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

Quote of the Week

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It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching can help.

LANL’s Central Mission: Los Alamos Lab officials have recently claimed that LANL has moved away from primarily nuclear weapons to “national security”, but what truly remains as the Labs central mission? Here’s the answer from one of its own documents:

LANL’s “Central Mission”- Presented at: RPI Nuclear Data 2011 Symposium for Criticality Safety and Reactor Applications (PDF) 4/27/11

LANL FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2021 Budget Chart – Courtesy Tri-Valley CAREs – VIEW

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Click the image to view and 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.

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

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

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

Recent Posts

US wants new nuclear weapons to counter Russia but says there is no arms race

Defense Department has pushed back on the notion that the US is engaging in an arms race or growing its nuclear arsenal, saying its latest moves are merely a response to Russian efforts

BY: RYAN BROWNE | cnn.com

Washington (CNN) During a visit to US Strategic Command last week, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper oversaw a “table top” war game exercise where Russian military forces used a “tactical” nuclear weapon against NATO territory during a conflict in Europe, prompting the US to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike.

“The scenario included a European contingency where you are conducting a war with Russia and Russia decides to use a low yield limited nuclear weapon against a site on NATO territory and then you go through the conversation that you would have with the Secretary of Defense and the President ultimately, to decide how to respond,” a senior Department of Defense official told reporters Friday.

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Requested NNSA FY 2021 Funding for “Primary Capability Modernization”

(i.e. plutonium pits)

Bottom line: The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has requested $1.58 billion for expanded plutonium pit production in FY 2021 alone, when at least 15,000 pits are already stored at the Pantex Plant and independent experts have concluded that pits last at least a century (the average age now of pits in the active stockpile is less than 40 years). NNSA’s request is more than doubled from $712.4 million in FY 2020 for the comparable program “Plutonium Sustainment” that preceded Primary Capability Modernization.

No plutonium pit production is scheduled to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing stockpile. Instead, future pits will likely be heavily modified from tested designs for use in speculative new-design nuclear weapons. This could raise reliability issues and/or prompt the US to resume full-scale nuclear weapons testing.

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Inside America’s newly revealed nuclear ballistic missile warhead of the future

“NNSA already has too much work on its plate to sustain. Accelerating development of yet another excessively ambitious program will only make that problem worse,” – Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association

BY: AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

An unarmed Trident II D5 missile launches from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine Rhode Island off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla., on May 9, 2019. (John Kowalski/U.S. Navy)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. — When the Trump administration’s budget request rolled out Feb. 10, eyebrows shot up within the nuclear community at the mention of a previously unknown warhead, listed in documents as the W93.

Now the Pentagon is revealing details about the weapon, what it will replace and when it might be deployed.

The labeling of the warhead as the W93 is important. Since the introduction of the W88 in the 1980s, all upgrades to warheads have been described as variants — for instance, the collapsing of several versions of the B61 gravity bomb into the B61-12. According to a senior defense official, the reason for the new designation comes from the reality that the warhead is largely a new design.

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Feinstein, Colleagues to DOD: ‘Low-Yield’ Nuclear Weapons Not a Deterrent

PRESS RELEASE | feinstein.senate.gov

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today wrote to Defense Secretary Mark Esper questioning the decision to begin fielding W76-2 “low-yield” nuclear submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads.

            “We write to express our concern about the recent decision to begin fielding the W76-2 low-yield nuclear submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead, a decision we do not support,” wrote the senators.

            “It is inconsistent for the United States to begin fielding new nuclear weapons while we urge other countries not to do so. We should be focusing on diplomatic solutions, and we ask that you urge President Trump to extend New START before it expires next year in order to begin negotiating a successor treaty that addresses U.S. security needs.”

            Full text of the letter is available here and below.

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New & Updated

Why the new US ICBMs would be too expensive even if they were free

“Experts estimate that it would take two Russian warheads to destroy with high confidence one of the 400 active US ICBMs, each armed with a single warhead. This might seem like a good deal, until you ask what the impact of 800 Russian warheads exploding on US territory would be…The long-term contamination would be about ten times greater than that from the Chernobyl accident, rendering a large swath of the Midwest uninhabitable for generations.”

BY: ROBERT J. GOLDSTON | thebulletin.org

Two missile maintenance personnel perform an electrical check on a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile in its silo, 1980. Photo credit: Bob Wickley/Wikimedia Commons.

The proposed US nuclear modernization program includes replacing the 400 existing Minuteman III missiles with a new set of “Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent” missiles and their associated facilities. The cost for this modernization is very large, with an advertised price tag of $85 billion, and if history is any guide, a substantial cost escalation is likely. On the one hand, if these silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) deter attacks that would cost tens of millions of lives, then they are worth this much many times over. On the other hand, if they are more likely to cause massive numbers of human deaths, then they are immensely expensive even if they cost nothing.

The primary argument for silo-based ICBMs is that they would “sponge up” a large number of Russian warheads if the United States were attacked.

Continue reading

Final Supplement Analysis (SA) and Determination on Complex Transformation Supplement Environmental Impact Statement (SPEIS) for Expanded Pit Production to be Released Later This Week

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) has approved a final Supplement Analysis (SA) and determination on the Complex Transformation Supplement Environmental Impact Statement (SPEIS) which evaluated whether increasing capabilities to produce a minimum of 50 pits per year at a re-purposed Mixed-oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) and a minimum of 30 pits per year at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), with additional surge capacity at each site if needed, would require the preparation of a new or supplement EIS.  This SA is the programmatic, complex-wide analysis mentioned in the Notice of Intent for the site-specific SRS EIS that was published in the Federal Register (FR) on June 10, 2019, and the final of the draft SA that was released for an approximately 45-day public comment period on June 28, 2019.

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If the Trump plan survives legal challenges, polluters would no longer need a permit to release contaminated water into ephemeral streams and wetlands that aren’t immediately adjacent to protected waters. This would, according to New Mexico’s Environment Department, eliminate about 40% of the state’s water pollution permits, including those held by wastewater treatment plants, hard-rock mines and coal mines.

The effect this could have on the state’s drinking water is illustrated most starkly at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the former Manhattan Project site that serves as a center of the country’s nuclear research and development.

BY: ANNA M. PHILLIPS | latimes.com

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

EPA: Permit will regulate polluted stormwater in Los Alamos County

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will require a federal pollution permit be used to regulate Los Alamos County’s contaminated stormwater, which for years has flowed into streams and the Rio Grande, a primary source of drinking water.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

Attorneys representing the Taos-based advocacy group Amigos Bravos said their client’s September lawsuit against the EPA pushed the agency to require the permitting under the Clean Water Act.

The EPA issued preliminary findings in 2015 that showed pollutants in some parts of Los Alamos National Laboratory property and other areas of Los Alamos County far exceeded state health and water quality standards, yet the agency failed to take action, according to the Oregon-based Western Environmental Law Center.

“The EPA finally took a hard look at where these pollutants are coming from,” said Andrew Hawley, a law center attorney, in an interview. “The pollutants of concern were showing up in the tributaries going into the Rio Grande.”

EPA representatives at the regional office in Dallas couldn’t be reached Tuesday to comment on the agency’s decision or discuss the timeline for implementing the permit.

Continue reading

Courting Disaster: How Not to Manage Existential Threats to National Security

Washington’s pursuit of national ballistic missile defense for the last twenty years has, as much as anything else, driven Russian and Chinese strategic nuclear weapons acquisition decisions.

BY: ROBERT GALLUCCI | nationalinterest.org

Photo: National Interest

There are a small number of threats to our nation’s security, involving truly catastrophic consequences, which may be managed by good public policy. Some of these involve uncertainties over scientific or technological developments that could lead to good, as well as very bad outcomes. Think designer biology, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. But two stand out both for the certainty and magnitude of their destructive impact: climate change and nuclear weapons.

What does good public policy look like when dealing with nuclear weapons? It looks like actions that reduce uncertainty, increase transparency and security, and decrease numbers. It is called “arms control.”

Continue reading

NEPA transformed federal land management — and has fallen short

A look back at the ground-breaking legislation on its 50th anniversary.

BY: ADAM M. SOWARDS | defenseone.com

A U.S. Forest Service employee assesses sagebrush ecosystems of the Curlew National Grassland in Idaho. With NEPA’s passage, federal agencies were required to bring in specialists to study proposed project areas in depth. Employee on the Curlew National Grassland, Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Credit: US Forest Service.

In late January 1969, a blowout on Unocal’s Platform A leaked 3 million gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean, just 6 miles from Santa Barbara, California. The spill — at the time, the largest in U.S. history — spread over 800 square miles, coated 8 miles of beaches and killed thousands of animals. Images of the devastation shocked a public increasingly worried about the environment and helped spur Congress to pass a sweeping law aimed at preventing similar disasters in the future — the National Environmental Policy Act.

President Richard Nixon signed NEPA into law on Jan. 1, 1970, from his home office on the Pacific Coast. The signing was a fitting launch for the environmental decade of the 1970s — a time when “America pays its debt to the past by reclaiming the purity of its air, its waters, and our living environment,” as Nixon said in his signing statement. “It is literally now or never.”

Reckoning with History is an ongoing series that seeks to understand the legacies of the past and to put the West’s present moment in perspective.

Continue reading

A Gateway to Nuclear Catastrophe: Democrats Retreat on Nuclear Policy

The 2020 authorization bill fails to check Trump’s worst impulses. Over 30 progressive national security organizations sent a letter to Congress opposing the final bill as doing “almost nothing to constrain the Trump administration’s erratic and reckless foreign policy.” Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she would oppose the bill, calling it a “$738 billion Christmas present to giant defense contractors.”

BY: TOM Z. COLLINA | defenseone.com

Question: How do you go from a National Defense Authorization Act that in July was opposed by every House Republican to one that was approved by more GOP votes than Democratic ones and that President Donald Trump called a huge win that he cannot wait to sign?

Answer: Add Space Force and parental family leave and take out all of the progressive national security provisions.

AP / ALEX BRANDON – In this 2018 photo, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., left, stands as Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, second from left, speaks, accompanied by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.

The House passed the compromise NDAA last night; President Trump has said he will sign it. This final bill is a world apart from the version passed by House Democrats in July. The House version, ably led by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, prohibited deployment of Trump’s new “low-yield” nuclear weapon for Trident submarines, which defense experts called “a gateway to nuclear catastrophe.”

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Watch the Pentagon test a previously banned ballistic missile

ARTICLE BY: AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

For the first time since the end of the INF Treaty, the U.S. Air Force has tested a ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic missile.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. has tested a ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers, the first such test since the country withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty this year.

The test, which occurred Thursday at 8:30 a.m. PST, was configured to represent a conventional warhead. The test was anticipated for months, with Defense Department officials previously indicating they hoped to have it happen before the end of the year.

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This Simulator Shows the Devastating Consequences of Global Nuclear War

Nuclear War Simulator, launching in 2020, lets the user design a plausible doomsday scenario and study the humanitarian impact. Just don’t call it a “game.”

ARTICLE BY: MATTHEW GAULT | vice.com

Full scale global nuclear war is hard to fathom. One nuclear launch could set off a chain of events that would radically alter life on the planet. Millions would die in the initial blasts and millions more would starve as the climate changed and our way of life withered. Just how are we supposed to reckon with the possibility of such wide-scale destruction?

Full scale global nuclear war is hard to fathom. One nuclear launch could set off a chain of events that would radically alter life on the planet. Millions would die in the initial blasts and millions more would starve as the climate changed and our way of life withered. Just how are we supposed to reckon with the possibility of such wide-scale destruction?

Programs like NUKEMAP let you plot individual bombs and video games like Defcon simulate the war, but neither comes close to rendering the devastation a doomsday scenario would bring. That’s what Nuclear War Simulator (NWS) is for.

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Uranium contaminated property collapsing into Detroit River

Controversy continues to brew following revelations of repeated shoreline collapses into the Detroit River of a property contaminated with uranium, PCBs and other dangerous chemicals from an abandoned Manhattan Project contract facility in Detroit, Michigan.

beyondnuclear.org

Michigan.gov

The most recent collapse into the river occurred on November 26 or 27, 2019 but was not reported until a week later with a tip off to the Windsor Star newspaper just across the river in Canada. A previous collapse into the river occurred in October 2011 did not apparently result in remediations. The old Revere Copper and Brass site, now known as Detroit Bulk Storage, was used in the 1940s to process more than a thousand tons of uranium that was rolled into fuel rods to make the fissionable material for the first atomic bombs at the end of World War II. The facility continued to operate as part of the nation’s atomic bomb assembly line well into the 1950s before winding down and eventually abandoned in 1984. It is considered just one of hundreds of nuclear weapons contractor sites that make up America’s forgotten nuclear “waste land.”

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Here’s how Trump can get a win with Russia — and actually help all Americans

Extension of the New START Treaty would offer Trump an easy diplomatic win.

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: MICHAEL MCFAUL | washingtonpost.com

This image, provided by the U.S. Air Force, shows an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test launch on Oct. 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The image was taken with a slow shutter speed. (J.T. Armstrong/U.S. Air Force via AP)

President Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House this week — a meeting that prompted considerable controversy, given the fraught backdrop of U.S.-Russia relations. Yet the coverage — additionally complicated by the impeachment proceedings taking place on Capitol Hill — almost entirely overlooked a crucial topic of the negotiations: the urgent need to keep alive a vital nuclear arms agreement.

Readouts and media reports reveal that Lavrov discussed the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), set to expire in February 2021, with his American interlocutors. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both suggested that China must be included in a future strategic nuclear arms deal, hinting that they may not extend the New START Treaty without Chinese involvement.

That would be a major mistake. The United States and Russia should extend the New START Treaty, an outcome that clearly would serve U.S. national security interests. At the same time, U.S. arms control negotiators could begin discussions with their Chinese counterparts about a new, future multilateral treaty to limit the deployments of nuclear weapons. While doing so, they should recognize that China is already well below the limits on nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles specified by New START and thus need not be a party to this agreement.

But these two negotiations should be sequenced, not linked. Extend the New START Treaty with Russia first; begin strategy stability talks with Russia and China second.

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Pentagon: Nuke official sexually harassed 3 women on his staff, resigns during probe

ARTICLE BY: TOM VANDEN BROOK | usatoday.com

WASHINGTON – A top Pentagon official for nuclear defense sexually harassed three women on his staff and resigned as an investigation substantiated the charges against him, the Defense Department inspector general reported Thursday.

Guy Roberts, who had served as the assistant Defense secretary for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, resigned on April 2 amid a probe into allegations from three women on his staff that he had forced hugs and kisses on them and told inappropriate jokes. The inspector general’s investigation began Feb. 22.


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The New START Treaty Keeps Nuclear Arsenals In Check And President Trump Must Act To Preserve It

Are the stars finally aligning for Washington and Moscow to extend the New START treaty?

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: HANS KRISTENSEN & MATT KORDA | forbes.com

Nuclear arms control is reportedly on the agenda for a rush-meeting between Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today. Over the past weeks, Russia had softened its preconditions for extending the New START Treaty––the only strategic arms control agreement still in place between the two nuclear superpower––while

President Donald Trump last week said that he had spoken with President Vladimir Putin and “we are – he very much wants to, and so do we, work out a treaty of some kind on nuclear weapons…”

New START Treaty aggregate numbers of strategic forces

The New START treaty limits US and Russian deployed strategic nuclear forces, and additionally facilitates inspections and exchanges of information on the status and movements of their intercontinental ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Signed in 2010, the treaty expires in February 2021 but can be extended for another five years.There is nothing other than personalities and bad advice that is preventing Moscow and Washington from extending New START. Retaining the treaty is clearly in the interest of both countries, particularly as other arms control agreements have been abandoned and military tensions are steadily increasing.

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Critical Events

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Nuclear News

LANL’s New Director Discusses Changing Culture

BY REBECCA MOSS | santafenewmexican.com 

Three months into his tenure as the 12th director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Thomas Mason acknowledged that fixing the lab’s problems is going to take time, and setbacks could prevent Los Alamos from meeting key nuclear production goals.

But Mason said transforming the lab’s culture to one in which success is replicated — department to department, day after day — is the key to long-term success.

“The most important thing is to become more of a learning organization — where we can take practices [that work] and move them from one part of the organization to the next, and we can respond to stuff that happens … in a way that gets better over time,” Mason said in a recent interview.

“It is tricky,” he added. “There are 12,000 people who work at the lab every day.”

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The U.S. And Russia Are Stocking Up On Missiles And Nukes For A Different Kind Of War

Russian Troops Load a Missile

NPR, February 1, 2019, 6:07 AM ET By GEOFF BRUMFIEL

The true battle over these new weapons may end up in Congress. While Republicans seem ready to back the Trump administration’s request for more battlefield nukes, the newly elected Democratic majority in the House of Representatives seems intent on blocking them.

“We do not view nuclear weapons as a tool in warfare,” Adam Smith, now the Democratic chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a speech in November. “It makes no sense for us to build low-yield nuclear weapons.”

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Trump is Fixating on Another ‘Wall’ That Will Almost Certainly Fail to Live Up to his Promises

BY THE TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD | latimes.com

President Trump participates in a Missile Defense Review announcement at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. on Jan. 17. (Sipa USA / TNS)

In 1983, in what came to be known as his “Star Wars” speech, President Ronald Reagan unveiled an ambitious vision for a missile defense system that would render the need for traditional nuclear deterrence unnecessary. Reagan asked: “What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?”

The “Star Wars” label proved prophetic, because Reagan’s vision of an impermeable shield that would deflect incoming nuclear missiles proved to be the stuff of science fiction. Missile defense has achieved modest successes, but it also has been marked by embarrassing failures.

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Comment by the Information and Press Department on Space-based Elements Outlined in the US Missile Defence Review

mid.ru | We have taken note that in the US Missile Defence Review (MDR) published on January 17, a serious emphasis is placed on the formation of a space-based missile defence group, including missile interceptors. Deployment of such systems in space is ostensibly designed to make it easier to destroy different types of missiles in the boost phase over enemy territory. To achieve this, the US Defence Department has been instructed to study the most advanced technology, as well as draw up a time schedule, costs and personnel requirements.

We consider this to be further evidence (on a par with the decision to create space-based armed forces and the allocation of funds for the development of space-based missile defence) of Washington’s real intention to use outer space for combat operations and ensuring US domination in space in the near future. We are deeply disappointed that instead of developing constructive dialogue on the issues of strategic stability and preventing an arms race in space the US preferred to return to the implementation of yet another version of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars programme.

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‘Trump Could Hardly Have Chosen a Worse Moment’

In a DER SPIEGEL interview, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas laments America’s rejection of multilateralism and says that Donald Trump does not view the U.S. as the leading power among liberal democracies. He’s hoping to save the INF.

Interview by CHRISTIANE HOFFMAN and CHRISTOPH SCHULT | spiegel.de

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas – January 7, 2019 in Berlin.

DER SPIEGEL: Mr. Minister, United States President Donald Trump has turned against a global order based on international rules and agreements. In response, you called for the creation of an “Alliance of Multilateralists” last summer. How is that alliance coming along?

Maas: It’s growing. Many countries are seriously concerned that the principle of might makes right is once again being applied internationally.

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US to Begin INF Treaty Pullout Next Month After Russia Missile Talks Fail

Officials reject Russian offer to inspect new missile; US says it will suspend observance of treaty on 2 February.

By JULIAN BORGER in Washington theguardian.com | Wed 16 Jan 2019 18.29 EST

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, accused the US of intransigence.
Photograph: Pavel Golovkin/AP

The US has rejected Moscow’s offer to inspect a new Russian missile suspected of violating a key cold-war era treaty, and warned that it would suspend observance of the treaty on 2 February, giving six-month notice of a complete withdrawal.

The under-secretary of state for arms control and international security, Andrea Thompson, confirmed the US intention to withdraw from the treaty after a meeting with a Russian delegation in Geneva, which both sides described as a failure.

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INF, AFP, nuclear arms

Nuclear arms treaty faces collapse after failed US-Russia talks

By BEN SIMON/ AP channelnewsasia.com
Geneva (AFP) – The survival of a key nuclear arms control treaty was cast further in doubt Tuesday after the US and Russia blamed each other for pushing the agreement to the brink of collapse.

Senior diplomats from both countries met in Geneva amid widespread concern over the fate of the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which successfully put an end to a mini-arms race after it was signed in 1987.

US President Donald Trump said in October that his country would pull out of the deal unless Russia stops violating it. Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to develop nuclear missiles banned under the treaty if it is scrapped.

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LANL Cleanup: What you can do

Please consider attending and giving public comments at local public meetings concerning cleanup at Los Alamos. Public comments do make a difference!

Follow NukeWatch and submit public written comments. We frequently comment on environmental impact statements and provide sample comments. Support Us: https://nukewatch.org/get-involved/donate/

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.

New & Updated

Why the new US ICBMs would be too expensive even if they were free

“Experts estimate that it would take two Russian warheads to destroy with high confidence one of the 400 active US ICBMs, each armed with a single warhead. This might seem like a good deal, until you ask what the impact of 800 Russian warheads exploding on US territory would be…The long-term contamination would be about ten times greater than that from the Chernobyl accident, rendering a large swath of the Midwest uninhabitable for generations.”

BY: ROBERT J. GOLDSTON | thebulletin.org

Two missile maintenance personnel perform an electrical check on a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile in its silo, 1980. Photo credit: Bob Wickley/Wikimedia Commons.

The proposed US nuclear modernization program includes replacing the 400 existing Minuteman III missiles with a new set of “Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent” missiles and their associated facilities. The cost for this modernization is very large, with an advertised price tag of $85 billion, and if history is any guide, a substantial cost escalation is likely. On the one hand, if these silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) deter attacks that would cost tens of millions of lives, then they are worth this much many times over. On the other hand, if they are more likely to cause massive numbers of human deaths, then they are immensely expensive even if they cost nothing.

The primary argument for silo-based ICBMs is that they would “sponge up” a large number of Russian warheads if the United States were attacked.

Continue reading

Final Supplement Analysis (SA) and Determination on Complex Transformation Supplement Environmental Impact Statement (SPEIS) for Expanded Pit Production to be Released Later This Week

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) has approved a final Supplement Analysis (SA) and determination on the Complex Transformation Supplement Environmental Impact Statement (SPEIS) which evaluated whether increasing capabilities to produce a minimum of 50 pits per year at a re-purposed Mixed-oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) at the Savannah River Site (SRS) and a minimum of 30 pits per year at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), with additional surge capacity at each site if needed, would require the preparation of a new or supplement EIS.  This SA is the programmatic, complex-wide analysis mentioned in the Notice of Intent for the site-specific SRS EIS that was published in the Federal Register (FR) on June 10, 2019, and the final of the draft SA that was released for an approximately 45-day public comment period on June 28, 2019.

Continue reading

If the Trump plan survives legal challenges, polluters would no longer need a permit to release contaminated water into ephemeral streams and wetlands that aren’t immediately adjacent to protected waters. This would, according to New Mexico’s Environment Department, eliminate about 40% of the state’s water pollution permits, including those held by wastewater treatment plants, hard-rock mines and coal mines.

The effect this could have on the state’s drinking water is illustrated most starkly at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the former Manhattan Project site that serves as a center of the country’s nuclear research and development.

BY: ANNA M. PHILLIPS | latimes.com

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

EPA: Permit will regulate polluted stormwater in Los Alamos County

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will require a federal pollution permit be used to regulate Los Alamos County’s contaminated stormwater, which for years has flowed into streams and the Rio Grande, a primary source of drinking water.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

Attorneys representing the Taos-based advocacy group Amigos Bravos said their client’s September lawsuit against the EPA pushed the agency to require the permitting under the Clean Water Act.

The EPA issued preliminary findings in 2015 that showed pollutants in some parts of Los Alamos National Laboratory property and other areas of Los Alamos County far exceeded state health and water quality standards, yet the agency failed to take action, according to the Oregon-based Western Environmental Law Center.

“The EPA finally took a hard look at where these pollutants are coming from,” said Andrew Hawley, a law center attorney, in an interview. “The pollutants of concern were showing up in the tributaries going into the Rio Grande.”

EPA representatives at the regional office in Dallas couldn’t be reached Tuesday to comment on the agency’s decision or discuss the timeline for implementing the permit.

Continue reading

Courting Disaster: How Not to Manage Existential Threats to National Security

Washington’s pursuit of national ballistic missile defense for the last twenty years has, as much as anything else, driven Russian and Chinese strategic nuclear weapons acquisition decisions.

BY: ROBERT GALLUCCI | nationalinterest.org

Photo: National Interest

There are a small number of threats to our nation’s security, involving truly catastrophic consequences, which may be managed by good public policy. Some of these involve uncertainties over scientific or technological developments that could lead to good, as well as very bad outcomes. Think designer biology, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. But two stand out both for the certainty and magnitude of their destructive impact: climate change and nuclear weapons.

What does good public policy look like when dealing with nuclear weapons? It looks like actions that reduce uncertainty, increase transparency and security, and decrease numbers. It is called “arms control.”

Continue reading

NEPA transformed federal land management — and has fallen short

A look back at the ground-breaking legislation on its 50th anniversary.

BY: ADAM M. SOWARDS | defenseone.com

A U.S. Forest Service employee assesses sagebrush ecosystems of the Curlew National Grassland in Idaho. With NEPA’s passage, federal agencies were required to bring in specialists to study proposed project areas in depth. Employee on the Curlew National Grassland, Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Credit: US Forest Service.

In late January 1969, a blowout on Unocal’s Platform A leaked 3 million gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean, just 6 miles from Santa Barbara, California. The spill — at the time, the largest in U.S. history — spread over 800 square miles, coated 8 miles of beaches and killed thousands of animals. Images of the devastation shocked a public increasingly worried about the environment and helped spur Congress to pass a sweeping law aimed at preventing similar disasters in the future — the National Environmental Policy Act.

President Richard Nixon signed NEPA into law on Jan. 1, 1970, from his home office on the Pacific Coast. The signing was a fitting launch for the environmental decade of the 1970s — a time when “America pays its debt to the past by reclaiming the purity of its air, its waters, and our living environment,” as Nixon said in his signing statement. “It is literally now or never.”

Reckoning with History is an ongoing series that seeks to understand the legacies of the past and to put the West’s present moment in perspective.

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A Gateway to Nuclear Catastrophe: Democrats Retreat on Nuclear Policy

The 2020 authorization bill fails to check Trump’s worst impulses. Over 30 progressive national security organizations sent a letter to Congress opposing the final bill as doing “almost nothing to constrain the Trump administration’s erratic and reckless foreign policy.” Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she would oppose the bill, calling it a “$738 billion Christmas present to giant defense contractors.”

BY: TOM Z. COLLINA | defenseone.com

Question: How do you go from a National Defense Authorization Act that in July was opposed by every House Republican to one that was approved by more GOP votes than Democratic ones and that President Donald Trump called a huge win that he cannot wait to sign?

Answer: Add Space Force and parental family leave and take out all of the progressive national security provisions.

AP / ALEX BRANDON – In this 2018 photo, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., left, stands as Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, second from left, speaks, accompanied by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.

The House passed the compromise NDAA last night; President Trump has said he will sign it. This final bill is a world apart from the version passed by House Democrats in July. The House version, ably led by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, prohibited deployment of Trump’s new “low-yield” nuclear weapon for Trident submarines, which defense experts called “a gateway to nuclear catastrophe.”

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Watch the Pentagon test a previously banned ballistic missile

ARTICLE BY: AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

For the first time since the end of the INF Treaty, the U.S. Air Force has tested a ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic missile.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. has tested a ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers, the first such test since the country withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty this year.

The test, which occurred Thursday at 8:30 a.m. PST, was configured to represent a conventional warhead. The test was anticipated for months, with Defense Department officials previously indicating they hoped to have it happen before the end of the year.

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This Simulator Shows the Devastating Consequences of Global Nuclear War

Nuclear War Simulator, launching in 2020, lets the user design a plausible doomsday scenario and study the humanitarian impact. Just don’t call it a “game.”

ARTICLE BY: MATTHEW GAULT | vice.com

Full scale global nuclear war is hard to fathom. One nuclear launch could set off a chain of events that would radically alter life on the planet. Millions would die in the initial blasts and millions more would starve as the climate changed and our way of life withered. Just how are we supposed to reckon with the possibility of such wide-scale destruction?

Full scale global nuclear war is hard to fathom. One nuclear launch could set off a chain of events that would radically alter life on the planet. Millions would die in the initial blasts and millions more would starve as the climate changed and our way of life withered. Just how are we supposed to reckon with the possibility of such wide-scale destruction?

Programs like NUKEMAP let you plot individual bombs and video games like Defcon simulate the war, but neither comes close to rendering the devastation a doomsday scenario would bring. That’s what Nuclear War Simulator (NWS) is for.

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Uranium contaminated property collapsing into Detroit River

Controversy continues to brew following revelations of repeated shoreline collapses into the Detroit River of a property contaminated with uranium, PCBs and other dangerous chemicals from an abandoned Manhattan Project contract facility in Detroit, Michigan.

beyondnuclear.org

Michigan.gov

The most recent collapse into the river occurred on November 26 or 27, 2019 but was not reported until a week later with a tip off to the Windsor Star newspaper just across the river in Canada. A previous collapse into the river occurred in October 2011 did not apparently result in remediations. The old Revere Copper and Brass site, now known as Detroit Bulk Storage, was used in the 1940s to process more than a thousand tons of uranium that was rolled into fuel rods to make the fissionable material for the first atomic bombs at the end of World War II. The facility continued to operate as part of the nation’s atomic bomb assembly line well into the 1950s before winding down and eventually abandoned in 1984. It is considered just one of hundreds of nuclear weapons contractor sites that make up America’s forgotten nuclear “waste land.”

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Here’s how Trump can get a win with Russia — and actually help all Americans

Extension of the New START Treaty would offer Trump an easy diplomatic win.

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: MICHAEL MCFAUL | washingtonpost.com

This image, provided by the U.S. Air Force, shows an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test launch on Oct. 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The image was taken with a slow shutter speed. (J.T. Armstrong/U.S. Air Force via AP)

President Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House this week — a meeting that prompted considerable controversy, given the fraught backdrop of U.S.-Russia relations. Yet the coverage — additionally complicated by the impeachment proceedings taking place on Capitol Hill — almost entirely overlooked a crucial topic of the negotiations: the urgent need to keep alive a vital nuclear arms agreement.

Readouts and media reports reveal that Lavrov discussed the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), set to expire in February 2021, with his American interlocutors. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both suggested that China must be included in a future strategic nuclear arms deal, hinting that they may not extend the New START Treaty without Chinese involvement.

That would be a major mistake. The United States and Russia should extend the New START Treaty, an outcome that clearly would serve U.S. national security interests. At the same time, U.S. arms control negotiators could begin discussions with their Chinese counterparts about a new, future multilateral treaty to limit the deployments of nuclear weapons. While doing so, they should recognize that China is already well below the limits on nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles specified by New START and thus need not be a party to this agreement.

But these two negotiations should be sequenced, not linked. Extend the New START Treaty with Russia first; begin strategy stability talks with Russia and China second.

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Pentagon: Nuke official sexually harassed 3 women on his staff, resigns during probe

ARTICLE BY: TOM VANDEN BROOK | usatoday.com

WASHINGTON – A top Pentagon official for nuclear defense sexually harassed three women on his staff and resigned as an investigation substantiated the charges against him, the Defense Department inspector general reported Thursday.

Guy Roberts, who had served as the assistant Defense secretary for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, resigned on April 2 amid a probe into allegations from three women on his staff that he had forced hugs and kisses on them and told inappropriate jokes. The inspector general’s investigation began Feb. 22.


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The New START Treaty Keeps Nuclear Arsenals In Check And President Trump Must Act To Preserve It

Are the stars finally aligning for Washington and Moscow to extend the New START treaty?

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: HANS KRISTENSEN & MATT KORDA | forbes.com

Nuclear arms control is reportedly on the agenda for a rush-meeting between Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today. Over the past weeks, Russia had softened its preconditions for extending the New START Treaty––the only strategic arms control agreement still in place between the two nuclear superpower––while

President Donald Trump last week said that he had spoken with President Vladimir Putin and “we are – he very much wants to, and so do we, work out a treaty of some kind on nuclear weapons…”

New START Treaty aggregate numbers of strategic forces

The New START treaty limits US and Russian deployed strategic nuclear forces, and additionally facilitates inspections and exchanges of information on the status and movements of their intercontinental ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Signed in 2010, the treaty expires in February 2021 but can be extended for another five years.There is nothing other than personalities and bad advice that is preventing Moscow and Washington from extending New START. Retaining the treaty is clearly in the interest of both countries, particularly as other arms control agreements have been abandoned and military tensions are steadily increasing.

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

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Quotes

“The Cold War times have passed. We don’t need an rearmament debate, we need a debate about disarming. We cannot answer today’s security questions with the deterrence ideologies from last century.”

– Oliver Meier in Berlin, in response to a question about the INF Treaty

Chinese “carrier killers” (military vehicles carrying DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles, potentially capable of sinking a U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in a single strike) during a 2015 military parade in Beijing.

Cold War times | REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool/File Photo

“Is a nuclear World War III preventable? Yes, but only if preventing it becomes a central, common objective of our moment. And time is already running out.”

truthout.org  When it comes to relations between Donald Trump’s America, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and Xi Jinping’s China, observers everywhere are starting to talk about a return to an all-too-familiar past. “Now we have a new Cold War,” commented Russia expert Peter Felgenhauer in Moscow after President Trump announced plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
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