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

Quote of the Week

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

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

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NukeWatch Compilation of the DOE/NNSA FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

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LANL FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2020 Budget Chart – Courtesy TriValley 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

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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Win Without War + 37 Orgs: NDAA a Blank Check for Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy

WASHINGTON — 30 organizations representing a diverse set of issue areas — strengthening diplomacy, protecting migrants and refugees, preventing wars of choice, reducing the risk of nuclear catastrophe, combating corruption, promoting human rights and sound environmental policies, and standing up for democratic values — released the following statement regarding the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report:

“Despite the fact that we do not all advocate on the same issues, we are compelled to state clearly in one voice: The results of negotiations for the final text of the NDAA are disastrous. The FY2020 NDAA conference report has been so severely stripped of vital House-passed provisions essential to keeping the current administration in check that it no longer represents a compromise, but a near complete capitulation.

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Defense Authorization Act 2020 – Out Now

The 3488-page Conference Report is at:
https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20191209/CRPT-116hrpt333.pdf
The 741-page Joint Explanatory Statement is at:
https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20191209/116hrpt333-JointExplanatoryStatement.pdf
The 19-page bill summary is at:
https://rules.house.gov/sites/democrats.rules.house.gov/files/CRPT-116hrpt333-summary.pdf

On Plutonium Pit Production:

Nuclear Forces have been the cornerstone of our national defense and the conference agreement funds the President’s budget request for Nuclear National Security Administration programs, including nuclear weapons and nuclear non-proliferation activities. In addition, the FY20 NDAA supports the U.S. Strategic Command requirement to produce 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030 and doesn’t prohibit the Department from deploying low-yield nuclear weapons. It also clarifies nuclear safety authorities.

1. Page 1907 of the report defines a requirement to submit the costs of complying with cleanup agreements:

SEC. 4409. ESTIMATION OF COSTS OF MEETING DEFENSE ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANUP MILESTONES REQUIRED BY CONSENT ORDERS.

”The Secretary of Energy shall include in the budget justification materials submitted to Congress in support of the Department of Energy budget for each fiscal year (as submitted with the budget of the President under section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code) a report on the cost, for that fiscal year and the four fiscal years following that fiscal year, of meeting milestones required by a consent order at each defense nuclear facility at which defense environmental cleanup activities are occurring. The report shall include, for each such facility—”(1) a specification of the cost of meeting such milestones during that fiscal year; and ”(2) an estimate of the cost of meeting such milestones during the four fiscal years following that fiscal year.”.

2. On page 1914 of the report: Prohibiting the DOE high-level waste interpretation from being applied (only) to Hanford.

However, the Joint Explanatory Statement (p. 492 of PDF) states: “The conferees note that the inclusion of the provision does not prejudice how to process high-level waste nor does it discourage the use of the Department of Energy’s interpretation of high-level waste in future years or at other locations.”

3. On pages 1942-51 of the report: Changes to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB).

Among those changes is trying to ensure DNFSB access to DOE sites. One example is that DNFSB has access to nuclear facilities “without regard to the hazard or risk category assigned to a facility by the Secretary.”

New & Updated

DOE’s Nuclear Agency Moving to Manufacture New Plutonium Bomb Cores in Violation of Environmental Law and Court Order

Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, SRS Watch, Tri-Valley CAREs Assert “Pit” Pursuit Violates National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

 EINPresswire.com

Production of new plutonium pits for unneeded nuclear weapons poses risk of new nuclear arms race.

COLUMBIA, SC, USA, January 9, 2020 /EINPresswire.com/ — The Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has announced that it is proceeding with aggressive plans to expand the production of plutonium pits without required nation-wide “programmatic” public review. The Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley CAREs assert this is in violation of the legal requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and a 1998 court order that stipulates that DOE must prepare a “programmatic environmental impact statement” (PEIS) when it plans to produce more than 80 pits per year. Plutonium pits are the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons.

Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico concluded, “We need to find smart ways to face the world’s renewed nuclear arms race. Unnecessary expanded production of questionable plutonium bomb cores is not the way to do it. Instead of aggressively modifying nuclear weapons the U.S. should carefully preserve its existing, reliable, extensively tested nuclear weapons stockpile while working toward a future world free of them. It’s that kind of analysis and consideration of credible alternatives that the National Environmental Policy Act should give Americans instead of the nuclear weaponeers rubber stamping their self-interested agenda of nukes forever at the taxpayer’s expense.”

U.S. plutonium bomb core production ended in 1989 when the FBI raided the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver while investigating environmental crimes. In 1997, DOE relocated pit production to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico after completing the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. Production was capped at 20 pits per year.

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Watchdog Groups Claim Nuclear Agency is Moving Forward to Manufacture New Plutonium Bomb Cores in Violation of National Environmental Law and an Existing Court Order

The Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has formally announced that it is proceeding with aggressive plans to expand the production of plutonium pits without required nation-wide “programmatic” public review. The Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley CAREs assert this is in direct violation of the legal requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act and a 1998 court order that stipulates that DOE must prepare a “programmatic environmental impact statement” (PEIS) when it plans to produce more than 80 pits per year. Plutonium pits are the radioactive cores or “triggers” of nuclear weapons.

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LANL waste cleanup agreement gets chilly reception

“The 2016 consent order should be jettisoned in its entirety,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “And the fundamental principle is the state should be in the driver’s seat and not DOE.”

To back up his argument, Coghlan read some of the order’s guidelines, such as letting the federal agency set its own cleanup targets according to its budgetary constraints.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

LOS ALAMOS — While some people coolly suggested a list of procedural changes, others vented Thursday about a waste cleanup agreement they say cuts out the public and gives the U.S. Energy Department too much power to call the shots.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

US plutonium production plan likely to spur legal challenge

Nuclear watchdogs, government accountability advocates and other critics argue that the decision skirts requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and a decades-old court order that included a mandate for an environmental review when the federal government embarked on plans to boost production to more than 80 of the nuclear cores a year.

BY: SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN | apnews.com – washingtonpost.com Copyright 2020 The Associated Press

FILE – This undated file aerial view shows the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M. The agency that oversees the United States’ nuclear arsenal says it doesn’t need to do any broad environmental reviews of a proposal that calls for ramping up production of plutonium triggers at federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina. The National Nuclear Security Administration on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, released a supplemental analysis related to the project, saying the determination was made after reviewing extensive documentation and public comments that were received last year. (The Albuquerque Journal via AP, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The agency that oversees the United States’ nuclear arsenal says it doesn’t need to do any broad environmental reviews of a proposal that calls for ramping up production of plutonium triggers at federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina.

The National Nuclear Security Administration on Wednesday released a supplemental analysis related to the project, saying the determination was made after reviewing extensive documentation and public comments that were received last year.

A key component of every nuclear weapon, most of the plutonium cores in the stockpile were produced in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the nuclear agency.

Nuclear watchdogs, government accountability advocates and other critics argue that the decision skirts requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and a decades-old court order that included a mandate for an environmental review when the federal government embarked on plans to boost production to more than 80 of the nuclear cores a year.

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NNSA: No new programmatic environment study needed for plutonium pit production at LANL

“NNSA’s refusal to complete programmatic environmental review before plunging ahead with plans to more than quadruple the production authorization for plutonium bomb cores flies in the face of our country’s foundational environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act, and a standing federal court order mandating that the government conduct such a review,” – Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley CARES

BY: KENDRA CHAMBERLAIN | nmpoliticalreport.com

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review calls for Los Alamos National Lab to produce 30 plutonium pit cores annually by 2030.

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will not complete a programmatic study for environmental impacts of increased plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) and one other lab located in South Carolina. The decision to not do so drew criticism from Nuclear Watch NM and other groups, who argue such assessments are required by law under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and an existing court order.

Plutonium pits are the radioactive cores of nuclear warheads where the chemical reactions occur that cause the warhead to detonate. The U.S. made thousands of cores during the Cold War, but pit production has all but stopped in the last thirty years.

Now, the federal government is getting ready to ramp up pit production in order to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal and “assure the nation has a safe, secure and credible deterrent,” said Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the Department of Energy Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and the NNSA Administrator, in a statement. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review calls for at least 80 plutonium pits to be produced per year by 2030, with a target of 30 pits produced annually at LANL and 50 pits produced annually at Savannah River Site.

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Trump budget coming Feb. 10 — here’s what you can expect

BY: &  | defensenews.com

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration plans to submit its fiscal 2021 budget request to Congress Feb. 10, with defense spending expected to be essentially flat compared to the previous year.A spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget confirmed to Defense News that the date for the budget submission has been locked in. The date was first reported by Politico.

President Donald Trump signed off on the FY20 budget, including $738 billion for defense, on Dec. 20, following almost three months of the government running under a continuing resolution.

The two-year budget deal from last summer called for $740 billion in defense spending for FY21, essentially flat. The budget is expected to continue the department’s focus on implementing the National Defense Strategy, which prioritizes challenging China and Russia.

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New Mexico reconsidering 2016 waste agreement with LANL

The state of New Mexico is reconsidering its 2016 pact with the U.S. Department of Energy on how to regulate the cleanup of decades-old hazardous waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Ryan Flynn, who became the state’s environment secretary in 2013, granted the lab 150 deadline extensions during his tenure, said
Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

Shortly after Flynn announced in 2016 that the consent order was being revised, the Energy Department reduced its top-range estimate for the long-term cleanup to $3.8 billion and said it would need at least 20 years to complete it, Coghlan said.

That reduced the yearly cleanup projection to $150 million from the earlier $250 million estimate, Coghlan said.

“It’s no coincidence that a mere few months after the 2016 consent order came out, DOE low-balled its life-cycle estimate,” he said.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

The administration of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to revisit the agreement — known as a consent order — that the state Environment Department crafted under Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to replace a more stringent 2005 version that expired at the end of 2015.

The public will have a chance to air views about the current consent order and suggest changes at a meeting Thursday at the University of New Mexico’s Los Alamos campus. The meeting is being held in response to people expressing concerns about the consent order to state regulators and legislative leaders, said Maddy Hayden, a spokeswoman for the Environment Department.

January 9th: New Mexico Environment Department to Host Los Alamos Public Meeting

 

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Critical Events

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Action Alerts

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Nuclear News

SSFL stalemate

An informational meeting on Nov. 20 turned confrontational

ARTICLE BY MELISSA SIMON | simivalleyacorn.com

ALTERNATE PERSPECTIVE— Denise Duffield of Santa Monica protests a NASA meeting on the cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Lab at the Best Western Posada Royale Hotel on Nov. 20 in Simi Valley. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn

A public meeting regarding the long-delayed cleanup at the Santa Susana Field Lab last week got heated when police were called in to remove one of the activists waiting to give feedback on a recently released environmental impact study.

Dan Hirsch, president of the nonprofit nuclear policy organization Committee to Bridge the Gap, had planned to present a slideshow while giving his three minutes of testimony during a Nov. 20 event held by NASA at Best Western Posada Royale Hotel in Simi Valley. The three-minute time was allotted to anyone who chose to share comments related to the field lab.

But the longtime site cleanup activist said he was met with opposition from NASA officials, who physically tried to block the setup of a projector that he brought with him and then later called police to have him removed from the venue.

The confrontation lasted about 15 minutes, he said. And while he was waiting quietly in line to give his comments, Hirsch said police showed up and asked him to leave voluntarily or he would be charged with trespassing.

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Fireworks at NASA meeting for cleaning up nuke meltdown at Santa Susana Field Lab

The 2,850-acre field lab in unincorporated hills just southeast of Simi Valley experienced the partial nuclear meltdown in 1959 when it was the Rocketdyne/Atomics International rocket engine test and nuclear facility. The site also experienced other chemical and radioactive contamination over the years.

ARTICLE BY MIKE HARRIS | vcstar.com

Santa Susana Field Lab cleanup activist Dan Hirsch, second from left, being asked by Simi Valley police to leave a NASA public meeting Wednesday night for allegedly being disruptive. (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/JUDI BUMSTEAD)

Fireworks erupted this week at a NASA public meeting on the much-delayed cleanup of a 1959 partial nuclear meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory outside Simi Valley.

Longtime cleanup activist Dan Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nonprofit nuclear policy organization, said he was asked by Simi Valley police to leave Wednesday night’s meeting at the Best Western Posada Royale after trying unsuccessfully to present a slide show.

The meeting was held to allow the public to comment on NASA’s recently released Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement regarding cleaning up its portion of the field lab site.

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Deval Patrick: the latest presidential candidate to be uninformed on nuclear weapons

A whole slew of 2020 candidates have either pleaded ignorance on certain nuclear policies or given answers that were borderline incomprehensible.

ARTICLE BY JOHN KRZYANIAK | thebulletin.org

Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts, became the latest latecomer to the 2020 presidential campaign when he entered the fray last week. At the time of this writing, he does not have very many clear policy positions, or even a campaign website. But anyone running for president—even someone who’s still on the honeymoon period of his announcement—should expect to be asked tough policy questions, especially on important issues like nuclear weapons. Was Patrick prepared? Well, not really.

In a video circulating on social media, Jeremy Love, who identifies himself as a board member of New Hampshire Peace Action, approaches Patrick and starts to ask him about a no-first-use policy in the United States.

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DIA on Iran nuclear program

A Defense Intelligence Agency report made public this week concludes that Iran’s government remains prepared to pursue nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them.

ARTICLE BY BILL GERTZ | thewashintontimes.com

Iran’s overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige, and regional influence have led it to pursue nuclear energy and the capability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so,” says the report, “Iran Military Power.”

The report says Iran currently has no nuclear weapons and under the 2015 international nuclear deal agreed not to pursue nuclear arms. However, work by Tehran on space launcher vehicles indicates that Iran continues to develop long-range missiles that could be used for nuclear strikes.

While lacking intermediate-range and intercontinental-range missiles, “Tehran’s desire to have a strategic counter to the United States could drive it to develop and eventually field an ICBM,” the report said.

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Gov. Gordon Open to Nuclear Waste Storage

Gov. Mark Gordon says he is open to Wyoming pursuing a nuclear waste storage facility though he doesn’t personally believe it’s the best industry for the state.

ARTICLE BY TOM COULTER | wyomingnews.com

Gov. Mark Gordon gives a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in his office at the Jonah Business Center in Cheyenne. Jacob Byk/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Gov. Mark Gordon said last week he could still be convinced to pursue a nuclear waste storage program that will be considered Tuesday in a legislative committee meeting.

During a meeting Monday with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s editorial board, Gordon said he would wait to see what the Wyoming Legislature finds in its studies.

“I don’t think it’s the best industry for Wyoming,” Gordon said. “But I would say this emphatically: If there is a good reason to do it, and we have adequate safeguards, though personally I may not feel it’s the best industry for Wyoming, I’m not going to stand in its way.”

During the second day of its meeting next week in Casper, the Legislature’s Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee will consider a bill authorizing the governor to negotiate with the U.S. Department of Energy to store spent nuclear fuel rods within the state.

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What Does Science Say About the Need for Nuclear? Not Necessary.

ARTICLE BY JESSICA MCDONALD | factcheck.org

Ryan Jones, an expert in electricity systems and a co-founder of Evolved Energy Research, a consulting company that models low-carbon transitions, agreed. “Anyone who says that nuclear is 100% necessary on a technical basis, I would claim, just hasn’t looked at the alternatives in enough detail,” he said in an email.

Most experts FactCheck.org contacted, including those who think nuclear power should remain an option, said that from a technical perspective, nuclear is not needed to decarbonize the grid.

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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

DOE’s Nuclear Agency Moving to Manufacture New Plutonium Bomb Cores in Violation of Environmental Law and Court Order

Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, SRS Watch, Tri-Valley CAREs Assert “Pit” Pursuit Violates National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

 EINPresswire.com

Production of new plutonium pits for unneeded nuclear weapons poses risk of new nuclear arms race.

COLUMBIA, SC, USA, January 9, 2020 /EINPresswire.com/ — The Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has announced that it is proceeding with aggressive plans to expand the production of plutonium pits without required nation-wide “programmatic” public review. The Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley CAREs assert this is in violation of the legal requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and a 1998 court order that stipulates that DOE must prepare a “programmatic environmental impact statement” (PEIS) when it plans to produce more than 80 pits per year. Plutonium pits are the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons.

Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico concluded, “We need to find smart ways to face the world’s renewed nuclear arms race. Unnecessary expanded production of questionable plutonium bomb cores is not the way to do it. Instead of aggressively modifying nuclear weapons the U.S. should carefully preserve its existing, reliable, extensively tested nuclear weapons stockpile while working toward a future world free of them. It’s that kind of analysis and consideration of credible alternatives that the National Environmental Policy Act should give Americans instead of the nuclear weaponeers rubber stamping their self-interested agenda of nukes forever at the taxpayer’s expense.”

U.S. plutonium bomb core production ended in 1989 when the FBI raided the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver while investigating environmental crimes. In 1997, DOE relocated pit production to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico after completing the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. Production was capped at 20 pits per year.

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Watchdog Groups Claim Nuclear Agency is Moving Forward to Manufacture New Plutonium Bomb Cores in Violation of National Environmental Law and an Existing Court Order

The Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has formally announced that it is proceeding with aggressive plans to expand the production of plutonium pits without required nation-wide “programmatic” public review. The Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley CAREs assert this is in direct violation of the legal requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act and a 1998 court order that stipulates that DOE must prepare a “programmatic environmental impact statement” (PEIS) when it plans to produce more than 80 pits per year. Plutonium pits are the radioactive cores or “triggers” of nuclear weapons.

VIEW FULL PRESS RELEASE

LANL waste cleanup agreement gets chilly reception

“The 2016 consent order should be jettisoned in its entirety,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “And the fundamental principle is the state should be in the driver’s seat and not DOE.”

To back up his argument, Coghlan read some of the order’s guidelines, such as letting the federal agency set its own cleanup targets according to its budgetary constraints.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

LOS ALAMOS — While some people coolly suggested a list of procedural changes, others vented Thursday about a waste cleanup agreement they say cuts out the public and gives the U.S. Energy Department too much power to call the shots.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

US plutonium production plan likely to spur legal challenge

Nuclear watchdogs, government accountability advocates and other critics argue that the decision skirts requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and a decades-old court order that included a mandate for an environmental review when the federal government embarked on plans to boost production to more than 80 of the nuclear cores a year.

BY: SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN | apnews.com – washingtonpost.com Copyright 2020 The Associated Press

FILE – This undated file aerial view shows the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M. The agency that oversees the United States’ nuclear arsenal says it doesn’t need to do any broad environmental reviews of a proposal that calls for ramping up production of plutonium triggers at federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina. The National Nuclear Security Administration on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, released a supplemental analysis related to the project, saying the determination was made after reviewing extensive documentation and public comments that were received last year. (The Albuquerque Journal via AP, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The agency that oversees the United States’ nuclear arsenal says it doesn’t need to do any broad environmental reviews of a proposal that calls for ramping up production of plutonium triggers at federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina.

The National Nuclear Security Administration on Wednesday released a supplemental analysis related to the project, saying the determination was made after reviewing extensive documentation and public comments that were received last year.

A key component of every nuclear weapon, most of the plutonium cores in the stockpile were produced in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the nuclear agency.

Nuclear watchdogs, government accountability advocates and other critics argue that the decision skirts requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and a decades-old court order that included a mandate for an environmental review when the federal government embarked on plans to boost production to more than 80 of the nuclear cores a year.

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NNSA: No new programmatic environment study needed for plutonium pit production at LANL

“NNSA’s refusal to complete programmatic environmental review before plunging ahead with plans to more than quadruple the production authorization for plutonium bomb cores flies in the face of our country’s foundational environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act, and a standing federal court order mandating that the government conduct such a review,” – Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley CARES

BY: KENDRA CHAMBERLAIN | nmpoliticalreport.com

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review calls for Los Alamos National Lab to produce 30 plutonium pit cores annually by 2030.

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will not complete a programmatic study for environmental impacts of increased plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) and one other lab located in South Carolina. The decision to not do so drew criticism from Nuclear Watch NM and other groups, who argue such assessments are required by law under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and an existing court order.

Plutonium pits are the radioactive cores of nuclear warheads where the chemical reactions occur that cause the warhead to detonate. The U.S. made thousands of cores during the Cold War, but pit production has all but stopped in the last thirty years.

Now, the federal government is getting ready to ramp up pit production in order to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal and “assure the nation has a safe, secure and credible deterrent,” said Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the Department of Energy Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and the NNSA Administrator, in a statement. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review calls for at least 80 plutonium pits to be produced per year by 2030, with a target of 30 pits produced annually at LANL and 50 pits produced annually at Savannah River Site.

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Trump budget coming Feb. 10 — here’s what you can expect

BY: &  | defensenews.com

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration plans to submit its fiscal 2021 budget request to Congress Feb. 10, with defense spending expected to be essentially flat compared to the previous year.A spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget confirmed to Defense News that the date for the budget submission has been locked in. The date was first reported by Politico.

President Donald Trump signed off on the FY20 budget, including $738 billion for defense, on Dec. 20, following almost three months of the government running under a continuing resolution.

The two-year budget deal from last summer called for $740 billion in defense spending for FY21, essentially flat. The budget is expected to continue the department’s focus on implementing the National Defense Strategy, which prioritizes challenging China and Russia.

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Watchdog Groups Claim Nuclear Agency is Moving Forward to Manufacture New Plutonium Bomb Cores in Violation of National Environmental Law and an Existing Court Order

Natural Resources Defense Council
Nuclear Watch New Mexico
Savannah River Site Watch
Tri-Valley CAREs
The Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has formally announced that it is proceeding with aggressive plans to expand the production of plutonium pits without required nation-wide “programmatic” public review. The Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley CAREs assert this is in direct violation of the legal requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act and a 1998 court order that stipulates that DOE must prepare a “programmatic environmental impact statement” (PEIS) when it plans to produce more than 80 pits per year. Plutonium pits are the radioactive cores or “triggers” of nuclear weapons.

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New Mexico reconsidering 2016 waste agreement with LANL

The state of New Mexico is reconsidering its 2016 pact with the U.S. Department of Energy on how to regulate the cleanup of decades-old hazardous waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Ryan Flynn, who became the state’s environment secretary in 2013, granted the lab 150 deadline extensions during his tenure, said
Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

Shortly after Flynn announced in 2016 that the consent order was being revised, the Energy Department reduced its top-range estimate for the long-term cleanup to $3.8 billion and said it would need at least 20 years to complete it, Coghlan said.

That reduced the yearly cleanup projection to $150 million from the earlier $250 million estimate, Coghlan said.

“It’s no coincidence that a mere few months after the 2016 consent order came out, DOE low-balled its life-cycle estimate,” he said.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

The administration of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to revisit the agreement — known as a consent order — that the state Environment Department crafted under Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to replace a more stringent 2005 version that expired at the end of 2015.

The public will have a chance to air views about the current consent order and suggest changes at a meeting Thursday at the University of New Mexico’s Los Alamos campus. The meeting is being held in response to people expressing concerns about the consent order to state regulators and legislative leaders, said Maddy Hayden, a spokeswoman for the Environment Department.

January 9th: New Mexico Environment Department to Host Los Alamos Public Meeting

 

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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.

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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.

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

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Atomic Homefront by Deborah Cammissa

Atomic Homefront

By award-winning documentary filmmaker Deborah Cammissa

“The City of St. Louis has a little known nuclear past as a uranium-processing center for the Atomic bomb. Government and corporate negligence led to the dumping of Manhattan Project uranium, thorium, and radium, thus contaminating North St. Louis suburbs, specifically in two communities: those nestled along Coldwater Creek – and in Bridgeton, Missouri adjacent to the West Lake-Bridgeton landfill…”

See more…

Raven Rock by Garrett M. Graff

Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself – While the Rest of Us Die.

“Raven Rock is this massive, hollowed-out mountain. It’s a free-standing city… with individual buildings, three-story buildings, built inside of this mountain. It has everything that a small city would- there’s a fire department there, there’s a police department, medical facilities, dining halls. The dining facility serves four meals a day, it’s a 24 hour facility, and it was sort of mothballed to a certain extent during the 1990s as the Cold War ended and then was restarted in a hurry after Sept. 11 and has been pretty dramatically expanded over the last 15 years, and today could hold as many as 5,000 people in the event of an emergency.”

Almighty Dan Zak

Almighty

Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age 

By Dan Zak, reviewed by Kai Bird

“Zak’s narrative is a perfectly measured blend of biography, suspense and history. He skillfully uses the small, finite story of the Y-12 protest [the break-in 4 years ago by Sister Rice and friends] to explore our national identity as a people whose culture is now intimately connected with things nuclear. Our bomb culture has not come cheap; the environmental costs have been devastating for many communities. And even though scores of governments- but not our own- are on record supporting a treaty that would ban nuclear weapons, Zak shows this is still an outlier dream. He quotes a United States admiral intoning: ‘I don’t see us being nuclear-free in my lifetime. Or in yours.’

We are stuck with Armageddon in our dreams. And in the meantime the Sister Megans of our bomb culture will no doubt try again and again to cry out against our complacency. But truly, it seems hopeless. As Billy Pilgrim laments repeatedly in Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’, ‘So it goes.'”

more at NYTimes


Interview with Dan Zak, “Almighty” author 

A Texas public radio interview with the very knowledgable and thoughtful Dan Zak, author of “Almighty”. Dan discusses The Lieu-Markey bills to restrict presidential authority to launch nuclear war, the B61-12 nuclear bomb and its new capabilities, the planned trillion-dollar “modernization” of the US nuclear arsenal, North Korea, deterrence, and the Oak Ridge Y-12 break-in of 2012.

audio podcast

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink by William J. Perry

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink

William J. Perry [Former Secretary of Defense]

Published by Stanford Security Studies, Nov. 2015

Perry argues that nuclear weapons now “endanger our society rather than securing it.” He is one of the founders, along with Sam Nunn, George Schultz, and Henry Kissinger, of the Nuclear Security Project.

In his own words:

“This book is a selective memoir of my experiences with nuclear weapons and nuclear crises, and its purpose is to alert the public to the real and growing dangers of a nuclear catastrophe. I hope you will read this book and learn from it. But I realize that this book, even if effective, will reach only a small audience. In particular, it will reach very few of our young people. The problems I have described are going to be with us for decades, so our young people must play a key role in dealing with them.

Therefore I have undertaken to put these concepts into a form more widely accessible and available to young people. I am doing this through the William J. Perry Project, whose goal is mass education on nuclear dangers… For some years I have taught a course at Stanford about nuclear dangers, and I am now developing that course into an online course that has the potential to reach not just hundreds of students, but hundreds of thousands… The broader series of educational materials under development is called “Nuclear Weapons: 20th-Century History, 21st-Century Decisions,” or 20-21 for short. We not only want people to understand the history, but to engage in current-day issues facing the United States, such as the impending nuclear arms race and the danger of a resumption of nuclear testing.

I hope to encourage young people to take the baton I am trying to pass to them. My generation created this existential problem- their generation must find a way to solve it.”

 

Quotes

“Today’s NDAA is far from our vision for a just, peaceful, and democratic foreign policy. Its failures not only underscore how critical it is that we continue building progressive grassroots movements for a better foreign policy — it calls into question the defense authorization process altogether.”

NDAA a Blank Check for Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy

Over 35 organizations representing a diverse set of issue areas — strengthening diplomacy, protecting migrants and refugees, preventing wars of choice, reducing the risk of nuclear catastrophe, combating corruption, promoting human rights and sound environmental policies, and standing up for democratic values — released the following statement regarding the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report.

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“With deep conviction I wish once more to declare that the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is today, more than ever, a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home. The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral, as I already said two years ago. We will be judged on this. Future generations will rise to condemn our failure if we spoke of peace but did not act to bring it about among the peoples of the earth.  How can we speak of peace even as we build terrifying new weapons of war?”

Pope Francis calls for a world free of nuclear weapons

Visiting Japan, Pope Francis has condemned atomic weapons, nuclear deterrence and the growing arms trade. He said the money spent on weapons should be used to eradicate poverty and protect the environment.

“As the budget for expanded production of nuclear weapons keeps going up and up, the effort to clean up past production continues to fail, threatening future generations.”

A sign at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation warns of possible hazards in the soil along the Columbia River near Richland in Benton County, Aug. 14, 2019. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

Already 12 years behind schedule, a project at the Hanford nuclear complex meant to transform millions of gallons of radioactive waste into benign glass faces yet another delay.

Feds aim to push back the opening of ‘glassification’ plants, while state officials say the Department of Energy has been underfunding the cleanup of America’s most poisoned site.

ARTICLE BY: JOHN STANG | crosscut.com

“All nations should declare—all nations—that nuclear weapons must be destroyed. This is to save ourselves and our planet.”

Mikhail Gorbachev tells the BBC: World in ‘colossal danger’

The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that current tension between Russia and the West is putting the world in “colossal danger” due to the threat from nuclear weapons. In an interview with the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg, former President Gorbachev called for all countries to declare that nuclear weapons should be destroyed.

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“The double standards applied by the Trump administration have been particularly damaging to international nonproliferation agreements…

Trump has pursued normalisation of relations with North Korea – a state that openly tested and detonated nuclear devices – while withdrawing from a nuclear deal with Iran, which was strictly abided by all provisions and was not working on developing a nuclear bomb.”

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with US President Donald Trump, at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019 [Handout via Reuters]
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with US President Donald Trump, at the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019 [Handout via Reuters]

Trump is laying the ground for a nuclear arms race in the Gulf

Trump’s mismanagement of the nuclear issue in the Middle East is damaging the international nonproliferation regime.

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