Nuclear Watch New Mexico

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

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

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

LANL FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Pantex Plant FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

KCP FY 2021 Budget Chart – 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

Vatican representative calls on U.S. to sign nuclear-test-ban treaty

“The treaty is a critically important step toward creating a world without nuclear weapons…Each of the remaining eight states should strongly back up its words in favor of peace by being the first to sign.”

BY: Cindy Wooden | catholicnews.com

Pope Francis delivers a message about nuclear weapons at Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park in Nagasaki, Japan, Nov. 24, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the absurdity of “pouring valuable resources into the maintenance of weapons of destruction while so many on this planet are struggling to survive,” a Vatican representative told a U.N. meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.

It is impossible to make a moral case for continued nuclear weapon testing,” said Msgr. Fredrik Hansen, charge d’affaires at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

“There should never be another nuclear test explosion,” he told the online meeting Aug. 26.

The United Nations has designated Aug. 29 as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, and Msgr. Hansen used the occasion to call on China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States to ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

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Smith and Menendez Statement on the Immense Costs of Allowing the New START Treaty to Expire

Already exorbitant nuclear weapons costs will only go up if the New START treaty expires.
“Extending the New START Treaty for a full five years is clearly the right financial and national security choice. America cannot afford a costly and dangerous nuclear arms race, particularly in the middle of our current economic, political, and health crises.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 26, 2020
Contact:
Smith: Monica Matoush // 202-226-5048
Menendez: Juan Pachon // 202-224-4130

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a new report regarding the potential costs of expanding U.S. strategic nuclear forces if the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) Expires:

“CBO’s nonpartisan report is clear: The Trump administration’s unwillingness to continue the decades of strategic arms control by failing to extend the New START Treaty is driving the United States toward a dangerous arms race, which we cannot afford. While this report only begins to account for the costs of the Administration’s preposterous claims that we can ‘spend the adversary into oblivion,’ it is further proof of why New START is essential to U.S. and international security.

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Catholics Against Nukes: Archbishop Wester’s Hiroshima Vigil

As long as nuclear deterrence, that most unmeasured of strategies, remains, it keeps company with the prospect of use and annihilation. Coghlan, in his rebuke to the editors also penned in the Albuquerque Journal, gave an acid summation: “the US arsenal has always been about nuclear war fighting, starting with the simple fact that we were the first to use it.” Only “sheer luck has kept us from nuclear catastrophe.”

BY: Binoy Kampmark | scoop.com/nz

In what is a turn-up for the books, a senior voice of the Catholic Church made something of an impression this month that did not incite scandal, hot rage, or the commencement of an investigation. It did, however, agitate a few editors. Archbishop John C. Wester of San Fe, in speaking at the online Hiroshima Day vigil, had put up his hand to defy the validity and morality of nuclear weapons and, along with them, the idea of nuclear deterrence. One of the organisers of the event, the veteran peace activist Rev. John Dear, claimed it had “never happened before.”

Dear had a point. There has been a shift within Catholic ranks urged along by Pope Francis on that most fatuous of strategic doctrines, nuclear deterrence. Before the United Nations General Assembly in June 1982, Pope John Paul II chose to argue that nuclear “‘deterrence’ based on balance, certainly not as an end in itself but as a step on the way toward a progressive disarmament, may still be judged morally acceptable.”

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America’s Ageing Nuclear Fleet Underprepared For Climate Change

Last year, Bloomberg conducted a review of “correspondence between the commission and owners of 60 plants” and made some terrifying discoveries. According to their own risk assessments, “54 of their [60] facilities weren’t designed to handle the flood risk they now face.”

oilprice.com

The United States is not only one of the first and foremost nuclear powers of the world, it has also long been the nuclear powerhouse of the planet, being responsible for a whopping two thirds of global nuclear energy production. Domestically, the United States’ nuclear power plants account for approximately 20 percent of the nation’s total electricity and produce over 50 percent of the entire country’s carbon-free energy generation.  But these superlatives, both global and domestic, won’t last. As nuclear energy grows around the world, the industry is in deep trouble in the U.S., where the aging nuclear fleet has been battered by a flood of cheap shale oil and natural gas, and is now barely clinging to life thanks to hefty government subsidies and leaving the shockingly high cost of radioactive waste maintenance to the taxpayers.

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New Video Shows Largest Hydrogen Bomb Ever Exploded

A Russian nuclear energy agency released formerly classified footage of the Soviet Union’s 1961 Tsar Bomba test.

BY:  | nytimes.com

A still image from a 30-minute, previously secret documentary on the largest hydrogen bomb ever detonated. Credit: Rosatom

Hydrogen bombs — the world’s deadliest weapons — have no theoretical size limit. The more fuel, the bigger the explosion. When the United States in 1952 detonated the world’s first, its destructive force was 700 times as great as that of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

And in the darkest days of the Cold War, the Soviets and the Americans didn’t only compete to build the most weapons. They each sought at times to build the biggest bomb of all.

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New & Updated

Talk of Reviving Nuclear Tests Raises Alarm

The Trump administration’s recent discussions on whether the U.S. should resume nuclear testing for the first time since 1992 have raised alarm among watchdogs and, if carried out, might affect Los Alamos National Laboratory’s nuclear “stockpile stewardship.”

ARTICLE BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

Talk of Reviving Nuclear Tests Raises Alarm
Storax Sedan shallow underground nuclear test by the United States, used for a cratering experiment. 6 July 1962 (GMT), Nevada Test Site Yield: 104 kt. The main purpose of the detonation was to asses the non military dimension of a nuclear explosion.

National security officials at the White House last month talked about lifting the 28-year moratorium on explosive nuclear tests, less as a technical necessity than in response to unconfirmed reports that Russia and China are conducting low-yield tests, according to the Washington Post.

At the moment, there are no actual plans to pursue underground nuclear testing, but talks will remain ongoing and tests will remain an option to consider, two unnamed sources told the Post. Another source said officials were leaning toward other ways to deal with China and Russia.

Nuclear nonproliferation advocates say it is significant that Trump officials are even floating the idea of reviving tests that were halted after the Cold War ended.

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OREPA Comments on the Draft Supplement Analysis for the Final Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the Y-12 National Security Complex, Earthquake Accident Analysis

SUMMARY
The Draft Supplement Analysis (SA) is carefully crafted to minimize consideration of the environmental impacts of the NNSA’s “hybrid plan” for enriched uranium operations at the Y-12 National Security Complex starting with the decision to limit the SA to the analysis of earthquake risks only, and then only to three facilities engaged in enriched uranium operations, further limiting the analysis of consequences to radiation releases only, and then only to humans.

READ FULL COMMENTS

Seismic Expert Issues Scathing Review of NNSA Earthquake Study at Oak Ridge Nuclear Bomb Plant

| orepa.org

David D. Jackson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California Los Angeles, issued a scathing review of the latest study to analyze earthquake risks at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, saying, “The agency’s analysis is defective in numerous regards. It falls far short of relevant professional and scientific standards.”

Jackson was asked by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance to review the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Draft Supplement Analysis (SA) of a 2011 Environmental Impact Statement on plans for continued nuclear weapons production at the Oak Ridge production complex. In September, 2019, federal judge Pamela Reeve set aside two previous SAs and ordered NNSA to prepare additional environmental analysis with special attention paid to the risks presented by earthquakes.

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DoE Could be Ready to Go With Minimal Nuke Test in Nevada in ‘Months,’ Pentagon Official Says

It would take only a matter of months for the Department of Energy to perform an underground nuclear-explosive test with minimal diagnostics, a Pentagon official said Tuesday.

| defensedaily.com

Previous heads of the agency’s semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have talked “about a very quick test with limited diagnostics, though certainly diagnostics, within months,” said Drew Walter, who is performing the duties of deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear matters.

“A fuller test, fully diagnostic, and lots of data, all the bells and whistles, so to speak, might be measured in years. But ultimately, if the President directed because of a technical issue or a geopolitical issue, a system to go test, I think it would happen relatively rapidly.”

Walter also said that he believes the NNSA has a borehole at the Nevada National Security Site that would be suitable for such a rapid test.

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ACT NOW TO STOP THE NEW BOMB PLANT!

The National Nuclear Security Administration was told by a federal judge to prepare a new analysis of the risks of an earthquake at the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where nuclear weapons parts are made. Instead, NNSA prepared a very narrow analysis of the effects of an earthquake on three buildings at Y-12. They published this Supplement Analysis in April and invited public comment.

If you want to read the Supplement Analysis, you can find it on OREPA’s website: www.orepa.org. On the right hand column, just under the UPF lawsuit heading.

Your comments should be sent by May 26 to:
Ms. Terri Slack
P.O. Box 2050
Oak Ridge, TN 37831
or by email to: NEPA.Comments@npo.doe.gov

MORE INFORMATION

Smith, Cooper Statement on Trump Administration’s Withdrawal From the Open Skies Treaty

May 21, 2020 | PRESS RELEASE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Jim Cooper (D-TN), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, today issued the following statement in response to reports that the Trump Administration plans to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty:

“The Administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Open Skies Treaty is a slap in the face to our allies in Europe, leaves our deployed forces in the region at risk, and is in blatant violation of the law. This decision weakens our national security interests, isolates the United States since the Treaty will continue without us, and abandons a useful tool to hold Russia accountable.

“What’s more, this decision has been made without any consultation with Congress. Not only does the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act require a minimum 120-days’ notification of the withdrawal notice, but also multiple communications from the House Armed Services Committee and other congressional chairmen have gone unanswered.

“The Trump Administration continues to give Russia the upper hand with regards to arms control, which leaves our allies and deployed forces less protected in Europe. Despite the Department of Defense’s rhetoric about the dire need to prepare for ‘great power competition,’ this decision will undoubtedly do the exact opposite, and further fracture our relationships with allies needed to push back against Russian aggression in the region.”

Citing financial cost of pandemic, House liberals demand cut in military spending

Twenty-nine of the House’s most liberal Democratic members called Tuesday for a cut in military spending in the yearly national defense authorization bill — a declaration, they said, that is meant to focus federal resources on the coronavirus pandemic.

MIKE DEBONIS | washingtonpost.com

The demand, however, stands to greatly complicate the Democratic-controlled House’s ability to advance the National Defense Authorization Act, one of the most consequential must-pass measures that Congress assembles each year. It is likely to generate objections from Republicans and more moderate Democrats alike — and create headaches for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her leadership team.

The signers are almost all members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including lead sponsors Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Mark Pocan (Wis.), who have long called for lower levels of Pentagon spending to free more resources for domestic spending. But the pandemic, they argue, presents a new imperative for defense cuts.

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Scuttlebiz: Will ‘pit production’ save SRS?

“Don’t be lulled into a false sense of urgency by the federal law “requiring” pit production begin by 2030. That law carries as much weight as the 1982 federal act requiring the nation to have a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain 12 years ago. Still waiting…”

DAMON CLINE | augustachronicle.com

It’s a choice that – from a local economic development perspective – isn’t much of a choice.

Here it is: 1) Convert the Savannah River Site’s unfinished Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility into a nuclear weapons plant; or 2) Let the MOX plant keep rotting while New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory continues producing the nation’s stockpile of “plutonium pits.”

Considering that about $9 billion is at stake, and that SRS needs a new “mission,” I believe it’s safe to assume local leaders want what’s behind Door No. 1.

The National Nuclear Security Administration laid out the two alternatives last month in a draft environmental impact study addressing the nation’s need to manufacture 80 new nuclear weapon cores a year by 2030.

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Huge Deficit = Defense Budget Cuts? Maybe Not

The congressional calendar and strategic inertia may come together to keep the defense budget relatively high. The calendar helps because the fiscal 2021 defense budget will likely be passed while Congress is in a free-spending mood.

| breakingdefense.com

The current Washington consensus sees deep defense budget cuts in the face of soaring deficits driven by the emergency legislation to stabilize the American economy as it reels from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It may be wrong. The congressional calendar and strategic inertia may come together to keep the defense budget relatively high. The calendar helps because the fiscal 2021 defense budget will likely be passed while Congress is in a free-spending mood. The next administration — Republican or Democratic — will develop budgets beyond that, but the constraints of long-standing strategy will prevent major changes to force structure and acquisition that would drive deep budget cuts.   

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Will the Trump administration’s accusations doom the nuclear test ban treaty?

“Although US accusations are unlikely to be true, they could give a convenient pretext to officials who want to withdraw the US signature from the treaty, allowing the United States to resume its own nuclear testing. In fact, that may be the entire point.”

ANDREAS PERSBO | thebulletin.org

In April, while most of the world was focused on defeating a devastating viral pandemic, the US State Department quietly released its annual compliance report, describing whether and how the United States and other countries have been abiding by various arms control agreements. The report is sober reading for those hoping that the coronavirus would usher in a new era of international collaboration.

The report made waves for raising “concerns” about China’s adherence to a “zero-yield” nuclear testing standard, as called for by the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Although neither the United States or China has ratified the treaty, both have signed it, and both claim to abide by a nuclear testing moratorium.

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Released From Silence

One year anniversary of the release of the documentary short film “The Atomic Soldiers”

“The Atomic Soldiers” lets the veterans who witnessed the Hood test in Nevada tell their own stories. But the painful memories sometimes choke their recollections, leaving long and moving silences in place of words. “You don’t send 14,000 troops through ground zero and not call it anything but genocide,” says one.

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Ground U.S.-North Korean Diplomacy in International Law

In the midst of a global pandemic, it is clear that cooperative measures to tackle modern-day global security threats are critical.

| nationalinterest.org

In the years since the summits between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore and Hanoi, U.S.-North Korean diplomacy has fizzled to a halt. This is a grave mistake. Both North Korea and the United States need to get serious about reviving diplomatic efforts to eliminate their nuclear weapons.

In the midst of a global pandemic, it is clear that cooperative measures to tackle modern-day global security threats are critical. North Korean and U.S. nuclear weapons put the rest of the world at risk—and drain valuable resources from needed economic recovery efforts and social services. ICAN estimated that together North Korea and the United States spent $36 billion on nuclear weapons in 2019. The United States spent $35.4 billion and North Korea spent about $0.6 billion.

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Trump Admin Sprints to Weaken Environmental Protections During Pandemic

‘There’s a lot they want to get done before the election, just in case.’

The Trump administration is diligently weakening U.S. environment protections even amid a global pandemic, continuing its rollback as the November election approaches.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, U.S. federal agencies have eased fuel-efficiency standards for new cars; frozen rules for soot air pollution; proposed to drop review requirements for liquefied natural gas terminals; continued to lease public property to oil and gas companies; sought to speed up permitting for offshore fish farms; and advanced a proposal on mercury pollution from power plants that could make it easier for the government to conclude regulations are too costly to justify their benefits.

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Critical Events

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Click above for more information on the entry into force of the Nuclear Ban Treaty

Nuclear News

Trump Claims Energy Secretary Rick Perry Is Behind Ukraine Call at Heart of Impeachment Inquiry: Report

President Trump told House Republicans that he made his now infamous phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the urging of Energy Secretary Rick Perry — a call Trump claimed he didn’t even want to make.

BY ANNA KAPLAN | thedailybeast.com Oct. 5, 2019

Carlos Barria/Reuters

President Trump has reportedly tried to pin the explosive Ukraine call at the center of an impeachment inquiry on Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Axios reports that the president claimed Perry had asked him to make the July phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that sparked a whistleblower complaint. Trump reportedly claimed that he did not even want to call Zelensky, but said Perry had wanted him to inquire about a liquified natural gas plant. Trump is currently facing an impeachment inquiry for allegedly using that phone call to pressure Zelensky to pursue an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and his son’s ties to a major Ukrainian gas company. 

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12 States join the Nuclear Ban Treaty on International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons 2019

On the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, 12 states took another significant step towards achieving this goal by signing or ratifying the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, during a special High-Level Ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The five nations that ratified during the ceremony are:

  • Bangladesh
  • Kiribati
  • Laos
  • Maldives
  • Trinidad & Tobago

These states are also joined by Ecuador, which became the 27th state to ratify the Treaty on September 25th, one day before the ceremony.

The following states signed on to the Treaty:  Botswana, Dominica, Grenada, Lesotho, St Kitts and Nevis, Tanzania and Zambia, as well as the Maldives and Trinidad and Tobago (as the latter two states both signed and ratified the Treaty during the ceremony).

The treaty now has 79 signatories and 32 States Parties. By signing, a State commits to not take any action that would undermine the treaty’s object and purpose. Upon depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, a state becomes legally bound by the terms of the treaty. When the Treaty has 50 states Parties it will enter into force, making nuclear weapons illegal under international law.

The ceremony was hosted by long-time champions of the Treaty: Austria, Brazil, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa and Thailand and enabled presidents and foreign ministers to take this important step while they were gathered at the UNGA.

ICAN meets Irish President Michael Higgins

Newly-elected President of the UN General Assembly, Mr Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria, opened the ceremony, and spoke passionately in support of the Treaty’s importance in ending nuclear weapons. “We commend states that have joined TPNW and urge those who have not done so to do join in this most vital action,“ he said during his address to the UNGA Plenary event earlier in the day.

Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN, celebrated the move by these 12 countries and the outspoken support for the Treaty around the world throughout the day.  “Away from most cameras, we come together to do the actual work of nuclear disarmament. For the good of your people and the good of the world you propel the Treaty toward entry-into-force […]  Today, in this room, I feel the scale tilting toward the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This day of action gives us all hope at a bleak time.”

After today, the treaty is almost two-thirds of the way to its entry into force, and this momentum is expected to continue. Several countries have confirmed to ICAN that their ratifications are imminent, and campaigners around the world will not stop until every country is on board.

Join the movement to end nuclear weapons

The full ceremony can be viewed here:

Nuclear power is not the answer in a time of climate change

Wild weather, fires, rising sea levels, earthquakes and warming water temperatures all increase the risk of nuclear accidents, while the lack of safe, long-term storage for radioactive waste remains a persistent danger.

BY HEIDI HUTNER & ERICA CIRINO | aeon.co 

The Woolsey Fire seen from Topanga Canyon in California. Photo courtesy of Peter Buschmann/USDA/Flickr

Proponents of nuclear power say that the reactors’ relative reliability and capacity make this a much clearer choice than other non-fossil-fuel sources of energy, such as wind and solar, which are sometimes brought offline by fluctuations in natural resource availability. Yet no one denies that older nuclear plants, with an aged infrastructure often surpassing expected lifetimes, are extremely inefficient and run a higher risk of disaster.

‘The primary source of nuclear power going forward will be the current nuclear fleet of old plants,’ said Joseph Lassiter, an energy expert and nuclear proponent who is retired from Harvard University. But ‘even where public support exists for [building new] nuclear plants, it remains to be seen if these new-build nuclear plants will make a significant contribution to fossil-emissions reductions given the cost and schedule overruns that have plagued the industry.’

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Nuclear Abolition: The Road from Armageddon to Transformation

Nuclear weapons pose a grave threat to the future of civilization. As long as we allow these weapons to exist, we flirt with the catastrophe that they will be used, whether intentionally or accidentally.

ESSAY BY DAVID KRIEGER
Great Transition Initiative
(August 2018), http://www.greattransition.org/publication/nuclear-abolition.

Meanwhile, nuclear weapons skew social priorities, create imbalances of power, and heighten geopolitical tension. Diplomacy has brought some noteworthy steps in curbing risks and proliferation, but progress has been uneven and tenuous. The ultimate aim of abolishing these weapons from the face of the earth—the “zero option”—faces formidable challenges of ignorance, apathy, and fatigue.

Yet, the total abolition of nuclear weapons is essential for a Great Transition to a future rooted in respect for life, global solidarity, and ecological resilience.

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The Catastrophic Tenure Of John Bolton

 “The national security adviser’s principal responsibility has traditionally been to oversee a disciplined policymaking process that includes the State Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, and to tee up big decisions for the president,” editorialized The Washington Post the night of Bolton’s firing, “Mr. Bolton didn’t do that.”

BY JOE CIRINCIONE | lobelog.com Sep. 11, 2019

John Bolton’s tenure was a complete disaster. The national security architecture after Bolton looks like the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian.

Seventeen months ago, before Bolton became Donald Trump’s third national security advisor, the United States still had a deal that had stopped Iran’s nuclear program in its tracks. More, it had rolled it back to a fraction of its original size and boxed it into the most intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated. It was a deal for the ages. All of Trump’s military, intelligence and security advisors and our closest allies urged Trump to stay in the accord. Bolton destroyed it in two months, pushing Trump to violate it and impose draconian sanctions on Iran.

“Withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal should be a top Donald Trump administration priority,” Bolton tweeted in July 2017, months before his appointment. “The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” he shouted at an MEK rally in July 2017, promising them that they would all celebrate in Tehran “before 2019.”

Today, Iran is slowly pealing away from the deal, too, taking baby steps towards restarting capabilities that someday could allow it to make the material for a bomb, should it decide to do so. No new deal. No better deal. No regime change. No celebration in Tehran. “Trump has spent years making a mess of Iran policy for no reason other than right wing politics and incompetence,” tweeted former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes as news of Bolton’s sacking spread.

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California lawmaker aims to stop closure of Diablo Canyon nuclear plant

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, R-Templeton (San Luis Obispo County), on Wednesday proposed a state constitutional amendment that would designate nuclear power as a source of renewable energy.

BY J.D. MORRIS | sfchronicle.com Sep. 4, 2019

The proposal, which requires a constitutional amendment, faces long odds for passage.Photo: Michael A. Mariant / Associated Press 2005

Cunningham and two pro-nuclear organizations who support his amendment think its passage would make Diablo Canyon worth as much as $3.6 billion. A statement from Cunningham’s office said prolonging the life of Diablo Canyon would help the state fulfill its climate goals and “provide ratepayers with a cheap and constant source of energy for decades to come.”

But John Geesman, an attorney for the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, an anti-nuclear nonprofit, viewed the amendment as an attempt to prop up Diablo Canyon’s finances and said it had little chance of garnering the support it needs in the Legislature and electorate.

“That’s two mountains they’re probably incapable of climbing, realistically,” Geesman said. “The public just doesn’t want this stuff.”

Younger retiring as director of Sandia Labs

Sandia National Laboratories Director Steve Younger is retiring after two years on the job.

BY SCOTT TURNER / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER | abqjournal.com August 27, 2019

Younger retiring as director of Sandia Labs
Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Younger told employees at the labs in an email Monday, saying he informed the National Technology and Engineering Solutions Board of Managers of his intent to retire on Dec. 31.

Nuclear Media

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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.

Critical Events

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New & Updated

Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2021 Energy and Water Development Funding Bill

“Policy Provision: The bill prohibits funding for nuclear weapons testing.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2020
Contact:
Evan Hollander (Appropriations), 202-225-2771
Griffin Anderson (Kaptur), 202-225-4146

Legislation invests $49.6 billion in Energy and Water Development programs, an increase of $1.26 billion above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level, addressing climate change, improving infrastructure, and upholding our commitment to strengthening national security

In response to the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, legislation provides an additional $43.5 billion in emergency spending to repair water infrastructure and modernize energy infrastructure

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee today released the draft fiscal year 2021 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of the Interior programs, the Department of Energy, and other related agencies.

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Fifteen LANL Workers Being Evaluated For Possible Exposure To Plutonium-238 Following June 8 Glovebox Glove Breach

Los Alamos National Laboratory is investigating the possible exposure of Laboratory employees to plutonium-238 after a breach in a glovebox glove at the Plutonium Facility on June 8.

BY: MAIRE O’NEILL | losalamosreporter.com

The Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Courtesy photo

A Lab spokesperson told the Los Alamos Reporter Monday that employees responded promptly and appropriately, and cleared the room in a safe manner.

“Fifteen Laboratory workers are being evaluated for potential exposure. The area inside the Plutonium Facility where this occurred has been secured, pending a review of the events and there is no risk to public health and safety,” the spokesperson said.

A report by Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board inspectors Jonathan Plaue and David Gutowski dated June 12 noted that on June 8 continuous air monitors sounded when an operator pulled out of the glovebox gloves after weighing and packaging plutonium-238 oxide powder.

“The worker received significant contamination on his protective clothing, hair, and skin, as well as positive nasal swabs indicating a potential intake. Radiation protection personnel successfully decontaminated the individual, and he was provided chelation therapy,” the report states. “The room experienced significant airborne radioactivity and was contaminated. Fourteen additional workers were placed on bioassay. On Thursday (June 11), Triad management conducted a fact-finding to discuss the event, response, and near-term actions. Given the significance of the event, they chartered a team to perform a comprehensive investigation.”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

House Panel Would Block Pentagon From Extra Sway Over Nuclear Weapons Budget

The bill would bar funding for the Pentagon-led Nuclear Weapons Council, and would prevent it from assisting with the budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency under the Energy Department.

BY: JOE GOULD | defensenews.com

Airman 1st Class William Ray removes the screws holding the nose point of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile to the rest of the reentry system inside a payload transporter at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. (Senior Airman Brandon Valle/U.S. Air Force)

WASHINGTON ― House appropriators on Tuesday approved a spending bill that would block plans from defense hawks to give the Pentagon a stronger hand in crafting nuclear weapons budgets.

The House Appropriations Committee passed their Energy-Water bill, which contained the provision, by a voice vote. The $49.6 billion spending bill contained $13.7 billion for nuclear weapons accounts ― a $1.2 billion increase over fiscal 2020 that’s still $1.9 billion less than the president’s request.

Lead Republicans voiced opposition to the bill, arguing that Democrats had not consulted with Republicans on pandemic emergency funds in the bill and that Democrats included policy riders the White House will seek to cut. The top Republican on the House Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, said the bill “still shortchanges funding for the nuclear weapons program.”

“While I acknowledge the increase above last year, we must also acknowledge that the threats we face today are not the same threats we faced in the years immediately following the end of the Cold War,” he said. “We must adequately fund the activities necessary to maintain a safe, reliable and effective stockpile.”

The bill would bar funding for the Pentagon-led Nuclear Weapons Council, and would prevent it from assisting with the budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency under the Energy Department.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the annual defense policy bill would allow the council to edit the budget request after the Energy Department crafts it and before the request is submitted to the White House budget office. The move was seen as giving the Pentagon extra sway to boost warhead programs and nuclear weapons laboratories.

Its introduction came after Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette clashed with SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who backed a budget request for the larger number than Brouillette sought.

The Energy-Water spending bill contains language ordering no funds “may be used in furtherance of working through the Nuclear Weapons Council to guide, advise, assist, develop, or execute a budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration.”

Separately, the proposed bill would ban the Trump administration’s reported plan to resume nuclear weapons testing. The bill would prohibit funding “to conduct, or prepare to conduct, any explosive nuclear weapons test that produces any yield.”

“Critically, the bill would prevent the Trump administration from using any funds to carry out its dangerous and short-sighted plan to resume nuclear testing,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said in a statement.

The Trump administration was reportedly discussing whether a “rapid test” could aid it in negotiations with Russia and China, as the White House seeks a trilateral nuclear weapons pact.

The defense appropriations bill introduced Tuesday would also bar funding for explosive nuclear weapons tests.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

GROUPS ASK TO RESUME PUBLIC MEETINGS ON BOMB PLANT

Kathy Helms

Special correspondent
July 4, 2020
 
SANTA FE – Seven non-governmental organizations are asking the New Mexico Environment Department and the Department of Energy for the resumption of semi-annual presentations covering the production of plutonium pits at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The public participation provisions are contained in a 2005 settlement agreement. The settlement was reached after the same seven organizations objected to the issuance of an air emissions permit for the proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project.
At the same time, a New Mexico Environment Department draft air emissions permit is being prepared for public review and comment on releases from the lab and manufacturing facilities. The organizations said they are working to ensure those provisions public meetings covering construction at the weapons-component production facilities and a dedicated website are included in the air permit.

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Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The All-American Way

Today, in the context of the Black Lives Matter protests, TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich considers the all-American version of “extreme materialism” that Martin Luther King called out more than half a century ago. And when it comes to the overwhelming urge to get one’s hands on the goods, among the looters of this moment two groups are almost never mentioned: the Pentagon and the police.

BY: ANDREW BASEVICH | tomdispatch.com

Yet, in 1997, the Department of Defense set up the 1033 program as part of the National Defense Authorization Act to provide thousands of domestic police forces with “surplus” equipment of almost every imaginable militarized kind. Since then, thanks to your tax dollars, it has given away $7.4 billion of such equipment, some of it directly off the battlefields of this country’s forlorn “forever wars.” For items like grenade launchers, mine-resistant armored vehicles, military rifles, bayonets, body armor, night-vision goggles, and helicopters, all that police departments have to fork over is the price of delivery. The Pentagon has, in fact, been so eager to become the Macy’s of militarized hardware that, in 2017, it was even willing to “give $1.2 million worth of rifles, pipe bombs, and night vision goggles to a fake police department,” no questions asked. That “department” proved to be part of a sting operation run by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). “It was like getting stuff off of eBay,” a GAO official would say. Only, of course, for free.

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Non-Governmental Organizations Demand Resumption of Los Alamos Nuclear Bomb Plant Public Information Meetings


The NGOs request that the semi-annual public meetings resume by early fall 2020, and the CMRR Project website be updated and maintained until the RLUOB reconfiguration and PF-4 upgrades are completed. All documents and presentations from the previous 13 public meetings must be reposted. The NGOs are also asking that the unilateral decision by the DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to increase the amount of plutonium equivalent allowed in the RLUOB from 8.4 grams to 400 grams be reviewed by NMED.

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Los Alamos Lab Suppresses Data on Negative Economic Impact on Surrounding Counties; Wealthy White Los Alamos County Asks for 3,000 Acres Seized from Hispanics and Native Americans

“This is yet another example of the racial disparity that exists in the wake of communities like Los Alamos, established under the protective umbrella of government sanctioned white privilege. When you take something by force and don’t pay for it, that’s called stealing. So why is land stolen by the US government from the original Hispanic and Native American owners not being given back to them?…As the national reckoning over racial injustice unfolds, let us not forget how Los Alamos Lab came to be and the insult to injury that giving away land stolen from others represents.”

— Chuck Montaño, Nuclear Watch NM Steering Committee member. Mr. Montaño, born and raised in Santa Fe, NM, worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 32 years where he investigated allegations of fraud, waste and abuse.

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Nuclear War Simulator Reveals the Dystopia We’ll be Living in if Nuclear War Breaks Out

https://ivan-stepanov.itch.io/nuclear-war-simulator

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“There are currently over 13000 nuclear weapons on this planet of which over 9000 are in military stockpiles. This software should help you answer the question: what will happen if Russia and United States or India and Pakistan use their arsenals?

The goal of this project is to build a realistic simulation and visualization of large-scale nuclear conflicts with a focus on humanitarian consequences

There are a lot of interlocking systems and processes in a nuclear conflict: the command and control system, locations and movement of forces, weapons delivery systems and humanitarian consequences. By simulating the most relevant of these systems you should be able to tell a credible story about how nuclear conflicts play out and what are the consequences.”

— Ivan Stepanov

DOWNLOAD HERE

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Want To Know How A Nuclear War Might Go? There’s Now A Frighteningly Detailed ‘Game’ For That

To describe a nuclear war honestly is to argue for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

BY: KELSEY D. ATHERTONforbes.com

At least, that’s part of the goal of the Nuclear War Simulator, developed by Ivan Stepanov and released for download June 28. Built on the Unity3D engine, the simulator incorporates sheaves and sheaves of public data about yields, flight trajectories, and calculated armageddon.

Stepanov’s project specifically draws inspiration from the NUKEMAP made by Alex Wellerstein, a historian of science at Stevens Institute of Technology. Wellerstein’s tool lets people pick an existing warhead, toggle some settings, and then place the blast over a target area, rendering in concentric colored circles the salient details about what kind of effect would hit what people, where.

“[Nuclear War Simulator] was made to help you answer the question: what will a war between Russia and United States or India and Pakistan look like and what are the consequences for the world, your country and your family?” writes Stepanov.

To capture this fuller feeling of human impact, the simulation includes a population density grid, to render an impact not just in terms of blast radii, but in the deaths and injuries that can easily number in the millions.

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How to Vaccinate the Military-Industrial Complex

“As the first wave of the pandemic continues and case numbers spike in a range of states, oversight structures designed to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse when it comes to defense spending are quite literally crumbling before our eyes. Combine weakened oversight, skewed priorities, and a Pentagon budget still rising and you’re potentially creating the perfect storm for squandering the resources needed to respond to our current crisis.

The erosion of oversight of the Pentagon budget has been a slow-building disaster, administration by administration, particularly with the continual weakening of the authority of inspectors general. As independent federal watchdogs, IGs are supposed to oversee the executive branch and report their findings both to it and to Congress.”

BY: MADDY SMITHBERGER / TomDispatch | readersupportednews.com

How to Vaccinate the Military-Industrial ComplexRepresentative Barbara Lee. (photo: Jose Luis Magana/AP)

n response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Washington has initiated its largest spending binge in history. In the process, you might assume that the unparalleled spread of the disease would have led to a little rethinking when it came to all the trillions of dollars Congress has given the Pentagon in these years that have in no way made us safer from, or prepared us better to respond to, this predictable threat to American national security. As it happens, though, even if the rest of us remain in danger from the coronavirus, Congress has done a remarkably good job of vaccinating the Department of Defense and the weapons makers that rely on it financially.
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Officials and NGOs Express Deep Concerns about Holtec

“Many commenters stated that the storage could be permanent because there is no disposal site.  They reminded the NRC that this is why the law requires that a permanent repository be selected before the designation of an interim facility like Holtec, and this has not been done.

nuclearactive.com

On Tuesday, June 23rd, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a webinar and invited telephone comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for a nuclear waste storage facility that Holtec proposes to build halfway between Carlsbad and Hobbs.  Holtec applied for a license to store all of the nation’s most radioactive spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants.  Over twenty years, Holtec proposes to ship 10,000 canisters to the site by railroads, passing through more than forty states.  https://www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/cis/holtec-international.html, scroll down to Environmental Impact Statement.

In 2012, officials in Eddy and Lea counties announced that a private company would submit a license application in March 2013.  In December 2015, Holtec told the NRC that it would submit the license application in June 2016, so that the facility could begin operating in 2020.  The application was submitted in March 2017, and stated that NRC’s license would be issued in 2019 and that construction would begin by March 2020.  https://wethefourth.org/

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WATCHDOG GROUPS FILE LEGAL PETITION WITH ENERGY DEPT: Allege Agency is Slow Walking “Record of Decision” Re: Plutonium Bomb Core Production to Prevent Judicial Review; Stage Set for Litigation on Expanded Production

“DOE and NNSA appear to be deliberately slow-walking the issuance of a formal Record of Decision on expanded plutonium pit production in an apparent effort to prevent the federal courts from reviewing the agencies’ failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.”

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Missed Deadlines at LANL Documenting Waste Shipments Draws $300K Fine

The state Environment Department has fined the U.S. Department of Energy $304,000 over missed deadlines at Los Alamos National Laboratory in documenting waste shipments, a problem state officials said was part of a longtime pattern of delayed reporting.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

The agency cited the Energy Department, the lab and the lab’s contracted operator, Triad National Security LLC, for eight violations dating back to 2017 — in most cases for being a year or more late in recording deliveries of mixed waste.

All violations occurred under former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who had pressed for more lax waste management during her tenure. They also occurred under a previous lab operator, Los Alamos National Security LLC. Triad took over management of the lab in November 2018.

“This has been a recurring issue that had not been addressed by the past administration,” said Maddy Hayden, a spokeswoman for the Environment Department, explaining why the lab was being cited now for the older violations.

Under state Environment Secretary James Kenney, the agency wants to be clear on its expectations for compliance and accountability going forward, Hayden said.

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New Mexico Environment Department Fines DOE/NNSA And Triad $303,600 For Violations Related To Waste Shipment

The New Mexico Environment Department has notified the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration and Triad National Security at Los Alamos National Laboratory a civil penalty of $303,600 under the Hazardous Waste Act in connection with the repeat violations of the 1995 Federal Facility Compliance Order.

BY: MAIRE O’NEILL | losalamosreporter.com

The amount was calculated using the NMED Hazardous Waste Bureau’s Civil Penalty Policy dated March 2017.

NMED claims NNSA and Triad repeatedly failed to submit waste shipment information for waste containers within 45 days as required for eight shipments involving some 20 containers from the Waste Treatability Group.

The containers allegedly contained radioactive material described as 10-100 nanocuries per gram, halogenated organic liquid, activated or inseparable lead, or solids with heavy metals.

NNSA spokesperson Toni Chiri said in an email late Thursday that the information for the containers identified by the NMED resulted from administrative discrepancies that were identified, self-reported, and corrected by LANL.

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

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Quotes

“A country that can’t be trusted with a bone saw shouldn’t be trusted with nuclear weapons.”

Brad Sherman – California Democratic Representative

Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia escorting Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in Riyadh in 2017 | Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

nytimes.com Jared Kushner slipped quietly into Saudi Arabia this week for a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, so the question I’m trying to get the White House to answer is this: Did they discuss American help for a Saudi nuclear program?

Of all the harebrained and unscrupulous dealings of the Trump administration in the last two years, one of the most shocking is a Trump plan to sell nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

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“Whether and when the various Nations of the World can agree to stop the [development of nuclear weapons] is uncertain. But individual scientists can still influence this process by withholding their skills.”

“Accordingly, I call on all scientists in all countries to cease and desist from work creating, developing, improving and manufacturing further nuclear weapons.”

Hans Albrecht Bethe On the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima in letter, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (Nov 1995), 51:6, p. 3.

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