (BBC)
- Net of Insecurity
Recommended reading: the Washington Post's 3-part special report on the
nature and causes of internet insecurity: (see part 1)
Game On: East vs. West, Again
"Didn't they tell us after the fall of the Berlin Wall that NATO would not expand eastwards? However, the expansion started immediately... This is the main issue of current international relations. Our partners never stopped. They decided they were the winners, they were an empire, while all the others were their vassals, and they needed to put the squeeze on them."
"Do we place our troops at US borders? Who is placing NATO troops, military infrastructure closer to us? Does anyone listen to us, talk to us about it? No, nothing. There is always the same response: it's not your business."
-Russian President Putin, 12/18/14 Press Conference
So was there an understanding that NATO would not expand to the East? In a 2009 article for Foreign Policy titled "A Diplomatic Mystery", former senator Bill Bradley attempts to shine some light on "a misunderstanding... that has brought decades of grief."
In 1990, Mikhail Gorbachev was apparently assured by top US officials that in return for allowing East and West Germany to unite and be a full NATO member, NATO would not expand "one inch" to the east. But by 2009, 12 more ex-Warsaw Pact nations had joined NATO.
Andrew Cockburn details the sequence of events that brought us to today's crisis in Ukraine:
"[For the arms contractors] one especially promising market was among the former members of the defunct Warsaw Pact. Were they to join NATO, they would be natural customers for products such as the F-16 fighter that Lockheed had inherited from General Dynamics.
"There was one minor impediment... Secretary of State James Baker had unequivocally spelled out Washington's end of that bargain in a private conversation with Mikhail Gorbachev in February 1990, pledging that NATO forces would not move "one inch to the east", provided the Soviets agreed to NATO membership for a unified Germany.
"Even at the beginning, not everyone in the administration was intent on honoring this promise. Robert Gates noted in his memoirs that Dick Cheney, then the defense secretary, took a more opportunistic tack: 'When the Soviet Union was collapsing in late 1991, Dick wanted to see the dismantlement not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire but of Russia itself, so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world.'
"Expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post cold-war era. Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking."
- George F. Kennan, 1997
"... As it happened, NATO was indeed active, under Bill Clinton's leadership, and moving decisively to expand eastward, whatever prior Republican understandings there might have been with the Russians... Already plushly installed in Warsaw and other Eastern European capitals were emissaries of the defense contractors. 'Lockheed began looking at Poland right after the Wall came down,' Dick Pawloski, for years a Lockheed salesman active in Eastern Europe, told me. 'There were contractors flooding through all those countries.'
"The vision of [Lockheed Martin CEO] Augustine and his peers that an enlarged NATO could be a fruitful market has become a reality. By 2014, the twelve new members had purchased close to $17 billion worth of American weapons, while this past October Romania celebrated the arrival of Eastern Europe's first $134 million Lockheed Martin Aegis Ashore missile-defense system." Game On, Harper's, January 2015
Andrew Cockburn is currently Washington Editor of Harper's Magazine. Cockburn's most recent book is "Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy". more
How the Obama Administration Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb US nuclear policy is undermining our safety and national security. Theodore A. Postol, The Nation, Dec. 10. 2014
"In a highly celebrated speech in Prague in April 2009, Obama declared that "the existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War," and he restated "America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." Later that year, the Nobel Committee cited the president's leadership on this issue when it awarded him the Peace Prize.
"Why, then, we must ask, is the Obama administration moving forward with an ambitious nuclear-weapons modernization program that could dramatically raise the threat of nuclear war?
"Many Russians, including those with moderate political views, believe the United States has been engaged in an endless campaign of disrespect, opportunism and predation toward Russia since the demise of the Soviet Union. Many Americans regard Russia as intransigent, dangerous and aggressive.
"This politically charged environment has grown increasingly tense since the Ukraine crisis erupted last winter. US nuclear hawks now regard the modernization program as an urgent national-security priority, while Russian leaders perceive US rhetoric about the need to increase the reliability of supposedly aging US forces as yet another lie aimed at lulling Russia into a trap.
"Sophisticated Russian analysts, especially those who understand the technical aspects of nuclear weapons, see the modernization drive as a disturbing indication that the US military believes a nuclear war against Russia can be fought and won.
"Our policy-makers have not attempted to analyze the benefit to US security of pushing the Russians to a higher state of alert. Nor have they asked how an increased US nuclear threat to Russia improves the security of US allies- or, for that matter, anyone else around the globe.
"What does the Obama administration hope to achieve by modernizing US nuclear forces? Do the president and his staff realize they are creating conditions that will reduce the security of all involved parties, or have they wrongly convinced themselves that they are creating a more stable deterrence? No rational actor would take steps to start a nuclear war. But the modernization effort significantly increases the chances of an accident during an unpredicted, and unpredictable, crisis- one that could escalate beyond anyone's capacity to imagine.
"The real problem is not irrationality but unpredictability. The reasons things happen are far more complex than obsessive nuclear planning can ever predict. The US modernization program is producing nuclear forces that will severely complicate the chances of backing away from disaster if a crisis were to occur. Anyone who looks at history knows that such crises will occur, and that they result from unpredictable and unforeseen events.
"This basic truth should be the basis for a sober re-evaluation of the modernization program: in a world that is fundamentally unpredictable, the pursuit of an unchallenged capacity to fight and win a nuclear war is a dangerous folly."
More: Theodore A. Postol, The Nation, Dec. 10. 2014
Theodore Postol is Professor of Science, Technology and National Security Policy at MIT... more
"...nothing but a miracle has prevented an accidental Hiroshima or Nagasaki taking place on US soil."- The Guardian 9/20/13
69 Years of 'Sheer Luck and Divine Intervention'
This week will mark the 69th anniversary of the first detonation of an atomic bomb, in the southern New Mexican desert on July 16, 1945. It was the first appearance of what would become, in the words of JFK, "a nuclear sword of Damocles hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, miscalculation, or madness..."
General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project, was present at the test and described it as "successful beyond the most optimistic expectations of anyone."
Deseret News notes:
"...The U.S. record with nuclear weapons has not always been quite as 'successful' as its first atomic test. In fact, the U.S. has had several close encounters with its own nuclear weapons that could easily have ended in disaster."
See the compilation: 13 Times the U.S. Almost Destroyed Itself with Its Own Nuclear Weapons
"The NESC reports on nuclear war were multi-volume, highly classified studies and none has ever been declassified in their entirety. The summaries published here today- for the annual reports from 1957 to 1963- provide a glimpse of the full reports, although important elements remain classified. Besides the summaries and fuller reports for 1962 and 1963, today's posting includes a number of special studies prepared by the NESC, including an especially secret report requested by President Eisenhower that led to the production of the comprehensive U.S. nuclear war plan in 1960, the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP)... (read more)
Trouble Brewing for U.S.- Russia Nuclear Treaties Here are some of the current disputes:
US Europe-Based Ballistic Missile Defense Systems US BMD deployments in Europe- Russian withdrawal from START?
The USS Donald Cook has deployed in Spain, the first of four ships carrying Aegis' ballistic missile defense system planned for stationing in Europe. The deployment was announced at the Munich Security Conference by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who called it, "An important posture enhancement is European missile defense in response to ballistic missile threats from Iran."
Mikhail Ulyanov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry department for security and disarmament said, "We are concerned that the US is continuing to build up missile defense capability without considering the interests and concerns of Russia. Such a policy can undermine strategic stability and lead to a situation where Russia will be forced to exercise its right of withdrawal from the START treaty."
Read more at Voice of Russia: Russia may quit START III after US deploys the USS Donald Cook, equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, in Spain
Tactical Nuclear Weapons Russia will not disclose, says U.S. in violation of NPT
Feb. 2, 2014. Russia does not intend to disclose information about the storage locations for its tactical nuclear weapons or about their amount, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry department for security and disarmament Mikhail Ulyanov has said.
"Yes, we are invited to adopt some confidence-building measures by disclosing the storage places of the armaments and their quantity. But whom will it make life easier for, if we disclose such information? Only for terrorists."
As for U.S. and and NATO calls for Russia to reduce tactical nuclear armaments, Ulyanov said: "The subject of Russian tactical nuclear armament is far-fetched and fanned quite artificially. In the past 20 years Russia reduced its tactical nuclear armaments by 75%. All these armaments are deployed solely on Russian territory. They are stored at centralized facilities, i.e. are not deployed and pose no threat to anyone. The situation is absolutely different with NATO and the Americans. Approximately 200 tactical nuclear warheads are located in six countries of Europe and they are deployed. Which means they pose a potential threat to us. Moreover, NATO has such a notion as nuclear sharing which means that pilots from non-nuclear countries are trained to pilot nuclear-carrying aircraft. From the viewpoint of nuclear nonproliferation this is a violation of the letter and sprit of the NPT. Many countries share this viewpoint. We are not refusing to conduct a dialogue but we don't see a subject for even a preliminary conversation until all these weapons are withdrawn beyond Europe and before the infrastructure that permits their rapid return to the European continent is liquidated."
(ref: Voice of Russia)
Making Smart Security Choices: The Future of the Nuclear Weapons Complex
A new report from The Union of Concerned Scientists takes a big picture look at the U.S. nuclear weapons programs and the U.S. nuclear complex and recommends cost-effective changes to improve U.S. security.
The report covers issues of life extension programs, stockpile surveillance and stewardship, workforce quality, risks in storage of plutonium an HEU, dismantlement and verification of reductions.
UCS report guide / download: Nuclear Weapons Complex Report (PDF)
UCS Director of News Elliott Negin writing in the HuffPo Oct 17: "At the same time President Obama has been pressing for further reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is planning to spend $60 billion over the next 25 years to replace existing nuclear weapons with a suite of new warheads." (Obama's Upside-Down Nuclear Weapons Policy)
"NNSA's plan violates the spirit if not the letter of the administration's pledge to not develop new nuclear weapons... It sends the wrong message to the rest of the world." said report co-author Philip Coyle, a senior science fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and former head of Pentagon weapons testing.
New Report: U.S. Nuclear Weapons Agency Claims Phony Budget Savings; Misleads Congress and Taxpayers About Real Costs of New Warheads; Nonproliferation and Dismantlement Programs Cut NWNM Press Release April 30:
- The House Armed Services Committee is objecting to delays in- but not the substance of- Department of Energy plans to heavily modify existing nuclear weapons during "Life Extension Programs" to create new nuclear warheads.
- DOE's FY 2014 "Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan" (SSMP), which first introduced these new warheads, caused considerable sticker shock in Congress.
- Now DOE has released a new FY 2015 SSMP that it claims is "generally affordable and more executable than the program proposed in the FY 2014 SSMP."
- However, an analysis by Nuclear Watch New Mexico concludes that DOE's new sales pitch is based on overly optimistic claims and outright omissions that should alarm Congressional budget hawks.
View/download the NWNM 4/30 press release (PDF) View/download NWNM's analysis of the FY2015 SSMP (PDF) View/download an executive summary of NWNM's analysis of the FY2015 SSMP (PDF)
Ukraine Crisis, Nuclear Dimensions - Nuclear Power: Following the Fukushima disaster, Germany had taken the lead in moving away from nuclear power; planning on total de-nuclearization by 2022. But the plan depended heavily in the near-term on natural gas imports from Russia, something which in the current climate seems less dependable.
"Germany's reliance on Russian gas can effectively limit European sovereignty, I have no doubt. I'll be speaking very openly with [Chancellor] Merkel, making it clear that the existing climate and natural gas policies risk posing a threat to the security and sovereignty of Europe as a whole." - Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (NYTimes) - Nuclear Security: The 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, held in The Hague March 19-25, has been "overshadowed" by the events in Crimea. President Obama called the G7 to a meeting alongside the summit to discuss Russian actions regarding Ukraine. Deutsche Welle, March 25: "Russia's recent annexation of Crimea means nuclear safety won't be at the top of the agenda." and Nuclear security in jeopardy as Russia kicked out of G8 - Nuclear Arms Reduction: Russia's Ministry of Defense said Saturday that it may halt international inspections of its nuclear weapons required under the START treaty in response to threats of sanctions from the U.S. and other Western countries.
(WaPo) - Nuclear Proliferation: When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Ukraine held the world's third-largest nuclear weapons stockpile, larger than those of Britain, France, and China combined. Ukraine transferred all 1900 strategic nuclear warheads to Russia for dismantling between 1994 and 1996, in exchange for guarantees of territorial integrity from the US, UK, and Russia as laid out in the Budapest Memorandum of Assurances.
Many in Ukraine are now saying Russia would have been less likely to attempt to annex Crimea had Ukraine kept a nuclear deterrent. Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, said "We gave up nuclear weapons because of this agreement. Now there's a strong sentiment in Ukraine that we made a big mistake. If you have nuclear weapons, people don't invade you." (NPR)
Mikhail Golovko, an MP of the Ukrainian right-wing Svoboda party, has threatened to "restock Ukraine's nuclear arsenal". Quoting Golovko: "We'll regain our status as a nuclear power and that'll change the conversation. Ukraine has all the technological means needed to create a nuclear arsenal which would take us about three to six months."
This may come to be a serious blow to non-proliferation efforts, since other countries too may draw the conclusion that big power "assurances" cannot protect them from encroachment or invasion by big powers and that only nuclear weapons can. Update March 13: Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told the UN Security Council today "The way our Russian neighbors acted undermines the entire global security and nuclear non-proliferation program. After these actions, it will be very difficult to convince anyone in the globe not to have nuclear weapons." (ref) Speaking at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, "the credibility of the assurances given to Ukraine in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 has been seriously undermined by recent events... The implications are profound, both for regional security and the integrity of the nuclear nonproliferation regime."
(ref: U.N. Chief Warns Ukraine Incursion May Undercut Nonproliferation Regime, March 25, Global Security Newswire.) - Finally, in this hundredth anniversary year of the start of World War 1, there is the possibility of an undesired military conflict between NATO and Russia. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, in a statement to Bild, the country's biggest-circulation newspaper, said "The mood of revolt in Ukraine was not intelligently followed. Equally there was a lack of sensitivity in the dealings with our Russian neighbor, especially President Putin... We cannot forget: war is not policy."
A German Social Democratic Party statement said, "Europe stands dangerously close to the brink of a military confrontation... One hundred years after the start of World War I, military force should never again become the means of conducting politics... Europe stands at a crossroads; we must do everything in our power to prevent a new division of our continent and a regression into a pattern of confrontation long considered overcome." (NYTimes) Might be a good time to review Russia's official Putin-era military doctrine. And here is a 1995 U.S. StratCom document, recently declassified, titled "Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence".
March 28:Russia Launches Nuclear-War Drill, Saying It Was Long Scheduled
Recent scandals and failures involving US strategic missile forces personnel on all levels have thrown a spotlight on morale issues in what was once the critical front line of defense, but now a mission with little relevance to today's needs. Here's a selection of recent press:
Nuclear Corps, Sidelined in Terror Fight, Produces a Culture of Cheating
Helene Cooper, NYTimes, Jan. 22, 2014
"Many military officials believe that demoralization may have led to a spate of recent mishaps among Air Force nuclear missile officers. In the past year, a general who oversaw nuclear weapons was dismissed for drunken antics during an official trip to Moscow, 17 officers assigned to stand watch over nuclear-tipped Minuteman missiles were removed for violating safety codes and having bad attitudes, and missileers with nuclear launch authority were caught napping with the blast door open... Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel flew to Wyoming and Nebraska on Jan. 9 to reassure disheartened missileers that what he called their lonely work was still valued. It was the first visit to missile crew members by a Pentagon chief since 1982. But on the day of his trip, another scandal erupted as investigators reported that dozens of missile launch officers had been implicated in an investigation into illegal drugs. That inquiry eventually widened to include the cheating scandal at Malmstrom..." [by month's end 92 of the the missile launch officers at Malmstrom - nearly half- were implicated.]
Nuclear Cheating Scandal: Blame the Mission, Not the Missileers
Tom Collina, Arms Control Association, Jan 29, 2014
"In the wake of alarming reports that some Air Force nuclear-armed missile operators have been cheating on performance tests, using drugs, napping on duty, failing to follow safety rules, and more, the Pentagon announced Jan. 23 it is setting up an independent review of all U.S. nuclear forces, to be completed in 90 days. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says he is 'deeply concerned' about 'the overall health, and the professionalism, and discipline of our strategic forces.'
"But the scope of this review- limited to personnel issues- must be expanded. At its core, the problems facing the nuclear force have little to do with people and everything to do with the declining mission. As Hagel well knows, nuclear deterrence is no longer a high priority mission for defending the United States. It is a backwater, a dead end assignment. As the Pentagon put it in 2010, 'The massive nuclear arsenal we inherited from the Cold War is poorly suited to address the challenges posed by suicidal terrorists and unfriendly regimes seeking nuclear weapons.'"
For Air Force Officers, The Long Wait For A Nuclear Attack Can Be A Bore
Washington Post, Feb 3, 2014
"It's not stress, drugs or cheating on proficiency tests that's the problem for about 550 Air Force officers who serve 24-hour shifts in capsules 60 feet underground. They're waiting as their predecessors have done for 50 years to launch nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. The real cause of their difficulties is their 'mission': to be ready to turn keys and press buttons on a moment's notice in response to an attack that no one really expects will ever come. The Cold War ended more than 20 years ago. Then-President George H.W. Bush took the B-52s and B-1 long-range strategic bombers off nuclear alert. Why do we still keep 90 Air Force officers in capsules 24 hours a day babysitting all 450 ICBMs ready to go when there is no immediate danger?"
Nuclear Missile Force Poses A Headache For US Military Agence France-Presse, Jan. 19, 2014.
"Commanders have said they would support reducing the costly arsenal of land-based nuclear missiles, as weapons aboard submarines are able to reach any target on the globe. But lawmakers whose states host the silos oppose any cutbacks, said Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, which promotes reducing nuclear weapons stockpiles.
'There's no purpose to their mission anymore... This is an outdated command, fielding obsolete weapons ...The only mission for the ICBM is to immolate millions of innocent civilians.'"
A Second Nuclear Commander Relieved of Duty "First it was bad attitudes among young officers in nuclear missile launch centers. Now it's alleged bad behavior by two of the nuclear arsenal's top commanders... Together the missteps spell trouble for a nuclear force doubted by some for its relevance, defended by others as vital to national security and now compelled to explain how the firing of key commanders this week should not shake public confidence." -Salon: "US Nuclear Force Faces a Cascade of Missteps"
Top: Maj.General Carey; below: Vice Adm. Giardina
Oct 11: "loss of trust" The Air Force removed Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, a 35-year veteran, from his command of 20th Air Force, responsible for all 450 of the service's intercontinental ballistic missiles, "due to a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment," pending the outcome of an investigation into 'personal misbehavior'. Update, 12/19: Misbehavior described Sept: "highly unusual"
Two days earlier, it was learned that Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, the second-in-charge at U.S. Strategic Command, had been fired amid an investigation into his use of $1,500 of counterfeit gambling chips at a casino near Stratcom Headquarters in Omaha. "The highly unusual action" against a high-ranking officer at U.S. Strategic Command was made more than three weeks ago but not publicly announced. (Iowa authorities have announced they will not press charges against Giardano)
August: "loss of confidence"
Col. David Lynch, Security Forces Group commander in charge of a nuclear-weapons unit at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, was relieved of his command by the Air Force, which cited a "loss of confidence" in his leadership.
June: "not taking the job seriously enough"
The commander in charge of training missile crews at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota was fired after an unusually large number of launch operators performed poorly on tests.
May: "rot inside the ICBM forces"
The Associated Press revealed that 17 Minuteman 3 missile launch control officers at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., had been taken off duty in a reflection of what one officer there called "rot" inside the ICBM force.
2009: two missile officers were charged with having stolen classified missile launch technology in 2005. In October of that year, the wing commander, as well as the 91st Maintenance Group commander, and 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron commander, were relieved of command.
June 2008: "a chain of failures"
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ousted the Air Force's civilian and military chiefs, Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and the chief of staff, Gen. T. Michael "Buzz" Moseley, after a classified Pentagon investigation found "a chain of failures" in the Air Force's safeguarding of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Not only did top officials fall short in those specific cases, Gates said, but "they failed to recognize systemic problems" or address them. He said a "substantial number" of Air Force generals and colonels also have been identified as "potentially subject to disciplinary measures." (ref) In August of 2007, the service lost track of six nuclear-armed cruise missiles for 36 hours when it unknowingly flew them from a base in North Dakota to one in Louisiana, where they remained undiscovered for more than 30 hours. In the previous year, four Air Force ballistic missile fuses were mistakenly shipped to Taiwan from the Defense Logistics Agency. The classified materials were in Taiwan military control for about 17 months. (ref)
'Obama says Putin is trapped in Cold War logic, it's true. But so is Obama' Washington Post's Ezra Klein interviews Joseph Cirincione on the Wonkblog:
"If Russia would agree, Obama would dramatically reduce the U.S. arsenal. He's hesitant to do it independently. He wants Russian agreement. But Russia won't agree. And Russia is hanging all these other issues on nuclear agreement. Putin wants to talk NATO conventional forces. He wants to talk new precision strike weapons the U.S. has that some fear can knock out Russian nuclear targets. He wants to talk missile defense. And he has a very active missile industrial complex in Russia.
"When Obama says Putin is trapped in Cold War logic, it's true. But so is Obama and so is his bureaucracy. The only reason you need all these weapons is if you're preparing for global thermonuclear war with Russia. You don't need them to deal with Iran or North Korea. It does nothing about terrorism. It just keeps going because it's tethered to the nuclear-weapons complex. The people who build nuclear weapons keep building them. The people with the bases want to keep maintaining them. The commanders of the strategic forces are vested in this complex. But do you need it? You have to really go down to some hard-core, unreconstructed Cold War theorists in town to find people who will justify this arsenal."
(see the Wonkblog interview)
Heather Wilson Watch- Update
Heather Wilson, with ex-president George W. Bush, Senator John McCain, and ex- NM senator 'Pete' Domenici.
Nuclear Watch NM - For Immediate Release - November 3, 2013: Heather Wilson Finalized Contract with Sandia Labs While in Congress;
Payments Started the First Day She Left Congress;
Wilson Should Resign from Council Determining Labs' Futures
The Nov. 3, 2013 Albuquerque Journal: From Congress to contract: Heather Wilson says 10K per month Sandia Labs deal met ethics rules
The Albuquerque Journal has reported that former Congresswoman Heather Wilson (R.NM) finalized her first contract with the Sandia National Laboratories on December 19, 2008, while she was still representing the district that includes that nuclear weapons facility. Moreover, her first invoice documents that she began to be paid $10,000 a month for "Consultant/Advisory Services" that had no written work requirements on January 4, 2009, her very first day out of office. A few months later she was also being paid $10,000 a month by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for a similar contract.
The Albuquerque Journal article builds upon a Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General investigation, which determined that the Sandia and Los Alamos Labs had made approximately $450,000 in improper payments to Wilson up until March 2011, when she began to campaign for the Senate. The DOE IG report said that the facts indicate that federal funds were used for prohibited lobbying activities, which that office is still investigating. The Labs were forced to return that money to the government, but not Wilson.
The Albuquerque Journal received the new information concerning the dates of Wilson's contract with Sandia from Nuclear Watch New Mexico. The watchdog organization obtained the documents by appealing an initially rejected federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
No More Nuclear-Tipped Cruise Missiles Oct 31. Tom Collina writing in Defense One:
"Sometime in the next few months, the Defense Department is expected to decide whether the nation needs a new nuclear-armed cruise missile. This decision is worth about $30 billion, and is a key test of whether U.S. military planners have finally moved beyond Cold War thinking...
The bottom line is that we no longer need a bomber with stand off nuclear missiles like the ALCM that are shot from afar. The new Air Force bomber will be designed to penetrate enemy air defenses...
"There also are sound security reasons to forgo nuclear cruise missiles. Their dual-use nature makes them inherently destabilizing. Conventional cruise missiles, like those recently readied for use against Syria, are indistinguishable from nuclear-armed ones. If one is coming at you, there is no way to tell if it is a nuke or not. It would be better to know that all are conventional.
"The United States, Russia and France are the only nations to currently deploy nuclear cruise missies. However, China, Pakistan and others are working on nuclear-capable cruise missiles, and U.S. security would benefit if they stop. Chinese nuclear-armed cruise missiles would add to U.S. concerns about Beijing's capabilities and would be able to fly under U.S. missile defenses, which are designed to defend against ballistic missiles. Pakistan's program would add to tensions in South Asia and could motivate India to follow suit.
"The Air Force is unlikely to be able to afford a new nuclear cruise missile, bomber and ICBM. It will have to choose. Rather than spend billions on a weapon that is not needed to deter potential adversaries, the new ALCM might have more value as a bargaining chip to trade for a global ban on all nuclear-armed cruise missiles. This would be a win-win for the military budget and U.S. security." (Tom Z. Collina is research director at the Arms Control Association in Washington, DC. Read his full report at Defense One)
How to Avoid a $60 Billion Bailout for Navy Submarines Benjamin Loehrke writing in Roll Call, Oct. 1:
"The Navy is at the brink of its own fiscal crisis and is looking for a bailout. A proposed fleet of 12 new ballistic missile submarines- costing $100 billion total- could bust the Navy's shipbuilding budget and force cuts to the surface fleet... So the Navy has asked the cash-strapped Pentagon to pay for the nuclear-armed subs. Throwing money at this problem will not make it affordable. Instead, the Pentagon needs to resize the sub program with the understanding that the U.S. can meet today's security challenges with fewer nuclear weapons at less cost.
A Navy bailout would be a raw deal for the rest of the military. With defense budgets flattening, this additional money would have to come from someone else...
There's a simpler solution: Cut excessive nuclear requirements. America doesn't need 12 ballistic missile submarines to deter our modern-day adversaries. In fact, we could deploy more than 1,000 nuclear warheads on submarines with a fleet of only eight new subs." - Benjamin Loehrke, Roll Call, Oct. 1 The Navy plans to build 12 of the new Ohio class ballistic missile subs, each with launch tubes for 16 thermonuclear ballistic missiles, each of which in turn equipped with 5 independently targetable nuclear weapons.
"A single Trident submarine is the sixth largest nuclear nation in the world all by itself" - Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, commander, Submarine Group 10. (ref)
In the clip at left, Don Hancock, director of the Nuclear Waste Safety program and administrator at Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque, is interviewed by V.B. Price, New Mexico Mercury, about the proposed transfer of high-level radioactive waste from the Hanford site in Washington state to the WIPP site in Southern New Mexico. (source: No2WIPP.org)
Greg Boertje-Obed, 56, Megan Rice, 83, and Michael Walli, 64: Convicted Guilty of trespass, destruction of government property, and damaging a defense facility under the Sabotage Act, the protestors are now facing prison terms of more than 20 years.
"'Our intent was to bring healing and forgiveness and love," said Rice, but prosecutors say they caused $8,532 of damage to property and also threatened national defense." (ref)
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 23. In the next days the judge will decide if the defendants can be freed pending sentencing; the government claims they are "violent" criminals and thus should remain in jail, particularly since, as the prosecutor said, Sister Rice's testimony "showed a complete lack of remorse". Top punishment for the national defense charge alone is 20 years in prison, a life sentence for Sister Rice, who is 83 years old; defense attorneys are seeking to have that charge tossed. It is a strange state of affairs when the government brings the full force of a harsh prosecution on an 83 year old nun for the crime of injuring national defense by throwing paint at a secret building, when at the same time we learn that 17 Air Force officers in charge of nuclear missile crews have been "removed" after the Pentagon found "rot in the crew force", including "safety violations, potential violations in protecting codes, and basic attitude problems." Not to mention the lack of prosecutions of the kings of finance whose corruption wrecked the world economy.
Injury to National Defense?
The main point of objection regarding the "injury to national defense" charge, which carries the 20 year penalty, was that the protestors didn't injure national defense; they cut through fences, hung peace banners, and scrawled bible verses on the outer walls of the HEUM Facility, and when a guard approached, they offered him food and started singing. Their protest actions were symbolic. The main impact was to expose the lamentable state of security at the Y-12 nuclear weapons complex, triggering a wholesale review, including the suspension of the primary security contractor. "The severity of the failure of leadership at Y-12 has demanded swift, strong and decisive action by the department. Since the Y-12 incursion, major actions have taken place to improve security immediately, and for the long term." Neile Miller, acting administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration said. So it could even be argued that the protestors had the opposite effect, to wit, they exposed- and thereby caused to be remedied- an unseen and ongoing threat to national security.
Instead, prosecution argued that the 2 week suspension of operations during the security review, and the "disruption to operations" that "continues to this day" were a measure of the seriousness of the protestors' crime, rather than a measure of the dysfunctional security situation their actions exposed. To further their point, prosecutors described how "a convoy of specially secured trucks carrying nuclear weapons parts or materials... had to be put on hold while security at the site was assessed and assured."
The real damage: "credibility".
According to Steve Erhart, NNSA's manager at the Y-12 plant and a government witness, the protestors' security breach "damaged Y-12's credibility" at home and abroad; the "abroad" referring to the program in which Y-12 receives for storage nuclear materials from vulnerable sites and states around the world. Erhart said it would be "hard to explain" the security breach to "countries looking to give up their nuclear materials because of their own security concerns", and that this would impact nuclear deterrence. (KnoxNews) "It is manufacturing that which can only cause death."
Of course, Sister Rice was not leading an in-house "Red Team" operation to identify security weaknesses as the first stage of an extensive security review, though the NNSA might have been smarter to claim as much, and gain the benefits of the break-in without the embarrassment. Sister Rice is a Christian anti-nuclear pacifist. Of the Y-12 Plant, she said,
"It is manufacturing that which can only cause death."
"'Do you consider yourself an American?' the government prosecutor asked Sister Megan Rice. 'I believe I am a citizen of the world,' answered Sister Megan. 'Boundaries are arbitrary.' The prosecutor went on to ask if Sister Megan had ever protested nuclear weapons by traveling to nuclear powers other than the United States. She responded that national borders are arbitrary lines; each and every human life on the planet is threatened by the use of nuclear weapons."(ref: Transform Now Plowshares)
POGO's Lydia Dennett wrote, "Hopefully, as the Transform Now Plowshares group faces sentencing, the judge will take into consideration both their peaceful intent and the spotlight that has since been put on Y-12 and the many security problems that have plagued the facility." (POGO Blog May 9) Update May 13: In a remarkably vindictive decision, U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar ruled that Sister Rice, 83, and her two companions must remain imprisoned while awaiting their September 23rd sentencing hearing, because of the "seriousness of the offenses" and because "they showed no remorse" during the trial. (AP, Knoxville, Tenn.)
Why is our nuclear arsenal exempt from sequestration?
The Nuke Plan to Nowhere
William Hartung, Director, Arms and Security Project, Center for International Policy, March 4, 2013, Huffington Post
"The House Appropriations Committee announced today that it wants to throw away billions of your tax dollars on weapons we don't need at prices we can't afford. How has it done this? By voting to exempt spending on nuclear weapons from the kinds of budget cuts that will be imposed on other agencies under the sequester.
"At an estimated $640 billion over the next decade, nuclear weapons and related spending are long overdue for a strong dose of budget discipline. In fact, targeted cuts to our overstocked nuclear arsenal will make us all safer while saving tens of billions of dollars in the process.
"The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)- the agency that oversees the nuclear warhead complex- may well be the most bloated agency in the federal government. It has been tagged by the Government Accountability Office as being at high risk for "waste, fraud and abuse."
"NNSA may well take the prize for the highest proportion of projects that are over budget, behind schedule, and, in most cases, unneeded in the first place. At the top of the list is the B61-12 nuclear bomb. The B61 program is now estimated to cost $10 billion by the time it's done, producing bombs that literally cost more than their weight in gold. To add insult to injury, a primary mission for the B61- deployment to Europe- is a legacy of the Cold War that bears no relationship to current defense needs.
"Running neck-and-neck with the B61 program for the honor of least worthwhile project at the highest cost is something called the MOX facility. Although it sounds like a disease, perhaps a modern variation on chicken pox, the MOX plant is actually a factory intended to take plutonium waste from the nuclear bomb complex and turn it into fuel for civilian nuclear reactors. By their own admission, administration officials are "reluctant" to put a price tag on the project, which the Government Accountability Office indicates has jumped most recently from "only" $4.8 billion to $6.8 billion or more. Tom Clements of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability has suggested that the full lifetime cost of the MOX plant could exceed $20 billion. And all of this for a program that is going to produce fuel that may or may not have a paying customer when all is said and done. (More on MOX)
"Other horror stories of overpriced and unnecessary projects at the NNSA abound. In April 2011, well before the onslaught of sequester-mania, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability put out a handy report called "Nuclear Reality Checks" that highlighted no fewer than nine multibillion-dollar projects at NNSA that should be either scaled back or eliminated altogether.
"If Congress wants to cut the deficit intelligently, it should be finding ways to eliminate unnecessary and poorly managed projects in the nuclear weapons complex, not shielding nuclear programs from budget reductions." (View the complete column at HuffPo)
Budget Cuts And Bombs
Walter Pincus, March 4, 2013, Washington Post
"General belt-tightening, followed by more belt-tightening with sequestration, is forcing the nation's multibillion-dollar nuclear weapons complex to realize that the free-spending days of the Cold War are over.
"'The job of delivering nuclear defense was a job everybody took seriously. . . . And in a given year we spent our time concerned with achieving that and less with, I would argue, understanding the cost of things because of the imperative to deliver during the Cold War.' That's how Neile Miller, acting administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), explained the almost cavalier attitude over the past 20 years toward spending on nuclear weapons during her appearance at a Feb. 14 hearing of the House Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee. Miller told the panel: 'So you might rightly ask, 'It's been a long time since the end of the Cold War. What gives?' '
"What gives is that for the most part the NNSA, and to a degree the Defense Department, must get serious about how they look at the nuclear threat since they are not going to have unlimited cash for nuclear deterrence. It's not just that money for nukes is no longer unlimited it's also that policymakers are realizing the nation doesn't need as many nuclear weapons as it has."
(Read the full column at The Washington Post)
Obama Administration Embraces Major New Nuclear Weapons Cut Advisers reach consensus that current arsenals are larger than needed to target foes
by R. Jeffrey Smith, Center for Public Integrity
Feb. 8: "Senior Obama administration officials have agreed that the number of nuclear warheads the U.S. military deploys could be cut by at least a third without harming national security, according to sources involved in the deliberations.
"They said the officials' consensus agreement, not yet announced, opens the door to billions of dollars in military savings that might ease the federal deficit and improve prospects for a new arms deal with Russia before the president leaves office. But it is likely to draw fire from conservatives, if previous debate on the issue is any guide.
"Although the document offers various options for Obama, his top advisers reached their consensus position last year, after a review that included the State Department, the Defense Department, the National Security Council, the intelligence community, the U.S. Strategic Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the office of Vice President Joseph Biden, according to the sources.
"The United States is not the only nuclear weapons state considering a retrenchment. A senior British treasury official told the London Guardian several weeks ago that given fiscal pressures in London, the country needs a wide debate 'over the approach we take to nuclear deterrence', and should consider scaling back either its purchase or deployment of costly new nuclear missile-carrying submarines. Michael Portillo, the defense minister under Conservative prime minister John Major in the 1990's, told the Financial Times last month that Britain maintained its arsenal 'partly for industrial and employment reasons, and mainly for prestige.' He called it 'a tremendous waste of money'.
"UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is among those urging a major shift. In a speech last month in California, he called for all nuclear-armed states to 'reconsider their national nuclear posture', and said the United States and Russia had a special obligation to undertake deeper cuts. 'Nuclear disarmament is off-track,' he said. 'Delay comes with a high price tag. The longer we procrastinate, the greater the risk that these weapons will be used, will proliferate or be acquired by terrorists.'" (ref) (The above are excerpts- read full report at the Center for Public Integrity website)
From the Nuclear Watch New Mexico press release regarding this report: "Further cuts to deployed strategic nuclear weapons are clearly a very good thing. But the next needed step is for all nuclear weapons powers, including the U.S., to adopt a deterrence-only posture that conservatively maintains nuclear arsenals while awaiting negotiated, verified disarmament." Read the complete press release (PDF)
February 14: Walter Pincus, Washington Post:On Nukes, It's An Uphill Climb for Obama "President Obama has plans to try to bring rationality to the nation's nuclear weapons program and thereby take the lead in attempting to rein in nuclear proliferation. . . Reaching any new agreement with Moscow will be a problem. But that won't compare with what Obama would face from some Senate Republicans. . ." (Read the full text at WaPo)
Labs: Plutonium Will "Age Gracefully" For 150 Years No need for CMRR or increased pit production
"Bruce Goodwin, principal associate director for Weapons and Complex Integration, says he is 'extremely pleased' at the continuing positive results. 'Both the original study by Livermore and Los Alamos and the ongoing long-term study by Livermore represent a tour-de-force accomplishment for stockpile stewardship.' The results, he says, are highly positive for the safety and reliability of the stockpile and for avoiding the costs associated with remanufacturing pits.
"This graceful aging of plutonium also reduces the immediate need for a modern high-capacity manufacturing facility to replace pits in the stockpile. 'In the near term, the nation can save tens of billions of dollars that might be required to build a new production facility;' said Chemist Pat Allen, the deputy program leader for enhanced surveillance and leader of the plutonium aging study."
(source: Science and Technology Review, Dec 2012
"BASIC invited me to discuss nuclear weapons modernization with Linton Brooks at a Strategic Dialogue panel held at the Capitol Hill Club on November 13, 2012. In my talk, I argued that the Obama administration's nuclear arms control profile is at risk of being overshadowed by extensive nuclear weapons modernization plans, and that the approach must be adjusted to ensure that efforts to reduce the numbers and role of nuclear weapons and put and end to Cold War thinking are clearly visible as being the priority of U.S. nuclear policy.
"The administration has nearly completed a strategic review of nuclear targeting and alert requirements to identify additional reductions of nuclear forces. Release of the findings was delayed by the election, but the administration now needs to use the review to reinvigorate the nuclear arms reduction agenda that has slowed with the slow implementation of the modest New START Treaty and the disappointing "nuclear status quo" decision of the NATO Chicago Summit.
(A full transcript is available from BASIC.) Hans Kristensen is Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. BASIC is the British American Security Information Council.
North Korea: Different This Time?
What's going on with the recent rapid escalation of tensions with North Korea? They're testing missiles and nukes, we're moving warships into theater; they cut off all communications, declare a state of war, we overfly with B-2 stealth bombers from Missouri, a non-stop round-trip of 37 hours. Things are heating up.
What's changed: with the recent "Pivot to Asia", the US shifted it's principal focus to maintaining security in the Pacific. There is managing the relationship with the rising China; but also in the immediate term there is North Korea. In the past the DPRK has made bellicose threats and even committed outrages, and the US, focussed on Russia and then the Middle East, and perhaps still banking on China's influence, had not responded. Now however, it seems a decision has been made, in light of the growing nuclear status of the DPRK, to hold a line- with the full force of the U.S. military if needed.
On the North Korean side, the third in a lineage of megalomaniacs has taken power at age 30; the DPRK's missile program is progressing to ranges of thousands of miles, and it is apparently determined to develop a smaller nuclear warhead for fitting on missiles. In case there was any doubt, Kim Jong Un announced that the purpose of the nuclear and missile programs was to launch a pre-emptive strike on the United States and its allies.
Secretary of State John Kerry, in Seoul, intoned rather ominously, "The US will not accept the DPRK as a nuclear state, and I re-iterate again that the United States will do what is necessary to defend ourselves and to defend our allies, Korea and Japan."
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon sounded more worried than usual:
"Nuclear threats are not a game. Aggressive rhetoric and military posturing only result in counter-actions, and fuel fear and instability. Things must calm down as this situation, made worse by the lack of communication, could lead down a path that nobody should want to follow. I am convinced that nobody intends to attack [North Korea]; however, I am afraid that others will respond firmly to any direct military provocation."
Secretary of Defense Hagel, speaking at the National Defense University in Washington DC on Wednesday said "We take those threats seriously. We have to take those threats seriously. It only takes being wrong once, and I don't want to be the secretary of defense who was wrong once."
Questions For the April 10 U.S. Department of Energy FY 2014 Nuclear Weapons and Cleanup Budget Rollout Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, April 8, 2013: "An overriding issue for the Wednesday, April 10, budget release is: Will the Obama Administration continue to escalate funding for unnecessary nuclear programs in light of current fiscal constraints while cutting legally required cleanup spending? The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a national network of groups from communities downwind and downstream of U.S. nuclear facilities, is concerned that out-of-control spending on nuclear weapons will divert resources from legally required environmental cleanup, dismantlement, and critical nonproliferation efforts. Here are some key questions that the Department of Energy (DOE) budget should address:"
Zero Tolerance for Nuclear Weapons
William Hartung, Director, Arms and Security Project, Center for International Policy, 2/1/13:
"There were many low moments in yesterday's disrespectful, intolerant inquisition of secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel by key Republican senators, but some of the most troubling involved the dismissive, ill-informed tone they took towards serious proposals for reducing global nuclear arsenals.
"The criticisms centered around Hagel's support for Global Zero, an organization whose goal is to set in motion a process that will lead to a world free of nuclear weapons. The goal itself should be uncontroversial. Presidents of diverse political leanings, from John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, as well as a majority of former U.S. secretaries of defense and secretaries of state have endorsed it. What has too often been missing is a road map for getting there.
"In a May 2012 commission report with the decidedly non-threatening title 'Modernizing U.S. Nuclear Strategy, Force Structure and Posture', Global Zero made a series of suggestions on how to responsibly reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals on the road towards nuclear disarmament. Gen. James Cartwright, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command, chaired the commission and its members included Hagel, former ambassadors Richard Burt and Thomas Pickering, and retired General Jack Sheehan. Major elements of the report include calls for reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal to 900 total warheads, with 450 deployed, sharply down from current levels of 5,000 warheads with about 1.700 deployed; substantially increasing decision times for a nuclear launch to avoid a catastrophic, accidental nuclear war; and beginning multilateral negotiations to move beyond the U.S.-Russian context and bring other nuclear powers into the conversation about nuclear reductions.
Joe Cirincione with Rachel Maddow on the Hagel Hearing
"The Global Zero report, well worth reading in full, speaks to the essential point that Sen. Hagel's critics don't seem to grasp: 'the irrelevance of nuclear weapons to 21st century threats.' Nuclear weapons can't stop a terrorist attack, or resolve a border dispute, or curb climate change, or stop epidemics of disease, or fend off cyber-attacks, or meet any of the other genuine challenges we face. Their only viable use is to prevent other countries from attacking the possessor nation with nuclear weapons, an objective that would be achieved far more reliably by getting rid of nuclear weapons altogether, given the danger of nuclear war by accident or miscalculation and the small but nonetheless real possibility that nuclear weapons or bomb-making materials could fall into the hands of a terrorist organization."
(Continue reading "Zero Tolerance" at HuffPo) Feb 6 Update: New Mexico Senator Heinrich will support the Hagel nomination.
Feb 8: Call your senators to support the Hagel nomination:
Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers) have set up a toll-free number to use in support of the Hagel nomination. 877-429-0678 will take you to the Capitol switchboard, where you can ask for your senator by name.
Modernization of nuclear weapons: Aspiring to "indefinite retention"? - Ray Acheson, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
"Currently, all nations with nuclear weapons are modernizing their arsenals, delivery systems, and related infrastructure. These programs have serious implications for nuclear disarmament. By investing in the extension, upgrading, and reinforcement of their arsenals and capacities, the author writes, these governments are investing in the future of nuclear weapons, not in the future of disarmament. Other non-nuclear states have expressed concern with these programs and are using international venues, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conferences, to call on the nuclear-armed states to cease these programs, which undermine the objectives of the treaty in terms of both non-proliferation and disarmament. Ending upgrades and investment in nuclear weapons would help establish the necessary conditions for disarmament. The author writes that non-nuclear weapon states should further advance the conditions for disarmament by negotiating a treaty banning nuclear weapons, highlighting that the world's governments, themselves, do not need to possess nuclear weapons in order to prohibit them." (article abstract)
Also in the current Bulletin (Sept-Oct): The astonishing National Academy of Sciences missile defense report
- by George Lewis and Theodore Postol
"A recent National Academy of Sciences report on ballistic missile defense contains flawed assumptions, analytical oversights, and internal inconsistencies. It also contradicts basic, science-based results from other published studies." (full text)
Keep Up with Cleanup at Los Alamos!
Nov 18. Nuclear Watch New Mexico has launched a new blog to serve as an online guide to community involvement in the LANL Consent Order process that will determine cleanup at the Lab. We are creating an easily understood, up-to-date schedule of timely reports, work plans and comments, giving subscribers the opportunity to receive electronic notices of scheduled events. To help improve community understanding, we will produce technical analyses, offer recommendations for comments to the New Mexico Environment Department, and provide guidelines for participation. Plus interested citizens will be able to post their comments and ask questions as well! (View LANL Consent Order Process)
William Hartung: Beyond Nuclear Denial
William Hartung, Director, Arms and Security Project, Center for International Policy
July 8 "There was a time when nuclear weapons were a significant part of our national conversation. Addressing the issue of potential atomic annihilation was once described by nuclear theorist Herman Kahn as 'thinking about the unthinkable,' but that didn't keep us from thinking, talking, fantasizing, worrying about it . . .
"Now, on a planet still overstocked with city-busting, world-ending weaponry, in which almost 67 years have passed since a nuclear weapon was last used, the only nuke that Americans regularly hear about is one that doesn't exist: Iran's. The nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons on missiles, planes, and submarines possessed by Russia, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea are barely mentioned in what passes for press coverage of the nuclear issue . . .
"The only way to be safe from nuclear weapons is to get rid of them- not just the Iranian one that doesn't yet exist, but all of them. It's a daunting task. It's also a subject that's out of the news and off anyone's agenda at the moment, but if it is ever to be achieved, we at least need to start talking about it. Soon." (read the full article at TomDispatch)
Listen to a TomDispatch podcast interview with William Hartung on the current state of nuclear arms in the world today:
How Many Nukes Does It Take To Be Safe? Dec. 17. Walter Pincus, National Security Reporter for the Washington Post:
"We are rightly mourning the horrific killings in Newtown, Conn.'s Sandy Hook Elementary School and discussing the threats posed by semiautomatic rifles. On another front, the United States is moving ahead with plans to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on nuclear weapons- an even more destructive force- with no serious public discussion.
"By the end of the decade, the deployed U.S. force may be 400 single-warhead, land-based ICBMs; 240 submarine-launched ballistic missiles with three to five warheads each; and 60 strategic bombers, which each count for only one warhead though they carry more than one bomb. Beyond that, there are to be some 1,600 stockpiled warheads or bombs, according to Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists. Why do we need that size of a nuclear arsenal for the next 50 years?
"A new Presidential Policy Directive is due to be presented to the military shortly, a paper in which Obama will set nuclear force planning for the rest of his administration. In his April 2009 speech in Prague, the president said he wanted to 'put an end to Cold War thinking ... reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urge others to do the same.'
"The country should be watching to see how he implements that promise as much as they are waiting to see how he follows up on Sunday's pledge in Newtown to use 'whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens ... in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.'"
(Read the full OpEd here)
Nuclear Policy Commission Calls For Drastic Reductions In Nuclear Arsenal
May 16, 2012. A report issued by a commission led by General James E. Cartwright, retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former commander of the US nuclear forces, has called for drastic reductions in the US nuclear arsenal to be coordinated with similar reductions in the Russian arsenal.
Gen. Cartwright said the proposed cuts would boost the credibility of U.S. nuclear non-proliferation efforts, allow the United States to trim its defense budget, and also bolster its security. "No sensible argument has been put forward for using nuclear weapons to solve any of the major 21st century problems we face," Cartwright said.
The report recommends a defense posture of 450 deployed warheads and 450 in reserve, down from the current 1,550 deployed and nearly 3,000 on reserve, effectively changing the US nuclear war-fighting doctrine from "counterforce" to "countervalue". The report also calls for the complete elimination of ground based ICBMs, the most vulnerable and therefore dangerous element of the defensive triad. (Unlike submarines, ICBMs are fixed targets, and "use or lose" and "launch on warning" apply; and once launched they cannot be recalled like a bomber squadron.)
The report, prepared by the U.S. Nuclear Policy Commission for Global Zero, is also signed by Richard Burt, a former chief nuclear arms negotiator; Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska; Thomas R. Pickering, a former ambassador to Russia; and Gen. John J. Sheehan, who held senior NATO positions before retiring from active duty.
Hiroshima Day Protesters Face Trial in Los Alamos January 4, 2012. Tom Sharpe reports in The Santa Fe New Mexican:
"Six people arrested last summer during a protest at the gate to Los Alamos National Laboratory are scheduled to go to trial next week in Los Alamos Municipal Court the first time anti-nuclear protesters have been tried in that court.
"Pam Gilchrist and Cathie Sullivan of Santa Fe; Benjamin "Summer" Abbott, Janet Greenwald and Barbara Grothus of Albuquerque; and Wind Euler of Tucson, Ariz., each faces a jail term of up to 179 days and fines up to $1,500 if convicted on charges of trespassing, refusing to obey an officer and obstructing movement.
"Because the defendants, who call themselves the LANL 6, face fewer than 180 days in jail, they have been denied their request for a jury trial.
"'Obviously, the reason we're doing this is because we know that nuclear weapons are internationally illegal,' Gilchrist said Wednesday, explaining why she would prefer the forum that might come with a jury trial. 'We know they are polluting the Earth. We know they are taking resources away from the cleanup that has to be done at Los Alamos National Lab and all of the nine sites. We know that they are taking resources away from things like climate disruption, and that is one of our most urgent concerns.'
"Gilchrist is a former United Church of Christ pastor in Westfield, N.J., and a former associate pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe who, since her retirement, has become a Quaker." (Read all the LANL 6 profiles at SantaFeNewMexican.com)
Nuclear Watch New Mexico is honored to have Cathie Sullivan, one of the LANL 6, on our steering committee. Listen to Cathie's comments to LaJicarita News following the hearing: (Audio MP3).
Cuban Missile Crisis, 50 Years On
For two weeks in October 1962, the world teetered on the edge of nuclear holocaust.
Robert S. McNamara, from the film "Fog of War".
We knew it at the time, but we've come to learn since then that we were even closer than we'd imagined. At the Cuban Missile Crisis Havana Conference in October 2002, it was learned that the missiles were already armed, and that their handlers were under orders to launch if attacked; two of the options under consideration by the US administration were an air strike, and a full invasion. It was also learned that a Soviet submarine under depth-charge attack from US warships was armed with nuclear torpedoes; 2 of the required 3 officers on board wanted to fire on the US ships; the third, Vasiliy Arkhipov, refused- and the submarine surrendered.
- Harvard Kennedy School of Gov't has set up a dedicated website for the anniversary.
- Cuban Missile Crisis documents from The National Security Archive
- A number of events assessing the Cuban Missile Crisis are scheduled for Oct-Nov; see the Nuclear Calendar of the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
- A Nuclear Nightmare, Kingston Reif, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
"Kennedy's advisors recommended that he launch an air attack and invasion of Cuba . . Kennedy instead opted for a quarantine. . . Unbeknownst to the President, 43,000 Soviet troops and 98 Soviet tactical nuclear weapons were already on the island at the time of the crisis. An attack could have resulted in the use of nuclear weapons against the U.S. invasion force, prompting an escalatory spiral to all out nuclear war." (source)
- "Forty Years After 13 Days" by Robert S. McNamara, Arms Control Today, November 2002. This original essay is 10 years old but an eye opener.
- "The Nuclear Sword of Damocles" oped by Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Today, October 2012. Discusses the nuclear threat today and priority steps to address the threat.
- Nuclear Threat Initiative has published a very good multimedia infographic presentation of the Cuban Missile Crisis: (cubanmissilecrisisat50.org)
- "The Price of a 50-Year Myth" Michael Dobbs, New York Times
"The 'eyeball to eyeball' imagery made for great drama, but it has contributed to some of our most disastrous foreign policy decisions, from the escalation of the Vietnam War under Johnson to the invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush." (more)
- "Cuban Missile Crisis: The Other, Secret One" BBC report
"Contrary to popular belief, the Cuban missile crisis did not end with the agreement between the US and Soviet Union in October, 1962. Unknown to the US at the time, there were 100 other nuclear weapons also in the hands of Cuba, sparking a frantic - and ingenious - Russian mission to recover them. . . " (ref)
- "The Missile Crisis That Never Went Away" Starr, Krieger, and Ellsberg, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
"Fifty years after the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, and more than 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. and Russian nuclear confrontation continues. Each nation still keeps a total of approximately 800 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), armed with more than 1,700 strategic nuclear warheads at launch-ready status, able to be fired with only a few minutes' warning." (read more)
Letter From Prison: Sister Rice, Gregory Boertje-Obed, and Michael Walli:
"... Most surprisingly, our July 2012 action and our court cases have revealed that it is not the U.S. government that is in control of the nuclear weapons complex, but in reality it is the corporations that are in control through their solicitation and manipulation of endless funding for the refurbishment of unlawful thermonuclear warheads. We three are incarcerated because we stood up to a nuclear weapons industry that is kept thriving by the interlocking and obsolete institutions that subscribe to the long-discredited notion that law and security can be enforced by ever-greater force..."
(Read the full letter here)
Elderly Nun Leads a Peace Raid on Y-12 Nuclear Facility
In the early morning hours of July 28, Sister Megan Rice, an 82 year-old Roman Catholic nun, along with two accomplices, Michael Walli and Gregory Boertje-Obed, armed with flashlights and fence-cutters, broke into the Y-12 Oak Ridge nuclear reservation, splashed blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, and hung banners with quotations from the Bible on the walls of the complex. Nuclear experts called it "the biggest security breach in the history of the nation's atomic complex". The sprawling Y-12 complex of 800 acres and 500 buildings stores the nation's supply of weapons-grade uranium, makes nuclear warhead parts and provides nuclear fuel for the Navy and research reactors worldwide. NYTimes: Behind Nuclear Breach, a Nun's Bold Fervor Sept.1 Follow-up: From Atomic City Underground: Y-12 Aftermath: Winners, Losers, Lots Of Blame
"A report released Friday August 31 by DOE's Office of Inspector skewered almost every aspect of Y-12's security, saying the response to the breach was inept, the equipment was faulty, and the leadership was missing in action. . . The toughest scrutiny will come when the NNSA and its contractor officials are called before Congress. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is planning a Sept. 12 hearing on the incident.
"What if the middle-of-the-night intruders in late July had been a group of armed-and-trained terrorists instead of a trio of pacifists bearing candles, flowers and the Holy Bible?" said Peter Stockton, a senior investigator with the Project On Government Oversight. "In a worst-case scenario, terrorists could have gained access to vaults where stocks of highly enriched uranium are stored and used the fissionable material to create and detonate on the spot an improvised nuclear device with a Hiroshima-like yield." (ref: Munger)
Update Sept 12:Elderly nun praised, criticized at congressional hearing on nuclear weapons plant intrusion
Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said Rice should be praised for her actions. "We thank you for your courage," he said. "It's important that we have nuns on the bus, not under the bus, which a lot of people would like for you, sister. They think you should be punished and not praised." (Washington Post)
Port Security: U.S. Fails To Meet Deadline For Scanning Of Cargo Containers
The Port of Mombasa, Kenya
Douglas Frantz for the Washington Post, July 15 Excerpts: "The Obama administration has failed to meet a legal deadline for scanning all shipping containers for radioactive material before they reach the United States, a requirement aimed at strengthening maritime security and preventing terrorists from smuggling a nuclear device into any of the nations 300 sea and river ports.
"The Department of Homeland Security was given until this month to ensure that 100 percent of inbound shipping containers are screened at foreign ports.
"Pilot programs established to scan all containers were abandoned in 2009 after the agency said costs were too high and the effort led to cargo delays and logistical problems.
". . . fewer than half a percent of the roughly 10 million containers arriving at U.S. ports last year were scanned before departure.
"The DHS says monitors scan 99 percent of the containers for radiation after they arrive at U.S. ports. But experts say the monitors at U.S. ports are not sophisticated enough to detect nuclear devices.
"The Government Accountability Office has warned that a nuclear device could be detonated while at a port- where containers often sit for days awaiting radiation checks.
"'I personally do not believe they [the administration] intend to comply with the law,' Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), co-author of the 2007 law, said in an interview. 'This is a real terrorist threat, and it has a solution. We can't afford to wait until a catastrophic attack.'" (read the full article here)
- NWNM: This is an urgent security issue in which we at NukeWatch would like to see Los Alamos Lab taking a bigger role. Nuclear Time Warp
New York Times Editorial June 10, 2012
"Did House Republicans somehow miss the end of the cold war? At a time when, for the sake of both security and fiscal responsibility, the country should be reducing its nuclear arsenal, the House has approved a defense authorization bill for 2013 that threatens to freeze the number of weapons at current levels and, over time, waste billions of dollars on unnecessary purchases and programs.
"Thankfully, the bill isn't likely to become law. But it is worth taking a closer look, both for what it says about Republicans' misplaced strategic priorities - and about how far President Obama has already gone to appease them." Read the full Times editorial here
June 15 update: Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has urged the Obama administration to seek bigger cuts to nuclear arsenal beyond the agreed upon START numbers. (story, NYT) Defense Secretary Leon Panetta criticized the GOP-controlled House for politicizing the defense budget:
"When Congress restores funds to protect particular constituencies that may not be critical to our national defense capabilities, then they risk upending the kind of careful balance that we've worked very hard to achieve, and it could harm the force that we need for the 21st century." (ref)
- In The Hill's Congress Blog-
Katherine Fuchs: "Don't Let Foxes Guard Our Nuclear Henhouse"
Joel Rubin: "Taking Us Backwards on Nuclear Spending":
"Judging by the proposals in this bill, one would think that the Soviet Union hadn't dissolved and that taxpayer funds were limitless. . . this bill funds pet nuclear projects as if the Cold War were at its peak while busting the fiscally-prudent defense spending cap that Congress agreed to last year as part of the Budget Control Act"
- See Jonathan McLaughlin's "A False Connection: New START and nuclear weapons complex modernization", May 14, 2012, at the NRDC Staff Blog 'Switchboard'.
- William Hartung, Director, Arms and Security Project, Center for International Policy, writing in the Huffington Post May 16: "All of these proposals- advanced under the "leadership" of Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH)- would take us back to the worst days of the Cold War, when political posturing and inflated fears drove a dangerous, costly, and counterproductive arms race.
Hopefully, the most absurd of these initiatives- like 'missile defense, Jersey Shore edition'- will collapse under their own weight. . . But the worst idea of all may be the most arcane- restoring funding for a facility known as the Chemical and Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility (CMRR). . . " Read Hartung's "Posturing on Plutonium" at Huffington Post.
- Alliance for Nuclear Accountability Media Advisory, May 16, 2012:
"This week, the full House will debate two important amendments to last week's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) related to nuclear safety: one offered by Representatives Miller (CA), Visclosky (IN), and Sanchez (CA) to strike NDAA provisions that would erode safety standards and weaken oversight, and another offered by Rep. Smith (WA) that would strike provisions removing nuclear weapons from the Secretary of Energy's jurisdiction." ANA's Sharon Cowdrey: "The decades that communities surrounding the U.S. nuclear complex struggled for justice, compensation, and hope for future generations must not be diminished by this Congress. The Miller and Smith amendments would ensure that others don't have to struggle the way my family has." Ms. Cowdrey is the president of Miamisburg Environmental Safety & Health and worked for cleanup at the Mound Site, part of NDAA author Rep. Mike Turners home district, where nuclear weapons components were manufactured.
Hans Kristensen spoke on "How the U.S.A. is Endowing Existing Nuclear Weapons with New Military Capabilities" on Saturday August 5th at 1:45pm via video link in Santa Fe as part of the NukeFreeNow/Occupy events.
Kristensen is co-author of the Nuclear Notebook column in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and the World Nuclear Forces overview in the SIPRI Yearbook. The Nuclear Notebook is, according to the publisher, "widely regarded as the most accurate source of information on nuclear weapons and weapons facilities available to the public." Kristensen recently wrote about the B61 LEP cost estimate doubling: "B61-12: NNSA's Gold-Plated Nuclear Bomb Project"
Dr. Arjun Makhijani spoke on Saturday August 5th at 7:30pm in Santa Fe as part of the NukeFreeNow/Occupy events.
Dr. Makhijani is the author of "Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free", a joint project of the IEER and the Nuclear Policy Research Institute (NPRI).
The goal of the Carbon-Free Nuclear-Free project is to eliminate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels by promoting a zero-CO2 economy in the U.S., and to and to lay out a roadmap to achieve this as soon as is technically and economically practical, without resorting to nuclear power. It will take an integrated and comprehensive solution, as the issues of climate change, nuclear weapons proliferation, and security of oil supplies are intimately connected.
Dr. Makhijani: "A technological revolution has been brewing in the last few years, so it won't cost an arm and a leg to eliminate both CO2 emissions and nuclear power. We can solve the problems of oil imports, nuclear proliferation as it is linked to nuclear power, and carbon dioxide emissions simultaneously if we are bold enough."
Taliban Attack on Air Base Re-ignites Pakistan Nuclear Security Worries
While the Y-12 break-in of Sister Rice and her peaceful companions may have severely embarrassed the NNSA and Y-12's management, what happened in Pakistan raised again the dark specter of a stolen nuke in the hands of extremists. A Taliban commando team attacked the Minhas air force base, 25 miles northwest of the capital Islamabad, one of the bases thought possibly to house nuclear weapons or their components. There followed a heavy gun battle which lasted several hours until the attackers were all killed. The NYTimes reported: "The sprawling air base . . . is believed by some Western experts to be one of the locations where elements of Pakistan's nuclear stockpile, estimated to include at least 100 warheads, are stored. But Pakistani officials have denied that."
Indeed, Ex-Pakistani army Brig. Gen. Mahmood Shah told the Washington Post, "Nuclear assets management is totally a separate issue and is being dealt with separately . . . No nuclear arsenals are being kept in the known places, such as the air or naval bases or military containment areas."(ref)
See the FAS white paper: Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues
also: Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker: Defending the Arsenal- In an unstable Pakistan, can nuclear warheads be kept safe? (2009)
October 28:Is Pakistan's Paranoia Pushing it Into a Nuclear War with India? Since the Bin Laden raid in April 2012, "the Strategic Plans Division that is charged with protecting the nuclear arsenal of an estimated ninety to one hundred and ten strategic warheads has been adding an additional eight thousand specially trained troops to protect the storage facilities from an American attempt to seize or destroy the nuclear weapons. A retired high level Pakistani officer confided that he and many of his colleagues believe that the U.S. will move against nuclear facilities shortly after the American combat role ends in Afghanistan."
"The generals are probably telling the truth when they say that the weapons are safe in the military facilities. What they are not saying is that their effort to evade detection by the Americans has created other serious flaws in the security." (source)
30 Yrs. Ago, June 12, 1982: One Million Rally for Nuclear Freeze
Thirty years ago, one-million concerned citizens gathered in Central Park in New York in an unprecedented call for "the United States and the Soviet Union . . . to adopt a mutual freeze on the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons."
A few months later, Freeze referenda were on the ballots in 9 states and dozens of major cities. Across the nation some 18 million Americans voted on the Freeze in the fall of 1982, with some 10.7 million, or 60 percent, voting in favor.
As Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said years later:
"It was the closest our country has ever come to a national plebiscite on nuclear arms control. Within a very brief time the freeze had taken education at the grassroots and translated it into political muscle at the ballot box, delivering to the White House a resounding vote of no confidence in its nuclear buildup."
More about the impact of the Nuclear Freeze Movement here
Fortenberry Amendment Protects Real Nonproliferation Priorities, Signals Growing Oversight of Troubled Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Program
From the ANA (Alliance for Nuclear Accountability) press release: June 06, 2012. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed an amendment offered by Rep. Fortenberry (R-NE) which moves $17 million from the Mixed Oxide Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Program to the Global Threat Reduction Initiative.
The passage of the amendment is a clear indication that congressional oversight of the MOX program is increasing. The amendment comes on the heels of an earlier cut of $152 million from the MOX program by the House Appropriations Committee.
Read the full ANA press release here
The Global Threat Reduction Initiative is the front line of defense in our nation's fight to prevent nuclear bomb materials from falling into the hands of terrorists. Rep. Fortenberry's amendment brings funding for this critical program up to the Presidents requested level.
The committee's report stated: "There is still no fidelity on the total project costs and timeline to get the MOX facility up and running, and few details have been provided on the long term investments that will be needed to support full operating feedstock requirements.... The Department [of Energy] is now reporting internally that the total project costs could be understated by as much as $600,000,000 to $900,000,000, and that the project will overrun its projected completion date by months if not years. Further, the updated cost estimates provided by the NNSA for the projected annual operating costs of the MOX facility have skyrocketed and are now 2.5 times the projections of just two years ago."
Mayor Kazumi Matsui reads Hiroshima's Peace Declaration, a statement made each year by the mayor of Hiroshima at the Peace Memorial Ceremony to observe the August 6 anniversary of the atomic bombing. (View text)
Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons May 10, 2012
May 10. 2012. The Chairman' s factual summary (Working paper) from the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review: "States parties recalled the unequivocal undertaking of the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament, to which all States parties are committed under article VI. Many States parties emphasized that the indefinite extension of the Treaty at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference did not imply the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons." Read the Chairman's Working Paper (PDF)
Sandia Labs PER Finally Released, Heavily Redacted
April 23, 2012. NukeWatch has just received the FY 2011 Performance Evaluation Report (PER) for Sandia National Laboratories, three weeks after receiving the first six PERs without redactions for the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, the Nevada National Security Site, the Kansas City and Y-12 Plants, and the Savannah River Site. We received the Pantex Plant PER on April 6, with a few, seemingly reasonable redactions. We are puzzled now by the heavy redactions to the Sandia PER, which seem to cluster around reported deficiencies in performance. We are also puzzled by the National Nuclear Security Administrations use of Freedom of Information Act exemption 7(e) [law enforcement] to justify these redactions, when to our knowledge the agency has used it only once before in 2005. Thus we are wondering about the appropriateness of the redactions to begin with, and the use of exemption 7(e) when both exemptions 1 and 2 have long been used to protect sensitive security information.
By the way, the compensation for Sandia Director Paul Hommert this year? $1.3 million. See "Sandia Chief Earns $1.3 Million" at the Albuquerque Journal.
More to follow . . .
View Sandia National Laboratories Performance Evaluation Report FY 2011: download PDF
NNSA Releases Performance Evaluation Reports in Response to Nuclear Watch FOIA Lawsuit
In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by Nuclear Watch New Mexico on March 28, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has released the Performance Evaluation Reports for its eight nuclear weapons sites. These reports are the government's scorecard for awarding tens of millions of dollars to nuclear weapons contractors, and were available to the public until 2009. But since that time NNSA has withheld them in a general move toward less contractor accountability. We seek to begin to reverse that with our litigation.
View the Nuclear Watch press release (PDF)
View complete FOIA Complaint here (PDF)
The Department of Energy is proposing to send up to 10,000 metric tons of highly toxic elemental mercury for storage at WIPP. DoE wants to amend the Environmental Impact Statement on Elemental Mercury Storage to include WIPP, and the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act to allow mercury storage. The comment period is now closed on these proposals.
The powerpoint presentation that DOE gave at the scoping meeting is now posted at: MercuryStorageEIS.com.
(download the PDF directly)
HASC Prioritizes the Unneeded CMRR-Nuclear Facility Over Life Extension Programs and Veteran Benefits
May 16. 2012. The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) has authorized funding for the CMRR-Nuclear Facility, which can possibly undermine what the Pentagon most wants and is paying for, which is the refurbishment of existing nuclear weapons through Life Extension Programs. HASC also seeks to make an end run around the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittees by transferring design and construction of the CMRR-NF to the Pentagon, which could compete with other needed military construction and threaten veteran benefits. Read the NukeWatch analysis (PDF)
A Billion People at Risk- Global Impacts of Limited Nuclear War
April 25. 2012. According to a major new report released at the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit in Chicago prepared by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and its US affiliate, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), more than a billion people around the world would face starvation following a limited regional nuclear weapons exchange.
Dr. Ira Helfand, the author of the report, "Nuclear Famine: A Billion People at Risk- Global Impacts of Limited Nuclear War on Agriculture, Food Supplies, and Human Nutrition", said: "The grim prospect of nuclear famine requires a fundamental change in our thinking about nuclear weapons. The new evidence that even the relatively small nuclear arsenals of countries such as India and Pakistan could cause long lasting, global damage to the Earth's ecosystems and threaten hundreds of millions of already malnourished people demands that action be taken. The needless and preventable deaths of one billion people over a decade would be a disaster unprecedented in human history. It would not cause the extinction of the human race, but it would bring an end to modern civilization as we know it." Full report (PDF) CNN's coverage: A Nuclear Clash Could Starve the World
Leaked Defense Memo Criticizes the Department of Energy's Push to Expand Nuclear Weapons Laboratories
The Department of Energy's network of privately-operated nuclear weapons laboratories are riddled with waste, redundancies and lackluster scientific standards, according to a leaked Department of Defense memo obtained by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).
The Nov. 16 memo reflects the Department of Energy's refusal to downsize, despite the end of the Cold War. It presents the arguments of a number of experts who have said DOE's laboratories should downsize, rather than expand their mission. It also compiles evidence of DOEs ongoing efforts to circumvent the congressional appropriations process.
The DOE's push to expand the mission of its national labs flies in the face of all reason both from a strategic standpoint and a fiscal one, said POGO Investigator Peter Stockton, who specializes in nuclear security and safety. When the U.S. is locked into reducing its nuclear arsenal, it makes no sense to be expanding the DOEs nuclear weapons production facilities.
Read the leaked DoD memo (PDF)
POGO also found that "that seven of the top 15 officials at the three DOE nuclear labs make more than $700,000 per year, with one earning $1.7 million- more than the president of the United States and many government executives."
Coincidentally, Nuclear Watch New Mexico has been independently compiling data on the salaries of the three laboratory directors. We found for example, that the salary of the Los Alamos Director has nearly tripled since for-profit management began in June 2006, even as the Lab is cutting some 600 jobs. Privatization of the nuclear weapons labs' management contracts has resulted in directors' salaries far above average in both the federal government and the private sector. See the facts and figures in this table prepared by Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
Nuclear Watch NM Files Suit for Info on Nuclear Weapons Profits
Santa Fe, March 29, 2012. Nuclear Watch New Mexico has filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act in the federal district court of New Mexico. We seek to compel the government to release its scorecards for awarding tens of millions of dollars to nuclear weapons contractors, while at the same time these contractors are becoming less and less accountable.
Specifically, NukeWatch launched litigation to obtain the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA's) "Performance Evaluation Report" that awarded Los Alamos National Security $72.1 million in profit for fiscal year 2009. Through this action we are also seeking to compel the government to release its FY 2011 Performance Evaluation Reports for all eight NNSA nuclear weapons sites.
View complete Press Release: PDF Doc; or view as web page
View complete FOIA Complaint here (PDF)
Potential Workforce Loss at Los Alamos Lab Not Supported by Budget Facts
Management Profit Going Up as Jobs and Accountability Are Cut
Comprehensive Cleanup is the Big Future Job Creator
For Immediate Release: February 27, 2012
Why does LANS now need to drop 400-800 employees when virtually the same amount of funding employed far more people in FY 2010? Part of the answer may lie in LANS' rapidly rising profits. . .
Read the Nuclear Watch Press Release here.
Read Jay Coghlan's detailed rebuttal of the New York Times article (3/3/12), "Los Alamos Residents Brace for Layoffs at Lab" here.
US statesmen George Shultz, William Perry, Sam Nunn answer questions put to them by an audience of senior British politicians and nuclear experts, in this trailer for a new film from TalkWorks on nuclear disarmament, "Three Friends".
Freeze the Nukes, Fund the Future
The 'nuclear option' to cut deficit - By Rep. Ed Markey
"The Cold War arms race is over, but the fight for America's priorities has just begun. It's time to end the plutonium plutocracy and deploy this financial weapon against waste. Fewer weapons, more wealth- a real solution for our deficit crisis.
"We can use those savings to cut the deficit and save programs that help the poor, care for our seniors, educate our students and create new jobs.
Already, 64 House members have signed on to support this nuclear option.
"The New START agreement, signed by America and Russia in 2010 and ratified by the Senate in 2011, is designed to reduce U.S. deployed strategic warheads to 1,550. This is a 25 percent cut from today's levels. Fewer nuclear weapons should equal less funding- not an unending trust fund.
"We can cut the deficit without undercutting our national security. At $50 billion per year for 5,000 nuclear warheads, each nuke costs the U.S. taxpayer about $10 million.
"Invest in the future; don't waste money on the past."
Read Rep. Markey's full Politico article here /
Read Markey's letter to the Supercommittee
Bureaucracy Strangles National Laboratories
2/28/12. "The past few weeks have been brutal for Los Alamos, the lab that brought atomic weaponry to the world and has long stood as a bastion of our nation's nuclear weapons expertise. But its problems today are of the nuclear enterprise's own making.
In testimony before Congress on Feb. 16, former weapons program manager C. Paul Robinson, a veteran of both Sandia and Los Alamos national labs, spoke bluntly and with a touch of anger and what sounded like more than a little sadness of the weapons program's decline. . . 'Bureaucratic organizations are not an effective structure to be used for organized activities or businesses that are required to be innovative . . .'"
Read John Fleck's column "Up Front" at the ABQJournal Online
Potential Workforce Loss at Los Alamos Lab Not Supported by Budget Facts
Management Profit Going Up as Jobs and Accountability Are Cut
Comprehensive Cleanup is the Big Future Job Creator
For Immediate Release: February 27, 2012
Why does LANS now need to drop 400-800 employees when virtually the same amount of funding employed far more people in FY 2010? Part of the answer may lie in LANS' rapidly rising profits. . .
Read the Nuclear Watch Press Release here.
Read Jay Coghlan's detailed rebuttal of the New York Times article (3/3/12), "Los Alamos Residents Brace for Layoffs at Lab" here.
Funding Eliminated for Los Alamos Nuclear Weapons Plutonium Lab
Press Release: The NNSA FY 2013 Congressional Budget Request
Feb 13. Santa Fe, NM - "The Obama Administrations new fiscal year 2013 Congressional Budget
Request has zeroed out funding for the controversial Chemistry and Metallurgy Research
Replacement Project (CMRR)-Nuclear Facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
While todays budget says that the CMRR-NF is being simply deferred for 5 years, that likely
terminates the project given ongoing fiscal constraints and its lack of clear need.
For the past five years Nuclear Watch New Mexico has argued that the existing plutonium
infrastructure at LANL was more than sufficient to meet the needs of our nuclear weapons
stockpile, which official studies should confirm. NNSA now appears to be agreeing with us."
View/download the full Nuclear Watch press release (PDF) on the budgetary request here.
View/download NukeWatch's detailed tabulation of the NNSA's FY 2013 Budget Request here.
View/download FY2013 Los Alamos Labs Spending Chart here.
"We predict that FY 2013 will be a rough year for the National Nuclear Security Administration. This will be due to (among other things) its failure to achieve ignition at the ~$5 billion National Ignition Facility, the effective termination of the CMRR-Nuclear Facility (even after more than $400 million has been spent on its design), and growing Congressional doubts over its MOX Program. Added to this, the Department of Energy (NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within DOE) will likely fail with its ~$13 billion Waste Treatment Plant at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State. DOE will remain on the GAO's high risk list for the 20th consecutive year. Public and Congressional exasperation with DOE and NNSA wasteful spending will grow, leading to increasing budget cuts in FY 2014."
The NNSA FY 2013 Congressional Budget Request is expected to be released early afternoon (EST) Monday, February 13.
U.S. Senator Presses Nuclear Agency on Lack of Future Funding Details
Washington. A Senate panel chairman on Wednesday questioned why the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration has withheld future funding figures for key atomic complex programs in its fiscal 2013 budget request, contrary to a reporting requirement in law.
More at Global Security Newswire
NYT Editorial: The Nuclear 'Implementation Study'
Published March 11, 2012: "A nuclear 'implementation review' may sound arcane, and arms control talks may sound like a cold-war anachronism. They are not. This is President Obama's opportunity to reshape the post-cold-war world to make it fundamentally safer. He needs to seize it." (read the full editorial)
Repairs at Nuke Facility Could be Accomplished by Trip to the Hardware Store,
Not Billions in Taxpayer Dollars
2/28/12. Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance:
"Two options for cleaning this [rust] up- a wire brush and some paint, or a new box cover. Either one, under $1,000 including labor. Can't get a replacement cover for a box this old? Whole new box, $300; labor, two days. This does not appear to be an industrial dust-proof application, so it probably should get an upgrade during replacement. Triple the price- I think we can still bring it in under $7.5 billion."
-Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance Read more about the OREPA report at the POGO blog
New push to remove tactical nuclear weapons from Europe
Feb. 3, 2012. "On Sunday, the New START arms control treaty between US and Russia will have been in force for a year. By this time, according to the conditions laid down by the US Senate for ratifying the treaty, the Obama administration was supposed to have tried to start negotiations with Russia on tactical nuclear weapons, well over a thousand of which are scattered around bases in western Europe, Turkey and Russia on a high state of readiness.
At a meeting with her Russian counterpart in mid-December, undersecretary of state Ellen Tauscher, ticked this box by bringing up the subject but it was no more than a formality. The vaunted 'reset' with Russia has jammed. The two countries are at odds over missile defence, Syria and the Arab Spring, and the animosity is likely to grow once Vladimir Putin returns to the presidency. Negotiations on a new arms control treaty to agree really significant cuts in nuclear arms look further away than ever, and the high hopes inspired by Obama's famous Prague speech of April 2009 are in danger of looking simply naive."
This report from Guardian UK.
How Kansas City Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (makers) by Ben Palosaari, Pitch.com
"The plant's private ownership is drawing both ire and bewilderment from experts. Richard Rhodes, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his classic The Making of the Atomic Bomb, says the ownership arrangement is an aberration in the history of the military-industrial complex. While many American companies make fortunes by selling arms, Rhodes says private ownership of a nuclear [weapons] plant is a novel idea."
Read the full article
at Pitch News
Lab's Cold War Debt Is Past Due- New Remediation Estimates Up To $32 Billion
Santa Fe- A recently released report from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) sharply increases cost estimates for various remediation alternatives for the Lab's largest radioactive waste dump. This is revision 2 of a corrective measures evaluation (CME) conducted for Material Disposal Area (MDA) G. This CME increases the cost estimates for all proposed alternatives including the most expensive option, total excavation and disposal of the wastes offsite, now estimated at over $32 billion.
Nuclear Watch New Mexico urges NMED to approve the excavation of LANL MDA G pits and shafts with on-site disposal in an approved landfill. The estimated 58 million worker-hours to accomplish this alternative would provide would equal some 1,000 jobs for 30 yrs. The average budget for this would be around $600 million per year. This may seem like an extravagant amount, but is only about ¼ of the Lab's current annual budget and less than ½ of its current annual budget spent on nuclear weapons activities for "National Security".
We argue that we don't need more nuclear weapons - for real security we need a clean environment and sustainable jobs.
Full Press Release MDA G CME Report, Revision 2 [8 MB]
With New START Ratified, It's Time to Examine
the National Security and Economic Costs of "Modernization"
Santa Fe, NM- Nuclear Watch New Mexico applauds Senate ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). While this arms reduction treaty is modest in scope, we nevertheless believe its ratification is an absolutely essential step toward subsequent treaties that 1) progressively make deeper cuts to strategic weapons; 2) cut tactical (battlefield) weapons, which are particularly prone to theft and diversion; and 3) lead to multilateral negotiations involving all nuclear powers.
But with ratification now accomplished, the nation should seriously question the national security and economic costs of so-called "modernization" of the nuclear weapons stockpile and its supporting research and production complex. New START ratification has come with a heavy price, that being the massive rebuilding of the production side of U.S. nuclear weapons complex and the future makeover of an extensively tested nuclear stockpile that is known to be reliable.
Wasting money on vastly expensive new facilities and serious modifications to already safe and highly effective nuclear weapons will undermine our own national security. It also means diverting funding from other programs that could help rebuild America and keep its citizens healthy and prosperous. Reducing the federal debt is in the real interests the nation's security, not shoveling more money into unneeded, badly managed, provocative nuclear weapons programs.
Twenty-one NGOs Oppose the Release of the Biological Safety Level-3 Environmental Impact Statement Without New Scoping
Twenty-one non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from New Mexico and around the country wrote to the Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Steven Chu opposing the release of the Biological Safety Level-3 environmental impact statement (EIS) without new scoping because it does not comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. The facility is located at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The initial scoping period ended in January 2006. These three environmental impact statements have real consequences for New Mexicans. They are the visible symbols of the Department of Energy targeting our state for expanded nuclear weapons and biological programs and radioactive waste dumping. It's crucial that New Mexicans be allowed to play a well-informed role in all three processes, which means not all at the same time. DOE should do the right thing and re-scope the biolab EIS and issue its draft well after the others. After all, DOE waited five years after the first round of scoping ended, but springs it on us now. It is important for people to contact their representatives and tell them that poor planning on DOE's part should not place extra burdens on New Mexicans. Also they should ask their representatives to tell DOE that each environmental impact statement process should be complete in itself without overlapping another one.
Joint Press Release 3/4/2011
Detailed letter to DOE 2/25/2011
Is Congress Throwing Even More Money at the UPF?
Buried in the budget numbers of the House/Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Conference Report is $94 million for a construction project designated as "06-D-141 Project Engineering and Design (PED), Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge, TN." There are a few curious things about this project. First, the NNSA made no request for it, but yet the House/Senate E&W Conference gives it $94M.
However, all along there have been NNSA requests for "06-D-140 Project Engineering and Design (PED), various locations." Amongst those "various locations" is the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at Y-12, for which NNSA requested $44.5M in FY10 for continuing design and engineering. We believe (but can't yet prove) that the House/Senate Conference separated the UPF from 06-D-140 and created 06-D-141. Further, it took NNSA's original $44.5 FY10 request for UPF and more than doubled it to $94M.
We are concerned because its mission, as currently planned by the NNSA, is based on an assumption that every existing nuclear weapons going through a Life Extension Program will receive a rebuilt secondary. The UPF, if it is to proceed at all, should arguably be reoriented toward the dismantlement of secondaries rather than their rebuilding, and the down-blending of an estimated 350-400 metric tons of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium at Y-12. The House/Senate E&W Conference's doubling of UPF funding at this time seems very ill-advised, especially before the pending release of the new Nuclear Posture Review.
LANL Lab Director Paid Double President Obama's Salary
Santa Fe, NM - On December 10 President Barack Obama will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway for his beginning efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. The President is paid $400,000 a year for running the country. Michael Anastasio, the Director of the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab in northern New Mexico, is paid double that of the President, $800,348 a year. Unlike the President, Mr. Anastasio has been an unabashed supporter of new-design nuclear weapons and resumed industrial-scale nuclear weapons production. Over 60% of the Lab's $2.1 billion annual budget is specifically dedicated to nuclear weapons research and production, while much of its remaining budget supports those core programs.
New Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Stewardship Plan is Backwards
NukeWatch gets a Santa Fe Mayor's Award
In addition to our work toward limiting and ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons, NukeWatch also works to protect Northern New Mexico aquifers from the radioactive wastes dumped over the last 70 years of atomic bomb production at Los Alamos Lab. This week, Nukewatch was given the Santa Fe Mayor's Sustainability Award in the category of Environment for that work. (more)
Above: Scott Kovac, Jay Coghlan, Mayor Javier Gonzales
"Any effort to disrupt this critical program can jeopardize national security. It is vital this program moves forward without delay." AmericasNewBomber.com This is the entrance screen at a site put up by Northrup-Grumman after its success in winning the contract for the next strategic bomber force met a legal challenge from Lockheed.
Tony de Brum, R.I.P.
Nobel nominee Tony de Brum, Fmr. Marshall Islands minister, beloved nuclear disarmament and climate change hero, has died at his home in Majuro, Marshall Islands. Tony's unwavering passion and commitment, his warmth and humanity will be sorely missed. (read more)
David Culp, R.I.P.
"Pragmatic, dogged, and direct- a lobbyist for the Quakers fighting for peace... David's legislative wisdom... was near unmatched. His insight into the Senate and its at times Byzantine processes played a large role in the [New Start Treaty's] successful ratification... He was the type of person you wanted on your team. The type of person it seemed almost impossible to lose with... David was a shining example of someone that did things the right way. Tough, principled, and effective. Few have had the outsized impact in the arms control community that he had. Few will. And because of all that he did, our troubled little world is a little better off."
- Jim Baird, Medium.com, Feb 6, 2017
Alexei Yablokov R.I.P.
Alexei Yablokov, the towering grandfather of Russian ecology, has died in Moscow after a long illness. He was 83. Yablokov worked with the Bellona Foundation to unmask Cold War nuclear dumping practices in the Arctic; as a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, he was also the lead author of the seminal 2007 book, "Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment." The book presented the conclusion that the 1986 Chernobyl disaster was responsible for 985,000 premature deaths- the boldest mortality tally to date. "He was an inspiration, a great friend and a great scientist, one of the world's most significant environmental heroes," said Bellona President Frederic Hauge. "To know him and to work with him, someone of such cool and keen intellect is a memory we should all take care of and treasure."
Command and Control- Screenings schedule The day we almost nuked Arkansas... "Cold War-era thriller with post-apocalyptic nightmare. Given it's all true, this one will stay with you for days after viewing." - Rolling Stone
Screenings schedule /
Planned Eurasian Apocalypse, c. 1956
Here are the 1100 [declassified] nuclear targets in the 1956 US target list for the Eurasian communist nations. Click image above to see the interactive infographic at the Future of Life site- clicking on any target dot will bring up a satellite map of the target area with the blast zone, variable depending on the yield you choose, fallout paths, and other info.
Don't Bank on the Bomb 2015 View/download Report PDF
In a 50% increase over last year's totals, 53 financial institutions prohibit or limit investments in nuclear weapon producers, according to Don't Bank on the Bomb (2015), published in November by Dutch peace organization PAX. The increase illustrates the growing stigmatization of nuclear weapons due to the renewed focus on their humanitarian consequences. The report also identifies 382 banks, insurance companies, and pension funds which have made USD 493 billion available to nuclear weapons producers since January 2012.
Nuclear Watch of New Mexico 903 W. Alameda, #325
Santa Fe, NM 87501
505.989.7342 - phone and fax
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.
Nuclear Watch New Mexico is supported by the Ploughshares Fund: Investing in Peace and Security Worldwide, the Windfall Foundation, the Just Woke Up Fund of the Santa Fe Community Foundation, the New Mexico Community Foundation, and by generous donors like you. Thank You!