‘Stop making nuclear weapons’: Activists press federal chief on LANL pit push

“We live in the third-most impoverished state in the nation, and yet we’re throwing away money to build weapons of war rather than take care of our own people…The U.S. must be the one to end the nuclear arms race because only then will other nations follow,” – Rikki Farrell of the ANSWER coalition

Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said new pits will be used to equip two new warheads being developed. He asked whether these new designs could lead to a return to explosive nuclear testing underground.

SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | April 5, 2023 santafenewmexican.com

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Anti-nuclear weapons demonstrator Bobbe Besold watches Tuesday as a panel of representatives from Los Alamos National Laboratory answers questions at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. The lab has been tasked with increasing its production of plutonium pits for weapons to 30 per year by 2026.

Anti-nuclear advocates showed up in force Tuesday to grill the head of the federal nuclear security agency at a town hall about plans to have Los Alamos National Laboratory make 30 plutonium pits for warheads a year, a pursuit that has generated heated controversy in Northern New Mexico since its inception.

A standing-room-only crowd filled the meeting room at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, plus about 200 people attended remotely, almost all of them opponents of the lab producing the bomb core triggers, or pits, that the president, military leaders and other federal officials say are necessary for global nuclear deterrence.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, an Energy Department branch, wants the lab to produce 30 pits yearly by 2026 and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to make an additional 50 pits by the mid-2030s.

Agency Administrator Jill Hruby repeated what has become a familiar refrain among defense and nuclear officials — the aging arsenal must be modernized and new pits are required because no significant quantity has been produced since the Rocky Flats facility in Colorado shut down in 1989.

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